My Top 30 Songs Of 2009

9 12 2009

If you’ve read my lists before you know the drill. If not, the following 30 songs are my favourite tracks of 2009. This year’s list, along with my 2007 list, are my favourite collection of songs that represent a year. It was a struggle to not include tracks by Metric, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Matthew Good, all of whom have all appeared on past songs list before, but as of two weeks ago I’m quite confident that these tracks are the year’s best. 2009 just had so much to offer in the way of great songs. And while you’re going to disagree with about 93% of what is written in the following space, as long, as there is one aspect of this list you can enjoy, I will be happy.

I wanted to post my albums list before my songs list because I know this one gets more attention than the other but this is the list I enjoy writing more. So here you go, 30 songs I loved from 2009 (Actually, 29 songs I love and a 30th which had too great of a write-up potential) and please do drop some knowledge on me and tell me what songs I should have listened to FROM 2009.

Just before we get underway, as always, I have uploaded my selections for your convenience. Tracks 30 through 16 can be downloaded HERE and tracks 15 through 1 can be found HERE. Or if you just want to download them as one folder you can go HERE. My albums list will hopefully be up sometime next week. My decade lists may or may not happen, its just seems like it would be too much to do. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the following 30 songs.

30. “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman” by k-os

Does this song really deserve to be on my “Best Songs Of ’09” list? No, no it does not. Don’t get me wrong, I like the song but its not one of the year’s best.

Why is it on the list though, you ask? Well simply put this is the most honestly written (Read: titled) song from this year. Think about it, if you’re up and coming musician or actor what should your main priority be? That’s right getting acquainted with Padme Amidala herself, Natalie Portman. Aside from being the most beautiful female on the planet, I’m 87% sure she is the one girl that every guy can agree on. Some guys find Megan Fox unattractive but I have never heard a guy say a bad thing about Natalie Portman.

Now, since k-os is a Canadian rapper that isn’t a household name in the States, he does what any true to himself musician would do: titles his poppiest song after her in order to gain her attention. It is quite a crafty move and evident that k-os wants to join the leagues of Moby and Devendra Banhart. For this I have to say “Kudos k-os, kudos”. Actually, about 87% of the reason I’m posting this list everywhere I can think of is the off-chance that Natalie Portman googles her own name and comes across this.

As for the song itself, its enjoyable and I can admit I still like Phantom Planet “California”. Yeah I said it, I actually like that song. I remember having it on a Matt’s Mix 11 CD back in like Grade 12. This was 2 years before the OC too, folks – so I was sort of ahead of the curve. True Story, whilst in California I had a California playlist on my Ipod, with this song starting things off. Not even half way through this song it was immediately turned off and shunned. My carefully crafted California playlist was relegated to jokes and laughter. Assholes.

29. “The Wrestler” by Bruce Springsteen

This heartbreaking ballad by the Boss is over a year old but the album on which it appeared, “Working On A Dream”, was released in the first week of ‘09. While you may have gotten sick of hearing the line about the one legged dog in the commercials or maybe you didn’t like the movie, there should be no complaints about the song as a whole. It is a somber song that perfectly suited the mood of the movie and should have won a Grammy to go along with its Golden Globe.

28. “Kid Klimax” by Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound is basically the mellow solo project of Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox and while his latest album “Logos” was leaked over a year ago, it was only till recently that I listened to the album. “Walkabout” is the track that is garnering the most attention, but it is “Kid Klimax” that caught me ear. A trippy, hazy jaunt based on a simple beat and an acoustic guitar. The song is very unusual and dark but comforting all at the same time.

27. “Pray For Rain” (ft. Tunde Adebimpe) by Massive Attack

I’ve known about Massive Attack for a long time but this year was the year that I actually began to love them. I fell for “Mezzanine” pretty hard and things got even better when I heard the lead singer from TV On The Radio was said to be guesting on a track on their new EP. “Pray For Rain” is that song, it’s a mellow almost jazzy song with Tunde’s beautiful vocals accompanied by a steady rolling drum. Massive Attack crafted an amazing “Trip-Hop” song and no doubt that their forthcoming album “Heligoland” will certainly be on next year’s album list.

26. “Pursuit Of Happiness” (ft. MGMT And Ratatat) by Kid Cudi

As a whole, I did not enjoy Kid Cudi’s debut album all that much. I love “Day N’ Nite” and enjoyed his first single with GaGa, but I think that this is the standout track on the album. With helped from ’08 poster boys MGMT and Ratatat they create a brilliant positive, slacker track. I know some may sneer at my choice or rap or hip-hop but I only pick what I enjoy and I really dig this track. I was this close to using a picture from that Will Smith movie on here but that movie was more depressing than happy.

25. “Noro” by Brand New

Of course, I follow up one of the happiest songs on the list the with the one song that is the most aggressive and depressing. “Noro” is the last and best song on Brand New’s “Daisy”. It follows the classic quiet, loud, quiet pattern of making effective alternative music. The echoing chorus, jagged guitars and lyrics are what make this one of my track of the years. I can do without the hymn at the end, but I’ll take it, if this means that this band will continue to progress the way they have over the course of their last two albums.

24. “Mistake” by Moby
I know it may not be cool to like Moby these days (You’re too, old let go/ Nobody listens to techno) but give this track a chance (For a singing DJ he ain’t too bad). I love the overall sound and atmosphere of this song; the lyrics are sung with such conviction and when the song breaks out with the guitar solo and chorus you are drawn in as a listener. What is the mistake Moby is singing about? Probably “We Are All Made Of Stars”.

23. “Empire State Of Mind” (ft. Alicia Keys) by Jay-Z

I loved “D.O.A” when it was released and had a litany of things to write for this track. I was convinced that it was going to be on my year end list but then “The Blueprint 3” was released and “Empire State Of Mind” snatched that title. The song has more lasting power then “D.O.A” and is the best song on Jigga’s 3rd album in the Blueprint series.

Along with “An Open Letter To NYC” by the Beatie Boys, this is probably my favourite rap song about New York City. I know some of you guys are rolling your eyes and saying Nas’ “NY State Of Mind” is better but I can’t try to look cooler and say I liked it more because I don’t. Apparently, Nas was suppose to guest on this track but could not commit. Thank Lord because it is Alicia Keys that makes this song. Her beautiful voice on the chorus is powerful, massive and oddly inspiring. Even though this song will now forever be linked to the Yankee’s winning (Read: Purchasing) this year’s World Series it is still is an awesome enough track to lock down the 23rd spot on this year’s list.

Also, can we also discuss the awesome performance of this song at the VMA awards? Please tell me someone out there thought Jay’s entrance to the stage was Goldberg-esue, like really I wouldn’t have been surprised if he got out there speared a crowd member and jackhammered (Wrestling move, relax) them. Only like 3 people will appreciate this.

22. “The Fixer” by Pearl Jam

Now that Obama is president we can say goodbye to depressing, politically-charged Pearl Jam songs and say hello to stadium ready, rocking singles. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed a lot of Pearl Jam’s work put out in the “Aughts” but songs like “World Wide Suicide” or “Bush Leaguer” don’t do it for me the way like “Spin The Black Circle” or “The Fixer” do. Seriously, this is PJ’s best opening single since “Brain Of J” off of “Yield”. Now while you may be a little bit turned off by the elementary lyrics there is no way you can totally despise them. So catchy, so poignant and just fun. It sounds like Vedder and company have found their second wind and radio airwaves are thankful for it.

21. “Lakeside” by BLK JKS

When I think about music from Africa I really don’t think that BLK JKS would fit the mold. With all these bands cribbing a worldy style of music, it is a little odd to hear a band from South Africa sound more like TV On The Radio and Radiohead than say Paul Simon.

BLK JKS were suppose to be a breakout band of ’09 and while, I wasn’t blown away by their debut album, it is this AMAZING song called “Lakeside” that caught my ear. The perfect vocals, guitar solo and crashing drumming create a perfect melting pot of sound. The only thing I do not like about the song is its abrupt end, but you will know no doubt be replaying this song over and over. Or if you are going to buy the latest FIFA video game you can say snootily say to no one in particular “Yeah, I like this track but I like the EP version better”.

20. “Hearing Damage” by Thom Yorke

You are probably looking at the above picture and thinking:

A). “Wow, he is really putting a track from the Twilight Soundtrack on this list” or
B). “OMG OMG OMG Team Edward OMG OMG OMG”

If your train of thought lies with choice B please delete me from your friends list. Thank you.

Anyways, yes, I did list a song from the Twilight Soundtrack as my 20th favourite track of the year. Thom Yorke has had a busy ’09. He contributed to compilations; released solo and Radiohead tracks and began playing in a band with 6th Radiohead, Nigel Godrich, and Flea but his oddest move has to his willingness to be associated with Twilight..

Now before you immediately dismiss this track because of its association with the bloodsucking of creativity (I guess, I wouldn’t blame you) just remember that one of Radiohead’s best songs “Talk Show Host” was on the brilliant Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack. I have no good reason why Thom would lend this name to this project but you have to commend him. He could have mailed it in and submitted a shitty song and just watch the cash roll in (Sadly, this will probably be a top 10 selling album of the year), but he presents us with “Hearing Damage” which is just as good as anything from the last couple of Radiohead albums. Thom Yorke can do no wrong in my eyes (In my eyes).

Also, for you Twi-hards out there, this song was named after what Thom Yorke experienced after having to hear the “actors” pratice their dialogue (Rim Shot! I’m here all week).

19. “I Quit Girls” by Japandroids

A sludgy, almost industrial, dirty ditty about what 92% of popular music is inspired by. This closing track form Vancouver band Japandroids is the most different and standout track from the band’s debut album. It may be repetitive but the simple, witty lyric s and its headbanging conclusion make this one of the year’s best.

18. “Idiot Heart” by Sunset Rubdown

Sunset Rubdown is the side project of Wolf Parade member Spencer Krug and this is the best track that I think they have done. This 6 minute epic kicks in at about the 3 minute mark with raucous drums that are balanced by beautiful female backing vocals. The lyrics “I hope that you die in a decent pair of shoes” have never sounded so pleasurable.

17. “Satellite Skin” by Modest Mouse

I hope that Modest Mouse is never mentioned as a “One Hit Wonder” after “Float On” because everything they have put out since then is mind blowing. The opening track off of “No One’s First And You’re Next” is proof of that. For reasons I can’t explain I love the line “Butterfly knives in the ceiling” and how Isaac Brock sings every word in this song. The dirty guitar and puzzling lyrics coupled with the sweet alliteration of the words “Sattelite Skin” make this one of my favourite Modest Mouse songs and favourite songs of the year.

16. “In Exile” by Thrice

For those of you who do not know. Thrice released 4 EPs last year. Each one of these releases represented an element (Fire, Water, Wind, and Earth) which correlated to a specific style of music the band had. Fire being heavy; water being murky and somewhat digital; Air being lighter and Earth being Folk. Now overall I think the project failed and there are only a few standout tracks but what do you think about when you think about the four elements? You either think Milla Jovovich from “The Fifth Element” or the Captain Planet cartoon where the 5th element was Heart(?)

Well, “In Exile” is Thrice’s Heart or Milla Jovovich. This is a combination of all of their sounds and styles and probably is my favourite Thrice songs. It’s heavy but would not sound out of place on the radio. The lyrics are sort of folkish and the song has lightness with the chorus of “Ohhhhs”. Now, I know this might not be everyone’s bag but for a Thrice fan this track has a bit of everything.

15. “Worried Shoes” by Karen O And The Kids

I’ll preface this by saying that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs did indeed release a fine album this year but there will be no tracks from said album on this list. Instead, we get this heartbreaking rendition of Daniel Johnston’s “Worried Shoes”, from the “Where The Wild Things Are” soundtrack, that is the half way mark of this year’s list.

Karen O is perfect in a song that is suppose to reflect a child’s psyche. Elementary piano notes and a stark use of xylophone beautifully frame Karen O’s broken voice. All I think about when I listen to this track is when Max (Character from the movie) hears that the sun is going to burn out. Heavy shit like that weighs on you when you’re a child and I think this song perfectly reflects that sort of feeling. While Karen O was known for being a punk rocker and has evolved to a alternative fashion dance queen its this simple and beautiful cover that makes the best songs of the year list.

14. “Stillness If The Move” by The Dirty Projectors

This genre crossing track from the Brooklyn band is without a doubt one of the catchinest songs of the year. The simple beat, obtuse use of strings and harmonized vocals are what makes this track stand out from others. It’s been covered by Beyonce’s cooler younger sister and while you may not dig it at first give it a couple more listens and you won’t be able to get it out of your head.

13. “Bluish” by Animal Collective

This trippy, hazy and psychedelic love song dominated my first half listening habits in ’09. If Queens Of The Stone Age can be dubbed as stoner rock then bands like Animal Collective should be called stoner pop. The watery vocals and the underlying throbbing bass and echoes make this a song you would listen to under the sea. This is the perfect lazy and trippy love song.

12. “Young Adult Friction” by The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

It is funny that the best titled song of the year (Number 3 gives it a run for its money) comes from the band with quite possibly the worst band name. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart perfectly combine pop, punk and rock elements on this track. The standout drums that open up this track combined with the boy/girl vocals make this one of the year’s best. I also love how the track picks up near the end and starts getting faster and faster. This really is perfect blend of pop and punk.

11. “Cold Fame” by Band Of Skulls

If you’ve read my lists over the years you know that I have a thing for songs that close out albums and this is the 3rd and last of this type of song on this list. This track from the English band, Band Of Skulls, closes their debut “Darling Baby Doll Face Honey” and is easily the best song on their album. It’s a bluesy, rock epic that slowly turns into a slow building churner. The Gospel like vocals are soothing and when the song picks up with about a minute to go in the track you are slowing rocking you head and singing along the the lyrics.

10. “Deep Blue Sea” by Grizzly Bear

A demo of “Deep Blue Sea” was released on Grizzly Bear’s “Friends” EP from 2007 but this finished studio version was released this year on the “Dark Was The Night” compilation which was an indie fan’s wet dream (Not to be confured with David Lynch and Danger Mouse’ “Dark Night Of The Soul”). This is just a simple acoustic based song with angelic and elegant vocals courtesy of Daniel Rossen. The “Ahhhs” and whistling give this song a great throwback quality and it would’nt be surprising to me if sometime down the road this road up in a Disney movie. Simple, yet beautiful and worthy of the 10 spot.

09. “Glass” by Julian Casablancas

Julian Casablancas can write a hit, no noubt, but this tracks proves he can do epic. This spacey track which sounds like a cross pollination of Radiohead’s “Lucky”, “80s synth” and “Tron” is the best track on this Strokes’s debut album.

When I heard about Julian’s solo project I wasn’t really excited; nor was impressed when I heard the album’s first single “11th Dimension”. but it was about a minute into a cheesy trailer (Yes, trailer for an album) for his album “Phrazes For The Young” that I was hit with an the amazingly catchy rhythm from “Glass”. It’s a spacey, epic song with a simple catchy chorus. It’s much different from his previous work and I’m glad Julian is back to releasing music again. Hopefully next year it will be with the rest of his band.

08. “Ramona” by The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

The first band to have 2 entries on this year’s countdown are The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. The funny thing is that it’s a b-side; which usually means it was a track that was not good enough for an album. How a song of such greatness can be relegated to a b-side is beyond me but it is here for you downloading pleasure because you probably would not have stumbled upon it otherwise.

“Ramona” is a catchy number with lush sounding drums and dreamy vocals. The chorus of “I don’t need time, I don’t need time, I just need you” gets stuck in your head quite easily and you begin to wonder what is so special about this girl Ramona. It’s a breezy track about a guy begging his girl not to dump him and while its been sung and written about many times The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart make it sound refreshing. I’m jealous when people younger then me write brilliant work.

07. “My Girls” by Animal Collective

Like many songs on my previous lists, I hated this song when I first heard it. You know how things are overhyped and your expectations are heightened and you come to expect something mindblowing and you don’t get it? (Too many “Ands” I know) Well, that is my relationship with Animal Collective, I never really enjoyed them and revisiting some of their older albums I’m still not blown away but this track grew on me and was in contention for my number 1 song of the year.

Its insect sounding opening may turn you off but it’s the bass and repetition of lyrics that will get this song stuck in your head. I don’t have a fucking clue what “Adobe Walls” are and why a girl would need such devices but I would not have it any other way. My favourite part of this track though, the part I think that makes this song, is the little “Wooooo” before the song begins to liven up. It’s the small things that are capable of making songs go from good to great.

06. “Shelter” by The xx

Will any of you think that this is deserving of the number 6 spot? Probably not, but it could quite possibly be the sexiest track (Thanks to the beautiful lyric: “Can I make it better with the lights turned of?”) on this list and its minimalistic stylngs shot it up my Ipod’s Top 25 list and into this year’s top 10.

This track is a simple, chilling jaunt that you think is building to something bigger and louder but whenever the listener thinks they are going to get to that get louder – it doesn’t. The song is somber and mellow track that will win you over with it’s Cure like tendencies; its shimmying guitar note and Romy Madley Croft’s beautiful vocals.

Now, on the album there is a track called “Fantasy” that is a little intro to this song so if you do decide to buy the album (I guess after you download it, swine) make sure you pay attention to the progression from one track to the other. It makes the song that much better even though its amazing as a standalone.

05. “Lisztomania” by Phoenix

Number 5 with a bullet is the amazingly catchy pop opener from France’s Phoenix. This is probably the year’s beat song that was inspired by a Classical composer. Frank Liszt was a famous composer and apparently had quite the following. Lisztomania was the phenomenon that dubbed upon Liszt, his shows and his gaggle of adoring female fans.Its quite funny that this song, along with a 3 song SNL setlist and practically being the soundtrack to this year is what broke the band in North America.

In 2006, a friend of mine published his best songs list and I believe gave the number 1 slot to Phoenix’s excellent “Long Distance Call”, I never listened to the band before that and they never really caught on for me. Who knew that three years later they would be a mainstream hit. My friend now probably hates the band and has smugly moved on to something cooler. I on the other hand can’t get enough of Phoenix and their infectious pop songs.

04. “1901” by Phoenix

Speaking of infectious pop songs, (Yes I listed two Phoenix songs back to back. These tracks CAN NOT be separated) 1901 is hands down my favourite song from the Phoenix’s latest album. Like Bill Simmons (Sports Writer who’s 700 page behemoth book on Basketball I’m almost done reading), I agree that it was “Disappointing Moment” when Phoenix sold the right to this song to a car company. Even though the song is also featured on web ads for Wal-Mart and Axe Body Spray, which may have stymied this song’s final rank as year’s best, it dominated my earbuds. The day the band released it as a free web stream I immediately feel in love with its dirty synth sound, the non-sensical rambling lyrics and overall catchiness of the track. 1901 is the 4th best track of 2009 and everything I’ve asked and more (Hey Hey Hey Hey Heeeyyy).

03. “Nobody Loves Me & Neither Do I” by Them Crooked Vultures

This rocketed up my year end list and is hands-down “My Favourite Pure Balls-Out Rock Song Of The Year”. It is also takes home the award for “Song I Immaturely Headbanged Most To In 2009” and “Air Guitar Track Of ‘09”. Basically the song is like the movie Titanic in 1997 but instead of winning Oscars its winning all these ridiculous categories that I’ve just made up in my mind.

In all serious though, there is no song that came out this year that opened an album like this one. “Nobody Loves Me & Neither Do I” starts off a bluesy sexy rock song but at the two and a half minute mark you hear that “Uhhhh” and you are pummeled harder then a Tiger Woods owned vehicle with Josh Homme’s riffage,John Paul Johns’ bellowing bass and Grohl’s incendiary drums.

Basically, it’s the best two part song since Franz Ferdianand’s “Take Me Out”. I know I dubbed “Shelter” as this year’s sexiest track but the lyrics on this one put it up there as well. Lets not forget about the awesome and cynical song title that ranks up there with Homme’s other gem titles like “I Was A Teenage Hand Model”, “You Think I’m Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire” and “These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For”. If “Rock ‘N Roll” was actually a physical entity that needed saving, then Them Crooked Vultures would be the band to do it (For the record, I don’t think Rock needs saving, I just need something to end that entry).

02. “Hellhole Ratrace” by Girls

This 7 minute depressingly, heartbreakingly sung existential opus about embracing life and not being so fucking negative is one of this year’s biggest surprise tracks for me.

I’m not going to front and say this song caught my attention right away it took about 3 minutes and 45 seconds. At that point you are just drowned by lush organs that accompany these poignant lyrics and you are won over. The video may be a Vice magazine intern’s wet dream, but the track is just pure bliss. Plain but beautiful; depressing but happy; and maybe sort of a niche listening audience but it is lyrics are universally relatable.

After reading about Girls singer-songwriter’s upbringing (Being raised in a cult, having his brother die as result of said cult and being estranged from his father and world in general), the lyrics “I dont want to cry my whole life through/ I want to do some laughing too.” just hold much more meaning. This sunny song is great inspiration and will no doubt be loved by you as well.

01. “Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear

I know you all thought that Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got A Feeling” was going to be my track of the year so sorry to disappoint. It is Grizzly Bear’s plain, catchy and possible ode to quitting your job that reigns supreme as my favourite track of the year.

“Two Weeks” is my favourite track off of their new album “Veckatimest” and is the 5th track I have crowned “Song Of The Year”. It has already popped up in Pitchfork’s decade list and I’m sure will be appearing in other year end lists as well. It’s hard to define this type of music, you can call it pop, choir-rock, chamber-rock but just don’t call them Aerosmith.

I love how a dirty guitar note along with the slight smattering of keys opens such a pristine and clean song. You have the beautiful lead vocals of Daniel Rossen which then harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the band. Yes, the song is very simple but sometimes less is more. I love how the lyric “Always. Sometimes” is sung and “AhAhAhhhhhs” and “Oooohs” that appear throughout the song are just too perfect. This is a beautifully orchestrated 4 minutes of music.

Well, there you have it folks. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the list.