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Top 50 Songs of 2007

This list leaves us wondering if music will ever reach these heights again

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    Decades is a recurring feature that turns back the clock to critical anniversaries of albums, songs, and films. This month, we dial it back to the top 50 songs of 2007.

    Ten years is enough time for a song to infiltrate the consciousness of music fans and for us to really evaluate what that song means to us. Though 2007 was dominated by indie rock albums, the songs that stand out were so much more ambitious than the groups making them initially came across. Maybe that’s why the years following 2007 would find some of these indie acts like Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, LCD Soundsystem, and The National becoming rock and roll luminaries, while other artists like Rihanna, Radiohead, Foo Fighters, and Kanye West saw some of their best-known material surface in that year.

    How far did the ripples spread? Well, if you said LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” became an anthem of a generation, you wouldn’t be wrong. Alt radio found a few of its staples in songs like “Kids”, “The Pretender”, and “Dashboard”, while Rihanna’s “Umbrella” was a pop breakthrough that would turn the rising star into a household name. Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” was an electronic game-changer that helped usher in the age of rave music hitting the big stages at festivals. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” is as likely to be heard at a sports event as on the radio, while songs like Spoon’s “The Underdog”, The National’s “Fake Empire”, and Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You” increased their exposure through widespread television syncs. These weren’t just songs that bounded leaps ahead of their artists’ previous work. They are songs that have become cultural moments.

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    The following are 50 of the best from a particularly strong year, songs that might make you feel old and will definitely make you wonder whether music has (and can) reach these heights again.

    –Philip Cosores
    Deputy Editor


    Era+Vulgaris50. Queens of the Stone Age – “Sick, Sick, Sick”

    Era Vulgaris



    After the surprise mainstream success of single “No One Knows”, Queens of the Stone Age could’ve gone the route of Fall Out Boy and become reliable purveyors of pop rock. Not to say that what Fall Out Boy does is easy — just that frontman Josh Homme had shown the kind of knack for melody that buys a guy a vacation home on the ocean and a boat to get around. QOTSA could’ve gone in that direction, instead of doing what they did, which was leaning into the weird. Lullabies to Paralyze was full of droning, riff-heavy rock songs, and Era Vulgaris sounds like a bit of every era, including the future. But one of the best songs off it, “Sick, Sick, Sick”, is a full-throated throwback to thrash that wouldn’t sound out of place at a Metallica concert. The jittery drums, the relentless guitars, and the screams of “Sick!” are a sonic shot of adrenaline. It’s a chug-a-shaken-can-of-Red Bull kind of experience. –Wren Graves


    blonde redhead 23 Top 50 Songs of 200749. Blonde Redhead – “23”

    23



    Shoegaze, alt rock, and trip-hop never really died; they just threaded themselves together into the skeletal serenity of Blonde Redhead’s “23”. Kazu Makino’s wordless vocal harmonies dominate the track almost as much as her nearly-in-the-red leads, slipping by sweetly at the back of the rushed rhythm like a beautiful landscape smeared through the car window. Like many of the best songs on this list, “23” got placement in a piece of crossover pop culture, namely an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and though it’s perhaps a little more esoteric than that might suggest, the song carries an easily digested yet thrumming, anxious energy. “23 seconds, all things we love will die/ 23 magic, if you can change your life,” Makino cries out, controlled yet pushed as far as that control will allow, as she and the Pace brothers build an equally tight yet constantly pushing backbone. Makino’s voice, too, has a chill to it (think Massive Attack and the like), yet an undeniable urgency as well. Much like the four-legged classic beauty on the cover, the song is entrancing and stunning, yet there’s something not quite right — and you’ll need to keep staring, dissecting, analyzing to find an answer. –Lior Phillips


    shout out louds Top 50 Songs of 200748. Shout Out Louds – “Impossible”

    Our Ill Wills



    Ten years later, Shout Out Louds are barely a blip on the musical radar. But on their Björn Yttling-produced second album, the band laid out a successful blueprint of lovelorn, wistful indie pop that catapulted the Swedish group to big festival stages. Our Ill Wills contains three Cure-esque home runs (honorable mention to “You Are Dreaming” and “Tonight I’m Gonna Leave It”, the latter of which I literally thought was a Cure song for several years), and best is the sprawling “Impossible”. Running nearly seven minutes, the track doesn’t attempt to be more than a romantic pop song about heartbreak and healing. It’s just a supersized portion, complete with orchestral swells and a bridge diversion so effective that the listener nearly forgets where the song had been until the chorus comes swirling back. The song’s inherent sadness is culled by frontman Adam Olenius and tempered by his wise sense of perspective. “Stay out of love until you’re ready,” he warns, his own longing songwriting standing as a lighthouse to guide others through the storm. –Philip Cosores


    chromeo Top 50 Songs of 200747. Chromeo – “Fancy Footwork”

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    Fancy Footwork



    The only thing Chromeo ever needs to worry about is whether or not their fans are having fun. That’s sort of their wheelhouse, and they do that by mining the same ’80s rhythms that once soundtracked your parents’ Friday nights with China white. But fiddling around with 808s and tossing in a little synth is any fool’s game. What separates the Canadian duo from the million other retro-gazing acts doing the same thing is their knack for melody and emotion. Their songs are often ludicrous, but they tug at your heart like the ending to a really good John Hughes movie. “Fancy Footwork” bottles that feeling by framing Dave 1 as a benevolent mentor who raises a troubled teen’s sprits with a dance lesson to win over the girl: “But if you let her see that fancy footwork/ Show her that you’re not that shy/ Let her see that fancy footwork/ Show her you’re that type of guy.” Sigh, where’s Anthony Michael Hall when you need him? –Michael Roffman


    new pornographers - challengers46. The New Pornographers – “Challengers”

    Challengers



    The title track from Challengers is as much of the backstory of how AC Newman met his wife as we get on the record, though the relationship is an overarching presence. During this duet between Neko Case and Newman in which Case is in the forefront, Newman’s songwriting is at its most poetic. At that point, The New Pornographers were not known for restraint, but “Challengers” is subtle and delicate, as close to Case’s solo work as the band had ever recorded. The details of meeting and connecting with someone new while both are involved with others feel real because they were. Instead of acting on their passions, they maintain contact and wait for each other to become available. It’s romantic in a way that is mature and almost old-fashioned, but with the knowledge that the pair wind up getting married, it’s sweet in the way most love songs aren’t. Case and Newman manage to turn the characters’ romantic chemistry into a musical one, giving Newman’s tale the treatment it deserves. –Philip Cosores


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