My Favorite 25 Songs of 2008

I’m starting off my ‘favorites of 2008’ lists with my top 25 songs. I’ve tried to put them in order of which I liked best, but after the top 5 it is probably not in that great of an order. There are also a number of songs that I have recently heard that should be on this list- I just havent listened to them enough (Portishead’s “The Rip” is one). Also, many of my favorite songs this year came out last year or before that (Most listened to on my iPod – “Paper Planes”), so keep that in mind. One more thing, there is only one song per artist. And without further ado, here are my top 25:

25. The Muslims – Extinction

The Muslims are new to the rock scene, but they sound like they’ve been with it for years. Influenced by such bands as The Replacements, they have managed to put together a simple, catchy rock song with “Extinction.”

24. Jaguar Love – Highways of Gold

Jaguar Love are also a rookie band, although their members have been making music for years. Comprised of former members of The Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves, Jaguar Love has all the goodness of the two bands yet is more accessible than both in my opinion. “Highways of Gold,” the first single, will instantly get you hooked on some of that sweet Jaguar Love.

23. Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire

God, Kings of Leon know how to make a single. I remember years ago in middle school hearing the single from another album, “The Bucket,” and reading their front cover article in Rolling Stone (man, i have changed) and immediately buying their CD only to have almost instant buyer’s remorse. Fortunately, I did not go out and buy their CD this year, but instead just listened to their singles. “Sex on Fire” is goofy and the Kings of Leon are not a great band in my opinion, but hell, this song sure is catchy.

22. The War on Drugs – Taking the Farm

I don’t know too much about this band, but from the few songs I have heard, I would like to know a lot more about them. Fast-paced, with intriguing vocals and interesting lyrics, “Taking the Farm” has been one of my most listened to songs for several months.

21. Islands – Kids Don\’t Know Shit

I’ll be honest. I did not like Arm’s Way when it first came out. I think the departure of J’aime Thompson and the fact that it was so different musically than Return to the Sea, which was basically another Unicorns album, made Arm’s Way more of an accustomed taste. Luckily, I saw them live and all of that changed. “Kids Don’t Know Shit” is just one of the great songs from this underappreciated album. 

20. The Walkmen – In the New Year

I only recently started listening to The Walkmen after hearing the amazing song, “The Rat,” off of Bows + Arrows. Their newest album, You & Me, is phenomenal. If you haven’t heard it, get it now. “In the New Year” is the first single from the album.

19. T.I. – Dead and Gone

The closing track to T.I.’s underrated Paper Trail is “Dead and Gone,” featuring the one and only Justin Timberlake. This is probably the most heartfelt song T.I. has ever made and it reminded me immediately of the last track on Dre’s 2001, “The Message,” which is dedicated to his brother. “Dead and Gone” is about pointless deaths, such as the death of T.I.’s best friend. I’m hearing now that this is going to be Paper Trail‘s third single, so be sure to listen out for it.

18. Titus Andronicus – Upon Viewing Brueghel\’s \”Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus\”

Titus Andronicus rock. That’s all I need to say.

17. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Think I Wanna Die

SSLYBY have gotten no blog love this year and it’s a shame. They are a fun, bouncy group that I can imagine listening to as I relax on a beach in the middle of the summer. SSLYBY always make me smile whenever I listen to them and I will listen to any band that makes me do that.

16. Cloud Cult – The Ghost Inside Our House

It took a great deal of thought for me to decide which Cloud Cult song to put on here (it was between this song, “The Story of the Grandson of Jesus,” and “When Water Comes to Life”) and they all were deserving. But the guitar in this song is so damn pleasant that I couldn’t resist. This is the “Chemicals Collide” of their new album, Feel Good Ghosts. I am still upset with myself for not seeing Cloud Cult when I had the chance. Listen to the lyrics in this song and every Cloud Cult song: “Songs. Life is like a song. It’s a song. A hummable song.”

15. Sigur Rós – Inní mér syngur vitleysingur

“Within me a lunatic sings” sings one of the most talented artists in music today,  Jónsi Birgisson. If you have not heard Sigur Ros’ latest album, stop what you are doing and get it. This song is truly epic on a truly epic album. I’m tempted to learn Icelandic just to understand the lyrics and I’m sure I wouldnt be the only person with this temptation. Best part of the song: the crescendo at 3:33.

14. Los Campesinos! – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Like Cloud Cult, it took me a while to decide which Los Campesinos! song I would put on this list. However, unlike Cloud Cult, Los Campesinos! released TWO albums this year, and both were incredible, making it all the more harder to decide on a single song to feature. I like the songs “Death to Los Campesinos!” and “You! Me! Dancing!” more, but I consider them to be 2007 songs since that is when the songs were released. But even after knocking those songs off, I was still between “We are Beautiful, We Are Doomed,” “Ways to Make It Through the Wall,” and “You’ll Need Those Fingers for Crossing.” In the end, I went with the title track and I am happy with my decision listening to the song right now. Best part, hands down, is the chanting: “OH WE KID OURSELVES THERE’S FUTURE IN THE FUCKING BUT THERE IS NO FUCKING FUTURE!”

13. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal

I’m assuming that everyone has heard this song by now and know just how gorgeous it is. I’m not a big Fleet Foxes fan (the rest of the album is so-so, in my opinion), but this song is astounding. The simplicity and beauty of the lyrics and the music will calm anyone down. The image of the “white snow red as strawberries,” though somewhat violent, is still one of the prettiest lines of the year, if not the prettiest.

12. Vampire Weekend – M79

Vampire Weekend is the shit (so much so that I put a picture of them on here). “M79” is my favorite song off their self-titled debut, primarily because of the amazing string section arranged by Rostam Batmanglij. Named after a bus that runs through Central Park, “M79” is one of the hottest songs of the year from the hottest band of the year.

11. The Dodos – Ashley

I really missed out on the Dodos playing at the Museum of Fine Arts a couple months ago. I’m sure it was one of the most beautiful performances of the year. As I’m looking at others “Best Songs of 2008,” time and time again I see “Fools” as the best Dodos song of the year. “Fools” is without a doubt a great song, but “Ashley” gets the best song nod from me. The sadness and passion in this song, culminating in the desperate questions, “What are you thinking of, Ashley? Who are you dreaming of, Ashley?” make it an unforgettable love song.

10. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Cold Son

Anybody that knows me and the music I listen to knows I love Malkmus with all my heart. I finally got the chance to see him this year (twice!) and he blew my mind as expected. He is straight-up one of the best guitarists of the ages. I was up front for the first concert and got to shout out “Cold Son” as one of the encore songs, which he decided to play. He ended the song shredding his acoustic guitar upside-down vertically. Amazing. 

9. Frightened Rabbit – The Twist

I discovered the Scottish trio Frightened Rabbit at the beginning of the summer and have been listening to them nonstop ever since. Their latest album The Midnight Organ Fight is brilliant. The opening track, “The Modern Leper,” was a close runner-up to “The Twist,” but in the end, “The Twist” won because of the line that was stuck in my head for weeks: “I need human heat.”

8. Lil Wayne – 3 Peat

Oh, Tha Carter III. The album has been playing on my iPod since the day it came out. Naturally, the first track, “3 Peat,” has been the most played song from the album. This song is pure Weezy, no one else. I don’t want to repeat (or should I say…3 peat? hahaha) too many of the lyrics here because they are pretty dirty (and awesome). I will say however that there is a shout-out to the man, Stuart Scott, among other things. This is one of the greatest opening tracks to an album I have ever heard, and what an introduction it is.

7. No Age – Eraser

The most rockin’ song of the year. See below for more about No Age.

6. TV On The Radio – Family Tree

The piano on this song kills me. This song is fuckin’ gospel.

5. Margot & The Nuclear So And So\’s – Broadripple is Burning

Margot deserve much more credit than they get. I had a chance to see them live this year and they were wonderful. The two albums (I’ll combine Animal! and Not Animal as one) are both incredible. Listen to them both if you havent heard them yet. I first heard “Broadripple is Burning” from their Daytrotter session and the album version is not much different (it’s on Not Animal, but not Animal!). The harmonica and quiet guitar, coupled with Richard Edwards’ soft voice and poignant lyrics, make “Broadripple is Burning” one of the saddest and most beautiful songs of the year. The lyrics of the chorus are so poetic: 

And I’m wasted
You can taste it
Don’t me.that way.
Cause I’ll be hanging from a rope
I will haunt you like a ghost 

4. Wolf Parade – Language City

“Language city is a bad, old place. We all know.” God I love Wolf Parade. Dan Boeckner is the architect of this song, which is the best on the album (“Kissing the Beehive” was a close, close second). This is a nice change from Apologies to the Queen Mary, in which Spencer Krug sang all of the best songs. “Language City” is the anthem of At Mount Zoomer. See them live if you ever get the chance. Screaming “We are not at home, we are not at home, we are not at home” at the top of my lungs was one of the best concert moments of the year.

3. Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines

Continuing Okkervil River’s tradition of nautical-themed songs, “Lost Coastlines” is an amazing start to the follow-up album to one of my favorites of last year, The Stage Names. Joined by the ex-Okkervil River keyboardist and lead member of the new band, Shearwater, Jonathan Meiburg, lead singer Will Sheff trades vocals, resulting in my third favorite song of the year. This upbeat tune is not only a great cheering up song, it’s inspiring. The last two verses of the song, the first sung by Meiburg and the second by Sheff, are particularly inspiring:

We sail out, on orders from him,
But we find the maps he sent to us don’t mention lost coastlines.
Where nothing we’ve actually seen has been mapped or outlined
And we don’t recognize the names upon these signs.

And every night finds us rocking and rolling on waves wild and wide,
Well we have lost our way,
Nobody’s gonna say it outright.

And the rest is just “La la la la la la”. Perfect. 

2. The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer

This was the song of the summer and will be the song of the summer every year for the rest of my life. Partying, building, and friendship is what “Constructive Summer” is about. The chants of “This summer!” and “Get hammered!” in the background, with verses about “double whisky, coke, no ice” and raising “a giant ladder with love and trust and friends and hammers” lead into the main message of the song: “Let this be my annual reminder that we can all be something bigger.” The piano interlude then leads into the ending verse, with the best lyrics of the year:

I went to your schools, I did my detention,
But the walls are so grey I couldnt pay attention,
I read your gospel, it moved me to tears,
But I couldnt find the hate and I couldnt find the fear.
I met your savior, I knelt at his feet,
And he took my ten bucks and he went down the street.
I try to believe all the things that you said,
But my friends that arent dying are already dead.

Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer,
I think he might have been our only decent teacher,
Getting older only makes it harder to remember,
We are our only saviors.
We’re going to build something this summer.

What an anthem. 

1. Bon Iver – Skinny Love

I’m going to say it. Bon Iver (French for “good winter”) is the next Elliott Smith. After a rough break up, Justin Vernon spent three months alone in his father’s cabin in Wisconsin in what can only be called “hibernation.” The result was For Emma, Forever Ago, the wonderful and sincere album containing my favorite song of the year, “Skinny Love.” I will never have the words to describe this song, you can only hear it for yourself to understand why I chose this song. The opening line tells you all you need to know:

Come on, skinny love, just last the year



And that is it! I hope you guys enjoyed the list. Let me know what you think. Leave your thoughts and favorite songs in the comment section. Get all these songs while the mp3s are still up and buy some of these artists’ albums, they are all wonderful.


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Brittany said,

    I completely agree with the number 1 choice. It’s perfection. 🙂

  2. 2

    Cam said,

    I love number one as well, and hallelujah! for a little love for The Hold Steady!

  3. 3

    Taylor said,

    awesome list of songs. we have very similiar tastes. needs some cut copy, hot chip, or m83, but otherwise fantastic.

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