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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Still Great in 2008: Part IV

Part I
Part II
Part III

16. Alphabeat – 10,000 Nights (Of Thunder)

Alphabeat is the Disney Channel. Family friendly sing-alongs with male/female duets about true love and a made-for-TV image that just screams teen musical. Although on the surface “10,000 Nights” might seem to be the most risqué song in Alphabeat’s catalogue, the title is pretty deceiving – this song is about as squeaky clean as it gets. Even the refrain (“You give me 10,000 nights of thunder/But I would give them all back to you/Cause you’re oh/So ah/So cool”) sounds more like it’s referring to a fulfilling game of Scrabble than it is to anything remotely sexual. The lead singers, both pale 20-something Danes with about as much sex appeal as your parents, are perfect too, singing things like:

I was not looking for arty farty love
I wanted someone to love completely
More than weekly

with genuine sincerity. I guess that’s just the way they make ‘em in Denmark.

15. Al Green feat. Anthony Hamilton – Lay It Down

I got a lot of flack (read: two people emailed me) about the fact that I didn’t include Lay It Down in my top albums of the year post. And trust me, if the rest of the album had been like the title track, I would have. “Lay It Down” stands as a testament to the fact that the Reverend, despite some missteps in the past, has still got everything that made him the greatest southern soul singer of the 70s. Sure, he’s aged, and the fire that used to be there has cooled to a smolder, but the song is that much more meaningful for it. After some 40 odd years of wild parties and high-living, “Lay It Down” seems to be both an acknowledgment and a celebration of the fact that Green is no longer the 20-something sex symbol he once was – a dignified entry into middle age without sacrificing the sensuality that made him who he was in the first place.

I think “eamongllman” on youtube said it best:
“I am a 21 year old, heterosexual male. I can honestly say that if Al Green came to my house and sang that song.....?”

14. The Magnetic Fields – Drive On, Driver

Drive on, driver
There's no one home

You've waited hours

She didn't come
It's such a pretty little end

But it doesn't mean anything
Drive on

After listening to this song on repeat for about 3 months, I’ve decided that Stephen Merritt is probably the only dude I would want around me when I have my heart broken. “Drive On, Driver” exists as a window into the mind of Randy, a guy who’s just been stood up by the girl he loves. An internal dialogue goes on between the “driver” (the part of Randy still aching to stay just a bit longer in the hopes that his girl might show up) and his common sense, urging him to cut his losses and run. Add to the struggle some muddy guitars and a drum beat that sounds like it came straight from a Tears For Fears song and you've got what I'm pretty sure is the definition of melancholia. For anyone out there who’s ever been in Randy’s position, this song will cut right to your core.

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