Not many albums blew me away in 2008, but the crop of singles was top-notch - epic songs from familiar faces and new artists I'll be following for years to come. Here are the year's 10 best tracks.
10. R. Kelly
Kelly seduces the woman who braids his hair, then sings about it. His genius is creating hit singles with a smooth beat, that unmistakable saccharine voice and the minutia of his very bizarre life.
9. Brightblack Morning Light
These hippies changed little from their 2006 debut, and that's fine. A freak-folk chorus of guitars, organs, drums and chants, this track's as calm as a swinging hammock, as intoxicating as a morphine haze.
8. Dizzee Rascal
"Dance Wiv Me"
Rascal's unstoppable when his vocals and back-alley beats are nearly indecipherable. But this foray into dance-hop with disco connoisseur Calvin Harris thrilled clubs on both sides of the pond.
7. Lil Wayne
Many oscillate about the strength of Tha Carter III, but there's no questioning Wheezy F. Baby's 2008 EP. "I'm Me" has everything memorable about the Cash Money star: epic synthesized beats, gravel-throated boasts, and a dark, creeping sense of dread.
6. Fleet Foxes
"White Winter Hymnal"
Very much a hymn, it's lush in all the right ways, beautiful where it needs to be and expertly played throughout. The band's debut is required for anyone fond of folk, rock and delightful things in between.
Much like Allen Ginsberg's Howl, this lyrically dense song is about feelings more than words: desire, anger, disillusionment and the need for escape. Its soaring mix of psychedelic and acoustic sounds is one of the strangest of the year.
4. TV on the Radio
Nearly every song from its 2008 release could make the list, but "Family Tree" illustrates the two reasons for TV's critical acclaim: mind-blowing sounds and an unflinching critique of America's socio-political climate.
3. F---ed Up
"Son the Father"
A must-have for every adolescent hardcore fan who grew up and wished the genre did the same. These Canadians don't forget the intensity that powers punk - they integrate sounds and smarts too long eschewed by acts aping the good old days.
2. The Teenagers
On the surface, this pop-punk ballad's about a nonchalant Brit bedding his American step-cousin. On a deeper level, it explores issues of lust, morality, perception and consumer culture in a catchy, radio-ready format.
The year's hottest female R&B singer could've churned out mindless chart hits. Instead, her latest change of tart is a club-banger as gripping as the omniscient, formless unease it describes. It's the anthem for a nation in peril but terrified to admit it.
For more on the year's best music, including full reviews and streaming audio, click to The Riot Act blog at ColumbusAlive.com