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Category Archives: lists!

Because why the hell not?

Albums:

1. Taylor Swift, Fearless Platinum Edition
A total cheat considering Fearless came out last year, but I only discovered it this year. But because the Platinum Edition came out last month, I’m gonna say this counts, as it improves on the regular edition by giving us more Taylor; six more songs, in fact, all of which are generally tossed-off asides whether they are easy-breezy (“Jump Then Fall”), achingly pretty (“Untouchable”), or achingly sad (a piano-and-cello version of the album’s sarcastic “Forever and Always”). If she sounds this good when she isn’t trying, imagine how good she is when she does: constructing an album where the songs dialogue with each other, building up archetypes (“Love Story”) only to tear them down (“White Horse,” “Fifteen”), with charisma for days (“You Belong With Me”) even when she’s moping about (“You’re Not Sorry”). And finally, it takes a big heart to write something like “Fifteen” for the girls who are coming after you while also writing something like “The Best Day” for the woman who came before you.

2. The-Dream, Love vs. Money
Terius “The-Dream” Nash, along with producers Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Carlos “Los da Mystro” McKinney have crafted remarkably symphonic r&b on this record; there is endless amount of noise to be fascinated by here, which makes it even more impressive that Terius’s personality shines through on his obsessive and often funny lyrics. He likes to talk about fucking. He likes to talk about love. He likes to talk about money. He worries that money is more important than love. But most of all, he wants to mess yo shit up. One of the (many) lines of the year that are contained here: “Girl, call Latisha, your beautician/Cuz your hair is gon need fixin’.”

3. Sunn O))), Monoliths & Dimensions
There is nothing quite like this record, a unique and terrifying experience. There can be terror in 17-minute drones, because, as with darkness, most of the terror comes with what you think is there. I would kill to see this band live, except I can barely deal with them on record.

4. Miranda Lambert, Revolution
I’ve said a few things here and there, but the more I listen the deeper this album becomes, and I daresay it’s her best. At least until the next one. And my hypothesis was proven right: It sounds perfect in a car.

5. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
I say some things here.

6. Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night
His most complete album, and a portrait of a modern man—grateful for America’s mongrel consumerism (“American Saturday Night”); grateful for America’s past, present, and future (“Welcome To The Future”); grateful for his children (“Anything Like Me”); grateful for his wife (“Then,” “She’s Her Own Woman”); and hell, he even thinks wearing women’s underwear can be enlightening (“The Pants”).

7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz!
Is it possible that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are underrated? After the yowly stomp of Fever To Tell and the misstep that was Show Your Bones, YYYs return with their best album to date, marrying the sounds of dance music to the propulsion of their punk-derived guitar music, creating a beautifully messy swirl in the process. It’s Blitz! starts off with their two best bangers (“Zero” and “Heads Will Roll”), setting you up for ass-shaking, only to build downwards to the fragile beauty of closers “Hysteric”—a song so good it could’ve been on Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage—and “Little Shadow.”

8. The xx, xx
I say some things about it here.

9. Electrik Red, How To Be A Lady, Vol 1
Terius Nash and Christopher Stewart construct a girl group; how could anything possibly go wrong? They write the music, the melodies, and put words in the girls’s mouths, and yet somehow the forcefulness of Electrik Red’s personae obliterate any kind of Svengali charge. Alternately vulgar (“W.F.Y.” or “We Fuck You”), sweet-sounding (“Friend Lover”), subservient (“Bed Rest”) and demanding (“On Point”) but always hilarious. Also responsible for one of the lines of the year: “I thought I wouldn’t really give a fuck/But now a bitch all in love.”

10. Shakira, She Wolf/Robin Thicke, Sex Therapy: The Experience
The awesome:hilarious ratio on both records were unparalleled this year, whether it was Shakira hoping your trip to France includes fleas and bad plumbing, or Thicke’s cheeseball lounge traxxx and the Snoop song where he sounds like Billy Crystal impersonating Sammy Davis, Jr. Shakira wins for condensing the hilarity into 12 songs (3 or which are Spanish renditions of some of the album’s tracks), Thicke wins for durability, we all win as listeners.

Singles:

1. Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”/“Fifteen”
I don’t think I need to say anything more about these two songs than I already have.

2. Brad Paisley, “Welcome To The Future”
Starts off praising technology with a “Glory glory Hallelujah” that sounds like trademark Paisley wittiness, but the gravitas in his voice betrays the over-the-top words; when the same words appear after the final Obama-inspired verse, the song becomes incredibly powerful. A great song by itself, but even more so in the context of country music, where social progressiveness and the concept of change are hardly embraced. Unsurprisingly, Paisley has gotten a lot of flack from country fans, but I’d bet he’d shrug that off as much as he does when he sings, “Wherever we were going, well, we’re here,” neither overstating the case but also letting the profundity speak for itself. Here is his moving performance of this song at the White House. The look on Obama’s face is wonderful.

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Zero”
I stand by what I said about Karen O’s vocals previously, though the more I listen the more this song actually does sound transcendent, and one of the YYYs few absolutely perfect songs.

4. Electrik Red, “Drink In My Cup”
Banger of the year? Cup, sip, yup…Yurrrrr!

5. Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
A slow-burn of a song, all gauzy drunk ache and pain. Simmering and downright erotic if you listen right, with an absolutely gorgeous piano line and “One Headlight” riff rip.

6. Drake, “Best I Ever Had”
One of the biggest musical douches of 2009, so of course he thinks “You da fuckin’ best” sounds sweet and charming. And, like a lot of douches (am I projecting?), it manages to sound sweet and charming. Even a broken clock etc.

7. Robin Thicke, “Sex Therapy”
I love the sound of those drums, I love the layering vocal production, I love how he seems to be channeling Prince, I love the Lesley Gore rip. I would hate that he references Twilight, except it is funny as shit. I would hate the title except ditto.

8. Beyonce, “Halo”
Beyonce is not actually a human being, a fact shown in her glorious cyborgness in the “Single Ladies (Put on a Ring on It)” video (Kanye was right btw, too bad he was such a dick about it) and which also proves that “Irreplaceable” is in fact her best single because it manages to make her sound like a person. Beyonce in 2009 was in full-on robot mode, and the triumph of “Halo” is that, in its beginning lines—”Remember those walls I built?/Well baby, they’re crumbling down”—it approximates emotion so well that you swear you can hear a tear short-circuiting her system, causing those walls to crumble, only to be rebooted to shouting-to-the-heavens perfection by the end.

9. Shakira, “She Wolf”
Most hilarious song of the year. Awoo, motherfuckers.

10. Justin Bieber, “One Time”/Jesse McCartney featuring T-Pain, “Body Language”/Miley Cyrus, “Party in the USA”/Demi Lovato, “Here We Go Again”
An explosion of tweens! Even though Jesse McCartney is 22. Justin Bieber is basically Jesse McCartney part 2, but even less convincing when he says “shawty.” “One Time” sees him ride a Terius production through to desexualized pubescent gloppiness (“She makes me happy”? Awwww), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the bounce. McCartney is at least funny when he reappropriates “That thing you got behind you is amazing,” which Terius wrote for him last year in “Leavin’,” and his “Who cares what you have to say? That body says it all!” reduction of female sexuality actually seems sweet. T-Pain adds nothing of value, which is par for the course. The universal body language of throwing one’s hands up to pop music that bridges all cultural/social/temporal lines is a big reason why “Party in the USA” is such a great song, coupled with its surfy guitar lines and synthy spray cheeze topping; part of why it is tied for #10 instead of being the rightful song of the year is Miley’s abhorrent vocal presence, as well as usage of “taximan” (not an actual word). Lastly, Demi Lovato takes the sad winsomeness of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and makes its repeated romantic mistakes sound joyful and liberating, because why even try to stop fate when you can give in and ride its wave? The guitars are why Disney princesses should listen to metal more often. Who knew that teenage-ish girls (Clarkson, Avril, Ashlee, Taylor, Demi, etc) would rock harder and better than a lot of the boys this decade?

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