To recap: As for My Favorite 50 Songs of 2009, I made a few rules for myself. First, a band can only appear once. Also, this is purely about singles I enjoy. For instance, I would never put Harlem Shakes’ Technicolor Health on my favorite albums list, but “Sunlight” made it pretty high on this list because it’s a great pop song. I like a lot of Grooms’ songs and think they’re probably better than many of these, for instance, but none of them made it onto this list because they work much better as a group of experimental songs on an album. This gave me a chance to give recognition to many bands from this year I would otherwise have left out. And, for the record, I think this list of songs is less important but more fun than my forthcoming list of best albums of 2009. You can download all of the songs by clicking on the words in bold.
So here it is, the fourth installment of my 50 Favorite Songs of 2009.
20) “Tunnelvision” – Here We Go Magic Luke Temple’s newest project settles somewhere between sugary pop and strange noise. It sounds vaguely alien and upsetting, like a weird dream that you can’t quite remember when you wake up, but you’re sure it was beautiful. The texture and depth of “Tunnelvision” is only heightened by the cryptic, beautiful, simple lyrics. “People live and then we die.” This song is definitely a place I like to visit, and the perfect music to put on when you’re just at home alone.
19) “The Lie/The Truth” – Double Dagger Ah, the never ending quest to listen to the new Pavement. I’m not saying that Double Dagger sounds that much like Pavement exactly, or even that they’re influenced by them, but the things I like about this song are the same things I like about Pavement. The sweeping chorus makes my heart skip a beat, and the lyrics are so delightfully clever. “Living in the middle of nowhere/In a town called exactly right/It’s got a population of you/And everyone sleeps well at night/There’s a reason everything here/Can be explained in ten words or less/The wrong people are never right.”
18) “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” – Jay Reatard Two minutes and twenty-two seconds of pure punk bliss. Jay Reatard may have called me names, gotten beat up by fans, and has his band quit on him this year, but I still love this song. He’s 100% the real deal obnoxious punk anti-hero, and if you have any doubts, just listen to this song.
17) “Move To California” – Times New Viking All that guitar noise, ramshackle drums, and scratchy vocals. Then out of nowhere you get, “Move to California/I hear you’ll have a better time.” It’s no secret that Times New Viking are the kings of catchy lo-fi melodies, and this song represents some of their best writing.
16) “Eviction Party” – Darlings If the Strokes gave a picture of what it was like to be young and in the city in the beginning of the decade, Darlings are their end-of-the-decade music soul mates. There’s so much Strokes in this song: a driving bass line, half sung lyrics, and talk of apartments and parties. Darlings’ feel is so representative of being a twenty-something Brooklynite that it’s nearly impossible not to relate to this song. Plus, the way Darlings put together their various guitar solos and keyboard riffs make for songs that, dare I say in the midst of all this early 2000s Strokes-nostalgia, are even better than their earlier counterparts.
15) “Walkabout (ft. Panda Bear)” – Atlas Sound I don’t know one person who doesn’t like this song. I’m sure that it’s going to be on every single 2009 song list. Panda Bear’s dreamy AnCo aesthetic mixed with Bradford’s precocious sense of play and imagination create a nearly perfect collaboration that revels in the energy of childhood. “Walkabout” will surely go down as being one of the best of the late 2000s.
14) “Useful Chamber” – Dirty Projectors This might seem like a somewhat strange song choice from Bitte Orca, especially since so many of the tracks are already classics. Out of all the warbly vocies, sharp guitar work, and R&B-tinged female vocals, I like this track because of the swell halfway through the song. After all that buildup when Longstreth finally sings, “Bitte orca/Orca bitte,” that’s a pretty remarkable songwriting moment.
13) “Two” – The Antlers “There’s two people living in one small room/From your two half-families tearing at you/Two ways to tell the story (no one worries)/Two silver rings on our fingers in a hurry/Two people talking inside your brain/Two people believing that I’m the one to blame/Two different voices coming out of your mouth/While I’m too old to care and too sick to shout.” Best lyrics of the year, absolutely, hands-down.
12) “You Can’t Force a Dance Party” – Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele This track might win for most entertaining song of the year. You really can’t force a dance party. Truer words have never been spoken, and rarely are cheesier lyrics sung: “We don’t have to dance/Let’s kiss instead.” Dent May manages to pull it all off with his sincere voice and strummy ukulele.
11) “Home” – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros There are a lot of things I like about this song. The number one thing that I can never get enough of, though, is Jade Castrinos’ voice. Down to Earth and homey, I could listen to her sing, “Alabama, Arkansas/I do love my ma and pa/Not the way that I do love you.” It’s also such a wonderful straight-forward love song, a genre that’s difficult to navigate in today’s post-modern world. Sweet and caring, this will be another mixtape-worthy song for years to come.