Top 10 Songs of 2008

I've said it before and I'll say it again: 2008's been a pretty super year for music.  And most of it has come from new, emerging talent, too. Seven of the records on my Top 10 Albums of 2008 were debuts.  And many of the best songs were by acts that haven't gotten around to making a full LP yet, and therefore couldn't qualify for last week's album list.

There were also a few fantastic songs that appeared on otherwise mediocre records (there's quite a few of these), or records that I haven't heard in full or just haven't been made aware of yet, and I think they deserve to be recognised as the works of greatness that they are.  I've also taken the executive decision to exclude songs that appear on any of my top 10 albums, on the basis that they've already had their just deserts.

  1. Number: 10

    After Hours

    Artist: We Are Scientists

    My love of WAS's first album, With Love and Squalor, seems to be a source of constant and somewhat inexplicable derision amongst my peers.  It might be because their latest effort, Brain Thrust Mastery, is such a shallow and vapid beast.  Nearly all the songs follow the same theme as this, the lead single, and it's not enough of a theme to qualify as a concept album either... I really like this song though, and it's earned it's place on this list mainly as a result of its high playcount in my iTunes.

  2. Number: 9

    5 Years Time

    Artist: Noah and the Whale

    Not the best album I've heard lately by a long while, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down is nice on its first listen, but is ultimately proves to be too flimsy to stand up to repeat listening.  I guess the immediacy of the songs accounts for their meteoric rise to fame at the start of the summer.  Despite the fact that it's now become ubiquitous and omnipresent thanks to the all the aggressive radio playlisting it received, 5 Years Time has still clung onto at least some of its original charm.

  3. Number: 8

    I Will Possess Your Heart

    Artist: Death Cab for Cutie

    I'm an absolutely massive Death Cab fan and I was so, so, so excited about the release of the Narrow Stairs album back in May.  Hearing this song in advance of the records release whipped my excitement to even greater heights.  Sadly the rest of the album was a little disappointing.  Good, but not as good as it should have been.  I'm hoping it will grow on me over time, as Plans did, but this track still sounds lovely.

  4. Number: 7

    Trip To Bucharest / The Flight Of The Folk Mutants Parts 1 & 2

    Artist: Bellowhead

    Bellowhead's latest album, Matachin, was quite a disappointment; I'd previously only heard them in-the-flesh, and something's definitely lost in the retelling.  This song is the closest they came to capturing their raucous, energetic live performance.

  5. Number: 6

    Hiphopopotamus vs the Rhymenocerous

    Artist: Flight of the Conchords

    I was loathe to include what is ostensibly a comedy album in last weeks list, so I've put FotC in here because they really are superb.  Not quite as musically sophisticated as Angles (the Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip album that did make the album top 10 despite being almost a comedy record) and the TV show itself wasn't all that great, but their irreverent parodies were about the funniest things I heard all year.

  6. Number: 5

    We Almost Had a Baby

    Artist: Emmy the Great

    I've been waiting to be properly impressed by Emmy for a while now.  She's shown an awful lot of promise and potential in the past, and with this song (in my eyes at least) she's finally come up trumps.  The Billy-Bragg-esque guitar line gets things off to a good start, and the cheery, innocent swing juxtaposes sharply with the cutting lyrics.

  7. Number: 4

    I Love You

    Artist: Esser

    This cheeky lad's a right character, and no mistake.  All his songs are full of sly, subtle wit and this is his best so far.  Add a succession of quirky videos into the mix, and we've got something that's sure to be going places.

  8. Number: 3

    Ides (live on WtOTVS)

    Artist: frYars

    I've heard the recorded version of this song and I must say I didn't like it much at all.  However, this version - despite the shoddy quality of the recording and the mistake he makes towards the end - is infinitely better.  Full of charm, wit and just enough violence to keep it exciting.

  9. Number: 2


    Artist: Frightened Rabbit

    By rights the album from which this song comes (The Midnight Organ Fight) should be on my Top Albums post, but alas, I only discovered it this week.  To atone for my sins I'm including Poke on this list.  It is certainly the stand-out track from the record, and has the best lyrics I've heard in absolutely ages.  As dirty and aggressive as The National at their best, but with far better scansion.

  10. Number: 1

    If the News Makes You Sad, Don't Watch It (Toad Sessions)

    Artist: Broken Records

    Everything I've heard from Broken Records this year has thoroughly impressed me, but none of it has quite reached the heights of this, my first exposure to them.  I'm a big fan of their full-band sound, but this stripped-down three-piece acoustic performance is as close to perfect as it gets.  Not only are all the individual parts extremely well crafted, but the whole ensemble gels together perfectly.

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