Here's a mix of 2008 songs, with none of the selections pulled from the accompanying Top 10 album list. It's programmed to fit on one CD, because without a time constraint, I would have put 50 songs on it, instead of 20. Everything is available on iTunes, except the Ida Maria song, which is easily found if you let Google be your guide. There's also a playlist up at




"American Boy,"

Estelle, featuring Kanye West

. Brit singer-rapper introduces herself to U.S. audiences with electro-splashed single, with West, "dressed smart like a London bloke," as her calling card.


"Bust Your Windows,"

Jazmine Sullivan

. Romantically spurned rising Philadelphia R&B star uses a crowbar to heal a broken heart.


"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),"


. Beat-crazy diva demands wedding band, in Sasha Fierce mode, while Justin Timberlake crawls all over her in Saturday Night Live video.


"Paper Planes,"


Sri Lankan star vehicle, produced by Philadelphia DJ Diplo. Though it came out in 2007, it blew up this year thanks to the Pineapple Express trailer and T.I., Jay-Z, Kanye and Lil Wayne sampling it in "Swagger Like Us."


"Can't Believe It,"

T-Pain, featuring Lil Wayne

. Even more than Wayne, the producer, "sanga" and Auto-Tune pied piper Faheed Rasheed Najm was the most influential man in pop this year.



Kanye West, featuring Young Jeezy

. The full-length Auto-Tuned Kanye on 808s & Heartbreak is hard to take, but this ominous march is aptly titled.


"Live Your Life,"

T.I. featuring Rihanna

. The summer jam that wasn't released till fall, with a mighty Rihanna hook.


"I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You,"

Black Kids

. The Jacksonville, Fla., indie-pop quintet's debut album was a dud, but they serve up a sugar rush here.


"Stuck to You,"

Nikka Costa

. L.A. firecracker signs to revitalized Stax label, shakes her hips, and pledges to "be your Otis Redding."


"100 Yard Dash,"

Raphael Saadiq

. Soul revivalist cuts to the chase, in pursuit of L-U-V.


"Sequestered in Memphis,"

the Hold Steady

. Singer Craig Finn gets in trouble with the law down South, guitarist Tad Kubler leads the jail break.


"Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!,"

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

. Biblically minded Aussie rocker turns New Testament superstar into modern-day New York antihero.


"Oh My God,"

Ida Maria

. Charismatic Norwegian rock chick Ida Maria Borli Sivertsen has already taken Britain by storm. Watch out for her.


"Viva La Vida,"


. Joe Satriani wishes he wrote this iTunes commercial. The rare melodious Chris Martin song with lyrics that reward examination.


"Love Story,"

Taylor Swift

. Teen country queen pushes happy-ending-machine buttons, and we are powerless to resist.




. "Mercy" was the one that couldn't be avoided, but the echoey title track to her debut shows that Aimee Ann Duffy's no one-hit wonder.


"Losing You,"

Randy Newman

. Harps and Angels is full of vintage, caustic Newman. This is the heartbreaker.


"Little Bit,"

Lykke Li

. Percolating ditty from Swedish indie starlet.


"Palmitos Park,"

El Guincho

. Canary Islander Pablo Diaz-Reixa cooks up percussive laptop escapism. Don't know what he's singing about, but it sure sounds joyful.


"That's Not My Name,"

the Ting Tings

. Winningly minimalist Brit duo bang on drums, and let you know who they aren't, beating the pants off their iPod commercial in the process.