OK! The final part of my year-in-review! Enjoy! :) (Also, hope everyone has a happy and healthy New Year!)
The Best Music of 2008
The Best B-Sides or Bonus Tracks of 2008
Does what it says on the tin!
- The “WOW” b-sides (“Do It Again”; “Carried Away”; “Cherry Bomb”) by Kylie Minogue: I just can’t choose which song I love the most! Kylie’s b-sides are often gems – and these are nothing less than three jewels in the X era crown. “Do It Again” and its chunky beats and rather regal melody, the fabulously frenetic pace and great lyric – “just too sexy” – of “Carried Away,” the slow and steady electro of “Cherry Bomb”… it’s all so cool!
- “Amnesia” by Britney Spears: By all rights, this boppin’ tune should have been a proper album track, but was sadly only available as a bonus track on some versions of Circus. Thumping drums and a fun melody combined to make one of the best bonus tracks of the year.
- “For One Day” by Dido: Available as a bonus track on the limited edition or deluxe version or whatever it’s called of Safe Trip Home, “For One Day” has shuffling beats and heartbreaking lyrics that I assume are about spening one more day with her father, who passed away in 2006 after battling cancer. A beautiful song.
- “Ave Maria” by Mylène Farmer: A stunning, hushed version of the classic aria that begins and concludes with the pulse of heartbeats. Mylène has never sounded so angelic as on this song! It’s a hidden track on some releases of Point De Suture.
- “Hip To The Beat” by Pop Levi: More of the cool synths that pop up often on Never Never Love give this bonus track on the Japan edition of the album a hard edge that contrasts with the melody really well.
The 5 Best Remixes of 2008
There were tons of remixes this year, and this category honors the best of the best.
- “4 Minutes (Peter Rauhofer Peter Saves Paris Mix)” by Madonna: Why this remix? It takes the already cool “4 Minutes” and beefs it up into a banging old-school club mix. It’s almost 9 minutes long but I wish it went on forever!
- “Great DJ (7th Heaven Remix)” and “That’s Not My Name (Soul Seekerz Club)” by The Ting Tings: The catchy “Great DJ” gets a huge house sound courtesy of 7th Heaven, who give their mix thudding beats and spiky synths while the Soul Seekerz turn “That’s Not My Name” into a club thumper. I just can’t choose between these two!
- “Dégénération (Tomer G Sexy Club Mix)” by Mylène Farmer: Tomer G took the best elements of “Dégénération” (like the blazing synths and the clanging percussion) and applied them to a booming club mix. Epic!
- “The Alternative (BitRayker Remix)” by IAMX: Originally a garage-band-beat-filled rocker, “Ther Alternative” is given an electrifying, dirty dancefloor makeover by BitRayker. Now if IAMX could only get a new album out…! ;)
- “Wow (Death Metal Disco Scene Mix)” and “In My Arms (Death Metal Disco Scene Remix)” by Kylie Minogue: Another pair I can’t decide between! Gritty, raw electro production makes DMDS’s refreshing takes on “Wow” and “In My Arms” sound vastly different to their original state.
The 3 Best Leaks (that are still unreleased) of 2008
Lots of stuff leaked this year, but only tracks that still remain unreleased are in the running for this category.
- “Obscured by Crowds” by Siobhan Donaghy: This song comes from the Ghosts album sessions and would have made a beautiful b-side or bonus track. Just as elegant and pretty as the rest of the album tracks!
- “Like An Angel Passing Through My Room” by Madonna: This ABBA cover from Madonna’s Ray Of Light era is sumptuous and soothing, with layered vocals and soaring strings. Beautiful.
- “Fever” by Lady GaGa: “Fever” (not a cover) and its piano rock would have sounded a little out of place on the largely electro-dance The Fame, but I really like it!
The Best Album Reissue of 2008
Albums from the past, re-released for a 2008 audience! (Well, in this case, one album – I didn’t come across more than one stellar album repackaging this year, sadly!)
- Malaria: The Lost Album by Robyn Loau: Mike’s posts about Robyn Loau at PTA got me interested in the Aussie diva, and what a great time to get interested – her previously shelved 1998 album finally got an official release this year! (So this isn’t so much a “reissue” as it is an actual release, but whatev!) The album is full of terrific trip-hop-inspired pop songs that aren’t afraid to be “out there” – like “Sick With Love” and its dark, twisting string riff, or the frantic drum’n’bass of “Ziggy.”
The Best Compilation or Greatest Hits Album of 2008
I judged this category based on the quality of the songs and the cohesiveness of the album as a whole.
- Beginnings: The Best of the Early Years by Clannad: Clannad have released their fair share of “greatest hits” compilations over the years – probably a few too many, if truth be told. But I can’t fault them, really, because had it not been for the comps An Diolaim (a collection of some of their early work) and Rogha (some of their later work), I may never have become the fan I am today! :) Now, what the other compilations they’ve released have lacked is the group’s early material. An Diolaim consists of tracks from only two albums, and the other comps by and large focus only on their output from Magical Ring and beyond. Of course, that material is excellent – but in my opinion, so is their early traditional work. Most of their 1970s albums (I believe only the live record Clannad In Concert isn’t represented) finally got recognized in 2008 with Beginnings. Whoever chose the songs made great choices, because most of my favorites are there! ;) Check this 2 CD album out if you haven’t heard Clannad’s early tunes, or if you’re a fan of (sometimes jazzed-up) Irish folk!
The Best 3 Music Videos of 2008
Tons of music videos popped up this year – these were my favorites.
- “Disturbia” by Rihanna: OK, Rihanna may not be very charismatic during her live performances (at least the ones I’ve watched) – there’s a reason she’s called the Ribot on ONTD. But darned if she didn’t make the most intriguing, stunning video of the year! She must have some charisma somewhere, because the way she visibly relishes singing the word “disturbia” towards the end of the video sends chills up my spine. Her ice-queen demeanor suits the video so well: just watch her detachedly pat some guy on the head as she sashays through a room, or coldly blow smoke into a writhing model’s face. I noted awhile ago that I for some reason am really intrigued by music and, in this case, music videos, that explore ideas of mental distress or even madness. It’s like, by creating something artistic that references madness, that madness is being owned or reclaimed by the artist (or even the listener). Not for a minute do I believe that that’s really what was intended with the song “Disturbia” or its video – that goes a bit deep for a pop song! – but it’s how I read into it. Anyways, what a gorgeously creepy video!
- “Circus” by Britney Spears: The best song on Circus gets a video that enhances its greatness! The old-fashioned, almost sepia-tinted style of the vid contrasts beautifully with the high-tech beats and synths of the song, and Britney looks absolutely lovely.
- “Amor y Lujo” by Monica Naranjo: It’s Monica surrounded by drag queens. Faaaaabulous!
The Best Artist of 2008
To be the Best Artist of 2008, the artist must have maintained a consistent level of fabulousness all year.
- Kylie Minogue: Kylie didn’t release a proper studio album this year (except for X in the US) but her single releases and that sensational tour were more than enough to keep me captivated! I don’t tend to like to listen to live recordings of tours, but man oh man, I absolutely love to listen to the audio of the tour DVD! You keep doing your thang, Kylie. :)
- Monica Naranjo: She released an album, went on tour, and appeared all over TV and in magazines – did she ever get a chance to breathe this year? :) Just releasing the amazing Tarantula would have been enough!