Previous "Best in Music" posts: 2007, 2006, 2005.
You should know the drill by now: These aren't necessarily the best songs of the year, but they're the ones I'll think of most fondly when I think of 2008.
Honorable mentions (alpha order):
Britney Spears -- "Womanizer"
Chris Brown -- "Forever"
Rihanna -- "Please Don't Stop the Music"
O.A.R. -- "Shattered"
The Ting Tings -- "Shut Up and Let Me Go"
15. Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown -- "No Air"
Full of all the teenage self-importance and drama you could ever want, plus more vocal runs than should be allowed, even by an American Idol winner. And it's a throwback kind of duet to boot.
14. The Veronicas -- "Untouched"
I'm not going to pretend this isn't the twentysomething's dance hall equivalent to the Jonas Brothers, but you have to know just how much of a sucker I am for the synthetic strings in this song.
13. Too Many Sisters -- "Skyscrapers"
My customary "local band and offshoot of the Lowest of the Low" entry, Stephen Stanley and Carla McNeil's debut album (check it out here) is the kind of sweet, sad nostalgic pub act that'd make you stop drinking and listen. "Skyscrapers" is a standout, but "Same Old Joint" and "Transistor Heart" are close runners-up.
12. Jay Brannan -- "Can't Have It All" / "Half-Boyfriend"
Another year, another appearance on this list for the self-propelled homo-folk sweetheart Jay Brannan. Both these songs blend clever lyrics and catchy melodies so well I couldn't possibly choose between them.
11. Vampire Weekend -- "A-Punk"
The more I read about all the intricate backlash and reverse-double-backlash stuff that went on with this band's 2008 release, the more I'm glad I don't follow music as closely as I do movies and TV. This way I'm free to just enjoy the music, particularly this track, which manages to consistently put a hop in my step all year.
10. Rihanna -- "Disturbia"
The hit machine kept on running this year, this time with a track that took me a couple listens before I fully gave in to the hypnotic dance beat. Of course, by then I couldn't have escaped if I wanted to. (I didn't.)
09. Christina Aguilera -- "Keeps Getting Better"
08. Pink -- "So What?"
07. Beyonce -- "Single Ladies"
I believe I covered these three fairly extensively in my search for a summer song. My feelings haven't changed.
06. The Hold Steady -- "Constructive Summer"
What my friends and I would have been listening to drinking in the park during our high school summers, if my friends and I had been cooler.
05. Estelle f/ Kanye West -- "American Boy"
Estelle returns the favor after countless American anthems to the charms of English women. ...Wait a second.
04. The Killers -- "Spaceman"
"Human" was a great reintroduction to the Killers as dance-rock heroes, but "Spaceman" is where it all blooms most vibrantly.
03. Coldplay -- "Viva La Vida"
As far as my annual "heard it on an iPod commercial" entry, this one's stronger than most. One of the year's best ongoing stories was watching cooler-than-thou music snobs try to scoff this one out of the marketplace before eventually knuckling under to its sheer towering bombast.
02. T.I. f/ Rihanna -- "Live Your Life"
The kind of heroism it takes to make a hot track out of that god forsaken "Numa Numa" sample is the kind not spoken of in the history books. Though it should be.
01. MGMT -- "Time to Pretend"
Digital prozac, is what this song is. The fact that this is showing up on some critics' "best of" lists made me go back and make sure I didn't have it all wrong, but nope -- it's still the funniest, catchiest, happiest song about heroin overdose I've heard all year.