Festive Fifty

on Saturday, December 27, 2008
I'm not sure what exactly I was thinking when I suddenly decided to compile my favourite 50 singles of 2008 at about 4pm on Christmas Day but here it finally is, my version of the "festive fifty". John Peel probably would be ashamed but this is my list and not his. It's not a definitive "best of", just the singles I liked the most this year. Stuck to one single per artist, all with UK release dates in 2008.

The Daily Growl did their version a few days ago, which you can read at their brand spanking new [site]. As mentioned there, the list can seem a bit arbitrary at times but I have enjoyed all 50 of these songs so it nay matters. And while you're still paying attention, add me on [Twitter].

50. Cats In Paris - Foxes
49. Gossamer Albatross - The Ground Will Take Us Down
48. Bloc Party - Mercury (download session version [here].)
47. Miley Cyrus - See You Again (would be the awesome cover by The Mae Shi but that wasn't a single. Maybe one day.)
46. Late Of The Pier - Heartbeat (see what I said [here].)
45. Little Boots - Meddle (download the acoustic version [here].)
44. We Have Band - Oh!
43. Tubelord - Feed Me A Box Of Words
42. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age Of The Understatement
41. Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire

40. Kunk - We're Not Who You Think We Are (read what I said [here].)
39. Cajun Dance Party - Colourful Life (read what I said about the demo from 2006 [here].)
38. Sigur Ros - Inní mér syngur vitleysingur (unpronouncably good.)
37. Frank Turner - Photosynthesis
36. The Joy Formidable - Austere (download session version [here].)
35. Stricken City - Tak O Tak (hear it on [KHI Podcast #9.]
34. Wiley - Wearing My Rolex (if only for the Heather Mills vs Paul McCartney video mash up on [YouTube]. Sodding amazing.)
33. Iglu & Hartley - In This City (it's like Len vs Crazytown and thus ace.)
32. Pull In Emergency - Why Aren't You Dancing? (I'm taking their debut single to be a double-A side because it would be impossible to consider that such an anthem is a throwaway b-side.)
31. Thomas Tantrum - Swan Lake

30. Frightened Rabbit - Head Rolls Off (to be honest, the N-Trance cover on the b-side is even better.)
29. Future Of The Left - Manchasm (another single with an amazing b-side, this time 'Suddenly It's A Folk Song', making it probably the best all-round single of the year.)
28. We Are Scientists - After Hours
27. The Verve - Love Is Noise (enough justification for the reunion alone, plus the only single in my list to pull off Pingu-esque sound fx.)
26. Mystery Jets - Young Love
25. Black Kids - I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You (turns out they have no other good songs but this is still a corker.)
24. Guillemots - Get Over It
23. Esser - Headlock
22. Biffy Clyro - Mountains (how many indie points do I lose for liking Biffy more now than when they were less commercial?)
21. Friendly Fires - Jump In The Pool (overshadowed by 'Paris' but still an amazing dream-pop dance extravaganza.)

20. Adele - Hometown Glory (her only good song. But a beautifully emotive one at that.)
19. Los Campesinos! - My Year In Lists (one of those songs you'd wish lasted just a bit longer then suspected that that change might ruin the charm.)
18. Ida Maria - I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked
17. These New Puritans - Elvis
16. James Yuill - No Surprise (immense head-nodding, foot-tapping folktronica. Download a live version [here].)
15. Hot Club de Paris - Hey Housebrick
14. Grammatics - D.I.L.E.M.M.A
13. Johnny Foreigner - Salt, Peppa & Spinderella (there's a moment at about 2:16, when you're just blown away by the awesomeness of this song, and this band.)
12. MGMT - Time To Pretend
11. Pendulum - Propane Nightmares (who cares if it's D'n'B-lite, this is stunning singalong pop.)

10. Hot Chip - One Pure Thought [YouTube vid]
Yeah, you read that right, it's not 'Ready For The Floor'. 'One Pure Thought' was the underrated single to emerge from the latest album. Softly-softly vocals + party percussion = win.

9. Laura Marling - Ghosts [YouTube vid]
The standout pop single from the ever youthful Laura Marling. A magical song befitting such a graceful voice.

8. Fight Like Apes - Jake Summers [YouTube vid]
It's been a year of thrilling singles from the Oirish synth-punkers but 'Jake Summers' was the song that made me fall in love with them. Jake Summers is the man. They really need to make a t-shirt with "You're like Kentucky Fried Chicken but without the taste" on it. Download a BBC 6Music session version [here].

7. Alphabeat - Fascination [YouTube vid]
Bringing pop back to our shores like only the Scandanavians can do. Most indie types saw it as irritatingly catchy, I just saw it as catchy. Criminally, it did not get close to the #1 UK singles slot.

6. Weezer - Pork & Beans [YouTube vid]
A triumphant return for pretty much my favourite band ever which managed to capture the same effervescence of their early years. Amazing novelty video too, featuring a bucketload of internet viral sensations.

5. Coldplay - Viva La Vida [MySpace vid]
They may have stole a thing or two from Satriani but this has definately been the mainstream pop single of 2008 for me. The overt classical tones enthralled me from the first listen. Shame about the ludicrously bad video.

4. Wild Beasts - The Devil's Crayon [YouTube vid]
Ambitious, beautiful and sadly underappreciated. The combination of Tom Fleming's soulful tenor and Hayden Thorpe's quivering falsetto is breathtaking. A glimmering beacon for quirk-pop.

3. White Lies - Death [YouTube vid]
The eighties have never sounded better. I love that atmospheric sound. A song that would sound every bit as good in Wembley Stadium as it would in a toilet venue in an English market town. The way things are shaping up, that dream's not far off.

2. Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa [YouTube Vid]
Not as punchy as 'A-Punk' but a wonderful exposition of their afro-pop. Certainly my most-played track from an astounding album. Go to about 1.10 of this [YouTube performance] and I think you'll get me. "I'M FUCKING PUMPED, I LOVE THIS SAWNG". Me too.

1. Dan Black - HYPNTZ [YouTube vid]
Pretty blasphemous to have a cover as a #1 of anything yeah? Well, this is how I roll. Dan Black's cover of Biggie's 'Hypnotize Me' is all wrong, yet so right. The juxtaposition of the 'Umbrella' beat with ethereal samples from the film 'Starman' creates something profoundly affecting and that's even before Dan's aching lyrical delivery. In fact, calling it a cover is shameful. This is a work of genius. Download 'HYPNTZ' from [Radarmaker.co.uk (right click, save as)].

Firstly, if you've made it this far, congrats. Secondly, you may notice some pretty obvious omissions - two of the biggest pop singles of 2008 in 'American Boy' and Dizzee-Calvin combo 'Dance Wiv Me', Santogold's 'L.E.S Artistes'/'Lights Out', none of the hyped Broken Records singles nor 'I Kissed A Girl'. The latter is mainly left out because it's utter gash. I've kissed a girl, you don't see me going on about it.

In general, this is a list about songs that I was enraptured by, perhaps no longer, but certainly at the time. It's a list that I hope you can take something from but it would be good to hear about your own favourite singles of the year, especially if you have other suggestions.

COLDPLAY - VIVA LA VIDA (THIN WHITE DUKE MIX) (also available on [coldplay.com] until Jan 5th)

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