Love, Crowbar 2007 (or, The best songs of the year)

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17. Jan. 2008, 16:48

Since 2001 I've been doing end-of-the-year compilations (called "Love, Crowbar"). For me, 2007 has been a fantastic year for music, so this time I decided to make a double album with the best songs of the year. Here they are, with silly comments, in the CD order:


Are You Alright?, Lucinda Williams
Such a simple question, with so many meanings. "Are you alright?", Lucinda asks over and over again, while feelings of hurt, pain, love and sadness cross her words. Who is she talking to? Is she addressing The Man That Got Away? Or is she talking to her late mother? That's not the most important thing. What Lucinda wants us to know is that she cares. She wants the best for you. And she hurts. So do I, whenever I listen to this work of art.

Dear Darkness, PJ Harvey
White Chalk is full of moments so-quiet-it's-scary, but Dear Darkness may be the most affecting. “Dear Darkness, I’ve been your friend for many years”, she says, her voice absolutely fragile. With its soft piano, this is a song that demands to be listened in entire silence: any noise outside may break it like glass.

Someone Great, LCD Soundsystem
The electronic beats could sell this song alone (as it did on the 45:33 album), but James Murphy's lyrics turn it into one of the most affecting songs of the year. "There's all the time and all the planning, and songs, to be finished" – how can any of this stuff be important "when someone great is gone"? Six minutes of brilliant melancholy.

Rest My Chemistry, Interpol
Since I listened to it for the first time, it became my favourite song on the (somewhat underrated) Our Love to Admire. That intro! So solid, so… rock'n'roll. No hymn for the indie dancefloor, no fast guitars for now; these New York guys are taking their time.

Marry Me, St. Vincent
"Marry me John; I'll be so good to you". Who can resist such a request, when it's such a beautiful voice who's singing? That charming piano keys, those lovely handclaps! "You won't realize I'm gone". Somehow I doubt that.

Crown Royal, Jill Scott
Pure sex. In less than two minutes, Jill Scott is able to deliver the sexiest song of the year. Less than 120 seconds (108, to be more accurate) of wet and hot activity – car (and drink) metaphors included. Why so short, Jill? Maybe she intended us to listen over and over, back and forth? That's what I do.

House of Cards, Radiohead
In Rainbows is probably the most sensual album Radiohead has ever done, and House of Cards feels like an invitation to the bedroom. Thom Yorke almost moans, the gentle and persistent guitar sounds like an invitation to surrender... The sex song for indie boys and girls?

Quem Não Sou, Pato Fu
Hiding beneath a voice distortion, Fernanda Takai sings gently and sounds like a fragile robot. At first, I thought the verses of this song were kinda nonsense, but then I realized: this is Pato Fu's own X-Static Process! Are we ourselves when we try so hard to please someone else?

In The Morning, Shannon Wright
Shannon 's latest album didn't convince me much, but this song has everything I came to expect from her: a deep feeling of melancholy, spare instruments, a waking feeling after a terrible day. Avoid it if you're feeling seriously depressed, but don't deny the beauty of it.

Digital Ghost, Tori Amos
The best thing Tori has done in this decade, perhaps? The standout of the great-but-too-long American Doll Posse appeals to anyone who relies on technology to get closer to a friend, or even a lover. "I have to trust, you know, this digital ghost", she says, while a ghostly Tori coos in the background. It's so sad, and so personal to me, that it's hard for me to write about it.

Moon Pulls, múm
On No Cars Go, The Arcade Fire sing about the moment "between the click of the light and the start of the dream". Moon Pulls beautifully captures this moment. It makes me dream of lands I have yet to see, and moons I want to admire in foreign countries. Dreamy and wonderful.

Meu Deus, Vanessa da Mata
"Um homem bonito assim – o que quer de mim?" ("A man so handsome – what does he want from me?"), sings Vanessa da Mata in the first verses of this song. She knows it's impossible to resist, and I don't even try. On the chorus of this fabulous song – filled with sensual pianos and drums –, she puts into words the beauty of someone who's truly heavenly.

Slow Show, The National
"You know I dreamed about you for 29 years before I saw you". Enough said. I just hope it doesn't take this long.

My Body Is a Cage, The Arcade Fire
This is the song that keeps the Arcade Fire's teenage angst burning higher. Fans of more abstract verses can go somewhere else, but for thousands of people, "Set my body free" will speak volumes. The perfect song to end a wonderful album. And what about that You Tube video with the Once Upon a Time in the West images?

Silver Lining, Rilo Kiley
This song was made for the road. It demands to be listened on the road, with the wind in your face. Such a cliché image, but who can resist trying while listening to that guitar riff? Jenny Lewis’ voice feels like an invitation to a great vacation.

Saltbreakers, Laura Veirs
The secret is in the male voices in the background during the chorus. Sing along!

Frank & Ava, Suzanne Vega
Sometimes all I want is just a nice old pop song, with a strong hook, a beautiful voice, clever lyrics… “Just” that? Suzanne Vega knows how to do it and making it look easy. And that first line always cracks me up.

Get Around To It, Tracey Thorn
This woman can sing anything and make it sound amazing. Give her a fantastic tine like this, and the rest is up to her. The result is absolutely irresistible.

Jimmy, M.I.A.
Kala is full of innovative songs, political songs, out-of-this-world songs. And my favourite track is this version of a Bollywood song! It’s M.I.A. at her most “world party” mode, picking a great song (the video for the original song is fantastic) and introducing it to a new generation. Well done, girl.

The Way I Are, Timbaland
We wanna see you work your body. Release, I’m out of control. Bounce like your ass has the hiccups. Just dance!

Gypsy Woman, Hilary Duff
Who would say that, in a year full of great pop songs such as Umbrella and Makes Me Wonder, my favourite pop tune of the year would be by Hilary Duff! When I read that the lyrics concerned an affair her dad had with another woman, it grew on me. But the music itself is fantastic – check that funky introduction! And lose control.

Innocence, Björk
This is Björk at one of the things she does best: being an optimistic. “Let’s open up: share!”, she says, with a heavy beat following her (courtesy of Timbaland). After seeing her amazing concert in Rio last October, it’s impossible for me not to go ecstatic while listening to it.

In the Mausoleum, Beirut
Feel like traveling in time? Want to go to Europe? I do. This track allows me to do this whenever I want.

Flashing Lights, Kanye West
Or, Kanye becomes Kelis. And rules the dancefloor.

Phantom Punch, Sondre Lerche
A friend of mine compared this song to Franz Ferdinand. I know this is a compliment, but I’d take Sondre over Alex Kapranos anytime. And what about the fantastic Michel Gondry-inspired video?

Hot, Avril Lavigne
I don’t like her. In fact, I may hate the bitch. But this song rules. It was Blender magazine who opened my ears: when she sings “You’re so good to me, baby, baby”, she sounds exactly like Aimee Mann! And everyone around me knows I’m a sucker for declarations of love as energetic as this. For now, this girl is safe from hell.

Crush, Amerie
Without a doubt, the most underrated artist of 2007 is Amerie. It’s a complete mystery to me why her Because I Love It album, chock-full of hits-to-be, wasn’t released in the US. Crush is a classic: sensual and sweet, with lyrics so amazing I can’t believe it. “I wish I could save your kiss for some other girl to taste/ To see expressions on her face”. Nobody else could say it with so much charm.

Party's Over, Nicole Atkins
Best New Artist of the year. A killer performance on Letterman. An amazing voice. She even has great shoes! And the songs! Man! Party’s Over has it all: a joyous tune, great lyrics, a girl-group vibe, I Am Shelby Lynne strings… Deserves to be huge!

Merry Happy, Kate Nash
This was hard to choose: Mariella or Merry Happy? Mariella has the lovely Regina Spektor vibe, the great crescendo, the unforgettable never-ever-ever-ever-ever line. But Merry Happy is such a contradiction – the happiest tune, the saddest lyrics –, it won my heart. “You obviously didn’t want to stick around, so I learned from you”, and then Kate goes singing “do do do” as if she was actually happy. “I can be alone, yeah, I can watch a sunset on my own”. Of course she can, we all can. But it can be so very lonely. Do do do da do…

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