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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Top ten: Melodrama mama

Many of the songs below are tracks that stood out upon end-of-year album relistening. Several are megahits I hadn't seriously thought about until recently. And one probably should've been song of the year last year.

1. Kleerup & Robyn, "With Every Heartbeat": Popjustice has been telling me to get to this hyperballad for a year and a half now; when the second video came out, I watched it once, thought "that's a terrific video", then forgot about it. On second listen, it's a masterpiece. It's the opposite of that other masterpiece, "Go West": the apparent pain, though great, masks a determination that's almost celebratory. "We could keep trying but things will never change" is slightly softened and greatly deepened by "I don't look back". Then, after the terrific synthetic string quartet has its moment: "it hurts with every heartbeat", as if the regular ba-bomp of the "it hurts with" can't be sustained for even a line. But though no longer heard, "I don't look back" still lingers, telling us that yes, I will survive even this.

2. Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)": For the benefit of you who are not up with the latest "hip hop" slang, I shall explain some related terms:

"Superman dat ho" - Take a young woman on a hot air balloon ride.
"Batman dat ho" - Go spelunking with a young lady.
"Spiderman dat ho" - Support a female friend at her appearance on American Gladiators.
"Yuuuuuuu!" - I am in the process of ejaculating.

3. Britney Spears, "Piece of Me": Once again I worried she wouldn't keep up her streak of one great song every album, but just as "Anticipating" from Britney grew on me, so has "Piece of Me". The songs couldn't be more different: where "Anticipating" was one last hurrah for her kiddie pawn career, "Piece of Me" is grown-up, barely masking its desperation. She knows her value as a commodity, and flaunting that value is the only defence she has.

4. Lily Allen, "Knock 'Em Out": Upon reflection, her funniest is her best. It's incredibly hard to sustain a career in hilarious meanness, with harmlessness or unproductive depression easy traps to fall into. Hope she finds her phone.

5. Yo La Tengo, "Daphnia": Probably no proper album this year, but the last is stretching out a long way. This luscious nine minute instrumental is constructed around a repeating up/down guitar figure, coloured with piano and weird tremolos. Note to Panda Bear: Don't try to copy this, you're not up to it.

6. KAT-TUN, "Keep the faith": After all, the only problem with the Bon Jovi song of the same name is that it's over four minutes. Well, that and Jon sings (though his Not Rap bridge is kind of charming).

7. Taz, "Apna Sangeet": Coventrian chameleon Tarsame Singh rolls the dice, coming up with "bhangra hop" and "anti-racist statement of pride". Taz, I won't dis your roots and rhythm until the next time you roll "Bollywood strings" and "generic love plea".

8. Justice ft. Uffie, "Tthhee Ppaarrttyy": Justice's music is as shallow as Soulja Boy. But at least they know the point of getting hot girls drunk isn't to make them unconscious.

9. Nelly Furtado, "Say It Right": I actually like seven of the United World Chart's top eight songs of 2007, the exception being "The Sweet Escape", which I don't hate that much. (On the other hand, I do hate number nine, "Hey There Delilah", more than enough.) "Say It Right" came in second to "Umbrella", and while few besides Simon Reynolds would prefer them the other way around, its spookiness makes up for the unshapeliness of the lyric.

10. Donald Byrd & 125th St N.Y.C., "Love Has Come Around": I heard this every time I played the Larry Levan comp Journey into Paradise, but it didn't sink in until I heard James Murphy and Pat Mahoney's FabricLive.38 mix. They take out the cheesier bits, push the drums forward, and it sounds like, well, house.

Sixteen more: Bright Eyes, "Soul Singer in a Session Band"; Fountains of Wayne, "Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim"; Grinderman, "No Pussy Blues"; Jewels and Binoculars, "Jack-A-Roe"; Justice, "DVNO"; Les Savy Fav, "The Year Before the Year 2000" and "What Would Wolves Do"; Sam Mangwana, "Marabenta"; Maria Muldaur, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"; Youssou N'Dour, "Baay Faal" and "Bajjan"; Lee Scratch Perry, "Perry's Ballad"; Rihanna, "Breakin' Dishes"; Mark Ronson ft. Santogold, "Pretty Green"; Peter Stampfel, "Fucking Sailors in Chinatown"; The White Stripes, "Effect and Cause".

Dude, go back to yr Collective: At twelve and a half minutes, Panda Bear's "Bros" is as long as "When Will I Be Famous?", "Drop the Boy" and "I Owe You Nothing" laid end-to-end and not as good as any of them. The Brothers Goss weren't great singers, but had enough chops to not have to have their vocals treated to the point of incomprehensibility. Plus they understood the concept of a chord change.



  • At 5:13 PM, Blogger girish said…

    Thanks, Brad! Many cool discoveries for me in this post.


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