(It's the most joyous time of the year. That time when we stop what we're doing. Take some time off work. And make lists in order to prove how smart we are.
Today's list: Top 25 Songs of the Year)
Like the Top 25 college football teams of the BCS system, the Top 25 songs is always a huge clusterfuck. This year, I made it a point not to have any repeat artists in the Top 25, just so we get a more dynamic list, which I suppose in some respects, renders the list moot if there are restrictions on it. But let's try not to get our underpants too bunched up about music and movie lists, ok? If you want to argue that Grizzly Bear should be higher or that "Song X" should be included, well that's the whole fun of these lists, right?
Anyway, commentary is included for most songs, but restricted a bit for some songs that may appear again on our Albums of the Year post.
Should you feel so inspired, take a listen to ALL 25 SONGS via this handy little widget from grooveshark right here, or individually below:
And now, on to the top songs.
25. "Hurt Feelings," Flight of the Conchords
Before we get started let me say that I spent about four hours listening to this and "Carol Brown" to decide which one I put on this list. They're both excellent and indicative of FOTC's second season. Here's the thing: FOTC's second proper album, I Told You I Was Freaky is actually really good music. What it may lack in humor relative to their Season 1 album it makes up for in musical and production chops. That isn't to say it isn't freaking hilarious. "Hurt Feelings" is brilliantly funny and also incredibly catchy.
24. "Northern Lights," Bowerbirds
23. "The Concubine," Beirut
22. "Satellite Heart," Ayna Marina
21. "Possibility," Lykke Li
Two really great songs from ... ahem ... the ... uh ... new moon soundtrack.
Actually, I think we're at the point where we can be adults about this: THE TWILIGHT: NEW MOON SOUNDTRACK IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD! And if it weren't for Dark Was the Night (later), it would be the best compilation album of the year. Of course, DWTN only has one song on this list.
20. "True or False," Bishop Allen
Girl Supercomputer's song of the year. Even if we both mess up the chorus when we try to sing it.
19. "Laughing With," Regina Spektor
Yes, it's pretty much the antithesis of everything we loved about Regina Spektor way back on Soviet Kitcsh. To that extent, "Laughing With" probably isn't as good as "Genius Next Door." Frankly much of Spektor's 2009 album Far ventures a bit too closely to Vanessa Carlton territory. (Seriously, compare that song to the last minute of "Dance Anthem of the 80's," starting at say, the 2:22 mark. Oh boy! Here comes the hate mail!) Still, while Regina Spektor's emotional "Laughing With" is manipulative and undoubtedly Grey's Anatomy-bound, the first time you heard it, you stopped and listened intently. And frankly, I still do.
18. "Epistemology," M. Ward
17. "Wilco the Song," Wilco
I was rather disappointed with Wilco (the Album), but the opening track is inspired. Unfortunately, the momentum doesn't carry over.
16. "Tenuousness," Andrew Bird
I was also a bit disappointed with AB's Noble Beast. It's a good album and all, but a bit of a step backwards from the trajectory offered by The Mysterious Production of Eggs and Armchair Apocrypha. To that point, "Tenuousness" is probably the most like Apocrypha in terms of lyrics, tempo, and instrumentation.
15. "Young Adult Friction," The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
14. "Sylvia," The Antlers
Let's just say I spent several hours deciding which Antlers song to put on this list. Being a concept album and all, it's hard to single out one song.
13. "Two Weeks," Grizzly Bear
12. "Gimmie Sympathy," Metric
11. "You Are the Blood," Sufjan Stevens
Once again, Sufjan Stevens manages to affect the music scene without producing a proper album. Then again, according to an interview with Paste magazine, he's bored of the album concept and not in the mood to produce them anymore. As a one-time SS syncophant, I will paraphrase George Costanza: "Now you listen to me: I want details (albums) and I want them right now. I don’t have job , I have no place to go… you’re not in the mood: well you get in the mood"
10. "This Tornado Loves You," Neko Case
In case you've ever wondered what it was like to be in love with an actual tornado, you can either A) join the CSU Atmospheric Science department, or B) listen to Neko Case.
9. "I and Love and You," The Avett Brothers
This song is simply classic and could have been written in any decade since 1920: "Brooklyn, Brooklyn, let me in, are you aware the shape I'm in?" The opening line of this song and this album is almost chill-inducing.
8. "Blood Bank," Bon Iver
7. "My Body's a Zombie For You," Dead Man's Bones
In addition to being a great actor, did you know that Ryan Gossling sings and plays music? And that Mrs. Supercomputer would totally run away with him if she could?? Although in her defense, after listening to Dead Man's Bones, I would probably consider it as well. From the moment it was released, it immediately became the base and Ultimate Halloween album. And it's about damn time. How come it took so long to rid ourselves of the wretched, "Monster Mash?"
P.S. Have you noticed that DMS has a weird fascination with zombies?
6. "Lisztomania," Phoenix
Why did this years' Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix receive such acclaim while other, similar past efforts by Phoenix left them relatively under the radar? This song and this song alone. Not that the rest of the album isn't great, but "Lisztomania" sets it apart by a few miles.
5. "Dull Life," Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. "Woof Woof," Dan Deacon
3. "Tom Justice, the Choir Boy Robber, Apprehended At Ace Hardward in Libertyville, IL," Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
Don't let the incredibly long and possibly pretentious name fool you: this is a musically and lyrically sparse and subtle song. However, it is also incredibly lush and sprawling in theme. It may take a few listens, but once you get to that point, it's possible to just put it on repeat and call it a day.
2. "Actor Out of Work," St. Vincent
In the same way this song jumps out at you from the first chord, this song jumped out at us from the moment we saw it. Actually, it's a pretty significant upset by the song at #1 to be able to usurp "Actor Out of Work."
1. "Home," Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Our favorite, and probably most unique song of the year goes to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' "Home." It's got whistling, back-and-forth vocals, dialog and layers upon layers. It's honestly like nothing you've ever heard and that was just enough to break a tie with "Actor." While all the songs in the Top 10 are creative in their own idiosyncratic way, "Home" is uniquely unique (who scored a 6 on the GRE written portion? *this guy!*).
We're going to let the cat out of the bag a bit here and state that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' 2009 album Up From Below is not one of our top 10 albums. This is not to say that "Home" is the only good song on it. Quite the contrary: "40 Day Dream," "Janglin," and "Up From Below" would all make the top 25 songs if it weren't for the one-song-per-artist restriction. No, rather, it's a testament to just how great a year in music it was. Cutting off the list at 10 was difficult. In any other year "Home" alone (get it!) would make Up From Below would launch it into the top 10 albums, but 2009 was just that good.
Take us out, guys.
Stay tuned for Albums of 2009!
(P.S. Song title that made me laugh out loud: Canadian Invasion, “Standing On The Shoulders Of The Carcass Of John Mayer”)