AMERICAN TEEN: MUSIC FROM THE MOTION PICTURE (Almost Gold)
Of all the albums in 2008, this is the one I listened to the most. A pitch-perfect compilation that flows just as well outside of the context of the movie.
Coldplay - VIVA LA VIDA OR DEATH AND ALL HIS FRIENDS (Parlophone)
With just the right amount of ambition and grandiose musicianship, the best band in Britain rebounded sensationally from the lackluster X&Y.
Death Cab for Cutie - NARROW STAIRS (Atlantic)
Still in top form, Ben Gibbard and co. continue to make one great album after another, defying even their own expectations.
Fleet Foxes - FLEET FOXES (Sub Pop)
While My Morning Jacket got
Girl Talk - FEED THE ANIMALS (Illegal Art)
Arguably superior to NIGHT RIPPER, DJ Gregg Gillis sampled over 300 tracks for the year's best party album.
The Hold Steady - STAY POSITIVE (Vagrant)
Perhaps a level down from BOYS & GIRLS IN AMERICA, but still a collection of raw energy and emotion.
Kings of Leon - ONLY BY THE NIGHT (RCA)
When an album is this good, who cares that it's more of a lateral shift than a step up? Leaving Southern rock behind for the sunny shores of mainstream guitar-pop, the Followill clan became the best act in a whole new genre.
Lecrae - REBEL (Reach)
It's not everyday one man legitimizes and entire sub-genre of music, but Denton's own Lecrae Moore brought gravitas and genuine talent to Christian rap.
Sigur Rós - WITH A BUZZ IN OUR EARS WE PLAY ENDLESSLY (EMI)
The Icelandic group decided to get folky, yet the new batch of tunes is every bit of glorious as any of their previous efforts.
Kanye West - 808s & HEARTBREAK (Roc-A-Fella)
The BLOOD ON THE TRACKS for the iPod age. Kanye surpassed anything else he's ever recorded with this, his most intimate album ever.
The All-American Rejects - WHEN THE WORLD COMES DOWN, Beck - MODERN GUILT, Bloc Party - INTIMACY, Bon Iver - FOR EMMA FOREVER AGO, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - DIG!!! LAZARUS DIG!!!, Fall Out Boy - FOLIE á DEUX, Keane - PERFECT SYMMETRY, Leeland - OPPOSITE WAY, MGMT - ORACULAR SPECTACULAR, Snow Patrol - A HUNDRED MILLION SUNS
Coldplay - "Viva La Vida"
From the album VIVA LA VIDA OR DEATH AND ALL HIS FRIENDS
Here's a true testament to a song's power: it still resonates, even after it's been "overplayed."
Does it Offend You, Yeah? - "Dawn of the Dead"
From the album YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE GETTING YOURSELF INTO
While the album couldn't live up to this track, the steel drum-tinged ballad of doomed love should be played again and again.
Elbow - "Grounds for Divorce"
From the album THE SELDOM-SEEN KID
Unsurprisingly, the video features the band performing this stomper in a seedy bar. Raise a glass and feel the raw energy.
Estelle featuring Kanye West - "American Boy"
From the album SHINE
While Beyoncé and Leona Lewis ruled the airwaves, this British babe quietly released the year's best R&B track.
Keane - "Spiraling"
From the album PERFECT SYMMETRY
Prepare yourself. The lead single from their latest album is a complete 180 from anything they've done before. But it's just as good as any of their winsome ballads.
Kings of Leon - "Sex on Fire"
From the album ONLY BY THE NIGHT
Only a band this dirty would choose this as their lead single. Great driving music, just don't try to act out the lyrics.
M.I.A. - "Paper Planes"
From the album KALA
Technically, this song came out in '07, but soared to popularity thanks to David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express. The only downside? The radio edit, which featured video game explosions in lieu of gunshots. Wussies.
MGMT - "Time to Pretend"
From the album ORACULAR SPECTACULAR
Another late '07/early '08 entry, the duo provided us with this generation's "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades." Only, you know, good.
Vampire Weekend - "A-Punk"
From the album VAMPIRE WEEKEND
If you were in Austin during SXSW, this track was inescapable. Even if their hype preceded them, this track was truly indispensible.
Kanye West - "Heartless"
From the album 808s & HEARTBREAK
A song that would have come across as whiny in any other hands, 'Ye bared his soul and listeners responded.
(All NSFW are outbound linked, not embedded)
The Black Keys - "Strange Times"
Directed by Lance Bangs
Who wouldn't want to play laser tag with the Ohio rockers?
The BPA featuring David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal - "Toe Jam"
Directed by Keith Schofield
Fatboy Slim's new side project proved he still knows how to make clever videos, this one featuring the most creative use of censor bars in history.
Evangelicals - "Midnight Vignette"
Directed by Matt Leach
Norman, Oklahoma's own Evangelicals paid tribute to '70s slasher flicks. Keep the Grindhouse dream alive, guys.
Girl Talk - "Still Here"
Directed by Chris Beckman
YouTube user BunnyGreenhouse made a whole series of videos to Greg Gillis' stellar album, all of them brilliant labors of love. Here's a taste.
Lenka - "The Show"
Directed by James Gulliver Hancock/Lenka
The Australian actress-turned-singer's buoyant energy is hard to ignore. One view and you'll be bouncing around yourself.
The Lonely Island - "Jizz in My Pants"
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
The SNL Digital Short/lead single from 2009's Incredibad, this ode to all things premature and immature gets funnier every time you watch it.
She & Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"
Directed by Ace Norton
Subtext, schmubtext. It's two and a half minutes of Zooey Deschanel!
Usher featuring Young Jeezy - "Love in This Club"
Directed by Chris Thrash
The owner of one of the only complete line-ups of the original Rock-afire Explosion (the animatronic band from Showbiz Pizza), Alabama's Chris Thrash takes requests for his band to perform pop hits. This is the best.
Weezer - "Pork and Beans"
Directed by Matthew Cullen
With this, the lead video from their best album in years, Rivers Cuomo and co. brought all viral videos full circle.
Kanye West featuring Dwele - "Flashing Lights"
Directed by Spike Jonze
With this mini-film noir, Spike Jonze again proves that he needs to make another feature already.
The All-American Rejects - "Damn Girl"
When he's inside you/Know there's no room for me
Coldplay featuring Jay-Z - "Lost+"
If you succeed, prepare to be crucified
Death Cab for Cutie - "Your New Twin-Sized Bed"
You look so defeated lying there in your new twin-sized bed/With a single pillow underneath your single head
The Hold Steady - "Constructive Summer"
Let this be my annual reminder/That we can all be something bigger
The Lonely Island - "Jizz in My Pants"
When Bruce Willis was dead at the end of Sixth Sense, I...
Keane - "Spiralling"
When we fall in love/We're just falling/In love with ourselves
Lecrae - "Truth"
What if my truth says yours is a lie? Is it still true?
Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"/"Ottoman"
This feels so unnatural, Peter Gabriel too
Butch Walker - "3 Kids from Brooklyn"
I grabbed shots in Decatur with a girl who's on my block/She's the best drummer that I know/Her band's always struggling and they always say they're juggling/All their schedules just to play a show/Working at American Apparel selling women's clothes to guys/She got a call to play in someone's band I don't know well/She don't wan't to do it, she's so broke that she said screw it/Then I never spoke to her again
Kanye West - "Heartless"
How could ya be so Dr. Evil?/You're bringin' out a side of me that I don't know
BEST NEW ARTISTS:
Black Kids (Jacksonville, FL)
Fleet Foxes (Seattle, WA)
MGMT (Brooklyn, NY)
She & Him (Portland, OR)
The Ting Tings (Manchester, England)
Rhymefest - MARK RONSON PRESENTS: MAN IN THE MIRROR
MOST OVERRATED ALBUM:
TV on the Radio - DEAR SCIENCE (Interscope)
MOST UNDERRATED ALBUM:
Scarlett Johansson - ANYWHERE I LAY MY HEAD (Atco)
ALBUM THAT WOULD SOUND 10x BETTER ON VINYL:
She & Him - VOLUME ONE (Merge)
GUILTIEST PLEASURE (ALBUM):
Fall Out Boy - FOLIE á DEUX (Decaydance)
GUILTIEST PLEASURE (SINGLE):
Jason Mraz - "I'm Yours"
From the album WE SING, WE DANCE, WE STEAL THINGS
BEST COVER SONG:
The Swell Season - "Astral Weeks"
BEST ALBUM TITLE:
Martha Wainwright - I KNOW YOU'RE MARRIED BUT I HAVE FEELINGS TOO (Shock)
BEST ALBUM COVER:
The Walkmen - YOU & ME (Gigantic)