Now Reading
Winners and Losers of 2008

Winners and Losers of 2008

And now, my annual list of  those who came out ahead in 2008, and those who worked their way into the same catagory as Billy Corgan.  

Music fans! A slew of great releases, the return of vinyl, the death of the post-Carson-Daly TRL…this was a very good year. 

Two rapping Star Wars nerds.  Just when rap was losing all footing as an art form, two Chicago kids came out of, well probably out of scholastic bowl practice, to shake things up.  The beats are incredibly sparse (the first track is pretty much a bell and a looped vocal), and the lyrics are about BMX bikes, pagers, TV dinners, and the ‘90’s in general (and thankfully pretty free of profanity).  Nobody saw The Cool Kids coming, but I’m sure glad they’re here. 

Middle-aged singers.  The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn (37) isn’t somebody you’d recognize if he was in line with you in Target.  In fact, you’d probably assume from his receded hairline and white-collar-job glasses that he was an accountant somewhere. The same goes for 38 year old Rivers Cuomo of Weezer.  But both bands saw their popularity with college kids skyrocket this year. 

Kid Rock and Taylor Swift.  These artists won for being the only two who can still sell physical CD’s.  Rock, because he rejected iTunes distribution while enjoying the success of “All Summer Long,” and Swift because teen girls have lots of disposable income and share her boy drama. 

M. Ward.  Yeah, he was renowned amongst the indie community before ’08 (mainly for Post War), but it wasn’t until he teamed up with the adorable Zooey Deschanel and made an equally adorable record that he became a household name. Or, letter.

Sara Groves. Possessing one of the grandest visions in Christian music, Groves launched the Art. Music. Justice. Tour, featuring Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Brandon Heath, and Charlie Peacock for a live show that spotlighted the social justice movement within the church around some really, really good music. 

Pete Wentz.  Yeah, Fall out Boy’s last album wasn’t that great, and his video show MTV is simply horrendous.  But he’s got the golden touch, from a new clothing line to re-launching Panic at the Disco as a band you can take semi-seriously.  He’s become the voice of upper middle class suburban kids who’s main source of angst is that their Volvo’s are second hand and their iPhones are first gen. And even if you don’t like him, he’s still the driving force behind the biggest punk-inspired band of this decade.

Derek Webb. Launches, helps 100 artists (and counting) give their music away to gain new fans.

The Double EP. Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman and Thrice each released a set this year.

Okkervil River and/or Fleet Foxes. Depending on who you ask, one  (or both) of these bands are going to save indie music.  And since 2008 was the biggest year EVER for indie music, it’s easy to see why the movement would need one artist to save it.  Still, both bands found lots of attention and loads of new fans. 

Underoath. They scream, scream, screamed their way into the most prominent spot in hardcore. 

The city of Chicago.  America’s 2

city threw one heck of a Lollapalooza and gave us exciting new music from Lupe Fiaso, The Cool Kids and Kanye West (who sings, weird), and Matthew Santos (just wait, he’s coming).

Johnny Cash. There was a truckload of “new” material from the Man in Black this year, including a re-release of his Folsom Prison concert, a Christmas special DVD set and a punk-rock tribute album.   Unforunately, a bunch of artists he would have greatly disliked either covered his songs or name-dropped him to sell more records (the two greatest offenders are that chick from Dancing with the Stars, and has-been white rapper Everlast).


Every city with a KISS FM radio station.    In 2007, the corporate monolith started to get better (mixing in Foo Fighters, Death Cab For Cutie, etc), but returned this year to their tried and true mix of songs that all sound more or less like “Can I buuay you a draaank.”

Gym Class Heroes. Band hires guy who sounds like T-Pain (meaning he can’t sing without the help of a computer) to do the hook on the first single off of “The Quilt.”  Fans, who previously adored the band for their backpacker-hip-hop-meets-quirky-indie-rock are outraged…and move on to the next flavor of the month. 

Hip hop.  Lets face it—this was a really bad year.

Long song titles. Sorry Sufjan Stevens and various hardcore bands….but songs with more words in the title than in the lyrics have fallen out of favor.

CD’s.  The fastest growing demographic for digital consumption (mainly via the iTunes store) is 36-50 year olds.  Your mom is now buying on iTunes.  Sorry shiny plastic discs, it’s over.

Tuesday.  Kanye West, Guns n Roses and Coldplay all dropping albums on Monday, the traditional “media release day” is going by the wayside.

Billy Corgan.  Sadly for the Smashing Pumpkins frontman, he learned too little too late that making fun of the fans=a flopped comeback tour.  On a recent youtube video (that I considered linking, but finally deemed it too vulgar), Billy told the crowd “it’s not getting any better than this.  You might as well head to your cars.”  They did.  And with them went the final hope that this ‘90’s alt giant could ever be anything again (Note, if you’d like to buy a signed copy of Billy Corgan’s poetry book, email me.  I am willing to let it go cheap).

tower, 26, can be heard in Chicago on Shine.FM and in Saginaw Michigan on FUSE FM. 

View Comment (1)

Leave a Reply

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top

You’re reading our ad-supported experience

For our premium ad-free experience, including exclusive podcasts, issues and more, subscribe to

Plans start as low as $2.50/mo