To complete my thoughts on the best songs that I heard in 2009, here are a few words about each of my 25 favourites:
25. NELSON CLEMENTE “You Want Me Don’t You (Spekr Freks mix)”
My #22 favourite from 2008 received a blistering remix from Spekr Freks in 2009 that’s perfect for the crack of midnight at a club. It bodes well for new music in 2010 from this South Africa based, Australian talent.
24. MARIANAS TRENCH “Masterpiece Theatre Part 1”
To me this is the showcase track from the Masterpiece Theatre, the first part of an intriguing rock opera that surrounds their other hits “Cross My Heart” (#37 on this list), “All By Myself”, and “Beside You”. These west coast Canadians far exceeded my expectations with this well-produced and extremely well done record.
23. MANS ZELMERLOW “Rewind”
A new Swedish star who should be on the international tip sometime in 2010. This breezy reflection on summer is only one reason for that.
22. GARY GO “Wonderful”
I missed this new UK singer opening up on Mika’s Fall tour but hopefully he’ll make the rounds again. “Wonderful” is an urgent, heartfelt tune to turn to when you feel down in the dumps – it will certainly pick you up.
21. RYAN STAR “Last Train Home”
The second song in this list from 2008 to receive a re-release, and the first of two in the Top 25 from this singer. Ryan Star’s from NYC and this striking rock ballad commands your attention. Few male rock singers these days have voices this good.
20. BEYONCE “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
Yes it was a little tired by year’s end with even Alvin & The Chipmunks getting in on the act, but there’s no denying the hook or the impact that it had on women at the start of 2009. Songs like this show why Beyoncé is a superstar.
19. EVAN TAUBENFELD “Boy Meets Girl”
The first of two songs in the Top 20 from this talented LA-based singer/guitarist. The mix of 80’s and 90’s pop culture references and playful vocals make “Boy Meets Girl” a unique gem looking to be uncovered a little more in 2010.
18. PRESETS “If I Know You”
I missed their Toronto concert so I caught it when I was in California in April. This Australian duo creates such an intense show, more reminiscent of dark and dangerous 80’s acts like Shriekback and The The than anything else. “If I Know You” is a little less dark and dangerous, focusing in on a great melody and story while maintaining that relentless beat that pervades their live show.
17. JON McLAUGHLIN “You Can Never Go Back”
I’m not sure if it was entirely intended, but this track from this Indiana-based singer channels the Electric Light Orchestra so much for me. With ELO-like musical flourishes and melody, and even a reference to “Xanadu”, I was sold! It’s one of the highlights of Jon’s OK Now CD even if I think so for all the wrong reasons.
16. NADIA ALI “Love Story”
This former iio singer released her debut solo CD Embers, which includes this #1 club hit. Nadia has a great voice that’s been missed these past few years after the demise of iio (who appear a few times on my Top 300 of the decade), and this gentle dancefloor filler has hopefully kickstarted a long solo career.
15. PIERRE “Broken”
Pierre Lewis is one of several new singers I enjoyed from England, and his emotional ballad “Broken” has endured throughout the year for me. It also works just fine as a dance tune in a snappy remix by Joe 90. Look for more songs from Pierre in 2010.
14. MIKA “We Are Golden”
“We Are Golden” is the anthem of 2009 and a great start to a sophomore effort following Mika’s success in 2007. The Boy Who Knew Too Much is top notch ear candy that occasionally goes over the top – and enjoyably sol.
13. THE SCRIPT “Before The Worst”
It’s hard to believe some of these Irish lads were once in the boy band MyTown… they have come a long way to make a debut CD that appeals across the pop, rock and alt.rock genres. “Before The Worst” is their second song on this list, and was released as a free iTunes single early in 2009. It’s the best track on their CD, wearing its emotion on its sleeve while allowing the listener to empathize. The journey for these guys has just begun!
12. FLORENCE & THE MACHINE “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”
Florence Welch is a unique new voice for the next decade as heard in the powerful songs on her band’s debut CD Lungs. “Rabbit Heart” for me has the most memorable imagery in a chorus of any song on this list and that combined with its gothic pop trappings makes it one of the finest records of the year.
11. MIKA “Blame It On The Girls”
If the triumph of “We Are Golden” was not enough, next up from Mika in 2009 was this simple and snappy pop/dance tune with a story. It’s theatrical qualities make it pretty much irresistible. I’m looking for Mika to take his show on the road again in 2010 so that I can see it all brought to life!
10. AGNES CARLSSON “Release Me”
The biggest breakout of the year from Sweden is Agnes Carlsson, who acquired an international #1 club hit and Top 5 UK pop hit with “Release Me”. Great vocals, commanding performance, this song had it all.
9. DAN BLACK “Alone”
The first of two Top 10 entries from the talented Mr. Black from England is “Alone”, which is not a ballad but an uptempo dance track. It’s one of several reasons to watch to see what Dan Black has to offer in the next few years. The world needs more of his kind of musical alchemy.
8. RYAN STAR “Right Now”
The second of two entries for Mr. Star, could there be a more positive and upbeat song released in 2009? This song makes you feel your mortality through your bones.
7. THE FRAY “You Found Me (Lenny B mix)”
Back in the Spring, I was listening to my car radio and a syndicated radio show was on. As I was listening, all of sudden ‘YOU FOUND ME” resonates through the speakers – and instead of a softer AC melody what follows is a throbbing dance beat before the vocals cut in. You see, I didn’t , and still really don’t, like the original version of this song. But Lenny B transformed it and brought out the meaning of the song for me. When remixes are great, they really work. This one made my heart pound.
6. EVAN TAUBENFELD “Cheater Of TheYear”
“Cheater of the Year” was my introduction to Evan Taubenfeld in 2009, and is his second appearance in the Top 20. Lyrically, this song pulls no punches about its subject, but Evan makes it fun and entertaining for the listener, and simply makes you want more.
5. 100 AKRES FEATURING ROZ BELL “Pink Cadillac”
“Pink Cadillac” is the best completely free download of the year. UK based 100 Akres had a hand in producing Canadian Roz Bell’s 2008 hit “Yesterday Man”, but this time he brought Roz into his territory, this being a funky track that is highly reminiscent of some of the best blue eyed soul of the 80’s, such as songs by The Kane Gang and Paul Young. That such a great track was given away to us music fans made me hungry for similarly great online freebies. And you know what, they’re out there!
4. NOAH “Mannequin”
Other bloggers discovered Ottawa-based Noah before I did, but I’m so glad that I found this song through them. Noah certainly has his own unique scat-type vocal style that when mixed with electronic dance music, creates an even more extraordinary blend. I’ve read that he’s put on energetic shows in Ottawa and NYC. While I couldn’t hear anything else quite as riveting from his CD Human Geometry, I’m looking forward to hearing more from Noah in 2010.
3. ROYKSOPP FEATURING ROBYN “The Girl & The Robot”
Norwegian producers Royksopp meet Swedish star Robyn for a brilliant moment in electronic dance music that had online musicphiles raving, and then there was the live performance video too. It takes you to one of those magical places in music history that you know can’t be repeated.
2. DAN BLACK “Symphonies”
The second of two Top 10 entries for Dan Black found him taking two or three steps ahead of his 2008 download “HYPNTZ” by forgetting about the Notorious B.I.G. sample he tried to acquire and instead transforming it into this sweeping contemporary piece of electronica. It’s one of the most beautiful songs of 2009 and the decade.
1. SAM TAYLOR “Run Away”
“Run Away” takes my breath away every time I play it, and I first heard it back in February, so it has held court over the entire year. UK singer Sam Taylor is such an understated talent, he has a voice and delivery that can make anyone melt, yet he’s only had a handful of songs appear online, and the only ones commercially available are through the “Beautiful People” TV soundtrack from which this song comes. Watch out 2010, it could be Sam Taylor’s year!!