Sunday, January 10, 2010

The 30 Best Singles Of 2009: 15-1

15. Yeah Yeah Yeahs


Brooklyn hipsters do the club makeover in style, causing a mass epidemic of blogger salivating… for good reason. Hands down the finest YYY moment since the heyday of “Maps.”

14. Big Boi featuring Gucci Mane
Shine Blockas


Just when you thought Andre 3000 was the talented one, Big Boi comes roaring back with his best track in damn near a decade... and that Harold Melvin sample? Genius. Now release the album already.

13. Basement Jaxx


A summer highlight as giddy and glorious as you’d expect from a Basement Jaxx comeback, all Day-Glo craziness and AutoTuned climaxes.

12. The Airborne Toxic Event
Sometime Around Midnight


Finally, the anthem for anyone who’s ever gotten drunk and blown off (not necessarily in that order) at some craptastic bar. (Piano-led band optional.) Based on the amount of top-of-the-lungs singing that occurs whenever this now gets played, that’s a lot of you.

11. Annie
Songs Remind Me Of You

[Totally/Smalltown Supersound]

Not sure what’s in the water in Scandinavia, but between Robyn, The Knife, and Annie, no other region pulls off the mix of chilly, futuristic electronica and human-sized heartbreak better. The highlight of the great, eclectic, underrated Don't Stop.

10. The Gaslight Anthem
The '59 Sound


Springsteen-indebted punks with a healthy dose of Social D in their diet concoct the best Irish-wake rabble-rouser since that song from The Departed. I discovered their same-named album too late for my “Best Of 2008” list; consider their inclusion this year my mea culpa.

9. Kelly Clarkson
My Life Would Suck Without You


A fine return to form for our all-time favorite Idol, and so what if there’s more than a passing resemblance to “Since U Been Gone”? I defy anyone not to have a smile on their face by the time that sticky-sweet chorus rolls around.

8. Grizzly Bear
Two Weeks


Brooklyn indie rockers drag the Beach Boys into the 21st century, complete with gorgeous harmonies, ethereal melodies, and (naturally) a really really weird video.

7. The Avett Brothers
I And Love And You


An entire decade’s worth of touring and independent releases finally culminates in this, the Avetts’ watershed moment, a song so gorgeous and heavy you can almost hear all ten years of perseverance in that chorus.

6. Silversun Pickups
Panic Switch


As Billy Corgan continues to destroy his legacy step by egocentric step, Silversun Pickups step into the void with a Pumpkins homage better than anything the real band has done since Mellon Collie. Heavy as a hammer and drunk on its own lyrical ridiculousness—and all the more infectious because of it.

5. Bat For Lashes


Like Kate Bush fronting Fleetwood Mac, “Daniel” is at once chilly and catchy, wistful and wary. Coupled with the equally startling video, it’s one of the most haunted singles in ages.

4. Pearl Jam
The Fixer


Nevermind the corporate ad campaign; the once-and-future grunge forebears haven’t sounded this damn vital in over a decade, and you know what? Mass acceptance kinda suits them. Again.

3. Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
Empire State Of Mind

[Roc Nation/Atlantic]

When S. Carter first called himself “the black Sinatra,” people snickered. No one’s laughing now. New York’s brand-new, omnipresent, can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head anthem, with MVP Alicia Keys destroying that chorus as Hova gets everyone’s damn hands up one more time.

2. Kings Of Leon
Use Somebody


Nashville superstars-in-training complete their coronation as America’s biggest band of 2009 with a once-in-a-lifetime single, universal enough to spawn a thousand cover versions and massive enough to shake stadiums to their very foundations.

1. Phoenix


2009’s best single spent almost the entire year taking a long and winding path to greatness, from a free February download and a pre-album live performance on Saturday Night Live in March, to the Cadillac commercial that helped the song finally hit alternative radio in the fall, and, in the waning weeks of December, the Billboard Hot 100 proper. But don’t celebrate “1901” for marketing, but rather the simply grass-roots act of a fantastic song finding its audience, one listener at a time. Even now, nearly a year on, it still hasn’t lost an ounce of its effortless effervescence, a perfect slice of pop perfection for the ages.

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