Favorite song(s) of 2008

I didn’t want to let myself pick two songs for favorite song of the year. Frankly, it’s a cop-out. Ties are for the weak, like in soccer. Nobody loses! Everybody wins! Lame.

But then I was thinking about these two tracks, the two children I was forced to choose between: One Day Like This by Elbow and Keep Yourself Warm by Frightened Rabbit. Love is the common thread here – its beautiful beginnings (Elbow) and sometimes bitterly destructive end (Frightened Rabbit). If two songs ever matched those polar-opposite emotions, it’s this pair.

Much as I wanted to write off One Day Like This as over-the-top fluff, it became increasingly difficult not to succumb to singer Guy Garvey’s almost-confused admissions to love (“What made me behave that way? / Using words I never say”) and the song’s instrumental swells (aided immensely by a string section). I’ve been told (maybe as a joke?) that I have a heart made of stone, so to hear a writer/singer I admire drop his guard like this certainly offers me a lesson in how to be vulnerable – or at least to show me that there’s a sunny side to all that sad-bastard music I listen to. Call it corny if you must, but One Day Like This works only because it does go over the top, similar to U2’s Beautiful Day; a half-assed effort wouldn’t have cut it.

So if One Day Like This is the first kiss, the butterflies in the stomach, then Keep Yourself Warm is the devastating breakup and the avalanche of emotions that comes with it. It’s hard to put in words any more clearly than singer Scott Hutchison does what a gut punch this song is (though I enjoyed my friend Casey’s description of it as a “withering assault on an ex”). I’d challenge anyone to find a more powerful and forthright line than this: “It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm.” (Perfect for sing-alongs!)

I’m not sure why some people think this song is about casual sex and/or one-night stands. It seems obvious to me that Hutchison is tormented here, but the song also serves as his cathartic release, as he mocks his ex in a fit of fury: “Can you see in the dark? / Can you see the look on your face? / The flashing white light’s been turned off / You don’t know know who’s in your bed.”

Ain’t love grand?

I also really liked these songs:
The Baseball Project, Past Time (mp3)
Birdmonster, Born to Be Your Man (mp3)
The Black Angels, Science Killer
Bon Iver, Skinny Love (mp3)
Born Ruffians, Badonkadonkey
The Broken West, Perfect Games
Cadence Weapon, Real Estate and Getting Dumb
Calexico, Writer’s Minor Holiday
Damien Jurado, Dimes and Trials
Death Cab for Cutie, Cath
Destroyer, Blue Flower/Blue Flame (mp3)
The Dodos, Fools and Jodi
Elbow, The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
Fleet Foxes, Drops in the River, Mykonos and White Winter Hymnal
Frightened Rabbit, Good Arms vs. Bad Arms
The Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Her Space Holiday, The Truth Hurts So This Should Be Painless and No More Good Ideas
The Hold Steady, Slapped Actress and Yeah Sapphire
Kidz in the Hall, Drivin’ Down the Block
The Kills, U.R.A. Fever
The Knux, Cappuccino
Magnetic Morning, Spring Unseen
Menahan Street Band, Make the Road By Walking (mp3)
Miniature Tigers, Dino Damage and Tell it to the Volcano
Murs, Can It Be
My Morning Jacket, I’m Amazed
Nada Surf, See These Bones (mp3) and The Fox
Plants and Animals, Bye Bye Bye (mp3)
Q-Tip, Move/Renaissance Rap
Radar Bros., Pomona
The Rosebuds, Bow to the Middle
School of Language, Rockist Part 1 (and Parts 2, 3 and 4, for that matter)
Silver State, Faith You Changed Your Name (video)
Vampire Weekend, The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance
The Walkmen, In the New Year
The Whigs, Right Hand on My Heart
Wolf Parade, The Grey Estates

Favorite song of 2007
Favorite song of 2006
Favorite songs of 2005

8 thoughts on “Favorite song(s) of 2008”

  1. that FR song kills me. it is so freaking beautiful.

    I had never heard the Elbow song before, but I like it. a lot. thanks for posting.

  2. Much love of the frightened rabbit for me as well. I could pick every song on that album to be honest. I need to revisit that Elbow record.

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