Top Songs of 2007

Here are the 22 five-star-rated songs that I added to my iTunes library in 2007 (aphabetcal by artist):

  • "Rehab," Amy Winehouse
  • "Antichrist Television Blues," Arcade Fire
  • "Open All Night," Bruce Springsteen & The Sessions Band
  • "Bottom of the Rain," Buffalo Tom
  • "CC and Callas," Buffalo Tom
  • "Sly," The Cat Empire
  • "Gimme Some Motivation," Delta Spirit
  • "Gasoline Drawers," The Holmes Brothers
  • "Ruby," Kaiser Chiefs
  • "Sugar Buzz," Li'l Cap'n Travis
  • "Dashboard," Modest Mouse
  • "The Road I Must Travel," The Nightwatchman
  • "Lost to the Lonesome," Pela
  • "Mr. Stupid," Richard Thompson
  • "The Angels Hung Around," Rilo Kiley
  • "Two," Ryan Adams
  • "Phantom Limb," The Shins
  • "The Underdog," Spoon
  • "Same Jeans," The View
  • "Wasted Little DJ's (Single Version)," The View
  • "New Love," Voxtrot
  • "Hate It Here," Wilco

This is down slightly from 2006's 29 five-star songs, and 39 in 2005 (though those lists include some older stuff that I happened to buy or rip that year). The total number of four-and-five star songs for the year is significantly down from last year-- 247 vs. 459. I'm still not sure whether this indicates that it was a weak your for pop musics, or if it's simply because I bought somewhat less music in 2007. This is a pretty solid list of songs, though, so it may well be the latter.

Various other best-of stuff:

The general practice with these year-in-music posts seems to be to name a single song and album of the year, which is really pretty tough. Song of the Year would probably come down to "Rehab" or "The Underdog," both of which have a nice retro-brass thing going on. I think "Rehab" probably wins out, because it's such a note-perfect soul song-- if you don't listen to the lyrics, this could be a song from forty years ago-- and the biggest earworm on the list.

If I needed to round out a Top Five, I'd probably take "Sly," "Antichrist Television Blues" and "Gimme Some Motivation" next, in approximately that order. But I'm in the mood for up-tempo stuff at the moment.

For "Album of the Year," the record with the largest number of four-or-five star songs would be Springsteen's live album with the Seeger Sessions band, but that feels like cheating. The studio albums with the most high-rated tracks would be Buffalo Tom's Three Easy Pieces, The View's Hats Off to the Buskers and the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible. That's a hard group to choose a best record from, as the Buffalo Tom feels like a nostalgia pick, the Arcade Fire are awfully trendy, and the View are kind of lightweight.

Most of the other contenders have serious flaws, though. The Cat Empire and Spoon both put songs on the five-star list, but both those records also contain songs that are irritating as all hell. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have a bunch of four-star songs, but none of them are all that great. Likewise Richard Thompson-- Sweet Warrior is just behind Neon Bible, but I suspect I'm overrating it slightly because I saw him live this year.

If you put a gun to my head, and made me pick one album for the year, I guess I'd go with the Buffalo Tom because, hey, I enjoyed 1997 a fair bit. It's not as... dramatic as the Arcade Fire album, but it's a good, solid pop record. The Arcade Fire is probably better art, but if I had to listen to only one of these over and over again, it'd be a little too draining. But then, I might be overrating the Buffalo Tom because I saw them live, too...

It's interesting to look at the Top Ten lists of various magazines and web sites out there. There's a lot of overlap between my list and published lists at the artist level, but professional music critics have an unerring instinct for selecting the songs that I find most annoying to praise highly-- "Myriad Harbour" by the New Pornographers and "Bomb Repeat Bomb" by Ted Leo are frequently cited for praise, and they both got two stars from me, which basically means "I don't want to hear this again" (I filter one- and two-star songs out of the "Recent Acquisitions" playlist that I shuffle after new music purchases).

The most overrated record of the year would probably be Feist's "The Reminder," which is pretty terrible aside from "1234." I'm not really sold on the Robert Plant/ Alison Krauss record, either-- it's... nice, but not brilliant.

I was pretty disappointed in the Kaye West record-- it's great that he beat up Peter Frampton and stole his voice modulator, but "Stronger" is just not that great a track, and I got tired of hearing Kanye jabber on about his own awesomeness pretty fast. The new Fountains of Wayne was also a let-down, and the new Weakerthans album is probably better than it seems, because I'm unfairly comparing it to Reconstruction Site. Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight is just weird.


Favorite lyric from a song not mentioned in the above: "I know you're in love with her, I can tell by the way you never touch her or look at her," from "New Love" by Voxtrot.

Song Title of the Year: "There's No I in Threesome," by Joy Division Interpol.

Delta Function Award for the Best Song off a Bad Album: "1234," by Feist.

Best Return to Form After Dubious Recent Albums: Wilco/ Ryan Adams (tie).

That's about all I've got. What did you think of the year in pop music?


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Didn't get much music this year. The only 5 star I have is the version of "Long and Lazy River" that Nellie McKay did on Craig Ferguson's show -- I don't like the album version nearly as much. I think I'll add another star to Regina Spektor's cover of John Lennon's "Real Love" making it five star, too. I also liked "The Air Between Us" by Palomar. Other than that, it's a bunch of three stars and stuff I haven't made up my mind on.

I must not know about music today, I've heard only one song listed...and I didn't like it. (Amy Winehouse)

By Mark Young (not verified) on 28 Dec 2007 #permalink

I must not know about music today, I've heard only one song listed...and I didn't like it. (Amy Winehouse)

I can't really pretend that my tastes in music are representative of anything much. Most of the stuff I like isn't all that widely popular, and I manage to be unaware of most of what's really broadly popular. I'm only dimly aware of the "Soulja Boy" thing, because I keep seeing people post dopey videos of people doing the dance, and I had managed never to hear "Umbrella" by Rihanna, which was hyped as the song of the year by a bunch of year-end lists.

I don't listen to a lot of pop music, but Radiohead's latest album In Rainbows is probably their best since OK Computer. I've been listening to it more or less continuously since October.

By Daniel Harper (not verified) on 31 Dec 2007 #permalink

It's kind of funny, I have a lot of the same albums as you as my best of 2007, but different songs off of them. For example, I think "Intervention" is Arcade Fire's best, "Turn on Me" the Shins', "Missed the Boat" Modest Mouse's, and "In My Pocket" or "The Car Song" as Cat Empire's. And I'd definitely add "Same Jeans" by The View to the list, I love that song. The rest of your list I've either never heard of (most of them), didn't bother to get (Winehouse) or didn't like (Buffalo Tom).

But as usual, most of the music I've gotten this year is older stuff that I've missed. I can't even pretend to follow music, and rely on savvy friends (or bloggers in non-music areas talking about music) to find new stuff. I don't think I have anything else to turn you onto, but this post will be useful to guide my acquisitions in the coming weeks.