In some ways, 2008 was pretty similiar to 2018. A shock candidate had just entered the White House, bypassing Hillary Clinton who people thought was a sure thing. The worldwide economy was still at breaking point, there were still tensions in the Middle East, and global warming was still hugely under-recognised. Betty White was still popular, and O.J. Simpson was still headed straight for priosn.
But in other ways, 2008 was a completely different time from the one we're now living in. Politically, things were much more liberal - we had Barrack Obama in office instead of Donald Trump - and musically, we were still exploring the genres of folk and rock concurrent with the R&B revival taking place. Trap wasn't even a thing, and Cardi B was swinging on a pole somewhere without a dollar to her name.
In this list, we'll be looking at fifteen of the biggest songs of ten years ago. Some of them are probably still played at whatever New Year's Eve countdown you listen to, but others will definitely be forgotten gems. Check them out below and let us know what you think in the comments!
15. Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful of Sunshine
I'd always assumed that 'Pocketful of Sunshine' only became a hit in 2010 after it was memorably featured in Easy A; but it turns out the song actually first found it's success back in 2008, when it charted at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. As Easy A's Olive remarks, 'Pocketful of Sunshine' really is the "worst song ever", but like most of the singer-songwriter style songs released in 2008 it's also incredibly catchy. Prepare for this to be stuck in your head for the next week.
14. Jazon Mraz - I'm Yours
Speaking of annoying singer-songwriter songs, let's take a look back at the breakthrough single from one hit wonder Jason Mraz. Along with Colbie Caillat's 'Bubbly', 'I'm Yours' led the charge for summery, acoustic pop songs to offset the overproduced dance pop on the radio, and it found huge success among the "middle aged women who post Minion memes" crowd. Even though it only hit #6 on the Hot 100, it stayed on the charts for an insane 76 weeks, becoming the longest charting song at the time; and it now holds the honour of being the tenth best-selling digital song of all time in the US. It's easy to understand why, but that doesn't make the song any better.
13. Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown - No Air
Remember when people still admitted to listening to Chris Brown songs instead of playing them in their wireless headphones in dark alleys and dead-end streets? 2008 was definitely Brown's year, and he found success not only as a solo artist with 'Kiss Kiss', 'With You' and 'Forever' (all of which have to be strong contenders for the most annoying song ever - this is becoming a trend, 2008), but also with his duet with American Idol alum Jordin Sparks. The song is bang on trend for the year, featuring the same R&B beat which had blown up in 2007 and the icy synths that Timbaland had been pushing for the past few seasons.
12. Mariah Carey - Touch My Body
It might be unfair to refer to Mariah Carey as the female Chris Brown, but it's obvious her star has fallen quite a bit in the decade since she released 'Touch My Body'. Back then, MiMi was praised for her frank take on sexuality and her funny self-parodies - such as in the video above, where she seduces her Wi-Fi installation man - but now it seems that she's criticised for trying too hard to be sexy and taking herself way too seriously. Mariah could definitely learn something from the success she back in 2008.
11. T.I. - Whatever You Like
'Whatever You Like' is actually the name of two T.I. songs - one Nicole Scherzinger attempt he featured on which was a huge flop, and one solo effort which blew up internationally and effectively launched his career. 'Whatever You Like' was the song of the summer back in 2008, and went on to be the sixteenth most successful song of the decade. It's stood up relatively well over the years, although we have to say that our personal favourite version of the song is Anya Marina's chilled out cover.
10. P!nk - So What
Although R&B and hip-hop was huge back in 2008, the power-pop vibe mastered by stars like Kelly Clarkson and Hilary Duff was still grasping on to it's last moments in the sun. Case in point: 'So What', which was the first single from P!nk's Funhouse album, and which marked a huge return to the US charts for the singer after she failed to sell in the country during her I'm Not Dead era. It's sad given that 'So What' is actually incredibly trashy and a shameless cash grab compared to that previous album, with some of the laziest songwriting including lines like, "So what/I'm still a rockstar/I've got my rock moves/And I don't need you tonight". That said, the song is still a P!nk and Max Martin collaboration, which means that it's as super catchy and feelgood as you'd expect from the team that brought you 'U + Ur Hand'.
9. Flo Rida - Low (Feat. T-Pain)
There was a time back in 2008 when you couldn't turn on any radio station, visit any shopping mall, or tune into any episode of whatever trashy MTV reality show you were trying to watch without having to endure yet another spin of Flo Rida's 'Low'. Rida has vanished into obscurity in the last few years, but up until then he had a penchant for writing incredibly catchy songs, and 'Low' is no exception. Bolstered by a placement in Step Up 2: The Streets (yes, it was that long ago), 'Low' was such a huge hit when it was released that it went on to become the highest selling single of the 2000s decade. If only someone could explain what "apple bottom jeans" actually are.
8. Rihanna - Disturbia
Rihanna was telling us she was a "good girl gone bad" from the time 'Umbrella' was first released, but it wasn't until 'Disturbia' dropped that we actually believed her. 'Disturbia' follows in the footsteps of 'Thriller' in presenting an image of mental anguish, paranoia and anxiety which is nevertheless surprisingly fun to dance to - and in a weird coincidence, it was even penned by future ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, who clearly had is own issues with mental anguish. With one of the catchiest executions of "bum bum be dum" ever created, 'Disturbia' also happens to have one of the best music videos Rih's ever released, featuring tarantulas, wolves and S&M eyepatches. It's a total classic that still makes our Halloween playlists to this day.
7. Madonna - 4 Minutes (Feat. Justin Timberlake)
Madonna is one of the few artists who's probably had a hit no matter how many decades back you go, but back in 2008 it had been a while since she'd released a true chart topper. Everything changed with '4 Minutes', a Justin Timberlake and Timbaland collaboration which launched her back into the public's consciousness. Featuring a call and response chorus and some vague lyrics about the apocalypse perfect for the increased talk of global warming, the song was the perfect way to bring Madge into the future. We just wish she'd been able to be as successful with any of her singles since then.
6. Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Following in the trend of Bedingfield and Mraz is Sara Bareilles's 'Love Song', a laidback folky bop which made the perfect easy listening for 2008. The story behind the song is that Bareilles was becoming frustrated with her label's refusal to release her music, so she wrote an archetypal "love song" dedicated to her executives in a passive aggressive attempt to impress them. Regardless of the feud, it seems that both parties won in the end because 'Love Song' ended up spending 19 weeks in the top ten and becoming one of the biggest hits of 2008.
5. Timbaland - Apologize (Feat. OneRepublic)
'Apologize' was actually first released as the first single from OneRepublic's debut album Dreaming Out Loud, but when it failed to make waves the band hit up Timbaland for a remix (and an impressive name check) to blow up the radio. The only real thing Timbo added was a much-parodied line of "eh eh, eh eh" background vocals, but that didn't stop the public from eating the new version of the song up - it stayed in the top ten for twenty five weeks which made it the longest song to hang in there so long since 1999.
4. Alicia Keys - No One
Alicia Keys' 'No One' is probably the quintessential song of 2008, combining the Timbaland style of R&B, the OneRepublic style of acoustic rock and the Jordin Sparks brand of irritation into one fusion of a track. The fact that everyone in the world thought they could hit the high notes that Alicia masters just made matters worse. Nevertheless, 'No One' became the most listened-to song on US radio in 2008 with over three billion listeners, while also becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.
3. Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl
It's weird to think that just ten years ago nobody knew who Katy Perry was, and that the world's first introduction to the heretofore Christian pop star was a song all about flirting with bisexuality (something we're sure she'd be too "woke" to do now). 'I Kissed A Girl' has to be one of the most manipulative, disingenuous and trashy songs ever written, but thanks to the stylings of super producer Dr. Luke (there's another sentence that just wouldn't be written in 2018) it managed to become a hit anyway, topping the charts for seven weeks in a row. If nothing else, it launched the career of Perry (who, after all, brought us 'Teenage Dream') and it added to the conversation surrounding LGBTQ rights, so it can't be all bad.
2. Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
If you've ever had a break up, you'll be all too intimately familiar with this song and the precise playthrough during which your tub of ice cream begins to run out. 'Bleeding Love' is the quintessential heartbreak song - heartfelt and wrenching, and with a climactic note which no one can actually hit during karaoke but which everyone tries to. There's clearly a lot of sad people in the world, too, because the song hit #1 in 35 countries. Sadly, it's a success Leona has never quite been able to match - while the follow up 'Better In Time' was moderately well received, every single since has been a flop, at least outside of her home country of the UK.
1. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Before Coldplay was being unnecessarily bashed for their Super Bowl Half Time Show performance in 2016, they actually enjoyed a successful career which largely climaxed with the release of 2007's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. The titular single from the album was 'Viva La Vida', a rousing, grandiose statement of glorious intent for the rest of the album which never fails to put a smile on people's faces or a tear in their eye. With references to love, death and war, 'Viva La Vida' really has it all, and it succeeded not just as a onetime popular single but as an enduring testament to the band's legacy.
What was your favourite song of 2008? Let us know in the comments! And for a trip down memory lane, check out the ten biggest hits of 2007 here.