Wanna know a secret? I hated Bitte Orca, the overrated musical distortion album by the Dirty Projectors. Do i get knocked down in pretension points for admitting it? Probably. But i tried, and my god, there were only two songs i could tolerate enough to add to my iTunes ("Two Doves" and "Stillness is the Move"). So, i haven't met many people in the world who own up to actually enjoying the album, but those i have met i'm quite sure belong in the hipster intellectual category where they pretend to be tastemakers by parroting established tastemakers. It's this year's musical equivalent of saying Infinite Jest is your favorite novel (i keep trying, but all that damn tennis gets in the way of my enjoying anything). So, screw Bitte Orca. It's not really any fun. It's also not any fun to rate the "best" songs of 2009. Who cares if they were musically the most unique if they weren't enjoyable? I don't. But then again, i'm more of a film geek than a music nerd. All that aside, however, i present to you the list of my 50 or so favorite songs of the past year complete with overlaps, embarrassing concessions, and glaring exclusions (no, Taylor Swift, you're not getting on here either, sorry). These are the ones that, for better or worse, i have appreciated the most in some capacity.
1. Phoenix, "Lisztomania" - I've set this at the top of the list as my iPod is telling me it accumulated the most plays over the year and i'd believe it. It's a sweeping little pop song, upbeat, catchy, and with a rhythm that begs you to dance ridiculously. I'm happy to oblige, and love that steady build up that begins around 2:15 more than i could possibly say.
2. Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind" - From the opening beats through the swelling chorus, this is one solid hip hop anthem. I've never lived in New York, but this somehow elicits a sort of weird homesickness. I mean, even my parents like this song. How can you not? It never gets old. The sound is just too big.
3. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, "Home" - Didn't i warn you this would happen a few days ago?
4. Depeche Mode, "In Chains" - Because i'm a Depeche Mode dork and a pseudo goth kid who thinks this is just lovely. Seriously, though, they opened with this in their live show. It was perfect. The way the various pieces slowly accumulated following that long sharp tone was oddly haunting.
5. PJ Harvey & John Parish, "Black Hearted Love" - Polly Jean is always pretty good at mixing in the rock and the haunting, yearning melancholia, and this album surpassed my expectations. A solid bit of rock with a little bit a backwoods, I could like this song based solely on the single guitar note/voice combo every time she begins a new line.
6. Amanda Blank, "Something Bigger, Something Better" - Tell it.
7. La Roux, "Bulletproof" - My enthusiasm for this song has definitely dwindled since the summer, but i do still quite enjoy its no -brainer synth heart. It's a simple and fantastic pop song. La Roux won the coveted Mercury Prize this year, and i think it's hard not to think lead singer Elly Jackson isn't a bit awesome.
8. Bat for Lashes, "Daniel" - While i maintain that her sophomore album Two Suns is still inferior to Fur and Gold, its lead single "Daniel" grows on me more every time i hear it.
9. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, "A Teenager in Love" - Delightful.
10. Passion Pit, "Sleepyhead" - I wasn't going to include this song, as it appeared first on 2008's Chunk of Change, but as it's also featured on Manners and picked up speed in 2009, it qualifies. At first a little jarring, it's strange the way Passion Pit's high pitch mix of noise grows on you.
11. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Zero" - I'm sorry, say what you will about Karen O. but she has become a bonafied rock star for this generation, and this is just the sort of rock song that makes you feel damn good, like you want to put on that studded jacket too and run about the streets.
12. Lady GaGa, "Bad Romance" - If you have yet to do so, now would be the time to admit to yourself that you like Lady GaGa. My first impression of this song was how ridiculous the chorus of rah rah romas gaga ohlalas was, in a sort of embarrassingly throwback europop sort of way, then i realized i couldn't shake the song. Then, i owned up to liking it. Quite a bit.
13. Grizzly Bear, "Two Weeks"
14. Florence + the Machine, "You've Got the Love" - A cover, a good cover, a better cover than the versions that have come before. Striking.
15. Beyonce ft. Lady GaGa, "Video Phone" - Yeah, i'm sort of in love with this song. If i could dance, it would be good for the dancing. The beats, all slightly off, and yet all coming in at exactly the right places.
16. Washed Out, "Feel it All Around" - A great blending of ambient chill with indie pop.
17. Nouvelle Vague, "Master and Servant" - Nouvelle Vague might be the greatest cover band of all time. They always manage to take the songs so far from the original that they sound entirely new again, and this one might be better than the Depech Mode original. Coy, playful, and compulsively listenable.
18. Apsci, "Crazy Crazy Insane" -Sorta goofy, insanely catchy.
19. Fever Ray, "Triangle Walks" - Yes, i did always sorta like the Cocteau Twins. So there.
20. Royksopp, "Girl and the Robot" - Royksopp, solid electronic. Almost always.
21. Miike Snow, "Animal" -
22. N.A.S.A., "NASA Anthem"
23. Metric, "Gold Guns Girls" - When i like their songs, i really like them, otherwise, i'm here nor there.
24. Patrick Wolf, "Vulture"- We've already established that i like this, right? Yeah.
25. Hey Champ, "Cold Dust Girl" - When their album actually drops, i have a feeling it'll be pretty big. Fun stuff.