Bob Marley definitely had it right: "One good thing about music/When it hits, you feel no pain." Popular music isn't simply a balm of course, but a simple (and not so simple) tune's ability to ease the painful side of living is certainly one of the reasons I've followed it with such interest since a simpatico uncle presented my brother and I with a copy of Meet the Beatles shortly after its release. Even in down years, pop music is a close, comforting friend.
Thankfully, 2007 was better than many in recent memory. I probably found a dozen new albums that I actually listened to from month to month, and like a lot of folks around the country, I found Senegalese-American singer Akon's lilting reggae bon-bon "Don't Matter" so refreshing that I often found myself mumbling through a few verses while taking my constitutional on the Southwest Commuter bike trail.
Of course, the convention is that music writers pluck out few favorites of the year and put them in a list that readers can peruse, enjoy, and not infrequently, condemn. My own list is very short this year, since I'm still deciding whether several of those aforementioned dozen new albums are anything more than sonic infatuations.
It ranges from Muscle Shoals-style soul to African music to gloriously commercial electronic music, and I'm fairly certain that everything on it will still be in the well-rotated portion of my music collection at this time next year.
- Bettye LaVette -- The Scene of the Crime
- Various Artists -- In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2
(Actually, this comes out next year, but I figure any disc that adds nuance and bounce to the overblown U2 songbook deserves some early praise.)
- M.I.A. -- Kala
- Vieux Farka Toure -- Vieux Farka Toure
- Daft Punk -- Alive 2007
- Culver City Dub Collective -- Dos
My top ten picks from previous years can be found on The Daily Page for 2006 and at the annual Pazz & Jop poll conducted at the Village Voice for previous years.
- My favorite album in 2006 was Savane by Ali Farka Toure
- My favorite album in 2005 was Arular by M.I.A.
- My favorite album in 2004 was Tekitoi by Rachid Taha.
- My favorite album in 2003 was Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by OutKast.
- My favorite album in 2002 was Sea Change by Beck.
- My favorite album in 2001 was Mahogany Soul by Angie Stone.
- My favorite album in 2000 was Lovers Rock by Sade.