Call for Music Critics and Essayists: If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by our quality readership.
Call for Music Critics and Essayists: If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by our quality readership.

The Best Singles of 2008




Keane had me at “ohhhh”, which is to say, the very beginning of “Spiralling”. With hooks at every turn, “Spiralling” generates excitement non-stop throughout its punchy three minutes. The song climaxes with Tom Chaplin screaming, “Did you want to be in love?” before dipping one last time into one of the most infectious choruses heard this year. A single is supposed to hook you and incite the need to play it incessantly until you just have to get the album too. Myself, I picked up Perfect Symmetry well before the play count for “Spiralling” passed 50 on my computer. Christian John Wikane




“Miss You”

It’s been two years since Danish knob twiddler Anders Trentemøller released his critically lauded debut The Last Resort and he’s still milking it in 2008. He has every right, though, ’cause that collection of intricate, atmospheric electronic genre-benders was all highlights. “Miss You” is without a doubt one of the original pressing’s most understated and touching pieces. There’s no bass to speak of, only subtle layers of synth pads, echo-laden leads, and slight, docile cracks. It’s soothing and hypnotic yet vibrant and shimmering. Most electronic producers diminish the impact of such sounds by slathering them over basic beats way too high in the mix, gussying up their club friendly lower frequencies like an old west prostitute. This Trentemøller guy is all class. Filmore Mescalito Holmes



Los Campesinos

“My Year In Lists”

Los Campesinos! imbued its debut album with equal parts exuberance and longing, but the noisy, chaotic energy that comes from seven musicians pounding away on everything from keyboards to glockenspiels transforms even the ballads into hooky pop songs. The über-catchy “My Year in Lists” speaks directly to the heart of a certain kind of forlorn DIY geek: the kind who gets turned on by handwritten letters, can grapple with complex literary devices, and, yes, might express yearning through a bulleted list or two. The vulnerable and the obsessive will know exactly where “My Year in Lists” falls in their list of favorite songs of 2008 — and it’s likely to be near the top. Marisa LaScala




“Graveyard Girl”

Glassy synthesizers, breathy shoegaze vocals, a sweeping melody and an unselfconsciously mock-profound mid-song spoken word break… progressive French electro-hipsters M83 finally locate pure pop perfection by dipping into the pool of mid-’80s synth-pop. Like OMD’s “If You Leave” by way of a Sofia Coppola soundtrack, “Graveyard Girl” is, like the rest of the retrograde Saturdays = Youth, a loving tribute to the sound of the band’s own distant adolescence, a fond acknowledgement of just how much our teenage discoveries and tragedies, no matter how lost to adulthood or nostalgia, continue to radiate in our hearts. Jer Fairall



Lyrics Born

“I Like It, I Love It”

The latest album from upbeat hip-hop artist Lyrics Born, Everywhere at Once, doesn’t match up to the potency of his 2003 debut, Later That Day… –- aside, that is, from one incredibly groovy and ecstatic track of undiluted bliss. “I Like It, I Love It” is a mid-tempo booty-mover brimming with disco glimmer, but pinned down by a deep, “Brick House”-like rhythm track. Lyrics Born masterfully paces the song’s momentum, inducing multiple peaks of glee during its sub-four-minute run. Michael Keefe




“Pork and Beans”

Ever since 1996’s Pinkerton, Rivers Cuomo has been writing songs about being an old man, but now that he actually is approaching middle-age, he’s dropped the dour demeanour for a far sillier one. A response to a request from Geffen executives to write more commercial material, “Pork and Beans” is a characteristic dose of Cuomo self-ridicule, with a chorus that, courtesy of some exceptional production from Jacknife Lee, explodes out of the speakers. The song’s impact was certainly aided by the year’s best video. It’s just a shame the rest of the Red Album didn’t live up to it. James Bassett



Lykke Li

“Little Bit”

It’s been a very good year for 22-year-old Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li, her album Youth Novels topping the charts in Scandinavia early in the year and generating very strong buzz on the internet, ultimately winning over indie fans in North America, and a lot of the credit goes to her winsome first single. Ingeniously produced by Bjorn Yttling, the arrangement is disarmingly minimal, plaintively plucked mandolin strings providing the perfect backdrop for Lykke Li’s unique, not to mention lustful take on modern pop music. Adrien Begrand



Vampire Weekend


Many tried to ascribe some hip West African origin to the infectious, off-kilter sound of “A-Punk” and the rest of Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut. Perhaps it’s too easy for that pretentious bunch to simply admit that the Police ever existed. Yes, this cutsey burst of indie-funk was popular as it was polarizing; putting it on at a party could get you a phone number or a punch in the face. But in the end, the haters of these Ivy League, boat-shoe wearing songsters had to admit it: this song is catchy. Louis J. Battaglia



Lil Wayne

“A Milli”

Almost as ubiquitous this summer as “A Milli” were the billions of freestyles that showed up on every rap blog. Still, no one could out-stunt Wayne’s original, wherein your favorite Martian’s favorite rapper commands Bangladesh’s block-rattling anti-beat by doing what he does best: rapid-firing jaw-dropping and head-smacking punchlines, following his syrup-addled brain on tangents and back in a matter of seconds, pushing his gnarled rasp to its breaking point and redefining what flow means to rap music. Jordan Sargent





This isn’t a song about missing someone; something darker lurks just underneath Alison Goldfrapp’s keening, attenuated vocal. No, this is a sublime pop song about being so deranged by sadness and solitude that another night in somehow winds up with you on the floor in the emergency room. The narrator is so desperate for human connection that something horrible happens, and the space “A&E” leaves for our imagination to fill in that blank is it’s most powerful, cruelest trick. Ian Mathers