2018 sees a bumper crop of songs turning 10, and we've picked out some of the key releases from a 2008 that saw the decline of emo and a massive pop renaissance.
It's been a full, action-packed decade since 2008, a year of immense chaos and hope - the year of the global financial crash and the election of US President Barack Obama. The Dark Knight, the Large Hadron Collider, the Beijing Olympics, Kosovo's declaration of independence, and more all hit the big 1-0 next year - but the world of music was crammed with tumult as well, with the titans of emo and alt. rock giving way to a popvolution (hey Katy Perry, hey Adele, hey Lady Gaga) and indie-pop explosion.
Relive the warm and fuzzy days of 2008 with our 20 tracks that turn 10 this year...
"Poker Face", arguably her biggest hit and apparently about her experiences with bisexuality, was released when Mother Monster was just 22 years old. She'd only released (proper) debut "Just Dance" a few months earlier, bursting onto a pop scene in the formative days of a revolution with outlandish costumes and a penchant for innuendo.
The track is another solid gold (platinum, actually) banger from the Haus Of Gaga and producer RedOne, but did you know it's inspired by a Boney M chorus? Or so says the BBC - apparently the 1977 track "Ma Baker" is the original source of the 'muh-muh-muh-mah' part in the chorus. But that's not the only mega-hook embedded in "Poker Face"...
"Obviously, it's my pussy's poker face!" Gaga told Rolling Stone of the song's iconic 'muffin' lyric. "I took that line from another song I wrote but never released, called 'Blueberry Kisses'. It was about a girl singing to her boyfriend about how she wants him to go down on her, and I used the lyric. [Gaga sings] 'Blueberry kisses, the muffin man misses them kisses'." LD
Release Date: 19 August 2008
Album: The Fame Monster
Yep, it's been 10 whole years since The Coral Sea, the landmark collaboration between Smith and the My Bloody Valentine man.
It was performed across three nights in London (one in '05 and two in '06), two of which were immortalised for future generations. The recorded performances don't exactly sound alike, but they follow the same narrative - that is, they follow Smith's 1996 poem of the same name about photographer and close friend Robert Mapplethorpe on a "final voyage to see the stars of the Southern Cross before he dies". Shields improvises guitar textures in the background, with both elements working in glorious tandem. It's a striking, fleeting collaboration that sounds just as impressive now as it did in 2008. LD
Release Date: 11 July 2008
Album: The Coral Sea
The song that launched 1000 jokes was almost called a few very different names... and it was almost never recorded at all.
Speaking to NME, frontman Caleb Followill revealed that he thought it was a "terrible" song (despite being about now-wife Lily Aldridge), but the rest of the band liked the hook so they ended up polishing it up and putting it on the album. Before that however, they had to settle on a name... while the mooted "Socks On Fire", "Snatch On Fire", and "Cocks On Fire" never caught on, "Sex On Fire" stuck following an in-joke in the studio.
"They were totally different lyrics," the band's Nathan Followill told triple J. "It was actually going to be 'Set Us On Fire', but one of the sound mixers in the studio walked in as we were playing and said, 'Sex On Fire, huh?' And it just kind of became a running joke, and we stuck with it." LD
Release Date: 4 September 2008
Album: Only By The Night
The Swedish star's seminal indie-pop ode is a full decade old, somehow. Lasse Mårtén and Peter, Bjorn and John's Björn Yttling produced "Little Bit", which was given an EP release in Sweden in 2007... but a UK release via Moshi Moshi in 2008 (and that's the date we're going with). It also appeared on Li's debut album Youth Novels alongside gems such as "I'm Good, I'm Gone" and "Dance, Dance, Dance". In the years since its release it's become something of a hip-hop fave, with Charles Hamilton and Drake both sampling it to great effect on "Starchasers" and "Little Bit" respectively. LD
Release Date: 25 February 2008
Album: Youth Novels
Back when Taylor Swift was plying the airwaves with sugar-coated country music and she still had that mysterious Southern drawl (way before the snake emojis), she put out "Love Story" - a game-changer that tore up the rulebook and gerrymandered the borders between pop and Americana. Still hankering for that Country Swift replacement? You'll find one right here.
The song was written about a man who was never officially her boyfriend that her friends and family weren't all that keen on. She revealed back in the day that it's "about a love that you've got to hide because for whatever reason it wouldn't go over well... I spun it in the direction of Romeo and Juliet. Our parents are fighting. I relate to it more as a love that you cannot really elaborate on - a love that maybe society wouldn't accept [or] maybe your friends wouldn't accept."
Elaborating in a chat with Teen Vogue, Swift added: "Everything up 'til the ending is the actual story... the 'marry me Juliet, I love you' is I think every girl's fantasy ending and the ending I hope I have someday." LD
Release Date: 12 September 2008
It's wild that this actually arrived at all. In 2008 hard rockers Guns 'N' Roses finally erected a monument to Axl Rose's ego in the form of "Chinese Democracy"... which had been recorded and scrapped and re-recorded and re-scrapped numerous times since the '90s. The album of the same name, beleaguered beyond belief, eventually followed - but by that point the whole saga (and even the title) had become a bit of a joke.
But what's it at all about? Fortunately Mr. Rose was quite candid about that. Introducing the song ahead of its first-ever performance in 2001, Rose explained:
"The movie Kundun was on [TV] about the Dalai Lama. I was getting ready to leave... and it was the end of the movie. And the Dalai Lama is about to cross over the border, to you know, be in exile for the rest of his life from his own country. And he looks back at the men who helped him, and you know he's escaped the Chinese government. And he looks back at them and he waves and they wave at him. And then they show a scene where he looks back at them again and he sees every one of them dead. Because he knew they would be killed, and they knew that in helping him they would be killed. And you know the emotion in this next song, that's all that's about. It's not like an intelligent song. It doesn't have the answer to anything. And it's not necessarily pro or con about China. It's just that right now China symbolises one of the strongest, yet most oppressive countries and governments in the world. And we [Americans] are fortunate to live in a free country. And so in thinking about that it just kinda upset me, and we wrote this little song called 'Chinese Democracy'." LD
Release Date: 9 November 2008
Album: Chinese Democracy
This number stands at the centre of Ye's '08 opus 808s & Heartbreak, and it was as big a deal for the folks behind Auto-Tune as it was for the Graduation star - "Love Lockdown" was the first taste of the rulebook-eschewing LP, and it introduced the world to a whole new world that Kanye ruled. It helped change the face of rap music forever, and made an indelible mark on the face of mainstream pop music.
But like so much great art, it came from a place of pain: the album focuses tight on West's heartbreak following the untimely passing of his mother and the subsequent (and ill-timed) breakup with fiancée Alexis Phifer. In a chat with The FADER, Kanye (in perfect Kanye fashion) likened "Love Lockdown" specifically to "Thom Yorke in the strip club". As you do. LD
Release Date: 18 September 2008
Album: 808s & Heartbreak
San Diego singer/songwriter Jason Mraz blew the charts away in 2008 with this doozy. The ludicrously successful number appeared originally as a demo on limited edition EP Extra Credit which was released to promote LP2 Mr. A-Z, but it struck such a chord that Mraz polished it up and plonked it onto his third record We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. - where it went from a fan fave to a worldwide smash.
As well as obliterating US chart records - it spent 76 weeks on in the Hot 100, breaking a decade-old record set by LeAnn Rimes for most consecutive weeks spent in the Billboard charts - it made an impact this side of the Pond, and currently stands as one of the longest-charting songs in the UK Top 75 (although it never broke the Top 10!).
The enduring legacy of "I'm Yours" is crazy - it's one of the best-selling digital releases ever, and has graced dozens of TV shows and film soundtracks. Whether you love it or loathe it, it's one of the biggest songs since the turn of the Millennium.
Release Date: 29 August 2008
Album: We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.
The anthemic "Paper Planes" was written and produced by M.I.A. with Diplo (yep, that Diplo), who apparently came up with the idea to sample The Clash, and then it was recorded between Bedford-Stuyvesant and London - and the latter was important to the song's composition as the chorus features local children singing the iconic lines. As for the meaning, M.I.A.'s actually been pretty candid.
"I was thinking about living [in Bed-Stuy], waking up every morning - it's such an African neighbourhood," she told The FADER. "I was going to get patties at my local and just thinking that really the worst thing that anyone can say is some shit like: 'what I wanna do is come and get your money'. People don’t really feel like immigrants or refugees contribute to culture in any way. That they’re just leeches that suck from whatever... America is so obsessed with money, I’m sure they’ll get it."
"If you’re an immigrant you left somewhere and most of the time you fled a war," M.I.A. expands during an interview with The Daily Beast. "Gun sounds are a part of our culture as an everyday thing. If you’ve been exposed to gunfights and violence and bombs and war then I can use those sounds backing my thoughts, you know? Look, I’ve been shot at so I’m quite comfortable with gunshot sounds. If you have a problem with it, go and talk to the people who were shooting at me."
During a talk with Entertainment Weekly, she added: "You can either apply it on a street level and go, oh, you’re talking about somebody robbing you and saying I’m going to take your money. But, really, it could be a much bigger idea: someone's selling you guns and making money. Selling weapons and the companies that manufacture guns - that's probably the biggest moneymaker in the world."
Release Date: 15 September 2008
If you were conscious in 2008, chances are you heard this one at least once or twice. The band's catchier-than-a-common-cold-at-Christmas single charted at number one, featured in 90210, Skins, and The Inbetweeners, and soundtracked adverts for Coca Cola, Joe Fresh, The LEGO Movie, and more besides.
The track's been covered a few times too: Dizzee Rascal made the number his own in BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, while Charlie Day performed a memorable rendition from the comfort of a car in 2011 flick Horrible Bosses.
The original still stands up as an earworm of the most resolute kind: the music video of Katie White and Jules De Martino prancing and performing against coloured backdrops as simple as it is iconic - much like the song itself. Written as a way of "ranting about my frustrations with the record industry", "That's Not My Name" is a track quite literally screeching to be remembered. Just try having any other song in your head right now. JG
Release Date: 5 May 2008
Album: We Started Nothing