Top 25 Songs 2009


Jan 11 2010, 17h53

Concerning songs, 2009 was a good year. Not great, but good. Certainly, this year brought forth some magnificent songs, but their numbers are a bit low. In my Top 25, there’s a real distinction between the upper 12 songs and the latter 13 songs. The upper half has All Time Top 100 potential and the other half not. Truth to be said, I’m really really demanding concerning my All Time Top 100, so the other half isn’t bad, just not good enough. So what does that mean for the upper half? It consists of songs that are very good, songs that are brilliant and a song that is legendary. Curious? Good! Here we go!

25. Kasabian - Fast Fuse

Grabbing the number 25 spot is Kasabian with Fast Fuse. Hailing from one of the best albums of 2009,The West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Fast Fuse contains a pace and aggression that grabs you by your throat and never lets go. During live-performances Kasabian manages to bring over the pure arrogance this song contains: “Heaven may come, heaven may call, but I won’t be there..”. If you have the chance, go see this band! They blew me away at the iTunes Festival last year.
24. Phoenix - Lisztomania

Phoenix is already 11 years active, but the year 2009 finally meant their big break-through. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was nominated for an Emmy Award, the singles of this album went really well and nearly every gig was sold-out. Phoenix manages to implement an easy-going attitude in their music, unlike their lyrics which are rather gloomy. Lisztomania, for instance, refers to the over-the-top- super-stardom of Franz Liszt during his piano-performances in Europe. The crowds literally went mad during these gigs. This song is about how to cope with fame and the continuously changing public interests. It really shows in the chorus:

Think less but see it grow
Like a ride, like a riot, Oh!
Not easily offended
Know how to let it go
From a mess to the masses

And did I already mention that this songs just sounds great? :-).
23. Mew - Cartoons and Macramé Wounds

In 2005, Mew blew me away with And The Glass Handed Kites. I had never heard a band which used Japanese influences so well in their music. Their dreampop sound, combined with multiple vocal lines and irregular rhythms, makes them easily one of my favorite bands. When they released their next album in 2009, No More Stories.., I had really high expectations. Fortunately, they lived up to them. No More Stories grabbed the number 3 spot in my personal Album Top 25 of 2009 and contains many good songs. The song Cartoons And Macramé Wounds, for example, and especially the intro, unites all the aspects I mentioned above, so the number 23 spot in my Top 25 is well deserved.
22. The Bony King of Nowhere - Losing Gravity

On the artist page The Bony King of Nowhere is described as follows: ‘The Bony King of Nowhere is the project of 22-year-old Belgian composer Bram Vanparys. His honest music, characterized above all by Bram’s distinctive voice, claims your heart straight away. Songs are built on melodic backing vocals, guitars and sound layers, as well as the frequent use of unconventional percussion inspired by the Brazilian Tropicália Movement from the 1960s.’ Losing Gravity almost literally takes you away into the clouds, music wise as well as lyrics wise, and grants you a peaceful experience.
21. jj - My Hopes and Dreams

Swedish band JJ delivered a with JJ No 2 a great album. It combines folk with African influences, giving it, in contrast with the lyrics, an airy tone. The exception is My Hopes And Dreams, which musically also wears a mysterious, dark and gloomy mask. It tells about loneliness and the incompetence of people to understand what freedom – and life – is really about. Painfully true, the exact feeling you get when you listen to this song.
20. The Horrors - Mirror’s Image

The last few years, more and more songs contain elements of the shoegaze era: delayed guitars, voices used as an extra instrument or multiple layers. Some bands even use all the characteristics in their music, forming the so-called nu-gaze era. One of these bands is The Horrors. Was their first album more post-punk, with their second, and break-through, album they stepped into the nu-gaze era. Mirror’s Image is the opener of the album and provides a perfect (shoegaze) intro to rest of the album. Getting over a love that has passed by(e) is the main theme of this song:

how is her life
on the paradise
walk on into the night
and in good time
you'll pass her bye
walk on into the night

19. The Sleepover Disaster - Dark Star

Acquiescence writes the following about The Sleepover Disaster: ‘If one band deserves to cast off the shackles of anonymity and revel in some ubiquitous adulation this year, then step forward The Sleepover Disaster. Having been pressing on for 10 years now, the L.A. trio show no signs of wear and Hover, their third LP, bursts with an indefatigable energy, a collection of 9 songs that despite harking so faithfully back to the shoegaze era (specifically the likes of Ride and Swervedriver) is nevertheless timeless music.’ Nuff said.

18. Editors - Papillon

Truthfully, Editors lost me after the second album. I really liked their first album, The Back Room, but their second album just seemed more of the same to me. There was no room for new things, they just used the same formula. Sure, many people liked the second album, but it just didn't work for me. Surprisingly, they managed to 'reclaim' me with In This Light And In This Evening. Like many more indie bands, Editors used electronic influences from the 80's and it worked out fine, really fine. Papillon blew me away the first time I heard it and it still does.

17. The Raveonettes - Gone Forever

The Raveonettes, hailing from Denmark, are heavily influenced by the 60's rock and roll and combine that sound with shoegaze/noise elements, resulting in, mostly because of the typical 60's vocal harmony, a happy sound with sharp edges. The lyrics are very gloomy and because of that typical sound of the Raveonettes, they seem even gloomier. Gone Forever is about an ended love, that could have been so great, but one person never had the real intention to go for it, while the other one wanted to grow old together. Tragically, they were perfect for each other, only one side didn't realize it. What a waste.

16. Editors - Like Treasure

In This Light And In This Evening doesn't really rock, like the pervious two albums. Sure, Papillon of course, is really danceable, but it doesn't represent the whole album. The rest of the album is dark and is more suited to listen to on your couch than in a disco. Is that a bad thing? Certainly not! I really like the atmosphere that Editors brought into this album: gloomy, dark and mysterious. The perfect representation of album is Like Treasure, which contains all the elements mentioned above. Best song of the album.

15. The xx - Islands

The XX is considered as one of the best new bands of 2009. With their sharp, clean and minimalistic sound, they scored high in all the end-of-the-year-lists. They grabbed the number 6 spot in my Album Top 25 of 2009, but I'm curious if they will consolidate that position in the past few months. Sure, their sound is refreshing, but it's the same thing for every song from the whole album. For me, it's lacking a kind of differentiation. That doesn't take away the fact that the album is good and contains some beautiful songs. Mostly people go with Crystalized, but I think that Islands is better. This because this song does contain the differentiation the whole album lacks - and they only need 3 minutes for it...

14. Florence + the Machine - Cosmic Love

Cosmic Love is lyrically one of the better songs in my Top 25. It tells about someone desperate in love with someone who - nicely put - isn't very suited for her. Althought she knows, she desperately clings on to him, choosing to stay in the same darkness that he resides in. Well, if that isn't love.. The metaphor used is space, with all the stars and the moon blown out, leaving her in (his) darkness. Musically, I really like the use of multiple background vocals and the harp. It provides the song a spacy, dreamy side, just like the lyrics do.

13. Jónsi & Alex - Boy 1904

Jónsi & Alex is a collaboration between Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson of Sigur Rós, and his boyfriend, Alex Somers. They managed to create a dreamy - almost heavenly - sound, with the use of acoustic instrumental music alongside a string quartet, Amiina, and the Kópavogsdætur Choir. Highlight of the album is Boy 1904, which gives me the feeling that I'm in St. Pauls Chapel, listening to the choir, while it starts to rain outside. Absolutely blissful.

12. Mono - Ashes In The Snow

Japanese band Mono is one of the top players in the post-rock genre. They are well know for their live-performances, which are really intense (and VERY loud). I love how Mono takes the time to play and tell their music. Ashes In The Snow is a good example. Because of the build-up, the explosions at the end of this song get more impact, making the song epic. Nothing less.

11. Piano Magic - You Never Loved This City

One of the most pleasant suprises this year was the new album of Piano Magic, Ovations. The depressing, yet hopefull atmosphere created througout this album, really appeals to me. You Never Loved This City really touches me because of the second, mostly instrumental part. I'm a sucker for instrumental intermezzo's and the one this song provides, is one of the best. Last.Fm is fully streaming this song, so you should give it a listen. It's really worth it!

10. JBM - Cleo's Song

Grabbing the number 10 spot is singer-songwriter JBM. In 2009 he released his debut album Not Even In July. In general, I don't think too highly of this album. In a way it's really boring. But luckily, there's one exception, a BIG exception and that exception is Cleo's song. JBM really managed to create a song so fragile, so honest and so touching, that it silences people. The presence of beautiful backing vocals and the presence of some beautiful lyrics, make this song one of the best of 2009. You should check his myspace site, where this beauty can be found.

"And there ain't no use in cutting throught the darkness that envelops you.
You have to let the light come in instead."

9. The Raveonettes - Break Up Girls!

This song, about girls who should leave their bad boyfriends, combines the best of two worlds: the first two minutes offer some of the best shoegaze/noise while the second part offers some of the best rock and roll. And the most fabulous part is: Those aren't even the best parts! It's all about the transition between the two parts, the drum-guitar combination that is hidden in the noise at the beginning and remains while the noise fades away. It stays untouched for about twenty seconds and after that, the rock and roll part is played through that same drum-guitar combination. Pure bliss!

8. Sonic Youth - Anti-Orgasm

Sometimes other people can exactly express how you feel about something. This comment from araungzeb, left on the Anti-Orgasm Track page, really hits the spot for me: "Quickly becoming my favorite Sonic Youth song of all time. Love the amazing rock section at the beginning, the hilarious refrain, and the contrast with the instrumental outtro is what really just makes this song amazing beyond words." Nothing to add to that.

7. The Appleseed Cast - A Bright Light

Criminally ignored, Sagarmatha is my personal album of the year 2009. It offers the perfect blend of post-rock and shoegaze. Go get it immediately! A Bright Light stands out because of the drum rhythms and a perfect outro, containing both post-rock and shoegaze elements. Relaxing and exciting at the same time, A Bright Light really deserves the number 7 spot.

6. Bat for Lashes - Glass

Natasha Kahn, better know as Bat For Lashes, delivered a great album with Two Suns, providing her a break-through to the big audience. Her music features multiple vocals, uncommon instruments and dreamy sounds, giving it the same mystical face she provides in her lyrics. Opener Glass is Natasha Kahn's mystical, fairytale-like interpretation of the Song Of Solomon. She managed to create an atmosphere that really suits that interpretation, earning her - listen to the drumsections in this song! - the number 6 spot.

5. Patrick Watson - Fireweed

There are some songs you wish would never end. Fireweed is a good example of that. It starts really dreamy and takes off slowly, then paces up a little, climaxes in a modest way and stops, way too soon. The cilmax reminds me of Hands Away, which I consider to be one of the best songs ever. Each time something more is added to the music, but in a subtle way. It gives this song a magical touch. One of Patrick Watsons best.

4. The Appleseed Cast - As the Little Things Go

Goosebumps. I got goosebumps all over me when I first heard this song. The instrumental build-up is excellent, with the vocals at the end providing it a status past brilliance. Easily the best song of Sagarmatha, which, considering the fact that Sagarmatha is THE album of the year, says a lot, if not everything.

3. The Antlers - Wake

Hospice is lyrically THE best album of the year 2009. Being a concept album, it tells about the personal experience of the singer of having your loved one diagnosed with bone cancer. His lover points her frustrations at him and therefore really hurts him. But because of her illness, he's unable to stand up for himself and has no choice but to undergo all this suffering. It's really becoming unbearable for him and often, he wants to run away, through the sliding doors of the hospital. On the other hand, his love for her is what keeping him inside the hospital. He's tormented by this dilemma and - in a way - is the person who is really dying. This theme is best expressed in the song Wake, which is one of the most touching songs I have heard in a long time. Not only because of the lyrics, but also because of the use of the music and - most importantly - the gasps.

2. Mumford & Sons - I Gave You All

Although I only got to know this song at the end of the year, it still managed to grab the number two spot. Why's that? The song is about a love between the singer and (persumably) a woman. He really, aware of the potential they have as a couple, wants to grow old with her and is really doing his best to achieve that. She, on the other hand, is not so sure and is (unconsciously) sabotaging his efforts by behaving unreasonable, not permitting herself to believe in a good outcome. This situation must sound familiar to many people. But this isn't what makes this song so great. It's all about THE WAY he sings it. You can really feel the anger, frustration and despair of the singer during the song: 'Damned woman, I gave you all and this is how you treat me? Why won't you see it? Why are you throwing it all away? Is this what you want? We broke up, now you have won. You have won!'. The aspect that makes this song really great, is right after the climax. You can feel the sadness,the pain and the resignation of the singer, realizing everything's gone.....

1. Silversun Pickups - Growing Old Is Getting Old

Legendary. Growing Old Is Getting Old is easily the best song of 2009 and one of the best songs ever. It's a serious contender for the number 1 spot in my All Time Top 100 next year. So what makes this song so good? So legendary? First of all, the first three minutes alone are plenty to make this song one of the best of this year. The bass-drum combination, combined with the swirling shoegaze guitar in the background (at live-performances the guitar gets a more prominent role, making this song even better!) creates an easy-going, clear and gloomy intro which directly grabs your attention and softly sets you at ease. For the first 3:15 minutes, that is. The moment the guitar comes in, you know the peace is gone and your going for a really cool climax. The first time I heard the guitar coming in, I knew this song was something special, very special. Because of the second half,where it climaxes, the song isn't just very good, but - I mentioned it before - legendary. One of the best. EVER. Have fun listening to it!

PS It's hardly a surprise, but the lyrics are top notch too.


  • Oleksandros

    Going through this list tells me one thing, I listened to nowhere near enough music in 2009. Phoenix I played around with for a while before they got big, XX I only heard on the radio four hours ago. Embarrassing or what.

    Jan 11 2010, 20h29
  • Oleksandros

    And Hands Away made me learn how to play the guitar. Great great song. Does all the right things for me.

    Jan 11 2010, 20h33
  • Violator303

    Hey! Your Opinion about "growing old is getting old" makes me smile:-) I thing in same thoughts about this song. Can´t find better words...very nice statement

    Jul 1 2010, 18h26
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