Monday, March 09, 2009

Belatedly, 2008's top tunes

Is it too late for a retrospective post on 2008? Hope not, because this is the first of two or three.

According to the statmeisters of, the following songs are my 20 most-played of 2008:

20 Road to Somewhere – Goldfrapp
It was very much the year of Goldfrapp on my playlist. I first crossed paths with Goldfrapp via a free iTunes download of "Ooh La La" from Supernature, but it was 2008's folk-tronica release Seventh Tree that led to Goldfrapp scaling my artist chart. Easily my favorite release of the year, it propelled Goldfrapp from the lower reaches of my top 50 artists to number four.

19 Holiday Road – Lindsey Buckingham
Theme from the great National Lampoon's Vacation.

18 Nikita – Elton John
I tend to fixate on random '80s songs such as this, #17 and #15 for periods of time.

17 Hold Me – Fleetwood Mac

16 X-Files (UNKLE Remix) – UNKLE
The movie I Want to Believe, while not altogether bad, was certainly not what the franchise needed at this point. This new interpretation of Mark Snow's classic theme, however, is simply brilliant.

15 I'm Your Man – Wham!

14 You Never Know (Live in London) - Goldfrapp

13 So You Say – The Bird and the Bee
The retro-modern bliss of songs such as this, "Birthday" and "Polite Dance Song" made The Bird and the Bee my second-biggest breakout of the year.

12 Birthday – The Bird and the Bee

11 I Told Her on Alderaan (Richard X Andress Mix) – Neon Neon
I have no idea what this song means, but it's really catchy pop with a strange Star Wars reference.

10 Light Years – Kylie Minogue

9 Some People - Goldfrapp

8 Happiness - Goldfrapp

7 Underneath – Alanis Morissette
Alanis had steadily been losing me to the point that I never bought the last album, although "Everything" was a nice single. The new album is — dare I say it — a return to form.

6 Little Bird - Goldfrapp

5 4 Minutes - Madonna

4 Clowns - Goldfrapp

3 Number 1 - Goldfrapp

2 Give It 2 Me – Madonna
I had myself all psyched up to hate Hard Candy based on the stylings of Timbaland and Timberlake and the fact that Confessions on a Dancefloor was a creative peak, but I ended up really digging it. This, the second single, is a perfect example of why. The "get stupid" breakdown is killer. It's a shame that it has become so in vogue to dis Madonna.

1 A&E – Goldfrapp
Absolutely sublime. It's disheartening that a song this amazing gets completely ignored in the U.S.

BMG Music Service calls it quits

Another sign that the world is moving on arrived in my e-mail box today: A note from BMG Music Service informing me that the music club is folding as of June 30. I guess this time they really mean it when they say the offer for that stack of CDs comes "with nothing more to buy … ever."

They're replacing the club with a new service,, which sounds like a boneheaded, cue-based Netflix approach, except you don't send the music back.

I've been a member of BMG since the early '90s. Like everybody else, I couldn't pass up those dozen CDs for a penny deals, and it was a decent way to boost a music collection, even if their editions were sometimes dodgy. I can remember some of the cassettes I got back in the day didn't include liner notes. And it was a pain to have to mail in that card declining the featured selection that you wouldn't want in a million years.

Steep shipping charges and the delay for new releases were always problems, but a bigger obstacle in recent years has been lack of selection. There have been numerous times when, lured to the site by an offer of 60 percent off with no shipping and handling, I would have bought something if there were anything I wanted. Looking for Goldfrapp's back catalog? Go elsewhere.

Of course, BMG deals in physical media, which can't catch a break these days. Really, though, when Amazon MP3 sells a hot new album for a few bucks on release day, it's not a surprise that the era of the music club gets an obit this year.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Love Etc.

On the first couple of listens to "Love Etc.," the Xenomania-produced lead single from Yes, the forthcoming Pet Shop Boys album, I was shaking my head "no." I wasn't feeling it. With a couple more listens, it started to make sense, and it had firmly taken hold by about the sixth listen. I'd even say it's probably their best lead single since Very. It's the killer melody of the whole "Boy it's tough getting on in the world" bit that seals the deal. They're right to say that it doesn't sound like anything they've done before, although the percolating rhythm vaguely recalls "Can You Forgive Her?"

If we needed another sign that Yes may be the proper pop-tastic successor to 1993's Very that the pre-release buzz had wrongly suggested 2006's Fundamental would be, the animated video is at least a small one, as it recalls the computer-generated beauty of Very singles such as "Liberation." This homage to side-scrolling video games is beautifully and cleverly constructed; it's arguably weird but undeniably inspired.

The U.K. gets the album on March 23; the U.S. has to wait until April 21.