I was going to call this post the best singles of 2008 but living as we do in the age of iTunes, I’m just not sure how relevant singles are these days. That said, I’ve tried to restrict my choices for the Best Songs of 2008 to tracks that weren’t only released on albums. However, seeing as I haven’t listened to the charts for about 10 years, with some of them I’m just assuming that they were single releases.
Anyway, here they are (in no particular order – I keep regretting the order I put the top albums of 2008 in):
- Estelle feat. Kanye West – American Boy: Estelle moved to America to record with John Legend and became friends with Kanye West. They made a hip-hop/house record to try to teach John about dance music. It rocks and is probably the best track of 2008.
- The Streets – The Escapist: Mike Skinner decided not to bother with a proper video to The Escapist, the first single from Everything Is Borrowed. Instead he walked to the South of France and created the perfect visual accompaniment for his beautiful Brockney* gospel.
- Elbow – One Day Like This: Just like when Travis played Why Does It Always Rain On Me at Glastonbury in 1999 only for it to start raining, Elbow’s performance of One Day Like this saw the sun come out from behind the clouds to make for a truly amazing performance. Already an iconic song.
- Wiley – Wearing My Rolex: After me, “normally drink, normally dance, normally bubble…Next thing I know she’s wearing my Rolex”. One of those tracks that start entire trends, Wearing My Rolex was what I believe the kids refer to as a monster choon, with Wylie finally cracking the big-time with a blend of grime and dirty house.
- Dizzee Rascal feat. Calvin Harris – Dance Wiv Me: As with Wylie, Dizzee moved into the big league in 2008 when he hooked himself up with some serious dance backing. One of the catchiest tracks of the year and hopefully one that won’t prove to me Dizzee’s biggest ever hit.
- Funkagenda & Mark Knight – Man With The Red Face: A week in Ibiza was too long and it really was ridiculously expensive but there were several excellent things I brought back with me. One was the memory of being at Bora Bora when the horns kicked in on this cover of Laurent Garnier’s Man With The Red Face, seeing the whole place going nuts, and looking out to the beach & realising that it was only late afternoon & on a normal Friday I still would have been at work. Priceless.
- Baby Charles – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor: One of the other great things about Ibiza was sitting by the pool of the impossibly cool Hotel Es Vive and listening to the great daytime DJs. One of them played this amazing funk cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ debut singleand my day was made.
- Public Enemy vs DJ Zinc – 138 Noise (Wicked Devil Bootleg): This hasn’t even been released yet and so will probably end up being one of the biggest tunes of 2009. That doesn’t change the fact that Wicked Devil’s awesome techno/rap mashup is one of my favourite tracks of the last few months.
- Kings Of Leon – Sex On Fire: I hated this single at first but, just like the album it comes from, Sex On Fire has ended up being one of the records of 2008. Nuff said.
- Jamie Lidell – Another Day: Jamie Liddel’s album is an amazing blend of soul, techno, jazz & hip hop beats. And this track gets it off to a barn-storming start.
- Adele – Chasing Pavements: She definitely isn’t the new Amy Winehouse (something she never claimed to be) but my God has the girl got a voice. The album can get a bit one-dimensional, but Chasing Pavements is pretty special.
- The Courteneers – Not Nineteen Forever: Basically just another indie band, but with Not Nineteen Forever The Courteneers made something very special indeed: powerful & wistful all at the same time.
- N*E*R*D – Everyone Nose: “All the girls standing in the line for the bathroom, all the girls standing in the line for the bathroom, all the girls standing in the line for the bathroom.”
- Erykah Badu – Soldier: Ms Badu blends a sharp beat, lovely woodwind backing and her amazing vocals to great effect. I just wish she’d allow the (amazing) video on YouTube.
- J.A.M. feat José James – Jazzy Joint: Possibly the best thing that José James or Soil & “Pimp” Sessions (the band that the members of J.A.M. normally play with), Jazzy Joint is exactly what it says on the tin. Impossibly jazzy I hear this and find it very difficult to keep my feet still: quite embarrassing on the 7.52 to Waterloo as I’m sure you can imagine.
- Charlie Dark & Roger Robinson – Prayer For Angry Young Men: Charlie Dark is a genius (as well as a true gent) and this track, which I found via Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Bubblers 3, only goes to prove that fact. It’s little more than a repeated horn section, a clattering beat and a spoken word rap on the various lost youths of 21st Century Britain. And it’s one of the most powerful tracks to have been released for years.
- Chase & Status feat. Kano – Against All Odds: Blaring horns, raging beats and Kano spitting his lyrics over the top: another tune to prove that grime stars seem to shine more when paired with up-tempo tracks.
- Vampire Weekend – A Punk: I may have written about a different Vampire Weekend track but that was because the video was so perfect. A Punk however is the perfect example of Vampire Weekend’s blend of preppy rock & African rhythms. Impossibly catchy.
- Jeff Buckley – Halleljuah: I know it originally came out years ago but it was the Christmas number 2, and should have been the Christmas number 1. Beautiful.
- Friendly Fires – Paris: I keep describing this band as being like a younger, British LCD Soundsystem. And if that’s the case, then this is their All My Friends.
- Paul Weller – Have You Made Up Your Mind: I could have picked about half of the tracks from 22 Dreams to feature in this list but I think this is probably my favourite: it’s tender, beautiful and full of confidence, truly 2008 was Paul Weller’s year.
*Brockney = my new made-up word for a Brummie with a slight Cockney accent.
Image of an American boy by bobster1985 on flickr