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Top 100 Songs of 2008: #s 20-16

20 "Walking On A Dream"
Empire Of The Sun
Walking On A Dream

"Never looking down / I'm just in awe of what's in front of me."

Here's where it starts getting really hard to figure out what to say about these songs. These turning points seem to be abundant on the countdown, but for the first time I am sitting here and completely incapable of knowing what to say about these songs because they have meant so much to me throughout the past year. There's no one specific moment - there's innumerable specific moments and general auras of splendor that surround each one. I remember downloading this buzzed-about song and being completely taken in from the very first spaced-out swoosh of sugar and smoothness. I remember realizing what the lyrics were about and immediately thinking of those I loved dearly and those I may (probably definitely) never see again. Love, death, and memory all swirled about in my noggin until I explode with confusion and derision against the concrete, only able to embrace the abstract feelings of everythingness as I pump my fist with the snare. And when that snare does a little quick double-hit in the final chorus, it's as if everything is in its right place, falling swiftly down a vortex of absence and unreachable currencies. But as long as I keep listening, I'm eternally stretching for it.

19 "The Year This Club Broke (My Heart)"

"I'll be like your medicine / you'll take every dose of me."

Okay so this one's not as difficult or heady. Actually the last one wasn't either, I just decided to make it so because my mind can't think in linear terms right now. Luckily a mash-up between Los Campesinos! and Usher brings me back down to Earth. And yet, it's not just a mash-up. Obviously it can't be what with such a high placement on the list. Well I already felt an extreme amount of sweat and tears being put into the original "Love In This Club" and found it incredibly fascinating, what with its proclamation to make whoopee in public and all, but then it all clicked when it was backed with Canadian kids making a racket with emotional synths/bells/strings and ramshackle percussion. This actually is very similar to the cacophony of otherworldly intangible found in the best songs of all time; while some people feel and thusly exude such ethereal beauty through dense production and impressionist lyrics, Usher could only think of the most outrageous suggestion of specific action to express his unwielding humanity. He wants to make love in a club. Everyone watches, witnesses the majesty of his incredible act, and is blown away by his lack of inhibitions. Now add the dense production and his lyrics become ingenious and impressionistic instead of obnoxiously self-righteous and straightforward.

18 "Body"
Mother Mother
O My Heart
[Last Gang]

"I've grown tired of this body / cumbersome and heavy body."

Things can start making sense here; I promise. There's one particular feeling at play in this song, and maybe that's why it's such a breath of relief from these overanalyzed meanderings into the language-free and complex inner workings of the soul, and its relation to music. The premise is simple: don't you ever wish you could throw away your body? Trade it in for something new, more revitalized, less trodden on, and completely new and free of the pain of life? All right, I'm getting ahead of myself, inching toward the absurd and away from the very real and universal theme that this song so brilliantly communicates. To begin, when I hear the rumbling force that is the chorus of voices backed by a prodigious mini-orchestra listing the parts of the physical human self that we could all do without on days where we wish we could leave behind that which restricts our true selves, I imagine a kindergarten class from hell learning about anatomy from a devilish Slim Goodbody. That image alone made this song dig deep inside my skull, but when the eerie falsettos, rampaging tempo, and bottomed-out chorus also double up on each other, I almost feel like it is possible to leave this skin behind and spit on it as I enter a fresh one.

17 "MVP"
[Adored And Exploited]

"Whether we f*ck or fuss / it's just us."

Hip-hop love songs are few and far between nowadays period, but when they do bubble up to the surface, they're almost invariably sung in a life-or-death manner. It's sweet and heart-wrenching how epic R&B purists can make the love between two people sound, and often I can appreciate this perspective, but sometimes love songs should just sound like how love actually is: fun. Falling over his own words and admitting that this song was the hardest one on the album to write, the former Anti-Pop Consortium MC obviously reveres his babydoll to the utmost degree, but he also references watching Lost and Heroes together and places it all on top of a quirky AM radio synth loop so you can't help but grin from ear to ear while you take in all the happiness that exudes from the man's mouth. Listen on headphones and you'll hear that he just may have performed the song for his girl for the first time when he recorded, as at the end you hear a woman in the background say, "this is out of character, a mushy love song, taking it back to the LL days." At first it sounds like a producer or friend, but then Beans responds, "just trying to do something that would reflect where I am right now." Awkward pause, then she says, "right now?" and they laugh together and she says, "you know I love you." Totes adorable.

16 "So Messed Up"
Tall Firs
Too Old To Die Young
[Ecstatic Peace]

"We're not too old to get drunk / but we're too old now to die young."

I hate to go from something so positive to sometimes so downbeat and dispiriting, but that's just how the countdown shakes out I suppose. Ever since Thurston Moore himself called me while I was Music Director at Radio K to check in on what records from his label Ecstatic Peace we were spinning, I have wanted to fall in love with a record that he put out, so I may be a little biased, but I really could not get too into an Ecstatic Peace release until this one. And this, its opening track, totally grabbed my attention, with its lackadaisical pace and slacker-on-the-outside emo-on-the-inside delivery. But classic Sonic Youth-ripoff this is not. The tones are more natural and calming and the lyrics are more unlabored, and the figurative hand that I felt was reaching out from the song inspired me to write one of my favorite short pieces of fiction from back when I was invested in the Avant-Blog. I like that I'll always be able to remember images of bygone days of youth, lost dreams and what have you, and while that might not be the freshest or most unique thing to think about, it's almost always on everybody's mind. It's just how much any one person's willing to accept it. And while there might not be much to do about it, admitting that it's so messed up is one step that helps me more than you might think.

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  1. Blogger Old Man Duggan | 2:23 AM |  

    These songs are all made up aren' they...

  2. Blogger chris | 5:44 PM |  

    If these songs are all made up, then real songs are for suckers.

  3. Blogger Sean | 6:18 PM |  

    if these songs are torture, then chain me to the wall.

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