2008 was a breakout musical year for me, I discovered a truly wonderful singer whose output constantly astounds and delights me. Ok, technically I first listened to her at the end of 2007 but 2008 was the year I was able to really digest her 10 years worth of output. However I didn’t only listen to her this year, I discovered (and rediscovered) some great music and two bands that have legendary status for me released new albums for the first time in about eight years (unfortunately with varying results).
So here is a playlist of my personal highlights of the year. Although many of this songs were not released this year, this was the year that I first listened to them.
Shiina Ringo – Yokushitsu (Bathroom)
This is actually the 3rd studio version of this song, the first was a Japanese language dance number, the second an English language orchestral piece. This one lovingly mixes the two together which, somehow works really well. The moment in the song where the two songs converge sends me to nirvana. I feel I should mention the video as well, a strange beast, it mainly features fish animals growing legs, a mouth being sewn up and a woman threatening to slit her wrists before shaking, dropping the knife and not going through with it.
Sarah Slean – Sweet Ones
A wonderful, bouncy, feel good number from Sarah Slean, a talented lady from Canada. I remember when first listening to her thinking that it sucks so hard that prunes such as Katie Nash become mega famous while people like Sarah remain in relative obscurity.
AC/DC – War Machine
Legends in our time, AC/DC basically defined what rock and roll is. This track is so brilliantly foreboding and has a feeling of tension running through it. One also can’t help wondering if the band are disgusted by the titular machine or delight in it.
Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit
I am sorry to say that I hadn’t really listened to this song before and it took an advert for a video game for me to notice it. Since then I’ve been noticing it everywhere.
Shiina Ringo – Toki ga Bousou Suru (Time Runs Recklessly)
Here is Ringo at her experimental best. Everything about this song is drenched in talent. Raw and refined all at once. I love the tags is has on last.fm too, “makes me think i swallowed dark ominous rain clouds while the sky bursts open to retrieve what i stole” and “its like a big band was dropped into a mosh pit with a flock of hummingbirds” lol, but you really couldn’t describe this song any other way.
Metallica – Broken, Beat & Scarred
If only the rest of the album was as grab-you-by-the-balls great as this song. A jewel in an otherwise instantly forgettable album. Here is my iTunes play count for Death Magnetic just to illustrate the point:
Shakira – Despedida (Farewell)
A few years back a friend of mind told me that he had lost respect for Shakira. He was talking of the song Hips Don’t Lie, which I quite liked really, I thought he was being a bit silly. A year later I agreed with him, that “thing” she released with Beyoncé was a disgrace. Saying your names over and over does not a good song make. When I heard that Shakira wrote a couple of songs for the film soundtrack to Love in the Time of Cholera I didn’t bother to seek them out. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I gave them a listen.
All is forgiven Shaki and I’m sorry I ever doubted you.
Tokyo Jihen – Genjitsu wo Warau (Laughing at Reality)
Some think we lost something when Shiina Ringo forwent her solo career to form a band. Maybe I agree and their best album is certainly their first, which feels the most “Ringo-y”. This song showcases HZM’s wonderful piano work (although he is a little restrained here) and the lyrics are wonderful. I actually giggled the first time I heard them but very quickly I got what she was doing and fell in love.
Maybe I will kiss you slowly,
Still, I’m sure to kiss you anyway,
Maybe not… not…
These lines make my heart melt every time I hear them.
Yelle – Je Veux Te Voir (I Want To See You)
Dance music returns to my 2008 hitlist after 8 songs! A jolly sounding French number that is great fun to jump about to. When I found out what she was actually singing I got a bit of a shock, don’t sing along to this one on the streets of Paris!
Tokyo Jihen – Himitsu (Secret)
Live music! That’s why Shiina Ringo created Tokyo Jihen. Here they take a great song and put a new spin on it. Gone is the classy jazz and it is replaced with pure rock fun. The piano and the lead guitar really come to the fore here but really can’t compete with Ringo’s voice for pure attention grabbing magnificence. It all results in each member of the band complementing each other brilliantly in a way that never seemed to happen during Ringo’s solo work.
I hope someone bothers to listen, enjoy!