Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Best Of 2008 - part 1

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

Time for another trip back to years gone by - and 2008 was the year I finally accepted that the age of the CD single was over and that I could cope with only owning an MP3 of a song I liked if need be. The absence of a physical copy of a single or album was a lot to get used to for a music fan such as me who'd spent countless hours trawling record shops around the world since the '80s.

The beginning of the end? Flo Rida debuted in 2008

But, with the shift to downloads came a new freedom - I no longer relied on there being an official single release for a song to qualify for my charts. After all, if it was good enough for singles charts around the world to allow multiple entries from a just-released album, it was good enough for me to include B-sides, bonus tracks and album cuts in my year-end countdown. Exciting stuff, right?

Number 100 "Dusk Till Dawn" by Ladyhawke
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 99 "Victims Of Love" by Good Charlotte
To get things started, a song that, from memory, was at one point rumoured to be a single from Good Morning Revival but didn't end up receiving a release. However, in 2008, it didn't matter - and here "Victims Of Love" is in my top 100. There was one final track lifted from Good Charlotte's fourth album in 2008 - the piano-driven "Where Would We Be Now".

Number 98 "The Right Life" by Seal
Next up, a second and final single from Seal's System album, which gained even less attention than 2007's return to form "Amazing". With the exception of the odd Heidi Klum duet, System was an excellent album that could've spawned several singles. Had it made more of an impact, Seal might've been spared the need to record a couple of soul covers albums and Australia might've been spared having him as one of the coaches on the local version of The Voice a few years later.

Number 97 "Luv" by Janet Jackson
Now to a single that was so much of an afterthought that it didn't even get a music video. The third release from Janet's Discipline album, "Luv" was a better song than the preceding "Feedback" and "Rock With U", but truth be told, none of the three nor the album itself were her best work.

Number 96 "Are You With Me" by The Potbelleez
Thanks to the ubiquity of "Don't Look Back" and "Hello" in advertisements in recent years, I'd completely forgotten about the existence of this ARIA number 15 hit, which was released as the follow-up to "Don't Look Back".

Number 95 "We Break The Dawn" by Michelle Williams
She took her time venturing out of the world of gospel music, but Michelle became the third Destiny's Child member to try her hand at a solo pop release with this lead single from the aptly named Unexpected album. Keeping it in the DC family, "We Break The Dawn" was co-written by Beyoncé's sister, Solange, who we'll be seeing later on in this countdown - but despite that fact, as well as the accompanying press interest and a music video featuring hottie dancers, the single was only a club hit.

Number 94 "Burnin' Up" by Jonas Brothers
Remember when Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas were as massive as One Direction? Their time at the top may not have lasted that long by comparison, but Jonas Brothers certainly had the world at their feet in 2008 with their own reality show (Jonas Brothers: Living The Dream) and an original Disney Channel movie (Camp Rock) that also starred an emerging Demi Lovato. The brothers were also already up to their third studio album (not including soundtrack releases), A Little Bit Longer, from which the more mature "Burnin' Up" was lifted.

Number 93 "Don't Want To Go To Bed Now" by Gabriella Cilmi
Another artist who had a brief but lucrative period of hit-making was Australian teenager (well, she was then - she's 22 now) Gabriella Cilmi, who was signed to Island Records UK and won six ARIA Awards on the strength of one single: "Sweet About Me". I was never a huge fan of that five-week chart-topper and preferred the other singles from Lessons To Be Learned, including this follow-up, which peaked at a disappointing number 28 in Australia.

Number 92 "Kelly" by Van She
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 91 "Everything But Mine" by Backstreet Boys
Like the Good Charlotte track, this song from BSB's Unbreakable album was also pegged to be a single at some point, but no doubt the disappointing performances of "Inconsolable" and "Helpless When She Smiles" prompted all plans for further singles to be abandoned. Of course, an uptempo song like "Everything But Mine" might've worked where those two ballads didn't - but I guess we'll never know now.

Number 90 "Let It Rock" by Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil Wayne
Signed as the first white artist to Cash Money Records (home of Lil Wayne and, by the end of 2008, British singer Jay Sean), former session guitarist and Timbaland collaborator Kevin Rudolf combined his rock sensibilities with electro and hip-hop on this debut single. "Let It Rock" was a massive hit in the US (where it's now sold over four million copies) and in Australia (where it hit number 3), and I actually quite liked the accompanying album, In The City, with the the genre clash fitting in well with my musical tastes at that point in time.

Number 89 "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain
It's hard to imagine it now, after years of enduring countless songs by or featuring Flo Rida, but there was a time when the rapper born Tramar Dillard was an exciting new act we weren't yet sick of. And, he began as he intended to proceed, hitting the top of the ARIA chart for three weeks and ending up as the year's best seller. In the US, "Low" rulled the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 weeks and not only sold four million copies, but did so within 2008 - total sales now exceed seven million.

Number 88 "Skin Divers" by Duran Duran featuring Timbaland
Another 2007 album that had more single-worthy tracks than were released was Duran Duran's Red Carpet Massacre - but in this case, Sony Music gave up even earlier on the project, issuing "Falling Down" as the only single. "Skin Divers" was initially scheduled to be the next release early in 2008, and I'm kind of surprised the Timbaland production wasn't given a go, since it sounded like so much else on the chart that year.

Number 87 "Keeps Gettin' Better" by Christina Aguilera
A lot can change in a decade. In 1998, Christina Aguilera was a big-voiced, innocent-looking 17-year-old debuting with "Reflection", the theme to animated Disney flick Mulan. In 2008, she was a married mother with a reputation for being difficult, and a past that included a period wearing chaps and little else. She'd also released a number of fantastic pop songs, which were collected on Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade Of Hits. This new track, written and produced by frequent collaborator Linda Perry, brought Christina back to the present day after her Back To Basics step back in time - and the electropop sound of "Keeps Gettin' Better" would continue on her next studio album. 

Number 86 "Kansas City" by Sneaky Sound System
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 85 "Girls" by Sugababes
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 84 "Pretty Please (Love Me)" by Estelle featuring Cee-Lo
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 83 "Miles Away" by Madonna
Previously featured here

Number 82 "Changes" by Will Young
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 81 "Shine On" by The Kooks
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 80 "Pjanno" by Eric Prydz
To finish off this batch of songs, a quartet of dance tracks - starting with this third UK top 2 smash from the Swedish DJ/producer who'd been at the forefront of all those club hits sampling '80s songs with 2004's "Call On Me". Unlike that Steve Winwood-inspired tune and his 2006 Pink Floyd reworking "Proper Education", "Pjanno" was all-original and actually dated back to 2006, but didn't take off until two years later. Not one to flood the market, Eric's next single wasn't until 2011.

Number 79 "Kids" by MGMT
Another song which took a while to emerge as a hit was this track from American band MGMT's debut album, Oracular Spectacular. And, even though "Kids" originally appeared on the We (Don't) Care EP in 2004, it didn't change an awful lot in the intervening years.

Number 78 "Show Me What I'm Looking For" by Carolina Liar
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 77 "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" by James Doman
A lesser known club track now, with this song from Canadian DJ/producer James Doman I know very little about James other than the fact that he next collaborated with James Gooding on "Runnin'", which sampled "U Don't Know Me" by Armand van Helden.

Number 76 "No Stress" by Laurent Wolf
Big in Europe, not so much everywhere else, this Continental chart-topper followed years of under-the-radar releases by the French DJ/producer. Vocals were performed by Eric Carter, while in recent years Laurent has featured Andrew Roachford on a couple of his singles.

In Part 2: a heck of a lot of Australasian dance music (including three songs by one act), the most famous American Idol contestant to finish seventh and the first appearance by a B-side on one of my year-end charts.

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