The 10 best indie songs of 2008 are quite a mixed bag. There’s rock, minimalist pop, electronic based alternative, and even a little acid folk in the mix. 2008 marked a pretty big jump in the popularity of indie music, and the beginnings of the era of the “hipster”. Without further ado, here are the best indie songs of that year.
- “M79” – Vampire Weekend. This band, now nearly a household name, made its big break with an eponymous debut album in 2008. Lead single “Oxford Comma” even made it in the dwindling music video rotation on MTV. But “M79”, with its soaring string riffs and afro-pop nuances, is the album’s best.
- “Halfway Home” – TV on the Radio. Coming off the fantastic indie epic “Return to Cookie Mountain” in 2006, TV on the Radio produced a near-perfect follow up with “Dear Science” in 2008. Halfway Home, an intense and lush song in both a musical and lyrical sense, is the album’s pinnacle.
- “While We’re Young” – Department of Eagles. Off the album dedicated to lead singer and guitarist Daniel Rossen’s late father, “While We’re Young” is a venture in complexity. You’ll hear chords you’ve never heard before on this song, guaranteed. And, surprisingly enough, they sound really good.
- “White Winter Hymnal” – Fleet Foxes. Fleet Foxes’ debut in 2008 caused a huge stir in the indie music blogosphere. A big reason for this was “White Winter Hymnal”. Its ear pleasing harmonies and sweet chord progression channel Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young with an off-kilter twist.
- “In the New Year” – The Walkmen. On first listen, indie rock band The Walkmen’s “in the New Year” sounds like a muddy, emblazoned mess. But it is undeniably a passionate one. The vocal performance alone by lead singer Hamilton Leithhauser is enough to put it on the short list for best indie songs of 2008.
- “Time to Pretend” – MGMT. This song was a big reason why indie music exploded in 2008. It is infectious musically, and it is simply impossible to get the chorus out of your head. “Time to Pretend” is one of the rare indie songs that has squeaked its way into the mainstream.
- “Constructive Summer” – The Hold Steady. Indie rock band the Hold Steady had already made a big name for itself before releasing “Stay Positive” in 2008. But the lead single “Constructive Summer” off that album launched them into the power chord teen anthem hall of fame. As a bonus, the lead singer sounds just like Bruce Springsteen.
- “Dance Dance Dance” – Lykke Li. A European pop singer known for her softness, Lykke Li struck all the right tones with her 2008 song “Dance, Dance, Dance”. It starts with an single drumbeat, bass, and her voice. But it builds to include a jazzy saxophone accompaniment and backup chorus. Sweet.
- “Gila” – Beach House. Beach House is known for their minimalist, dreamy brand of indie pop music. No song exemplifies this better than “Gila”. Its catchy guitar riff and distant sound genuinely do sound like a hazy dream. A good dream, at that.
- “Family Tree” – TV on the Radio. Forget John Lennon’s Imagine and the Beatles’ Let It Be. TV on the Radio’s indie ballad “Family Tree” has it all: beautiful piano, soaring strings, and stunningly beautiful lyrics. It expertly blends an uncomfortable subject matter and uplifting accompaniment.
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