Thursday, December 03, 2009

top 10 singles and albums of 2009 - part 3


No. 2: Dizzee Rascal - Bonkers.

The future casestudy for how to bring the mainstream to you, rather than pander to it. Whereas Holiday and Dance Wit Me are unquestionably pop, here the beat comes straight from the club scene.

What really carries it the song though is its sense of fun. Nobody's taking themselves too seriously here. Seeing 60,000 people bouncing to it at Glastonbury isn't a memory that will fade easily.

Hell, it might even be better than Sirens. Although that might be pushing things a little too far.

No. 3: Biffy Clyro - That Golden Rule

The perfect marriage of the usual preposterous Biffy fare, and newly found mainstream sensibilities. Moments later they go too far and dumb down for the masses (The Captain), but that's not so here.

Getting the radio-friendly formula out of the way in two minutes flat, the track then beds down into its real intention: producing the riff of the year.

No. 4: Jay-Z - Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)

The unquestionable highlight of Blueprint III (even when you take into account the circling addictiveness of ace street track D.O.A. (Death Of Autotune).

A simple love letter to NYC, the combination of Jay-Z's tension building lyrics followed by the release of Alicia Keys' chorus made this stand out from first listen. This was the highlight of Jay's live set even as the album was just being released - it sounded absolutely massive.


No. 2: The Horrors - Primary Colours

Nobody - really nobody - expected this to be any good. An industry joke in 2007 - the very definition of style over substance - to return with such an incredible second album was one of the most remarkable moments of the year. Wall-of-Sound classics like Mirror's Image and Three Decades sound incredible after first listen, and even better after the tenth.

Also impressive was the nod to non-commercialism in releasing the eight minute Sea Within A Sea (nowhere near the best song here) as the first single. Now a superb band with style AND substance.

No. 3: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!

Somebody, anybody, please explain why Zero wasn't the massive hit Yeah Yeah Yeahs have deserved for so long.

It was typical of the assured sound here, whether rocking the dancefloor (Heads Will Roll) or pulling on heartstrings (Hysteric). Since Elbow went mainstream, music's most undervalued band.

No 4. The XX - The XX

Pop minimalism? Yes please.

There's certainly nothing else out there quite like like The XX. Catchy pop tracks are stripped back to their most basic instrumentation, giving them full room to breath. The result is wonderful atmospherics like those of Crystalised and Fantasy.

Next time you're faced with a long train journey or drive home in the middle of the night, you will not find a more perfect accompaniment.

1 comment:

Bekki said...

Was browsing through your blog due to my situation as a new 'blogger' from Nottingham and felt the need to congratulate you on your music tase. Great to see someone else supporting genuinely talented bands like The xx, Yeah Yeahs Yeahs and The Horrors. Now lets just get more good music in Nottingham!