The Mountain Goats & Kaki King – “Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is In Another Castle” (via Stereogum): The Mountain Goats were probably my first great love in the realm of indie music, and I still would rank The Sunset Tree and All Hail West Texas among my favorite albums ever. On the other hand, I never even listened to Heretic Pride, so it’s safe to say that The Mountain Goats have kind of fallen off my radar. Until now. This song, off of a 6-song collaboration with Kaki King called the Black Pear Tree EP, is absolutely great. Reflecting the polished production of other recent Mountain Goats work as well as John Darnielle’s typical spartan touch, the song is barely more than Darnielle’s vocals over slow piano and jazz drums. The climax comes when Kaki King and a glockenspiel chime in for one line: “Yeah when you came in, I could breathe again.” It’s the kind of totally simplistic line like “The most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway is that it’s you and that you’re standing in the doorway” that John Darnielle has a singular talent for delivering with heft. I really like the fact that this song is so powerful for no discernibly obvious reason.

Kanye West – “Love Lockdown” (VMA Video): I’m pretty impressed that Kanye managed to debut a song on live TV in the age of the internet, but TV was probably not the best medium for debuting this song, since the whole performance was Kanye singing alone onstage. The drumline bits were pretty damn cool, and the hook isn’t bad, but who the hell wants to hear Kanye sing a crappy autotuned R&B ballad? I’ll have to listen to a recording quality version of the song before I can judge more, but I kind of wish Kanye would go back to just having tons of sweet guests on his songs instead of just autotuning the fuck out of everything he does. (Seriously, what was the last song Kanye was featured on where he didn’t use autotune?).

T.I. feat. Rihanna – “Live Your Life” (VMA Video): The video for “Whatever You Like” was a kind of cool concept that was terribly done. The performance with Rihanna was absolutely great, although largely because of Rihanna. She has become a pretty damn charismatic live performer, and the outfit she’s wearing is sweet. Also, even though it may be the first song to sample the Numa Numa dance, this song undeniably makes good use of it. It’s too bad T.I. kind of blows his part of the show, but this still strikes me as a great song. I really can’t wait for Paper Trail. On a side note, the one shot of the black guy in the tuxedo vest dancing to this song is priceless.