Best of 2008

Best of 2008: Allison Stewart on Pop Singles

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Take a look at the artists responsible for this year's No. 1 song, and you'll get a pretty good idea of who dominated hip-hop: Jay-Z, T.I., Kanye West and Lil Wayne were like Puff Daddy in 1998, lending their names to countless hits, remixes and mix tapes, dispensing their talents and cred so liberally that -- we're looking at you, Lil Wayne -- they didn't have much left over for themselves. Also part of the "Swagga Like Us" Mount Rushmore is M.I.A., whose much-loved, much-sampled 2007 holdover, "Paper Planes," reached saturation status sometime in the summer of 2008. Ten years back, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James's mild, perfect Gil Scott-Heron cover (No. 5 on the list below) would have been consigned to bootleg status. This year, thanks to the continuing rise of music blogs (and the decline of records, record stores and just about every other form of musical authority), it received almost as much online attention as songs from MMJ's new full-length album. In a year of uncertainty, it turned out, discovered pleasures were the only sure things.

1. Jay-Z and T.I. featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne and M.I.A.: "Swagga Like Us"

2. Taylor Swift: "Love Story"

3. Thao Nguyen: "Bag of Hammers"

4. The Gaslight Anthem: "The '59 Sound"

5. Jim James: "When You Are Who You Are" (live at the Newport Folk Festival)

6. Men Without Pants: "And the Girls Go"

7. Beyoncé: "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"

8. The New Frontiers: "Black Lungs"

9. Young Jeezy featuring Nas: "My President Is Black"

10. Black Kids: "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You"

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