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(A) Good evening. The year is almost over. It has mostly sucked on a micro level and a macro level and it's only the knowledge that it's going to get worse before it gets better that's keeping me so cheerful.

Christmas was slightly more disastrous than usual. Only slightly. I went back to see my mum and dad, and my dad's room flooded when an underfloor pipe burst, my mum fell off a chair and ended up with bruises all over her back and side, then contracted the rather lovely norovirus that's going around and spent the early hours of Boxing Day re-experiencing her Christmas dinner in the most unpleasant way. On Boxing Day I took a bus to Manchester to Eastlands and watched my football team get tonked by Manchester City. The crowd was the only entertaining thing about the day and thankfully I was not sitting close to idiots, as at Spurs.

(B) I am back in touch with the man who is so ugly he has gone right through the other side into interesting and attractive. Bless him. He's a funny lad -- well, you have to be if you support Millwall FC. He sent me a jovial text only I washed my phone two months ago and lost all my numbers, so I had to ask if it was him. We're going for a drink when he's back in London. Platonically. Pls note.

(C) At some point I will talk about Christmas TV. I feel it is my duty to bore the arse off youse, just as I've had the arse bored off me (and loved every second of it). My reaction was mostly Yay!, though I will note that almost every episode of Doctor Who that I really love has at least five minutes of solid fail on some level or other (see also: Turn Left). Additionally, in the 50 self-congratulatory and deeply padded minutes of the Confidential, don't you think Tennant looked tired?

Gavin & Stacey was melancholic and seemed to exist mostly to set up season three, I am saving up Wallace and Gromit and the shiny new adaptation of Sarah Waters' Affinity for when I don't have other stuff to do.

(D) For the first time I can remember, the same song is at No 1 and No 2 -- two versions of Hallelujah -- Alexandra Burke's showbiz diva version complete with godawful key change stop/start moment and the Jeff Buckley version which was bought (in vain) by people who wanted to stop the first version getting to No 1.

Other people have remarked on the weirdness of this being a Christmas single. Other people have linked to clapclap.org's fantastic dissection of its use in films and movies. If you're interested in that sort of thing, you might like this documentary about Leonard Cohen and his wonderful, overused song:
The Fourth, The Fifth, The Minor Fall
A meander through the history and meaning of the song Hallelujah in its many and varied versions, official verses and apocrypha, with musicologists, the wondrous Kathryn WIlliams, Brandi Carlisle, Allison Crowe, the producer of the Cohen original, amateur musicians etc. Narrated by Guy Garvey. Who is a musician and therefore understands how the song *works*. Guy Garvey, my imaginary shared husband, is singer and lyricist with Elbow and a possessor of one of the loveliest radio voices. Oh, the voice.

Leeesten to it. You will thank me, unless you hate Hallelujah, which is perfectly possible these days.

(E) Time for lists.

2008 wasn't really a vintage year for great music -- well, not for this listener anyway -- but it was the year that the early/mid-80s were rehabilitated and stripmined. The eighties has been a derided decade for so long. Perhaps it took this much distance from it for people to realise how wonderful a lot of it was. I've been reading Simon Reynolds' brilliant book Rip It Up And Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84, and it has been reminding me how much of that era is overlooked and underestimated.

30 songs that I loved to a ridiculous extent in 2008
1.Time to Pretend MGMT
From its bubbling sci-fi intro to the magnificent booming drums and squelching 80s synths, probably my favourite record of 2008. For all that the lyrics are a snotty summation of the rockstar life of cocaine, models and owning your own island, doesn't it seem to you that it's an awfully sad song? You might have the lifestyle but it's clear that it comes with a huge price. It's like the companion piece to Oasis's Live Forever

2. Sometime Around Midnight The Airborne Toxic Event
I like songs that tell stories. This is about seeing your ex-girlfriend in a bar and feeling as though your heart has been ripped out and showing it. On one level, I'm a bit "oh cry moar, drunken emo boy" and on another I am "woohoo! string intro and fantastic build". The Airborne Toxic Event are a band from Los Feliz and have released one album and written an open, snotty letter to Pitchfork on their website, which I approve of and think a bit pathetic at the same time. To summarise, this song is fucking fantastic and you should download it.

3. Some Riot Elbow
Time to Pretend might be, narrowly, my favourite song but my favourite album was Seldom Seen Kid. You couldn't call it innovative, brash or new, but everything about it was beautifully crafted, from lyrics to melodies to harmonies to its running order. It announces itself with Starlings, a love song with, I swear to God, a *giant* trumpet fanfare, followed by the lyric "Darling, is this love?" However, my favourite song from the album, narrowly beating out Grounds For Divorce and One Day Like This, is Some Riot. It's about watching your friend falling victim to his own demons.

4. Grace Will Young
A friend burned me Will Young's album, which is perfectly fine dinner party music and the very epitome of okay. This elaborate ballad, though, I love. It's the best "you spurned me, you despicable nerk, and I shall now enumerate your faults" song that I've heard since Yes by McAlmont & Butler. It's truly grand and I think you should give it a go.

5. In Your Arms Teddy Thompson
So glorious and instantly earwormish a country-rock song that if you don't like it I JUDGE you and find you wanting. The whole of Teddy Thompson's album A Piece of What You Need is my second-favourite of the year, because it is smart, sexy and sad and there's scarcely a weak song in the bunch.

6. Hearts on Fire (Midnight Juggernauts remix) Cut Copy
Another band plundering the 1980s. Their album is all right but this remix is better than anything on the album, a shimmering synthesiser dance anthem that you can sing along to.

7. Mercy Duffy
Proper girlie, sing with your hairbrush in the mirror music.

8. Setting Sun Howling Bells
Howling Bells are from Sydney, this is from a 2006 eponymous album and that is about all I know about them. I came upon this while looking for Ulrich Schnauss rareities on the internets and ended up buying their entire album. This isn't anything other than decent indie pop until its glorious, glorious chorus.

9. The Lovers Are Losing Keane
I never expected to buy another Keane album again after they were so anaemic and disappointing live, and Perfect Symmetry is much like their other albums, forgettable aside from three or four genius tracks. This barnstormer is one of them. However, this time out, Keane have clearly been listening to David Bowie, really *really* closely. For comparison listen to these:
Better Than This Keane // Ashes to Ashes David Bowie
So closely related that if they were people they wouldn't be allowed to marry.

10. Daddy's Gone Glasvegas
The most hyped album of the year, Glasvegas, turned out to almost live up to its Mary Chain meets Phil Spector wall of sound billing. If you like social realism sung in a Glaswegian accent (and I do) it's pretty fantastic. Some days I like this one best, some days Geraldine

11. Swords of A Thousand Men Tenpole Tudor
Oh come on, it's *fantastic*. It'll be a Merlin vid within months, if it's not already

12. A Thousand Suns Tom McRae
The happiest song about grief and death I've ever heard.

13. Subterranean Homesick Alien Easy All-Stars
You didn't realise that your life was emptier for not having Radiohead covered as reggae, did you? Well, it is. Wait 'til you get to the chorus... there now, aint that grand? Actually, the whole album of reggae and dub covers of Paranoid Android is one of those things that shouldn't work but magnificently, triumphantly does. The album is called Radiodread (of course it is) and the other stand out is Let Down, featuring Toots and the Maytals.
TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS AND RADIOHEAD, PEOPLE! RADIOHEAD YOU CAN SKANK TO! Don't ever say I don't love you.

14. Faithful Friend (Ulrich Schnauss remix) Katharina Franck
A ballad by a German singer is given the My Bloody Valentine treatment. I love this, but I know it's very much an acquired taste.

15. Social Competence Peter Morén
The fellow from Peter, Bjorn and John with a guitar-led pop song which has the most curmudgeonly, funny lyrics of the year. I over-identify with the lyrics at the moment.

16. Young Love (Shoes remix) Mystery Jets
A perfect pop song, and this remix is better than the anaemic original.

17. Tomorrow Ladytron
From the album Velocifero, which is Ladytron doing their usual glacial 80s barnstormer routine but doing it brilliantly. Either this or Ghosts stands with anything released this year.

18. I Told Her on Alderaan Neon Neon
More shiny 80s-inflected goodness. I have no idea what this is about but it makes me bop around my kitchen. Also, I am disposed to like anything Gruff Rhys does.

19. Anthepic Japanese Popstars
Epic piece of dance music, like it says on the box. It's all bleeps and synthesisers and builds, in a very good way.

20. Wearing My Rolex Wiley
Irresistible looping slice of dance music about a girl getting the better of you in a club. Precision engineered to make you dance. You could use it to explain what London sounds like.

21. Dance Wiv Me Dizzee Rascal, Calvin Harris, Chrome
See above, except this is also reminiscent of the 1980s. "Get away from the bar, tell your boyfriend hold your jar and dance with me"

22. Club Thing Yoav
From an album released in the last week of 2007, this is an original, sinuous, spare song constructed from handclaps and minimal drums, synthesiser jabs and echoes. It's about being drawn into glamorous club life and finding there's nothing but emptiness behind it. It should really be a vid about vampires but someone would probably mess it up. There's a wonderful, very rare Ben Christophers song called The Alien and the Earthgirl that I've never posted because I am terrified that some plonker will turn it into a soppy Ten/Rose video and thus ruin it forever. IF THEY ALREADY HAVE, DO NOT TELL ME. Thank you.

23.Silent Spring Massive Attack ft Elizabeth Fraser
As beautiful and sinister as a Grimm fairytale. Old, but I listened to it a lot this year

24. What We Had Handsome Furs
Like a lot of the music I loved this year, I first heard this in a vid and loved it enough to download the album Plague Park. There's nothing on it quite so ragged, wild and depressed as this song. This has fantastic guitars, angry lyrics and a woodblock. What more could you desire.

25. Sons of the Stage World of Twist
From one of the great lost 1990s bands, like a crossover between New Order and Oasis and completely compulsive listening. For me it's layered through with memories but I think it's a great record no matter what.

26. Zoetrope Boards of Canada
Unconscionably beautiful*
[*if you like repetitive electronic music, which I do]

27. American Boy Estelle ft Kanye West
A fairly perfect pop song in every way. Usually rap interludes are ill-advised and detract from the song. This one enhances it.

28. Some People Goldfrapp
I didn't think Seventh Tree was much cop, but this is a lush and gorgeous ballad. I do miss the days when Goldfrapp were alternately weird and kinky though.

29. L.E.S. Artistes Santogold
More 1980sish music, reminiscent of The Human League, but in a great way.

30. The song I listened to most this year, according to iTunes, is: A Strangely Isolated Place Ulrich Schnauss
I just love it. It takes my mind to places that other records do not. It moves me.

Tags:

Comments

( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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muridae_x
Dec. 28th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
don't you think Tennant looked tired?

Hee.

I only own one version of Hallelujah, and it's the original. I'm afraid I think that most of the other versions are oversung and under-ironic, but thank you for the link to the documentary which I shall use my all-you-can-eat-Christmas-download allowance to nab immediately.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
*g* He did also look genuinely knackered.

I don't know -- on one hand I love Tennant but he doesn't seem like he's enjoying himself lately. On the other, I don't think you'll ever find another actor who loves the show quite so well. On a third hand, I am so fed up of Ten's emo "they all leave me". Well yes, but they *will* if you strand them in alternate universes or wipe their minds, you plonker.

Still about a million times better than Voyage of the Damned
(no subject) - muridae_x - Dec. 29th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Dec. 29th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
curiouswombat
Dec. 28th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
11. Swords of A Thousand Men Tenpole Tudor
Oh come on, it's *fantastic*. It'll be a Merlin vid within months, if it's not already.


Oh it so should be! If you find it do say!!
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
I *know*. Not that I'll be making it.

Happy birthday, by the way. All the best for a splendid 2009
(no subject) - curiouswombat - Dec. 29th, 2008 11:50 am (UTC) - Expand
herself_nyc
Dec. 29th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
Thanks for the songs!
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. Can't imagine there's much there that's new to you though ;)
(no subject) - herself_nyc - Dec. 29th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
ravurian
Dec. 29th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Oh Teddy. Yes. I'm going to marry him. Well. Maybe not actually marry*, but. I'm going to snag a whole load of these for later.

Haven't watched the DW Confidential, but I'm bloody glad that RTD is off. He's been looking tired for bloody ages...


* civil partner, maybe? No, no, okay: I'll take the goddamn pill!
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
If I can marry Guy Garvey you can have Teddy Thompson. Actually, you might know this: is Thompson's country album much cop? I bought Separate Ways when it came out and loved that, and I love the new one, but somehow I've missed the middle one.

As for RTD, yes, he needs to be off now. Thank you very much, here's your carriage clock, off you go, byeeeee, OFF.
kirbyfest
Dec. 29th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Mmm, music. I'll grab it tomorrow; thank you.

I adore the kd lang version of "Hallelujah." There are purists who have sneered at me over this. I do not care.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
I do not sneer. I think it's gorgeous. I like Kathryn Williams' live version too.
leiliaxf
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:07 am (UTC)
as your dutiful minion, I have downloaded the lot.

Because I'm obsessive that way.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
*g* You're welcome
corianderstem
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)
I absolutely love that Estelle song. Have you heard anything else from her? Is it any good, or is it more R&B type stuff instead of blissfully awesome tracks like that one?

I have tried and tried to get the hype over MGMT, but alas, I just find "Time to Pretend" nothing more than irritating, and didn't like anything else I heard from them.

Tenpole Tudor ... as in the same Tenpole Tudor who had a song called "Wunderbar" on MTV back in the early 80s? Back when MTV not only played music videos but would play the most bizarre shit you'd ever seen by bands who you'd never hear of again?
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
She did an album about four years ago but I only heard the lead single 1980, which you can hear here and which I can upload, I think, it's on my desktop computer:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=5CieTlh5h_g
I don't know much about "Shine", the album "American Boy" is from, but it was nominated for the Mercury that Elbow eventually won and got great reviews.

As for MGMT, like Fleet Foxes, it's not an album I love even though people tell me I should, but I do love Time To Pretend.

And yes. It's that Tenpole Tudor. I think they had about three hits here and then Ed Tudor-Pole decided he wanted to play Cajun music and act.

As you do.
marakara
Dec. 29th, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)
Thanks for the "Hallelujah" link - I'll down load it when I get home. I loved the use of it in Without A Trace's first season finale and thought every use of it after that on TV paled in comparison.

Take Care
Mara
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I hope you like it. It's ramshackle and enthusiastic and endearing
(Deleted comment)
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Oh yay. Glad you like it. It's excellent driving music, I find, the aural equivalent of going "nneeeeeeeeeeeyoowwwwwmmmmmm" like a kid pretending to be a racing car.

If you like the Joss Stone cover of the White Stripes song, that whole album is fantastic and was recorded when she was 14 or 15, before she disappeared up her own bottom in search of, "like, the real me" and developed a bizarre Californian accent for someone who is from Devon.
parthenia14
Dec. 29th, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)
Gawd, I love your taste in music. *downloads wildly*

I've discovered very little new stuff this year - side effect of too much work I think. I adore postpunk and am counting my pennies to see if I can catch the Buzzcocks again on one of their retirement tours.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
If you love post-punk, read the Simon Reynolds book if you haven't already. It told me loads of stuff I didn't know without being hugely nerdy or worthy. I picked up a copy at poor old Zavvi dead cheap.

Are the Buzzcocks worth seeing? I caught them once at a festival in the early 1990s and I remember absolutely nothing about it, which doesn't bode well for my memory.
(no subject) - parthenia14 - Dec. 30th, 2008 05:21 am (UTC) - Expand
vonniek
Dec. 29th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the songs! I downloaded a whole bunch. This is the first time I heard that particular Massive Attack song and boy, it's gorgeous.

For whatever reason, I've completely missed out on the Glasvegas hype. Gotta seek out their album now -- "Daddy's Gone" is fantastic.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I've nicked enough from you this year. I think I uploaded "Geraldine" earlier this year if you want to listen to it, the music tag should direct you. They're mostly box.net these days so they don't expire
omphalos
Dec. 29th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
almost every episode of Doctor Who that I really love has at least five minutes of solid fail on some level or other - word.

That said, I realised recently that the imperfections in New Who are one of the reasons I'm so fannish about it. Fannishness, in me, tends to stem from a basically really good product failing to satisfy me fully. Things that are closer to perfection in terms of writing, production and acting do not make me fannish. BSG is a good case in point. I watch it loyally and very much enjoy it. I have no fannish interest in it at all however.

(There are other factors involved in making me fannish, of course, but imperfection definitely seems to be one of them.)

And yeah, David looked terribly tired - his smiles were fewer and less broad, and his normal bounce seemed deflated. All that wirework made me wince for his back, too.

I've downloaded several tracks - thank you!
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting thought. The last show I felt fannish about was deeply *deeply* flawed and that made me want to fix things. In the end its flaws became too stupid and egregious to even enjoy fixing it.

I think what I need for a show is that it has to make me laugh. Not be a comedy but make me laugh. That's why I've stopped watching BSG. I know it's brilliant, often, and I might go back and watch series 4 onwards, but it's too po-faced and serious to watch intensely.

I can't actually remember what made me love Doctor Who.

David looked terribly tired - his smiles were fewer and less broad, and his normal bounce seemed deflated
He did, and I don't like to see it because he seems like such a good sort of fellow. I was listening to a bit of the podcast last night on late-night BBC7 and they were talking about how the Christmas special was horribly difficult to film because of all the crowds and so on, and I wondered what it must be like to have that sort of unremitting attention all the time, where even your bad back makes the Six O'Clock News. Maybe he needs to move on.
cofax7
Dec. 29th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
When I get home, I'll try to grab all of this. It's work to keep up with new music!

Thank you for sharing. And may 2009 be BETTER.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
It IS. It is very hard work and I have mostly not done it this year and I mostly don't care.

And yes. How much did 2008 suck? I mean, mine sucked minorly but so many people I adore have had dreadful years
(no subject) - cofax7 - Dec. 30th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC) - Expand
krispyxf
Dec. 29th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
I feel so very old and out of touch. I don't recognize a single song on your list.

Sorry your Christmas sucked. Hope your mum is much better by now.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 29th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks. My Christmas was actually pretty nice, it's just that my poor ma had a bit of a hard time of it. Hope yours was the same
lilydale
Jan. 3rd, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Thanks for the music! It took me a while to download it all. Or, it took me a while to figure out which ones I needed to download because some I already had on my own and some I got from you sometime in the past year. Trivia: I am seeing one of your top 30 song artists in the next week solely because I downloaded a song from you and liked it and bought a ticket to a show based only on that before hearing any other songs, but I'll leave which up to your imagination (for now). :-P
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