YEAR-END TOP 10: Ro’s Picks of 2008

Today concludes editors’ Top 10 Lists week here at SoulBounce, and what a week it’s been. Reading and listening to the lists of ill Mami, nOva, Butta and Harlem has been as fantastic and enjoyable as expected. For four days I’ve been rubbing my hands together in anticipation of my chance to post a list of some of my favorite songs from 2008. I graduated top of my class from the High Fidelity academy of list making, so this list is non-linear and conceptually abstruse to anyone but me. But that matters not because it’s all about the music.

Without further adieu: 

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3. Jazmine Sullivan: “Lions, Tigers & Bears”
Of all the songs on her Grammy nominated album Fearless, this one is the most striking. It’s a sweeping and beautiful encapsulation of the anxieties surrounding love. The heaviness of the rhythm, the waltz-like sensation the orchestration gives, and Sullivan’s husky, nimble vocalizations are wonderful. It’s what I envision the dance between someone’s mind and heart to be like just before they fall completely in love to be like.


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10. Nino Moschella: “Lookin At Your Face”
Nestled into an album of unreleased material from Ubiquity White Label called White Label was this sticky song. Moschella keeps it funky and loose on this smirk-inducing song that is rumored be on his forthcoming album. The way he vacillates between almost murmuring slurs of affection and staccato punctuations is delicious. It feels mischevious in its forwardness, like a good time is inevitable.


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9. S1 feat. Tone Trezure: “Neva”
From Strange Fruit Project producer S1 on his solo project Strange Fruit Project Presents: S1 Music Box, this song is simply nice to me. I had no idea who Tone Trezure was when I first heard this, and shame on me because she is really great here. Her voice walks that blurry line between masculinity and femininity really comfortably and gives intrigue to the southern synth, guitar and bass that S1 lays beneath her vocals. Just nice.


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5. J*DaVeY: “Private Parts”
And speaking of synthesizers, I have been obsessed with J*DaVeY for a while. The talents of Miss Jack Davey and Brook D’Leau are blended really well on this fantastically sexy song. I really enjoy that the dissonance of the harmonies and how this functions as a new-wavy grind song without devolving into explicitness. They understand that sometimes it’s better that way, and their cheeky naughtiness is much appreciated.


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2. The Foreign Exchange feat. Muhsinah: “Daykeeper”
What is there to say about this song other than it is outstanding. One of the only songs that memorably made me stop what I was doing during my first listen. ill Mami said it best in her First Spin of the song: this track is filled with overwhelmingly palpable, “smouldering intensity.” A standout song on one of the best albums of the year. This should be on everyone’s Top 10 List.


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6. Zo! & Tigallo feat. Carlitta Durand: I’m Only Human
This has turned into one of my favorite covers ever. It has been on constant rotation since I received my signed copy of Zo! & Tigallo Love the 80s this past summer. In fact, I think I enjoy it more than the original by The Human League. The production value of this is on point, with Zo! handily keeping this away from the realm of a comedic remake. And with Phonte singing his curl out, it makes this ’80s classic into a song even the most contemporary-minded music snob can enjoy.


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8. Erykah Badu: “Telephone”
With bitterness over her lengthy hiatus packed into the saddlebags of their high horses, many people were eager to be disappointed in New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) and dismissed it accordingly. I was not one of them. Badu is masterful at many things, two of which are emotionality and making use of an extended length song. Both are evident on this touching tribute to J Dilla in which every element at play is weeping and celebratory. Her delivery powerful and moving until the end of the song.
 

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4. Janelle Monáe: “Many Moons”
It’s about time she started getting more widespread attention. Having listened to her for years now, waiting for everyone to catch up, I love that she’s getting recognized and that she released this song as a single. It is a fine showcase of her inventiveness, her unique voice, and the way in which she weaves her meticulously constructed meta-narrative into a catchy song that is legible even if you know nothing about the robo-glam Cindi Mayweather.
 

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1. Arthur Lewis: “La Da Da Dee”
At my core I’m a sappy romantic, so songs like this always make me swoon. The story he sings is compelling, and his singing is nothing short of transfixing and affectionate. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing, if this song comes on my eyes close in aural ecstasy–like a religious experience wrapped in a warm blanket of loveliness. Don’t mind the hyperbole, it’s genuinely how I feel when listening to this song.


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7. Raphael Saadiq feat. Stevie Wonder and CJ: “Never Give You Up”
Few male vocal registers do it for me the way Saadiq’s does. He upped the ante on the retro-trend of this year so high with The Way I See It that he forced all lesser artists to fold. The whole album is good and nearly every song has been an instant favorite for me. This particular song is notable because of the ease with which all three contributors blend, and because anything with featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica has me smiling for days. Lovely.


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