So here it is, my top 40 songs of 2008. As ever, I’m not claiming to be representing the views of anyone else, just my own choices, but I hope (and think) that they’re pretty representative of what’s been good this year. As the top 10 reflects, it’s been a great year for guitar music, and specifically indie rock. Not so great a year for hip hop though, but who knows, perhaps the return of 50 Cent and Eminem will lead the way in 2009. We’ll just have to wait and see…
1. Time To Pretend – MGMT
Truly deserving of the top spot, this track from the eccentric NYC duo hasn’t got old yet, and I don’t see it going that way for a long time. Genuinely original lyrics from one of the best new bands of ’08 - they claimed NME magazine's top spot in their end of year poll (though for their single Kids, not Time To Pretend) and I think rightly got it here too. My prediction is that they'll implode and never reach these dizzy heights again (maybe they will even move to Paris, marry models and do heroin), but when they've already given us this, who could complain?
2. He Doesn't Know Why – Fleet Foxes
My favourite band of 2008, new or otherwise, they only failed to clinch my top spot because I think the album is so beautiful that it really benefits from listening to it as a whole. It's simply stunning, and the I've seen the phrase "life affirming" attached to it on more than one occasion. Robin Pecknold’s soaring lyrics on this track make it the stand out for me.
3. Ready For The Floor – Hot Chip
Another great slice of originality, from an album that was admittedly hit and miss. It genuinely does what it promises to do, and it’s impossible to not be ready for the dancefloor after hearing it. Hot Chip, you're my number one guy. Well, number 3.
4. Skinny Love – Bon Iver
This was the first thing I heard from press-darling Bon Iver and it’s still his best track for me. Simplicity is the key to the impact of Bon Iver’s music and this lead song from the album For Emma, Forever Ago proves that point well.
5. I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You – Black Kids
This is a real case of a song that buries itself deep under your skin. It’s a great party track with an amusing sentiment at the heart of it.
6. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes deserve to be one of only two bands to have two tracks in my top 40 (MGMT being the other - oh, actually, Santogold has two as well, if you count the Converse track) and this is a real tour de force of Fleet Foxes’ trademark vocal harmonies. It’s almost religious to see this performed live.
7. Frankie's Gun! – The Felice Brothers
The Felice Brothers’ album was frankly underwhelming but that doesn’t diminish the rustic charm of Frankie’s Gun. Unashamedly channelling Dylan, the lyrics in this are a treat. Make all your friends learn the words so you can all sing along next time someone gets a guitar out after a few drinks.
8. Raquel – Neon Neon
For someone who has never paid much attention to Super Furry Animals, this was a total bolt out of the blue for me. The album was a brilliant take on the ‘80s without ever going near pastiche territory. This is the standout for me and its second half crazy ravey blow out is just ridiculously good - my fantasy of dancing to it whilst wearing white gloves and spotlight sunglasses in a club with awe-struck onlookers spewing compliments about me may never come about, but it's the thought that counts.
9. Paper Planes – M.I.A.
This track snuck up on a lot of people, mostly thanks to the movie trailer for Pineapple Express and the fact that Jimmy was a big hit for M.I.A. when the album came out, but however it came to be back in people’s minds, it’s just a great track. And it's even better when My Wife does a surprisingly competent dance routine to it that wouldn't have been out of place on Showgirls. My favourite bit is when she blows smoke off the end of her hand-pistols. Okay, I'll stop now. Is nice.
10. A-Punk – Vampire Weekend
Kind of hard to decide which track of theirs should be on here, such was the strength of the album, but this was the pick I decided on. Despite the repeated comments of them ripping off various people, this still felt like one of the most refreshingly different songs of the year. Oi, oi, oi.
And the rest…
11. Consoler Of The Lonely – The Raconteurs
The spirit of Led Zep lives on, with two crazy rock vocalists.
12. Old White Lincoln – The Gaslight Anthem
Arguably the best chorus of the year, although Springsteen should probably sue.
13. Halfway Home – TV On The Radio
The opening, and best, track of Rolling Stone's album of the year.
14. Two Doors Down – Mystery Jets
Runner up in the chorus of the year stakes. Great fun.
15. Badonkadonkey – Born Ruffians
A beautifully sunny track.
16. 88 – The Cool Kids
Phat, phat, phat. If anyone still says that.
17. Paris Is Burning – LadyHawke
Hasn't worn so well throughout the year, but still a song bursting with charm.
18. Kamphopo – The Very Best
Came out of nowhere and haven't heard a peep about them since. But I love it.
19. Geraldine – Glasvegas
The spirit of Phil Spector lives on.
20. Sex On Fire – Kings of Leon
A lot of rockin' fun.
21. Kids – MGMT
Second entry, and a great track.
22. Superstar – Lupe Fiasco Feat. Matthew Santos
Lupe's raps have been some of the best of the year.
23. L.E.S Artistes (XXX Change Remix) – Santogold
My Wife's favourite track of 2008, and my 23rd favourite.
24. The Carolinian – Chatham County Line
Just the most utterly charming, sweet, lovely song I heard this year. Gorgeous.
25. Gladiator – Common
A recent release bur thoroughly deserving of its place in the Top 40.
26. American Boy – Estelle Feat Kanye West
This is one of those that I'm wondering if I should have put higher.
27. Fascination – Alphabeat
The most pop track in the list - it's a whole lotta fun.
28. My Drive Thru – Santogold, Julian Casablancas & N.E.R.D.
If only all brand sponsored tracks were this good.
29. I Woke Up Today – Port O'Brien
Bunch on fishermen make good with noisy indie rock.
30. Don't Be Afraid – RZA
Better than anything on the Wu-Tang's last album.
31. One Day Like This – Elbow
Deserved Mercury Music Prize winners, and this track is a good philosophy for life.
32. Now 'Til 69 – Shortwave Set
One of several great numbers produced by Dangermouse this year.
33. Lost Coastlines – Okkervil River
Like Estelle, should this have been higher? Runner up to Fleet Foxes in my live shows of the year.
34. Street Of Dreams – Guns N' Roses
Proof that if you have an ability to write great songs, you'll always find fans somewhere.
35. Can't Stop Moving – Sonny J
36. I Heard Wonders – David Holmes
Great track from a really good album.
37. I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked – Ida Maria
Got to love those bonkers Scandinavian girls.
38. Lost+ – Coldplay Feat Jay-Z
From the Prospekt's March EP, though not reaching their previous heights.
39. That's Not My Name – The Ting Tings
Overplayed yes, but a great song nonetheless.
40. Paris – Friendly Fires
Another song I wish I could live by - I'd quite like to move to Paris I think.