Adventures In 2008: Top 40 Albums (#10-1)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Oh rapture! We have finally reached the cream of the crop of the albums from 2008 and the final list of my Adventures In 2008. Boy, am I exhausted! But pleased. What you are seeing in this post are the albums that were on heavy rotation throughout the year of change. Personally, it was hard to pick just ten albums to be worthy of these spots, because if you must know that every thing I have mentioned on these lists were special to me all year long. But I felt that these were the albums that got the most play and albums that showed the artists at their best. Whether they were newbies or old timers, these artists gave this Audio Diva a reason to keep on keepin' in 2008! Hope you enjoyed the list making extravaganza that I put you through so let's look forward to what's going to be happening in '09!

10. Something Else-Robin Thicke: Robin's third (can't forget A Beautiful World!) was virtually ignored this year, but I sure as heckle didn't forget. Robin is not as flashy or producer savvy as Justin Timberlake (his usual comparison) but he's actually more convincing singing R&B even if Timberlake was to don cornrows again. Something Else isn't as elegant or gallant as 2004's masterful The Evolution Of Robin Thicke but it's just as good, or even better. Here Robin spices up the Evolution formula with 70's disco and Marvin Gaye/Curtis Mayfield-esque tones ("Hard On My Love"). He even gets a little Mick Jagger (seriously, I hear it) on the funky demand of , "Shadow Of A Doubt". Plus he's still the romancer on "You're My Baby" and "Dreamworld".

9. The Stoop-Little Jackie: A group that names themselves after a long lost Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam hit deserves massive attention. Well, in my little world at least. Comprised of vocalist/floacist Imani Coppola and producer, Adam Pallin, Little Jackie blend summery horn peppered Motown sounds with modern day tounge-n-cheek hip-hop flows. Imani is really the star of the show on here as her sass is expelled on each try. I love the snarky attitude of this album especially on tracks like the industry call out on "Black Barbie", an Amy Winehouse diss track, "Cryin' For The Queen" and the hand-clapper "28 Butts". There's alot of hilarious moments poking around on here, not to mention some real truth, especially if you listen closely. The best part of this album is that Imani doesn't take any bullshit, therefore she's one of my favorite people in life.

8. Sam Sparro-Sam Sparro: I spent a whole post gushing about how blatantly amazing this album is, so I won't go into specific details. Just know that this is one funky Aussie white boy who is partying like it's 1983 on his debut album. Jarring synths, Prince and Cameo influences and a shiny hi-semi gloss coat this album to make it almost too good to be true. "Black and Gold" is the album's main attraction but one shouldn't skip out on the funky to the hilt, "Sally" and the groovin' bassline of "21st Century Life".

7. The Fame-Lady GaGa: To be honest, I couldn’t give two figs about Britney Spears’s comeback for the sheer fact that Lady GaGa had the best pop album of this year. With shoulder pads and Ray-Bans donned, Lady G exploded her brand of stark synthesized beats and bubbly pop onto the masses with The Fame. It’s got everything you would want in a pop-dance album. Insanely catchy choruses that remain lodged in your brain, funky bass lines and a rambunctious hi-NRG singer to deliver it. Not since Cyndi Lauper have we’ve seen someone who just had so much personality that it busts out at the seams. Songs like the insane genius of "Pokerface", clunky "Paparazzi" and the punchy "disco stick" worship of, "Love Game" are on point, but really the whole album is pop paradise. And get this...she wrote and co-wrote all the songs, plus played the keyboards…bye, bye Britney.

6. Popular-Van Hunt: This album wasn't officially released, due to Van Hunt's label Blue Note shelving the project and it was a shame that they did so, considering that it's neo-soul/funk at it's ultimate boldness. Van has a real sly way that he does his type of funk and on Popular he took it to the hilt. Sure he is often compared to the Purple One and countless other funk Lords but Van has a style all his own that is creative and punchy. While Popular is a sprawling affair it's got a lot of heart and manages to be the best thing he has ever done. Cross your fingers and hope in 2009 we'll see an official release.

5. Shine-Estelle: Estelle is being hailed as the new Lauryn Hill...and yet she's one album ahead of Ms. Hill (where ever she may be). Shine is the British floacist/singer's second installment and it's not called Shine for kicks and giggles. "American Boy" was the biggie but songs like the jangly "Wait A Minute" and the breezy "No Substitute" are stone cold winners...and needed to be bigger than they were. Maybe I'm bias to Estelle since I saw her live this year as she pumped the crowd up, cracked some crass jokes, and sang/flowed her ass off. But I'm looking forward to watching what Estelle has planned for 2009.

4. New Amerykah-Erykah Badu: Erykah Badu is one bad ass sista. It's probably because she's from Dallas...or Texas for that matter *wink* As far as trends go, Erykah sets them and she does so on New Amerykah which is just insanely mind blowing. For long-time Erykah fans, it was hard to wrap your finger around it, as it is a little trippy, but once it catches on the brilliance shines rapidly. Erykah makes songs that sound like they were either straight out of a Blaxplotation film ("Amerykah Promise" and "Honey"), a smoke filled jazz club ("Me") or just straight up out of this world ("The Healer"). What is so blissful about this neo-soul concoction is that this only part one of the New Amerykah adventure, as in '09 we'll be hearing the second half. Goody gumdrops!

3. The Way I See It-Raphael Saddiq: One thing is for certain, 2008 was the year of the 60's soul revival. I have reviewed many R&B albums that followed this format all year, not to mentioned added some on this end-of-the year list, but one that truly captured that time period was Raphael's The Way I See It. It is a simple album, in style and in arrangement, but they way it's contrived is so poised and right on the money, that it was hard not to give it some praise. Raphael glides through tracks like "100 Yard Dash", "Oh Girl" and a sharp, "Big Easy" and it almost feels like Jackie Wilson or Marvin Gaye is back in the building. Impressive and the best R&B album this year, hands down.

2. Ladyhawke-Ladyhawke: Ladyhawke succeeded at having the best 80's album released in 2008. From the first sonic blast of "Magic" down to the searing guitar sounds of "Morning Dreams", Ladyhawke owns punchy synth pop with an iron fist. I couldn't think of a more perfect album from this year as Ladyhawke's husky vocals cascaded over icy synth grooves and kicking guitars. Sure, it almost doesn't sound original, as there are obvious influences like Stevie Nicks, ABC and Berlin for starters, but in seriousness, once you hear gems like, "Back Of The Van", "My Delirium", "Manipulating Woman" and my personal fave, "Dusk Til Dawn", you'll see that Ladyhawke has crafted what we love about 80's music into something slick and modern. Kudos.

1. Santogold-Santogold: There is no question why Santogold gets top-billing from me. Her debut album completely and literally MESMERIZED me this year. How could clickity-clacks, out of tune screeches and oddball arrangements be so engaging? But it is. Santogold's style is of course hipster flair but underneath the leopard print leggings and choppy haircut, Santogold is an album that takes risks and manages to blend the best of what hip-hop, pop, rock, and alternative music is all about. There alot of great moments on here that just blew me away at first listen such as the Reggae trip-hop of "Shove It" and the fabulously obnoxious, "Creator". Then there is "L.E.S. Artistes" and "Lights Out" which are some of the best songs released this year. Quirky, original and totally off the beaten path, Santogold defined my 2008.


  1. Excellent, comprehensive lineup. Love it!

  2. Intriguing list...didn't like Estelle's album at all but nice to see you show love to Wait A Minute...that joint alone KNOCKED!


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