Ah it's that time of year again when I get to reflect on the good and the bad... well, mostly the good - I don't want to be less merry by thinking about some of the terrible tunes that I've endured in the name of research. I've compiled a list of the ten tracks that have stolen my heart this year - feel free to condemn, agree and possibly scratch your head saying "who?" (but hopefully that won't happen too often!).
10. The xx - Islands
Islands is a very rare thing - a quiet and tender track that is at the same time an exquisite single. The xx managed to turn it into a thing of pure beauty, with loving lyrics, a hushed boy-girl duet, simple melodies, a single plucked electric guitar... the year's best antidote to the dominance of chilly electro-pop.
9. Julian Casablancas - 11th Dimension
Who would've thought you could rip off "Rebel Rebel", make an unashamedly 80s-style pop single and yet still retain credibility? Well Strokes frontman Casablancas did it - and he did it so well that it was the ultimate grower. If the video below is your first taste of "11th Dimension" then don't let it put you off. In time you will learn to love it just as I did. It took me a whole month to realise that it was actually an amazingly good tune. Who needs The Strokes?
8. Little Dragon - Feather
Similarly to The xx, Little Dragon's "Feather" floats away dreamily into space and refuses to come back to us on dry land. Little Dragon are never in any hurry to actually get on and play their songs, and it takes a while for this wonderfully light tune to kick in. But if you're anything like me you'll fall for its charms after a single play. Enjoy.
7. Metric - Sick Muse
While their latest album "Fantasies" had its flaws, "Sick Muse" stood out as the best single on the album. Here it seemed to all fall into place for Metric, taking the angry noise that dominated their 2006 album "Live It Out" and taming it into just a little under 3 minutes and 20 seconds of rock bliss. And in a world now dominated by electro-pop, that's a big compliment.
6. Phoenix - Lisztomania
It's unfortunate that Phoenix are one of those bands who people seem to think have drifted into obscurity. Despite releasing albums constantly through the last decade, did anyone actually pay attention to anything apart from their first album "United"? "Lisztomania" helped to change all that. Their slightly dodgy, but nevertheless heartwarmingly odd, English, roots in both funky electro and rock plus Thomas Mars's smooth and appealing voice combined to make this, the first single from their really quite brilliant album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", a standout track.