What were the 80 most important musical recordings, artists, trends, events, and performances of 2008? What were the eight things this year that broke our hearts—or, at least, our ears? We’re happy to announce 80 ’08 (and Heartbreak), Idolator’s year-end overview. The list is below the jump.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Bruce Springsteen. The Gaslight Anthem are from New Jersey and they play earnest rock music that reflects a time that maybe never really existed, and yes, one track from their 2008 album mentions a river’s edge. So, no matter where you read or hear about the band, a mention of the Boss won’t be far behind. And where last year’s punk darlings, Against Me!, rocked politically, the Gaslight Anthem evoke a simpler world—one where Social Distortion and Johnny Cash are always on the jukebox and the death of Buddy Holly was one of the defining moments of the 20th century.
It’s still a little strange to see top 10 lists now, but if it’s not too early for the onslaught of Christmas music to invade every public space I seem to go to, I suppose it’s OK to start trying to wrap 2008 in a cute bow. Which brings us to what’s apparently British music mag list day, with the once-entertaining Q and the real-rock bible Mojo battling it out to see, once and for all, which publication has better taste in American music.
THE GOOD: Both lists feature titles I assumed would have been on more lists already (Coldplay, Hercules & Love Affair, Drive-By Truckers, Portishead), so it’s nice to be validated a bit. Personally, I was happy to seerecent Pitchfork discovery The Gaslight Anthem on the Q list (No. 20), although the violent involuntary headshaking that ensued upon seeing Razorlight a spot below erased that brief moment of joy. Also, the Mojo list has a good number of British acts I’ve never heard of that I can proceed to champion for a few weeks to my unsuspecting friends on the basis of their American obscurity alone.
THE BAD: I suppose this is going to be a trend, but seeing the Fleet Foxes disc ranked near the top on both lists (Q, No. 2; Mojo, No. 1) makes me think that at some point in the near future I’m going to refer to 2008 as “The Year of the Bland.” I don’t mind the Fleet Foxes as much as some around here, but it’s hard for me to swallow the idea that this is the shining example of what’s great, exciting, and/or wonderful about music in 2008. When Rough Trade (the store) called the band “Seattle’s answer to CSNY,” they hit on an appropriate and damning description. (Even if the store’s list had Fleet Foxes at No. 2 as well.) I’m not someone who expects every bit of music I listen to be challenging aesthetically, but at very least, I expect it to be sorta moving. (See also Bon Iver: Mojo, No. 4; Q, No. 34.)
THE WHAAAA?:I say this as someone who actually enjoyed both of their previous releases to differing degrees, but having Keane’s Perfect Symmetry place as high as No. 12 seems like Q is trying to ham-fistedly apologize to British musicians for the deluge of American acts surrounding them. Speaking of Q and American musicians: John Mellencamp (No. 41)? Huh.
I’m a little behind on hyping the Gaslight Anthem’s second album The ’59 Sound, especially since the bloggers’ way dictates that one must promote music that hasn’t actually been released or isn’t otherwise available to be purchased in any manner, but I feel like I’d be slacking if I didn’t at least… More »