2008 was a rough year, for the world, for me: I ended it with what I realised later was a breakdown, several weeks into a new job. I was fortunate: medication worked, though shredded my memory – that, and the loss of two hard drives from these years, mean that for the next stretch I’m constantly wondering to myself, what am I missing?

CASSIE ft LIL WAYNE – “Official Girl”: You could ask that question in a wider sense. The tail end of the 00s are peak leak: official and unofficial releases turning up a track at a time, reducing entire careers to strings of intermittent pearls. This seemed to happen particularly to women in R&B – Ciara and Cassie, whose attempts to follow “Me And U” were a series of false starts. In the middle, this quietly dramatic song about being the side chick, with Lil Wayne’s raspy, ever-inventive crassness painfully apt as the point-missing lover. YES.

DANITY KANE ft MISSY ELLIOTT – “Bad Girl”: “Official Girl” and “Bad Girl” (and Britney’s Blackout) are produced by Danja, a Timbaland protege who was eclipsing his mentor at this stage – less rhythmically innovative. he was a master of layered synth timbres and vocal treatments. Alongside The-Dream, who’ll show up later, it meant the sound of late 00s R&B was opulent, velvety, lush in a way the early 00s hadn’t been. Perfect sound for a girl group – Danity Kane didn’t always have the songs to match the sounds, but “Bad Girl”‘s choral fembot bubblebath still sounds wonderful. YES.

LILY ALLEN – “The Fear”: The personal consequences of 00s celebrity culture are still grimly playing out, but Lily Allen’s best song wouldn’t work so well if it was only satire – there’s no other song, certainly no other No.1 hit, which captures so well how disorienting the rugpull on the 00s boom felt, even when it had been a long time coming. YES.

THE KILLERS – “Human”: This is, obviously, the Killers song which should be perpetually in the charts: a thing of total, gorgeous, emptiness, the pop version of Zoolander’s Blue Steel. YES.

WILEY – “Wearing My Rolex”: A stand in for a pile of assorted dangers who I can’t listen to with much (or any) pleasure these days – I picked this one because it was by a mile my favourite single of 2008 in 2008, and would have been a cert for the Uncool50 as well as the #FearOfMu21c project if the first thing I think of when I see the man’s name wasn’t “antisemitic Twitter meltdown”. But it is. Oh yeah, and my favourite album of 2008 at the time? 808s And Heartbreak. Sigh. NO.

CHRISTIAN FALK ft ROBYN – “Dream On”: One of Robyn’s simplest songs, so open-hearted it maybe shouldn’t work but her performance is as wholly committed to the idea of grace as any gospel singer. Quite possibly her finest moment. YES.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND – “Oxford Comma”: A dozen Belorussian troll farms couldn’t have come up with a band as perfectly divisive as Vampire Weekend – and I suspect a year or two in either direction and they wouldn’t have made the impact (or the enemies) they did. I dunno if this is my favourite VW song but I think everything good, bad and interesting about them is in this one. NO.

PUBLIC ENEMY – “Harder Than You Think”: (Wrong year – this is a 2007 jam) I know they’re still going, and I’m keen to read Chuck D’s graphic novel, but this feels like a career capstone – two veterans pulling it together and proving why they were the best. You can hear the effort, and also the pride. YES.

HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR – “Blind”: ANOHNI and a disco bassline is such an outrageously effective combination it’s a shame it didn’t happen more often. It’s ultimately a bit too retro to really demand inclusion but “filling in the gaps between Sylvester and Ze Records” is as worthy a continuity insert as you could ask for. NO.

GOLDFRAPP – “A&E”: This worked for me so much better than Goldfrapp’s chilly synthpop era. Unfortunately slightly ruined for me by being stuck in my head the weekend I terrified everyone by ending up in A&E myself with a suspected heart attack (it was gallstones!). Anyway for what it’s worth the song is very accurate. NO.

MATIAS AGUAYO – “Minimal”: This year’s entry in the “long-ass dance track” stakes isn’t actually that long (a bijou 6 minutes), but it makes up for that by being waspishly funny in its attack on minimal techno (you might listen to it and think, now hold on there Matias… but genre in electronic music is a constantly warring fractal. NO.

GNARLS BARKLEY – “Run (I’m A Natural Disaster)”: File next to “The Fear”, “A&E”, and chunks of 808s under “songs I was with hindsight perhaps a little TOO into” (and I don’t want to listen to the very binned Cee-Lo Green anyway). Does always make me think of Final Crisis, which is one of my happier 2008 memories. NO.

PETER FOX – “Alles Neu”: You wait 65 years for a banger to sample Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony and then 3 come along at one (well, OK, over another 5 years). Peter Fox – ex-Seeed frontman – was the first to spot the potential, his use being lifted by Plan B for “Ill Manors” – Fall Out Boy’s “The Phoenix” came at it independently. All three are excellent! I think Fox still has the edge – the drums on this sound so good and German is a fantastic rap language. But Plan B’s chorus is better, and FOB squeeze even more aggression out of it. YES.

TV ON THE RADIO – “Halfway Home”: As I say, I successfully and very stupidly avoided TVOTR throughout my time writing for Pitchfork (their rubbish band name only slight mitigation) – so until we polled 2008 I had no idea they were splitting the prog/post-punk difference so thunderously well. YES.

Next it’s 2009 – Gaga vs GAPDY!