The Top 11 Singles Of 2008 is probably my least favourite list of them all. Despite the fact that the songs are all amazing (obviously – I chose ‘em!), something about it just doesn’t flow. And I overplayed my number one song to such an extent (something like on repeat 15 times a day for six months) that it’s only just returning from a two-year banishment, a move required for me to appreciate its majesty once more.
However, this is the list that has had the most extensive tinkering. Originally Madcon’s Beggin’ was on the list – before I went to see Jersey Boys and realised everything great about that song was the Four Seasons sample! An Alcazar single was on there (before I tightened my UK-release only rules), as was Rihanna’s Disturbia (good but generic). In their place went Alphabeat (a song I loved but which seemed so instantly familiar, I thought it was one of those tracks from aeons ago that had bypassed my radar), Miley Cyrus (excluded back in the days when I held Hannah Montana against her) and V V Brown (a limited release single I only found out about after the list was done and dusted). The three nearly but not quites are also all songs I didn’t appreciate at the time but which I couldn’t do without now, yet something about them jars with the overall list, hence them not making the cut.
But enough talking, time for listing! Here’s eleven slices of 2008’s finest…
1. Hot N Cold – Katy Perry (4)
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m ever so slightly obsessed with Hot N Cold. The video holds a permanent place on my desktop and the song itself ain’t too shabby either. A Dr Luke/Max Martin chorus to end all others, and just when you might be getting bored of it, along comes the Jason Nevins Radio Edit, which made the impossible possible by making it even more epic on the scale of amazing than before.
2. Spiralling – Keane (23)
Those thrilling beginning wooooos marked the return of Keane in an entirely different guise from slightly wet piano-playing cousins of Coldplay. Some mental lyrics about fashioning you from jewels and stones we can take or leave, but the hook that swirls, spirals and sucks you in is simply irresistible. Intoxicating, hypnotising, entrancing and just plain bloody brilliant.
3. When I Grow Up – The Pussycat Dolls (3)
Dance breakdown? Check. Ridiculous lyrics? Check. Skanky outfits? Check. Nicole singing practically everything? Check. (Apparently, she even provides backing vocals… to herself). What a shame that the Pussycat Dolls follow-up album was absolute wank but at least we have this Darkchild slice of musical magnificence to remember them by.
4. Just Dance – Lady Gaga (1)
Lady Gaga delivered a well-deserved shot up the arm to the music scene and the brilliance of Just Dance is so great that it somehow makes Akon’s presence in a song bearable. The title isn’t a suggestion, but a command and with music this marvellous, a very easy one to execute at that. And I have no idea who or what Colby O Dennis may be, but his section takes the song to a whole other level.
5. The Promise – Girls Aloud (1)
I don’t know whether to be pleased or annoyed that it took Cheryl Cole being a judge on the X-Factor for the rest of Britain to realise that Girls Aloud are genius. The Promise, a delightful retro romp with finger-crossing dance routine and trademark nonsensical lyrics about walking primroses, may be their least exciting lead single to date – but that still makes it thousands of times better than just about anything else released in the year.
6. Fascination – Alphabeat (6)
More cheerful than Mr Happy after popping some Es, Fascination sounds like someone let off fireworks in a factory stockpiling old 80s records. Somewhere between The B-52s, Wham and Footloose, it was a frenetic jive around everything wonderful you could possibly think of about pop music, by a group who aren’t afraid to do everything in Technicolour, even if they know their way round the skinny jean/long cardigan section of Topman too. And after being deprived of mixed-gender groups for so long, the charming boy-girl interplay of Alphabeat’s vocals sounds so utterly delicious. The word is on your lips – say the word!
7. Run – Leona Lewis (1)
If artists insist on recording covers, could they please all be like Leona Lewis’ version of Run?! Saved from the clutches of Snow Patrol mediocrity, Run has it all. Lighters aloft, dry ice swirling, perfect vocals, choir appearing for the key change – this song is a thing of pure beauty. A future classic.
8. See You Again – Miley Cyrus (11)
‘My best friend Lesley said, “Oh she’s just being Miley”,’ may go down in the record books as the most ridiculous/amazing cult pop lyric of all time. Oddly, its utter inanity somehow contributes to See You Again’s overall excellence. A mesmerising shimmy across the dancefloor, with sparkly accents, seductive vocals and an absolutely stellar chorus, it slams a knockout blow to Disney detractors once and for all.
9. Crying Blood – V V Brown (-)
The insane lovechild of a Nintendo theme tune and the Monster Mash, Crying Blood is an unhinged reworking of doo-wop for the noughties. Exploding out your speakers with all the addictiveness of a batch of EU-banned E-numbers, Crying Blood has enough energy and exuberance for twenty songs, bottled down and boiled into two and a half minutes of pop lunacy at its best.
10. Womanizer – Britney Spears (3)
Fast, frenetic, fantastic and fierce, this indicated that Britney was back and with bells on. Deserves a place for the intro alone – and yes, those are sirens.
11. Up – The Saturdays (5)
Who cares if they’re blander than Rachel Stevens buying magnolia wallpaper and vanilla ice cream when The Saturdays deliver infectious electropop as great as this?
Three nearly but not quites…
That’s Not My Name/Shut Up & Let Me Go – The Ting Tings, Dance Wiv Me – Calvin Harris & Dizzee Rascal, So What – Pink