2009: Top 50

1. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

It couldn’t be anything else, could it? I’ve proved on numerous occasions that I’m a massive fan of preposterous music. The more ludicrously overblown the gooderer, as far as I’m concerned. (Although strangely I don’t love Queen all that much, but that’s another story) This record is the queen of ludicro-pop in 2009. Without this, Gaga would probably have been a top 20 entry at best – with one of her better Fame tunes like Paparazzi or Just Dance. I don’t buy into the theory that she was rubbish and now she’s great. She was great already, now she’s bloody amazing. Fin.

2. Kid Sister – Right Hand Hi

More synth-based pop fun, shock horror. Kid Sister popped up somewhere relatively lowly in my list last year with the fun but silly Pro Nails, but this one’s barely been off my iPod since it showed up months and months ago. It bombed on its UK release, but I’m still holding out for a reissue in 2010. We can but dream. Anyway, it’s up here because of its relentless energy, sense of fun, and would be number one if it wasn’t for the fact that a certain other Lady went and did it all that little bit better…

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero

It’s always amazing to see a band taking a step to the next level. It would be a mistake to say that It’s Blitz and its lead single marked an entirely new chapter for the band – they’ve hinted at this kind of synth-assisted savvy in places since their debut. But this felt like ambition fully realised, a mature album without all the grimness maturity usually implies. If Heads Will Roll gave more visceral thrills later in the year, this was a blinding statement of intent and thus it wins out here.

4. Saint Etienne – Method of Modern Love

The fact that I’ve already mentioned them three times so far, in a year in which they basically only put out a single and a remix album, should give some indication of the depth of my current obsession with this band. In any right-thinking world, this would have been number one for several weeks. A Richard X/Hannah Robinson track merely fronted by the band, it’s pop music as good as some of Girls Aloud’s better moments, while still retaining the unique Cracknell charm and beauty. Simply ace – and the lack of a proper video is inexcusable.

5. Passion Pit – The Reeling

If Manners didn’t quite live up to the early hype, this lead single more than compensated for it. The glorious blast of energy that kicks things off is probably one of my moments of the year. The over-massaged, falsetto vocals actually, I’ve decided, come into their own in the hyperactive chorus. The relatively underwhelming verses leave this a step away from real classic status, but at its best The Reeling sounds like carefree, arms in the air dancing, in a welcome summer downpour, somewhere in a field in anywhere.

6. Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind

If this list pretended to be objective in any way at all, this would be higher up the list. As it stands, I don’t feel a massive connection with a song about loving a city I’ve never been to. However, if there’s been a better chorus than Alicia Keys’ contribution here this year, then I haven’t heard it. Jay-Z is coasting, but that kind of fits with the laidback vibe. An instant classic, without any doubt.

7. Annie – Anthonio

I still don’t understand why this was left off Don’t Stop, but nevermind. Here it is in all its rubbish video glory. Don’t let that put you off though, because it’s a brilliant slice of mid-paced Italo-disco type thing that almost makes up for me forgetting to include anything at all by Sally Shapiro in this list. It raised hopes that Annie’s sophomore album could be a classic in the making, but that wasn’t quite to be. Nevertheless, this is near-perfect.


8. MSTRKRFT ft. John Legend – Heartbreaker

As I probably said at the time, this silk-smooth slice of electro-soul is an absolute world away from DFA 1979. Strangely though, that’s no bad thing. For me, an effective rehabilitation of the image of John Legend – a man that clearly has a voice, but didn’t seem keen to use it on anything with any life to it previously. Also, quite possibly the best thing MSTRKRFT have put their name to so far.

9. Metric – Help I’m Alive

There’s a hierarchy of Emily Haines love in my head. Bottom of the list sits the solo/Soft Skeleton material which wastes her pop-ready vocal talents on drab mumbly twindie. Top of the list is the idea (if not quite the reality) of collaborations with Tiesto. Very near the top, though, is any Metric song that is this great. Much like Monster Hospital a few years back, the original is lent more power by an absolutely blinding pop makeover. Here it’s the Twelves doing the work, but that it doesn’t diminish the appeal of the simple, stuttering rock of the original is to its credit.

10. La Roux – Bulletproof

Polarising opinions like no one else this year (OK, except perhaps Gaga until she put out Bad Romance), La Roux nonetheless, for my money, were one of the more reliable performers of the 80s-obsessed Class of ’09. Leaving aside a succession of increasingly jaw-droppingly naive interviews, this year was a good one for Elly Jackson and her ice-cream head. Bulletproof’s jittery Yazoo-pillaging and controlled hysterics were my highlight.

And numbers 11-50 below…

(More detail a mere click away: 50-41; 40-31; 30-21; and 20-11)

11. Kyla – Do You Mind?
12. Royksopp ft. Robyn – The Girl and the Robot
13. Fever Ray – Triangle Walks (Rex the Dog mix)
14. Pictureplane – New Mind
15. The Juan Maclean – One Day
16. Peaches – Lose You
17. Girls Aloud – Untouchable
18. Little Dragon – Blinking Pigs
19. Jamie T – Sticks ‘n’ Stones
20. The Bird and the Bee – Love Letter to Japan
21. Basement Jaxx – Raindrops
22. Enrique Iglesias ft. Ciara – Takin’ Back My Love
23. Zambri – Easier
24. Au Revoir Simone – Another Likely Story
25. Rex the Dog – Bubblicious
26. Tiesto ft. Tegan & Sara – Feel It In My Bones
27. Yes Giantess – Tuff ‘n’ Stuff
28. Little Boots – Remedy
29. Busta Rhymes ft. Estelle – World Go Round
30. Florence and the Machine – Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
31. Dizzee Rascal ft. Calvin Harris & Chrome – Holiday
32. Vitalic – Poison Lips
33. Delorean – Deli
34. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Higher Than The Stars
35. Felix da Housecat – We All Wanna Be Prince
36. Groove Armada – I Won’t Kneel
37. Bike for Three! – All There Is To Say About Love
38. Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed
39. Chew Lips – Salt Air
40. The Secret History – It’s Not The End of the World, Jonah
41. Miike Snow – Animal
42. Tinchy Stryder ft. Amelle – Never Leave You
43. Manic Street Preachers – Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
44. Modernaire – Faites Vos Jeux
45. Slow Club – It Doesn’t Have to Be Beautiful
46. Crystal Stilts – Love is a Wave
47. Air France – Gothenburg Belongs To Me
48. The Hundred in the Hands – Dressed in Dresden
49. Tahiti Boy & the Palmtree Family – 1973
50. Tiga – Shoes

Here’s the Spotify playlist. Phew.