Part two of my list is the unquestionably pop section. Almost every strain of pop is captured here:the heavy '80s frost of 'Catch You' to the blue-eyed refrain of 'Candyman'. It's as if serious artists have taken back the turf from the teeny-boppers that grabbed the spotlight just before the start of the decade. The genre also mixed itself with other genres too, to further blend the line of what can be considered pop in a natural state but when the results are this good then who cares....
80. ‘Yummy’ (Gwen Stefani): slinking further and further into a maze of uncertainty, Stefani ups the thug-girl shtick while the Neptunes keep her out of trouble with a minimalist beat. It shouldn’t have worked (Fergie would have tanked after the first couplet) but somehow Gwen crashes into the wall and walks away with hardly a bruise.
79. ‘Listening Man’ (The Bees): slow horns juxtaposed with a post-ska vibe, the track breezes through its sedate yet unreal aesthetics.
78. ‘How Come You Don’t Hold Me No More’ (Hot Puppies): excellent update of Sleater-Kinney’s ‘Milkshake n Honey’.
77. ‘Candyman’ (Christina Aguilera): credit Aguilera for plugging away until the ideal sugar comes along. It’s shameful fun without the trappings of intensity but somehow this adaptation works.
76. ‘Road to Recovery’ (Midnight Juggernauts): subdued pop gloss.
75. ‘Barracuda’ (Miho Hatori): a surreal piece of force.
74. ‘Earth Intruders’ (Bjork): I’ve always felt The Knife’s brilliant ‘We Share Our Mother’s Health’ was a challenging swipe at Bjork. For so long she has directed how electronica can be listened to but last year the pack behind her gained much ground. Bjork’s reply –‘Earth Intruders’—I view as the last stand to push herself further away again, as if indignant that she’s being overhauled. Timbaland provides the blissful funk and Bjork mouthing the shuffling feet sounds of her taking to flight. Another battle won.
73. 'Not Yet’ (The Veils): builds like a slow fire burning everything in sight.
72. ‘Bluebells’ (Patrick Wolf): wondrously touching and ever so deliciously ambiguous.
71. ‘Publisher’ (Blonde Redhead): lulls into a new dub haze by thankfully incorporating all three band members on vocals.
70. ‘O Katrina’ (Black Lips): nice, tight jam fitted into a critique on American Homeland response to the hurricane.
69. ‘Behave’ (Charlotte Hatherley): brilliantly balances nuance and subtlety to posit a psychedelic punch…and that lovely guitar strumming allows the song a blissful climax, swaying the whole thing into the cosmos.
68. ‘Evergreen’ (Celebration): unwinds like a psychedelic wonder, especially towards the end when they croon ‘sun down’ alongside the subtle yet insistent drums.
67. ‘Dancing on Our Graves’ (The Cave Singers): brilliant rock lullaby.
66. ‘Satan Said Dance’ (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah): loopy pianos give way to stoned vocals reminiscent of the Rolling Stones plus creepy right through.
65. ‘Catch You’ (Sophie Ellis Bextor): it’s taken a while but Annie Lennox influence has finally hit mainstream. ‘Catch You’ rekindles Lennox’s strident attack on pop with its currents of 80’s style synths. Pure and simply enjoyable.
64. ‘The Coolest’ (Lupe Fiasco): straight up rap that other people would kill for, the other rappers will witness his greatness in ’08.
63. ‘To the Dogs or Whoever’ (Josh Ritter): in a year when rock moved away from simplicity, Ritter hung tough by Dylan-esque word power. His aim is the personal though, like a stern parent directing the lives of others.
62. ‘Patty Lee’ (Les Savy Lee): on its attitude alone, this is an outstanding winner.
61. ‘Not The Way That I Do’/ ‘Baby Makin’ Hips’ (Fantasia): proving to be more than a one trick pony usually entails doing things totally different but Fantasia struts the same groove with the same attitude and its better, classy and gutsy enough to succeed. This is beyond even Beyonce in full flight.