50. White Rabbits – Percussion Gun
The best song that Cold War Kids didn’t release this year. The drumming is cool and the vocal is tight and urgent.
49. Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker – Laces Out
They can do buck wild with the best of them. This song attests to their wicked strong pop instincts.
48. In-Flight Safety – Model Homes
They are not re-inventing the wheel with this one, but they are patently honest and believable. I haven’t rooted for Maritimers this much since the Trailer Park Boys.
47. The Maine – Ho Ho Hopefully
The best Christmas song of the year, by far. I heard Santa cried when he first heard this song, then Mrs. Claus told him to stop being so Emo, then he cut his wrists, then she patched it up with love and candied tears, then they made sweet, cherubic love.
46. Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks
A band in their prime, brimming with melodies and musical ideas to spare. I feel really warm when I listen to this song, warm like my body is layered in longjohns wrapped in longstockings covered in leopard-skin leotards. This song is luscious to its very core. Bonus points for probably my favourite video of the year, an amazing visual trip.
45. Backstreet Boys – Bigger
Far and away the best song on their mostly forgettable new record, this tune proves they can fit Adult Contemporary bliss in their back pocket. Max Martin was, is and will forever remain an indomitable Swedish treasure.
44. Muse – Undisclosed Desires
They cannot top the catchiness of “Starlight”, but they come close here. This is “Starlight’s” dirtier, younger, troublemaking cousin. For such a gitchy tune, designed to make people raise hands and give in, that is some pretty grimey bass-slapping action going on in the chorus. An underrated and sneaky part of the song comes in at 3:06, with some low level background crooning from Mr. Bellamy. Slyer than Stallone and slicker than Rick.
43. Hot Chip – Take It In
This song hasn’t been out long, but the chorus soars so high it renders its late year release moot. The chorus is baby-powdered with pure lilac and doused with the serenity of sage. A chorus like this comes around once a career for most bands. Simply breathtaking.
42. Silversun Pickups – There’s No Secrets This Year
There are no secrets and there are no explanations worthy of a song that froths with so much vigour, intensity, and excitement. The bravado of this album-opener is unparalleled. (“I’ll tell you a secret, let’s make this perfectly clear, we’ve got roofies in here” Those who know will know.) Bonus points for the minute lead into “The Royal We”.
41. Placebo – Julien
Probably Placebo’s most club-ready song, and probably their buck-nastiest track to date. A foot-tapper of epic proportions; I’m confounded as to why this song has yet to be released as a single. “Julien, you’re being taken, for a ride…” So are we, and rarely has it been so much fun.
40. Metric – Waves
I can’t believe this song didn’t make Fantasies. The absolute opposite of a B-side. This song is sweet, light and unfathomably catchy.
39. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Scattered Pearls
It was a fait a compli, this song is as pure as a white lilly. The most innocent song of the year and undoubtedly one of the best.
38. Tiesto f. Tegan & Sara – Feel It In My Bones
The best electronic song of the year. Clearly the best song on his bloated and not so good Kaleidoscope. Should have been the first single, but will settle for being the biggest hit. A really concise instrumental aided by an awesome vocal turn by Tegan & Sara. The tune gets particularly massive at 3:00. What dance/trance/pop should aspire to be, though it rarely hits like this.
37. Animal Collective – Brother Sport
“Open up your throat,” open up your mind, open up your heart, and there will be no stopping the force of nature that is “Brother Sport”. When I listen to this song, I hear celebration, all-encompassing and glorious from the first second to the last.
36. The Stills – I’m With You
Just your classic pop-rock perfection, no more and no less.
35. M83 – Kim & Jessie
This song came out in early 2008, and I liked it then and for the rest of that year. It became the most beautiful explosion of hope, promise, and relaxation this year. Anthony Gonzalez layers so much in this tune, it seems impossible to get sick of. The nearly incomprehensible lyric adds to the charm of this marvelous song. If you were an animal being built from scratch, this song is the sound of your exoskeleton fusing with your muscular and nervous systems to make you feel…alive.
34. The Killers – A White Demon Love Song
An intriguing departure for The Killers. This doesn’t necessarily sound like them, but as usual, it is one super bad-ass tune. The chorus, in particular, slithers along at its own deliberate pace, led by that lazy bassline. The chorus is cacophonic, like a bear choking on malaise and tonic. I don’t think they’ve ever double-tracked a vocal with such disparate octaves. It’s the pace, it’s the chorus, it’s the trumpet add-on in the last section, it’s the question, “White demon, open your heart skull, white demon, who let your friend…go?”.
33. The Boxer Rebellion – Evacuate
The best free iTunes “song of the week” of the year–by miles and miles and days and days. This song is so energetic it couldn’t be further from rigormortis than prime-era Clinton Portis.
32. Noah & The Whale – Blue Skies
A song about heartbreak and reflection that can’t help but feel cathartic and transcendent. Such a pretty, precious song. Having shown a knack for writing the sweetest new-folk/indie/pop around, Noah & The Whale have settled comfortably and beautifully into their own collective skin.
31. Maximo Park – Let’s Get Clinical
I’m still not even sure this is the best song on the album, because top to bottom, Quicken The Heart is consistently strong. This tune has been my favourite for the longest period of time, if only because of her, if only because “I’d like to map your body out, inch by inch, north to south…”.
30. JJ – Things Will Never Be The Same Again
The best jungle-prancing song of the year. Somehow Max & Carol are having a rumpus to this song, somehow two people are falling in love to this song, and somehow, this is the sound of summer in all its sun-kissed glory.
29. Placebo – Kings of Medicine
The epic album-closer. My favourite tune on the record. The song with the grandest aspirations, musically and lyrically. It has the bright sheen that Placebo have recently discovered, but it also carries a heft of Meds’ doldrums-focused attitude. I preferred Placebo when they were revelling in dirt and passed out on the floor, but knowing they can sound this good when they step out of the darkness gives me hope. It’s the gorgeous piano melody and the soaring brass that goes regal at 3:40. It’s funny that the word “kings” is in the title, as pretty clearly, this song is the sound of a coronation. “Don’t leave me here, to pass through time, without a map or road sign,” Brian croons. With Placebo doubling as the newly crowned “Kings of Medicine”, I don’t fear for the direction of the dominion. Placebites rejoice, the reign continues.
28. Neko Case – This Tornado Loves You
This tune is equipollent to her balladry, a swirling concoction of sounds and images. There is not much more to say than Neko Case is the best female singer-songwriter on the planet right now and that I love everything she stands for and makes me feel. I can penetrate her songs with a depth and appreciation that is pretty much an impossibility with anyone else. Strength, power, and beauty incarnate.
27. Julian Casablancas – Out of the Blue
I wonder what seeing his fellow Strokes’ brethren release sturdy record after sturdy record did to him? It sure as hell didn’t slow him down, that much is apparent. The Stroke with the most obvious pop instincts, Casablancas lets loose on this song, the album-opener from his generally strong Phrazes For The Young. There are hooks left, right, and centre. There are synths galore. There are inspired vocals. There is pop magic at its core. “How could you be, so perfect for me?”. You are “Out of the Blue”, you are. Bonus points for making me think of her when I hear it.
26. Alexisonfire – The Northern
They specialize in anthems and have had oodles in their young and so far spectacular career, and this track will surely come to be revered alongside the best of them. This song is their pop masterstroke to date. Everybody is hitting on all cylinders here. It’s Dallas’ double-tracked vocals to begin the song and George breaking down not only the door at the 2:40 mark, but pretty much demolishing an entire skyscraper with hundreds of sticks of dynamite. “I want to go…to heaven…roll Jordan, rolllllllllll Jordan.” Well, at least you’ve got St. Pete’s attention now. That beginning riff is OMG-crunchy. Buck Nasty is the name of what’s going on here.