Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best of 2007: Dan's Top 80 Minutes of 2007

I have finally gotten my act together and I'm ready to put this to bed - my favorite songs of the year. I struggled and hemmed and hawed. Some of these were shoo-ins. Others worked to make the cut. Some I really wish I hadn't had to cut. But ultimately, I can't imagine 2007 without any of these songs. It's 19 songs - but it's 80 minutes worth, something you can all burn to a CD which I know you will be doing immediately because you all want to have as good of taste in music as I do. ;) Okay, maybe not. But anyway, here we go.

Dan's Top 80 Minutes of 2007

1) On With The Song - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Angry political songs that work are so rare, but leave it to Chapin and her ace songwriting skills to craft a near perfect indictment of the politics of the last 7 years. The song itself was written as a tribute to the Dixie Chicks and the controversy that swirled around Natalie Maines' controversial statement, but it's so much more than that. I will never forget being at the Ames 4th of July parade this summer and seeing the Republican nominees going by - Brownback, Romney, Paul, etc., and feeling compelled to listen to this song on my iPod as a reminder to myself that the entire world hasn't completely lost its sanity. Writing a song like this means Chapin really doesn't give a shit about getting played on country radio, and I'm glad for that. Simply one of the best songs of the entire year.

2) Car Crash - Matt Nathanson
I have Caryle to thank for this one - she's the one that put Matt Nathanson back on my radar. I always liked a few songs from his album Beneath These Fireworks but beyond that, I never really got into his music. Well, "Car Crash" was the free iTunes single one week and I thought what the hell? Little did I know that it would be one of the most played songs of the fall.

3) Duel - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
This is one of 5 songs that graduated from the top 20.5 of the summer to the best of the year. That seems like a lot, when I get right down to it. But really, the summer was one of the best for music in a very long time. This is also one of several B-sides from artists who had actual full albums out this year that made the best of list. This is perhaps one of my all-time favorite covers, and I don't even like the original Propaganda track! (Heidi and I both think the singer on the original sounds like Kermit the Frog.) But Sophie takes this song and despite doing a note-for-note remake of it, completely makes it her own. Plus, those Pet Shop Boys synthy strings get me. Every. Single. Time.

4) Projector - Casey Stratton
Only two artists have the prestige of having two songs in the years best of list. Casey Stratton is one of them. While The Crossing underwhelmed me, "Projector" is my favorite track off of it. Perhaps it's because I am a complete sucker for a pop song in a minor key (C minor in this case.)

5) Smithereens - Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox is the only other artist besides Casey who gets two spots on this list. I seriously could not decide between two songs from her album Songs of Mass Destruction. "Smithereens" is a classic Annie ballad. It is made all the more poignant by some events that took place this year in our lives. Really, I didn't mean to break it down to smithereens. I really hope this is a single because I think Annie could do wonders with a video for this one.

6) If I Called You On The Telephone - The Revelations
As XO pointed out, this is the best little song that no one knows. It is retro, yet current. And besides, phone songs are almost always fun and cool. This is no exception.

7) Green Light (Freemason's Remix Edit) - Beyonce
Caryle pointed out to me this weekend that she simply cannot believe how much better the remix of "Green Light" is when compared to the absolutely shiteous album version. I do not make it a habit of listening to Beyonce - don't get me wrong - but this remix is so fabulous I simply could not bear to leave it off. I will never forget hearing this at The Garden this summer during Heidi's birthday, followed by "Umbrella" (which did not make the list, but nearly did) and "Hung Up." (Confidential to you-know-who: See, "Bootylicious" is not so embarrassing!) :)

8) Let Me Know - Roisin Murphy
Roisin Murphy is making a lot of other bloggers' lists. I never really got into more that "Let Me Know" - but what a song it is. It's an effortless pop song - the best kind that there is. Others have sung its praises better than I could ever attempt.

9) Guilty (Bimbo Jones Remix) - De Souza & Shena
This is less a song than a brilliantly used sample - but still, the sheer unexpected brilliance of sampling Streisand's "Make It Like A Memory" merits it a spot on this list. I had completely and utterly forgotten about "Make It Like A Memory" until this song ripped it out of my subconscious. The sample does what a good sample is supposed to do - work itself effortlessly into the song and become a part of it, while serving as an homage to the original work. Not since "Gimme Gimme Gimme" was worked so flawlessly into "Hung Up" have I heard a sample used so well.

10) Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Lest you think that it's all pop all the time, here's a Plant/Krauss song to shake things up a bit. Raising Sand is a great album - so unexpected. I was a bit skeptical when I heard about it, but then a friend forwarded a Huffington Post review of it and I just had to check it out. This was the track that immediately jumped out and grabbed me. I have always enjoyed Alison Krauss, and pairing her with Robert Plant was something that shouldn't have worked, but did.

11) Better Get To Livin' - Dolly Parton
Quite simply the best Dolly Parton single in eons, I can't figure out why this isn't climbing the country charts. Oh, wait...that's because most people wouldn't recognize good music if it came up and bit them! An empowerment anthem that is the most contemporary country-sounding song Dolly has done in quite a while. I can't wait to hear it live on February 28th!

12) Call The Shots - Girls Aloud
I was not all that impressed with the Girls' Tangled Up album. It all sounded so much the same to me, but I heard "Call The Shots" before I heard the rest of the album and it made my fall playlist on my iPod. It's not gotten tons of play, but I can't imagine the fall without it. As the year has rounded out, I have played it a lot more.

13) Fall For You - Kylie Minogue
I still think the best song on X didn't make the record. How "Nu-di-ty" survived the cut and "Fall For You" didn't is just completely beyond my comprehension. It's like if "Vogue" had ended up the "Keep It Together" B-side that it was originally intended to be! This is one of my all-time favorite Kylie songs - pop music at its best. (Sorry guys, "Wow" didn't make the list.) :(

14) My Interpretation - Mika
I really don't like Mika - but this song is the BIG exception. As I detailed when this song made my best of summer list, a friend sent this to me when I was dealing with a situation that I seriously would have rather not been dealing with. As the year wore on, it became more and more appropriate to another situation which I would have rather not dealt with. I am fond of telling the story of a college friend saying to me during a break-up "A pop song should not know how I feel!" to which my only response was, "If it doesn't, what's the point?" Hopefully, I'm done with this song knowing how I'm feeling for a very long time.

15) You're On My Mind - Passenger
A bit of an odd choice for me - it's a deviation from the diva-driven pop that seems to dominate my musical tastes. But Passenger is a very Keane-ish type band (even though I never really got into Keane all that much) and I do have a soft spot for the sensitive Brit-pop songs. Truthfully, this song got a lot of play because it came right after "She Spoke 2 Me" from the Girl 6 soundtrack in my "Recently Added" playlist during the late summer/early fall, and by simple exposure, it became one of my favorite tracks of the year.

16) Fallen Angel - Darren Hayes
Darren Hayes released the best two records of his career with This Delicate Thing We've Made. I struggled with picking a song from that album to put on this list - there are so many to choose from. Ultimately, it was a B-side that won out. "Fallen Angel" was a B-side to "On The Verge Of Something Wonderful" and I simply could not get enough of it when I first heard it. It has an infections pop sound to it - reminiscent of some of his best Savage Garden work but would have fit in quite well with the introspective songs on the album. I am so glad that Darren continues to make music without the support of a major label - he has a lot of songs in him and I, for one, look forward to what is yet to come.

17) Ghosts In My Machine - Annie Lennox
This is the other Annie Lennox song that I couldn't bear to cut. I look at this song as a modern day "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" for Enneagram Type 4s. With lyrics like "I hurt too much/I feel to much/I dread too much/I dream too much/I'm caught up by the ghosts in my machine", she spoke to fours everywhere in a language we all understand. Plus it includes a classic Eurythmics sounding "Wooo!....Yeah!" as well as the only cool sounding accordion I have ever heard. My favorite Annie Lennox song in years.

18) Violet Room - Casey Stratton
Wait a second, wasn't this on his Patrick Leonard produced, major label debut Standing at the Edge? And wasn't that out in 2004? Yes, it was. But Casey went back in 2007 and released the The Winter Children - the album that would have happened had Standing at the Edge not happened. I have always loved "Violet Room" - if for no other reason than it has a bridge to die for. While I have always appreciated Patrick Leonard's production on Standing at the Edge more than most Casey fans, I must say that this version of "Violet Room" completely trumps the other. Lyrically, it's slightly different, and the new production suits the lyrics so much better. Simply gorgeous.

19) Two Times Blue - Debbie Harry
I blogged this song endlessly this summer, and it has racked up nearly 100 plays since my first download of it in early June of 2007. It is probably the song of the year, at least from the number of times played. I keep using the word "effortless" when describing song - but really, effortless songs really make the best pop songs. And this is one of those songs. Despite the fact that she really is the love child of Anne Murray and Hilary Clinton in the video, the song is top notch vocally and production-wise. The album may have not lived up to the pop stomper that is "Two Times Blue" but this song will always embody the summer of 2007.


Myfizzypop said...

i love how classy and eclectic your list is. It makes me feel so common and trashy. Like Girls Aloud :P Anyway, nice to see some of my faves on there (soph, kyles, ga, etc). I should let you know that i am REALLY starting to get into casey stratton in a BIG way. Expect a mammoth post on him soon! I may be calling on you for help!

Adem With An E said...

That Dolly track was the first song I'd ever purchased on iTunes without even listening to a preview of it first. Certainly did not regret the purchase either, it's so gorgeous.

Great list, a couple up top I'd not heard of before!