50. Death Cab For Cutie – Grapevine Fires
A chilling, steady, playboy of a tune.
49. Shearwater – Rooks
Potent and poetic.
48. Wintersleep – Oblivion
The grower. The hook is as immediate as you will find. From their fabulous Welcome to The Night Sky LP.
47. We Are Scientists – After Hours
Much different than their previous efforts, and probably their strongest song to date, at least where melody and riffage are concerned.
46. Bloc Party – Signs
“I see signs now all around me, that you’re not dead, you’re sleeping.” How do they continue to write affecting song after bloody affecting song? I don’t know, but I feel pretty much all of it. Kele you are a true star.
45. The Helio Sequence – Lately
Probably should be higher, but we’ll see more from them on this list. The haunting, ode to resilience and the futility sometimes inherent within. Simply beautiful.
44. Robert Plant & Alison Kraus – Killing The Blues
What a gorgeous combination of vocals. What a melody. What a song.
43. Death Cab For Cutie – Bixby Canyon Bridge
A true album opener. A mega-sized tune if ever there was one.
42. Why? – Good Friday
Almost defies explanation. In fact, it does. It just needs to be heard.
41. Gnarls Barkley – Going On
The runaway best song from The Odd Couple, its pulse is funk and vocals are power.
40. Crystal Castles vs. Health – Crimewave
This introduction to the Castles can’t help but stop you in your tracks to say what’s going on? A grand accomplishment.
39. MGMT – Kids
The title says it all. The sound of kids at play. Wonderful.
38. City & Colour f. Gord Downie – Sleeping Sickness
A stunning melody with great lyrics. Perfectly Canadian. To boot, it happens to be sung by two of the greatest Canadian voices the country has EVER produced.
37. Lady Gaga – Poker Face
An unstoppable force.
36. The Academy Is… – About a Girl
With hooks to spare.
35. John Mayer – Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
I’m not a huge fan, but I was obsessed with this song in ’08 thanks to SYTYCD. He’ll never have a better song in my view. Wicked vibe.
34. Oasis – Falling Down
“The Shock of Lightning” was strong too, but for a Noel-sung first single, for taking chances musically, and that crazy riff in the chorus, this song wins and bludgeons.
33. Bloc Party – Biko
It’s hard to describe how beautiful this song is. The lyrics grapple with the heart and break it down, but are sensitive enough to leave it able to be refurbished. “You’re not doing this alone” and “The world isn’t kind to little things” are such tender sentiments. And when the beat comes in, it becomes a mammoth tune.
32. The Verve – Love Is Noise
The Comeback. And how!
31. Foals – Olympic Airways
Their other stuff is a tad manic (in a good way), but this one is just aural pleasure stuck in melodious heaven.
30. Yo-Yo Ma f. James Taylor – Here Comes The Sun
The George Harrison classic is re-interpreted into this gorgeous, lush, and layered piece of serene majesty.
29. Basia Bulat – In The Night
I came back to this song time and time again. What an elegant piece of pop music.
28. The Helio Sequence – A Captive Mind
Plainly and simply one of the riffs of the year.
27. Wintersleep – Insomnia
From their untitled and relatively obscure low-key masterpiece, this song best matches the band’s name. It also breathes the sound of isolation in the most perfect way possible. A tremendous song that kept me emotionally involved every single listen.
26. Vanessa Demata & Ben Harper/Rita Guerra & D’ZRT – Boa Sorte/Good Luck
I can’t decide which version I like better so they both get pub. Proving that music knows no linguistic boundaries, this Portuguese (and English) song provides one of the sweetest melodies you will ever hear.
25. Wintersleep – Miasmal Smoke & The Yellow Bellied Freaks
Epic music. Wonderfully epic.
24. Plumb – In My Arms (Kaskade remix)
This song spits fire. What a beautifully soft voice the lead singer has.
23. White Lies – Death
This is the sound of a band that wants to be huge. Look out for these chaps in ’09. “Yes this fear’s got a hold of me” never sounded so defiant. Punch-drunk Indie supremacy.
22. Keane – Spiralling
The reserved Keane is no more. The sound of a band entering their senior year of University. Quite possibly their thesis statement. Let’s give them a 90% and get it over with, shall we?
21. Fleet Foxes – White Water Hymnal
In a dream world, this is the fairy tale song that every kid would sing each day before starting school. The days would be good, the nights would be peaceful, and Michael would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summer time. Perfect.
20. The Killers – Spaceman
Not uber-crippling at first, but usually that’s a good thing, and in this case it is most assuredly. No matter what they try to do, or what Mr. Flower’s is singing about, they remain passionately loyal to one thing–melody.
19. Third Eye Blind – Red Star
This song simply exploded over the last month of the year. This was my song of December. It’s the sound of an underrated band bringing everthing and the kitchen sink to the party. “You were so pretty in the days you spoke your mind.” Indeed.
18. Katy Perry – I Kissed a Girl
I don’t give a funk, this song could not be stopped. In other words, it’s pop perfection through and through.
17. Lady Gaga – Just Dance
I don’t give a funk, this song could not be stopped. In other words, it’s pop perfection through and through. These past two songs were the best mainstream pop songs by so many miles I don’t care to squint in a telescope to try and find them in the distance.
16. Crystal Castles – Untrust Us
I’m still not sure what to make of this song. Is it the sound of drugs on record? Is it the sound of record making on drugs? This song drops ‘cid in your eye and mashes you brain into soft serve ice cream. Hands down, it contains the best unintelligible lyrics of the year. Well done T-dot, well done.
15. Bloc Party – Ion Square
The piano loops right from the jump. The drums are manic from the get-go. Kele builds the vocals from a lullaby into a lovelorned lament. Pay attention to the lyrics. They are the best of love. “Cause I love my mind, when fucking you” is maybe the most powerfully sung lyric I can recall this year. These guys are heroic musicians, there is no second way about it.
14. Noah & The Whale – Give a Little Love
“Don’t break his heart?” Easy for you to sing Noah and co. when you have no problem breaking the hearts of your listeners with this celebratory anthem. Hypocrite bastards! Don’t change. Please, don’t change.
13. Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire
Quite simply, this song is on fire. And it doesn’t get old. A powerhouse hit from the musically maturing Yankees. A beast of a song from beginning to end.
12. The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead
If anyone needs to discover a band from this past year, it is The Helio Sequence. It really is as simple as that.
11. City & Colour – Body in a Box (Myspace transmission)
The LP version of this song is fantastic, but this live version from Myspace is otherwordly. If the Johnny that is sung about was a real person, he was indeed very special. A beautiful, engaging, heart-wrenching ballad of the best ilk. Made by a talent in his unheralded prime. Pay attention because this type of magic doesn’t come along very often.