20 tracks that made 2007 the best year ever

#10 DJ Mehdi – ‘Signatune’ (Thomas Bangalter Edit)

Trust one half of Daft Punk to transform an overlooked album sketch from DJ Mehdi’s Lucky Boy LP into a certified cult classic. Continuing with the mechanical simplicity of Human After All, Thomas Bangalter takes the original minute-long track and works it over with destructive minimalism. More drums, more crunch, more drama. And it works. It works so freaking well.

#9 New Young Pony Club – ‘Ice Cream’

I’ll admit that it’s has been a while since I gave New Young Pony Club much thought. The British band haven’t made much of an impact since Ice Cream, but it was on a recent trip to a suburban Target, of all places, where I heard this song again and was reminded just how damn good it was. A compact and bouncy groove, “angular” guitar stabs and frosty vocals made this a killer crossover tune that was equally at home on the dancefloor as it was in an indie club.

#8 Digitalism – ‘Pogo’

While the Australian scene was in robust shape during 2007, the overseas market was dominated by two French powerhouse labels in Ed Banger and Kitsune. Each imprint had marquee act of their own, with Justice spearheading Ed Banger’s rise up the ranks and Germany Digitalism becoming Kitsune’s trump card.

While we’re compelled to dramatise history into sides like the Blur vs Oasis feud of the Brit-Pop years, there was no bad blood in the electro arms race, just a whole lot of excellent music. Digitalism delivered a biggie with their Idealism LP and with its hissing hi-hats and extremely shout-able ‘woah oh’s, the distinctly rock influenced single Pogo destroyed more than a few indie dancefloors in its time.

#7 Cut Copy – ‘Hearts On Fire’

With the eyes and ears of the world turning to Australia’s rising indie-dance scene in 2007, Melbourne maestros Cut Copy stepped up in a big way as leaders of the pack with Hearts On Fire. Coming as the first new music since the release of the band’s 2004 debut Bright Like Neon Love, this enduring favourite showed the first signs of Cutters’ forthcoming ascendance, mixing the band’s polish as a live unit and Dan Whitford’s studio trickery.

#6 LCD Soundsystem – ‘Get Innocuous’ (Soulwax Remix)

If you ran an MP3 blog in the mid ‘00s then you knew that a new Soulwax remix was like solid gold. If you trawled Hype Machine or lurked on the Erol Alkan forum during that time, then you waited impatiently on every new remix, edit and bootleg the Belgian brothers released.

While Soulwax remixes of The Gossip and Klaxons get more fanfare, it’s this take on Get Innocuous by LCD Soundsystem that ranks as one of their most perfect remixes. Here Soulwax keep the original skeleton of Sound Of Silver’s opening track but pile on the beefcake powder until each mutating arpeggio loop seems to shake the ground beneath your feet with distortion.

#5 Lifelike – ‘So Electric’

Check the dance music history books and the superstar names of the French house movement read like so: Daft Punk, Alan Braxe & Fred Falke, DJ Falcon, Cassius, Etienne de Crecy. How does a new producer break into those glittering ranks?

Fellow Frenchman Lifelike started off right with Discopolis with Kris Menace, but managed to reach hitherto unexplored heights of euphoria on So Electric. From the swirling filter wash on the synths right down to the chopped vocal sample that rings out triumphantly at the end, it’s a dazzlingly executed blueprint of the French touch sound.

#4 Pnau – ‘Embrace’

Pnau have a knack for popping up during key eras of Australian electronic music – from their watershed release Sambanova to their recent comeback with Chameleon – and true to form they snuck in their self titled third album at the tail end of 2007, as the local scene approached its zenith. While that record’s known for tracks like Wild Strawberries and With You Forever, the album’s underrated crown jewel remains Embrace. Featuring Ladyhawke on vocal duties, Embrace accelerates the heartbeat with a chorus equal parts clean and powerful.

#3 Justice – ‘D.A.N.C.E’

You weren’t in the scene in 2007 if you didn’t know about Justice. The French duo were the poster-children of the electro movement, spearheading the French/Ed Banger sound, and they felt like the second coming of Daft Punk thanks to massive singles like Waters Of Nazareth and Phantom Pt. I.

Now it was the rest of the world’s turn to hear ’em, and that’s exactly what happened when the French pair dropped D.A.N.C.E.. The lead single off Justice’s debut album Cross still gets me giddy today, with that gurgling bassline, disco strings and children’s choir all coming together so perfectly. And extra props for the So-Me clip which essentially foreshadowed the rise of the lyric video.

#2 M.I.A. – ‘Paper Planes’

Arular introduced her as an agent provocateur, but Kala ushered M.I.A. into the mainstream. The album’s big moment, Paper Planes – produced with then-regular collaborator Diplo – is still the ultimate feel-chill anthem, the song to blast when it’s payday and you’ve got the windows down. Don’t let the instant ubiquity of this song dampen how you feel about it nearly ten years later.

#1 The Presets – ‘My People’

Nobody owned the Australian dance scene from 2004 to 2009 like The Presets. We got a first taste of their instant classic Apocalypso in the closing moments of 2007 with lead single My People, and it hit like a brick. At the time it was penned as The Presets’ voice of support for detained asylum seekers and in today’s turbulent political climate, My People seems to be just as vital as it was in 2007.

Dave Ruby Howe is a writer, broadcaster and music director of Australia’s largest independent music discovery platform. You can find him on Twitter.

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