Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 10 Singles of 2009

10. Untouchable-Girls Aloud
One theme I noticed this year, at least with my list, is an appreciation for bold single choices. Although Girls Aloud is one of the poppiest groups ever, this was a very curious choice. At almost seven minutes long, Untouchable is the longest song the girls have ever recorded. I was stunned that such a mammoth song was put on a Girls Aloud album. I was even more taken aback when it was selected as a single. Sure, it was trimmed for radio, but the song is still very epic. Starting soft, Untouchable is a master class in build-and-release. When Nadine begins to wail at the end of the song, she creates one of the most dramatic musical moments this year.

9. Boom Boom Pow-Black Eyed Peas
Well, I had a hard time here. Both Boom Boom Pow and I Gotta Feeling had amazing showings this year. Although the Grammy committee may disagree, I find Boom Boom Pow to be the better work. Bluntly, this song is weird. There are some sound effects that I’ve never heard before. The lyrics are meaningless but the beat is IN. SANE. Somehow everything manages to work together to form something odd but extremely enjoyable, even without a mazel tov reference.

8. Bad Romance-Lady GaGa
I’ve had an issue with Lady GaGa. I’ve always felt that her off-the-wall artistic persona did not match her music. For all the insane fashion choices, I still thought her recorded work was pretty standard pop fare. Until Bad Romance. This was the first song where I felt like her music and her style were more congruent. Because, again, this song is weird. The “Ga ga ooh la la” and references to Alfred Hitchcock are simultaneously disarming, ridiculous, and very catchy. Let’s see where she goes from here.

7. Acapella-Kelis
Yes, this song has been out for only a few weeks. Nevertheless, I feel confident declaring this one of the best songs of the year. I don’t count December releases for this list, so the fact that Kelis dropped this in the final days of November just barely qualified Acapella. I tend to have a stiffy for quality reinventions. Clearly Kelis has gone from R&B bad girl to potential disco queen. I can’t wait to see what 2010 has in store for her, because this is a slice of pop perfection. Gay clubs, beware. Kelis is coming. And on one final note, singers, this is how she spells the title of her song. I’m not making a typo.

6. You Belong With Me-Taylor Swift
Ms. Swift has had quite the year. Her sophomore album, Fearless, was the highest selling album of the year (well unless Susan Boyle keeps her momentum up) and she had some incredible singles. None was better than this, which showed that Taylor is one of the best songwriters in the business today. The lyrics are amazingly relatable and the hook is strong. Paired with one of the most adorable music videos of the year (sorry Kanye, did you even bother to watch this?), it’s clear that You Belong With Me is her crowning achievement.

5. Loba-Shakira
Remember what I was saying earlier about reinvention? Well, this is another example. Shakira went from Latin goddess to electropop princess with this twitchy, strange track (on a side note, I also have a stiffy for bizarre songs this year). I prefer the Spanish version, so for those that don’t know what a loba is, I’m referring to She Wolf right hurr. And let’s be honest. As kitschy as the wolf howl is, you know you love it.

4. Dead Flowers-Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert is my musical Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Nobody wants to give her a fair chance but the few that have generally find that her music is varied, heartfelt, and funny. Country music haters may never give her a listen, but they’re missing out. To fully appreciate her, I recommend listening to an entire album to really see the depth of character to her songs. However, this track is one standout. It’s a mature, poignant look at a dying relationship. Plus, Lambert sings the hell out of it.

3. Russian Roulette-Rihanna
Considering I just reviewed this song for my blog and gave it five stars, I don’t have a whole lot to add. This is such a brave single choice. It’s too angry for radio. It’s too slow for the clubs. This would normally just be a standout album cut. However, Rihanna chose it as her declarative musical statement after the Chris Brown incident. And wow, does it pack an emotional punch. Somehow in the course of four minutes, Rihanna manages to come across strong, vulnerable, resolute, and frightened. This is powerful stuff and proves that Rihanna is a fully-fledged, mature artist. I’d say this gamble was successful.

2. Zero-The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good build. The layering on this song is amazing. Just when you think the song can’t pulse any more or that Karen O can’t wail any harder, the song manages to surprise you. Discovering this song was one of my successful ventures outside of the mainstream. What did I learn? I found that a good hook transcends genre. I could hear this song on Hot 100 radio. Sadly, genre conventions won’t let it get there. They’re a zero.

1. My Life Would Suck Without You-Kelly Clarkson
Despite all of my proclamations that I’m exploring new music and discovering new artists, at heart I am a huge sucker for a great pop song. It doesn’t need to blow me away lyrically and it doesn’t have to break new ground sonically. As long as the hook is strong, the singing is genuine, and I can’t get the song out of my head, then it’s a success. To me, this is the single best piece of pure pop this year. The chorus just steamrolls you. Kelly sounds fantastic on it. And although this isn’t lyrically brilliant, I do love that the word “suck” managed to make its way into a song title. It’s got a piece of me, and honestly, my life would suck without this song. OBVIOUS PLAY ON WORDS!

1 comment:

  1. Go Miranda Lambert....we need RADIO to play her more!