06 January 2009

traxxlisting #4 :: top 11 of 2008

I've been putting off this post in the interest of debating which songs earned these chart positions. I'm now happy with my list, and proud to share it with you!

  1. "Euphoria" by Hydra Productions

  2. This album hasn't yet earned the recognition it deserves, which is a shame, because it's very cool for a couple of reasons. First, it includes vocals from numerous '80s pop tarts: Tiffany, Gioia Bruno (Exposé), Jade Starling (Pretty Poison), and the queen herself, Stacey Q. Canadian pop singer Kim Esty also appears. (A few of them even collaborate on the last track!)

    The seriously cool thing about this record though, is that the two musicians who put it together have never been in the same room with one another. In fact, they did it from different continents Shane Condo is a musician who lives in Australia. Shawn Winstian is a songwriter who lives in Pennsylvania. They met on a website. Then they released an album together.

    "Euphoria" is my favorite cut on the album not just because Stacey Q does vocals in the chorus. It reminds me of roller rinks from the early '90s and the skating parties that I went to as a kid. When I hear it, I feel like I'm in a dark roller rink, lit only by a rotating disco ball, and I can hear the faint clicking of joysticks on the arcade machines that are positioned near the rink. In fact, if this song had been released in 1993, it probably would have been Top 40 material. For now, it can live in obscurity and make the people who are smart enough to notice it smile.

  3. "Can't Shake It" by Kate Miller-Heidke

  4. I have super high hopes for this lady. This song should be a total floor filler at clubs and college parties alike, and sadly it hasn't gotten much US attention at all.

    Perhaps it will live in obscurity as a college radio classic, but it's definitely one of the best pop songs I've heard in a long while, and I look forward to the US release of her album so I can snag a copy.

    She kind of reminds me of a young, Aussie version of Kate Bush. Maybe that's why I like her so much.

  5. "Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" by Lady Gaga

  6. Lady Gaga exploded this fall, and not without reason. She's a pop music guru. A listen through her album is proof enough that she's studied pop trends very carefully, and she certainly knows what makes a quality pop song. It's no wonder her album is so successful; she's brilliantly blended elements that equal success into a smorgasbord of cheerful yet dirty pop.

    This is my favorite song on the record, because it's pure pop. Every single element of this song, from the hear-it-once-sing-it-the-second-time hook, to the spry melody, to the opening "cherry cherry boom boom," is deliberately placed, and the result is a song that's sweeter than vanilla frosting. This is ironic, too, because the lyrics to the song are quite biting, but masked behind a playful beat, much in the manner that they would be delivered in a real-life situation.

    I wish Ms. Gaga the best on her way.

  7. "Makeup Artist" by Marching Band

  8. Ah, glorious college pop. Everyone has songs that take them back to a specific moment and place in their lives, and I can say that this will, without a doubt, be one of those songs for me. I'll think of being a college radio deejay in the fall of 2008 every time I hear this song, for the rest of my life.

    Personal meaning aside, it really is a great song. Who can't relate to a tune about a lying bitch? The play on words is just icing on the cake. (I'm really into the whipped topping references tonight, huh?)

  9. "I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me" by Annie

  10. The wait for Annie's new material was worth it. I fell in love with this track as soon as I heard it, and if you love pop music, how couldn't you? It's great stuff!

    Annie has a knack for singing bitchy pop songs in such a cute voice that you don't even realize that they're bitchy. Her 2005 single "Chewing Gum" was a knock at someone who "thinks they're chocolate when [they're] chewing gum." I mean, it's an insult, but would you really be hurt if a cute girl said that to you?

    "Girlfriend" is more of the same stuff. It's a direct shot at someone for having a shitty girlfriend. Annie manages to demean the chick and give the guy reason enough to ditch the dead weight and be with her, all in under three minutes. That's impressive.

  11. "Dino Damage" by Miniature Tigers

  12. Not since Steve Miller's "The Joker" has the world heard such a cool instance of a talking guitar. In the former, Miller used his guitar to wolf whistle. Charlie of Miniature Tigers uses his to emulate a baby dinosaur. Cute, right?

    Well...sort of. The song is actually about how you should release your pet dino before he gets big enough to mutilate you in various grotesque ways, all of which are spelled out in graphic detail. It was probably written as a profound allegory for releasing something that you love and letting it off into the world to grow and be itself, but to me it's a precious song about not getting your fingers chomped the fuck off.

  13. "Shake It (Lenny B.'s Radio Edit)" by Metro Station

  14. I love love love love love love love love love this remix. It's a kickass floor filler, equally suited to nights driving around town, shaking it in clubs, or kicking it in cramped apartments with friends.

    The original was an okay song, but it's targeted toward Hot Topic sceney-boppers. No thanks.

    Lenny B.'s reworking of this song steals the show. Good remixes don't lay vocals over a completely different beat; they amplify the good elements of a song and expand upon them. That's exactly what Lenny B. did, and the result was one of this decade's best dance songs.


  15. "Funplex" by The B-52's

  16. They're back!

    Gosh, it makes me so happy that The B-52's can still write songs like this. They've grown so much as a band in the last 30 years, but they have always been true to their signature sound, and this latest record is absolutely no different.

    The members of the group have always been caricatures of themselves, which lends itself to a sense of self-parody. This track is about being old and cranky while trying to shop (or work in) the mall. It's a perfectly logical next step in their career: Noting their age, but not backing down a single step.

    The only other thing I can think to say is that I hope I'm still that cool when I'm angrily pushing my way through the mall one day.

  17. "Sounds So Good" by Ashton Shepherd

  18. Until I took a job at a country radio station in June, I didn't know a thing about country music, except that Garth Brooks was like Michael Jackson to fans of the genre. Artists like Toby Keith and Trace Adkins had always repulsed me from bothering to give any country music a fair shot.

    After forced exposure to country for a few months, I figured out that there is true artistic merit to be found in the genre, and it lies within the songwriting. Some of the greatest storytellers can be found in country music lyricists. (Jamey Johnson's "In Color" and Reba McEntire's "Fancy" are both great examples, if you're interested.)

    You don't necessarily have to tell a story to write a great country song, though, and thus is the case here. Shepherd is 22 years old, and her songwriting ability is at an amazingly seasoned level.

    There is something infectious about this song. I can't tell you what it is. I can tell you, however, that it was good enough to make me purchase the first and only country music CD in my music library, and that all my friends, to whom country music is a complete joke, love it just as much as I do and will sing along to it in the car.

    Okay, okay, it sounds like she says "cooter" in the chorus. Hardy har. It's still a great song.


  19. "Crimewave" by Crystal Castles

  20. There's simply no denying the originality of Crystal Castles. They've created a unique sounds that hipsters, geeks, and sorority chicks alike simply can't get enough of.

    "Crimewave" is without a doubt their masterpiece thus far, and it'll remain an underground dance classic forever. It's another classic example of a song that you'd have missed unless you 1.) paid attention to college radio, or 2.) hung out with people who pay attention to college radio. I'm honestly kind of surprised that the hipster garbage scene latched onto this group. I think the draw to that crowd is probably the band's noise-oriented tracks like "Alice Practice," whereas dance music nerds like myself latched onto the cuts like "Untrust Us" and "1991." "Crimewave" is a perfect blend of both the bands sounds, guaranteed to make anyone dance.

    It's totally hilarious to me that even though nobody can get enough of this song, no one can sing along with it, either.

    I would like to note that lots of cool music came out of Canada this year, and even though this was the only Canadian act that made my list, I was very impressed with many other Canadian bands. So you, up there, keep up the good work.

    And the #1 song of 2008 is...

  21. "Boyfriend" by Alphabeat

  22. It's a perfect pop song, off of a very impressive, solid album. The lyrics are perfectly simple, and the beat is undeniably danceable. It's cutesy enough to get played on TV screens in trendy clothing stores, but indie enough to be called "college pop" by me. It's simply a perfect song.

    Most people I've played the song for assume that it's from the '80s, which I don't really understand. The song definitely has a retro feel, but I'd never have mistaken it for an older tune. (Perhaps that's due to my own knowledge of music from that era, though.) I suppose the song just has a timeless sound.

    This album is a super fun journey through various areas of pop, much like Lady Gaga's record, but without overlap. These Danes explore europop and indie pop, all without being cliché or unoriginal.

    This band has an amazingly bright future in pop music if they keep up releases like this one.

That's the list! Here's to lots more great music in 2009!