It's the end of the year, and so time for some idocyncratic year end lists. I love year end lists so I might as well add to the mix!
Drake "Karaoke" from Thank Me Later
An easy-going synth jam that speaks to the difficulties of relationships, I found myself listening to this on those long evening bus rides through the various parts of the world.
The Dream, "Yamaha" from Love King
The type of jam Prince would have tossed off in the 80s (I would die 4 u?, maybe?) it captures the thrill and excitement of street club love.
Iyaz "Replay" from Replay
Before trying to lay claim to an autotuned Chris Brown on his album, Iyaz released this single with a difficult melodic line that winds its way around chorus. The tricky melody hooked me and didn't let me go for weeks. Just ask Karen.
Justin Beiber, "Baby" from My World 2.0
Somehow, when Michael Jackson sang in his pre-teens he already had managed to exhude a certain amount of bass and sex and danger. Not so, Beiber, who is all treble and puppy love. Still, this pop confection managed captivate my aural sweet tooth. The Luda appearance rapping about his 13-year old first love seems, well, ludicrous, but somehow it all adds up to the fun.
Kanye West, "Runaway" from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Opening with a single repeated piano note that suggests Terry Riley's "In C" on prozac, "Runaway" builds into an a dark heavy indictment of his own failings. And just when you think it might be over along comes a coda reminiscent of Eric Clapton's "Layla" or B.Fleischmann's hidden cover of "Torn" at the End of Pop Loops For Breakfast. It's over indulgent and over the top but like almost everything else on the album it works magically and majestically.
LCD Soundsystem "All I Want" from This Is Happening
It's just a sliding guitar and a steady beat, but it comes together in such an amazing way that I found myself returning again and again to this song that was more of a "rock song" than the dance music for which they're known.
Mos Dub, "History Town" from Mos Dub
Max Tannone's mashup of Mos Def with dub reggae wasn't a total success for me, but I couldn't resist this combination of Mos with Desmond Dekker.
The New Pornographers, "Moves" from Together
Crunching guitars lead to slightly off-beat keyboard ryhthms in this entry. It's a highly produced track, with a lot of aural tricks sprinkled throughout the track, and I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Unfortunately, the rest of the album didn't prove quite as memorable.
Rihanna, "What's My Name" from Loud
Remember Ja Rule and Ashanti? Mesmerize? Something about this song takes me back to what I remember being the early days of rappers and R&B singer collaborations. At any rate, there's something about Rihanna's voice that I really love, and this song suggests the warm nights and late night relationships that keep the memory of summer alive in the cold winter months.
Robyn, "Dancing On My Own" from Body Talk Pt. 1
A driving song that commands your attention from the first pulsing synths, Robyn's fraught declarations of herself in the face of lost love are both painful and yet amazingly danceable. I prefer the version on the first Body Talk ep, but I can't argue with the album version either.
Shakira and Freshlyground, "Waka Waka"
This year's World Cup saw Shakira joining forces with South African Afro-fusion band Freshlyground to create an anthem from which you couldn't run. My favorite parts are actually the Freshlyground verses and the highlife-ish guitars.
Tallest Man on Earth, "The Wild Hunt" from The Wild Hunt
The beautiful (and somewhat Dylan-esque) opening track of that sets the stage for his latest album, it suggests the wide open cover art with just enough banjo to scratch that itch I have.
The Very Best "You Got The Love (remix)"
I missed the XX boat last year (though I did see them in concert) but this remix brought them back to me with a Very Best bonus.
Wild Nothing "Summer Holiday" from Gemini
It sounds just like the title implies, which makes me long for the summer to come.