By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Jerry Reed, "East Bound and Down.": C'mon! Haven't you ever been under the gun and had to drop the hammer down! I know I was all year. We would play this super loud in the office when things were getting pretty bleak. And, you know, when Smokey's got his ears on, and he's hot on yer trail, he aint gonna rest 'til yer in jail! So, bring it, Jerry, bring it!! I'm not at all a country fan, but this song brings the goods... literally!
The Killers, "When You Were Young (Jaques Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Radio Edit)": I thought the album cut was okay, but this remix is way better. It is real good. Say what you want about the Killers, but I think they are real good. And with a little help, they are way better.
M.I.A., "XR2" and "Jimmy": This whole album [Kala] is crazy and I love it. Wow! "Where were you in '92?" This song is such a mind-blower. It is so frantic and slamming, but somehow so super smooth, like a ninja knife hit at the 1985 Video Game Olympics. The beat is insane. It pumps so many crazy feelings, it goes off like bomb. I guess Maya being no stranger to bombs going off, [she] really has a knack for blowing things apart while still somehow looking fresh in pink '80s stretch pants. Then, her track "Jimmy" takes us to the sixth-grade Bollywood disco party love song and doesn't disappoint. M.I.A is way more gangsta than anything on MTV. Sorry, all ya Fergie dawgs.
The Futureheads, "Worry About It Later": I know that this came out last summer, but I listened to it so much this year that it may as well have come out this year... again. It's so simple but super good. It's what I say to my fellow co-workers every day, so why wouldn't it be my favorite song? Catchy and punchy: two great tastes that taste great together.
Arcade Fire, "Antichrist Television Blues": This song is so gnarly. I can't really explain it, but as lead singer Win [Butler] sings on in the guise of a down-on-his-luck Dad praying for a child so he can raise her up to put on television star and sing the gospel, so that he can make money... Well, it's complex, layered with all these weird emotions and so very American that you can't help but get swept away by it. When he sings, "My lips are near/My heart is far away/Now the war is won/How come nothing tastes good? " and then the "angel bird" background singers start to sing, "WAAAA AAOOOO WAAAA AHHAOO!", I get the chills every time. This song is about as anti-American Idol as it gets, and it's about time! Brilliant.
The latest American Idol winner and a hoops star keep Phoenix's music mercury rising
For basketball star Diana Taurasi, 2007 was a stellar year. The six-foot guard for the Phoenix Mercury helped lead the franchise (and the city of Phoenix) to its first-ever basketball championship, toppling defending WNBA champion Detroit Shock on its home court in the final game of a best-of-five series. The Mercury made it onto the Wheaties box, Taurasi re-signed a half-million dollar deal to play in Russia during the WNBA off-season, and now she's got one of the most popular athlete blogs on sports site yardbarker.com (www.yardbarker.com/dianataurasi).
One of the reasons Taurasi's blog rocks is her candid banter about all sorts of things, but most often music — and the fact that she'll carry on conversations about music with her fans in the comments section.
Because Taurasi's bundled up and playing b-ball in the former Soviet Union right now, we'll refer you to some of her Yardbarker commentary on what rocked her world in '07.
Kanye West (posted 9-11-07): So here we are, on the eve of 9/11 — still at war — and we're presented with one of the most important questions of our generation: Kanye or 50?
Really. Kanye. Seriously. I'm buyin' that one and burnin' a copy for the car. Is there really a comparison? Fiddy? Are there recording studios at Shady Acres? For real, "Stronger" is the jam of the summer. While you can question the sunglasses indoors, you can't fight Kanye's creativity. I won't venture to say lyrical genius (nobody is touching 'Pac in my book, most likely ever . . . in life), but the guy has undeniable talent. I like him. In the wasteland of what has become hip-hop (who can even listen to the radio anymore?), Kanye delivers.
Alicia Keys (posted 11-13-07): The Alicia Keys/Ross Hogg reggae remix? What do you think? I didn't think it was possible to improve on the original, but this is the joint! In short, it's dope. I'm also not sure smoovely is a word, but I think it's tremendous and I plan to use it. Smoove it out on the laptop. If somebody figures out how to download the thing, holllerrr.
(posted 11-19-07) — We left off at Alicia Keys. Did you hear her stage name was going to be Alicia Wild instead of Alicia Keys? Yeah. Good call on whoever told her to swap in Keys for the stripper surname. She's killing it right now, isn't she? Did you see the American Music Awards last night? If given the choice, I would have passed on that mess they had Beyoncé up there doing, but is it coincidence that Alicia had the reggae performance? I think not. She must have seen the massive response my blog got and decided to [go in] that direction. And who knew a unitard could be so fly. I suppose if you add Beanie Man to most anything, it's dope. If he performed at a Mercury game, I think I might dunk.