Best Songs 2008: 7 – Love Lockdown

This was a tough choice as I looked over my list of “best songs.” I understood the very fleeting nature of the modern song – we hold onto one for a bit and then carry forth to find something new. But that is not the nature of Kanye West’s first single off his new album. Unlike so many one-off relationships, I find myself constantly returning to “Love Lockdown,” looking for more.

And perhaps that is why I am finally willing to join the Kanye-bandwagon on this release. Unlike so much of his rap work, “Love Lockdown” is a very sparse song. The singing (yes, Auto Tune, whatever) is only accompanied by a piano, the sound of a bass, and the pound of percussion. This minimalist approach lends more successfully to my tastes, and thus I found it very enjoyable.

But that’s not enough to be a part of this list. I enjoy many songs each year, but I don’t ultimately consider each of them to be stunning examples of greatness. “Love Lockdown” has the intangibles on its side. There is a strange sort of hypnosis that the song places you under. As soon as the first beats are heard, you are transfixed and simply cannot move away from the music. Maybe it’s that anguish heard in every word sung. Perhaps the intoxicating rhythm is the source of the fixation; when the full drums come in during the chorus, you sit up and take notice. The whole power of the beat is just great.

But that’s not all to feel in “Love Lockdown.” When the song is over, when you’re out, just walking through the snow, the song resurfaces. Wandering through a mall, the murmur of voices is drowned out by the song, lingering in the mind. “Love Lockdown” is really amazing in this respect. There is something here that I can’t understand, but it’s undeniable. The whole track has a great structure, features amazing emotional range, but is most impressive because of its infectious nature.

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