Music News: A Final Listen To 2008


GuestbloggerRobbie Daw presents a weekly pop music update here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own site called Chart Rigger.

Another year, almost over. At the onset each January, the music fan in me looks ahead, anticipating new whatever intriguing new releases may be on the way. Yet for many reasons, politics took the front seat to pretty much everything in 2008.

Listening to and waxing philosophical on pop just kind of felt insignificant at many points over the past 12 months.

That said, this being my last Towleroad music column of the year, I decided to take a look back at just some random music-related points from 2008: Some that maybe didn’t get mention here, some that did. Some perhaps unimportant in the grand scheme, but all of which are off the top of my head on this cold mid-December day:

200pxinghostcoloursroad.jpg   Lil Wayne had the best selling album of the year with Tha Carter III, which moved 2.7 copies. The second best-selling was Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, which sold 1.9 million. By comparison, the top-selling album of 1998 was the Titanic soundtrack, at 7 million copies.

road.jpg   I was bummed that I missed catching Aussie dance trio Cut Copy live at every turn. Their latest album In Ghost Colors is pretty groovy, and definitely worth checking out (particularly the track "Lights & Music").

road.jpg   I did get to see MGMT live at Austin City Limits—which, as I read in Billboard today, was the fifth top-grossing music festival of the year, with $11.7 million in ticket sales. The band was a bit disappointing live. Chalk it up to the Texas heat? Meanwhile, there are two awesome new Pet Shop Boys mixes of MGMT’s current single "Kids" out there—the "PSB Abstrakt Mix" and "PSB Synthpop Mix."

Take_that_the_circusroad.jpg   I’m not sure pop really got more perfect than Chris Brown’s "Forever" in 2008.

road.jpg   Albums that will be worth revisiting after December 31: The Ting Tings’ We Started Nothing, Robyn’s Robyn, Cyndi Lauper’s Bring Ya To The Brink and Kylie Minogue’s X.

road.jpg   Ones that were perhaps a bit ahead of their time, or underappreciated: Santogold’s Santogold, Keane’s Perfect Symmetry and The Killers’ Day & Age.

road.jpg   One import worth snagging: Take That’s The Circus. That said, rumor has it the album is getting a U.S. release in 2009.

road.jpg At $282 in earnings, by year’s end Madonna is set to see her Sticky & Sweet tour become the top-grossing jaunt ever for both a female and solo artist.

road.jpg   It was jarring to see Britney Spears on the cover of Rolling Stone in February for a story titled "Inside An American Tragedy," then nine months later with "Yes She Can: Britney Returns!"  But return she did, scoring her first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 since her 1998 debut single. She also landed her first two back-to-back Top 10 singles ("Womanizer" and "Circus") last week.

Britneyspearsrollingstoneroad.jpg   It didn’t seem possible for any artist to make an equally-impactful version of "Run" as Snow Patrol’s 2004 original, but Leona Lewis somehow came close. Her cover has been the #1 U.K. single for two weeks now, and was just added to U.S. iTunes today.

road.jpg    In the spring we all pondered whether Katy Perry was offensive with her songs "Ur So Gay" and "I Kissed A Girl." Who knew she had a decent jam like "Hot N Cold" up her sleeve, to boot?

road.jpg Kevin Cogill cooperated with authorities and pleaded guilty to leaking tracks from Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy online over the summer, ahead of the album’s November release. He could face a year in prison.

road.jpg   Whoever can count the amount of times Andy Towle mentioned Lady GaGa gets a gold star.

road.jpg   Following in the tradition of Sugababes and Girls Aloud, the Saturdays are the next in the line of great British girl groups who may never get proper exposure this side of the pond.

road.jpg   David Archuleta sure is merry, lively and spirited!

road.jpg   Finally, if ever there was a starlet deserving of claiming she sufffers from the grand Hollywood malady of "exhaustion," it just might be Rihanna.



SARA BAREILLES AND INGRID MICHAELSON: "Winter Song," from the compilation Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs.

GIRLS ALOUD: New single "The Loving Kind," co-written by Pet Shop Boys and Xenomania, and officially out in the U.K. next month.

LILY ALLEN: "The Fear," new single (on iTunes now) from her upcoming second album It’s Not Me, It’s You.

Joseph_better_you_than_meroad.jpg THIS WEEK’S NEW RELEASES:

Fall Out Boy’s fifth album Folie à Deux, produced by Neal Avron and Pharrell Williams.

The Killers’ third annual Product Red AIDS charity single "Joseph, Better You Than Me," also featuring Elton John and the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant on vocals.

Keyshia Cole’s third album A Different Me.

Holiday songs by Lady GaGa ("Christmas Tree"), Slim ("This Christmas") and Lady Antebellum ("Baby, It’s Cold Outside").

New singles from Leona Lewis ("Run"), Bruce Springsteen ("The Wrestler") and R. Kelly ("I Believe").


  1. ryan says

    sad to see that mother mother’s ‘O My Heart’ was no where on here… one of the best indie albums of 2008, by far!

  2. peterparker says

    Robbie…how could you cover music news in 2008 and fail to mention Radiohead’s groundbreaking release of ‘In Rainbows’ in which the band let fans choose what they wanted to pay for the album? Like you, I also saw MGMT play a slightly disappointing set in the heat…I saw them at Coachella. Happily, I got some cute pics of Andrew Van Wyngarden backstage after the show. If anyone wants the pics, email me. Crazy, not to mention a damning commentary on the shit music the recording industry is pushing at us, that Lil Wayne had the best selling album of the year…but I love the iPhone application that lets you Lil Wayne your pics…check it out, it’s funny!

    Album of the year (my pick): ‘In Rainbows’ by Radiohead
    Runner up for Album of the year: ‘LUST LUST LUST’ by The Raveonettes

  3. Tom S. says

    That’s all that was mentioned about Lady Gaga?! She could have been listed in three of those bullets:

    1-Her album The Fame is pretty close to being perfect pop music. I don’t see how Chris Brown is busting at the seems with pop music.

    2-In addition to the other albums worth revisiting after Dec. 31, The Fame will definitely be one of them. Multiple critics have said she’s going to be huge in 2009 (and I’m not just talking about Perez)

    3-Not only is The Fame perfect pop music, it is perhaps a bit ahead of its time. She fully embraces pop and to quote Lady herself, is “quite arrogant” about it.

    Where’s the Gaga love?

  4. Tom S. says

    Radiohead self-released their album last October. I was feeling the same frustration at first when I noticed it was absent from everyone’s Top lists of the year, until I realized it was released in 2007. It’s included in the Grammy’s because their eligibility period runs from Oct-Sept. Radiohead, imo, is the best music group around. Their work truly transcends anything and everything created today.

  5. peterparker says

    @TOM S.: You are correct…Radiohead did release ‘In Rainbows’ in late 2007. I guess I was confused because each time I listen to the tracks on ‘In Rainbows’ I discover some new sound I’ve never heard, even though I’ve been listening to it and loving it since the day it dropped. Apologies to Robbie!!

  6. David says

    First, Tom S., Muse is the best band around today. Radiohead can place second. I’m sticking my tongue out at you as hard as I can.

    And second, Where is Portishead’s “Third”? It’s like the best slit-your-wrists pop out there!

  7. crispy says

    Yeh, that Radiohead album came out in 2007.

    Some of my faves this year included Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, MGMT, Ting Tings, Death Cab. And I’m always surprised that Moby’s album doesn’t get any love from gay blogs… “Last Night” was a brilliant concept album about the history of New York city nightlife.

  8. Alex says

    This was a great year if you’re an indie music nerd . . . and as I get older I care less and less for mainstream music and more for the little known gems I find out about on blogs or eMusic.

    Some random faves–Sigur Ros, Goldfrapp, Department of Eagles, Shearwater, Lykke Li, High Places, Ruby Suns, Frightened Rabbit, Bon Iver, Paarovharju, Hercules and Love Affair and the lovely posthumous Arthur Russell release Love is Overtaking Me.

    I enjoyed singles by Madonna, Robyn (although her stuff is from 2005, it finally got a US release this year), Beyonce (two great singles and one crap album), Kanye West and Antony and the Johnsons (their “Another World” EP was a slow burn that got me excited for their next album).

    Best concert I saw was Sigur Ros at the United Palace Theater here in New York.

  9. D says

    Worst thing about 2008 – Brit’s supposed come back. She was never more interesting than when she was tragic. And let’s be honest – the only reason the album is so “great” is because she was a mess 9 months ago. Otherwise it never would have cracked the top ten.

  10. peterparker says

    Ah, yes…Portishead…how could I have forgotten the long-awaited Portishead album ‘Third’ in my ‘best of’ picks…and their show at Coachella was stunning!

  11. boston_brian says

    Agree completely with Tom S.’ comments on Lady GaGa. If you haven’t already, go to iTunes and download her delicious “Christmas Tree” – the most, er, original holiday song I’ve heard in a while.

  12. macca says

    So much good music came out in 2008.
    Unfortunately, none of it gets a mention here.
    Sorry, Chartrigger, but your taste is just too MOR!