My 2009 music picks.

As I said, I'll be doing this a bit differently this year. Last time around I heralded my list as the best music of 2008, and as I've been making a new list I realized, how could I ever think I would have heard so much music as to have a handle on the best? I'm sure there are tons of artists I've never heard of, with albums sublime, who deserve to be called the best.

So, I'm just going to offer up a list of the music I personally enjoyed the most this year. There are several artists from AI on the list, so please go into this knowing that though you may not watch the show or agree with it's methodology, some great singers have come from it and deserve a chance.

1. "Wonderful," Gary Go

This up-and-coming British singer does remind one of Coldplay, whom you all know I hate, and so I like to say that he does Coldplay better than they do. This song has a seriously killer hook, and is bolstered by a solid backing piano and an awesome beat that propels every verse and chorus with ridiculously infectious momentum. There's also a positive vibe in the song's message that isn't a new sentiment but I love the way it's stated: "The person that you were has died/you've lost the sparkle in your eyes/You fell for life into its cracks/now you want to bridge the gap..." So what do you do? You gotta look yourself in the eye and say I am...wonderful.

2. "Fireflies," Owl City

This is another song I told you guys about as soon as I heard it. Remember, cartoon clouds? Since then it of course exploded onto the scene and into people's iPods and I heralded myself as a great seer. While I'm not a huge fan of his West Coast accent, I do like the happy-go-lucky vibe and its contrasting undercurrents; I always think that this song is so upbeat but I never imagine the singer himself being at all naive. Plus, it's just good electronica, something with a real melody and creative beats and that tinkling opening that will make your mother say, 'Hmm, that's nice.'

3. "Gimme What You Got," Amanda Blank

I don't like rap and I make no bones about it. But, when this lady rapper was featured briefly on iTunes I checked her out just for novelty's sake (she's white) and ended up liking what I heard. This is one of the most fun songs I have heard in years. Yeah, it's explicit. The chorus is just her saying "Hottest mothaf**** on the whole damn block" over and over. But it's just so feisty and shameless and the beats are insane. There is, of course, a guest rapper, which she doesn't even need. She's got the flow, the swagger, the talent. And she makes me like rap for 2:46.

4. "Number With No Name," Ben Harper

When you talk about a musician being prolific, you talk about Ben Harper. He has like eighty-six albums. Seriously, at least one a year. With White Lies For Dark Times he got back to that funky, cigarettes-and-liquor 70s sound that I love, and this song is one of those gritty sonic experiences that makes you wish you were making out with some shaggy-haired guy in bell-bottoms in someone's basement while the Stones (or this song) spins on a record console from Sears.

5. "Pray," Amanda Overmyer

I already did a whole post about the greatness of this song, so I'll keep it brief. It's deceptively simple and as beautiful as a sunrise in the heartland. The contrast, almost the anachronicity, of Amanda's smoky voice over the Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two bass line lulls you into thinking you've just been listening to a song, when actually, it's your soul you're hearing.

6. "Let It Rain," Kris Allen

One of those songs that gets better every time. Just a solid track from a solid album, but one that sounds familiar in a strange way, as if perhaps it's a cover from an obscure song I once heard in childhood. Or maybe all music is from the same big pot of joy and Kris just knows that better than the rest of us.

7. "If I Had You," Adam Lambert

I'm not a huge fan of the guy, but I am a huge fan of music so that fortunately lets me listen to whatever I want. For those who were for some reason expecting an album of Smokey Robinson and Rat Pack covers, the out-and-out glam-disco-electronica-80s audacity of For Your Entertainment strains their puzzler. Not I. I just like to wallow in all the pink and yellow of this song, the club beat, the heavenly Giorgio Moroder harmonies, and pretty snappy lyrics like "There's a thin line/'tween a wild time/and a flat line..." Honestly, I don't know how Katy Perry didn't write this song. Sing it, girl!

8. "Halo," Beyonce

Hard to believe there was actually a time when I thought there was no such thing as too much Ryan Tedder. The man behind Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone," and Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield" lent his heavy percussion and repetitive choruses to a song that's actually from a 2008 album, but didn't become a single till this year. "Halo" really is addictive, and while the operatic aspirations of Mrs. Jay-Z are a little jarring at first, you gotta love her for sticking to a theme.

9. "Street Lights," Kanye West

From another 2008 album, but it's my list so I can do what I want. I did a whole post on this song also, about its postmodern greatness, so I've got nothing new to offer except to say that it reinforces what I said earlier, that the best music isn't always the most-heard, the most popular, the most rewarded. Such is life.

10. "Paparazzi," Lady GaGa

What I like about her is that though her music is for the club, it is still inherently melodic. A lot of music isn't, a lot of it is completely uninspired in terms of aesthetics (cough*U2*cough). So I am able to enjoy a song like "Paparazzi" because it, very simply, has a pretty melody and good harmonies (technically, I really like the harmonic progression but all that talk will get us nowhere). Same for "Pokerface." And this is a good thing; aspiring wannabes take note.

Honorable mentions: "Let It Rain," Jordin Sparks; "Manhattan," Kings of Leon; "I Do Not Hook Up," Kelly Clarkson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch A Chorus Line,i have bought tickets from TicketFront.com looking forward to it.