Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The best song of the year

The second half of December is for yearly "best of" roundups. Unfortunately (because they are easy to write) I'm not qualified to do many of these lists. If I did a movie one, it would include just the three films I've seen in '07. And my best books list would consist of whatever books I remember being assigned to read in high school. But I have listened to a lot of songs this year, and I feel that I am just as credentialed on that subject as the thousands of other bloggers who will certainly be weighing in on such.

Still, instead of a whole list, I am just going to focus on the one best song of the year because I feel like it deserves it. With me, achieving best song of the year status has a lot to do with the chosen song being my favorite tune of the moment when the second half of December rolls around. Nevertheless this year's winner, "Mistaken For Strangers" by The National, came out over the summer and I enjoyed it then too, even though it is the very antithesis of a summer song. Here is the video. It's sort of awful and I would recommend listening with the video minimized.

The National are a really good band, who could be a great and more popular band if they weren't always so sad. When they are at their best -- as they are at least a few times on all of their albums -- is when they inject that extra oomph into their chronic depression. They do this on "Mistaken For Strangers," which starts with an ominous wind chime-themed intro straight out of Sonic Youth's "Bull In The Heather," and quickly crescendos into the kind of big sounded, multi-layered rejection of anything that could possibly go right that was mastered in the late 70's by Joy Division.

The song also has spectacular drumming. I know this because whenever the drumming drills itself into my beat-challenged brain it must be pretty spectacular.

Last year "You Only Live Once" by The Strokes was my pick for best song of the year. Which means for the second straight year an American "the" rock band has won this coveted award. So anybody who thinks there aren't any good American rock bands out there, or that the whole "the" thing ended years ago, wouldn't be me.

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