I’ve seen a ton of reviews lately about the best albums of 2008 and I was not impressed. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one! I asked friends and family members about their favorite albums of 2008, but their choices are nowhere to be found. Not only do all of these lists have some of the exact same people and groups (I‘m talking to you Katy Perry), but none of those represent us (sorry Lil’ Wayne). And I know our people have released some amazing sounds this year, so why aren‘t we getting any credit for it? If you are looking for a different perspective on albums to remember from 2008, look no further. I’ve taken a stab at creating a list that has a hint of Latino bias, yet all-inclusive. In no particular order, and tossing album sales and numbers aside, here is my top 10 with a few honorable mentions.
2008 Best Album to Remember #10: Orishas Cosita Buena
Their first single “Bruja” had me sold! When I got my hands on this album, I devoured it and found a new love for this Cuban hip hop/fusion group with “Guarija!” Classic Orishas is like a fine wine that just gets better with age.
2008 Best Album to Remember #9: Calle 13 Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo
I’ll admit that there was a time when I thought rapping in a romance language couldn’t be that difficult (battling was different, impromptu). Then I started to really get into hip-hop en Español (see above), and when my sister played me a Calle 13 song, I reassessed my ideas when I had flashbacks of Vico-C. The storytelling is one that I can listen to all day. Is Calle 13 the griots of la isla?
2008 Best Album to Remember #8: Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple
I have yet to find a person who has heard this electronic R&B album and does not have a favorite track. Aside from the melancholy “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” partnered with the eerie music video, my favorite track is “Blind Mary.” What can I say? I’m Latina and a sucker for a love song that also finds beauty in disability. That’s a side we rarely hear.
2008 Best Album to Remember #7: Ely Guerra Plug & Play
I think Ely is the Queen, punto. This Mexican rockera can do no wrong in my eyes and when I saw her live in 2007, I was eager to grab this release of live songs, including two tracks from her second album that I can’t find anywhere. “Peligro” and “No Quiero Hablar” make this a CD I keep on constant rotation.
2008 Best Album to Remember #6: The Mars Volta The Bedlam in Goliath
There’s so much fusion in this album and I still become lost in thought when I read about what influenced this progressive rock band. It can only be described as the manifestation of magical realism through music. In other words, it’s deep, but you have to press play.
2008 Best Album to Remember #5: Seal Soul
It’s not too late to jump on the Seal bandwagon, and this album may be what makes you take the leap. A cover of soulful classics is perfect for any occasion. Also perfect: his voice. If you are planning an inauguration party in January, this album is a must-have.
2008 Best Album to Remember #4: Omar Sosa Afreecanos
Don’t sleep on Omar Sosa because he’s not sleeping on us! If there is one musician that is continuously pushing the limits of music, it’s Sosa. You can enjoy his union of jazz with Afro-Cuban beats with your abuelos, and then have it on heavy rotation when you’re alone. It’s one of those gems that you are compelled to share, but want to keep for yourself.
2008 Best Album to Remember #3: Julieta Venegas MTV Unplugged
What better way to get a great slice of Julieta’s musical history than in this compilation? I saw her live twice in 2008 and this album is the next best thing. She also treats us to a few new folk/pop sounds. If you want to splurge, get the DVD too.
2008 Best Album to Remember #2: Seu Jorge América Brasil o Disco
Technically, this album wasn’t accessible to those of us in the US until 2008, but it was well worth the wait. If you want classic Seu Jorge, check out the track “Cuidar de Mim.” Personally, I love “Voz da Massa,” because of the beautiful Portuguese-inspired strings. Plus, there’s a secret additional track! If you don’t already know who Seu Jorge is, check out the cult film City of God and keep an eye out for “Knockout Ned.”
2008 Best Album to Remember #1: In The Heights Original Broadway Cast Recording Soundtrack
If winning a Tony for Best Musical of 2008 isn’t convincing enough, then make sure to check out Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance speech!
2008 Best Album Honorable Mention #6: Ivy Queen 2008 World Live Tour!
I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for “Yo Quiero Bailar.” Some may say it’s my anthem. What I find most impressive with this CD is listening to the 20+ year musical evolution of the queen of reggaeton.
2008 Best Album Honorable Mention #5: Slumdog Millionaire Original Film Soundtrack
The soundtrack is just as stunning as this unforgettable drama from India. You will be entranced by the Bollywood fusion of hip-hop and the musical mash up that is M.I.A.
2008 Best Album Honorable Mention #4: Nothing Like The Holidays Original Film Soundtrack
A compilation from this year’s only Latino Navidad film, the soundtrack includes songs by salsa leaders Eddie Palmieri, Doug E Fresh, and Celia Cruz.
Read nocheLatina’s film review.
2008 Best Album Honorable Mention #3: The Black Kids Partie Traumatic
It’s such a cliché to write this, but it’s the best way to get us all on the same page: If you grew up with The Cure, you will love The Black Kids. They give a fresh new funky twist to punk rock and sing about having crushes. The last time I heard a song about a crush was The Jets!
2008 Best Album Honorable Mention #2: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez The Apocalypse Inside of an Orange
A solo attempt that is heavy on the Afro-beat made me smile for weeks.
2008 Honorable Mention #1: Aterciopelados Rio
Using art to create social change and raise our consciousness about issues not reported in the US is what makes Aterciopelados’ latest album a form of activism. Take a stand and prepare to get moved.