It’s all about that break. Everything else, the overused autotune, the off-key vocals warbling some flimsy lyrics, the piano riff that’s pretty amateurish? Completely secondary to that break. 808s and Heartbreaks is one of the most frustrating listens I had in 2008: it comes so close, so frequently, but never quite hits the marks set by those thundering drums.
(For the record, “Paranoid” and “Robocop” are the other standouts for me. The first recalls that weird period in the mid-80s when everyone made synthpop but called it something else, and “Robocop” is just so misbegotten and over the top that the Trevor Horn fan in me wants to embrace it as a magnificently flawed masterpiece.)