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Friday, December 26, 2008

4. Juvelen - 1

Sweden’s “one man boy band” didn’t disappoint with his debut. There are so many great singles on this record that it almost makes the album tracks fade into the background. But there’s no denying the power of Hanna, Don’t Mess and They Don’t Love You. It’s easy to forget how amazing these tracks were the first time we heard them. The bottom line is that this was what a Prince or Michael Jackson album should sound like in 2008, and who would have guessed it would come from a skinny Swedish dude?


3. Black Kids - Partie Traumatic

It took me awhile to warm up to Black Kids (god how horrible does that sentence sound?), and it wasn’t until I heard the album in full that I realized how amazing they were. This album is full to bursting with hits, but like all good pop music it’s slightly left-field. The songs themselves range from kind of eccentric to really weird, but it’s all dressed up in such a shiny coat that you’ll hardly notice.


10. Private - We Got Some Breaking Up To Do

A holdover from one of the best albums of 2007, this was Private’s best single release so far. To be fair, though, they could have released any of the songs from their album and gotten a hit out of it.

9. Iglu & Hartly - In This City

This white-boy rap could have been so incredibly bad, yet Iglu & Hartly found a way to make it endearing and epic. I was especially glad to see this track find the success it deserved in the UK.

8. Keane - Lovers Are Losing

Their most elegant song yet, with a bombastic chorus meant to be shouted from the rooftops. I loved Keane’s new direction, but this look back at their past was the highlight of their new album.

7. Neon Neon - I Told Her on Alderaan

One part Huey Lewis and one part Duran Duran, this 80’s throwback was one of the most authentic pieces of nostalgia of 2008.

6. Black Kids - Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)

In may have been the finale to their debut album, but I can’t think of any better song to start a party. The hyperkinetic video just made it that much better.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

6. The Virgins - The Virgins

This was an easily overlooked album this year. The Virgins’ college party-rock didn’t necessarily draw attention to itself, but it rewarded repeated listening. It was definitely the TV-soundtrack album of the year, because the music fit perfectly on shows like Gossip Girl and 90210 (or so I’m told--I haven’t seen either of those). The album’s full of bouncy sing-along songs that find the middle ground between The Strokes and The Cars. Their dancier stuff, like Teen Lovers and Murder, are the highlights, but even the mellower songs stand out.


5. Delays - Everything‘s The Rush

Delays are one of the best bands in the world right now…and one of the most overlooked. This album suffered from raised expectations on my part after 2006’s #1 album You See Colours. It was bound to disappoint at least a little. There are so many tracks on here that should have been singles, though, starting with the excellent “bonus track” The Earth Gave Me You. Delays are the most epic band when they want to be, and much of this album showcased this in perfect form. I would have liked another Valentine or Lost In A Melody, but that’s almost too much to ask for.


15. Mr. G. - Naughty Girl

I’m blinded a bit by my Summer Heights High totaladdictionlovefest, but even without being attached to a comedy spectacular, this would still be the funniest song in ages.

14. Miley Cyrus - See You Again

Sure, it’s more than a little Sunglasses At Night, but that blazing chorus is pure Miley.

13. Girls Aloud - The Promise

Continuing their string of flawless pop singles, this one took a short while to grow on me but once it did it became quite the obsession.

12. Juvelen - Don‘t Mess

Nearly as good as Hanna, his ultimate calling card, Don’t Mess proved that he could do it again and again. The beat on this is just explosive.

11. Ladyhawke - My Delirium

Ladyhawke’s got a ton of soaring 80’s pop songs, but none screamed out for single release more than this one. That chorus is made for the top of the charts.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

8. Neon Neon - Stainless Style

This would have been a few notches higher on my chart if not for the dire hip-hop tracks. In fact, on my mp3 player I’ve deleted them entirely and replaced the meandering Raquel with the much-preferred radio edit. Now if this was the album they’d released, it’d be a different story, because their non-rap songs are immense. Add a couple more singing tracks and we could be talking album of the year or very close to it. Hopefully they get a second chance and ditch the rappers.


7. Kaka - Kaka

Last year this spot was occupied by another Swedish indie artist named Pikko. Kaka is actually Ricky Karlsson from one of my favorite bands ever, the Mo. With his electronic-pop debut, he stayed reasonably close to the Mo template but definitely got more experimental. It certainly sounds like an indie pop album, but with emphasis on the “pop.” He knows how to go straight for the jugular with his songs, crafting melodies that are radio-ready while still retaining an artistic edge. It’s probably the strangest album on my countdown and the least well-known.


20. Royworld - Man In The Machine

I didn’t know they made them like this any more… an epic, piano rock track that would have fit nicely on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

19. Eskobar - Flat Earth

I never thought they had such a manic pop song in them. The group’s best single to date… actually, their best song to date.

18. Danny - Radio

This song is so good that the first time I listened to it I swore it was a cover of some huge 80’s track. Turns out it isn’t, which is just jaw-dropping.

17. Ola - Love In Stereo

The most poptastic song at this year’s Melodifestivalen, it should have won the whole thing. Ola, we need a whole album of this sort of thing, please.

16. Black Kids - I‘m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You

I still get goosebumps every time I hear that swirling, bombastic intro. The gender-bending lyrics and general craziness helps, too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

10. Keane - Perfect Symmetry

The change in sound was exactly the shot in the arm Keane needed. This’ll probably end up being my favorite Keane album, especially the first half. Who knew that an indie piano-pop band could morph into a stadium-ready pop group in such a short time? It puts Coldplay to shame, at least in my eyes. Keane are infinitely more upbeat and melody-conscious than their peers and it all came to a head with this album. Lovers Are Losing is just achingly beautiful, as is the title track. And who knew they had the funk of Spiralling in them??


9. Infernal - Electric Cabaret

I did not expect this album to be anything special. I’d never been particularly impressed with Infernal before, though I did quite admire the feistiness of I Won’t Be Crying. Turns out that was just an appetizer, though. Electric Cabaret is filled with genre-busting dance pop that knows how to be dramatic while still not taking itself too seriously. It’s a long album, for sure, and with that comes some minor filler, but there are too many fantastic tracks here to count. Punk Disco and Redefinition are definitely among the best, and would find themselves near the top of my 50 tracks list had they been singles.


25. Rihanna - Disturbia

The best of about a million singles released by Rihanna this year. It’s all about that “dum dum dee dum” beat and that chorus.

24. Lady GaGa - Just Dance

Established a sound and an image that I’m confident will absolutely take over 2009. I knew it was a hit the moment I heard it.

23. Per Gessle - Silly Really

The closest thing to a Roxette single in 2008. It is Gessle’s best solo single by a clear mile.

22. Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor

The perfect indie dance concoction for the long winter. As the video portrayed it, this was an absolute madhouse of a song. I wonder what it would have sounded like if Kylie had recorded it?

21. King Of Trolls - Far Away

Funny enough, I can’t even say this is the goofiest song on my countdown this year. That honor belongs to #15. I can say that this was the best 80’s schlock rock pastiche all year. Viva the troll!