Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Top Ten Songs of 2009

As always, this year's songs list is comprised exclusively of songs that are not on any of the discs on my best albums list since, as one would expect, most of the best songs of the year came from those albums and I figure there's no point in repetition. Below are ten of my favorite songs of the year and a couple bonus tracks from bands I adore:

10) Miley Cyrus - "Party in the USA"
Say what you want about Miley Cyrus, but this song is dumb, good fun. It's got an insanely catchy melody (not surprisingly, the producer is a Swede) and earnest lyrics that sound quite convincing coming from Cyrus' slightly country voice.

9) Blue Roses - "I Am Leaving"
Laura Groves, aka Blue Roses, is a 21 year old British singer-songwriter with a great deal of promise. This is her best song to date, a beautiful tune that combines acoustic guitar with accordions and glockenspiels.

8) Cam'ron - "I Hate My Job"
An anthem for our recessionary times, Cam'ron's rap vividly captures the frustrations of marginal employment and the difficulties of re-entering the job market. Who would have expected a rapper to give voice to the laid-off underdog?

7) Mika - "Good Gone Girl"
Mika's music tends to be too kitschy for my tastes and his constant aping of 80's styles from Elton John to Queen can be grating. But he is capable of producing the occasional irresistible melody, and this piano-driven song is an example of that talent.

6) Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes - "Home"
The 12 or so musicians who make up the Magnetic Zeroes (there is no Edward Sharpe) are the kind of hippy musical collective you want to make fun of. It's tough to do that, though, when they produce songs as delightful as this one.

5) The Big Pink - "Dominos"
The protagonist of this song sounds like a sleazebag -- he takes pride in sleeping with women and dumping them the next day. He puts on a good show, though, when he sings the refrain, "These girls fall like dominos", which is supported by a bombastic, killer hook.

4) Amadou and Miriam - "Sabali"
This musical duo from Mali have been making great music for over 30 years, with their latest album, Welcome to Mali, their best received yet. The opening single on that album, produced by Blur's Damon Albarn, is a gorgeous track that beautifully melds their distinctly African sounds with more western pop influences.

3) R. Kelly - "Echo"
At this point, we can assume that any new song from R. Kelly is going to be ridiculously crude, overtly sexual, and most likely very enjoyable. "Echo", Kelly's best song since "Ignition", is a hyper-sexualized, humorous song about his insatiable carnal appetite. Plus he yodels.

2) Lisa Hannigan - "I Don't Know"
I saw this talented Irish singer perform this song on The Colbert Report and was taken aback -- it's a beautiful melody coupled with sweet lyrics about new love. Hannigan is apparently best known for her vocal contributions on Damian Rice's albums, but this track suggests she's capable of making great music on her own.

1) N.A.S.A - "Gifted"
Somehow the hip-hop DJ duo N.A.S.A was able to produce a debut album with more than a dozen guest stars, ranging from David Byrne to Tom Waits to M.I.A. Sadly, most of the collaborations were less than the sum of their parts. The exception is "Gifted", a propulsive song featuring Kanye West, Lykke Li, and Santogold. West starts it off with some standard Kanye showboating before handing off the chorus to Li and Santogold, who take the track to another level.

For ease of use, I've compiled all these songs into a playlist (excepting the Blue Roses one, which I couldn't find on below and added two others I wanted to share from two of my favorite bands. The first is a great track from The National that was featured on the Dark Was the Night charitable compilation and the second is the first single from the upcoming Vampire Weekend album. Both are worth giving a listen.


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