Friday, January 9, 2009

The Top 10 Albums of 2008

10. The Saturdays Chasing Lights
I was actually quite surprised by this debut album from British girl group The Saturdays. Most acts would have a tough time recording an album that were even in the ballpark of their epic first single "Up"; for The Saturdays, this was a walk in the park. Chasing Lights is simple, clean and gets right to the point, delivering an album that didn't even need to be half this good.

Key Tracks:
"If This Is Love", "Up", "Chasing Lights", "Issues"

9. Same Difference Pop
Was anything on The X-Factor finalist Same Difference's debut album anything as groundbreaking and original as some of the other stuff on this countdown? Not a chance. Did most of the songs sound vaguely similar? Sure. Does any of that matter? Hell to the no! Pop is silly, squeaky clean, honest to goodness fun and, the best part is, it doesn't apologize for it. It's only superficial, ridiculous pop, but we like it. A lot.
Key Tracks:
"Better Love Me", "We R One", "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now", "I Need a House"

8. Santogold Santogold
Anyone that knows me knows I usually don't like to take a chance on music that's outside my normal "Top 40" zone. I would rather listen to Fergie than Bob Dylan or listen to that new indie rock band everyone's talking about- and I'm completely fine with that. So when Glenn heartily recommended Santogold's debut album, I took a shot on it and, needless to say, I was very impressed. The songs are so unique, combining insturments in ways I don't think I've ever heard before, and Santogold's voice is so alien, so unique that it's always a treat hearing her explore her range on tracks as completely different as "Lights Out" and "Say Aha."

Key Tracks:
"Lights Out", "L.E.S. Artistes", "Creator", "Say Aha"

7. Madonna Hard Candy
A lot of people hate it, but I love the new direction Madonna took for her latest CD, Hard Candy. Here she proves that she can hang with the pop tarts of this generation and she can do it better than anyone 30 years her senior. On first listen, the album doesn't seem like much of anything. But after hearing it a few times, the things becomes damn near impossible to put down. With this impressive album out of the way, the only question is now that she's divorced from Guy Ritchie and her British phase is pretty much over, what "new" Madonna are we going to get next.

Key Tracks:
"Miles Away", "4 Minutes", "Heartbeat", "Voices"

6. Sugababes Catfights and Spotlights
Catfights and Spotlights (great title, by the way) may not be a departure from the usual Sugababes formula, but when you have a formula as proven and immaculate as theirs, sometimes you don't need to tinker with it. Their usually powerful writing is especially so on this go-around (you won't find a track as cleverily written as "Murder One [Every Heart Broken]" anywhere else) and their production sounds more American than ever before- which is more proof that foreigners are doing better American music than we are.

Key Tracks:
"Murder One [Every Heart Broken]", "Side Chick", "You On a Good Day", "About You Now (Acoustic)"

5. Jesse McCartney Departure
If you had told me last January that Jesse McCartney would have not only one of the 10 best albums of 2008, but also the best album by an American, I would have had you committed right on the spot. Overnight, this bland, boy band-ish young fellow grew up and matured into a hip-pop dance king. He may be trying a bit too hard to imitate Justin Timberlake in all of his "Sexyback" glory, but, honestly, if you're going to imitate someone, you can't do much better than JT.

Key Tracks:
"How Do You Sleep", "It's Over", "My Baby", "Leavin'"

4. Kylie Minogue X
I feel like I've been talking about this album for years now, but since the album was finally released in America early last year, I figured I had an acceptable excuse to include it in this year (does anyone else really put this much thought into their lists?). With a career as illustrious as Kylie's, with as many great songs as she's put out, many from this 16 track collection deserve to stand head to head with some of her best. X is dance-pop perfection and deserves more respect than it received stateside.
Key Tracks: "In My Arms", "The One", "Wow", "Speakerphone"

3. Duffy Rockferry
A lot of critics attacked Duffy because she doesn't sound like another certain 60's soul-inspired chanteuse from the UK and even, God know's how, ended up on Entertainment Weekly's Worst of 2008 list. Well, to all those critics, I have but one thing to say to you: "poo poo." In my opinion, Rockferry was one of the most deeply felt and emotionally resonant albums of the year. I'm guessing people were turned off by the quietness and introspection of the music and lyrics, especially towards the middle, but I found Rockferry to be totally soothing and relaxing.

Key Tracks:
"Warwick Avenue", "Delayed Devotion", "Serious", "Rockferry"

2. Sam Sparro Sam Sparro
This is the album Blake Lewis' Audio Day Dream tried to be and only half-succeeded. Sam Sparro's out-of-this-world dance hall fantasia was one of the most exciting albums I heard all year. Every song offered either something very interesting (the fascinating look on modern day inconveniences in "21st Century Life") or totally brand spankin' new (the solemness of "Black and Gold" and the entirety of "Clingwrap") to my ears. I will definitely be interested to hear what comes out of his mouth next.

Key Tracks:
"Black and Gold", "21st Century Life", "Clingwrap", "Pocket"

1. Girls Aloud Out of Control
Say you're a pop group and you've just released a masterpiece of an album- wouldn't it be the safest to make an album vaguely similar to said masterpiece and reap more acclaim. Most groups would milk this cash cow for all it's worth; thankfully, Girls Aloud aren't all pop groups. Out of Control is a completely bewitiching, absolute stunner of an album. This album takes a complete left turn from their last album, switching from
the hardcore electronic, dance floor ready Tangled Up to a quieter, dreamily surreal electric pop that's so hard to describe you really need to listen to it yourself to get the full scope of it. Out of Control is an epic masterwork for a group often dismissed as nothing more than a "pop"group; kudos to the Girls for realizing that "pop" doesn't neccessarily have to be a derogatory label.
Key Tracks: "Rolling Back the Rivers in Time", "Live in the Country", "The Loving Kind", "We Wanna Party"


Kamikaze Camel said...

Nice list! I'm still working on mine - cause I'm lazy - but needless to say I think we share a #1.

Dame James Henry said...

Thanks! I'm so glad you approve!

Michael Parsons said...

Good list. Perhaps too poppy for me and sad Adele didn't make it in there, but happy to see Santogold on any best of list.

coffee said...

Whatever Madonna is doing to preserve herself, Christina Aguilera should start taking notes before it's too late