Wednesday, December 28, 2011

FLASHBACK: Best Songs of 2009

Best Songs of 2009

There is a three-way tie for the number one spot. Therefore, there are 13 songs in the top ten and seventy-eight songs in this list, the largest list ever assembled. This is probably the best list I have ever assembled since I began doing this back in 2001.

1-Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling” The E.N.D.

My favorite sellouts of all time (“Sell outs? We sell out concerts!”). They may have sold out big time thanks to Target and many other endorsements but they can still big on catchy hits and bring an incredible energy with their music and performances. After Fergie released her solo album, the powerhouse regrouped and released The E.N.D. in the summer of 2009, and they became one of the few artists in history to simultaneously occupy the top two spots of Billboard’s Hot 100 throughout the summer (along with “Boom Boom Pow”). “I Gotta Feeling” is pure fun, it’s not selling you an agenda or trying to become deep and complex like many artists and their works, it works across all boundaries, just like their earlier stuff, like “Let’s Get It Started” and “Where is the Love?”. After a hell-bent year for many people, they found their escape through many ways, and one of the most popular was this song. Plus, it’s great to jump up and down and dance to at the clubs and at parties, or even in the car ride to and/or from the clubs and parties. Tonight’s gonna be a good night indeed.

1-Kings of Leon “Use Somebody” Only by the Night

This song works for many occasions, a romance ballad, an ode to great and energetic music, an anthem to the young and young at heart, a soundtrack staple, a song to rock out to at a concert with thousands of others on a hot summers night (like I did at Lollapalooza when they performed). After years of little fanfare in the States, the Followill brothers and cousin finally broke into the big time with this and other great hits off their Grammy-Award winning platinum bestseller, Only by the Night (2008). Kings of Leon is a fine example of the little rock band that could. And they did, thanks to their down-to-earth and casual attitudes, loads of whiskey, and many more loads of fans. All of that equals to their well-deserved staggering success.

1-Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Zero” It’s Blitz!

When Karen-O first belted out the song “Maps” back in 2003, you knew you were in for a treat. You were also in for something completely different than what was around in alternative at the time. “Rarely, if ever, had female sexuality and innermost emotions been broadcast with such explicit detail, and with such style and panache”, wrote Robin Murray in Clash Magazine. Karen-O, along with Nick Zinner and Brian Chase, brought depth and intensity into each song and performance, especially during their impressive performance at Lollapalooza in August. "The album proves that they can provide epic music with personal themes, that YYYs can expand without losing what made us fall for them in the first place." (Clash) The first single off their incredible third album, It’s Blitz!, provides the same awe, rawness, and frantic yet sexual pace they have provided music lovers for the better part of this decade. “Zero” is a surprisingly great dancefloor song, one that you can rock out at the club or start a mosh pit with at a concert. This is their best work to date, and possibly the first great rock song of the Obama and Twitter era.

2-Ladyhawke “Paris is Burning” Ladyhawke

This is probably the best song about chaos between boys and girls and screaming and getting wasted on wine in the City of Lights. Ladyhawke, aka Pip Brown, is a New Zealand musician who I wish had become a breakthrough success in the US, but not all wishes can come true. Nevertheless, she is a force to be reckon with. Her self-titled debut album, which has reached gold status in the UK, sounds much like a lost ‘80s soundtrack, except it hasn’t aged badly or become irrelevant or sound dated, unlike much music from that era, like Gary Numan (“Cars”) or Duran Duran (“Rio”). “Despite its blatant retro vibe, it still manages to sound fresh thanks to its clever production and Brown's fiery and vibrant vocals.” (Jon O’Brien,

3-Phoenix “1901” Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

The French have produced many great things: Moliere, wine, bread, The Eiffel Tower, many romantic stories and dreams, movies, Catherine Deneuve, and Cyrano de Bergerac—but pop music…not so much. (Raise your hand if you own a copy of any Oui Oui album. No takers?) But then comes along Phoenix, a French band that delivers a sense of irony and playfulness to their music. They made pop fun instead of a burden or something forced out of a musician from the record company. Thanks to a Cadillac ad and a Grammy nomination, they are finally gaining some mainstream exposure stateside.

4-Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind” The Blueprint III

One of hip-hop’s talented MCs and one of the most talented singer/songwriters/pianists of our time team up for this new anthem for the Big Apple. After flirting with retirement, Jay Z returned with the concept album American Gangster (2007), which was good, but not as good as Hova’s great works, such as The Blueprint (2001). This ode to New York stands out among his classics and at age forty, he is much more talented, especially lyrically (“Don’t bite the apple, Eve, caught up in the in crowd/Now you’re in style and in the winter gets cold/En vogue with your skin out/the city of sin is a pity on a whim”), than MCs half his age.

5-The Decemberists “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid” The Hazards of Love

One of seventeen tracks off their rock opera The Hazards of Love, The Decemberists proved that music can be a great tool for captivating storytelling. The Hazards of Love is a love story between a young woman and a shape-shifting beast and the forces that try to destroy their romance. They delivered a powerful and emotionally remarkable performance at this year’s Lollapalooza, which further deepened my admiration for a band that can rock out the accordion and Hammond organ, among other instruments not usually associated with rock music. This is a band that truly deserves the term rock gods.

6-The Kills “Tape Song” Midnight Boom

“Midnight Boom bleeds color, excitement, and emotion into VV and Hotel's music, transforming it into daring, dirty pop that is unrepentantly glamorous and tender, high-end and trashy, and it glitters like diamonds mixed with broken glass.” (Heather Phares,
I was too tired to write anything at this point (these were written out of order). I will say that this is a great sexy rock song. Especially the bass and the chorus.

7-Weezer “(If You Are Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” Raditude

“In writing about love and desire --- about being an adolescent, or at least feeling like one --- Cuomo dials into a purity of feeling that adulthood slowly drains,” wrote Greg Kot when reviewing Weezer’s seventh album. After dealing with middle age and some less than thrilling songs (“Pork ‘n’ Beans” rings a bell?), Rivers Cuomo and Co. fondly look back at those wonder years. And what better song to kick off the nostalgia than this Motown-styled ditty about the trials of young love. “At first, the song seems to be a sophomoric and jokey make-out track hinging on the line, "So make a move 'cuz I ain't got all night." However, the song ends with the teen couple staring at each other as grown-ups in a troubled marriage with nothing left to say to fix their problems but, "make a move 'cuz I ain't got all night." (Matt Collar,

8-The Wombats “My Circuitboard City” My Circuitboard City

These Liverpool, UK natives have been a loud and impressive force in the British indie music scene ever since they released their first album, A Guide to Love, Loss, and Desperation (2007). “Looking for the lighter side of crushing disappointment”, wrote Jon Young when reviewing the album for Spin in the summer of 2008, “frontman Matthew Murphy fends off depression with wry quips, recounting how a "sleazy remark about her whorish dress" spoiled a promising encounter ("Backfire at the Disco") and confessing an unhealthy obsession with unattainable women, including a drunken dental hygienist ("Little Miss Pipedream").” “My Circuitboard City” is another great song to add to their collection of off-the-wall songs and absurdness.
Have a dance,
Have a drink,
Suppress it back ruin everything,
Have a dance,
Have a drink,
Suppress it back ruin everything tonight,
Lets ruin everything tonight.

9-Passion Pit “The Reeling” Manners

Passion Pit hails from Cambridge, Massachusetts, a place more known for its halls of academia than for electronic music. “The Reeling” is the first single off their debut album, Manners, which was celebrated with a release party that eventually became a concert on a boat course in New York. “A carefree night on the night and is visually enhanced with a unique paper-ripped effect”, described when they premiered the stunning music video in April. “A pop record that exists in a world of its own”, wrote Mike Diver for Clash magazine. The same can be said for this promising act.

10-Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” The Fame Monster

She is undeniably the most outlandish and outstanding pop star that 2009 has produced. Her outfits and on-stage stunts, most notable the VMA performance of “Paparazzi” where her face is covered in blood, are out of this world. But her true talent, other than her sense of fashion, is her music crops, especially the lyrics she penned for The Fame (2008) and The Fame Monster (2009), the former earning her a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. The first artist to have four songs from a debut album go #1 on the Billboard charts, Gaga is a force to be reckoned with. She is a far cry from the pop stars we were spoon-fed at the beginning of this decade. And pop music has rarely been more entertaining because of it.

11-Metric “Help, I’m Alive” Fantasies
12-Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow! THE E.N.D.
13-Bloc Party “One Month Off” Intimacy
14-Kelly Clarkson “My Life Would Suck Without You” All I Ever Wanted
15-Beyonce “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” I Am…Sasha Fierce
16-Taylor Shift “You Belong With Me” Fearless
17-Shakira “She Wolf”/ “Loba” She Wolf
18-Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Heads Will Roll” It’s Blitz!
19-Arctic Monkeys “Crying Lightning” Humbug
20-The Cast of Glee “Don’t Stop Believin” Glee Soundtrack Volume 1
21-Lady Gaga “Poker Face” The Fame
22-Silversun Pickups “Panic Switch” Swoon
23-Foals “Cassius” Antidote
24-Ida Maria “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” Fortress ‘Round My Heart
25-The Gaslight Anthem “The ’59 Sound” The ’59 Sound
26-Grizzly Bear “Two Weeks” Veckatimest
27-Metric “Gimme Sympathy” Fantasies
28-Airborne Toxic Event “Sometime Around Midnight” Airborne Toxic Event
29-Mariah Carey “Obsessed” Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel
30-TV on the Radio “Golden Age” Dear Science
31-Katy Perry “Waking Up in Vegas” One of the Boys
32-Peter Bjorn and John “It Don’t Move Me” Living Thing
33-Taylor Shift “Love Story” Fearless
34-Franz Ferdinand “No You Girls” Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
35-White Rabbits “The Plot” Fort Nightly
36-The Killers “Spaceman” Day & Age
37-Lady Gaga “Paparazzi” The Fame
38-Kid Cudi “Day ‘N’ Nite’ Man on the Moon
39-Pheonix “Lisztomania” Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
40-Black Eyed Peas “Meet Me Halfway” The E.N.D.
41-Matt and Kim “Daylight” Green Label Sound
42-Vampire Weekend “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” Vampire Weekend
43-Jay Z featuring Rihanna and Kanye West “Run This Town” The Blueprint III
44-Kings of Leon “Revelry” Only by the Night
45-U2 “Get On Your Boots” No Line on the Horizon
46-Death Cab for Cutie “Equinox” New Moon Soundtrack
47-Silversun Pickups “Substitution” Swoon
48-Cage the Elephant “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”
49-Pitbull “I Know You Want Me”
50-Sick Puppies “You’re Going Down”
51-Pink “Please Don’t Leave Me” Funhouse
52-Foo Fighters “Wheels” Best of Foo Fighters
53-Ida Maria “Oh my God” Fortress ‘round My Heart
54-The Bravery “Slow Poison”
55-No Age “Teen Creeps” Nouns
56-Kings of Leon “Notion” Only by the Night
57-Blue October “Dirt Room”
58-Metronomy “A Thing For Me” Metronomy
59-Telekinesis “Coast of Carolina”
60-The Noisettes “Never Forget You”
61-3oh!3 “Don’t Trust Me”
62-Them Crooked Vultures “New Fang” Them Crooked Vultures
63-Karen O “All is Love” Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack
64-Rihanna “Russian Roulette” Rated R
65-Tegan and Sara “Hell”
66-30 Seconds to Mars “Kings and Queens” This is War
67-The Pigeon Detectives “This is an Emergency” This is an Emergency
68-Maxwell “Pretty Things” Blacksummers Night…
69-Sonic Youth “What We Know” The Eternal
70-Eels “All the Beautiful Things” Hombre Lobo
71-Ke$ha “Tik Tok”
72-The Virgins “She’s Expensive” The Virgins
73-Tokyo Police Club “Citizens of Tomorrow” A Lesson in Crime
74-Fleet Foxes “Blue Ridge Mountain” Ragged Wood
75-Spinnerette “Baptized by Fire”

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