Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 20 Songs of 2009

It's mind boggling to think that another calendar year has elapsed. When I looked at my day planner and saw "Fly Home" written, it started to sink in that December was here, but what really hit me was when the first year-end lists started popping up in various publications.

In an attempt to not be biased by the opinions of others, I have refrained from reading what anybody else believes to be the best album, track, ______, as sometimes I will conveniently "remember" a release that had slipped my mind (often for good reason) in an attempt to appeal to others' taste - usually I have good success catching myself before I hype something undeservedly, but I'm sure it's happened before.

So here we go, my attempt at a clean, virgin list of my favorite 20 songs from 2009, hopefully as pure as the powder after the year's first Albany snowfall.


This Station Is Non-Operational20.Forever

Surprising, right?

But come on, it's got Eminem's massive recovery from his, erm, Relapse, the most enjoyable verse Lil' Wayne's dropped since Tha Carter III, and the country's last positive memory of Kanye West before the VMAs.

Oh, how could I forget?

Last name: Ever.
First name: Greatest.


19.I'm Not Your Toy (Jack Beats Remix)
La Roux

La Roux has a great voice. She has great lyrics. And to the unsuspecting listener, it would follow that she then would have great songs. As an exercise to the reader, I encourage you to look up the original version of this song, because then you'll really understand just how terrible her music sounds.

Thank god Jack Beats were able to lend a hand that does her voice a wobbly justice.

Passion Pit

Although released on last year's Chunk of Change EP, this track came to define the spring and summer of 2009 for many people after a mastered version was included on Passion Pit's debut full-length.

Its shrill vocals are certainly not for everyone, but if you're on board, then it's pretty damn beautiful.

The Juan MacLean

This list seems, at least to me, dominated by bright, shiny, summertime house music - perhaps it's for good reason. The descending progression of a damped trumpet packs more punch than ten of Rick Ross's baddest boasts, conveys more heartache than the entire Norah Jones back catalog, without being heavy-handed or predictable in the least.

I guess DFA Records has stuck around for a reason, and The Juan MacLean has provided another stunning example.

16.Nothing Pure Can Stay
Audrye Sessions

The song in studio could never compare to its majesty live, but it's certainly worth pretending.

15.Stand Up
The Prodigy

As previously noted, this is the march that Sousa never wrote, triumphant, electronic, and glorious.

14.Dance Dance Dance (Buraka Som Sistema Remix)
Lykke Li

I don't care who you are, where you are, or what state of mind you're in - this is Zen in a bottle, six minutes of instant nirvana.

Portuguese kuduro outfit Buraka Som Sistema crafted a beat that could be described as nothing but the musical soulmate of Lykke Li's shiver-inducing vocals, the epitome of chill.

Excision & Datsik

Speaks for itself.

12.The Churn of the Century

Is "The Churn of the Century" the dirtiest dubstep of the year?

No, that'd have to go to either "Swine Flu", or that last track, "Swagga". Its pomp and horns and massive beat are all well and good, but those other two songs are just downright filthy beyond belief.

But is it the best dubstep of the year? Yes. Emphatically, yes.

11.Pon De Floor
Major Lazer

'Nuff said.

10.Moombah (Afrojack Remix)
Silvio Ecomo & Chuckie

Any DJ that drops this in their set has the power to render every other track irrelevant.

That its snare-n'-kick 4/4 is one of the most distinctive beats out there, the fact that the muted horns of its build are just the right mix of subdued and expressive, it just spells "hype" in all-caps, to the point that when the song arrives at "T-t-t-t-t-turn up the bass!", every man, woman and child is ready for it.

And then it drops. Holy shit, does it drop.

9.Summertime Clothes
Animal Collective

I knew this was the best song off of Merriweather Post Pavillion the first time I heard it. But it wasn't until I saw Animal Collective's Friday "Celebrate Brooklyn" show in Prospect Park this August that its true beauty clicked. The churning vibrato introduction that looped in and out of phase with itself seemed infinite in its length and depth; every chorus of "I want to walk around with you" dripped with more sincerity and longing at each repetition; the pulsing rhythm was embodied in a collectively swayed dance; that final, emphatic refrain, "Just you", was invicible, stretching, enduring, powering through the humid night air.

Sublime. Unreal. Transcendent.

8.Casa Bey
Mos Def

Mos Def is most definitely back, the Ecstatic makes that much perfectly clear. And what better way to cap such an emphatic comeback than with a finale that breezes through everything that made hip-hop great during the golden age.

Don't doubt Def, he's Bed-Stuy forever.

7.French Navy
Camera Obscura

During any other year, I think this would be, hands down, song of the year. It has that saccharine refrain that reaches above and beyond the limits of the word "catchy", not so much sung as it is sighed, wistful June nostalgia filling every breath.

That it's not is nothing but a testament to the other 19 tracks present.

6.Can't Stop Now
Major Lazer

So, yeah, I know - this is not the song that defined the summer for as many people as "Pon De Floor" or "Hold the Line", but does that make it any worse?

It is pretty interesting that of all the tracks on the dub/electro/dance hall tour-de-force Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do, "Can't Stop Now" is the straightest reggae to be found. And yet, it has the most massive, overwhelming, and engulfing bassline, one that simply drowns out the fidget house hook on "Pon de Floor" and club-ready bomb (in the worst sense possible) of "Keep It Goin' Louder".

I be lovin' it more every day.

5.King Beetle On A Coconut Estate

Easily the least known and most under appreciated song on this list.
Simply epic.

4.Empire State of Mind

I guess it's a bit of a cliche now, but do you remember the first time you heard it, poss in your bedroom sometime in July? Do you remember just knowing in your gut that this would absolutely blow up in New York, from the Five Boroughs to Fredonia, and every place in between?

Because I do, and it was marvelous. Jay Z, at the top of his game.

3.At Least I'm Not As Sad As I Used To Be

Dynamic to the core, this song stops and starts and shifts and morphs through all of the tropes of indie pop, pitch perfect in execution, before arriving at a driving waltz that is the sing-along moment of 2009.

Boys Noize

This might be my favorite dance song of all time, and that's really saying something. Just make sure that you get the version off of the Starter EP, as the album mix amputates the year's most recognizable 32 bars from the intro, essentially neutering the track.

1.What Would I Want? Sky
Animal Collective

It's a word that gets thrown around a lot, but it's never been more true: flawless.

Animal Collective had an unbelievable year, with a slew of tracks that blew everything else out of the water. So, yes, "Brother Sport" is exuberant, "Summertime Clothes" timeless, "Graze" jaw-dropping, and "My Girls" simply transcendent.

But "What Would I Want? Sky" is flawless.


  1. Dude, I don't know Animal Collective music, but I will definitely have to download a couple of albums... I have heard and mostly read so much about this band and they are always included in the "best of" lists on blogs!

  2. This is great informative blog.Hope you keep posting articles like.You have a great knowledge of this particlar subject.Your way of providing information in the best possible manner is your best attribute.I love when you share your views through the best articles.Keep sharing and posting articles like these.

  3. Dude, its amazing collection of music. i never see those music video at past but when i search those music on youtube and play it than its make me very happy. Thanks for share it.

  4. wow great i have read many articles about this topic and everytime i learn something new i dont think it will ever stop always new info , Thanks for all of your hard work!