2009 in review: songs

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Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

2009 in review: songs

i just wrapped up an ongoing series called 25 in the 2000s. if you want to catch up on the series, you can begin with the introduction here and the move to the following posts:

1. religious stories

10. things that shaped the aughts

i thought to round out the year, i would offer a couple quick lists of the best music of 2009, with best songs and best albums. i usually do several best-of, end-of-the-year lists, but since the decade lists took over, i decided to pare down to these two. hope you enjoy.

[you can listen to all the tracks in the embedded player here or, if you’d like to fill your ipod up with a playlist of awesome, you can download a zipped file with all the tracks at the bottom.]

20. this tornado loves you. neko case.

19. the rake’s song. the decemberists.

18. her morning elegance. oren lavie.

17. the cave. mumford & sons.

16. doomsday. elvis perkins.

15. born again. cory chisel and the wandering sons.

14. run this town. jay-z.

13. mess of me. switchfoot.

12. when we fell. david bazan.

11. song up in her head. sarah jarosz.

10. backfire. mute math. to say i wasn’t a little disappointed with mute math’s follow-up—armistice—to 2004’s self-titled debut would be somewhat dishonest. BUT, mute math still knows how to make great songs that bring an unmatched energy. backfire is the standout track from the album.

09. boom boom pow. black eyed peas. love them or hate them, the black eyed peas (read: will.i.am) are keenly aware of how to make a really great pop/hip hop song. this was one of the biggest songs of the year for good reason: it was just plain good and just plain catchy.

08. i don’t know. lisa hannigan. ever since being booted to the corner by her once-boyfriend damien rice, this album was inevitable. and after spending years singing his melancholy songs, she came back with good, happy music. i don’t know was one of the more upbeat songs and stood out in an album full of successes.

07. hard to be. david bazan. david bazan—to offer an understatement—made an album full of honesty. curse your branches dealt with some raw realities that very few artists have approached musically. the album begins with hard to be that both sets the tone musically and lyrically. and it was great.

06. falling stars. sarah siskind. many people still don’t know sarah siskind and that’s too bad. she flat-out knows how to craft songs that are both poetic and literal at the same time. she put together a complete album with nonstop great songs, but this one stands out as a clear winner.

05. kettering. the antlers. man, what can i say about this track? i can’t thing of a single song i’ve literally ever heard that wrenches your heart like kettering. this is the track that introduces the concept of the album: the singer’s time spent with the cancer ward-bound woman he loves. just listen to this track.

04. relator. pete yorn & scarlett johansson. pete yorn: eh. scarlett johansson: eh. so when i checked out this album, i had low hopes. but then the first track came on and it was brilliant. it’s fun, it’s catchy, it’s bouncy, it’s singable. everything about this track is great and it’s one of the handful of songs that i never skip when it comes up in shuffle.

03. that year. brandi carlile. in the midst of a great album full of somewhat upbeat songs about love and related topics, carlile slipped in a sombering track about her high school friend who took his life. the track looks back, 10 years later, in regret of the time she’s spent angry and about how she’s now ready to move on. a chilling, beautiful song.

02. what matters more. derek webb. this is the track that launched a million tweets. after getting caught in record label controversy, derek webb set forth on one of the most inventive marketing schemes ever put together for an album. through a series of “stems”, listeners were rewarded with this track when all the stems were assembled. it’s a bold song about a never-talked-about topic in the christian music industry.

01. stillness is the move. dirty projectors. describing this track is nearly impossible. it’s decidedly indie, but decidedly hip hop. it’s decidedly r&b, but decidedly new wave rock. whatever it is, it’s great. it’s unexpected in the midst of a really great album and has provided many other artists with an instant cover song-worthy track. a great track in a great year of music.

so there you have it. there’s the list. what do you think? i’ve certainly missed some songs. what are they? i’ve, no doubt, ranked some things too high or too low. what are they? help me to flesh out and “correct” my list.

wanna take this list home with you?? download the entire list here.

up tomorrow: albums.