The 100 Best Tracks of 2008
10: Estelle [ft. Kanye West]
Young British singer Estelle struck gold with her first international single, which proved to be the perfect pre-summer hit. The velveteen quality of her personable, laid-back vocals synched brilliantly with Kanye West's on-top-form cameo appearance, and the deceptive simplicity of the music with its clubby electro vibe offered an open platform for Estelle's distinctive voice to take center stage. Refreshingly playful and uplifting, "American Boy" is an unpretentious and breezy party track that hit the right notes on both sides of the pond. --Mia Clarke
Listening to "Machine Gun" was one of the most purely satisfying physical experiences of 2008. I can't even count the number of times I let it batter me in the car at a volume that will undoubtedly prevent me from being able to hear my grandkids in 50 years. The music (if you can call it that) lives up to its title for sheer mechanistic repetitive punishment, while holed inside the barrage a wounded, despairing Beth Gibbons confesses her spiritual abandonment, the soulless determinism of the beats matching her own feelings of existential futility. --Joshua Love
08: Air France
"Collapsing at Your Doorstep"
"If you have anything in you, anything unique, what others might term as originality, it will come through whatever the component parts used in your future Number One are made up from," the KLF write in The Manual: How to Have a Number One the Easy Way . Air France threw a "Beach Party" on last year's #89 track, quoting Lisa Stansfield's "All Around the World". On "Collapsing at Your Doorstep", from this year's No Way Down EP, the Swedish duo create a fantasy island out of bird chirps, tropical percussion, strings, a little kid's voice (also sampled this year by should-be-beloved dubstep producer Zomby), and two other little kids' voices (from the 1980s TV show "Beauty and the Beast"). The results are as warm and transportive as the new West Coast sound of Gothenburg neighbors Studio, but also as catchy and wistfully innocent as the punk-minded pop of Sincerely Yours chiefs the Tough Alliance. Sort of like a dream? No. Better. --Marc Hogan
07: Cut Copy
"Hearts on Fire"
"There's something in the air tonight, a feeling that you have that could change your life," Dan Whitford sighs, just as a glimmering cloud of synth-beeps coalesces into a twerked-up house beat. Whitford never really specifies what th