Thursday, December 31, 2009

What I Like About 2009 - Music

On this, the last day of 2009, I present my favorite things of the past year (in no particular order). I'm going to break it up into different posts. Music, TV, Movies.

Normally, I would just do a Top Ten Albums of the year list. But since I could not find 10 albums that I purchased this year that came out this year that I truly loved, I'm changing things up.

Favorite Album Released in 2009
Yeah Yeah Yeah's: It's Blitz

From start to finish, this album is a goldmine. The Yeah Yeah Yeah's have taken a real departure from their usual rock and roll fare, choosing to go the dance route. It works. Karen's voice was made for this style. The songs are fun to sing along with and to dance to. And, like the Lykke Li album that made my Top Ten last year, it's a dance album that does not just throw away the lyrics. Listen to "Hysteric" and tell me if it doesn't warm your heart. 'You suddenly complete me' is right. I can't believe at one time "Hysteric" didn't exist.

Another notable tracks you must download if you are too cheap to buy the whole album: "Zero", "Runaway", "Little Shadow", and "Faces". Oh, screw it. Just buy the whole album!

Favorite Album That Came Out Last Year But I Just Discovered This Year
Amanda Palmer: Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

After only buying this album a couple of months ago, I can't believe I lived a whole year without hearing it. Amanda has the voice of a drunk singing karaoke at a piano bar, but she has the attitude and lyrics to make you shut up and listen. An album that seems to revolve around two things: A friend dealing with a drug addiction and a difficult break up (maybe they are one and the same?) is hardly the album that you would think would make you so happy upon each listen. I guess I just feel so relieved every time I hear it that there are still people like Amanda out there making genuine, raw music and hold nothing back.

What you should be listening to: "Ampersand", "Runs in the Family", "Blake Says", "Oasis", and "Point of it All"

I'm Gonna Let You Finish, But Beyonce Made The Best Video Of The Year

So yes, Kanye, you were right. There probably could have been a better place or time to make your statement, but she did make the best video of the year. It was simple concept for a fantastic pop song that made you want to watch it over and over again. I don't know how many times I've tried to emulate it - or at least parts of it. It made thousands of YouTuber's put on their stilettos and leotards and strut around their living rooms. Did Taylor Swift's video have the same impact?

(On a side note, I know it's not okay to like Kanye West for making a teen girl cry, but "Heartless" is a fantastic song)

Favorite Concert Of The Year (3 way tie)
The National at First Avenue, Jenny Lewis at Fine Line, Soul Asylum at First Avenue

Before seeing The National in concert, I had only heard their album The Boxer and had no idea what they looked like or what their shows were like. They could have come out as 60 year old men in clown suits and I probably would have gone with it. But they didn't. They were just a bunch of dudes led by a charismatic frontman in a skinny tie and olive suit. They ran through every song I knew and played with an energy and urgency I did not expect. When lead singer Matt Berninger climbed the staircase, leaned over the railing, and shouted "I am the great white hope!", I declared him my god.

The Jenny Lewis show was a surprise. I had already seen her at First Avenue early in the summer and it was very enjoyable. But then she did a private show at the Fine Line that I somehow managed to score a bunch of tickets to. She played acoustically with her boyfriend and bandmate, Johnathan Rice. These two folkies owned the room. Also, I got to go on stage during the final song and sing back up to "Acid Tongue". It was awesome.

Soul Asylum was a recent show. I've always really liked this band and grew to truly respect them after seeing them at a festival a few years back. But after the First Avenue show, my love for them grew leaps and bounds. They are not against playing all the hits, they are still writing great new material, they played for so long and kept the energy up the whole time. It was just a fun fun concert.

Favorite Regina Spektor Songs From An Album I Didn't Really Care For

Regina Spektor released a new album this year titled Far that I was really looking forward to, only to be extremely let down. Since it's now had time to sink in a bit, some songs have grown on me. They are: "Folding Chair", "Machine", "Dance Anthem of the 80's", and "Eet". So go get those.

Musical Guilty Pleasure Of The Year
David Cook

Oh, dear. I feel terrible for putting him under guilty pleasure, because I do love him so, but I know that people will (and do) give me crap for liking him, so I guess I should feel guilty? He put on a great show back in July. His album is a big anthemic rock album that is fun to sing along to and blast in the car. He seems like an incredibly likable, humble guy who you want to support. He does great things for cancer charities. His voice is like having your ear drums nuzzled. Sorry. No guilt here.

Other Music Highlights

- I like that it's okay to listen to Michael Jackson again. It's unfortunate that he had to die to make that so.

- The Killers' Day and Age is another album that came out late in 2008 that I didn't really grow to appreciate until this year. It's a fantastic album in that same new wave vein as Yeah Yeah Yeah's. They really go hand in hand quite well. Top tracks: "A Dustland Fairytale", "Spaceman", "Human", "Joyride".

- Chairlift's "Bruises" and Blitzen Trapper's "Furr" are probably my two favorite future one hit wonder songs of the year - if you can really call them hits. More like indie sleeper hits.

- Thank goodness Ingrid Michaelson released a bunch of singles leading up to her latest album's release, or she might have completely fallen off my radar. But songs like "Turn to Stone" and "All Love" will keep me satisfied.

- I got to see Britney Spears live this year. At least I think it was her. It could have just been a dancer in a blonde wig. But it was entertaining.

That's my music round up for 2009. What did you enjoy musically this past year?

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