Best of Lists

Michael’s Year in (Ick)Music: 2007:

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write a Year-End Best of Column

I’ll be honest, the thought of figuring out a ‘Top 10’ for the year is far more daunting a task than I had imagined. So much so that I found it difficult to pare down the list to ten. Why is it always the top 10, anyway? In the spirit of non-conformity and as a big nudge to ‘the man’ here’s my ‘Year in (Ick)Music’

Before we get started, I’d like to note that both Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen are not on my 2007 list as I obtained copies of the UK release of both Back to Black and Alright, Still in 2006. While they certainly got tons of play in 2007 they remain last year’s news to my ears.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here’s…

Michael’s Year in (Ick)Music: 2007

Songs of the Year:

1. “F.U.N.K.”, by Prince – What “Chelsea Rodgers” should have been this is the funkiest track that His Royal Badness has graced us with in years. Hell, I don’t even care about the circumstances that it was released under. Here’s hoping that it’s not just another tease.

2. “No One Is Gonna Love you”, by Band of Horses – There is something so decidedly simple and beautiful about this tune. Ben Bridwell delivers the lyrics with such heartbreaking, self effacing honesty that you almost feel wrong for listening to his tortured soul.

3. “Just Fine”, by Mary J. Blige – This one snuck in at the close of the year. I’ll tell you that the first time I heard this I listened to it at least three times. Something about the lyrics really just grabbed me. This is a different Mary than we’ve seen in years and it’s a great to hear her belting out an upbeat track.

So I like what I see when I’m looking at me
When I’m walking past the mirror
Don’t stress through the night, at a time in my life
Ain’t worried about if you feel it
Got my head on straight, I got my vibe right
I aint gonna let you kill it
You see I wouldn’t change my life, my life’s just Fine…

4. “Good Life”, by Kanye West featuring T-Pain – Not many artists can get away with releasing three singles within a few weeks of each other and have them all blow up the way the first three tracks from Kanye’s Graduation did. And while I cringe at almost everything that has the tag “featuring T-Pain” this was the exception. It’s hip-pop at it’s best. And I’d be remiss if I did not give you guys the video. These are the type of videos that make me actually miss when MTV showed videos.

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Cover Songs of the Year:

1. “Don’t Stop Believing”, by Petra Haden – This is an easy one. Take a beloved song that’s inclusion in the closing scene of “The Soprano’s” put it back in the hearts and minds of just about everyone and add the ethereal voice of Petra Haden and you’ve got a masterpiece.

As a bonus, this video is too good to not share

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2. “Valerie”, by Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse – Nearly every track on Ronson’s solo debut is a smash, but this track stands head and shoulders above the rest.

3. “Hard Sun”, by Eddie Vedder – Though it stands on this list as the cover that almost no one knows is a cover, this track shows the power of Eddie’s voice.

Albums of the Year:

1. Cease to Begin, by Band of Horses

2. In Rainbows, by Radiohead

3. 100 Days, 100 Nights, by Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

4. Planet Earth, by Prince

5. Magic, by Bruce Springsteen

Honorary Mention: Finding Forever, by Common; Graduation, by Kanye West; Chase This Light, by Jimmy Eat World; Kala, by M.I.A.; Version, by Mark Ronson; Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, by The Foo Fighters; Sky Blue Sky, by Wilco.

Underground Hip-Hop Double Blast of the Year:

Ahead of the Curve, by Lateef & Z-Trip

From the Corner to the Block, by Galactic

Pete and I both fell upon the Lateef & Z-Trip release around the same time and he beat me to the punch featuring them here. Between that and the stellar release of the jam-band favorites Galactic (featuring many of the underground hip-hop communities finest) my faith in Hip-Hop was well and alive.

Best Live Show of the Year:

Dave Matthews Band at New England Dodge Music Center, August 4th. – The wife and I make a yearly pilgrimage to see Dave and the boys and I’m not sure if it was the great seats or the overall vibe of the show but it was the best since MSG in Dec of 2002 (when the Godfather of Soul, James Brown joined the band for a 15 minute jam on “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine”).

Best New (to me) Artists

Alice Smith – I foresee her blowing up in 2008. With her soulful yet rocking tunes she’s sure to win over fans.

Amel Larrieux – I had loved Groove Theory and a friend pointed me towards he solo releases and I’ve since become a full on advocate.

The Brothers Johnson – One of two (realated) ‘digging in the crates’ finds for 2007, this act lays down some of the funkiest grooves ever committed to tape.

Saul Williams – I had heard his name before but never had the opportunity to listen and with the free release of “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!” I’ve become an instant fan. I’d highly suggest everyone taking the chance to listen as it’s still a free download.

Shuggie Otis – As Pete said in a previous post, this is like “Prince 1.0”. Shuggie not only displays great musicianship and songwriting but he is one of the more underrated guitarists of the last few decades.

In Conclusion

As Pete said in conclusion of his year in review, I can’t wait to hear what 2008 has in store and look forward to sharing it with you.

Happy New Year!


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