While many of my Top 20 Songs of the Year appeared on one of my Top 10 Albums of the Year, (oops, spoiler alert!) there were a few surprises here and there. For the most part, I stuck to my own rules and you can be sure of one thing: only songs that were released during the 2009 calendar year are included on my list. That means that if an album was released in 2008, but the second single didn’t come out until 2009, too bad. It’s a 2008 release, not 2009. I’m a stickler for the rules that way. So here we go. The best songs of 2009 (according to me) are:
20. Uprising – Muse
I was never a fan of Muse before this year, really. I mean, I like “Supermassive Black Hole” as much as the next girl but it took Muse’s 2009 release, The Resistance, to really hook me. I spent a couple of weeks listening to the album and while The Resistance didn’t quite make my Top 10 album list, “Uprising” just made my Top 20 song list. I love the guitar in this song and the video is pretty good, too.
19. Words and Music – Sondre Lerche
Back in September I was lucky enough to be able to attend Sondre Lerche’s KEXP VIP Club performance at The Triple Door here in Seattle. It was a private show that was broadcast on KEXP later that night. I didn’t get to hear it however, since I was back at The Triple Door to see Sondre’s sold-out show.
Before the show I considered myself only a casual fan, but by the end of the night I was Sondre devotee. I listened to his new album, Heartbeat Radio, several times since the show and the song “Words and Music” really grew on me, so I made it my number 19 song of the year. The video below is from the KEXP performance and the show that night was pretty much the same. Just a boy and his guitar making charming music on a rainy Tuesday.
18. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
My feelings for Lady Gaga have really had their ups and downs this year. I loved her when she first came out because, unlike most pop stars, she actually writes her own songs! I thought some of her lyrics were clever and that her songs were catchy goes without saying. I loved the fact that she was unapologetically “out there” with her appearance. Then in March I got to see her live when she played a club show here in Seattle. It was only her fourth headlining show ever, and since I hadn’t seen any footage of her performing live before, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Unfortunately, the show was a disappointment to me. It seemed like her stage show (including several costume changes) was designed for a much bigger venue and as a result came off a bit Spinal Tap-ish. My love for her went way down and it didn’t help that she was being played everywhere. There was no escape from her. Her interviews began to seem pretentious and soon enough, she began to seem pretentious. Then, just as I was preparing to swear off of her forever, the VMA’s brought me back.
Gaga’s performance on the VMA’s was pretty cool, you have to admit. She sang, she danced, she played the piano, she bled. Well, fake blood, but still. The woman sells it every time. She commits to every performance. My admiration began to grow again and came back full force when I saw her video for “Bad Romance” the first single off The Fame Monster, her new album/release of The Fame. The video is great, probably my favorite of the year. For that reason, I had to give Lady Gaga a slot on my Top 20. She earned it.
17. Two Dots – Lusine
Lusine (a.k.a. Jeff McIlwain) is a electronic music producer currently residing in Seattle. His song, “Two Dots”, from the album A Certain Distance, is just really catchy. It features vocals from Helsinki, Finland native Vilja Larjosto Though I have no actual scientific proof, it is apparently impossible to not get this song stuck in your head. Great song + great video = 17. Number 17 on my list, that is.
16. Shark In The Water – V.V. Brown
The video for this song isn’t the greatest, but who cares? The song is fantastic and British singer/songwriter V.V. Brown is cute as a button. Her album, Travelling Like The Light, is fantastic, thanks in no small part to the single “Shark In The Water.” I can’t wait for her to tour the US so I can see her live. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a 2010 date.
15. Don’t Upset The Rhythm (Go Baby Go) – Noisettes
Noisettes is another act that I can’t wait too see live. I have been waiting patiently for years, so here’s hoping they come around next year. They have been called one of the best live bands in Britain and their latest album, Wild Young Hearts, is good stuff. One of my favorite tracks on the album is the lead-off single, “Don’t Upset The Rhythm (Go Baby Go).” It made my list at number 15.
14. Tin Man – Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is yet another British band that I fell in love with this year. I haven’t heard their full album, Signs And Wonders yet, but I’m willing to bet that if I had it probably would have made my top 10 albums list. For now, “Tin Man” will be my number 14 song of 2009.
Buy song on iTunes. Song currently not available on Amazon.
13. Give It Up – Datarock
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with Datarock’s new album, Red. I loved their debut album, Datarock Datarock, but Red just didn’t hit me the same way. The first single, “Give It Up,” however, grabbed me at the first listen. Then, when I saw the song’s video, I knew it had to be on my top songs list.
12. No You Girls – Franz Ferdinand
This song has been remixed several times over the last year, but nothing beats the album version. I’ve never been a huge fan of Franz Ferdinand, but their newest album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, has changed my mind. I always get the song “No You Girls” stuck in my head, so as a bribe to the earworm gods, this is my number 12 song of the year.
11. Pull My Heart Away – Jack Penate
This is another track that seems to burrow deep into my brain, but since it’s so beautiful, it can stay as long as it likes. I had a hard time selecting my favorite Jack Penate cut to include on my list, since there are several on his album, Everything Is New, that I completely adore. “Pull My Heart Away” is the winner, though. I love the mix and the production.
10. Love Letter To Japan – The Bird & The Bee
I love the entire The Bird & The Bee album, Rayguns Are Not Just The Future. Every single track is great, but I’m making “Love Letter To Japan” my number 10 pick. It was the first single off of the album and I saw the band perform it on several talk shows when they were promoting the disc. It’s a fun track and super catchy.
9. Symphonies – Dan Black
Dan Black is an electronic musician from the UK. His album, ((un)), was one of my favorites of the year and “Symphonies” is my favorite track. I love the video of this song. It’s a clever amalgamation of iconic opening credit sequences from Hollywood movies. I also love the intricacy of Black’s lyrics. I have my eye on this guy. I think he’s going to do big things.
Buy a live version of the song on iTunes. Song currently unavailable on Amazon.
8. Daniel – Bat For Lashes
I knew I was going to like this song even before I heard it. I was a fan of Bat For Lashes’ (a.k.a. Natasha Khan) last album, Fur And Gold, so I was pretty certain that I would love her new stuff as well. What I didn’t know was how much I was going to love the song “Daniel.” The lyrics, the vocals, the music – the whole song is flawless. I managed to catch Bat For Lashes in June at the newly renovated The Crocodile and she didn’t disappoint. She is just as great live as she is on this track. The video for “Daniel” is equal parts creepy and cool and the song itself is just plain fantastic.
7. Love, Etc. – Pet Shop Boys
Speaking of great videos, the clip for “Love, Etc.” by Pet Shop Boys is easily one of the best of the year. The song itself marks a huge comeback for the 80’s pop group, who definitely released their best work in twenty years in 2009. The album Yes is great all around and I am really regretting not seeing them when they came to town a few months ago. If they keep releasing material like “Love, Etc.,” I won’t make that mistake again. Plus, the video is downright hypnotizing.
6. First Train Home – Imogen Heap
I waited a long time for the new Imogen Heap album. Imogen filmed the two-year writing, recording and production process for the album and posted weekly video blogs documenting the progress that only seemed to whet my appetite for the album even more. She plans to have the raw footage from these filming sessions edited down into a proper documentary and release it next year. While we wait for that, I will keep myself occupied by listening to the album, Ellipse, which is great. Particularly the first track and lead-off single “First Train Home.” It’s a song so nice, they made the video twice.
5. Lisztomania – Phoenix
As I write this, I am getting word that Phoenix will be playing a show at Showbox Sodo next month. I am very excited, as Phoenix hasn’t played Seattle since their new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix dropped earlier this year. It’s not because they haven’t been touring, though. They have been playing practically every city but Seattle over the last several months. I haven’t seen them before, but I can’t wait. It should be a great show, and I know they will play my favorite song off the new album. It’s “Lisztomania” at number 5 on my list.
4. Papillon – Editors
It’s been said that when Editors made their new album, In This Light And On This Evening, they made the better-sounding Depeche Mode album than Depeche Mode wishes they could make. While I disagree with that assessment (Depeche Mode made a fantastic album this year also) it’s hard to deny that DM has been an influence on Editors. The again, virtually every British synth band has been influenced by the Mode, so it’s not really news. But I’ll admit that In This Light And On This Evening is a great album and “Papillon,” the first single, is the best track. It’s my number 4 pick for sure.
3. We Are Golden – Mika
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Mika’s new single “We Are Golden” is the world’s newest teenage anthem. Even though I’m way past my teenage years, I can still appreciate the sentiment behind this song. The song is all about freedom of expression and going after what you want in life. Even if you don’t get the message from the song itself, the video will make it abundantly clear. It’s probably the most positive song on my list. It’s possibly the most positive song ever written. This year, anyway. The album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, is just as good.
2. In Chains – Depeche Mode
Most people here at Play know that Depeche Mode is my favorite band of all time. This year I was fortunate enough to see them three times in a week. In August I flew to New York and caught both of their shows at Madison Square Garden, then flew back in time to catch their Seattle show at Key Arena. All three of the shows were amazing and each one started with “In Chains.” The song is also the first track on the Mode’s Sounds Of The Universe album that was released back in April. The first minute or so of the song is a bunch of beeps, bloops and hums, as if an electronic orchestra was warming up. The song itself is a slow, sexy groove that is early Depeche all over again. Every time I hear the song, I am transported back into the audience of one of the shows, amid thousands of other DM devotees, happy to be seeing my favorite band again. The video below is from the second New York show on August 4, 2009.
1. Cult Logic – Miike Snow
Miike Snow came out of nowhere this year and pretty much blew me away. There were very few albums released this year that I listened to repeatedly. Miike Snow’s self-titled debut was definitely worth the second, third and oh, four hundredth listen. I love all of the songs on the album, so it was really difficult to pick just one to include on my list. In the end I picked the song I fell hardest for first. “Cult Logic” was the first song on the album that made me go, “WOW!” I’ve had many more “wow” moments on subsequent listenings, but I still love “Cult Logic” most of all. Miike Snow is coming to Seattle in April and I will definitely be there.
There is no official video for “Cult Logic” yet, so enjoy this fan made video instead. It’s actually pretty cool!
Love my picks, or hate them? Let’s battle it out in the comments!
Producer, Branded Music