Remember when I said I was done with lists? I lied. Out of complete self-interest (or, more precisely, interest in self), I began wondering what were my favorite singles of the year. Lots of other folks picked theirs, so why not me? To arrive this list, I first reviewed what 2008 tracks had the highest play counts. I noticed that, because I listen to albums a lot, much of the time a single artist had many high numbers (e.g.: NaS, Amy Winehouse, Arcade Fire), so I took only the one song by each artist with the highest play count. I also eliminated those songs that I really enjoy on an album, but not so much as standalone songs. Then, I added a few songs that for whatever reason didn’t have high play counts but I know I really really really dug. So not all of these artists were featured in my prior lists. Plus, hip hop really lends itself to singles, so here I get to reel off a few rap tunes!
Here’s the results. Discuss. Debate. Insult me by asking my rhetorically how I could have left off _______. I love it all.
Note: These tracks are in no particular order. I just can’t rank ’em. It’s too hard. Those with a (DL) have mp3 links on savefile.
1. I Feel Like Dying-Lil’ Wayne (DL). With all the hype about Da Drought 3, folks nearly forgot about his Carter 3 mixtape, which contains this rare example of a more serious side to Weezy, rapping about drugs and death. Chilling.
2. Da Art of Storytelling Part 4-Outkast. One of the greatest rap bands ever promises a strong return, after their misstep in Idlewild.
3. Cheekbone Hollows-The Child Ballads. Rising from the ashes of Fire*Eater, an awesome rootsy single.
4. You Got Yr Cherrybomb-Spoon. Britt sounds like he’s choking on the chorus.
5. Duffle Bag Boyz-Playaz Circle and Lil’ Wayne. The hook from this one rolls around my skull at least twice a week. Millz just tried to bite it on his last mixtape, but it’s nowhere near as good as the original.
6. I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You-Black Kids.
7. Is There a Ghost?-Band of Horses.
8. International Player’s Anthem-UGK and OutKast. An awesome collaboration that blends not only unique rapping styles but also completely disparate beats.
9. Stronger-Kanye West.
10. The Hucklebuck Slice-Blockhead (DL). “Uncle Tony’s Coloring Book” didn’t make my best of 2007 list because I hadn’t heard of the album yet–but it’s fast becoming one of my favorite albums of the decade.
11. Underwater (You and Me)-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (DL). A great song from a not-so-great album.
12. Dumb it Down-Lupe Fiasco. Lupe will probably be on my best albums of the year list for 2008 (it was released too late in December to make the ’07 cut), but for now I’m content with this single, which actually makes me laugh out loud. Few artists can do this. The only two I can think of off hand are Eminem and The Hold Steady.
13. Skinny Love-Bon Iver.
14. Battles-Atlas. I don’t care for the entire album–it’s just too much for one sitting–but this track is hot.
15. Talkin’ Smart Project Pat and Pimp C. Pat’s 2007 album, Walking Bank Roll, was sadly slept on by many. It’s a great example of what the Southern rap genre can deliver, with lots of guest appearances by various Three 6 Mafia dudes.
16. American Dreaming-Jay-Z and Marvin Gaye. I know everyone else loves “Roc Boys,” and I do, too, but this song sounds less tossed off.
17. Black Republican-NaS and Jay-Z.
18. Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)-Sandro Perri & Friends (DL). From their 2007 tour EP. Download it and give it a chance. It’s not what you expect.
19. I’ve Seen It All (Bjork cover)-Bonnie Prince Billy(DL). This track from his November EP is haunting and fantastic.
20. To Know Him is to Love Him-Amy Winehouse.
Number 21: 200 More Miles-Cowboy Junkies and Ryan Adams. From the Trinity Sessions reissue. It’s just not top 20.
Notably absent, but loved by everyone else who made lists:
Umbrella-Rhianna. I just don’t get why this song is supposed to be so crazy good. I find it dull. And I’m not a snob. I loved “Crazy in Love” and “Let’s Get Retarded.”