The Top 50 Songs of 2007

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Top 50 Songs of 2007

Les Savy Fav – “What Would Wolves Do?”

Les Savy Fav are masters of disco-fueled punk rock, magistrates of intensely catchy balls-out rock, and pack a wallop with every singalong chorus Tim Harrington expels from his bearded face. But the biggest surprise they provided on this year’s Let’s Stay Friends was the new wave leaning “What Would Wolves Do?”, driven by relatively toned-down guitar riffs and a drum machine beat that would seem just as at home in an aerobics class. Still, it’s awfully pretty, Harrington sounding sweet and innocent with his wolf-like refrain of `awooooooo!’ Then the full moon comes out around 1:17, the fangs extend and Harrington lets loose: “the world may seem cruel/ the world it may hate us/ in time we will show the world why the world made us!” Well world, this song seems to do the trick nicely. – Jeff Terich

The Twilight Sad – “And She Would Darken the Memory”

It’s a good thing that “And She Would Darken the Memory” was on The Twilight Sad’s Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters. Since I heard it on the band’s self-titled 2006 EP, it’s been one of those songs that I’ve been eager to put on mix tapes for friends. It’s even made my list of top songs for two straight years. Though “And She Would Darken the Memory” features the type of dense layers of noise you’d expect from Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine, the bassline and drums seem to evoke a cross between The Walkmen and Interpol. Over this shimmer of feedback, James Graham delivers portentous lyrics about a relationship on the rocks, with standout lines such as “And head up dear, the rabbit might die” and “A drunken mind game past.” But as sour as the lyrics are, you can’t help but feel the end of this relationship would be for the best for both the song’s narrator and his or her shallow, blind, whining love interest. That’s the type of bittersweetness prevalent in lots of The Twilight Sad’s work, but it’s best on display here, complete with a cathartic gyre of feedback. – Hubert Vigilla

Okkervil River – “John Allyn Smith Sails”

Here’s the other bookend to The Stage Names, this one being more of a literary endeavor than one on celluloid. John Allyn Smith is reportedly the birth name of poet John Berryman, whose collection, The Dream Songs, had a profound effect on several musicians this year, including Okkervil’s Will Sheff. Sheff’s meditation on Berryman, his life story and poetry, then leads into a retelling of the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B.” to magnificent effect. While the Beach Boys were harmonic and charming, Sheff’s voice is pained and dramatic, almost reaching screams at times. “John Allyn Smith Sails” is one of those proofs that sometimes good things come to those who wait until the end of the album. – Terrance Terich
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UGK feat. Outkast – “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)”

It’s criminal that UGK’s “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” didn’t become this year’s summer anthem. Did you hear that hook? That sample of Willie Hutch’s “I Choose You” might be the most genius thing that I’ve heard all year. Pitting those soulful strings with the classic hip-hop hi-hat hits creates such a rich sound, but it also plays on the dynamic of UGK’s rough and masculine rhymes with Outkast’s love struck lyrics. The combination of two Southern rap kings is undeniable and it has not only UGK’s best rhymes but Outkast’s too. Hands down, one of the best hip-hop tracks of the year. – Jackie Im
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Apostle of Hustle – “Chances Are”

There’s more to Andrew Whiteman than the ’80s porn actor look that he rocks. This year the haggard Broken Social Scenester has broken out in a big way with the release of Apostle of Hustle’s sophomore album National Anthem of Nowhere. Starkly contrasting with the prior AOH release, the often underappreciated Whiteman has stepped out of the shadows in a big way, creating a work truly telling of his musical abilities. “Chances Are” is the album’s drunken summer hit that is replete with reluctance, sarcasm, and ghosts. It’s a near perfect break-up song nobody could have seen coming ,that’s as mellow as it is catchy, yet ironic in that there’s some subtle sassiness (“Goodbye/Chances Are/Not Forever”). Some will ask if Whiteman has sold out with his newest collection but with anthems like “Chances Are,” it’s more likely a man coming into his own. This song has everything to offer and you’d be hard pressed to find a 2007 track that can boast the same. Chances are this is only the tip of the iceberg for Andrew Whiteman and his Apostle of Hustlers. – Tyler Weir
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The National – “Mistaken For Strangers”

Easily one of the best lyricists you’ll come across, The National’s singer Matt Berninger is absolutely meticulous in his craft, framing each line with his offset pronunciation to match the music, and details that catch the emotional core of his debauched characters in but a sly turn of phrase. In a phone interview I had the good fortune to conduct with Berninger for American Songwriter magazine earlier this year, he said he keeps an ever-growing notepad full of half thoughts and “a bunch of stuff that I might not ever use.” One of the band’s best songs yet, “Mistaken For Strangers” is actually quite repetitive, chock full of internal rhyme (often with the same words), and traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. One writer to another, though, the line “Another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults” makes me brim with admiration every time I hear it. And, of course, the music itself kicks ass. – Dustin Allen
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Caribou – “Melody Day”

“Melody Day” is one of those remarkable songs that manages to sound contemporary and timeless, revealing its maker’s obvious infatuation with music from the past as it does his uncanny ability to be on the cutting edge of some of the most interesting musical trends. More than just a blast of white psychedelic sunlight, it is a study in contrasts and the way they come together to form some supremely seductive songs. It is one of the best things Dan Snaith has ever done and certainly the closest he has come to creating a concise, instantaneously (and beyond) gratifying single. – Tyler Parks
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Rilo Kiley – “Silver Lining”

Reviewers seemed split on Rilo Kiley’s latest album release, Under the Blacklight, not sure what to make of the overt shift to a more pop-fueled set of songs. The truth is, by combining the group’s several projects into one all inclusive soup, this might be what you’d get. Imagine the Elected, Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins, Bright Eyes and the Postal Service all combined into one supergroup and you might come out with the new Rilo Kiley record. The media played up the broken hearts / Nicks and Buckingham angle to the hilt (even yours truly), despite the fact that their relationship ended a ways back. The video plays up on the broken relationship as well, finding Blake and Jenny in a wedding where the bride flies the coop and the groom jumps into the pool with grief (a la Bill Murray in Rushmore). I generally poo-poo’d the idea of Blake only writing one song on the album, but his guitar work on this song is stellar, as is the backup vocals to Lewis’ soaring lead. – Terrance Terich
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The White Stripes – “Icky Thump”

After taking an experimental detour with piano-based ditties on Get Behind Satan, the opening feedback of “Icky Thump” announced that triumphant return of my favorite Motor City “brother and sister,” guitar and drum dynamic duo, Jack and Meg White. Unlike their previous album, this one has the old Stripes’ bluesy garage rock sound to which I love to play air guitar. No one does it better than Jack with his furious guitar licks and cool high-pitched howls. I love the Led Zeppelin riffs along with Meg’s trademark drum fills. It’s White’s version of “Immigrant Song,” as he eloquently sings “White Americans, what? Nothing better to do/why don’t you kick yourself out you’re an immigrant too.” Jack White for President 2008? I wish. I’d vote for him. For now I nominate “Icky Thump” for song of the year. – Adrian Cepeda
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Blonde Redhead – “23”

Although Jim Carrey’s blunder The Number 23 may be one of the worst films I sat (half-way) through this year, it did send me into a slight frenzy, seeing the foreboding number everywhere – on license plates, dates, and not the least, Blonde Redhead’s magnificent “23.” Purely by accident, I even placed the song at number 32 on my top 50 songs for the year, only to be followed by Feist’s “1 2 3 4.” All mystic numerology aside, though, this is definitely one the band’s greatest tracks in a line of memorable ones. A churning drum beat and thick My Bloody Valentine guitar tones carrying it along, coupled with Kazu Makino’s entrancing voice and cryptic lyrics, this song is relentless all the way up until its percussion death rattle that finishes it off. – Dustin Allen
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