TOP ELEVEN SINGLES OF 2009

Leave it to me to wait until the very last day of the year to upload my top ten of 2009 list to the blog….and for it not to even be a top ten. Here are my eleven favorite singles released over the course of the last 364 days; this list could easily be very different if it had been written last week or next week, but here’s where I stand as of today, December 31st, 2009:

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – “MY GIRLS”

This one is sure to be on many indie-ish lists this year, but I feel like I have to include it here, because I like it. It starts off  with Phillip Glass-esque arpeggios, includes massive handclaps and one of the best singalong choruses of the year. And it’s even emotionally resonant to boot. I remember hearing this shortly after it came out at a small basement show BP played in Boone, Iowa. It sounded really great then, and for me it confirmed this song as an instant classic.

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DEPECHE MODE – “WRONG”

I’m a huge Depeche fan, so there was almost no chance that I wouldn’t include a single by them on this list. But favoritism aside, I think “Wrong” is easily one of the band’s strongest songs of the last 15 years. It’s a bit of a grower, lacking an immediate hook like past DM hits, but its repetition, rhythm and forward momentum add up to a great, dark groove. With one of the year’s darkest videos, to boot.

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THE FLAMING LIPS – “WATCHING THE PLANETS”

THE FLAMING LIPS – “WATCHING THE PLANETS”

“Watching The Planets” closes the Lips’ newest record in bombastic fashion; after journeying through Embryonic‘s weird experiments and strange interludes, the listener is greeted by this song, arguably the album’s most straighforward song. An insistent, pounding rhythm underpins Wayne’s chant-like vocals, while twinkly keys add a melancholy touch to the proceedings.

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GIRLS – “HELLHOLE RATRACE”

Girls are my favorite new band of the year, and “Hellhole Ratrace” is my favorite song from their debut album Album. A slow build song a la Spiritualized, “Hellhole” grows from its modest beginnings into a “Hey Jude” for the Noughties. The best chorus of the year, in my opinion:    “And I don’t want to cry my whole life through/I wanna do some laughing, too/So come on, come on, come on, come on and laugh with me/And I don’t want to die/Without shaking up a leg or two/Yeah, I wanna do some dancing too/So come on, come on, come on, come on and dance with me”. Simple, resonant and relateable, these lines become a mantra as wave after wave of sound is added, creating a cathartic effect that once experienced, is hard to forget.

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THE HORRORS – “SEA WITHIN A SEA”

When I first heard of The Horrors a few years ago, I grouped them in with all the other garage-rock bands NME was championing at the time. It wasn’t until Manic Street Preachers said the band’s new album Primary Colours was their favorite of the year that I actually listened. And I glad I did. Behind the haircuts and moody stares is actual musical talent and ambition, as evidenced in “Sea Within A Sea”. Starting as a dark motorik groove, “Sea” takes its time establishing a mood, gradually changing from its initial foreboding to a synth-strewn climax. 2009’s most pleasant surprise for me.

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IAN BROWN – “STELLIFY”

What I really like about “Stellify” is its minimalism. Based mainly around the same simple piano riff and a stomping beat, Ian Brown and his collaborators still manage to create and sustain interest in the song throughout its duration. Brown’s love of hip-hop is fully evident here, and the mid-song horn break adds an ebullient touch to an already uplifting song. When the two elements come together, it creates one of the greatest moments in the man’s solo catalog.

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LADY GAGA – “BAD ROMANCE

Yes, Lady Gaga. I love this song and I love this video. I like some of the singles from her first album, but I feel she’s kicked it up several notches on this one. It’s melodramatic, has a great melody and a big chorus. It almost reminds me of Erasure. I don’t care about the crazy costumes or any of that other crap; as long as she releases singles like this, that’s what really matters.

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MAJOR LAZER ft. RICKY BLAZE & NINA SKY – “KEEP IT GOIN’ LOUDER”

I discovered this song through the brilliant, deranged video directed by Tim and Eric’s Eric Wareheim. And though that was my initial reason for listening to it, I’ve come to love “Keep It Goin’ Louder” based on it on merits. It has a lot of elements that have turned me off of other songs: auto-tune, lyrics about clubbin’…but the way these elements are put together on this track work for me totally. I think it’s the sense of euphoria that underlines the entire song…it makes a line like “Girl I wanna party with you” seem almost life-affirming.

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MORRISSEY – “SOMETHING IS SQUEEZING MY SKULL”

Morrissey’s return to prominence after seven years in the wilderness was one of my favorite music-related stories of the 2000s. “Something Is Squeezing My Skull” was the final single of this decade of renewed activity, and it’s a doozy. A thrashy rocker, “Skull” becomes a classic when Moz’s lyrics of mental instability are thrown into the mix. He manages to make it sound exhilarating and hopeless at the same time.

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OASIS – “FALLING DOWN”

Upon its release in March, I had no idea that “Falling Down” was destined to be Oasis’ final single (at least for now). But if it is to be the band’s last release, it’s an appropriate one. Instead of a rousing anthem or a sing-along ballad, “Falling Down” is instead an uncertain, world-weary slice of psychedelia sung by Noel instead of Liam. I like the idea of the Oasis story ending on a note of doubt and ambiguity; and if this is, indeed, the end, it’s a fitting conclusion.

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YEASAYER – “AMBLING ALP”

Yeasayer is doing what I’d like to do musically – mixing experimental tendencies with pop sensibilities. Their debut album was quite good but I’m really excited for 2010’s Odd Blood if “Ambling Alp” is any indication.


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HONORABLE MENTIONS


– Asobi Seksu – “Familiar Light”

– Bad Lieutentant – “Sink Or Swim”

– Echo & The Bunnymen – “Think I Need It Too”

– eels – “Fresh Blood”

– Franz Ferdinand – “No You Girls”

– Julian Casablancas – “11th Dimension”

– Phoenix – “1901”

– The Prodigy – “Warriors Dance”

– Weezer – “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”

– Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Zero”

On to 2010…

G.

One response to “TOP ELEVEN SINGLES OF 2009

  1. Wicked list! Morrissey was a huge surprise for me too… what a guy.

    Lady Gaga keeps getting mentioned in various top 10 blogs etc… despite her mainstream appeal. Seems like she has some cred.

    Here is Trike with Toby Wan Kenobi. Thought you might dig it.

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