16. “Fitz and Dizzyspells”-Andrew Bird:
Andrew Bird is known largely for two things: whistling and playing the violin. However, he’s a great songwriter and incorporates the violin and whistling in ways that best fit the orchestrations of his pop-songs. The songs are usually a bit complex, but not in a way that loses the listener. He knows how to fit in decorative bits and unique twists and turns which one-ups songwriting that slides by with the basics. Super orchestration and production.
17. “I Know”-Zeus:
I really like the reverby synth riff in this song, but that’s partly because I wrote one a lot like it a few years ago, so it feels familiar. This song got some good play on the local college radio station. I especially like the verses with the synth riff behind the singing. Cool band name, too. I mean, I would’ve gone with Thor myself, but Zeus works.
18. “Love Letter To Japan”-The Bird and The Bee: TB&TB is one of my favorite active bands. There’s a nice mix of old girl-group sound and synth-pop. “Love Letter To Japan” expresses the band’s appreciation to its Japanese fans in sort of a dance package, while incorporating a slight Asian-music undertone for super-fun-dancy time.
I sort of wish I was doing the list for my favorites songs of 2006, because Muse’s “Starlight” would hit number 1 with a bullet (maybe), but 2009’s “Uprising” is another well-written and powerful song. Muse has a propensity to use battle and war themes in the songs. Strange, but it works. Great band.
20. “Zero”-Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
If this song was scored based on ideal definable attributes of a hit song, it might outscore YYY’s other song, “Heads Will Roll”. Wait. Maybe not. I take that back. It doesn’t have the visual image that the lyrics for “HWR” brings. Also no whisper-singing-cooing in my ear buds.
21. “Already Gone”-Kelly Clarkson:
I didn’t realize at first that this was Kelly Clarkson singing. I thought it was a black and/or English artist. Not sure why, since I’d heard Clarkson sing before. She seems to have had a fair amount of success for an American Idol (he said a little smugly). “Already Gone” combines strings and drums in a bittersweet breakup song about mercifully breaking up with someone when you realize there’s no future. This is another moving breakup song that might make the lip quiver. And junk.
22. “Lisztomania”-Phoenix: (Link to YouTube Video) Apparently “Lisztomania” was a term coined back in the days Franz Liszt performed the piano to large crowds (in the 1840s) and the fans went a little batty for him. Who knew. I like how the lyrics are repeated in succession. Nice effect. I need to listen to the rest of the album now. I mean, I have it, but I’ve been stuck on the 2 songs mostly.
23. “Summertime Clothes”-Animal Collective:
Animal Collective is one of those unique ‘out-there’ bands that march to a different drummer. The band’s songs often deviate from a normal song-writing form. Sometimes this is perfect and brilliant, while other times annoyingly incomplete. The band creates a thick wall of electronic sound that’s probably served as the soundtrack to lots of drug-tripping. “Summertime Clothes” mixes the conventional and unconventional enough to be awesome. Wild video.
24. “Love, Etc.”-Pet Shop Boys:
As I said earlier, this last PSB album, Yes, was really quite good with some nifty tunage. Be sure to check out the video-game-like music video. PSB often manages to harvest some great electronic beeps to go with their strong songs.
25. “Polite Dance Song”-The Bird And The Bee: This song was originally released on a 2006 EP, but was also included on their 2009 album, so I don’t mind adding it to the list. The band’s songs often have some incredibly clever lyrics and this is no exception. This implores the listeners to clap their hands in sort of a technical robotic way. Weird-cool.
26. “Love Story”-Taylor Swift:
“Love Story” was released in 2008, but still charted into 2009, so I’ve included it as one of my guilty pleasures. I’m self-conscious about liking Top 40 music, what with it being uncool, let alone country pop, but good songs are good songs and Taylor Swift has written some really sweet teenage girl-type songs. She’s kind of cute, too.
27. “Oh No”-Andrew Bird:
I limited my list to 30 songs and limited my Andrew Bird songs on the list to 2. The 3rd song would be “Not a Robot, But a Ghost”. I’ll have to look up the lyrics to “Oh No” sometime, since I don’t quite understand all of them, but what I catch are pretty great. “Across the silver bridge in nothing but a onesy and a veil”. Strange. Oh, and this song has some nifty whistling.
28. “Blue Skies”- Noah and the Whale:
“Blue Skies” tries to get us past the heartbreak and to the blue skies that are calling. “This is the last song that I write while still in love with you…while you’re even on my mind”. Pretty tune working both the sad and the hopeful. I like the video, too.
29. “Flaming Arrow”-Jupiter One:
I saw Jupiter One open for Regina Spektor in CA last fall with my friend Cami and was surprised by how great the band was live and how many swell tunes were played. Of course, one must always beware of live performances and how they can act as ‘beer goggles’ to the music, making the songs seem better than they are. Jupiter One has some really good songs, though, & Flaming Arrow is probably my favorite of the band’s 2009 release. It’s a fun tune.
30. “Paparazzi”-Lady Gaga:
I avoided Lady Gaga as long as I could, but she’s nearly unavoidable. She comes across as style over substance, but this isn’t purely true. There’s just so much weird style, that the substance seems secondary. Anyway, I really like her song “Paparazzi”. It’s a great tune, especially the chorus (which I mix into “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” by Simon and Garfunkel, though just as often I’ll turn it into “Papa Smurf Nazi”). Don’t judge me.
(note: I prefer to use the singular when referring to a band and it’s name “as in Radiohead has lost me” rather than “Radiohead have lost me”. I’ll have to study up on the reasoning for the plural (maybe ask my sister-in-law), but in my mind a band is a collective, a group united in one singular entity. Some band names have plurals in them, like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, so using the plural sounds better (for all I know, that may be where the plural started, unless it’s a Brit v American thing), though with my line of logic the singular should still be used. I still mix them up, though. I also refer to a family as a singular unit. Whatever. I’m probably wrong. I’m going to bed now.)
“If”-House of Heroes
“Say Hey (I Love You)”-Michael Franti
“Hot N Cold”-Katy Perry (disqualified because it mostly charted in 2008. This is probably a double standard, since I included Taylor Swift. Oh well.)
“Not a Robot, But a Ghost”-Andrew Bird
2 songs by Lonely Island (one is kinda dirty)
“Lush Life (remix)”-Nat King Cole (great remix, but it’s a remix of an old song, so)
“Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”-She and Him (it’s a cover used in a movie, which weakened it’s case for my list, but it’s a beautiful cover of a beautiful song”)
“Fallin’ For You”-Colbie Caillat
Links to Lists:
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