Sunday, December 28, 2008

Top 10 Songs of 2008

It is 2 more days before 2008 becomes yet another memory, and as we head into a new year, here's my annual list of my favourite music for 2008. 

As I have said before, this is a list of MY favourite music, and it is by no means the definitive list of the best music of 2008, but it is merely a personal reflection of music that moved me, and remained in my mind for 2008.

Before I begin, I noticed that my visitor counter has unwittingly crossed the 10,000 mark already. Haha, it took more than 4 years, but hell yeah, I'm still going to celebrate! Thanks to all my readers and visitors who bothered to come here to spend a few minutes of your time. I appreciate it deeply. Hope you'll continue to be entertained and please leave your comments when you're free. :)

This year, I decided to list down my Top 10 favourite songs, as well as Top 10 favourite albums. Some of the albums were actually released in late 2007, but I didn't get to listen to them till this year, so I consider them as part of 2008's list.

I have also decided to publish my favourite 40 songs of the year, where the 30 songs outside the Top 10 are not in order of preference, because simply, how do you decide whether you like a song a little more than the other to rank it 36th or 37th? There's no way. So the other 30 songs here are just the songs that I liked but didn't make it to the Top 10. 

TOP 10 SONGS OF 2008

10. Love Is Noise - The Verve

I didn't immediately like this song the first time I heard it, mainly because of the vocoder loop that runs throughout the song, which I felt was really irritating. But after giving it a few more spins, it really grew on me.

It's a great return to form for The Verve, whom after releasing their hugely-successful Urban Hymns album in 1997, broke up for the second time in their career. Love Is Noise is the first single from their comeback album, Forth, released this year and hitting Number 1 on the UK album charts.

Here's their performance at Glastonbury 2008.

9. Greatest Day - Take That

#9 belongs to another band that has made a successful comeback in recent years. Take That reformed in 2006, 10 years after splitting up, and they released one of the best-selling albums of 2006, Beautiful World

They're still on a roll and their success looks set to continue. Their second album since their comeback, The Circus (not to be confused with Britney Spears' album, Circus, which was released on the same day), sold 306,000 copies in the first 4 days, becoming the fastest-selling album of the year. Their upcoming tour also sold 600,000 tickets in less than 5 hours, breaking Michael Jackson's 1987 record of the fastest-selling concert in UK history.

When they performed this song at this year's MTV Europe Music Awards, it was my first time hearing it, and I was blown away. Perhaps it was due to the impressive lighting effects, but the hook of the song is undeniable. It has a rousing chorus, rivalling their best song ever, Never Forget. And it deserves its place among the Top 10 tunes of the year.

Here's their triumphant performance at the MTV EMAs. Don't you just love it! I wanna watch them in concert too!

8. Hold My Hand - Akon & Michael Jackson

This song is actually an accidental entry because it was leaked. Originally meant to be included on Akon's new album, Freedom (then-titled Acquitted), this song got leaked in July and scuppered plans for it to be released as a first single. It was later dropped from Freedom altogether, and it is unsure if it will ever get a proper release.

Akon had already worked with MJ prior to this track, where Akon contributed a 2008 version of MJ's classic, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', for the 25th anniversary re-release of Thriller. They got on so well that they decided to work together on more tracks, and Hold My Hand is the result of one of those sessions.

It's a modern day Heal The World, updated with Akon's beats and sound. But MJ's voice remains as soulful as ever. The harmonies on this track are absolutely beautiful and it was great hearing MJ sing again. 

I don't know when MJ will release another album, but if this song is any indication of what to expect, the wait is certainly worth it.

7. American Boy - Estelle featuring Kanye West

This is a song that is on almost all the year-end lists, and rightly so, for it is the most infectious and groovy song of the year. 

American Boy is Estelle's first international single from the album Shine. It is actually her second album, as she had previously released her debut album, titled The 18th Day, in 2004. American Boy is her first huge hit, and it took the world by storm. It stayed at the UK #1 spot for 4 weeks, and cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 as well. 

Its success could partly be attributed to Kanye's guest spot, giving the song a big boost. But I believe it is also due to Estelle's unique voice that gave the song its character. The bassline is groovy and you just feel like moving your body and dance to it. Kanye even performed this song during his concert in Singapore.

American Boy has been nominated for 2 Grammy Awards next year - Song Of The Year and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Of The Year. I hope she wins one.

Here's the music video for the song. Note that Kanye wears an MJ badge, and you can see it close up at the 3:09 mark, when he mentions MJ in the song.

Here's another clip from this year's MTV EMAs, where Kanye performs Love Lockdown first, before being joined by Estelle later for American Boy (skip to the 4:04 mark).

6. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna

Rihanna continued her dominance well into 2008, as she released even more singles and even upsized, or shall I say, reloaded her Good Girl Gone Bad album with even more hit singles. However, of all her singles released this year, Don't Stop The Music is my favourite.

Maybe it's because it samples MJ's Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', and I think it's one of the best use of samples ever. The "mama-sey-mama-san-maman-coo-san" chant fits the song like a glove (no pun intended) and gives the song a club-thumping beat and energy.

Rihanna is one of those artists who don't sing well but yet have a knack of releasing catchy hit tunes. A lot of credit goes to her songwriters and producers. She may not be my favourite singer, but you can't deny the fact that she hooks up with the right people at the right time and makes all the right moves. So far at least.

Here's the music video for the song...

5. Hot N Cold - Katy Perry

Definitely the Best New Artist of the year in my opinion, but sadly, the Grammy folks do not agree. Katy Perry has been snubbed by the Grammy voters, who decided that the Jonas Brothers deserve a nomination more than Katy, even though the boys have already released 3 albums since 2006. How's that for NEW Artist?!

Technically, Katy Perry has also released 2 albums to date. Her debut album, Katy Hudson, was released in 2001, when she was just 17 years old. Back then, she was still known as Katy Hudson, and this was a Christian music album. 

One Of The Boys is her first pop album under the name Katy Perry (she changed her name to avoid being confused with Kate Hudson), and her first major label release. The first single was the massive, massive I Kissed A Girl, which topped the charts in 22 countries worldwide (except Singapore, where it has been banned on radio and MTV).

However, it is the follow-up single, Hot N Cold, that enters the list as one of my favourite songs this year. The chorus is insanely catchy and her lyrics are just so fun and funny. E.g. "You PMS like a bitch, I would know".

The music video is quite funny too. Look out for a cameo by Jack Nicholson as one of the audience members in the church.

4. Let It Die - Foo Fighters

I never expected this song to be on this list, as it wasn't one of my favourite Foo songs earlier on. Long Road To Ruin and Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running) were fantastic songs released this year too. But it all changed the moment I went to the Foos concert in Perth.

I travelled all the way to Perth to catch the Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace tour and after waiting for so long, the Foos took the stage with the strains of Let It Die playing. And after Dave did his walk of honour on the catwalk (he was just 5m away from me!), he started singing the opening line of the song. And oh my, his voice just filled up the whole arena and reverberated, sending chills down my spine. Really.

From that moment on, I began to love the song more and more, and it has become one of my favourite Foos songs ever. 

Let It Die was released as a digital single on iTunes, and it reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart, becoming their 3rd consecutive #1 single after The Pretender and Long Road To Ruin. They became one of only four acts to simultaneously place three songs in the Modern Rock Top 20.

Even more impressive is the fact that Let It Die is the #1 Hot Modern Rock Song on the year-end Billboard charts, beating The Pretender to #2, even though Let It Die spent only 4 weeks at #1, the least of their 3 singles. 

Let It Die is not the most obvious and typical Foos song, but it really grows on you. The build up and intensity is fantastic and I would love to jam this song out one day.

There's is no official music video, but here is a superb unofficial clip from Fuse TV, recorded from their concert at Madison Square Garden.

3. Rock With U - Janet Jackson

Rock With U is taken from Janet's much-maligned album, Discipline, which has been labelled as yet another flop. Even though it became Janet's sixth #1 album, its opening week sales of 181,000 is the smallest among all her previous #1 albums. Even Damita Jo and 20 Y.O., both of which opened at #2, sold more in the first week than Discipline did.

Nevertheless, I still love the album and Rock With U. This is her most Eurodance-sounding single ever, and it's a pity it didn't chart well, not even in Europe. There wasn't even a physical release for the single.

Some might say that Janet's voice sounds weak and she mumbles too much, but I think it's pretty apt for this song. I also love the repetitive keyboard riff and the robotic "I wanna rock with u" voice. It's cool. 

Luckily, there was a music video for the song. It is very good and I like it a lot. It is seemingly shot with a single take, and the choreography is pretty good. Love the strobe light effects too. 

2. Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis has come a long way since winning the UK talent show, X Factor in 2006. In 2007, she released a cover of Kelly Clarkson's A Moment Like This, and it promptly went to #1, and broke a world record by being downloaded 50,000 times within half an hour of its release. But nothing could have prepared her for the reception she got with Bleeding Love, the first single off her debut album, Spirit.

It was written by Jesse McCartney and Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic fame) and released in October 2007. It became the best-selling single in UK for 2007 and has so far topped the charts in 34 countries. 

The most amazing story came from the US, where Bleeding Love topped the Hot 100 on three separate occasions, becoming only one of four songs to have done so in the history of the chart. Spirit also topped the Billboard 200, making her the first British solo artist to top the chart with a debut album.

Leona has an amazing voice and this song is the best example of her vocal abilities. She has tremendous range (check out the high notes at 1:51 and 2:33) and she can definitely rival Mariah in the vocal gymnastics department.

Here's her performance at this year's MTV Asia Awards, where I was fortunate enough to meet her in person. :)

1. I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

And my song of the year goes to...Mr A-Z! Jason Mraz!!!

Jason Mraz's star has been shining brighter with each release, and with his third album, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things., he finally has his breakthrough. I'm Yours has been inescapable this year. Everywhere you go, you hear it. Be it wedding dinners, pubs or radio, this song is everywhere! 

But it is with great credit that even though there has been so much exposure, the song has not become overplayed and turned into another of those "nice initially but got over-exposed and now I really hate it" songs, which would have been really sad because it is a genuinely nice song.

I'm Yours is simply the feel-good song of the summer and you can't help but feel happy listening to it. I don't know of anyone who doesn't like the song. Maybe not on the same level as me, but certainly I don't know of anyone who doesn't like it.

I have missed Jason Mraz on the both occasions he's been here, but I'm not going to miss it again this time round. Yes, he will be making a stop in Singapore on 5th March 2008! Ticket details should be announced really soon, but you can check his official webpage for confirmation!

He's really good live and you can check out his rendition of I'm Yours here. The concert of 2009, not to be missed!

Alright, there you have my Top 10 Songs of 2008. It's getting late now, so I shall publish my Top 10 Albums and Top 40 Songs of 2008 in the next 2 days. Hope you've had fun. Share with me your Top 10 songs too... :)


At 12:07 am, Blogger wez said...

ur list very biased one..then again its ur list haha. anything that has to do with the jacksons is there! aahaha

At 9:46 am, Blogger Son of a Gan said...

Yeah of course...where's your list? 2 more days leh!

At 3:34 am, Blogger wez said...

out's on my brand spanking new musik blog...


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