Best Rock Songs 2008 (Bumped)

A month ago, we debated whether rock music died in 1980.  While we decided that it did not, we concluded that it has changed quite a bit since then.  Writing at Slate, music critic Simon Reynolds writes of “Grunge’s Long Shadow” and “In praise of in-between periods in pop history” as periods of transition in the dominant styles.

Regular commenter anjin-san recommended “making music/audio a more hefty part” of the repertoire here as a chance to “have a friendly discussion with guys you are typically trading gunfire with.” In that spirit, it strikes me that it could be fun and informative to discuss and come up with a list of the best rock songs of every year.  If the discussion goes as expected, it’ll create quite a bit of debate as well as introducing both myself and my readers to songs they hadn’t heard before or had forgotten about.

We’ll start with 2008, the most recent finished year and work our way back until either the idea fizzles out or we hit 1954 or so.

Here’s how it’ll go:    Readers will suggest songs in the comments below, preferably linking a YouTube or GoogleVideo or other place where others can hear the songs for free.    Songs should be confined to the broad rock genre, meaning no rap or hip-hop or country.  (I despise the first two and the last is a different category, albeit one I’d consider doing a similar feature with at some point if this goes well.) Think: guys with electric guitars.

Over the course of a week or so, I’ll update this post with my choices, probably ending up with a Top 10 list.  Songs may move down or even off the list as new suggestions come in.

Judging will be entirely subjective based on my musical tastes, which were formed circa 1979-1989.  A song may have held down the top spot on every Billboard chart for all 52 weeks of the year, won 17 Grammys and a Nobel Prize and not make my top 10.

UPDATE:   Thus far, “The ’59 Sound” by Gaslight Anthem and “3 Dimes Down” by Drive-by Truckers, neither of which I particularly like, are in the lead by the virtue of being not so awful that I managed to get past the first minute.  Any sings that don’t include singing are hereby ruled ineligible.  Apocalyptica’s “I Don’t Care” had possibilities but they seem not to have mastered recording technology; the song sounds like it was surreptitiously captured with an incredibly crude device.

So far, it’s looking like rock and roll might have died by 2007 . . . .

UPDATE: Ray LaMontagne’s “Let It Be Me” is thus far the best of the nominees.  It’s got a Joe Cocker meets MoTown vibe.  I also don’t hate Dodd’s submission, “Check Yes Juliet” by We The KingsSum 41’s “With Me” doesn’t totally suck, either.  Gomez’ “Get Miles” has a Jim Morrison vibe. Haven’t decided if that’s a good thing.

Also, several submissions were from 2007 or 2009 and were summarily dismissed from consideration.

UPDATE: Both About.comand Rolling Stone have “Best Rock Songs of 2008” compilations. There’s some overlap between songs suggested below but quite a number that haven’t been mentioned.

UPDATE: Incubus’ “Love Hurts” doesn’t suck, although I far prefer the unrelated Nazareth song of the same name.

Photo by Flickr user Stephen Poff under Creative Commons license.  Originally posted  29 May.

FILED UNDER: Contests, Entertainment, Popular Culture, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    Well, I will start with Paul Gilbert’s “I cannot tell a lie”.

  2. anjin-san says:
  3. Tlaloc says:

    Regular commenter anjin-san recommended “making music/audio a more hefty part” of the repertoire here as a chance to “have a friendly discussion with guys you are typically trading gunfire with.”

    Any man who favors artsy fartsy talk over gunfire is clearly part of the Homosexual Conspiracy.

    🙂

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    “More News From Nowhere” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MajmI5j7Bs

  5. Bobbo says:

    You can’t beat Constructive Summer by the Hold Steady:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=019ax9vm_kk

  6. Grewgills says:

    The latest Franti album, All Rebel Rockers, is great but has a bit of a hip hop flavor. I’m also enjoying the new Ben Harper but its a 2009 release. Your New Man from the new Mason Jennings is fun and might overlap with James’ taste though it isn’t really rockin’.

  7. chandad4 says:

    I liked the ’59 Sound by the Gaslight Anthem in 2008.

  8. chandad4 says:
  9. Ja'far says:

    “3 Dimes Down” – Drive-by Truckers

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dgMbxIl1Hc

  10. just me says:

    My nomination-Apocalyptica-I don’t Care-may not be all that popular here, but I really like cellos doing a heavy metal and it makes for an interesting sound.

    sound.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMAVgrqn-SM

  11. Drew says:

    I can already tell I’m not going to do very well here. So we have –

    Nick Cave, sounding like warmed over Lou Reed, except he can’t sing.

    Hold Steady with an incoherent fusion of Springsteen, Tom Petty and the Go-Go’s.

    Paul Gilbert…….Boston without words.

    Gaslight Anthem……..I could only take 15 seconds of it for fear that Flock of Seagulls would burst onto the scene at any moment.

    What’s next, Muscrat Love??

    And then there was Drive By Truckers. Ja’Far, whoever you are, you are my kinda guy/gal. That coulda been on Exile…….

    ;->

  12. G.A.Phillips says:

    Hey Anjin I new I liked you for some reason 🙂

    This more of a band pick, then a song, but it’s rocks and so do they…..check out the lyrics>>>>

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtJ0dHK5WHQ

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    oh sorry, the band is Shinedown, and this is another pick from them for me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m_KjL4OYkM

    so thats, Sound of madness and Second chance.

  14. Tripp says:

    Not sure if these are officially 2008, but I think they are:

    Vampire Weekend:

    A-Punk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XC2mqcMMGQ

    Oxford Comma
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_i1xk07o4g

    Wolf Parade:

    Fine Young Cannibals
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3J8904EBWI

  15. sam says:

    @JJ

    Thus far, “The ‘59 Sound” by Gaslight Anthem and “3 Dimes Down” by Drive-by Truckers, neither of which I particularly like, are in the lead by the virtue of being not so awful that I managed to get past the first minute.

    Snicker. I tried, guys, I really tried. I tuned the local “contemporary rock” station, but, Jesus, it was awful. You ever notice how all this new stuff has almost zero melodicitude® and the bands all sing in a monotone. I’d try again, but I’m afraid I’d go hulu.

  16. DMan says:

    Kings of Leon – “Sex On Fire”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHhhcKxflMY

    I just found out about this song and think it’s worth sharing.

  17. sam says:

    Well, here’s something extraordinary that I’d heard about. I guess we might have to go to Taiwan to hear something really original, rock-wise. You can bet this will never get on my local “contemporary rock” station. It’s incredible.

    Canon Rock (JerryC) – The Original

    I think it’s 2008, not sure though. If not, so what, enjoy it!

  18. sam says:

    Oooops…2006. Sorry.

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    Snicker. I tried, guys, I really tried. I tuned the local “contemporary rock” station, but, Jesus, it was awful. You ever notice how all this new stuff has almost zero melodicitude® and the bands all sing in a monotone. I’d try again, but I’m afraid I’d go hulu.

    ya don’t listen to much radio cause of that reason.

    I just Utube bands I know.

  20. spago says:

    maybe you won’t agree that this is rock…but Fleet Foxes “Ragged Wood

  21. Ja'far says:

    I’ll also submit a few more I liked from 2008:

    “Shake” by the North Mississippi Allstars
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQtveHbGYXY

    “I’m Amazed” by My Morning Jacket
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzdoOGUsEKg

    “Shaken” by Jackie Greene
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqY-gbj3MNc&feature=related

    I think there is plenty of good music out there, but you probably didn’t hear it on the radio.

  22. Grewgills says:

    One more try. Ben Harper and Relentless “Number With No Name”.
    The album is officially a 2009 release but they were touring it for the latter part of 2008 so I think it should count. Click audio player at the top right and it is the first song.

  23. anjin-san says:

    Fleet Foxes are an interesting band, though my pick hit of theirs would be “White Winter Hymnal”.

    If we are going to wander away from “rock” whatever that means today, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss need consideration:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H48TJA_vSk0

    Ray LaMontagne is also in the running:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LWpw3CMCEg

    The Greencards are also worth checking out:

    http://www.thegreencards.com/

  24. Dodd says:

    I might have found one that exceeds the not so awful that you might get past the first minute standard:

    WE the Kings – Check Yes Juliet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1R_txIuuio

    Yes, that’s kind of damning with faith praise, but it’s okay.

  25. lunacy says:

    I’m not one for favorites. No favorite color. No favorite band.

    But I really like what I’ve been hearing from Back Door Slam.

    Old school bluesy rock, rocking blues, whatever. Who can pigeonhole rock music?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoUDjFMgUKM

  26. lunacy says:

    Here’s another old schooler I like. Kind of Zeppelinesque here.

    Joe Bonamassa

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaCjPdtDBxo

  27. lunacy says:

    So, some one above bemoaned the radio. And I agree. I’ve caught a lot of recent rock through Pandora.com. I understand there’s a Slacker radio too. Any how, you might plug in a current band you like and see what follows.

    Other good current bands that suit my old school taste:

    Mississippi Allstars
    as mentioned above

    Gov’t Mule
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCKPpRptdxA

    Gomez
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPs9BsJPEcQ

    Shawn Mullins
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WOJo3GikKU

    Admittedly, Shawn is kind of bluegrass/rock but I love it. His House of the Rising Sun is wonderful.

  28. sam says:

    I remembered this. I call it “Southwestern Rock”–Ryan Bingham, Bread and Water; it sure as hell ain’t “country”

  29. sam says:

    BTW, if you’ll indulge me, here’s Jerry C’s 2d version of Canon Rock. Might be better than the first, I think — almost 7 million people have looked at this video. Effing Coldplay and those other douchebag groups couldn’t carry this kid’s guitar case. What’s really interesting, to me anyway, is that, if you look at the related videos, a lot of kids have tried their hand at Canon Rock. My god there’s a bunch of talent out there. You’d think the recording companies would get the message.

  30. clakalackin says:

    This is from 2007. It’s got guitars, it’s violent and it’s a great work out song:

    Trapt–Stand Up

    http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/trapt/video/x3auw2_traptstand-up_music

  31. G.A.Phillips says:
  32. G.A.Phillips says:

    lol, best chorus ever, you tell me< but I love this band and it was from 2008-cool little ditty.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp1E3e9NTCQ

  33. G.A.Phillips says:

    Is Is Christian rock OK if it’s good, I don’t want to offend any one, LOL….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsQDNkLCmTA

    The Band is third Day.

  34. The Killers – Read My Mind

  35. My Chemical Romance – Welcome to the Black Parade

    Not bad – resubmit for 2006 contest. – jhj

  36. Mind you, I think most “rock” music produced today isn’t very good, but that’s a long way from saying it is dead.

  37. Sorry, both of those are 2006.

    Maybe if the Squirrel Nut Zippers or the Asylum Street Spqnkers release something soon…

  38. G.A.Phillips says:

    Well it’s ether Weezer, or a bunch of the OTB regulars made a band, wrote a song, and shot a home video in between posting?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muP9eH2p2PI

  39. anjin-san says:

    Definitely not rock but check out Rita Yabrogh. Only had to hear 3 sample tracks to order this today:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W6QCG8/ref=ox_ya_oh_product

  40. G.A.Phillips says:

    Not sure its the best song but it’s set records!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETa47DdZwHg

  41. Drew says:

    Screw this………

    (robust and aggressive, cymbal oriented, drum opening)….(add: classic R&B based pile driving guitar chords)

    “It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled……..it’s been a long time since I did the stroll….”

    Now that’s rock and roll……..

  42. James Joyner says:

    I MADE IT THROUGH ALL THE SONGS ABOVE THIS COMMENT

  43. kth says:

    I don’t know about the particular song, but if you are a fan of Lynyrd Skynryd, you owe it to yourself to give the Drive-By Truckers another chance (wasn’t 2008, but they actually did an entire album with Skynyrd as its point of departure, Southern Rock Opera).

    DBT are of the current decade, not the 70s, so their sound is more punk- than blues-influenced. But for all that, they are closer to the spirit of Lynyrd Skynyrd than the bands/acts that more superficially resemble them (Molly Hatchett, Travis Tritt, etc.)

  44. lunacy says:

    I love that Ray LaMontagne. He’s got some serious Otis Redding sound. Which is a good thing. A very good thing.

    But is it Rock?

    Eeeh. If I were claiming a genre on my I tunes I’d label it Rhythm and Blues.

  45. G.A.Phillips says:

    Nother great band that is underrated INCUBUS.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_bQ80xZNwI

  46. G.A.Phillips says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkhwK6Wlod8

    Sad song if you know what it’s about but one of the best I think. Well thats it from me for 2008,and Im sorry to say James that I have a crap load of what I consider best song contenders for 2007:)