Saturday, December 23, 2006

Best of 2006: Top Ten Songs

It's time for another best of list, this one chronicling the top ten songs of the year. I limited it to one song an artist, I'm not sure that there would have been repeats, but just for the sake of mixing it up, I got different groups in here.

10. Scissor Sisters - 'I Don't Feel Like Dancin'

Somewhere on Youtube, I hope there's a Ted Danson fan video using this song. It sounds like a fusion of Elton John and the Beegees, a song so infectious and catchy, just hearing it will actually prevent you from sympathizing with the song's narrator. You will feel like dancing! That was an awful start to this countdown. Anyway, the song's string line is fantastic, mixing perfectly with the falsetto vocal. That said, my favorite part is the instrumental breakdown, and the smooth transition back into the verse.

9. The Pipettes - Pull Shapes

Yes, they're a rather gimmicky band, and yes, the one with the glasses looks like the most generic indie hipster girl imaginable, but it doesn't matter because their music is so damn catchy. This song is already at fever pitch by the time first vocal comes in, heralded by a swirling ascent of strings. The breakdowns on the "I like to..." part take things down, allowing for greater satisfaction at the full return on the chorus. The 60s was a time of massive symphonic pop songs, and this band is bringing back that tradition. I'd love to see them live at some point, but for now, you can enjoy this Beyond the Valley of the Dolls inspired video.

8. Men, Women and Children - Time for the Future (Bang Bang)

Probably the most obscure song on the countdown for your average blog reader, it's surprsising to me that MW&C never caught on with the blog circuit since their electrodancerock stylings would be right at home on Fluxblog. This song is a driving mix of deep bass and high string line. I love the guitar line underlying the whole song, and the driving build to the robot-sound filled chorus. There's all kinds of crazy stuff going on in here, it's one of the best fusions to date of guitar rock with dance beats. Unfortunately, the only video available is from a poorly shot live performance.

7. Goldfrapp - No. 1

We've covered the 60s, 70s and 00s, let's fill in the 80s. A lot of techno pop albums close out with a slower, more emotional song. No. 1 starts with a warm, really emotional synth line. I don't know what it is, but something about that 80s synth just says feeling to me. I think it comes from the use of Yaz's 'Only You' in both The Office and Fallen Angels. Anyway, this song starts great, with that synth, but it doesn't say in soft mode, a bass comes in and gives the song some energy, making it work for both the lounge and the dancefloor. Alison's vocal is ethereal and beautiful as always.

6. Cansei De Ser Sexy - Music is My Hot Hot Sex

The opening riff has a dark fatalism, casting a shadow over the lighter verses. This builds into the dark, but totally dancable chorus. I love whatever the muted screamlike sound is that's placed throughout the song, and the almost desperate quality of Lovefoxx's vocals. My favorite part is the Portugese breakdown in the middle, a mess of layered vocals over the dark instrumental. There's no official video for the song, but there is a R. Kelly Trapped in the Closet fanvid set to it. So, check that out.

5. Gwen Stefani - Wonderful Life

It's like the 80s song Depeche Mode never made, which is fitting because Martin Gore guests on it. The driving bass is pure Mode, but, much like the New Order collaboration, 'The Real Thing,' her voice, plus an 00s sensibility makes it sound fresh. As I mentioned before, techno pop albums frequently go out with the most emotional song, and this is the dark highlight of her second album. The dark synths hover over everything, but it's the higher pitched synth that comes in for the song's finale, and its contrast with the bassline, that's the real highlight.

4. Justin Timberlake - My Love

It's already been hailed as the best song of the year by a number of sites, and it's easy to see why. The song is instantly memorable, with a catchy chorus and exciting rhythm to the verses. It's not like the verse is a buildup to the chorus, it has a catchiness all its own. There's also a nasty guest rap by T.I. Hearing the song acoustic, it's pretty good, but when you throw on the avant pop synth soundscape of Timbaland, it moves into the realm of all time pop classic. The rising and falling background lines practically dance for you, and the wash of brightness on the chorus is liberating after the busy verses. It's a masterful pop construction.

3. Belle and Sebastian - Sukie in the Graveyard

Speaking of great rising synth lines, this one hooks you with its opening synth riff then builds into the soaring, quick talking verse. There's so many words in here, it's the song with the best lyrics of any this year. And it's also got a nasty guitar solo/instrumental breakdown in the middle. I love the mix of sunny sounds with the dark lyrical subject matter. It all builds to the final chorus, backed by a great trumpet riff. The song always makes me think of Claire from Six Feet Under, and that's a good association.

2. U2 - Window in the Skies

They released two songs this year, and this one stands with the best work they've ever done. 00s U2 managed to fuse the anthemic style of their 80s work with a bit more darkness. Rather than looking out at endless possibilities, it sounds like they've been through some hard stuff, but are going to persevere. I love the string line underscoring the vocal, and the way it builds to an incredible energy release as they hit the chorus. The high point is the overdubbing of Bono's spoken word part with the chorus towards the finale. It stands with the best songs on their last two albums.

1. Nelly Furtado - Maneater

Timbaland again produces a masterpiece. This song is the perfect fusion of 80s and 00s sensibilities, creating a driving, dark perfect pop song. Timbaland places the incredibly catchy synth riff under the verse, so that's just as strong as the chorus to most songs. And then he drops a chorus that's just as catchy, ascending from the bass of the verses. Tim's work begs for dance remixes because he manages to fit so many catchy bits into each song. The ending part, where she sings "She's a maneater" repeatedly is catchy enough to launch its own song. In welding all these fantastic pieces together, he creates a song that easily stands as the best of the year.

1 comment:

cease ill said...

Sukie in the Graveyard makes me think "True Blood."

Enjoyed exploring your list, friend.