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Released: May 2010

Round about spring last year, it’s safe to say MIA had our attention. Having made her comeback with ‘Born Free’ and its attendant ginger-assassinating video (a Romain Gavras creation that created about ten billion views and no end of controversy) she was back in the game. This follow up track was even better, a digital jam about porn, technology and shifting identities backed up with lyrics about tweeting...


Released: May 2004

For years known as an ‘on the up’ producer and songwriter, ‘The College Dropout’ revealed Kanye to be a brilliant, unique MC. One of the things that made him special was the way he took a microscope to the black American experience and ‘Jesus Walks’ was one of his first singles to do this. Catching the air of post-9/11 disenfranchisement, the verses find Kanye taking in police prejudice, the poverty...


Released: March 2010

Liars’ excellent dissection of Los Angeles life and the mixed emotions that come with West Coast living, ‘Sisterworld’, was one of the most rewarding albums of 2010. Somewhat more accessible than their previous (but by no means conventional), their fifth full-length saw them examine all sides of the sprawling Californian metropolis, and few tracks summed up the dichotomy of existences available there than...


Released: September 2001

Ian Brown likes to write lyrics about the grander philosophical topics that run through his brain, and the results are often as cringe-inducing as being forced to watch every episode of The Office back to back while strapped in a Clockwork Orange-style seat and eyelid-priser combo. But in 'F.E.A.R.', everything fell into place for King Monkey, the repeated acronym expansions ("Forget everything and...


Released: December 1996

This was originally going to be a B-side, you know. Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen initially refused permission for the Welsh band to use the sweary sample from ‘Showbiz Kids’, which gives this deliriously catchy protest anthem its title. But when Fagen relented, it came out on its own and promptly became the sweariest UK chart hit ever. It also became SFA’s regular set closer and arguably their most popular...


Released: June 2009

"I'm on fiiiiiire!" Kasabian singer Tom Meighan yelled at the multiple climaxes of this, the lead single from the band's 2009 arena-filling psycho masterpiece 'West Ryder Lunatic Pauper Asylum', a justified statement of confidence if ever there was one. A Serge guitar lick so catchy it replaced 'L.S.F.''s outro as the biggest bellow-along at the band's shows, it demonstrated that you can keep things...


Released: March 2009

In a world in which everyone and their dog was doing the 80s, Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid pulled off the feat of making something which sounded attached to that decade but which also sounded authentic and effortless. The key seemed to be the duo’s set up, whereby Elly’s lyrics - schooled in Joni Mitchell’s academy of the confessional - and her weird, falsetto vocal style bounced off Ben’s multi-tracked...


Released: March 2007

Despite the fact that this was the lead single off her third album, in a lot of ways this felt like the first time we'd ever heard from the Barbadian. Featuring an introductory rap from her Def Jam boss Jay-Z (giving the song his weighty stamp of approval) ‘Umbrella’ was Rihanna’s irresistibly simple statement of intent that set her apart from her contemporaries. A sparse, run-on groove courtesy of...


Released: February 2008

Well to do, world-wise, Ivy Leaguers with boners for vintage Ralph Lauren jumpers, Vampire Weekend were an unworkable proposition on paper. But in reality, it was exactly this mix that helped produce their very modern music. ‘A-Punk’ took us from a New York cancer ward to New Mexico via a Police-ish ska beat, Tom Verlaine-like guitar work and the kind of organ solo you’d find at the Sunday service at your...


Released: March 2007

This jaunty, mandolin-led single was by far and away the best pop moment on the Canadian band’s rather gloomy second album ‘Neon Bible’. It’s also an extremely good example of how a great band can bring the most uncool reference points into a song (in this case 80s ‘big music’ exponents The Waterboys) and have it sound like the most cutting edge thing around. (AW)

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