Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007: The Year In (Mostly) Commercial Pop

I didn't think I'd make a year-end list about songs for 2007 because I didn't think I listened to a whole lot of new music this year. I kind of retreated into my archives and listened to way less of the glossy radio pop I gravitate towards, much less the actually respectable music of which I am usually underinformed. But as I was going through the music on my computer, I found that 2007 was pretty good to me, music-wise. Maybe a stronger year than most. Go fig. So once again, the conceit here is 18 songs, juuuust stretching the limit of what could fit on one Best of '07 CD. This year, there's also room for five honorable mentions. Because it's the season of giving, that's why:

Honorable mentions (alpha order):
The Bravery -- "Time Won't Let Me Go"
Kelly Clarkson -- "Never Again"
Fergie f/ Ludacris -- "Glamorous"
Snow Patrol -- "Open Your Eyes"
Eddie Vedder -- "Society"

18. Amy Winehouse -- "You Know I'm No Good"
It's been a long twelve months for me and Amy Winehouse. "Rehab" was cool but not as cool as the hype seemed to suggest, and then in light of her best attempts to be this side of the pond's Pete Doherty, it just sounded...sad. "You Know I'm No Good" endured, however, with a much cooler, sexier, soulful sound.

17. Boys Like Girls -- "The Great Escape"
Continuing my proud tradition of latching onto the odd pop-punk flash in the pan, I have to admit my fondness for MTV's latest boy crushes. They sound a lot like Yellowcard, which fits because I had a very similar relationship with that band a few years ago. This time next year, I'll probably have disowned them, but as the presence of at least one eyelinered emo-punk band later in this list, that's not always the case.

16. Van Morrison w/ Roger Waters -- "Comfortably Numb"
While everyone else was hanging off of the Dropkick Murphys' jocks after The Departed's soundtrack dropped, I hung at the back with the old folks and marveled at how naturally Van Morrison's voice fit into the well-worn shoes of Pink Floyd's ode to the chemical haze. This version's been knocking around for a while, since a live performance at the Berlin Wall site in 1990 (linked above), but its presence in Scorsese's movie, as well as a Morrison compilation this year, gives me excuse enough to include it here.

15. Kerry Butler -- "Magic"
After all my enthusing about the Broadway version of Xanadu, I had to include something off the marvelous cast album. I ended up choosing my new girl crush's best number, a breathy, hilarious (yet still sweetly melodic) take on Olivia Newton John.

14. The Marble Index -- "I Don't Want To Try To Change Your Life"
When I went home to Buffalo to see the Lowest of the Low's last show, I was fortunate enough to see the Marble Index open for them. I'd seen them open for the Low before, and remember enjoying them, but they've really come into their own this year. "I Don't Want To Try..." marked the high point of their live show and their album Watch Your Candles Watch Your Knives.

13. Kanye West -- "Stronger
Such an awesome, driving dance track. It'd have to be to make me like a song that's basically a response to Kanye's haters. Constantly shouting out your haters doesn't make you seem more secure, boss.

12. Jay Brannan -- "Soda Shop"
In a year when the most visible product of MySpace was the freakishly alien face of Tila Tequila, I remain thankful that it can also give a boost to singer-songwriters like Jay Brannan. The song -- which you'll recall from Brannan's performance in last year's Shortbus -- is as sweet a confection as its title suggests, with a winking sense of humor so you he knows what century we're in.

11. Christina Aguilera -- "Candyman"
I love all the new and interesting ways Christina has found to act a ho. Seriously. The whole "Andrews Sisters harmonizing about cock" idea might have been the funniest thing in music all year, and the best indication yet that if we had to look for raunchy old Xtina any place beyond our own backyard, we never even lost her to begin with.

10. Justin Timberlake -- "What Goes Around Comes Around"
It's not a party without Justin, and while he traded in the irresistible hooks of "Sexyback" for the smoother slow jams of this second single, the real pull for "What Goes Around..." is the energy that goes into it live. Even I, a bigger Justin fan than most, never thought I'd be recommending a JT live track as better than the studio, but click the link above.

09. Augustana -- "Boston"
It's very VH1, I'll admit. Maybe it was because this was the year I moved away that I latched onto the lyrics about getting out of the old town and starting a new life, but it always spoke to me in one way or another. And I got to see them in person over the summer, and they're a really solid live band. Oh, piano ballads, you've got me again.

08. Band of Horses -- "The Funeral"
07. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova -- "Falling Slowly"
Technically, these are both 2006 songs. I know this because I was introduced to them both via a compilation CD that a friend gave to me at this time last year. That being said, 2007 was the year that Once made "Falling Slowly" the unofficial romantic anthem of the film year, and it was also the year where "The Funeral" starting popping up in movie trailers and TV commercials, and since you know that's my preferred method of acquiring new music, you know it meets my standards. Anyway, they're two of the prettiest songs of the year, and they're guilt-free to boot.

06. Maroon 5 -- "Makes Me Wonder"
Damn, what a fun record this was. Adam Levine reaching his slenderly sexual peak while the music got funkier and catchier.

05. Fall Out Boy -- "Thanks For The Memories"
I can't quite seem to shake Pete Wentz and company, can I? I want to. But no band that has the ear of the kids today is more energetic and enthusiastic, not just about their music but about their celebrity. If you're going to be the cause célèbre of whatever constitutes the MTV generation these days, that's a big deal. As for the song? It rocks.

04. The Killers -- "The River Is Wild"
Sam's Town was 2006, yes, and if you recall, last year's Best Of list was topped by "When You Were Young." But the rest of the album's stellar songs (top to bottom, it's superb) came into their own in '07, and none better, for me, than this track. Brandon Flowers just wants to show you what he knows. What's wrong with that?

03. Timbaland -- "The Way I Are"
It's sounds like a throwback to every dance floor anthem Tim has produced in the last five years, thrown together and distilled to maximum potency. If I'm ever sitting down when it starts playing I feel resentful -- this track cannot be wasted on my homebound moments.

02. Rihanna f/ Jay Z -- "Umbrella"
I'm not made of wood, people. Come on. This was hot.

01. Ron Hawkins -- "Peace And Quiet"
The dust has barely started to settle on the career and legacy of the Lowest of the Low, and already lead singer Ron Hawkins is atop my list. Deservedly so -- his Chemical Sounds is a mature, mellower take on the clever songwriting that has always marked his solo albums. "Peace and Quiet" has been the song most passionately delivered in Hawkins's live shows, making it an easy favorite for a rabid fan like me. Buy the album, seriously.

Sadly, I can't link to any performance or recording of my number one song, alas. But since 2007 was also the year that saw the last hurrah of my favorite band in the world, I'm just going to post two "found gold" YouTube clips of footage taken from those final Lowest of the Low shows.

The first is the venerable "Rosy and Grey" from the second-to-last show ever in Toronto:

The second is "Black Monday" from the final show in Buffalo. I promise to stop harping about these guys if you guys promise to take a look:

1 comment:

StickyKeys said...

Perfect choices. Even I liked that Fall Out Boy song and I can't stand them singing (I love their shenanigans though).

I'm at work and can't listen to the Justin thing though I'm very intrigued. How'd you like his HBO concert? Wasn't it a little too much "trying to get my grown man on for HBO"? Still, hottness.