Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Top Music Of 2007

I always find it a very difficult prospect to narrow down an entire year's worth of music into a Top 10 list ... and then when I sit down and actually go thru all the music that was released over the year I find that it's actually not really difficult at all. I dunno, maybe this year is easier than most but I had no problem compiling my Top 10 Favorite Albums and Singles of the year. If anything, I had the most difficulty with ranking the albums/singles ... but in the end, here is what I came up with as my Fave Music of 2007.

In the #10 position I chose the very fun, very infectious Life in Cartoon Motion by Mika:


I tried to resist this album, and thinking back I have no idea why, but all it took was one listen for me to fall insanely in love with the songs. Life in Cartoon Motion is one of those albums where every song is a hit. I'm actually very surprised that Mika isn't a bigger star here in the US because of this album. He strikes me as the new, poppier version of Rufus Wainwright. Most folks really love his song Grace Kelly (as do I) but for me, the song Relax (Take It Easy) is the song that does it for me. Mika's album is such a treat to listen to ... no matter what you're doing ... it provides a fun, dancey soundtrack for every occasion.

At #9 I chose Too Young To Fight It by Young Love:


Young Love is the indie, hipster version of Justin Timberlake but with none of the assholiness. Like The Oohlas did last year, Young Love stole my heart from the beginning ... and getting to see him perform live in concert only cemented my belief that he is a hugely talented musician. MTV and Jennifer Lopez were wise to choose his song Find A New Way as the theme song for their show Dance Life. The hook in that song is so infectious, I had to watch the show. I predict (and it is my sincere hope) that Young Love's star will continue to rise.

Coming in at #8 is The Sun and the Moon by The Bravery:


When The Bravery came out a couple of years ago, critics charged that they were but a pale imitation of The Killers ... it seems that the tables have turned, at least in my eyes, because every single song on The Sun and the Moon beats the hell out of every song on the latest album by The Killers. The deceptively simple song Time Won't Let Me Go was a pretty big hit for The Bravery this year and the album overall proved that the band could be more than one album wonders. I made it a point to see The Bravery live in concert this year ... I don't even remember if The Killers even toured.

#7 belongs to Blackout by Britney Spears:


Okay ... so believe me, I really wanted Britney Spears to have the #1 position cuz any bit of positivity can only help the girl but there was better music to be had this year. That being said, Britney's newest album is really freakin' hot. Except for maybe 2 songs, every other song on the album could be released as a single. The songs are so well structured with a fresh, now sound ... she owes her producers much for helping her put out an amazing album (yes, even JR Rotem). Clearly, this is the most successful thing she's done all year, she at least deserves credit for it.

The #6 position goes to X by Kylie Minogue:


In the pop album category, Kylie Minogue wins overall. X is full of songs that only Kylie Minogue could do -- songs that have that electronic dance sound that make you want to dance. As with most pop albums, I think the ballads are the weakest parts of the album but they can't undo all the funness of the other great pop songs. The song Wow is like crack. I can play that song over and over and over ... and I do ... for that song alone, Kylie's album would've made my Top 10 list this year.

My #5 pick this year is Mantaray by Siouxsie Sioux:


Siouxsie Sioux has apparently dropped her husband Budgie, her band The Banshees and the second Sioux in her name but she has gained new life as a solo performer. Mantaray does not sound at all the way I anticipated a solo Siouxsie album to sound ... it sounds better. Mantaray has all the elements that made Siouxsie and the Banshees and Creatures songs so great and made them even more palatable. It has to be her most accessible music to date. I understand that some SaTB fans aren't too happy with her new sound but I couldn't be more thrilled. Siouxsie will be touring on this album in 2008 and I really hope that I get to hear this stuff live.

American Doll Posse by Tori Amos comes in at #4:


What more can I say about Tori Amos that I haven't already gushed on the blog before. The woman and her music speaks to me like none other and it is always a thrill to have new Tori music to enjoy in any year. While I don't love American Doll Posse as a whole like I loved Scarlett's Walk, it is vastly superior to her last album The Beekeeper. I must confess, I didn't get the different personas theme of the album until I saw her live in concert ... only then did it all make sense. I have always been a fan of her more poppy songs (which is why I love Bouncing off Clouds and Secret Spell so much) because in concert those are the songs that make the sometimes somber Tori fans in the audience get up and dance. There are a lot of these type of "dance" songs on American Doll Posse :)

At #3, we have Version by Mark Ronson:


Mark Ronson came out of nowhere and showed the world that there is something to be said about actual musicianship in today's music scene. I loved his album from the first moment I heard it but it was seeing him live in concert that really impressed me. Ronson had all these instruments on stage ... with people playing those instruments ... live. I was blown away. His album sounds like it's full of music samples mixed together ... and it turns out that those samples were actually played on instruments. Like Prince, Mark Ronson is a one-man band and I can't wait to hear what his next album will sound like.

My #2 favorite album of the year is Kala by M.I.A.:


It was kind of a tough call but Kala ends up in the #2 position. Trust me, Kala sits atop enough Top 10 lists elsewhere so you don't need me to tell you it's an amazing album. M.I.A. is strongest when she is making the music she wants to make ... if a song like Paper Planes needs gunshots, then the gunshots should stay in and not get edited out. The weakest song on the album is the song she did with Timbaland. I'd prefer if it got left off, honestly. It sounds really out of place with the rest of the songs on the album. I wish M.I.A. was able to put out more music more often ... Kala seems so short to me when I listen to it. As much as I loved this album, there was one other album that I think I loved a bit more.

And my choice for the #1 favorite album of 2007 is Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails:


Year Zero has to be the coolest thing I heard, overall, all year long. Trent Reznor continues to craft creatively intense music that not only has a message but also sounds fresh, inventive and new. I wasn't a big fan of the last NIN album (there were some great songs on it but overall I wasn't feeling it) and this one came out relatively soon after and I was afraid I wouldn't like it either ... nothing could've been further from the truth. The first songs I heard off of Year Zero were leaked to the InterWeb by way of USB drives that were mysteriously left in bathroom stalls around Europe as NIN played some club dates. Then the ADG got underway and the anticipation for the album grew. I was very pleased to know that all the hype was not for naught. Year Zero has to be the most cohesive album since the Downward Spiral (even more so than The Fragile which I felt lost cohesiveness because it was very long). Year Zero tells a grim tale of the future in a way that only Trent Reznor can ... with a mechanical precision that dares you to try and not pay attention. I must admit that I was HUGELY disappointed with the Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D remix album (which I think is all bad) prolly because I think that Year Zero is perfect just the way it is.

The Top Songs of 2007:
  1. Umbrella - Rihanna featuring Jay-Z: If you think that any other song but Umbrella should be the #1 song of the year you're pretty much crazy. The song was everywhere, loved by everyone and was even covered by white people shortly after its release -- that's how you know you've got yourself a hit. I was with David this year for the NYC Gay Pride Parade and Umbrella was played about 45 differnet times as the parade passed by. It was at that moment that I new that Umbrella was gonna be the IT song of 2007.
  2. Gimme More - Britney Spears: Say what you will about Britney Spears, the girl knows a hit song when she hears one. I contend that Gimme More is the only thing that is keeping her career afloat these days. She almost had a #1 album solely on the strength of this song. When it was released it spread around the world like wildfire. I guarantee, you'll hear it at your New Year's Eve party and YOU WILL DANCE to it even if you don't like Britney as a person. It's songs like this that give me hope that she will one day get back the career she once had.
  3. Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal) - Fergie: This song has to be the #1 ballad of the year. Aided by the video which co-starred Milo Ventimiglia, you have the hottest slow jam of the year. Fergie just kept knocking out hit after hit after hit from her debut solo album and, it is my opinion, that this is the best song of the bunch. There was no spelling involved in this song ... just pure heartfelt emotion with a catchy mid-tempo beat. Oh yeah and did I mention that Milo was in the video? Loved it!!!!
  4. Rehab - Amy Winehouse: Amy Winehouse may be a cracked out mess of a person but the girl can SANG! Rehab is prolly the second most infectious song of the year after Umbrella. Trust me, I hate that I love the song ... but I love the song.
  5. No One - Alicia Keys: This song, for me, was the hottest love song of the year. To me, it sounds like a song from the 60s (and at first, I did think it was a cover) because it has a simplicity that hearkens back to the classic songs of Motown. After the song came out, it was being used in TV shows left and right ... once it showed up on The Hills, even I couldn't resist. I'm not a big Alicia Keys fan but I'm a fan of this song.
  6. Beautiful Girls - Sean Kingston: This is another song that I hate to love. You hear this song 3 times and you're hooked. You gotta love a song that uses the word "suicidal" in the chorus over and over and over again ... and not by Marilyn Manson. My fave part is when Sean sings about that time back in '99 when he went away
    for doing his first crime ... and the girl didn't leave him! Brills. The lyrics may be a bit dumb but the song is hot.
  7. Survivalism - Nine Inch Nails: My love for this song grew after I saw the music video. A gay couple in bed IN a Nine Inch Nails video is gonna score big points with me all around. I was lucky enough to be at the concert where NIN played Survivalism for the first time ever in front of a live audience. I will always remember that night in Barcelona.
  8. 1234 - Feist: I blame those dman iPod Nano commercials for this one.
  9. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5: Adam Levine has got a sexy falsetto voice ... this is the best song on the Maroon 5 album and, in all honestly IMHO, is even better than their biggest hit This Love.
  10. Love Song - Sara Bareilles: This song is my latest obsession. Had it come out earlier in the year it might've appeared higher up on this list. I'm always so happy when songs like this come out because it strengthens my belief that singer/songwriters will never go away. A girl and a piano ... who knew?