Saturday, January 17, 2009

BEST OF 08: Top Ten Songs and a little American Idolatry Previewage

Question: Are you one of the many millions that behold the media behemoth American Idol weekly? If not... I shall give you a reason to, for this next week or so at least. And if you are, perhaps you caught a glimpse of the following image during the premiere...

Well, that's my buddy Greg, tossing Simon Cowell around like he was a head of lettuce. Ya see, I brought The Greg with me in the summer to try out for American Idol. He was one of a couple methods I used to get noticed. I figured, people notice a 6'4, couple-hundred lbs pink bunny with a beard, right? Infact, it may have worked a little too good in the long run, but come next week we shall see if my other tricks were enough to get us some decent time on one of the most watched programs in television history.

So, if it will amuse you, I invite you to tune in THURSDAY JANUARY 29TH and watch me be famous for, like, 5 minutes or something. Hopefully Greg's pink power doesn't overshadow my OWN awesomeness, but hey...I suppose he is quite a sight to behold, not gonna lie.

So anyways, I'll give you a rundown of my experience and how it all worked next week sometime if you'd like. Maybe before the show actually airs, if I have time. Meanwhile, here's us being badasses with my original gimmick (homemade Simon head and shirt by yours truly) at the tryouts. (Photo by Karlie McKinnon)


All in due time, kids! But, for now, at least allow me to pontificate my music taste on ya a little more, will ya? After all, that was all just a preview for you to prepare... and a shameless attempt at getting you to pay attention to me a little longer.

SO... As started sometime earlier this month, here is the rest of my favorite songs of 2008! Soak them in and enjoy it! (Tryin somethin new to show ya the tracks, the Lala site Hope it works. Lemme know!)


Oxford Comma
(Explicit lyrics)
by Vampire Weekend

Where to even begin with this sucker? From the moment I heard this nugget I couldn't believe my ears. Every element of the tune is 100% pure grade, quality, white meat goodness. Perfect melody, flawless rhythm section, poppy keyboards, and witty lyrics (including two unexpected F-bombs). I can't get enough, das it n' das all. These boys craft some of the best pop-tarts around these days, this being their tastiest. And after all; as the boys say, "Lil' Jon, he always tells the truth."

Couldn't have said it better with my own platinum grill myself.

Lovers In Japan
/Reign of Love
by Coldplay

Now, I know what yer thinking: "Here he goes with his 'Japan' jive again." But, truth be told, I was sucked into this track without realizing its Japan connection initially. Sure, the reference to Osaka and the idea of lovers in Japan (I met my wife there long ago) adds to the sentimentality. It can't be helped! But, really its just another brilliant pop piece from the band. And this one is a two-fer-one! I don't consider the song complete without the beautiful piano balladry of "Reign of Love" to end it. Infact, I just may like that part better. Well done, boys. Again.

Time to Pretend
(Explicit lyrics)

You have probably heard this one in many a movie trailer or tv spot. Its a great party tune. But don't be fooled by the initial playful poetry and Muppet-dance beats. While the first half brags of ditching the real world to make it big and "live fast and die young," it turns out to be a poignant parody of the rock star fast lane. They go from singing about forgetting their mother's and their friends, to missing the comfort of those mothers and the "boredom, and the freedom, and the time spent alone." The party closes with "We'll choke on our vomit, and that will be the end/We're fated to pretend." Its a playfully honest tune, and I can't help but dig it. Can YOU dig?? Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth. (No, that's not their names.)

You Belong
by Hercules and Love Affair

Lets play another lil game here. This picture features four of the main creative contributors to Andy Butler's GENIUS Hercules and Love Affair dance project. In this photo, there are three males, and one female. Can you tell who is who? Shocking identities aside, this song is definitely one of the best dance songs I have heard in quite awhile, which is saying a lot considering the plethora of great groove tracks in the last few years. Upon first listen I was immediately kicked back to early 90's house music. More specifically, it reminded me of some of my favorite old school video game music of the time (inspired by the genre), namely Streets of Rage on the Sega Genesis. Even more specifically, this song: clickity. I just love this sound! Antony (of Antony & the Johnsons) utilizes his one-of-a-kind vocal style as the perfect backup on the track, and it ends up being every bit as modern and....surprising... as the creators' themselves.

When the Day Met the Night
by Panic at the Disco

Speaking of games, whoever took it upon themselves to guess at last post's secret #16, your answer lies here at #6. That's right, that song (called Behind the Sea) was by none other than Panic at the Disco. What can I tell ya? It has been a unique experience removing my foot from my mouth as I admit these guys are actually pretty durn good at crafting pleasant pop. (I mean, it was bad enough trying to find a somewhat cool looking picture of the dinks). I will go into that more when I discuss their album. Meanwhile, this cut takes the time tested formula made great by many a band from the 60's and flat out gave us this gem. They blatantly mimic the Beatles and early Chicago, its completely over the top, and I love it. I am a complete sucker for well placed strings and horns. So sue me.

White Winter Hymnal
by Fleet Foxes

I am also a sucker for perfectly placed harmonies. And this band nailed those this year, especially in this brilliant number. To add to the magic, keep in mind 4 of the 5 band members sing together to create this harmony. Such a rare treat these days, I think. Singer Robin Pecknold already has a majestic voice box himself, but the rest of the band seems to as well. This song was made to showcase that aspect of their music perfectly. Folk instrumentation wraps around the build up of Beach Boy-ish vocals in a sublime round evoking images of summer during winter, and maybe a little unsettling violence. An instant classic, for sure. And a doozy to see live, too!

Sex On Fire

by Kings of Leon

My first reaction to this song was realizing the vocal melody sounds almost exactly like another great track called "Its Boring" by the group Yacht. Check that link. (Doesn't it??) Either way, it is, after all, a tremendous melody. But it wasn't until I heard it played on an episode of Gossip Girl (yes...I watch that show...ahem...) that it was embedded into my skull permanently. I haven't bought an album because of one specific song in a long time, but in this case I hath done thus. Caleb Followill belts the hell out of this thing. You just wait for him to screech and crack, or explode or something, but he never does. And the clips I've seen of it live are every bit as good as the album. Its just such an epic vocal performance that sneaks into your head, and never comes out. Sexy AND fiery.

by Sigur Ros

The Elves of Iceland return yet again with another masterpiece reaching for the heavens. Though the album itself is more grounded thematically, this track is Sigur Ros at their epic best. Sung in their "Hopelandic" non-language they use on occasion, it builds with just singer Jonsi's angelic voice and his cello bow electric guitar playing. The hymn continues slow and steady for its first half of the 9 minutes, then breaks into a full band climb to the top for a glorious second half. If you have heard the band before, you may have an idea of how that plays out. If not, well here's a good place to start I suppose! Either way, if you have the patience and appreciation to sit quietly and take it in, it is well worth the 9 minutes. And if you don't believe in God now, maybe you will after this.

You Make It Real
by James Morrison

Boy, what I wouldn't give to have pipes like this kid. Maybe then I wouldn't have needed a Simon head and a big pink bunny. James also had one of my favorite songs of '07 with The Pieces Don't Fit Anymore. While that one was a melancholy tearjerker, this is just a great, by the books love song by a British white boy that sounds more like a soulful American black man. But what makes it so great to me is that it came out right as I was winding down my busiest semester yet. As I kept it going all day everyday, this song reminded me of how and why I do it all. So, this tune is dedicated to my wifey Cass. Thanks for makin' it real for me, suga' momma! (Check out the lyrics, Cass posted them on her blog a bit ago.)

Viva La Vida
by Coldplay

It was a very close race for numero uno as it came down to it. I probably could've had the top three tie, but that's no fun, right? In the end, Viva la Vida was just the song I went back to the most (which I did a lot even before it could be heard in every public building at any time in the country) and it was also the one that left the biggest first impression. First single Violet Hill was nice and different for the band, but it didn't do much for me. It was this one that made me remember just how great this band truly is. Like I said, I am a sucker for a well placed string section, and that's basically all this song is. The theme of revolution makes it that much bigger. I had not been that immediately blown away by a Coldplay song since I first heard Yellow. Sure, we've all heard this song "800 and Billion-trillion" times by now. Most of you are probably sick of it. That's what happens with the catchy pop tunes. Difference is, this one also happens to be brilliant. Just play it loud on some great speakers, you'll remember. Long live Coldplay.

Well, there ya have it. My favorite tunes a la 2008. Hope you like!


MT said...

SERIOUSLY? You are going to be on American Idol? Can I have your autograph? lol.

crystal said...

Me too, me too, I want an autograph!! I totally feel like you're famous. I'll admit, I'm definitely not an American Idol watcher, however I will be tuning in on tues/wed. to see your big debut!

Michael Paul, Holly, and Trae said...

ohhhh! I cant wait to watch it!!!

mckarlie said...

You know, i bet if i wanted i could get a good amount of money for the bunches of photo's I took at A.I. I bet you'll get your spot, Chris. At least you made it as far as you did! Look at me! I'm a singing bum....

Festivel IS amazing! It's my number 1 song on my list this year. I don't usually cry when it comes to music... but that song does me in.

Do you remember when we met Vampire Weekend and we freaked out the lead singer with the 'engagment picture' joke?... i do. It still makes me laugh.

Smartie said...

I love you <3