And so we hit this era.
You have to have extra emotion connected to one of the most traumatic years of your life. I spent the first half of 2007 trying to make the second half as smooth as possible and the second half utterly failing at it. I’ve written so much on this period. I hope this is the last I write. It won’t be though.
Thankfully, 2007 was as good in music as it legendarily was in film. This is a fantastic list. It’s a great mix with a bit of everything this year. Hard cuts include Face Down by the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and What I’ve Done by Linkin Park. Just a great year for music. I have a ton to say. Time to talk.
Fall Out Boy- Thnks Fr Th Mmrs. Fall Out Boy got great. Consider this a harbinger of how good this list is because this is a perfect, tense song. The pace is intense.
Sean Kingston- Take You There. I genuinely smile thinking of this song. It’s fluffy and light and I loved that it was that. In many ways, it’s a twin to Chris Brown’s With You except without the baggage.
The Killers- Read My Mind. A peaceful song. I like those. The Killers also would have made my list way more often if I had top 25s.
Red Hot Chili Peppers- Snow (Hey Oh). Same deal. Just nice. I think this band does best at jam songs.
Alter Bridge- Rise Today. This was the hardest cut on the list. It really only got cut because they did almost the exact same song so much better on the same album. That’s closer to Higher Creed. This is My Own Prison Creed.
It’s important to note that in many ways this project has been a result of conversations I’ve had with my dear friend Stevie. I asked them to do a list on a year like 1989 that mattered to them. They chose 2007. This is their list and without planning it, there are fascinating ways our lists interact. One thing is for certain. We both had to have this song on our lists. They had it at 1. I have it at 10. That matters less than it being great.
10 My Chemical Romance- Welcome to the Black Parade. Stevie called this the modern Bohemian Rhapsody. While I don’t like it that much–Queen is my favorite band ever after all–I think it’s an excellent parallel. It’s a bold, ambitious attempt at an operatic track. It’s very much in line with the best songs of American Idiot. It’s also so incredibly darkly funny. I feel like if I have anything to say against it, it’s that I admire it far greater than I’d say I like it. And I think that’s what it’s meant to be. A singular work.
Another song on both of our lists (with one more to go). And it forces me to really confront what I think of Avril Lavigne. Because remove Sk8r Boi and admit that Complicated is perfectly fine but not for me and I give up. Lavigne is a singular talent who deserves all she’s gotten and more. I have an easy out on this list too. I could easily put Keep Holding On here. It’s nice and respectable. It’s of a piece with other songs here. But nah. I want to have fun.
9 Avril Lavigne- Girlfriend. I love what a gloriously obvious parody this is. This is a song from the perspective of an objectively horrible person and it’s phenomenally executed. It lets us live vicariously. The song is sheer energy. Lavigne sounds great. It’s funny. And yet I think it’s almost too well made. A lot of people thought this was a serious song. And I get why. God knows “I’ll take your partner” songs are common. But this isn’t one. It’s bubble gum. It rules.
There isn’t much grief on this list. There should be given I lived with grief this year. But you escape in these years. You try to find things that bring out the opposite of who you are. It won’t be that way next year but it was here. Still there are two exceptions on this list. One direct. The other indirect. That’s first up.
8 KT Tunstall- Other Side of the World. A song about how long distance relationships fail shouldn’t touch me as I’ve been 30 minutes away at most from a partner who lives with me now. But this does. It’s a song that sounds light and flowy and underneath is as bitter as a lime. Tunstall has made an anthem for anyone who has looked at the reality of trying to keep a spark alive and seen the reality of it. Her dry delivery really sells the bitterness here. Her voice is worn, not lilting. It’s an effective track.
Let’s go with a good safe pick. The joy of the Foo Fighters is they never falter. Good, down the middle rock. When they’re great, nobody is better. When they’re not, they’re still solid. This is a prime example of good.
7 Foo Fighters- The Pretender. Another song about the moment. And this is another very good one. Admittedly it’s a vague song on purpose, but the point is a song about calling out the rage we felt collectively. It’s a venting song. I needed one in 2007 and this is a great one. Grohl is legendarily the nicest nice guy in rock which makes his righteous fury songs that much more intense. Since it is vague, that lets us insert our own subject. It’s cathartic. Good work from a great band.
I noted that there were places where my list and Stevie’s overlap. This is a half overlap. They had Chasing Cars on their list. I had it as an honorable mention last year. But I still have room for the band. Snow Patrol has deceptive songs. On the surface and in their meaning, they’re just simple love songs. But when you look at how bad those are, seeing a great one is life. And this is art.
6 Snow Patrol- Signal Fire. A very simple song about how the woman you love pushes you to be better. It’s not an uncommon idea. But it’s down to the execution here. It’s restrained in the verses and epic in the choruses. A trick that often makes this list. But it works here about as well as it ever has. This is mad obsessive love that feels real. The contrast makes it an intense roar of a song. Is it sappy? Sure. Sap is great done right.
One morning in May 2007, I got dressed. I got in my car. On a gray morning, I drove to the campus of Arkansas Tech University. I went to my dorm. I packed up. I went to graduation. I finished packing. I left. I looked back though. I looked back hard then. I look back hard now. I lost something I loved. I miss school. And this was what played as I left.
5 Dashboard Confessionals- Stolen. What a painful, sad song. This is the big grand lost love song for the decade and I suspect it’s on the list because I connect it with my own loss. It’s actually not tremendously saccharine. Dashboard Confessionals always had an edge among emo groups. This has grit to it. It’s obviously more about nostalgia for a time than a person. It’s genuinely poignant. I will say I prefer the faster single version. The more energetic tempo sells the tone better. Lost love feels like it’s spiraled out of control.
I needed joy after everything collapsed in 2007. I don’t need to say more. Your beloved grandmother you spent untold hours with dies. Your hopes for post graduation go up in smoke. You need light. And this was how I got it. Just a good perfect love song that rocks.
4 Kaiser Chiefs- Ruby. I love good English rock and this is premium stuff. Just a very good song about falling in love and how happy it is. The title choice is perfect. Ruby conveys fire and value and it sounds good. So much of this really is on the sound. This feels very Oasis. It conveys such intense imagery through both words and the sound. This is a party you want to attend.
My top 3 this year consists of three perfect pop songs. And it speaks to where pop music was that these were solid hits. I think we were seeing pop music achieve respect when it hadn’t earlier in the decade. We were starting to see it as an artform in and of itself. Much like what horror has gone through, the stigma was gone. The music was prime. And it had a bite.
3 Mika- Grace Kelly. The pop song written to flip off the industry is a formula that shouldn’t work and constantly does. This is as blunt as Sara Bareilles’ still horrible Love Song and yet so much funnier. Mika refers to trying “a little Freddie” and yeah he’s right. He sounds like him in the best way. But this song shines because it’s funny. This is a stinging insult to being pushed to be who you aren’t. And Mika is one of a kind. This song sounds great anyway but he has pipes for the ages and a fantastic range. This is the song to put on when mad.
I have very simple feelings about Gwen Stefani. To quote Mace Windu, “You are on this council but we do not grant you the rank of master.” Was she there among women like Courtney Love making rock music in the 90s? Yes. But she was bubble gum from the word go. I’m not against that but I also cringe thinking about her output which I’ll politely call not good. But everyone gets one.
2 Gwen Stefani Featuring Akon- The Sweet Escape. Gotta give as much credit to Akon as I can here. He did the beat for it and it is killer. He also does solid on the guest vocals. But this really is Stefani’s best moment. She’s so at home on a doo wop track. She’s a limited vocalist but she fits this style perfectly. It’s also such a light, bouncy track. A perfect summer day song. I’m not shocked it was huge. It’s just so good. Would have topped in another year. But…
It was a song that couldn’t. It was written for Britney Spears. Her team rejected it. It was given to Taio Cruz. The label wouldn’t release it. There was a push for Mary J. Blige to record the demo and it was promised to her. She was busy. But there was one artist it was realized the song was perfect for, a Barbados pop star recording her third album. She recorded it. And we got an indisputable classic.
1 Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z- Umbrella. There are so many perfect elements here. Jay-Z’s intro is the perfect hype, selling the song instantly. The hook is an impossible earworm. The lyrics are clear and obvious. It’s a blissfully happy song. And Rihanna…wow does she knock it into space. She has never sounded this good and she’s a phenomenal vocalist. This is just the textbook definition of a perfect pop song. I loved it in 2007. I love it now. One of the best in the genre.
Next: the best year of the decade musically