Top 30 Songs of 2007

21. “White People for Peace,” Against Me!, from New Wave


Gainesville punks execute a sneering, adrenaline-enhancing poke at protest songs. Nihilistic? Perhaps. But really, when did an anti-war song stop military aggression? It took fucking Nixon — not the folk singers of the ’60s — to get us out of Vietnam.


22. “Maxine,” Traveling Wilburys, from Traveling Wilburys


George Harrison sounds wonderfully whimsical on this widely bootlegged outtake from The Traveling Wilburys Vol. I. The song finally got an official, remastered release this year. (The link is to an unmastered bootleg version. Sorry.)


23. “The Perfect Me,” Deerhoof, from Friend Opportunity


A disco song for the A.D.D. set, “Perfect Me” features a female, almost child-like Asian vocal over a collage of countless sonics that whip around at ever-changing speeds.


24. “Melody Day,” Caribou, from Andorra


Electronic music for Beach Boys enthusiasts. Gorgeous.


25. “The Story,” Brandi Carlile, from The Story


A gripping torch song with a country noir sensibility.


26. “Love Reign Over Me,” Pearl Jam, Love Reign Over Me soundtrack


27. “Party Like a Rockstar,” Shop Boyz, from Rockstar Mentality


28. “Bird Problems,” Limbeck, from Limbeck


29. “Killing Him,” Amy LaVere, from Anchors & Anvils


30. “Girls in Their Summer Clothes,” Bruce Springsteen, from Magic

Here’s my highly subjective list of the best songs issued in the past 12 months (which means its OK to include a Tom Waits track released last December.) Enjoy — I’ve put links wherever possible — and feel free to post comments telling me what I missed or how I’m a sap for honoring country star Miranda Lambert’s “Desperation.” Look for me and Senior Editor Eric Snider to unleash our favorite album tallies in the Creative Loafing Top 10 issue that hits newsstands Dec. 26.

1. “Paper Planes,” M.I.A., from Kala

While the hip-hop world appears on life support, Sri Lankan emcee M.I.A. might be the freshest, most talented artist to reach the pop charts in decades. On this deliciously decadent banger, the plucky young woman brags about being an international smuggler over an exotic beat that makes good on a mash-up of gangsta gunshots (“bang, bang, bang”) and a “Money”-style cash register going “kkaa ching.”

2. “Love Is a Losing Game,” Amy Winehouse, from Back to Black

Sadness at its most sublime, this is an excellent update of the stirring music issued by women like Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield in the late 1960s.

3. “Icky Thump,” The White Stripes, from Icky Thump

So exactly who’s using who these days? That’s the question posed by Jack White on this fiery slice of heavy psychedelia.

4. “I’ll Kill Her,” Soko, from an out-of-print, self-released EP

Breakup/murder ballad by unsigned French pop duo worms its way under the skin with its stark, bleak beauty.

5. “Lazy Eye,” Silversun Pickups, from Carnavas

Ambles along pleasantly in interesting, albeit typical, indie-dreamscape fashion right up to the 2:45 mark: then comes the banshee yell, the spine-tingling catharsis call that makes this song so addicting.

6. “Desperation,” Miranda Lambert, from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Don’t let the adorableness of this blond bombshell and former Nashville Star contestant mislead — she’s that rare country girl infusing Music City with a bit of integrity. Not only does Lambert offer an aching vocal on this painfully real song of longing; she wrote both the lyric and melody, a rare accomplishment for the women of Nashville.

7. “No One,” Alicia Keys, from As I Am

A near perfect pop ballad by one of the new millennium’s most gifted stars. Keys takes a pedestrian lyric and imbues it with a level of emotion and purity of tone rarely heard on the commercial airwaves these days. Plus, there’s ace production. Dig the heavy bass and male backup singers chanting “oh, oh.” Just wish someone would’ve turned up the sweet horn solo during the coda.

8. “In My Mind I Was Talkin’ To Loretta,” Pieta Brown, from Remember the Sun

“Divorce and pills are commonplace,” Pieta Brown sings with a bluesy twang. “Computers are running the human race — and walking, it's just a waste of time.” So goes one of the many great lines in this alt-country gem wherein Brown imagines a conversation with country queen Loretta Lynn.

9. “Jimmy the Kid,” Jimbo Mathus, posted on MySpace, the title track from what appears to be an upcoming album

Former Squirrel Nut Zippers mastermind continues his foray into greasy Mississippi blues-rock with a Skynyrd-style boogie that tells the tale of an outlaw who shares a striking resemblance with the real life wild man Jimbo Mathus.

10. “Huck’s Tune,” Bob Dylan, from Lucky You soundtrack

Dylan re-teams with filmmaker Curtis Hanson — with whom the singer/songwriter won an Academy Award for contributing “Things Have Changed” to the picture Wonder Boys — to pen a song for the poker drama Lucky You. “Huck’s Tune” implements a loping, country melody and uses numerous card-game metaphors to poignantly —at times playfully — examine fading love, imminent mortality, the fleeting joys of nostalgia, and the futility of seeking anything other than inner peace. “I count the years, and I shed no tears, I'm blinded to what might have been,” Dylan sings. “Nature's voice, makes my heart rejoice, play me the wild song of the wind.”

11. “Stronger,” Kanye West, from Graduation

Over a killer Daft Punk sample, Kanye backs up his claims of greatness with a message to critics (“take this, haters”) while also reminding us of his unmatched arrogance (“you should be honored by my lateness”).

12. “Back in Your Head,” Tegan and Sara, from The Con

“I’m not unfaithful but I’ll stray [pause] when I get a little scared” goes the precious lyric over a bouncy synth beat. What makes the line so touching is that the song is about trying to win back the lover that got away.

13. “Mother,” Christina Aguilera, from Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur

In case anyone still had any doubts about who has the best, most expressive pipes in pop music, Aguilera nails this heartbreaking Lennon track about his unloving mum.

14. “10am Automatic,” The Black Keys, a MySpace exclusive

Culled from the band's free, online-only live EP, this nasty blast of Delta blues filtered through an angry young white kid’s garage speaks to the power and glory of this scrappy duo’s vaunted concerts.

15. “I.R.S.” Guns N’ Roses, leaked Chinese Democracy track/demo The best of the numerous Chinese Democracy tracks played live and/or leaked in recent years, this one has industrial/electronic nods, but at its core is a crunchy, classic Gunner anthem with a face-melting solo by some dude who has listened to a lot of Slash (or perhaps Queen’s Brian May, who has reportedly played on a couple new tracks).

16. “Long Way Home,” Tom Waits, from the box set Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards

A local radio personality once confessed to me that Tom Waits writes ballads that make grown men weep. I agree. And this is one of them. “I know I said I’d never do it again,” the singer shrugs. He loves her more than anything. And we believe him. But we also understand that those feelings can be valid — even though there are nights when the singer must be alone, must “take the long way home.” This song first appeared on Norah Jones’ album Feels Like Home. Her rendition is OK.

17. “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” Radiohead, from In Rainbows

By turns fluid and propulsive, the song plunges the listener to the ocean’s floor, to a nether world where “weird fishes” meet their demise. It’s a dark metaphor for hitting rock bottom, and Thom Yorke sells the song’s paranoia and downright terror with frightful conviction.

18. “For the Good Times,” Raul Malo, from After Hours

Former Maverick turned honey-voiced singer of standards offers the definitive (yes, it bests both Ray Price’s and Elvis’) version of this Kris Kristofferson classic. The YouTube clip features him doing it in a medley with equally evocative readings of “Make the World Go Away” and “Crying.”

19. “Halloweenhead,” Ryan Adams, from Easy Tiger

The famously stoned and now sober Adams offers a savage rocker about having that bad idea again. “What the fuck’s wrong with me?” he sings, his voice thick with the anxiety of the ever present addiction and the frustration that comes with owning up to one’s demons.

20. “Ordinary People,” Neil Young, from Chrome Dreams II

Despite its 18-minute running time, Young actually released this awesome epic as a single. A superb ode to the working class, “Ordinary People” expertly blends guitar heroics and punchy horns.

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