Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sonic Sunday: The 20 Best Songs of 2009

It's that time of year again when we music-loving bloggers offer up our favorite songs of the year and open ourselves up to praise and/or ridicule.

If you're a hipster expecting to see Animal Collective somewhere in the Top 3, let me save you some time. Stop reading now, and go hit yourself in the head repeatedly with a hammer. Seriously. Because those guys are awful. Really. It's time to stop letting Pitchfork run your life.

The only rule for my list is that a song had to be released as a single to be included. (I may have slightly bent, but never completely broke, this rule a couple of times.)

Now, without further ado, here is my Animal Collective-less Top 20 of 2009:

20. No You Girls
Franz Ferdinand from Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
Come on, it's Franz Ferdinand. This is yet another perfect song for going to an awesome gay bar, getting loaded, and dancing the night away with some really hot guys. Now, will someone please take me to an awesome gay bar? Please??

19. Still
Glenn Tilbrook & The Fluffers from Pandemonium Ensues
Glenn's third solo album is definitely my least favorite, but there are a few bright spots, including this gem of a first single. Glenn's golden voice beautifully brings to life the cute, obviously very personal lyrics about undying love in a long relationship.

18. Love Sex Magic
Ciara (w/Justin Timberlake) from Fantasy Ride
I first heard this song on an episode of So You Think You Can Dance and couldn't get it out of my head for, like, a month. If you're turning up your nose at this one, well, you'll probably hate the rest of my list. Quite a bit of pop this year.

17. Dream City
Free Energy from Stuck on Nothin'
Even if you've never heard of this band, you'll probably recognize the opening riff of this tune from those ubiquitous Flipvideo commercials. Great '70s-inspired garage rock. I have no idea what is going on with these guys. Apparently, they're still touring but this fabled album has yet to see the light of day.

16. You Belong With Me
Taylor Swift from Fearless
I am NOT a Taylor Swift fan. I don't think she's a very good singer, and I've just never quite understood all the fuss about her. (And she kind of looks like a muskrat, but that's not really important.) However, as much as I don't want to like this song, I have to. It's too good. I just hope Kanye doesn't barge in and start blathering about how Beyoncé had one of the best singles of 2009. Cool your jets, Gay Fish...Beyoncé has a higher spot on the list.

15. 22
Lily Allen from It's Not You, It's Me
Lily Allen was always one of those people I thought I'd probably smack if I ever met her in person. But then I heard this song and now I kind of want to high-five her and buy her a drink...or ten. As a thirtysomething single, it's become something of an anthem. Anything I say about this tune is going to pale in comparison to the perfect chorus, so chew on this: It's sad but it's true how society says her life is already over/There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say/'Til the man of her dreams comes along, picks her up and puts her over his shoulder/It seems so unlikely in this day and age.

14. Where Did All The Love Go?
Kasabian from West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
OK, so I'm getting sick of all of these great UK bands somehow remaining hidden from most of the US. From what I've heard of them so far, Kasabian seems to be a throwback to the Madchester scene without sounding dated. Can't wait to dig deeper into their catalog.

13. Lisztomania
Phoenix from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Every year needs one, and this upbeat tune was 2009's "feel-good song of the summer!"

12. I Do Not Hook Up
Kelly Clarkson from All I Ever Wanted
It was nice to see Kelly return to pop form after nearly killing her career by bad-mouthing the evil Clive Davis and releasing the 2007 dud My December. I was probably one of the few people who actually quite liked and appreciated that album but still, belting out hooky, quasi-rock bubble gum tunes is what this gal does best. And even though "My Life Would Suck Without You" seemed poised to be THE hit from her "comeback" record, this Katy Perry cast-off is even more irresistible. I kind of hate to admit it, since it was co-written by Kara DioGuardi, but I guess every mountain of shit has a diamond buried in it somewhere. (Or some other phrase that's more apt and eloquent.)

11. Sweet Dreams
Beyoncé from I Am...Sasha Fierce
Like last year, I hate to give Beyoncé yet more attention, but this single (from her 2008 album that just keeps going and going and going) is just too catchy to deny.

10. Never Forget You
Noisettes from Wild Young Hearts
Most of this album— a great mix of pop, rock, dance, blues, and soul— is terrific, but it's this '60s girl group-style single that I found myself singing out loud just about everywhere. I've never really been won over by Amy Winehouse and Duffy and the cavalcade of British faux-soul singers that have crawled out of the woodwork over the last few years, but Noisettes' Shingai Shoniwa is the real deal.

9. Zero
Yeah Yeah Yeahs from It's Blitz!
I've seen Yeah Yeah Yeahs on a lot of other year-end lists, but most often they've made it with their other single, "Heads Will Roll." I really like that song too, but I first heard "Zero" when the band performed on SNL and was surprised by how much I loved it, since (other than loving "Maps" like everyone else) I'd never been a huge fan of their music. So, I guess I have a soft spot for it.

8. Old White Lincoln
The Gaslight Anthem from The '59 Sound
Technically, this was released as a single in December 2008, but the first time I heard it was at the beginning of the year, so I'm including it. Why are guys from New Jersey so good at writing the best driving songs? I guess there's nothing else to do in Jersey but drive around, looking for a way out.

7. Heavy Cross
The Gossip from Music For Men
Never heard of this band before this year, but I became completely addicted to this song's very Yazzy feel. Unfortunately, when I listened to some more of their stuff, I discovered that I wasn't able to bear much more than "Heavy Cross." (nyuk nyuk)

6. Bad Romance
Lady Gaga from The Fame Monster
I tried for a really long time to fight her, but I finally gave in to Lady Gaga this year, and I'm sure that was the right decision. A lot of people assume that she's just another pop tart, but those people are obviously just making that assumption based on her popularity and glossy, perfectly crafted pop tunes. But she can actually sing (oh my!), writes her own stuff (Good Lord!), and is bringing back the weird musical spectacle that folks like (early) Madonna, Queen, and Alice Cooper did so well. And I love the drama of songs like this one and "Paparazzi." I'm just praying for the day that she teams up with Jim Steinman.

5. Whole New Way
The Horrors (non-album single)
I had never heard of this British Joy Division-ish band until this year, when I read that they were working with my Number Four Man, Damon Albarn, on the upcoming Gorillaz record. I decided to check this song out after learning that it was mixed and recorded by Damon at his 13 Studios. Clearly, everything Damon touches turns to gold.

4. Messing With My Head
Tinted Windows from Tinted Windows
A group consisting of Taylor Hanson (Hanson boy wonder), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne bassist/genius songwriter), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins guitarist) and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick drummer) seemed too bizarre to be real, let alone capable of putting together a good record, but that's exactly what they did. The first single, "Kind of a Girl" was super-catchy pop fizz, but it was this Cheap Trick-esque tune (possibly a promo instead of a true single) that really won me over. I got to see the band live this summer and it was a great show. And Taylor Hanson...yum. He done grew up real good.

3. The Fixer
2. Just Breathe
Pearl Jam from Backspacer
I was going to try to impose the "only one song per artist" rule this year, but there was no way that was going to happen in a new Pearl Jam album year. Anyway, I blew that rule last year with Kings of Leon so it's not like I'm upholding any great tradition. Both of these songs are fantastic, so I had a bit of a time deciding which one I liked slightly better. Although I love the energy of "The Fixer," the beauty of "Just Breathe" pushed it into second place. Eddie, did I say that I need you? Did I say that I want you? I'm sure I nauseam.

1. Song Away
Hockey from Mind Chaos
My roommate introduced me to this band a few months ago, and after hearing about the first four notes of this song, I had a feeling it would be my NEW FAVORITE SONG EVAH. It's basically what would happen if Bruce Springsteen decided to make a dance record—it's "a truthful song over an '80s groove" and it is fab-u-lous.

By the way, aside from celebrating great music, this post is a rather significant one in the history of The Pop Eye. It's my 1,000th post! Thanks for sticking around and reading all this time!

And don't the artists who made 2009 great by purchasing their music!


bearockr said...

Nice list there .... I can agree with many songs you mentioned, though I haven't heard a few from other Genres except Rock ... Seeing Pearl Jam was expected, I loved that song a lot !

Anonymous said...

I almost had to de-friend you when I saw Taylor Swift.... But then I read what you wrote. AND I do give her props for running her own business. She does have mad skills there.

katrocket said...

I would take you to an awesome gay bar where we could get loaded and dance the night away! Girl, you totally need to consider a trip to T.O....

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh please! Animal Collective is soooo 2008!

Your list is very different from what mine will be when I eventually get around to making it, but I am so with you on Lady Gaga. I am smitten!

Cormac Brown said...

Er, Muse? Death Cab? Paramore? Not even Kings of Leon???

Taylor Swift over them? Seriously? Then I hope Katy Perry's favorite kitten-stomper does pay your dias a visit.

Ian said...

I'm glad to know you like music you perceive as "Cheap Trick-esque." I just saw Cheap Trick live a few weeks ago and they still blow all of today's bands off the stage.

Who, or should I say what, is Animal Collective?

BeckEye said...

Bearockr - I'm sure you'll grow to love Lady Gaga. We all do.

Jules - I just thought about de-friending you for a split second when you just said that you almost de-friended me. But I guess you seeeee-heee you belong with meeee-hee-hee.

Kat - I will certainly consider this!

Barb - I understand that Radiohead put out some one-off singles this year. By any chance, will they show up on your list??

Cormac - both Kings of Leon and Death Cab made my list last year. It was time to move on. As for Muse, I liked their last record but the new one was a bit over the top. They were trying too hard. And yeah, Taylor Swift over Paramore definitely. In fact, I'd take a swift kick to the head by a Chuck Taylor over any shit they've put out.

Ian - If your ears haven't been assaulted by Animal Collective, just consider yourself lucky.

red said...

Great list! When Liz gave me a copy of the Lily Allen album she said, "Don't listen to '22' and think it's about you!" which I totally did, obvs.

And I not so secretly love "You Belong to Me," too.

Del-V said...

I love the new Pearl Jam album.

Anonymous said...

I agree about Lily Allen - in real life I'm pretty sure I'd be on the news for pummeling the shit out of her right before she shanks me, in some street brawl, but she comes up with some good tunes. I thought "The Fear" was a pretty good commentary on fame, for a pop song as well.

I also agree with Taylor Swift - she seems ok but her voice isn't spectacular, at least not the songs she's singing now. Maybe she has more hidden away?

I hate Franz Ferdinand though and I can't get into Kasabian despite one of my friends ADORATION of them for years now.

Jay Amabile said...

I saw Tinted Windows open for No Doubt and they were great. I'll have to take a listen to some of these other tunes!

bearockr said...

Hey, Kings of leon ought to be there in your list ! I just remembered the band, and thought to mention it here too !

CDP said...

Congratulations on 1,000, and I'm so glad you came around on Lady Gaga. I didn't really have an opinion one way or another about her, but when I watched her on SNL, I was just speechless at how talented she is.

Andy said...

That's a great list; we've got similar taste in music (some of the songs you talked about were listed in my post Sunday on songs I recently downloaded). And I love Gaslight Anthem. Just love them.

Congrats on 1,000 posts!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

1000 posts? Great job! I've never heard of a lot of those songs, which probably means I'm getting old and irrelevant.

carissajaded said...

Pheonix is the best thing that has happened to my life recently. I loved them before, but not as much as I do now. Great list btw.

Penny said...

Love this list!

Firstly: Animal Collective...why??????? They ARE from Maryland and normally I try to shove some love that way since I reside here but I can't. Again, I ask...why???

Love Sex Magic was so dirty and so awesome. Love it.

T. Swift-She does, indeed, look like a muskrat. mmhmm..Her personality irritates the hell out of me and they whore her on telly and pretty much every where and have you heard her live?? Holy wow sister...
Aside from these items I like her lyrics. I think they are simple and sweet and her guitar playing is relatively novice so I enjoy playing and singing her stuff on my guitar. I can learn and play pretty much any of her songs in a matter of minutes on guitar.

Lily Allen-Agreed. She's interesting. Like her voice.

So glad you jumped on the Gaga bus. I have been singing her praises for months and months. When Just Dance was released I liked the poppy-ness of it and then after doing some research I found out she writes her own stuff, plays piano and the bitch can sing better than Aguilera, in my opinion. Love her. Let your freak flag fly.

Pearl Jam- YES, YES, YES

As far as anything from UK, you know I agree with you. I was sad not to see some Muse on there but I am slightly biased since I worship Matt Bellamy.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

Blimey, you've just made me realise how little "new" music I've listened to this year!

I seem to have been on a "obscure 80s British bands that are a bit like The Smiths" kick of late! :)

bloody awful poetry said...

I am quite pleasantly surprised at how similar your list is to mine (when I eventually get round to putting it up). And seriously, I have stopped trying to resist Lady Gaga. I love her now. And Kasabian is fabulous, though not mindbustingly brilliant, and definitely deserve a lot more attention.
And much congratulations on your 1000th post!

Miss Yvonne said...

I read your list and now I feel lame and old because I only knew about 1/3 of those bands. Thanks a lot. Just call me Grandma.

McGone said...

"The Fixer" over "Gonna See My Friend" or "Get Some?" I know it's catchy, but really?

BeckEye said...

Red - I think most single gals are going to adopt that Lily Allen song as their own.

Del-V - As you should!

Veg - You seem to hate everything that comes out of the UK. But I'm glad you didn't take the opportunity to take another swipe at Damon.

Jay - Yeah, they're pretty good.

Bearockr - Kings of Leon had TWO songs on my list last year. It was time to move on.

CDP - Thanks! And yeah, she's pretty fab.

Andy - I suppose that means that we're both awesome, but we already knew that.

Dr. Ken - Uh, I think you're younger than me, man!

Carissa - Yeah, I knew "If I Ever Feel Better," and loved the remix of "Long Distance Call," but never really got into a full album. I think the new one was consistently good though.

Penny - I figured we would see eye to eye on most of this. And thanks for not drinking the Animal Collective hipster Kool-Aid.

Richard - Yes, I've found that you have to hunt good music down. It's a pain sometimes, but worth it!

BAP - Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it, my adopted bloggy daughter?

Miss Yvonne - Hi, Grandma! You better have some money for me this Christmas.

McGone - I already talked to you about this, but neither of those songs were singles. Rules, mister.

words...words...words... said...

Since the Kelly Clarkson and Tinted Windows songs are the only ones I've even heard from this list (I know, wtf?), I declare "Messing With My Head" the winner, even though it's not as good as "Kind Of A Girl".

Jon said...

You know, I still haven't picked up that new Pearl Jam album. And that utter lack of motivation is exactly why I'll never come close to 1,000 blog posts....

cube said...

I shocked my daughters recently when I was singing some Gaga lyrics.

I guess I'm not too old to appreciate good music when I hear it.

This girl has a voice, she writes her own material, and is a talented musician. What's not to like?

Cormac Brown said...

"And yeah, Taylor Swift over Paramore definitely. In fact, I'd take a swift kick to the head by a Chuck Taylor over any shit they've put out."

Gasp, may you be trapped in an elevator with Kanye, and his oxygen-sucking ego.

Naw, kidding.

Moxie said...

Becky, I love you. I really really love you. For months I have been trying to figure out the name and artist of "22" - I heard it on Pandora but my computer had frozen up and I couldn't retrieve the artist/song title info - and you have not only given me the information but now I also have the song. It is my theme song too. God bless you, technology and Mediafire.


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