2007's Best Music: Songs
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.
We really only have one rule at Said the Gramophone: write about songs you love. In 2007, Dan, Jordan and I wrote about more than 500 tracks. Some of these we have loved for years, others we loved for a few moments, when they hit us just so with the palm of their eye.
Here are my fifty favourite songs of the year.
2007 was a marvelous year for music and I could have easily written about another hundred wonders. But fifty is enough. Lists are arbitrary and sudden. I tried to just be honest with myself. And I made a few rules, the most significant of which is that no artist is represented twice, even though several should have been. (See also my 2006 and 2005 lists.)
The best way to browse this list is to click the little arrow beside each song and then listen as you read. The things you like you can then download by right- or ctrl-clicking with your mouse. Please buy albums, singles and EPs by bands that you enjoy.
You can also download a complete zip of the fifty songs here, via SendSpace. If someone can figure out how to host a torrent, I'll link to that as well.
Tomorrow we will be sharing some words on our favourite albums of the year. I hope we'll see you then.
- Yeasayer - "2080" [buy]
It's been a long time since I first heard "2080", dwelling in the grey-whites of Krakow and receiving a communique by email from a friend in Los Angeles. In May I did the namedrop: Fleetwood Mac, Akron/Family, Paul Simon, Arcade Fire, Cree chant, schoolyard song. And the song's still got a thousand sunrises in it.
- Rihanna - "Umbrella (ft. Jay-Z)" [buy]
One of the best things about 2007 was how ubiquitous this song became. You'd be walking along the street, sorry for yourself, and as the traffic waited at a red light Rihanna's voice would come ribboning out. And you'd be singing "ella ella ella" before you could stop yourself. (I wrote a short short story about "Umbrella" in April.)
- Basia Bulat - "Snakes and Ladders" [buy/info]
In January I said it, that the drums hurtle at double-speed, ratatat-tat, chasing the singer breathless. So many female songwriters take-it-always-easy, languishing in slow piano chords and then the occasional strident bit. Here it's like the band (Basia, drums, strings) are throwing themselves down a hill, feet scarcely keeping up with their feelings, this close to tumbling head-over-heels into something. And indeed so it is: "like we didn't even notice / oh / the way we'd come undone."
- Okkervil River - "Unless It's Kicks" [buy]
It's not just one of the greatest songs of the year - it's one of the wisest. Sheff sings with an urgency that is like an underlining of key phrases, like two hands tugging to make sure all the seams hold. And whereas wisdom's so often dull, here it's knotted up in the work of a band who love the Shangri-Las, and Sam Cooke, and the craft of a pop song. I'd not be sad if every Okkervil River song sounded like this: shaker, tambourine, a revelation at the moment you go leaping off the stage and onto the raised hands of the crowd.
- Feist - "I Feel It All" [buy]
Yes, the girl from the iPod commercials, the girl who against all expectations made an album rougher than her debut, her lavender mixed through with black pepper. I said: The joy of a maybe, of all those million maybes, of a world too big for fate to contain it. For the wild card that's already "in sight"/"inside", the way even a string of heartbreaks makes a necklace, makes a life, makes a subway map. (plus I still say she's nicked her miss piggy ha! yells from arcade fire's regine.)
- Animal Collective - "Fireworks" [buy]
TO BE PLAYED SO LOUD SO LOUD SO LOUD, KIDS, and WHILE YOU ARE STANDING UP.
- Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" [not yet for sale/info]
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"'s named after a Congolese dancebeat but the song's not in fact a kwassa kwassa, nor is it a slow jam, although it's basically about making out, pale and collegiate, and wondering what the heck you're doing. ... And in the song's final moments we have the sweetest love-scene of any song this year: a scene of white sheets and pink lips and fingers slipping round the curve of an ear, a few bars where we hear just Hammond hum and hands on skin and the bluebird coos of a boy slipping out of one skin & into another.
- Avril Lavigne - "Girlfriend" [buy]
So Avril was sued for copping a bit of someone else's song. In this case that's basically just getting sued for copying the way someone else was totally awesome. Because when this song goes pounding, girl-grouping into the chorus, everything else is obliterated. And I just want to stay there, happy, and for sixteen bars feel like I can do anything. (Okay, except for actually being someone's girlfriend.)
- M.I.A. - "Paper Planes" [buy]
Time-travel to August: And the sky will crisscross with sparkling jet-planes, and M.I.A. will be playing on the roof of the YMCA, just her and a sampler and a girl with a bass drum. And I'll learn to play electric guitar so I can learn to play this song - a high, keening guitar-line, lazy-crazy, useless for anything except "Paper Planes", but the only part you can learn. Because the sing-along chorus is literally impossible to sing along to: it's machine-gun pow and cash register kaching, and yet still the summer's second anthem, the best thing since ella-ella-ella.
- LCD Soundsystem - "Someone Great" [buy - $8.97!]
If this weren't here, "All My Friends" would be. But it's here, and it's great; a song of melancholy and shell-shock sung with click-clack sticks, glockenspiel dings, a circulatory system of synths. James Murphy sings a feeling he doesn't yet seem to inhabit: the peace he imagines tomorrow, yesterday, & on the other side of the mirror's glass.
- Spoon - "Don't You Evah" [buy]
When I wrote about this song, I wrote about dancing at 1 a.m. at New York's Port Authority.
- Frog Eyes - "Bushels" [buy]
Most of the songs on this list are just songs. But "Bushels" feels like a whole album, a whole novel, the kind of thing that takes a year to fully feel and set to wax. Carey Mercer is at once horseman and horse, ridden and riding, traversing with his band a landscape of want, lust, loss and loneliness. Past groaning icebergs and screaming peaks, eyries and trenches. And at last in the final 1:15 he finds his home! With his wife he finds it, there where the jingle-bells shake, and it's the most beautiful sound I've heard this year. (Dan taught me about this song.)
- Christine Fellows - "What Makes the Cherry Red" [buy/info]
Sometimes I walk past my roommate's room, when her door is closed, and I hear this song playing inside, and it makes me so happy to know for certain that she will be okay. (I wrote more here.)
- Hot 8 Brass Band - "Sexual Healing" [buy/info]
A song that blows my synaesthetic senses to smithereens: it's all stretch and touch, sweetness and joy and those free fucking drums stripping all the leaves from the trees. And a persistently sexy tuba. When Hot 8 finally sing Marvin Gaye's lyrics, it's like the words have crawled right out their throats, desperate as magnets for their lovers' earringed ears. (Dan's post about this song, and the comments that ensued, are grand.)
- Radiohead - "Reckoner" [buy on January 1/info]
Instead of heartbeat, I've got heartbeats. Instead of tomorrows, I've got tambourine.
- Of Montreal - "The Past is a Grotesque Animal" [buy]
In October of 2006 I risked fines & jail-time to present a bulleted list of why this song rules. I just want to dance till I'm sick. Of Montreal's Hissing Fauna... LP and their Icons, Abstract Thee EP are two of 2007's great masterworks, together both honest, jubilant, fevered and fucked-up.
- Katie Dill - "The Body's Only Rental" [info]
It's the way of girls with ukeleles, I think; there's something inherent in them. ... And the song's greater message, this holistic, almost karmic stuff; well it's like the Salinger stories I was reading, weeks ago: Seymour's reassuring buddhist certainties. His gentle. Or the way Salinger can write "I think love is a touch and yet not a touch", and me I don't imagine the inside of a greeting card -- I feel my whole world give a little tremble.
- Britney Spears - "Piece of Me" [buy]
The curl, creak and creep of her consonants; that feral timbre; the slink of her technicolour coat and all its dusky velveted furs. This song deserves to be here if only for the way she slurs "extra extra", selling so finely a song written about herself but by someone else, the 90s' greatest popstar warped & vocoded into Xenomania cyberpop, the stuff of Aly & AJ and The Knife.
- Miracle Fortress - "Next Train" [buy/info]
Perhaps there are better songs by Miracle Fortress, one of Canada's great new artists, but "Next Train" includes my favourite five seconds of any song released in 2007. The five seconds recur three separate times, at 0:55, 2:09 and 2:38. It's just a simple "With you," there in the fog of bedroom psych, of kindly noise, in kaleidoscopic pop song. "With you," sung high and soft, a secret faintly traced.
- Bill Callahan - "Sycamore" [buy]
It's a song that borrows its guitar-line from the song that James, Donna and cousin Maddy record in the living-room on Twin Peaks. And just like that Twin Peaks number it's a track filled with a diffuse and undirected love. Callahan sings crooked platitudes, half-wisdoms, blind man's advice - and do you have a better idea? He's like the guy at the bar who's toasting the bartender, the mirror, the pint-glasses, the hairdos, the everything. Because nothing is a suitable container for the heat that he's feeling; he might as well just share it how he can, and if it's meaningless at least it's still warm. Only one thing seems to bear even a hint of what it truly is to feel how he does. And that one thing is the word "sycamore". Forget "cellar door". Forget "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Callahan borrowed one of my favourite words, but it's ok since he uses it as I would. To hold for a sec the can't-be-held.
- Amy Winehouse - "Love is a Losing Game (acoustic version)" [buy]
Amy Winehouse is not, in the end, in our newspapers because of drugs or drink; not because of Mark Ronson's hot, brassy production; not because of our hunger for celebrity and breakdown; but because of this. Because of what she can do with six strings, her voice, and her heart. (Previously)
- Jay Bharadia - "Snowy Day" [buy/info]
For when you wake up one night with spraypaint on your igloo, with grafitti streaked and swirling in the sky. For when you hunch down by the hole in the ice, wait for a seal to surface, rap in french. For when you are the only human being for a hundred miles and yet have a song so good that you can already hear people tethering their sleigh-dogs to get the hell over here. The press release says British, thrift shops, French and Indian parents. But me I hear an awesome inuit hip-hop, an iceberg funk, the soundtrack for the night of a lunar eclipse. It's not often I hear a song and pronounce, out loud, the word: "Siiick."
- Orillia Opry - "I Lied" [buy/info]
"I Lied" is the prettiest, and bitterest, break-up song that you'll hear this year. They sing their sadness with the plainest of adornment, with the evenest of tones. Such a fearsome, gentle chorus: "If you come back / come back with a heart attack". A heart attack! Like it's the easiest thing to sing, like there's nothing tightening in their chest as they stare you down. Like they're not going to go home and do the dishes, and put on a kettle, and forget to make the tea, and like they're not going to sit staring out the blank glass of the window reminiscing, and angry, and like they're not going to go in to the kitchen and see the cold kettle and boil some more water and like as the tap shushes at their fingertips they're not going to begin to cry like a dog, banging their fist against the sink in fury at themselves
- Nico - "Little Stone" [info]
By a boy who seems to maybe call himself Nico, who's 17 and from New York and definitely not the German femme fatale. It sounds like a song first dreamed, then made; like Nico spent two months in fields & attics & alleyways, trying to find the sounds he dreamed those weeks before, in black and white. It's Hood, Liars, Amnesiac, Animal Collective, and a phone ringing down the wire.
- The Luyas - "Dumb Blood" [buy]
The Luyas' debut is my favourite album of 2007. A singer-songwriter descends into gnash & noise, she lingers in the thick of all the things it's scary to linger in. And "Dumb Blood" is the frayed end of a heartstring. (Previously)
- Ola Podrida - "Instead" [buy]
Ola Podrida's album finally came out this year. I wrote about the demo of this song in June of 2006. I said then that sometimes the horizon's a hook. I had no idea.
- Low - "Murderer" [buy]
Imagine a person you hate getting punched in the face. Imagine the flower of blood. This is a very beautiful song about that, and it's not supposed to let you get comfortable.
- Jose Gonzalez - "Fold" [buy]
This is why when we listen to sad songs we sometimes do not sing along. We pretend they're other peoples' stories. ... It's the thing we all hope, selfishly, secretly, as we take our lovers in our arms. Please don't let me down.
- Arcade Fire - "Keep the Car Running" [buy]
I thought I'd end up writing about "Ocean of Noise" or something like that but no, no, I gotta be true: forget the flaws of the lyrics, and Dan's ambivalence, this is the one with its galloping drums its hurrying mandolin its perfect pop piano. (When the piano finally changes at 2:29 - !!!) It's the one with hollers and heave, with doubletime "told-it-to-them", my friends' dear band making sure every fucking candle is lit.
- Essie Jain - "Indefinable" [buy]
I said in March: If you slow a diamond enough, slow it right down, you begin to see a different glitter: there, beneath the pretty, something sad and beautiful and smelling of coal. There's a desolation to the song, a stillness that recalls the earliest (spooky) work of Kathryn Williams, and Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek". Just Jain singing to the mines.
- SoKo - "I'll Kill Her" [info]
A jilted lover in heavy eyeshadow and a hungover French accent. SoKo's hate-song recalls Herman Dune but without that band's warm whimsy - her wry wit is more like a hidden shiv, something she can't wait to slip between her adversary's ribs. The year's most unhappy smile. (Dan's take.)
- Parts & Labor - "Fractured Skies" [buy]
Outside my window there's a blizzard and I can almost, almost imagine "Fractured Skies" as its soundtrack. Only it'd have to be a firestorm, a snow of ash, soot and flame; and there would have to be a million plows, coughing smoke; and there would have to be sirens all around.
- Alasdair Roberts - "River Rhine" [buy]
A love-song for the one you really, really, really like; the one who makes you feel like you've found your source. (Previously)
- Sandro Perri - "Dreams (Fleetwood Mac)" [buy other works by Sandro Perri]
Waking and finding your chest is as empty as her wardrobe. (Previously)
- Samamidon - "Levi" [buy]
If bible stories were shot as photographs, one every ten years. If a family tree was only ever shown in woodcuts. If an old song could be sung, rustling with new winds.
- Los Campesinos! - "You! Me! Dancing!" [buy]
A new recording of one of my favourite songs of 2006, by Broken Social Scene's wundermensch Dave Newfeld. In June I wrote of a YA fantasy novel: In Susan Cooper's The Grey King, Will, Bran and the Old Ones must hold back The Dark, all of 'em, even the mountain Cader Idris itself. And they do it: through magic, will, determination. But they should have got Los Campesinos on the phone; called them up from Cardiff to Gwynedd; and let them blaze their joy through the shifting ranks of evil, cleaving grief like a hot knife through butter.
- Julie Doiron - "(untitled)" [info]
When you lie with a friend and they tell you the outline of their heart in a way you had not heard before, the truth a different colour than you thought. And you cannot heal them. This is a song I find it very hard to write about. (Previously)
- Bowerbirds - "Olive Hearts" [buy]
A party song wrought in bass-drum, acoustic guitar and accordion. A song of hygge, that Danish word which means good times, close friends, hot fires, cold beer.
- The New Pornographers - "Adventures in Solitude" [buy]
We know that the New Pornographers can make pop songs, songs as carefully engineered as the newest high-tech roman candles. But here they make a song that's tender, blushing, more first stars than fireworks.
- Meg Baird - "Do What You Gotta Do (Jimmy Webb)" [buy]
Like Roberta Flack (and unlike Nina Simone), Espers' Meg Baird sings "Do What You Gotta Do" as if the goodbye can itself sustain her; as if by singing farewell she can undo the loneliness before it occurs. (She can't.)
- Froggystein - "The Flowers are Blooming!" [info]
This song has many sections, one for each time of day. You can wear it as a talisman as you swing your machete, cut through the jungle, wade through the lake, inflate your bike-tires, go inside, find her in the crowd, and kiss her on the mouth.
- Wilco - "Impossible Germany" [buy]
Even if Sky Blue Sky never sky-blued my sky, Jeff Tweedy remains one of my favourite singers and lyricists in indie-rock. Here however he is terribly upstaged by not one but two swan-necking electric guitars.
- Ravens & Chimes - "Eleventh Street" [buy/info]
Every now and then the lyrics feel precious, not-quite-right, but I don't know there's something magical in this not-quite-rightness, this groping around and not (not!) quite finding the right words for heartbreak. ... And deep in one channel a mandolin mandolins: strum and strum and strum, hard as it can, just like all of us, not knowing what the hell else to do.
- Times New Viking - "Devo & Wine" [buy]
When all your best laid plans fall apart and something even better takes its place. (Like developing a taste for frostbite.) (Dan's great take.)
- Grizzly Bear - "He Hit Me (The Crystals)" [buy]
A remarkable, beautiful, terrifying cover; lust, menace, tenderness and dream. Grizzly Bear's music this year is so savage and so lovely - proof of the breezes that flatten cities, the caresses that break jaws.
- Amerie - "Gotta Work" [buy]
Only in a year like 2007 could "Gotta Work" be only the 46th best song of the year. A song that will not, will not, will not ever let you collapse. Horns like Moses on the mountain, and Amerie like the girl in the clouds above him.
- The Henry Clay People - "The Man in the Riverbed" [buy]
This is life, kids: lurches, boo-boos, faceplants, the stares of strangers. And The Henry Clay People explode with their knowledge of this, of life loose, staggering and ripe.
- Sleeping States - "The Next Step" [buy]
So that you can finally tell them that you love them. (Per Jordan)
- Modest Mouse - "Dashboard" [buy]
It's not "Float On" but Modest Mouse are trying here for a similar crow-footed pop, nothing too clever but frantic enough to knock the books off yr shelves, yes even the heavy ones.
- Throw Me The Statue - "Lolita" [buy]
And finally, finally, at number fifty it's the bedroom pop of Throw Me The Statue, of falling blush-over-hiccup for a girl, like boys have been doing since the dawn of time, like let's all keep doing forever - here's to that, cheers & happy new year & amen.
Thanks for reading. The comment section is right down there.
[haystack photo is from mirroroworld]
Posted by Sean at December 17, 2007 6:32 PM
this post made me happy. I love this site's writing style and music choices. Happy holidays and thanks a ton =)
I like the pure-pop songs that're thrown in (the Rhianna, Amy Winehouse, B Spears) cuz those songs are good too! Keep on listenin' and writin' and lovin'!
Los Campesinos make a reprise this year?
no complaining or anything, it is a good song!
oh! and very excellent list!
Everyday, you put a smile on my face.
Thank you! For the year's five hundred songs, for today's fifty, for the wonderful writing that comes with each and every one of them.
Dearest Sean, you continue to give the BEST Christmas presents.
nice list. forgot one though:
bon iver - skinny love
i asked for a boy this christmas, and world peace... but you know, this is just as good. (and did you know i really, really mean that?)
happy new year sean ! can you even imagine all that awaits us next year, and all the songs you'll find to match?
I look forward to this each year and it never fails to get me excited about new stuff again. Thank you.
oh, skinny love should have been included, definitely. i've been listening to it entirely too much, thanks to this site.
Great List but so sad that Bury the Hatchet (Optimimi Version) wasn't on it. Not because it's better than the other songs, but because my computer died and I find it's the thing I'm missing most. I must wait for the 7inch to arrive in the mail. Thank you though, for htis and all the work you put in during the year. My first port of call almost every time I log on.
One of the better year end lists!
There is just something about the way you write about music that makes me so excited to listen to it.
Plus this list is fantastic.
OMFG, how did I miss that Amerie song? Wow. Thanks for this list.
Another year, another great list. Thanks!
This site and this list... both fantastic! Many thanks!!!
This is a gorgeous holiday gift for me, and now one that I have passed onto everyone else.
Best music blog site out there. Hands down. Inspiring on so many levels. A persistent theme of love. Love of music, love of love, love of things we once loved and loved us back but may not anymore.
Easily one of the most interesting lists this year. Thank you so much for constantly writing so beautifully about the little joys, the bigger sorrows with such a fine sense of observation.
"Unless It's Kicks" sounds so much like a Ted Leo song it's really disconcerting.
Thank you for this tremendous list, and for curating the most consistently satisfying and magical MP3 blog on the web.
this is a great, great list. thank you sean.
though there are a million and one mp3 blogs out there, yours is always the one i come home to - the first one i read, and still the one i love the most.
Thanks for reminding me of all the great songs I probably haven't given enough time and consideration. I wholeheartedly agree that all of your top 10 (except for you-know-what) are fabulous songs and love that you called Modest Mouse "crow-footed pop" and said that Rihanna's voice comes "ribboning out." A little surprised to see Parts & Labor ... but surprises are good.
glad i found this. good blog.
i was looking forward to your lists this year especially! i like the art, music, writing, everything. (and no ads, so nice)
Great playlist, I want to thank you for keeping my list of music-to-listen-to full for a couple of weeks!
What a great collection of songs.
Pretty much the first thing I do when I get to work every day - Make a cup of coffee and read/listen to that day's Said the Gramo post.
Essential music and gifted writing! No wonder we keep coming back for more...
Happy holidays and please come back to Oslo again soon!
Awesome list! Now I have a great mix of music to listen to at work.
Keep up the good work guys!
i have pretty much read every end of the year list on hype machine, and this was far & above the best i've seen!! you're an amazing writer and it is obvious you are very passionate about music. thank you for taking your time out to put this together :-)
The lists are absolutely lovely and completely made my day. Also, when I heard the beginning of the Of Montreal song, I thought to myself, "Hey, I didn't put any Kraftwerk on my playlist!" and I ended up checking again. Throughout the whole song I got that krautrock feel from it, too, and the first bit sounds alot like the beginning of "Space Lab" (by the aforementioned band Kraftwerk, of course).
Sean, you have the best music taste of anyone I don't know.
Awesome list - thank you! It's been my christmas shopping soundtrack, and made for great times!
Small thing, but I think taking the clean edit version is fucking bullshit.
Fantastic list. I don't know how I got through the year without some of these songs! Essential stuff. So glad I found your site. Thank you rcrdlbl.com.
Great list. I think I read your take on last year and I enjoyed this one just as much. I put together a similar list every year, a cd for my friends, and I included some of these songs:
Houston by Rondo Brothers
Lobe Limbique by New Buffalo
Lipstick by Buck 65
North by Northwest by Blue Scholars
Um...Hooray! I just spent an hour here, and it was worth every precious second. Looking forward to a hundred more as the years go on.
That samamidon...oh, loverly. I still have a few of his up in my own archives, meself.
Your wonderful, eclectic list made my day, just like last year. Thanks!
i wish someone could read your writing to me as i fall asleep every night.
I followed random links to get here, and this might well be my new favourite place; the songs I already knew, I love, the writing about the ones I didn't intrigued me so much I'll definitely be coming back to read and re-read. I love it when people write about music in ways that makes me want to listen to it, no matter the genre or whatnot.
@Siri: "I love it when people write about music in ways that makes me want to listen to it, no matter the genre or whatnot."
I think you just defined why people write about music--and why this is a great place to read about it, as well. :-D What a compliment!
you have a beautiful voice.
This list has given me at least three songs to listen to on repeat and fill at least one evening with beauty and melancholy and hope and, oh right, love of music and art and this world where we can stumble on such things so simply, where I might find another one with the next song I click.
After at least 7 hours of intense internet searching I despair.. I'm looking for an mp3 file of Burl Ives singing "the little engine that could".. I'm quite prepared to pay for it but have been unable to find a site that will sell it to me as I live in Australia not the States.. I wouldn't have thought it was that hard to push it down the wires just that little bit further.. I'm nervous about putting my bank details in Russian sites and don't feel inclined to deposit US$60.00 in someone else's account for the duration..
Can you help?.. I've made a dedication Animoto video and I'm determined to use this song.. my all time favourite from my childhood - I can remember every word of that album!
I'll be forever in your debt.
Many thanks in advance for any leads you can supply..
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs
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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors
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cinema du parc
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe
The Morning News