Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top 20 songs of 2009

As can be heard on my latest JeffMix podcast, which you can subscribe to in iTunes here.

20. “Quiet Little Voices” by We Were Promised Jetpacks
If you were actually expecting quiet little voices, you’d be highly disappointed. But you’d get a shouty Kasabian-meets-Arctic Monkeys debut single from the promising Scot band with the best name in rock. Best line: “Quiet little voices / creep into my head / I’m young again, I’m young again.”
We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls - Quiet Little Voices

19. “I Love College” by Asher Roth
I don’t care what anyone says, this is a great song. Best line: “I am champion at beer pong / Allen Iverson, Hakeem Olajuwon.”
Asher Roth - Asleep In the Bread Aisle - I Love College

18. “Shelia” by Atlas Sound
Fragile Bradford Cox makes the most delicate love song of the year. Best line: “Shelia / You’ll be my wife / you’ll share my life.”
Atlas Sound - Logos - Shelia

17. “Embers” by Just Jack
Captivating, poignant and virtually ignored in North America. Hope this one gains some traction next year. Best line: “Through all of the develish things we do / We are all embers / from the same fire.”
Just Jack

16. “Warm Heart of Africa” by The Very Best ft. Ezra Koenig
The Very Best give Vampire Weekend singer Koenig a chance to go even more Graceland. Fun stuff. Best line: “Zip operator / I don’t know / The boys move fast / You should take it slow.”
The Very Best - Warm Heart of Africa - Warm Heart of Africa (feat. Ezra Koenig)

15. “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap
I thought this song would get a more sizable bump from its prominent placement in the decent rock-romance flick (500) Days of Summer, but I clearly don’t know much about the music business. I’ll take this over Owl City any day. Best line: “A moment, a love / A dream, aloud / A kiss, a cry / our rights, our wrongs.”
The Temper Trap - Conditions - Sweet Disposition

14. “Raindrops” by Basement Jaxx
A stomping, welcome return from Simon and Felix. The Jaxx was baxx in 2009. Best line: “On those lonely afternoons, in June / I need you / Just like raindrops.”
Basement Jaxx - Scars (Bonus Track Version) - Raindrops

13. “Quiet Dog” by Mos Def
This might be the first boogie-woogie rap song, expertly done by Mos Def, sounding smoother and groovier than ever. Grab your zoot suit. Best line: “And the rocket don’t stop / Brooklyn and the kids heat up the stovetop.”
Mos Def - The Ecstatic - Quiet Dog

12. “Something Good Can Work” by Two Door Cinema Club
Big things are in store for the barely-out-of-their-teens trio from Ireland, and no wonder based on this infectious, exuberant, well-crafted first single. Can you tell I like it? Best line: “Let’s make this happen, girl / You gonna show the world that something good can work, and it can work for you / And you know that it will.”
Two Door Cinema Club - Something Good Can Work - Single - Something Good Can Work

11. “Who Do You Love” by Museum of Bellas Artes
Can a song be a one-hit wonder if it was never big? I’m not sure, and I’m also not sure whether we’ll hear more from the oddly named Museum of Bellas Artes. But in a year when critics fell in love with lighter electro pop (jj, Javelin, La Roux), this out-of-left-field cover of an obscure 1960s R&B track was the best of the bunch. Best line: “Mama said you were bad / And I should leave you alone / You had a playboy’s reputation / With all the girls you know.”
Museum of Bellas Artes - Who Do You Love - Single - Who Do You Love

10. “Tonight’s Today” by Jack Peñate
Another from the rank of woefully under-appreciated, UK troubadour Peñate adds a slinky bassline and shuffling beat to his usual high-quality pop songwriting. Best line: “I’m ringing church bells, church bells.”
Jack Peñate - Everything Is New (Bonus Track Version) - Tonight?s Today

9. “Heads Will Roll” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
And now the over-rated … or at least I wish the new YYY album It’s Blitz matched the intensity of this blistering, glammy track. Best line: “Off with your head / Dance ’til you’re dead.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz! (Deluxe Edition) - Heads Will Roll

8. “Young Hearts Spark Fire” by Japandroids
Existentialist punk at its best. Best lines of the year: “We used to dream / Now we worry about dying / I don’t want to worry about dying / I just want to worry about those sunshine girls.”
Japandroids - Post-Nothing - Young Hearts Spark Fire

7. “The Reeling” by Passion Pit
I had a hunch that when I kept ace track “Sleepyhead” off my list last year, Passion Pit would deliver better in 2009. And, by turning up the funk on “The Reeling,” they sure did. Best line: “Look at me, oh look at me / Is this the way I’ll always be / Oh no.”
Passion Pit - Manners - The Reeling

6. “Cosmic Love” by Florence & The Machine
After a string of brilliant leaked tracks, I was mildly disappointed with Florence Welch’s full-length CD Lungs. But not this stunning, pounding album track. Harp never sounded so good. Best line: “The stars, the moon / They have all been blown out.”
Florence + the Machine - Lungs (Deluxe Version) - Cosmic Love

5. “Brother Sport” by Animal Collective
When this song first leaked last winter, I was blown away. I thought it did for pop music what Avatar wants to do for movies. Okay, that’s overstated, but it really is nothing like anything you’d call pop music: no chorus, tribal beats, screams, sirens, lyrics repeated over and over. And a harbinger of what was to come with the mind-blowing, album of the year Merriweather Post Pavilion. Best line: “Open up your, open up your, open up your throat.”
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion - Brother Sport

4. “Animal” by Miike Snow
Swedes really do know how to do pop music better, and Miike Snow pick up where Peter Bjorn and John left off, turning up the electro heat on the shuffling “Animal.” Best line: “I change shapes just to hide in this place / But I’m still, I’m still, an animal.”
Miike Snow - Miike Snow - Animal

3. “Lies” by Fenech-Soler
And the award for grossly under-rated song of the year goes to this cracker of a dance-rock track by UK trio (despite the French-sounding name) Fenech-Soler. Disregard it at your peril. Best line: “You’re telling me white lies / Sleeping with another man.”
Fenech Soler - Lies - EP - Lies

2. “Dominos” by The Big Pink
A superbly produced gloom-rock anthem, ebbing, flowing and peaking at exactly the right moments. Magical. Best line: “As soon as I love her / It’s been too long.”
The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love (Bonus Track Version) - Dominos

1. “1901” by Phoenix
Phoenix really pulled off quite the hat trick in 2009: a hit-filled album (my No. 2 of the year), my favourite concert of the year (including two plays of this song, with the last a triumphant, sweat-filled, stage-diving encore), and with the sly, spunky chart-topping “1901,” my favourite song of the year. Hell, they’re also my artist of the year, something I would never have expected from the lightly-registering French indie rockers. They’ve made great alt-pop tunes in the past, but this year they proved they could do it better than just about anyone else. And if you’re counting at home, that’s two for France: best techno act (Daft Punk) and best indie-pop act (Phoenix). Harder, better, faster, stronger. Best lines: “And I’ll be anything you ask and more / Going hey hey hey hey hey / It’s not a miracle we needed /And no I wouldn’t let you think so / Falling, falling, falling, falling.”
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - 1901

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And please make sure to check out my list of the Top 10 albums of 2009.

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