Friday, 19 September 2014

The Best Of 2008 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

We're at the halfway point of my top 100 for 2008, and we didn't know it at the time, but it would prove to be an important year for emerging pop stars, with two of the biggest female performers of the past decade both debuting that year.

Katy Perry started her chart domination in 2008

I'm talking, of course, about Katy Perry and Lady Gaga - and I was lucky enough to see both of them perform intimate shows on their first visits to Australia that year. It was nice to be there to see them as they were starting out, little knowing how they'd come to dominate pop culture in the ensuing years. They even managed a few tracks on my chart that year, as we'll see as we dive into my top 50...

Number 50 "Lights & Music" by Cut Copy
The Presets' label mates Cut Copy flew completely under the radar with their first album, Bright Like Neon Love, but also hit number 1 with 2008's In Ghost Colours. Singles-wise, the group weren't so commercially successful, with none of "Lights & Music", "Far Away" (number 70 on this list) and "Hearts On Fire" (number 72) managing to enter the ARIA top 50.

Number 49 "Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 48 "Spotlight" by Jennifer Hudson
She already had an Academy Award to her name, but American Idol alumnus Jennifer Hudson had still to make her mark as a recording artist away from the Dreamgirls soundtrack - so who better to turn to than Ne-Yo and Stargate for her debut single proper? Despite the pop/R&B dream team behind her, "Spotlight" wasn't a massive hit (number 11 in the UK, number 24 in the US), but it's still her best performing single.

Number 47 "My Love Is Pink" by Sugababes
It was only released as a digital single, but "My Love Is Pink" was better than either of the two official singles from Change that followed - the title track (which made my top 200 for 2007) and "Denial" (number 114 on this list). It was also better than either of the two singles lifted from the trio's sixth album, Catfights And Spotlights - "Girls" (number 101) and "No Can Do" (number 109). Things were not looking so good for the once consistently brilliant girl group.

Number 46 "Do It Again" by Kylie Minogue
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 45 "Movie Star" by Róisín Murphy
Mentioned below

Number 44 "Burn" by Jessica Mauboy
There's a theory that you're better off not winning a reality talent show but instead coming in second place - and the career trajectory enjoyed by Australian Idol season four runner-up Jessica Mauboy would seem to support that. Along with American Idol's Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert, and Australian Idol's Anthony Callea, she has actually done better in the long run than the winner of her season, Damien Leith. 
After a brief tenure in ex-Idol girl group Young Divas, Jessica's solo career began in earnest in 2008. Key to her success - beyond her brilliant voice - was the decision to team her up with emerging rapper Flo Rida on her debut single, "Running Back", and give her songs of the callibre of "Burn", which was as good as any pop track being released overseas and hit number 1 in Australia (despite its release being unfortunately timed to coincide with that summer's severe bushfires).

Number 43 "Changes" by Van She
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 42 "Miss Independent" by Ne-Yo
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 41 "You Know Me Better" by Róisín Murphy
As part of Moloko, Róisín Murphy had always been on the more experimental end of the pop spectrum - and that continued with her debut solo album, Ruby Blue, which yielded no big hits. The singles from her second album, Overpowered, didn't exactly scale the chart heights either - but tracks like "You Know Me Better" and "Movie Star" (number 45 on this list) were definitely more commercial.

Number 40 "I Kissed A Girl" by Katy Perry
It's almost hard to remember back to a world before Katy Perry, but in 2008, the singer born Katheryn Hudson caused a stir online with "Ur So Gay" before her first commercial single, "I Kissed A Girl", really got people talking - and, apparently, sent sales of cherry-flavoured ChapStick soaring. 
In a post-t.A.T.u. world, the suggestion of experimental lesbianism wasn't actually so shocking and "I Kissed A Girl" became a six-week chart-topper in Australia and lasted one week longer in the US. 
Luckily for Katy, she had another massive hit waiting in the wings in the form of "Hot N Cold" (number 49 on this list), which prevented her from becoming a novelty single one-hit wonder. Of course, none of us had any idea just how many hits she'd end up accruing.

Number 39 "Work (Freemasons mix)" by Kelly Rowland
Back in Part 2, we saw both a track from Freemasons in their guise as recording artists and another in their role as remixers (on the Solange single "I Decided"). And, here they are again, revamping a song for Solange's sister's former bandmate. "Work" started out as the more provocatively titled "Put It In" and featured in its original form on the Ms Kelly album. 

Number 38 "Womanizer" by Britney Spears
Returning Britney to the top of the US singles chart for the first time since debut single "...Baby One More Time", "Womanizer" was the sound of a pop superstar back at the top of her game. Although she'd had success with the singles from the Blackout album - the last of which was "Break The Ice" (number 66 on this list) - that project was still overshadowed by everything that had been going on in her personal life. By the time "Womanizer" kicked off the Circus album campaign, it felt like the black cloud that had hung over Britney for the previous few years had finally lifted. 

Number 37 "4 Minutes" by Madonna with Justin Timberlake
Previously featured here

Number 36 "Miracle Cure" by Blank & Jones featuring Bernard Sumner
He featured on Sub Sub's "This Time I'm Not Wrong" in my top 100 for 1997 and "Out Of Control" by Chemical Brothers in 1999, and a decade later, New Order's frontman Bernard Sumner lent his distinct vocals to dance duo Blank & Jones for this first single from The Logic Of Pleasure.

Number 35 "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 34 "Don't You Wanna Be Mine (Bimbo Jones remix)" by Denise Lopez
The original version of this song by freestyle performer Denise Lopez featured on my top 100 for 1991, and I can't say I was ever expecting to hear of it again - but 17 years later, remix and production team Bimbo Jones brought it right up to date, with no involvement from Denise herself.

Number 33 "In My Arms" by Kylie Minogue
Her ill health behind her, Kylie was able to get back to the business of being a pop star in 2008, with a multitude of singles from X - including twin releases "In My Arms" and "Wow" (number 5 on this list), which were issued as the second or third single from the album depending where you lived, "The One" (number 87) and "All I See" (number 68), which was a US single. She also released some of her best B-sides in the form of "Do It Again" (number 46) and "Cherry Bomb" (number 93).

Number 32 "I Like It Rough" by Lady Gaga
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 31 "Disturbia" by Rihanna
Before she got into the pattern of releasing a new album every year, Rihanna instead tried to make an album last as long as it could - milking the Good Girl Gone Bad album for singles, then repackaging it with new tracks like "Disturbia" and "Take A Bow". This track was co-written by Chris Brown and originally intended for his own revamped album before passing it on. It wasn't the only link between the two in 2008, with their ill-fated romance also kicking off that year.

Number 30 "One Step At A Time" by Jordin Sparks
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 29 "Cry For You" by September
Originally released in Sweden in 2006, it took a couple of years (as well as a remix and new video) for this Eurodance track to reach the UK top 10 and Australian top 20. Based around a sample from Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy", "Cry For You" remains the biggest hit for the singer born Petra Marklund.

Number 28 "Grace" by Will Young
2008 was the year I celebrated my 10th anniversary with my partner and he gave me tickets to see Will Young perform in London as a gift to mark the occasion. It helped that we were actually visiting London at the time of the concert. As a result, I got to hear Will perform this single from the Let It Go album, which may not be something that happens that often since it didn't end up being one of his more successful singles. In fact, it missed the UK top 10 by quite a margin, peaking at number 33 - his worst performing single up until that point and his first not to manage at least a top 11 placing, something that was achieved by Let It Go's lead single, "Changes" (number 82 on this list).

Number 27 "This Love" by The Veronicas
Clearly Jess and Lisa learnt nothing from Dannii Minogue and Jennifer Lopez, and chose to feature their then-boyfriends, former Popstars contestant Azaria Byrne and ex-Australian Idol finalist Dean Geyer respectively, in the music video for this third single from Hook Me Up. Neither relationship lasted the distance, but this song, co-written by a pre-fame Ke$ha, became the twins' sixth top 10 hit in Australia out of eight singles.

Number 26 "Propane Nightmares" by Pendulum
In 2014, drum and bass is more popular than it's ever been - and that can be traced back to the mainstream breakthrough of Australian dance act Pendulum, who by 2008 had set up shop in the UK and started incorporating rock elements into their sound. "Propane Nightmares" was their first big hit, reaching the UK top 10 despite some drum and bass purists decrying the genre clash contained in the song.

In Part 4: some more Australian-based electronic acts made waves with their breakthrough/debut albums, while an unusual star from the '80s returned with a surprising change of musical direction and a poptastic group from Denmark dominated my year-end top 25.

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