Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Best Of 2008 - part 4

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

As our trip back to 2008 draws to a close, I'm reminded of some of the interviews I did with music acts throughout the year. After some time just focussing on TV shows, I was back writing about music again - but things had changed a lot in the two-and-a-half years since I worked at Smash Hits.

Who knew just how massive Lady Gaga was to become?

With so many entertainment websites and bloggers now on the scene, access to stars became harder to come by - although TV WEEK's high circulation still counted for something. Plus, artists often had a small army of publicists and managers, which meant that a casual conversation between interviewer and interviewee now took place with several audience members. Some of the people I spoke to feature in my top 25 songs for 2008, so let's get in with, shall we?

Number 25 "Strangers" by Van She
Joining the Australian synthpop and dance acts we saw back in Part 2 was this new band from Sydney, who were also signed to the trail-blazing Modular label. Unlike label-mates The Presets and Cut Copy, Van She (named after bass player Matthew Van Schie) scored with their very first album, V, which went top 10 in Australia and featured the singles "Strangers", "Changes" (number 48 on this list) and a remixed version of debut release "Kelly" (number 92).

Number 24 "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" by Black Kids
Next up, a band I saw play in Sydney in early 2009 (with Van She as support act, coincidentally). Like so many American bands that I was into (Scissor Sisters, The Bravery, etc.), Black Kids did better in the UK than at home, with debut album Partie Traumatic (produced by Suede's Bernard Butler) making the top 5 there. Debut single "I'm Not Gonna Teach..." was followed up by "Hurricane Jane" and "Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)" (number 47 on this list).

Number 23 "Paris Is Burning" by Ladyhawke
Born in New Zealand, based in Australia and comprised of one woman (Pip Brown), Ladyhawke was yet another act signed to Modular - but the only one that took its name from a 1980s fantasy film. Another of the year's most buzzed about artists, Ladyhawke hit the ARIA top 10 with "My Delirium" (number 58 on this list), but it was "Paris Is Burning" that was my preferred single. The self-titled debut album also featured "Dusk Till Dawn" (number 100).

Number 22 "The Loving Kind" by Girls Aloud
Previously featured here

Number 21 "Be Mine!" by Robyn
2007's "With Every Heartbeat" had put her back on the international stage, and in 2008, the rest of the world got to catch up on the singles that'd already been hits in Sweden up to three years earlier. "Be Mine!" was one of those songs and a perfect example of Robyn's knack for crafting songs that sound uplifting but which are lyrically rather sad (in this case, dealing with a breakup).

Number 20 "Closer" by Ne-Yo
He was still working closely with Norwegian production team Stargate, but Ne-Yo shifted gears in 2008, with this much more synth-based single a change of pace from his normal R&B sound - as heard on follow-up "Miss Independent" (number 44 on this list). "Closer" went down a storm in Europe, reaching number 1 in the UK, while in the US it peaked at a more modest number 7, with the EDM explosion still a couple of years away there.

Number 19 "Never Miss A Beat" by Kaiser Chiefs
Wasting no time at all notching up their third album, Kaiser Chiefs continued to do what they do best - release crowd-pleasing indie anthems like this lead single from Off With Their Heads. The track, which was produced by Mark Ronson, and featured backing vocals from Lily Allen and thee members of New Young Pony Club, was also the first by the band to enter the ARIA top 50, reaching number 47.

Number 18 "Take It Or Leave It" by VHS Or Beta
The highest placed non-single on this countdown, "Take It Or Leave It" came from Bring On The Comets, the second album by VHS Or Beta, another American band that sounded more than a little like The Killers. 

Number 17 "Spaceman" by The Killers
Speaking of The Killers, the Las Vegas band released their third album, Day & Age, in 2008 and enjoyed one of their biggest hits with lead single "Human" (number 71 on this list) - a synthpop track that wouldn't have been out of place on a Pet Shop Boys album. Follow-up "Spaceman" was a much better song - and less lyrically annoying - but was a complete non-event on Australian, UK and US charts.

Number 16 "Go Go" by Alphabeat
Mentioned below

Number 15 "No Air" by Jordin Sparks / Chris Brown
She was a former American Idol winner, he was yet to become notorious for beating up girlfriend Rihanna - and together Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown not only made sweet music together on this ballad duet, but landed a number of chart hits in Australia and the US between them in 2008. Following "No Air", Jordin went uptempo with "One Step At A Time" (number 32 on this list), while Chris showed off his fancy footwork (and provided wedding video inspiration) with "Forever" (number 61).

Number 14 "Shake It" by Metro Station
Besides launching Miley Cyrus onto the world, Hannah Montana is also responsible for the creation of this band, which was formed by Miley's half-brother Trace and Mason Musso, the older brother of Miley's co-star Mitchel Musso. After a couple of flop singles, party-starter "Shake It" was a runaway hit for the group - and one which it seemed like they were already tiring of by the time they toured Australia towards the end of the year, likely because it overshadowed everything else they did, including follow-up "Seventeen Forever" (number 74 on this list).

Number 13 "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles
Written in response to her record company's request for a hit single to include on her album Little Voice, "Love Song" did the trick, reaching number 4 in Australia, the US and the UK. Until the past year and the success of "Brave", it also looked like being Sara's only chart hit in Australia, with none of her intervening singles breaching the top 50 here.

Number 12 "American Boy" by Estelle featuring Kanye West
Like Natasha Bedingfield, who we saw in Part 2, focussing on America worked well for British singer Estelle in 2008, with this tune about dating a guy in the US giving her by far the biggest single of her career in Australia and the UK, and her one and only major hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Estelle had some heavyweight support on the track - besides Kayne West featuring on "American Boy", the song was produced by Will.i.am and John Legend, who'd signed Estelle for America, popped up in the music video (as you can see below).

Number 11 "10,000 Nights" by Alphabeat
Mentioned below

Number 10 "Into The Nightlife" by Cyndi Lauper
After her '80s heyday, Cyndi Lauper had tried her hand at a number of different styles and projects, including a Christmas album, a jazz standards covers album and an acoustic album. For her ninth studio release, Cyndi hit the clubs, collaborating with the likes of Basement Jaxx and Kleerup on Bring Ya To The Brink. Despite "Into The Nightlife" (which was co-written by Max Martin) being her best song in decades, it unfortunately didn't set the charts alight (unless you count the Billboard dance charts). 

Number 9 "We Keep On Rockin'" by Alcazar
After a three-year break, Swedish pop act Alcazar returned in 2008 - and were once again a trio, with Magnus Carlsson concentrating on his solo career, and new member Lina Hedlund replacing Annika KjærgaardDespite all the line-up changes, they were still as cheesy as ever - as demonstrated by "We Keep On Rockin'", which returned them to the Swedish top 5.

Number 8 "16" by Sneaky Sound System
They took their time getting around to releasing the best track from their second album, 2, as a single, with "Kansas City" (number 86) and "When We Were Young" coming before it. But, by the time "16" was lifted, the buzz around the Australian pop/dance trio that'd kept them in the charts for months on end had passed - and this ended up narrowly missing the ARIA top 50.

Number 7 "See You Again" by Miley Cyrus
We saw Jonas Brothers back in Part 1, and if there was any teen act even more of a sensation in 2008 it was Miley Cyrus, who successfully made the transition from singing as her TV character, Hannah Montana, to becoming a pop star in her own right. As well as featuring one of the best pop lyrics of the decade in "my best friend, Lesley, said, 'Oh, she's just being Miley'", "See You Again" became Miley's first single released under her own name - and the first of many Australian and US top 10 hits.

Number 6 "Boyfriend" by Alphabeat
Mentioned below

Number 5 "Wow" by Kylie Minogue
Mentioned in Part 3 and previously featured here

Number 4 "Spiralling" by Keane
Up until this point, they'd been known for indie rock piano ballads like "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Bedshaped", but Keane defied expectations with the Perfect Symmetry album, which featured a more energetic rock and synthpop sound. Unfortunately, singles like "Spiralling" and "The Lovers Are Losing" were chart disappointments in the UK, where they were used to top 10 hits - but the album gave them their third consecutive chart-topper there.

Number 3 "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga featuring Colby O'Donis
It's easy to forget all these years later now Lady Gaga fatigue has set in, but back in 2008, she turned the music scene on its head. It wasn't immediately apparent just what an impact she would have and I'll admit that when I interviewed her as "Just Dance" was taking off, I wasn't quite convinced. But as the music videos and outrageous outfits kept coming - not to mention killer songs like "Poker Face" (number 40 on this list) and even album track "I Like It Rough" (number 34) - it was obvious she had much more to offer than just writhing around with an inflatable orca in a wading pool. Still my favourite single of hers, "Just Dance" could have just been a great party song, but instead it became the start of an intriguing career that no doubt has plenty of life left. Meanwhile, whatever happened to Colby O'Donis?

Number 2 "I'm Not Over" by Carolina Liar
With one of the biggest pop choruses of the year, "I'm Not Over" could only have originated from Scandinavia - and it was no surprise to discover that Max Martin (him again!) was one of the producers of this debut single by the predominantly Swedish (only lead singer Chad Wolf is American) band. The album, Coming To Terms, also featured pop/rock ballad "Show Me What I'm Looking For" (number 78 on this list) and was criminally underrated.

Number 1 "Fascination" by Alphabeat
More Scandipop now, and not only did this super-perky pop tune by Danish band Alphabeat become my favourite song for 2008, it moved past Steps' "Stomp" (from 2000) and paulmac's "Just The Thing" (from 2001) to become my favourite track for the entire decade. Effortlessly feel-good, "Fascination" was actually released as the band's debut single in Denmark in 2006, but it wasn't until they were launched internationally in 2008 that it crossed over, becoming a UK top 10 hit as the follow-up to "Fantastic 6" (which just missed my top 100 for 2007). The pop perfection continued, with "Boyfriend" (number 6 on this list), "10,000 Nights" (number 11) and "Go Go" (number 16) all helping Alphabeat dominate my chart for the entire year.

My top 200 for 2008 in full:

1          FASCINATION Alphabeat
2          I’M NOT OVER Carolina Liar
3          JUST DANCE Lady Gaga featuring Colby O’Donis
4          SPIRALLING Keane
5          WOW Kylie Minogue
6          BOYFRIEND / PETE HAMMOND MIX Alphabeat
7          SEE YOU AGAIN Miley Cyrus
8          16 Sneaky Sound System
9          WE KEEP ON ROCKIN’ Alcazar
10        INTO THE NIGHTLIFE Cyndi Lauper
11        10,000 NIGHTS Alphabeat
12        AMERICAN BOY Estelle featuring Kanye West
13        LOVE SONG Sara Bareilles
14        SHAKE IT Metro Station
15        NO AIR Jordin Sparks / Chris Brown
16        GO GO Alphabeat
17        SPACEMAN The Killers
18        TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT VHS Or Beta
19        NEVER MISS A BEAT Kaiser Chiefs
20        CLOSER Ne-Yo
21        BE MINE! Robyn
22        THE LOVING KIND Girls Aloud
23        PARIS IS BURNING Ladyhawke
25        STRANGERS Van She
26        PROPANE NIGHTMARES Pendulum
27        4 MINUTES Madonna with Justin Timberlake
28        THIS LOVE The Veronicas
29        WOMANIZER Britney Spears
30        GRACE Will Young
31        CRY FOR YOU September
32        ONE STEP AT A TIME Jordin Sparks
33        DISTURBIA Rihanna
34        I LIKE IT ROUGH Lady Gaga
35        IN MY ARMS Kylie Minogue
37        WORK / FREEMASONS MIX Kelly Rowland
38        I DON’T CARE Fall Out Boy
39        I KISSED A GIRL Katy Perry
40        POKER FACE Lady Gaga
41        MIRACLE CURE Blank & Jones featuring Bernard Sumner
42        ALWAYS WHERE I NEED TO BE The Kooks
43        YOU KNOW ME BETTER Róisín Murphy
45        THE PROMISE Girls Aloud
46        GREAT DJ The Ting Tings
47        LOOK AT ME (WHEN I ROCK WICHOO) Black Kids
48        CHANGES Van She
49        BURN Jessica Mauboy
50        MOVIE STAR Róisín Murphy
51        DO IT AGAIN Kylie Minogue
52        INSOMNIA Craig David
53        MY LOVE IS PINK Sugababes
54        SPOTLIGHT Jennifer Hudson
55        HOT N COLD Katy Perry
56        SO WHAT Pink
57        LIGHTS & MUSIC Cut Copy
58        MY DELIRIUM Ladyhawke
59        THIS BOY’S IN LOVE The Presets
60        DANCE DANCE Booty Luv
61        FOREVER Chris Brown
62        I DECIDED / FREEMASONS MIX Solange Knowles
63        WHEN YOU TOUCH ME Freemasons featuring Katherine Ellis
64        POCKETFUL OF SUNSHINE Natasha Bedingfield
65        OUTTA MY HEAD (AY YA YA) Ashlee Simpson
66        BREAK THE ICE Britney Spears
67        GUILTY Kosheen
68        ALL I SEE / REMIX (featuring Mims) Kylie Minogue
69        MIRACLE Deepest Blue
70        FAR AWAY Cut Copy
71        HUMAN The Killers
72        BLACK & GOLD Sam Sparro
73        ROAD TO RECOVERY Midnight Juggernauts
74        SEVENTEEN FOREVER Metro Station
75        HEARTS ON FIRE Cut Copy
76        NO STRESS Laurent Wolf
78        SHOW ME WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR Carolina Liar
79        KIDS MGMT
80        PJANNO Eric Prydz
81        SHINE ON The Kooks
82        CHANGES Will Young
83        MILES AWAY Madonna
84        PRETTY PLEASE (LOVE ME) Estelle featuring Cee-Lo
85        GIRLS Sugababes
86        KANSAS CITY Sneaky Sound System
87        KEEPS GETTING BETTER Christina Aguilera
88        SKIN DIVERS Duran Duran
89        LOW Flo Rida featuring T-Pain
90        LET IT ROCK Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil Wayne
91        EVERYTHING BUT MINE Backstreet Boys
92        KELLY Van She
93        DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED NOW Gabriella Cilmi
94        BURNIN’ UP Jonas Brothers
95        WE BREAK THE DAWN Michelle Williams
96        ARE YOU WITH ME The Potbelleez
97        LUV Janet Jackson
98        THE RIGHT LIFE Seal
99        VICTIMS OF LOVE Good Charlotte
100      DUSK TILL DAWN Ladyhawke
101      RUN Gnarls Barkley
102      THE ONE / FREEMASONS MIX Kylie Minogue
103      ELEVATOR Flo Rida featuring Timbaland
104      GHOSTS Ladytron
105      COME ON GIRL Taio Cruz featuring Luciana
106      SOMETHING GOOD 2008 Utah Saints
107      IF THIS IS LOVE The Saturdays
108      CHERRY BOMB Kylie Minogue
109      WHAT YOU’RE ON Rogue Traders
110      UP The Saturdays
111      WHEN I’M GONE Simple Plan
112      BEGGIN’ Madcon
113      FREEZE Jordin Sparks
114      NO CAN DO Sugababes
115      GREEN LIGHT John Legend featuring Andre 3000
116      SWAY The Kooks
117      SOMETHING RIGHT Westlife
118      DENIAL Sugababes
119      RUNAWAY Ladytron
120      WHAT IS HAPPENING Alphabeat
121      WHO’S THAT GIRL Robyn
122      NOW YOU’RE GONE Basshunter
123      SINGLE LADIES (PUT A RING ON IT) Beyonce Knowles
124      WE R ONE Same Difference
126      CATCH ME IF YOU CAN M.Pokora
127      LIES McFly
128      TALK LIKE THAT The Presets
129      GOOD DAYS BAD DAYS Kaiser Chiefs
131      BE THE ONE The Ting Tings
132      TAKE ME ON THE FLOOR The Veronicas
133      IT’S OVER Jesse McCartney
134      SOS Jonas Bros
135      CIRCUS Britney Spears
136      YOU WILL ONLY BREAK MY HEART Delta Goodrem
137      YIPPYO-AY The Presets
138      DREAM ON Christian Falk featuring Robyn
139      BRAVE Jennifer Lopez
141      IF I NEVER SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN Maroon 5 featuring Rihanna
142      NITE RUNNER Duran Duran
143      HOMECOMING Kanye West featuring Chris Martin
144      LITTLE MISS OBSESSIVE Ashlee Simpson
145      BROKEN STRINGS James Morrison / Nelly Furtado
146      MAD Ne-Yo
147      FORGIVE ME Leona Lewis
148      CAN’T SPEAK FRENCH Girls Aloud
149      CHIMMY A GO GO Short Stack
150      GOING ON Gnarls Barkley
151      DISCO LIGHTS Ultrabeat vs Darren Styles
152      SHADOWS Midnight Juggernauts
153      NINE IN THE AFTERNOON Panic! At The Disco
154      BUTTONS Sia
155      CAN’T STOP MOVIN’ Sonny J
156      BREAKIN’ DISHES Rihanna
157      REACH OUT Hilary Duff
158      21ST CENTURY LIFE Sam Sparro
159      RADAR Britney Spears
160      WHAT’S YOUR NAME Usher featuring Wil.i.am
161      NOTHING ELSE I CAN SAY (EH EH) Lady Gaga
162      SLEEPWALKING Faker
163      ARE YOU MAGNETIC? Faker
164      L.E.S. ARTISTES Santigold
165      PERMANENT MONDAY Jordin Sparks
166      DECODE Paramore
167      PICK YOU UP Dash & Will
168      HURRICANE JANE Black Kids
169      I HATE THIS PART Pussycat Dolls
170      DAYLIGHT Kelly Rowland featuring Travis McCoy
171      I CAN BE Taio Cruz
172      YOU MAKE IT REAL James Morrison
174      REHAB Rihanna
175      WHATCHA THINK ABOUT THAT Pussycat Dolls featuring Missy Elliott
176      IF I WERE A BOY Beyonce Knowles
177      WHEN WE WERE YOUNG Sneaky Sound System
178      DANCE WIV ME Dizzee Rascal featuring Calvin Harris & Chrome
180      COBRASTYLE Robyn
181      ROCK WITH U Janet Jackson
182      LOVE LIKE THIS Natasha Bedingfield featuring Sean Kingston
183      HEARTBEAT Scouting For Girls
184      EMBRACE Pnau
185      PRAYING FOR TIME Carrie Underwood
186      TAKE A BOW Rihanna
187      LOVE IS A LIE Simple Plan
188      TONY THE BEAT The Sounds
189      RAINDROPS (ENCORE UNE FOIS) Sash! featuring Stunt
190      LIVE YOUR LIFE T.I. featuring Rihanna
191      CRUSH Amerie
193      SUPERWOMAN Alicia Keys
194      WHEN WE WERE KIDS The Galvatrons
195      SAVE THE LIES Gabriella Cilmi
196      MERCY Duffy
197      LOVE YOU ANYWAY Boyzone
198      I THOUGHT IT WAS OVER The Feeling
199      LEAVIN’ Jesse McCartney
200      READY FOR THE FLOOR Hot Chip

That's it for my look back at 2008. I have my 2009 list all ready to go, so look out for that in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'll continue to travel back 25 years to check out what was happening on the ARIA singles chart each Wednesday.

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