Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Tune of the Year - 2008

Everyone has the standard charts at this time of the year, and I'm no exception. It gives me something to post about at any rate. 12 months ago, I picked some random criteria to decide who was going to be "Tune of the Year". I decided to limit the list to TOTWs. However, in the interests of fairness, I did add the 'last chance' option this year in case anything 'just missed out' on being TOTW. But, 52 weeks x 2 tunes per week + 12 last changers = A lot of music (116 if you're struggling on the maths). So, the other criteria are the same as last year:

Memorability This is a handicap for songs earlier in the year. However, it's a simple test - can I sing the melody without listening to it again? If I can't, it can't have been that good. So, farewell to Band of Horses (TOTW6) and Gnarls Barkley (TOTW9) amongst others - which is a bit of a shame, because listening to them again they are proper songs.

Artist Profile This is quite a big one - which artists have come round time and time again? No surprise that Adele and Duffy have both had 4 TOTWs, similarly little surprise that MGMT, The Last Shadow Puppets, and Guillemots have had 3 - although Gabriella Cilmi and the Feeling also joining that group surprised me a bit.

Chart Position I suppose I should see what everyone else thinks about the said tracks. At the start of the year, quite a few selections were also No 1 in the UK Singles Chart - Mercy, American Boy, That's Not My Name, Dance Wiv Me, and Viva la Vida. Unfortunately, there's not been anything since August. I blame X-Factor winners taking up 7 weeks since then...

Musicality Looking at the more formal nature of things and if they're good songs musically, or just cheezy pop that gets stuck in your head.

Likability A very simple test, and perhaps the ultimate determining factor - do I like it? Those I like the most will end up at the top - fairly obviously.

I could quite easily have generated a fairly long list of "top songs", but that would make a long boring post and difficult to list. So, once again, I'll stick to a sensible top 5.

5. Mystery Jets - Young Love

TOTW13 - Released 10 March - Top Chart position #34

On a few occasions I've referred to the "Laura Marling effect", which makes good songs brilliant. As well as Young Love, see Noah & the Whale (TOTW31) 5 Years Time being in consideration for the final list too.

OK, it didn't do that well in the charts, but it was the song that introduced me to the band and I've bought the album since. It's quite different to some of their other songs - probably due to William Rees singing instead of Blaine Harrison, but in anything but a bad way. Catchy, innovative, what's not to like?

4. Radiohead - Nude

TOTW11 - Released 31 March - Top Chart position #21

When I first talked about this song, I was expecting it to be the TOTY without contest. I can still listen to it and be transported into a dreamlike state with the enchanting wailing. It's chart position really didn't reflect the quality of the song.

However, the reason the song isn't higher up is quite simple - I'd almost forgotten about it. Only when rechecking the "long list" of TOTW2008 did I remember how much I liked the song, only on a fresh listen did I realise how much I loved it. The rest of the songs were always an option to be TOTY, and always in my mind. Perhaps it's because I was transported away when listening to it.

3. Last Shadow Puppets - Standing next to me

TOTW25 - Released 7 July - Top Chart position #30

Probably the shortest TOTW all year, but that makes it all the more endearing. Featuring one LSP track or another was inevitable, but I went for this because it was my favourite of the year. The nostalgic qualities of the entire album show real creative talent, and this is proof that it is possible to write a good 2 minute pop song and it still be the right length.

2. Elbow - One Day like this

TOTW21 - Released 2 June - Top Chart position #35

What can be said about Elbow that hasn't been said already? Seldom Seen Kid is not only Mercury Prize Winning, but now critics choice winning. I know I said I'd refer to chart position in considering the ranking of the songs - and yet this is the lowest of all 5. It never wasn't going to feature though. Powerful, emotive, unique. Brilliance.

1. Duffy - Mercy

TOTW4 - Released 25 February - Top Chart position #1

If I was asked, without any thought, if I preferred Mercy or One Day like this, I'd almost certainly go for Elbow every time. But, there's more to TOTY than that. Duffy featured in TOTW so many time with so many great songs, I couldn't ignore her talents. Mercy was certainly the song for the start of the year, and immensely popular throughout. It's a classic style with a twist, and immediately recognisable. The most important thing, in many ways, is that I'm sure it'll be popular for years and years to come. As soon as the bass starts with those 5 distinctive notes, people will sit up and take notice. Duffy was new this year, but I'm sure we won't have seen the last of her.

That's it for me from 2008, but TOTW2008 will start once again, in the usual format, in just a few days time. Which leads me to a nice opportunity to say that if you're interested in writing for the blog - maybe a New Year resolution to get involved in blogging - just drop me an e-mail (link on the right).

And with the best wishes for 2009 and tonight's festivities, I leave you with a live version Asp Bites' Tune of the Year - 2008.

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