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.
When 2008 started, I was sure it was going to be awesome. “It’s going to be two-thousand-great,” I told anyone who would listen, ignoring the various signs (MTV ringing in the New Year with Tila Tequila, hints of economic collapse, etc.) that things wouldn’t exactly go as planned. Or even be much good at all. But at least there was music to help the seemingly endless parade of bad news plod along a bit more jauntily, right?
THE GOOD: Getting back into R & B full-throttle thanks to Ne-Yo, Erykah Badu, Estelle, and Solange; Ida Maria’s twitchy “Oh My God,” which I am going to try and have every person I know hear at least once over the course of the coming months; Prince and Jarvis Cocker owning gigantic open spaces; Ne-Yo turning girls into goo.
THE BAD: You don’t want to hear about the bad aspects of my 2008. (And honestly, typing a blow-by-blow out would just depress me all over again.) So instead I’ll note that I often hate making lists because even though they’re supposed to be overviews, they’re inevitably of the specific moment at which the list was made, which means that completely worthy entrants will get slighted, or pushed out by space limitations, etc. Here’s a “sorry” to Black Mountain’s In The Future, the Air Miami demos that were reissued by Teen Beat, Panic At The Disco’s Pretty. Odd., Deastro’s “The Shaded Forests,” The Academy Is…’s Fast Times At Barrington High, Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows,” and the Robin Thicke record that was mysteriously forgotten about by everyone.
THE WHAAAA? Before August, if you had said that I would have put Billy Joel on any list that didn’t count down the reasons my ninth-grade social studies class was completely absurd (hi there, three-day lesson on “We Didn’t Start The Fire”), I would have laughed so, so hard. And yet, his show at Shea Stadium was totally solid, not only because of his undeniable showmanship but for the ways it stoked my nostalgia about growing up on Long Island.
When it’s a rough year, some people instinctively reach for the serotonin-spike of all-smiles pop. Though I did play the hell out of that Alphabeat song, I’m generally one of those listeners who’d rather wallow in my funk. Give me hard times and I want a wrist-scarring playlist to match. And to go by the ever-reliable iTunes “Most Played” metric, my favorite new record of 2008—a year that felt poised for planetwide batshit breakdown—was the sonically variegated result of comically extended woodshedding by a much-mourned but presumed-mothballed trio who’d previously minted a very specific brand of drizzly Brit glumness. (Phew.)
Yet for as many blue moods and bad days and seasonally affected stretches Third soundtracked during the second half of my 2008, it sounded just as good on first release, during an all-too-brief and buoyant springtime. (Just in case it sounds like the trip’s only effective as some kinda reverse SSRI.) But I’d be lying if I said Third‘s long, dark tunnel didn’t just sound better during rain-slicked and overcast days, overtired early morning commutes, and evenings of sleepless worry. I had plenty of all three in 2008, and there was always Third, a new pal with a pleasing permafrown. Like I asked back in March, who was waiting for the first sunny entry in the Portishead discography?
Earlier this month, we examined LA Times blogger Todd Martens’ attempt to predict the nominees for the Best New Artist Grammy ahead of the Sept. 30 cutoff point for next year’s awards. Martens decided to take on the Album of the Year category this week, giving me (and you!) even more to post about and puzzle over.
Not only is Portishead planning on releasing an album to follow up this year’s still-incredible Third, the band has already started working on it! More »
If you haven’t listened to Portishead’s Third yet, well, why? It’s one of the most arresting albums of the year, full of sounds and twists that don’t reveal themselves until the 20th or 21st listen, and “The Rip” is one of my favorite songs on it–its picked guitar gives way to a Krautrockish hum,… More »
Madonna’s Hard Candy was last week’s top-selling album, shifting 280,000 copies in its first week of release and leaving every other commercially available offering in the dust. Candy was the only album on this week’s chart to break the six-figures-sold mark; Mariah Carey’s E=MC2, the runner-up to Hard Candy, sold 95,000 copies.