Toodles then awkwardly-monikered ‘noughties’. Everyone’s giving up blogging as Facebook and Twitter make it easier to tell the world what you found on the way home from work. Air France are mourning losing my twice weekly custom in October after an exhausting year. I now know how to make flatbreads. And, oh, I now properly live in London. Other things happened too.
I’ve not given up blogging and, as well as reposting pictures of LOLcats and ranting at the Church, I’ve always posted my fave musical choices of the year. It’s been a rather good year for music crowned with a 17-year-old angry rap-metal track kicking the X Factor snore-fest to the kerb. I notice that my impatience with mainstream pop continues to grow much as my gravitation towards the US-centred older hipster music gets stronger annually. None of my Top Ten have troubled the Top Ten; Bad Romance is good, but it’s not that good.
A top FIFTY! Yes, and I could have conceivably gone to 100 (but at that stage I’d have been seriously considering Pitbull). Also, writing about music is like dancing about architecture, as someone once said, so there only so many ways one say ‘I really like this’ before it gets super tedious (for you). Only two rules:
- an act gets one entry only (Sorry about that PSB’s Love Etc – a genuinely fantastic pop single) and
- the track should, to be best of my knowledge, be from 2009.
Fifty to eleven now, the big Top Ten tomorrow.
I’ve also put together a selection of tracks as a couple of ‘lightly mixed’ compilations which you can burn to CD or put straight into your media player. One is kinda fast and is called ‘Motion’; the other starts slow and gets completely glacial and is called ‘Rest’. You can download ‘em tomorrow too (but only for a limited time as the blog is now a target for the Kopyright peeps…)
11. Shoes: Tiga
Does he know that we know of Kelly’s ‘Shoes’? If he does, does that mean that a single point of uber-archness may be responsible for pop-culture folding inwards on itself to a far more devastating end than the Large Hadron Collider could ever achieve?
12. After The Rain: Shirley Bassey
Having learned nothing from the ridicule that Sirben Kingsly provoked, Dameshirley insisted on ‘Dame’ being used on her new album. She says she was unsure about the songs given to her by a host of contemporary types such as Rufus, Manic Street Preachers, Gary Barlow and the Pets; after all, these songs generally didn’t require her to BELT. This song by Richard Hawley is restrained, emotional and beautiful. Dameshirley has rarely sounded less of an ass.
13. We Are All Connected: Symphony of Science
It’s trendy to (neologism alert) hate on Autotune, but in the right hands, it’s another way of adding to already bewildering variety of ways technology has been harnessed in the pursuit of artistic expression. Here a music graduate samples various 70s/80sTV scientists and Autotunes them to ‘sing’. The rather spacey subject matter is entirely appropriate too. We are a made of star stuff – we are a way for the cosmos to know itself. Blub!
14. A Horse Is Not A Home: Miike Snow
I’ve no idea what they’re on about (or indeed why there are two ‘i’s in ‘Miike’). I just play along with air drums and get caught up with the punchy angst of it all.
15. Tonight’s Today; Jack Peñate
One of the (annoying) wave of Estuary English types, Jack ditched the affectation and came back with a blissed out Afrobeat, Balearic spaced out thing. The critics, but not the public, loved it.
16. Wolfgang’s 5th Symphony: Wolfgang Gartner
This filled the dancefloor in my head while clearing a real one at the pool party in Barcelona. “Can you put on some Freemasons?” they pleaded. “No”, said I, as I mentally conducted the demonic techno orchestra of this Beethoven-sampling madness.
17. She Came Along: Sharam feat. Kid CuDi
So your girlfriend leaves you for another woman. You take it on the chin and propose a threesome. Not sure if Kid CuDi is coming off as cheeky or a bit sad, but the spectral presence of Patsy Cline suggests the latter.
18. Untouched: The Veronicas
And for 4 minutes, you too can be a petulant American semi-goth teen girl as you wig out in your room with a hairbrush* in front of a poster of Robert Pattinson. (What? Like you haven’t…) * I’m aware that I have no need to possess a hairbrush. Work with me.
19. I’m Not Alone: Calvin Harris
And it’s 1996 again. Roll out the strobes. I also have a soft spot for most recent single, Flashback, as it has a most odd structure. But this is the huger choon.
20. New York: Paloma Faith
I’m not buying the whole big hair/kooky dame thing, but dammit if the heart doesn’t flutter a little when the choir kicks in.
21. My Girls: Animal Collective
This year’s critical avant-pop darlings left me rather cold at first. It all sounded just too smugly clever and sexless. I didn’t delete it off the iPod though and gradually this track in particular made it through my barriers. Highpoint: the particularly euphoric-yet-girly “woo!” that begins in the final third.
22. Poker Face: Lady GaGa
Hurrah! We have found a Proper Pop Star at last. The GaGa has a way with a choon, wears broken teapots and is a bit unhinged. This is proper popstardom See also Bad Romance, Just Dance and Paparazzi (but not LoveGame). Still can’t listen to the album though, but that’s what shuffle was invented for.
23. The Glare: McAlmont & Nyman
It’s about Susan Boyle, you know. I’m not entirely sure how David McAlmont managed to swing this one, but he’s written songs about contemporary phenomenon over some existing Nyman tracks. Kicking myself that I missed their performance at Islington’s Union Chapel.
24. Awake: Donkeyboy
I thought this was a duet between a gent and an older woman, but it turns out it’s the same young Scandinavian man. Delightfully melodic power pop.
25. Remedy; Little Boots
Dancing is my remedy, remedy, oh. Indeed it is. Giddy-making dance pop.
26. The Spell: Alphabeat
More giddy-making dance pop. Another act that can’t seem to cross over to being universally loved.
27. Feelings Gone: Basement Jaxx feat. Sam Sparro
Dodgy punctuation aside, a welcome return for Sam Sparro with possibly the best singles band of the last 10 years.
28. Dorothy Gale: David Turpin
Dublin gay boy channels Matthew Herbert and Roisin Murphy with a smidgeon of Madonna’s Like A Prayer (no, come back…).
29. Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy: Mew
I would have cried if the album was shit, but it so, so wasn’t. There’s a lighter touch in evidence and this typically weirdly-structured track visits calypso and a choir and five different choruses and angular guitars and weedy boy vocals. Loves it.
30. Two Weeks (Fred Falke Extended Mix): Grizzly Bear
More indieblog darlings. The original is just dandy, but as is not exactly unusual, a bit of a ravey dance makeover makes skinny guitar boys sound rather better.
31. Lullaby: We Plants Are Happy Plants
Blog-friendly neo-hippie stuff that makes everyone happy.
32. M.A.G.I.C: The Sound Of Arrows
Blog-friendly neo-hippie stuff that makes everyone happy (part II).
33. House of Cards: The Foreign Exchange feat. Musinah
The type of mathematical jazz-infused soul that makes me feel more intelligent just by liking it. (Thanks JW)
34. Meet Me Halfway: Black Eyed Peas
We may as well be frank. BEP are a very calculating pop machine and it’s this cynicism that stops me truly loving anything they produce. That said, Meet Me Halfway manages the rare feat of squeezing some very contemporary sonic ideas through a filter of Little Red Corvette via Like A Virgin. That alone (and a memory of doing the splits with a tall American girl) gets it a slot in here.
35. Pon De Floor: Major Lazer feat. VYBZ Cartel & Afrojack
Utterly *utterly* deranged. Too deranged perhaps for this year, it will be re-released next year and will be Top 5. Check the video for some amazing acrobatic dancehall dry humping.
36. Underage: The Hidden Cameras
Yet another great album from the Canadian gay-church-pop collective, and this is a jolly swingorilliant ode to underage love. Let’s dedicate this to the Catholic Church.
37. If The Stars Were Mine (Orchestral Version): Melody Gardot
When I open a boutique hotel in Rio, this shall play in the lobby at 1 am. (Good call, naming your child ‘Melody’ btw Mr & Mrs Gardot.)
38. December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas): George Michael
Doesn’t he sound like Prefab Sprout? A not-terrible original Christmas song *and* it mentions ‘sugar from Jesus’ for some reason.
39. The Strangers: St Vincent
More arty avant-pop stuff. Very knowing and brainy, but this track isn’t painfully so.
40. Don’t Bring Flowers: Erik Hassle vs MPHO
Don’t bring flowers after I’m dead. ‘The postmillennial love song is somewhat dark’. Discuss.
41. Lost: Susanna and the Magical Orchestra
Um, it might be a little bleak…., ScandiBleak…
42. Love In July: Sally Shapiro
…as opposed to ScandiDelightPop from SS.
43. Stay: Julie Feeney
Album no. 2 for Galway prodigy, and again she’s just fizzing with ideas and not afraid to show off her skills. At times this sort of talent can be a little like a grown up Billie Barry kid, but mostly, as with this track, the results are accomplished and potent.
44. Not Fair: Lily Allen
Just to show I’ve no hard feelings towards Lily for her ill-advised foray into the downloading debate. She has a good way with a single and the faux-country jamboree video was a joy.
45. Come Back To Me (Seamus Haji Mix): Utada
She’s keeps trying to make it in the English-speaking world, and despite the characteristically meaty Haji production, we’re just not biting. Shame.
46. Heartbreaker (WaWa Club Mix): MSTRKRFT feat. John Legend
WaWa continue to nudge into the melodic Big Room space previously occupied by Freemasons. Here they take the spikes off MSTRKRFT and allow John Legend plenty of room to impress.
47. Million Dollar Bill: Whitney Houston
It was good to see (some of) Whitney make it back this year. This delicious slice of 70s soul production suited Whitney’s, um, more mature (who said ‘ravaged’?) vocals.
48. Sweet Disposition: The Temper Trap
Dreamy alt-rock from Oz used in dreamy alt-movie from US. Emos make pretty sound.
49. Cosmic Love: Florence + The Machine
Pretty much as the title says.
50. Release Me: Agnes
The type of summer one-hit wonder we use up, spit out and forget by November. Yum.
Phew! Top Ten tomorrow…..