Songs to Learn and Sing: The Very Best of '08

Being the nonconformist that I am, I reject the false choice of either listing my favorite music of the past year in December or not at all. I, therefore, have chosen this late date (well into February) to give you my list of 2008’s best music. Further eschewing convention, I will not limit, I will not restrict, I will not curtail my selections to only music that was released in 2008 either. Rather, I will choose my favorite music of the year based on music that was new to me in the year–regardless of when it was actually released.

1. Vampire Weekend

This enigmatically named group (is the weekend sucking us dry, or is a “Vampire Weekend” a weekend in which you drink a lot of blood?) topped many indie “Album of the year” lists. Not the least pretentious of which was NPR’s Listeners’ Picks (they got beat out of the #1 spot by Fleet Foxes–a band that is not yet significant enough for me to pay attention to).  Vampire Weekend’s blend of African rhythms, intelligent lyrics, and 80’s sub-culture sensibilities should appeal to anyone who shares my exact tastes… others may enjoy them as well.

2. Cold Play: Viva la Vida

Yes, yes, Cold Play is now giving Vanilla Ice and Mili Vanili company in the “I Ripped Off This Song and Pretended IT Was My Own” hall of shame. But if you’ve listened to the Satriani song, which I have, you realized that even if Cold Play DID rip it off, they made it much, much better. And since music exists for my enjoyment alone, intellectual property rights be damned. Seriously though, I’m looking forward to the joint press conference between Cold Play and Satriani when he announces that he’s dropping the law suit and has been brought on as the opening act for Cold Play, Cold Play admits no wrong doing, many checks exchange hands behind closed doors, and Satriani is issued one of those snazzy “Sgt. Pepper” outfits the boys from [wherever the hell Martin and Co. are from] are wearing these days.

Video of Viva la Vida

3. Stars

Okay, were to the entry where I bend time and space to fit my personal concept of musical continuity. Stars has been around for some time now, and they DID release an album in 2007, In Our Bedroom After the War. The video below was what first hooked me on their music. With its thinly veiled Smiths/Morrisesy influence, it should be little wonder that “Take Me To the Riot” appeals to my 80s alt sensitivities. I was surprised to find, however, that Stars are not a one-trick pony. Their music covers a spectrum of sounds–yes, still clearly in the indie rock vein–which keeps their music consistently interesting. The title track to In Our Bedroom After the War is particularly enjoyable.

4. Flight of the Concords

Just when you thought New Zealand couldn’t contribute anything more to pop culture (I’m talking, of course, about the film The Piano), out come these two lovable mop heads and their quirky humor. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and then you’ll link the Youtube video to twenty unsuspecting friends who will watch it in their work cubicles, laugh out loud, stifle furthering laughter, fail to stifle, get hauled into the bosses office where he demands to know exactly what is so funny so they show him and he starts laughing which causes him to email the link to the CEO who, now infected, orders the DVD collection of the HBO series based on Flight of the Concords’ music and calls a mandatory town-hall meeting to show them to the entire company. Productivity plummets. Jobs are lost. You’ve now directly contributed to the recession. Thanks a lot… jerk.

5. The National

Ok, I only really like “Fake Empire.” It’s the song you can plug in and listen to over and over again as you pretend you’re an angst ridden teenager. Well, you would be able to if your own (nearly) teens weren’t beating on your door asking why they can’t use the computer once in a while and when you’re gonna go get a real job so they can have a Wii like Billy.

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3 thoughts on “Songs to Learn and Sing: The Very Best of '08

  1. Yeah! Your back. Although I am slightly disapointed in your subject… I was going to go for a witty stimulous comment, but it just sounded dirty.

    Anyhoo! I’m still stalking you. And since it’s your blog well talk music…

    I’ll check out your picks… I see the FofTC commercials on HBO and the seem pretty funny, I’ll be sure to check out an episode!

    I love coldplays album, but I just can’t get over the whole rip off thing, everytime i see them on Tv, its just always there! it’s kinda like putting a tax cheat in charge of the IRS!

    Please forgive my spelling I’m on my mobile and between the tiny keypad/screen and the possessed spell prediction, it’s more like mad libs!

    Anyhow welcome back!

  2. Anne, I know this post didn’t have anything to do with politics, but I PROMISE you that you’ll LOVE Vampire Weekend.

    I’m inclined to give Coldplay a pass because they have a history of writing very good music with help from no one. There are a few articles out there about how hard plagiarism is to prove because the line between “stolen” and “influenced” is so thin, so I doubt they have much to worry about. Still, if it comes out that there was a deliberate act of plagiarism, then my goodwill will evaporate.

    I will again at some point talk about politics, but you have to realize that I have little to complain about. Obama won a convincing victory, the Democrats solidified their position in the House and Senate, and 30 years of misguided laissez-faire capitalism has been exposed for the failed ideology that it is. What’s to complain about? Unless, of course, it’s the fact that 90% of conservatives still get their “news” from this guy:

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