10. Arcade Fire – Keep the Car Running
The Arcade Fire make fucking beautiful music, it has to be said. But even they have their moments where they think: “You know what? FUCK writing another sad yet touching ballad. Let’s rock!”. This song, track two on the amazing Neon Bible record, is a result of one of those moments. Backed by a Working on the Highway-style drumbeat, Win Butler and his not-so-merry men (and women) tell us the tale of frustration with where they are in life and, quite simply, having to get the hell out of there. And fast! The song got described by Rolling Stone as “the best Bruce Springsteen song of the year not written by Bruce Springsteen”. The influence is definitely there, and I have no problem with that at all. And when the song DID get played with The Boss, it sounded perfect with the E-Street Band backing Bruce, Win and Regine. And, at the same time, managed to give us one of the best YouTube quotes of the year in “Oh my GOD! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!”.
9. The Shins - Phantom Limb
Another album, another top quality single from James Mercer and co. This time around, the Shins borrowed a bit of everything- from West Coast pop to Morrissey- with the result being this delicious little number that was immediately loved by all indie radio that touched it. As an overall record, in my opinion, Wincing the Night Away didn’t have the consistency or the general outstanding brilliance of the two previous records. But it certainly didn’t matter to the legions of fans who sold out the band’s tour on the back of it, and it definitely didn’t stop Phantom Limb being one of the songs of the year. Altogether now- “ohhhhh-way-ohhhh, way-ohhhhhhh”…
8. Rihanna – Umbrella (feat. Jay-Z)
"Good Girl Gone Bad"? No way! Rihanna was certainly good before this, but following this single, Rihanna was officially a worldwide megastar. And, for what feels like the first time in years for a female pop singer, she actually really deserves it. This song was apparently originally written for Mary J. Blige, but listening to the delivery of this track it really does feel like Rihanna was born to sing it. The simple refrain and the “ella, ella, ella” chants stuck in the pop world’s conscience for weeks on end, and Umbrella went to number one basically everywhere in the world. The song is easily the queen of all mainstream pop singles in 2007, in terms of both sales AND quality. It’s that drumbeat, the effortlessly cool Jay-Z rap through the intro, the distant 80s rock guitar, the A plus production, that delicious video…it’s perfect. This entry will probably be very controversial, but I’m more than certain you sang along to this song at least once in 2007. And if you say you didn’t, then I don’t believe you.
7. Linkin Park - The Little Things Give You Away
Well, now, who would have expected this? On the back of their third and best record, Minutes to Midnight, LP gave us everything we weren’t expecting- they got political, they got powerful, and my GOD they got good. In this ballad, Chester delivers his best ever vocals and lyrics, describing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the United States government’s reaction to it. He sings from the perspective of a victim, calling out the President: “Don’t want to reach for me, do you? I mean nothing to you”. It’s a beautiful song, something that certainly cannot be said about anything on either Hybrid Theory or Meteora, and it’s really incredible to think how much Linkin Park has progressed as musicians and people in the four years between their last record and this one. If you have ever dissed Linkin Park (and let’s face it, you have), I simply have one request of you: listen to this song.
6. THE END- And Always...
Essentially, this is the best song of 2007 that you never heard. Canadian “math core” band The End have been around for a few years but only entered my stream of conscience upon being recommended their album, Elementary, by a friend. And I was blown away. The music had heart, it was diverse, it was layered, it was energetic, it was a really great listen. But of all the songs on the album, this one stood out in particular. It was vastly different to its siblings, with its simple yet powerful acoustic guitar and epic nine minute length. The star here is Aaron Woolf, lead vocalist of the band, who goes from chilling low key vocals to passionate howling throughout the song. When I reviewed this album, I deemed the song a triumph. And I stick by that very statement to this day. There’s no better way of describing it.
5. Kanye West – Stronger
What better way to reintroduce yourself to your peers, to popular music and to the charts than releasing a track that is phenomenal, revolutionary and instantly accessible as your first single?
Only ‘Ye could do it (Jay tried but couldn’t come close this time), and he certainly packed a punch whilst doing it. At the same time, it must be noted, Kanye introduced a whole new generation of fans to the greatest dance music act of all time – Daft Punk. It’s my belief that this single’s success had no small part in DP selling out their Australian tour last December- and why not? Kanye does wonders with his “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” sample, throwing his usual bravado over the top. By now, however, we all know that West can back up all of his cockiness, and really means it when he proclaims “There’s a thousand yous, there’s only one of me”.
4. Bloc Party - I Still Remember
I don’t know what it is about this song. Honestly, I don’t. I have strong and valid reasons for pretty much everything on this list. But when I got to this track, I though “Why do I love this song so much? What is it?”. I thought about the raw honesty of the lyrics- I thought of how brave I thought Kele was to be taclking such a socially unconventional subject matter as he was. I thought about the chorus – I thought of how it all just comes together beautifully and, given the right circumstances, can lead to tears. I thought about Kele’s vocals- I thought of how he hasn’t sounded this heartfelt ever before, apart from maybe SRXT. But then I just listened to it, and I realised- it was all these things. But above all, it was the fact I had to think so hard and dig so deep into this song to get the best satisfaction from it.
Thank you, Kele. Thank you, Gordon. Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Russell.
GOD BLESS BLOC PARTY.
3. Battles – Atlas
Experimental rock is back and ripping shit up, and it has come in the form of Battles! Lead musically by Helmet’s stickman John Stanier, this is just your average 4/4 rock song...given, of course, your singer is a demented, self-harmonising chipmunk robot, your guitarists are aided by both a block-rocking laptop and practically all the effects pedals in the world, and also enjoy duelling one another using keyboards. Aside from that, it’s obviously nothing great.
Bullshit aside, Battles are less a band to me and more four musicians who know each other inside out, tight as hell. All throughout their album, Mirrored, they test and proceed to defy the boundaries of their instruments and completely turn rock, pop and electronica on its heads. And there is no better example of how they manage to do both that AND make it accessible and dancible than this song. A true classic song that we’ll be dancing wildly to ten years from now.
2. Silverchair - Straight Lines
I’m really glad I got over that 2002/2003 phase of “nu silverchair iz ghey” and came to appreciate Daniel Johns for the visionary genius that he is. I always take something new from listening to Silverchair’s music- always something I tend to pick up on one listen that I didn’t before. I always get something out of the music immediately. This time around, however, it was different.
Upon my first listens to Straight Lines, I really just wasn’t sure what to think. I didn’t immediately love it, and I didn’t immediately hate it. But I had to listen to it again. And again. I think the day it came out, I listened to it, on loop, for about an hour. It was surreal. You can rest assured by the end of that particular session, I was in complete love with the song, later to fall in love with the album. Straight Lines was certainly a slow burner, but its flame lasted for quite sometime. Even now, it’s flickering and yet to go out. Live, they didn’t let me down, either- their Across The Great Divide show in Wollongong was one of the best shows I have ever been to.
1. Crowded House – Don't Stop Now
Hahaha! Anti-climax, huh? I bet you’ve all got some pretty confused looks on your faces, and I’ve probably got some explaining to do. Well, Don’t Stop Now was my number one because nothing in 2007 connected with me in terms of music quite like this song. I remembered hearing that the band was getting back together and it could’ve gone one of two ways- a total triumph or...well...Genesis. But all things considered, I’m very glad that Neil decided to make the Crowdies live again, as I can honestly say I hold this song in the same regard I hold Don't Dream It's Over, Better Be Home Soon, Weather With You...all the hits. I can remember the first time I heard it, and knowing right then and there that this was something special. It’s those harmonies, the simplicity of the guitar and piano, the touching lyrics of love and connection from the most basic of strenuous situations (in this case, Neil’s wife had miss-tracked her GPS system and got herself lost)…it is very, very hard for Neil Finn to pen a bad tune, and this is no exception. It’s almost as if the band had never been gone. And very few musicians have that timeless quality about them. It’s a very special thing, and this indeed is a very special song.
Don’t believe me? Just listen.
Thanks for reading, it's been fun!