This is hard work. How do I filter all the music I listened to this year, and I listened to a ton of music, into 20 songs to represent the entire 12 months? In the end, that’s exactly how I managed it: what songs most represented the past year to me? What songs will I always immediately think of in the context of the year they were released later in time? So while they may not be the best songs of the year, or in some cases the songs I listened to the most, these were my favorite songs of 2007.
Please note: I’ve added YouTube clips when available. Not all are official videos, but at least let you hear the songs if they are new to you.
20 – “I Am the Unknown” – The Aliens. ELO for the 00s.
19 – “Circadian Rhythm” – Son Volt. A haunting song good for closing out mix tapes or just staring into space and contemplating the world.
18 – “I Will Survive” – Art Brut. The lads continue to talk about life for the modern, young man better than anyone else, keeping their sense of humor while they’re at it.
17 – “Shiftee” – The Broken West. George Harrison’s ghost must have been in the studio when this was recorded.
16 – “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)” – The White Stripes. The best of several good ones off of Icky Thump.
15 – “Hard Sun” – Eddie Vedder. Normally a cover wouldn’t make it. But A) chances are no one ever heard the original and B) Ed did a fine job with this track, one of the few stand-alone pieces on his soundtrack for Into the Wild.
14 – “Spring And By Summmer Fall” – Blonde Redhead. A spectacular, atmospheric romp.
13 – “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” – Radiohead. I’m still getting into this album, so while my opinion on the best track may change, it needed some representation. I love the way the sense of urgency and emotional distress builds from beginning to end.
12 – “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” – Bruce Springsteen. A song for men who finally realize they’re not as young as they used to be.
11 – “Overture” – Patrick Wolf. This falls somewhere between Peter Murphy and late 80s Depeche Mode, which means it is excellent.
10 – “Can I Get Get Get” – Junior Senior. The most infectious chorus of the year. “Can I get get get to know know know ya better better baby?
9 – “My Eyes” – Travis. Their last album or two kind of sucked. Their ’07 release was excellent, helped in part by this glorious, pure pop gem that left their normal woe-is-me tone behind.
8 – “Silent House” – Crowded House. Neil Finn cowrote this with the Dixie Chicks for their most recent album. After reuniting Crowded House in the wake of original drummer Paul Hester’s suicide, he reworked it, shifting the focus from an elderly parent or grandparent (Natalie Maines said she was writing about her grandmother who fought Alzheimer’s) to the demons that Hester battled in his final days. It’s dark and haunting, with a distorted guitar that ominously drones throughout the song, giving voice to those demons. Where the Chicks’ version was bittersweet, this one has the sound of someone struggling with coming to terms with a loss that could have been prevented.
7 – “Finer Feelings” – Spoon. Dropping Public Enemy lyrics at the open and then providing the sound for a summer block party. See, all those indie kids who have been loving Spoon for years knew what they were talking about.
6 – “With Every Heartbeat” – Robyn. Not too many tracks from the clubs make my list, but this one is fabulous. Every layer of the song is perfect, unlike so many club anthems which are over-produced. And where it begins as a statement of strength at the end of a relationship, by the end Robyn is admitting that indeed it does hurt with every heartbeat.
5 – “Dashboard” – Modest Mouse. Reading through year end lists, a lot of people weren’t fond of this effort from the Mouses. But I thought the addition of Johnny Marr was brilliant, and this track was nearly as good as ’04’s “Float On.”
4 – “Phantom Limb” – The Shins. The Brian Wilson comparisons are too easy, but when James Mercer puts together something this beautiful, it’s hard not to imagine it was crafted by Wilson in his glory days. The greatest 90 seconds of the year to close the song.
3 – “If You Fail We All Fail” – The Fields. It’s a shame more people didn’t hear this fantastic effort off of one the the better debut albums you’ll come across.
2 – “Mistaken For Strangers” – The National. I’m not smart enough to talk about music that is this intelligent. One of the most compelling listens in recent years, a song that gets into your head and stays there until you learn to appreciate its greatness.
1 – “Intervention” – Arcade Fire. I first heard a bad radio rip of this on December 27, 2006 (probably about the same time of night I’m writing this on 12/27/07). I knew it was something special from that first listen. It became the song that defined the year for me, the first thing I’ll think of when I think of 2007. That final chorus, with all the musical parts of the band giving it up at maximum volume and the backing vocals screaming out their accompaniment – “The fear is in your heart!” – is about as glorious as music can get.