This post is all about last year. When I tell you it took me forever to write this, I mean it took about three weeks… including right up until Saturday, which means I technically missed Friday. Hey, I’ve been busy not-working so cut me some slack. Heh…
I kept revising this list because I only wanted albums that were released in the past two years, and not so new that I wouldn’t have enough time to legitimize it’s Heavy Rotations status. Then I decide, bump my own rules! I’ll do it how I wanna do. So I changed the list to be the top 10(+) albums I listened to during 2008. I did draw some lines: the album has to fairly recent, say January 2007 until about mid December 2008. This means I had to exclude OutKast (as a group), Lauryn Hill, Mos Def and probably a few others I can’t think of right now because I had to make up and rewrite so many freakin’ lists. I made a few rare occasions: let’s call them “double albums” where I combine both their recent album, and one a bit older. I include it because a lot of the time, iSaac may be set on “Artist” and will play all the songs by that artist. Sometimes, said artist may only have two albums OR I only have/like two. Okay?
Again, what I look for in an album is LISTENABILITY–being able to listen to the majority of the album with little or no skipping. I think it’s also fair to say, that any artist I list here is on the “trust” list. This means, if they released an album tomorrow, I could buy it and find at least half or a third of the album enjoyable. And if you’re like me, albums tend to grow on you after time and you might end up liking more or all of it. With the exception of the #1 on this list, whom I have yet to sit down and listen from track 1 to the end, but we’ll get to that later. On with the list!
15. Justice – Cross
I ran into this album for a couple reasons–a friend of mine posted a video, DVNO and it eventually led me to D.A.N.C.E. Before long, I just took a chance and ordered the album. With these guys being fans of both Michael Jackson and Daft Punk, could I really go wrong? The album has been a fixture for my office work life, not only for me, but my mom too. And it’s interesting to pick out Justice’s songs from TV commercials. It’s a great album to get the energies moving, and a great album to drive too… which is probably why it’s used for commercials. This is an album that’s meant to be played beginning to end, it fades into the next track. It’s bittersweet when sometimes all you really wanna hear is DVNO and you are used to the song playing before it. Meshes so nicely.
14. Alicia Keys – As I Am
I won never really a huge Keys fan, but I loved her talent and I was always a bit attracted to her. And then, she stopped the corn rows and started showing some skin! But this is about her music and this album in particular. What turned me on to it was reading an article (I forget where) about the making of this album, and how personal it was, and is, to her. Once I read about that and got to hear it for myself, I could truly feel the passion she felt in many of the songs. I’m sure everyone got tired of No One real quick, unless you didn’t listen to the radio like me. But I’m sure after a year or so, you can remember why it was such a hit. This is one of those songs you felt the passion. But it was also the beat. Other passionate songs I really felt: Lesson Learned, Tell You Something, Superwoman and although not as passionate I Need You and Where Do We Go From Here which are just fun songs I really like.
13. Maroon 5 – It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
This was going to be a “double album” including Songs About Jane, but I had to be honest with myself… After the newer album, I didn’t listen to Jane as much. Oh, I still did listen to it and I think it’s proven to be a Heavy Rotator. But let’s just say starting this year, they have been getting equal time so far. What I liked about Before Long was that it felt different, but yet the same. If that makes any sense. Every so often, I just crave something new and unique-sounding, and fortunately, I stumbled upon this album just in time. Unfortunately, I get a bit upset when certain songs feel a bit too short. A Little Of Your Time for example. I mean, maybe that’s the point, for it to be a short song, and only taking a little of your time to hear it. I did like the entire album and I don’t want to go through picking each one. But Infatuation stuck with me the most. It might not be on all the albums, but it was on mine and I’m infatuated with it.
11. Panic(!) at the Disco – Pretty. Odd./A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
So this would be the first double album pick. As you can see, I skipped a number. This is an example of having both albums of the same artists and just letting them run into each other on the playlist, getting used to it and liking it. I know I listened to Fever a lot more that Pretty. Odd. but when it comes to last year? I think I wore them out pretty equally. I love their style. I like Urie’s voice. And I love the lyrics. And yes, I’m even a fan of the titles on the first album. In case you didn’t know, they came from movie/book quotes from Closer, Fight Club, and I think Choke… just to name a few. I don’t know, use Wikipedia. Anyway, since I’m naming both albums, I don’t think I can pick any particular track I really like. The singles, those are givens. It’s probably why they are the singles. And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know any of the songs on the first album by their titles, HOWEVER, I do have an understanding as to what each title means knowing where they got the title from. But since Pretty. Odd. is the newer album, I’ll pick two non-singles: Folkin’ Around and She Had The World. Both are great songs with beautiful lyrics that inspired poetry of my own. Both album are unique all their own too. I guess you either love it or just don’t care.
10. Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It
I’m going to cheat here. I already wrote about this album a few months ago on another friPod post. But check it out again!
9. John Legend – Evolver
Yep, the same goes for this guy too. I’m not being lazy. I just don’t want to be redundant. Is that a crime?
8. Common – Finding Forever
Wow, my man Common has been doing big things. I don’t know how many movies he’s done (I do, I’m just making a point) and his music has grown to new heights and even Grammy status levels! Now I’ll say this now, I haven’t heard his newest effort. Honestly, I haven’t heard a lot about it other than it not being his best work, possibly due to his verses not being as socially conscious… but who knows? I’m all for artists trying out new styles, new music. This album, however, was a great follow up to Be. I would’ve made it a double album, but for me, that album didn’t quite pass the listenability test. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hot album. Both of them are. But I tend to find myself skipping to the songs I like better. Unlike Finding Forever, I’m just enjoying the current track, itching for the next one. Each song brought me somewhere different. But I think one of the tracks I liked the most was Southside with Kanye West. I love when rappers trade verses like they do in this song. And even in the chorus, it’s good to have a friend to sing with because one person takes “south” and the other takes “side” until the next verse start. You have to hear it to understand. Anyway, besides the wordplay, one thing I love about Common and this album, is the storytelling. And honest storytelling at that. Too many titles to choose from, but how about Drivin’ Me Wild? No really, drive me wild. I jest.
7. Joss Stone – Introducing…
To me, she needs no introduction. Excuse me a moment whilst I drool. I apologize, I just enjoy a great looking woman with a great voice. Truth be told, I fell in love with her voice first. But let’s move on to the album. I sprung for the deluxe version and got a DVD with a music video and other nifty things. I do listen to the entire album, but I’m usually stuck on a couple songs like Baby, Baby, Baby because I think I’m in love with the drums on that track (along with her voice). Put Your Hands Me is also a treasure. And so is Arms Of My Baby. You know what? I think it’s all because of the drums and just the funky-ness of the music. I admire the singer-songwriters, like Joss, and the producer Raphael Saadiq. She does make an appearance on his album, just like he’s all over this one. Lauryn Hill is here too, sharing a love affair with Music. Common is on this too with probably my other favorite track called Tell Me What We’re Gonna Do Now.
5. Daft Punk – Alive 2007/Discovery
Another double album here. I think to fully appreciate Alive 2007, you need to hear all their albums. From Homework to Human After All. The live album mixes all their songs beautifully together. And I saw some YouTube videos about this. It looked fun. Very effing fun. I wanted to be there. Now I will say this about the live album, spring for the deluxe edition or whatever version has the encore. It’s worth it. But again, to fully enjoy an album like that, you need to go back to the roots. My favorite Daft Punk album is probably Discovery. I say probably because I don’t actually own the other two… yet. But what I liked on Discovery are tracks like Face to Face and Digital Love. And I have no problem admitting, the reason I got into Daft Punk is because of Kanye West’s Stronger. And the original is just as good as well. Now if you dig Discovery, then I suggest you look into the movie version of the album. As I mentioned early, these guys influenced Justice, so this is why these two albums also can be played from beginning to end. They do have moments to breathe, that’s always nice.
3. Fall Out Boy – Infinity on High/Folie à Deux
Yep, another double album. I kept hearing about this band Fall Out Boy for a while but never got around to taking a listen. Then I caught a remixed track from Mr. West for the song This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race and grew interested. I told my friend Dearest about it and she gave me a few songs to which I ended up buying Infinity on High and liking it so much more. This time yet again, there are too many songs for me to name that I really really like. And again, the titles I looked up on Wikipedia to get a better understanding. And some of the lyrics are still confusing to me… but they are still beautiful to my ear. And the sound of the music? Awesome. They’ve come a long way. I included their newest album which was the second to last album I bought last year. I love it just as much if not a wee bit more. Again, too many songs too name. This is a very good thing because it’s exactly what I want when I but an album. I don’t want to skip any songs if I can help it. If anything, I’ll skip a song just to get to another on the playlist faster, then go back and listen to the ones I’ve skipped! I’m odd. But these two albums are great.
2. The Roots – Game Theory
This almost made it as a double album. But golly… which album would I choose? To narrow the list, it’d be a fight between The Tipping Point and Rising Down which was the last album I bought last year. It didn’t make the list because I didn’t start listening to it until a couple days before the year is out. But hey! It’s a great contender for this year. Anyway, Game Theory isn’t full of happy songs by no means. Then again, when I think of The Roots, “happy” isn’t a word that comes up anyway. “Lyrical” and “genius” are more likely. This album, where do I start? They say it’s one of the darker albums (with Rising Down being the darkest), and dark means that it’s deep with social commentary and how bad the world is. I’m not really giving it justice, but then again, that’s one of the points… the justice system not working correctly. But Black Thought’s words are… wow. And ?uestlove’s beats and production? Outstanding. A song that keeps popping up that I love is called Here I Come. Oh, let me also throw in that their albums are also built in such a way, that it’s meant to be listened to beginning to end. I mean all their album track numbers continue from the previous album. I won’t get into that right now though. But the first three songs are awesome, False Media, Game Theory, and Don’t Feel Right. I’ll also admit, listening to this album for too long might cause dread that something bad is going to happen, but it also wakes you up that not everything is as good as it looks. Again, great album with little to no skipping.
1. Kanye West – Graduation
Remember the big competition when this album was released the same day as 50 Cent? Oh, that was good stuff. I’m not a big fan of him, so why bother talking about it. This album was awesome. I almost want to call this a masterpiece. Almost, because I’m sure he’s hard at work cooking up more fabulous music. I can already hear the questions now, what about Heartbreak and 808s? Remember earlier I said I liked artists trying new things? I’m not so fond of this new style. BUT, I will listen to the album at some point. But we aren’t talking about that album right now anyway. What I liked about this album was that it felt like he had graduated. I know from what to where, but it just sounded advanced in a way than his previous works. I mean each of his albums did have it’s own personality to it. I would’ve included a double album for him, but I really liked and listened to this album a lot. At work, in my car, at the gym, and just everywhere. It’s not secret, especially not here, one of my favorite songs is Champion. With that same energy, I’d like to also recommend The Glory. I do have a bone to pick with Mr. West. The song Homecoming I’ve heard before on a mix tape, but with a different melody and guest singer–John Legend! I love that version so much more… but, I understand you like to work with others. And I’m still pissed I never made it to any of those crazy insane concerts. I heard they were awesome. Don’t rub it in.
So that’s my list. Next week, my top 10 albums of all time. I’m still changing my mind about it as we speak. For the sake of saving space and time, I will refer back to this list or a previous one should any album appear that has already appeared. Deal?