Friday, January 1, 2010

2009's Greatest Hits #20 to #1

All 100 songs can be found HERE!

This is an exceptionally strong 20 songs considering how weak 2009 was for albums. This year's 20 may have put too much emphasis on loud rock since the DJ Quik & Kurupt track at #21 should probably have been placed higher than the song at #20.. but whatever. The world needs rock these days. These are the results. Excitement is in the air. Let's get it done.

20 Goblin Cock "We Got A Bleeder"

In the tradition of Elastica's "Connection" and Blur's "Song 2," every year has needed a few sarcastically loud and concise little kickass 2-minute rock songs. Early in 2009, we received delivery from Rob Crow's tongue-in-cheek stoner-metal side project with the album highlight "We Got A Bleeder," which I'm guessing is louder than whatever Pinback ends up releasing next. (There's usually 3 year-gaps between their albums, so fingers are crossed for new Pinback in 2010...)

19 Lady GaGa "Paparazzi"

There's urgency and desperation in "Paparazzi" that hasn't been heard from Madonna since the 80's, and not from Gwen Stefani since No Doubt. They are the 2 greatest influences on "Paparazzi," and accomplished some void-filling in their relative absence from Top 40 radio.

18 Sunset Rubdown "You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)"

Wolf Parade's secondary projects have been revealing to fans not only in explaining the sum of its parts, but also in hinting at the possibility of Lennon/McCartney levels of gentlemanly competition. In 2007, Handsome Furs' Plague Park narrowly surpassed Sunset Rubdown's Random Spirit Lover in critical praise. However, Sunset Rubdown came out on top overall in 2009 with Dragonslayer, and specifically with "You Go On Ahead." In a world of so much indie-guitar-pop, it takes a track this overstuffed with hooks and joyfulness to certify it as anything but forgettable.

17 Free Energy "Free Energy"

This better not be a fluke. And it very well might be... First of all, Free Energy do not look especially cool; rather, their appearance as a rock band is as timely as any record label could ask for, which suggests the possibility that these guys are shooting for super-stardom. Second of all, Free Energy is on the DFA label, a dance-rock record label. Accordingly, the rest of the songs on their MySpace sound like typical DFA dance-rock, and none of their other songs sound like "Free Energy," which brilliantly combines about 6 or 7 different styles of 70's and 80's classic rock into one very efficient and pop-friendly package. They've already been listed in SPIN's "10 Bands To Watch In 2010." Are they about to blow their load? Will they implode into obscurity? Will their full-length include more (surprisingly sincere) guitar-tapping? "Bands to watch" indeed.

16 Silversun Pickups "It's Nice To Know You Work Alone"

Reasons Why Pitchfork Suxxx #527: In their 5.3 review of Silversun Pickups' Swoon (possibly the best rock release of 2009), the reviewer predictably takes the easy way out, and spends half the article essentially labeling it as Siamese Dream with the edges rounded-off. Nice job with the superficial comparisons. Had the reviewer bothered to listen to more than 3 songs before reviewing, "It's Nice To Know You Work Alone" may have revealed influences beyond one band. Yeah, Smashing Pumpkins are in there, but listen harder and you'll also hear Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Pixies, The Breeders, Foo Fighters, etc, etc.. (The girl bass-player shares lead-vocals on this track, also suggesting influence from MBV or Pixies, rather than Pumpkins.) The clarity of its depth appears more with every listen, while Fleet Foxes (PF's #1 album of 2008) is still the most boring shit ever.

15 Hush Arbors "Devil Made You High"

Normally a folk artist by trade, Hush Arbors received production assistance from J Mascis on this year's Yankee Reality LP, his 2nd on Thurston Moore's label. Folk listeners may consider this one a bit too loud, but for rock fans, the obvious assistance from Mascis and Thurston is like a breath of fresh air expanding the possibilities of this album's standout track.

14 The Brontosaur "This Is Not A Paradise"

The internet provides minimal information regarding The Brontosaur's self-titled LP, although it would appear that the singer is somehow involved with one of the 2 Veruca Salt chicks, and Kellii Scott from Failure kills it on the drums throughout pretty much this entire album. If you're a sucker for cussing in the chorus, or songs that sound like Failure's Fantastic Planet, or huge epic codas, you may agree with this track as the album's standout.
| Full Album On MySpace |

13 Panic! At The Disco "New Perspective"

Three years ago, I would have never expected P!ATD's forthcoming album to be one of the most anticipated releases of 2010. I also incorrectly assumed "New Perspective" to be a transitional single, signaling what to expect from their 3rd album. But instead, it turns out they've split up! Panic! (now once again with their original punctuation) is currently only the singer and drummer, while the guitarist and bass player have formed another more Sgt Pepper-influenced project called The Young Veins. Band-splits based around creative differences normally result in one project proving much higher quality than the other, but this could end up being one of those rare cases where the split leads to equally outstanding results.

12 Lady GaGa "Poker Face"

Ohhhh.. now i get it. LMAO. She said "poker face." And not even Cartman can resist. Out of all her 2009 singles, "Poker Face" was most likely to have appeared in this year's "guilty pleasures" list (although enough indie-rock kids labeled her a "guilty pleasure" to decrease the guilt-rating, almost to the point where she's becoming more and more of a harmless novelty). I'm not normally the type who has "favorite parts" of songs, but my favorite guilty-pleasure part is her improvement on Fergie-rap 2/3's of the way through.

11 Japandroids "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

Some fun facts about Japandroids: Their name is wack. They do that whole "no bass" thing. Really dumb kids think they ripped off No Age because both bands happen to fall in the "noise-pop" subgenre. (In that respect, they sound as similar as Biggy and Nas.) They never released their debut album on CD; only on vinyl and digital formats. And almost every song is a great as "Young Hearts Spark Fire," although this one has the best chorus hook, arguably.

10 Silversun Pickups "Panic Switch"

"Waiting and fading and floating away...." One thing this band never lacks is momentum. "Panic Switch" sounds like a 200mph speedway drive, as the bass-riff and chorus flow so easily in and out of each other. A few reviewers of Swoon made sure to note that most of its songs could have been shorter in length, as they all fall between the 4:30 and 6-minute mark, but dude.. what are they supposed to do? You can't just stop in the middle of a kickass groove.

09 Phoenix "1901"

When it was announced last March that Phoenix would be performing on SNL, it seemed hard to fathom that they would be able to translate their glistening, shimmering production-based pop in a live TV performance. But a few short weeks later, there they were, pristine clarity intact, looking far more like a French version of The Strokes than most Americans could have originally imagined. If it wasn't the first time we heard Phoenix, it was def the first time we saw them live, all working out in their favor as it was among the very best live music on TV all year.

08 Lady GaGa "Bad Romance"

"Just Dance" and "Lovegame" were lost on many listeners initially. However, they made more sense in context after radio started playing "Poker Face" and "Paparazzi," and especially after her absurdly brilliant VMA's performance. This was all building up to the culminating moment Lady GaGa was meant to deliver: "Bad Romance" was her true moment of arrival, and a hopeful indication of what 2009's most memorable pop star may offer in the next few years. P.S. How many hooks can you spot in this one? I count 12 myself.

07 Animal Collective "Summertime Clothes"

Wow, this video is sooo good.. prolly should've been included in our Best Videos Of 2009, but late entries are better than never. The combination of hallucinogens and childhood innocence seems to be the driving force that makes Merriweather Post Pavillion such a compelling listen. And you couldn't ask for a more innocent and lovely repeated refrain than "I wanna walk around with you... just you, just you..." Hugs & shrooms party in the USA.

06 Pearl Jam "The Fixer"

As Foo Fighters' radio singles have slowly been leaning more and more towards trite yawnfest territory, Pearl Jam's Backspacer unexpectedly went in the opposite direction. Now with George W. Bush out of the presidency, not nearly as much seems wrong with our imperfect nation. They went from "World Wide Suicide" and "Unemployable" to this... Pearl Jam got happy??? And released their best single (and a handful of their best album tracks) in over 10 years??? Everything's all backwards! AAAHH!! We're happy to see Vedder still rocking the surfer/long hair, but Mike McCready still refuses to take a hint and help everybody else out.. He's like the bass player in U2 who just happens to always look 20 years older than the band's other 3 members. But I digress... We were ready to be done with Pearl Jam, but they decided to leave the sucking to Nickelback. Good move.

05 Kanye West featuring Mr Hudson "Paranoid"

Kanye doesn't seem to mind that his 2 most notable contributions to pop culture in 2009 were not especially flattering: #1 South Park's "Gay Fish" episode, and #2 his acceptance speech interruption during the VMA's. In a year with no new Kanye album, he still managed to stay above water and maintain frequent radio appearances (most notably in Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" and Jay-Z's "Run This Town.") His current status as an insane egomaniac gave us many LMAO's this year, and in the spring of 2009, the "Paranoid" single arrived quite unexpectedly to actually backup the largeness of his head. "Paranoid's" lack of radio success can be attributed to confused marketing strategies, but this should have been a much bigger song (certainly bigger than "Love Lockdown"), as it's arguably his best single-release since "Slow Jamz."

04 P.O.S. "Drumroll (We're All Thirsty)"

Nothing else in modern hiphop sounded as exciting and dark as the samples and lyrics of "Drumroll," although the P.O.S. album Never Better may be one of those which has more appeal to rock fans, or in the case of "Drumroll," appeal to doom-metal-heads, as it contains no shortage of downtuned guitar distortion and amplifier feedback under his concerned lyrical demeanor, sonically conjuring a more pissed off version of Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours."

03 Clipse featuring Pharrell "I'm Good"

The Neptunes have stayed quiet since the mid-00's, and hopefully have been saving up some new shit throughout their downtime, similar to what I imagine Timbaland must have been up to between 2003 and 2005, just before dropping "Promiscuous Girl" and kicking off his massive mid-decade resurgence. "I'm Good" suggests the possibility of a Neptunes resurgence in the early 10's. As for the track itself, it's good to hear Clipse still rhyming about coke-dealing, and classic Neptunes production sounding as brilliant as ever, complete with Pharrell's best Curtis Mayfield impression throughout the entire 4 minutes. It's hard to decide whether to sing along with Pharrell's "I'm lookin good, I'm lookin good.." or rap-along with Pusha T. Either way, it makes every drive across town that much more epic.

02 Silversun Pickups "There's No Secrets This Year"

This is the only new Silversun Pickups song where Billy Corgan's opinion might be of some interest. But yes, Silversun kills it.. And it's better than anything Corgan's written or recorded this decade. Drop-D bar chords are back?? We can only hope. This entry really should be "Secrets" transitioning into "The Royal We," which is without a doubt the best album-opening 1-2 punch in a LONG time. Back in October, they played these 2 songs in succession towards the beginning of their set in Hartford, after which the crowd must have applauded for at least 2 minutes straight. It's refreshing to see a rock band with four relatively normal looking musicians who are not ashamed of their blatant love of being rock stars and performing live.. Not exactly the type who will throw a lyric like "Can you fake it for just one more show?" into their next radio single.

01 Animal Collective "What Would I Want? Sky"

When this list was originally put together a month ago, Clipse's "I'm Good" was placed at #1. This was before the release of A.C.'s Be Kind Fall EP, which helped put a few things into perspective. Whatever happened to the days when the #1 song of the year actually sounded like a #1? Like "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Paranoid Android," this is a track that's not only huge and epic, but is also unmistakably a product of its year, in which more and more of the best new music has been borrowing from the past (such as this song with its Massive Attack sounding drum loops, Grateful Dead samples, Beach Boys vocal harmonies, etc) while heading into the future with full force. Animal Collective is a rarity these days, a band truly progressing upon every release, with this being their best work to date.

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