Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker offers his picks for the best music of the year, including Fiona Apple's latest album and a Bob Dylan DVD. He also addresses the topic of women in music, and he talks about the year in hip-hop. Tucker is the film critic for New York magazine.
1. Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple: The singer-songwriter's album was caught in corporate turnaround until fans demanded its release.
2. "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" by Spoon, on the album Gimme Fiction: The CD is Austin, Texas-based band's first in three years, and Tucker found this song "extremely alluring, immediately accessible, yet mysterious."
3. "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down" by Martina McBride, on the album Timeless: "You've hit the top, but it won't last/There's just one way to go... When you find that you are lonely/Pick me up on your way down," sings McBride in a song about hubris.
4. Rehearsing My Choir by The Fiery Furnaces: The brother and sister duo's CD takes the form of snapshots from their grandmother's life.
5. "Gold Digger" by Kanye West, on the album Late Registration: The single from West's second album features a hook sung by actor/comedian Jamie Foxx.
6. Rednecks and Bluenecks: Politics in Country Music by Chris Willman: The Entertainment Weekly writer examines the intersection of political debate with country acts such as the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith.
7. Baby by The Detroit Cobras: The Cobras specialize in playing raucous cover versions of other musicians' songs.
8. Same !@#$, Different Day by Lyrics Born: On his sophomore album, the hip-hop artist is "out to throw a good party while making a few social, political and romantic points," Tucker says in his review.
9. No Direction Home by Bob Dylan: Director Martin Scorsese brings his filmmaking talents to the legendary singer-songwriter's story.
10. One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found: A boxed set from Rhino Records compiles forgotten gems from girl groups of the 1960s.