As it has been a golden year for singles, I’ve had to expand my list to a Top 100. The vast majority of these tracks were issued as singles (as evidenced by the accompanying cover art on Spotify). As per usual, I only include favourite album tracks if they somehow took on a separate life of their own, outside the context of their parent albums. (It’s a peculiar rule, but it makes sense to me.)
All but twelve of these tracks can be found on this Spotify playlist, in ascending order. What better way to spend the next six and a half hours of your life?
1. The Fear – Lily Allen
2. Bad Romance – Lady GaGa
(Joint winner of my video of the year, along with #23)
3. Remedy – Little Boots
(I danced to this on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, along with #4, #5 and #12)
4. When Love Takes Over – David Guetta ft Kelly Rowland
5. Just Dance – Lady GaGa ft Colby O’Donis
6. You’ve Got The Love (Jamie xx re-work ft The xx) – Florence and the Machine
(N.B. Florence’s original version is a strong candidate for my most hated single of 2009, and her album was my most regretted purchase of the year. Which just goes to show what you can do with a good remix.)
7. Bonkers – Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden
8. Wild Horses – Susan Boyle
(Oh, you can scoff. But for me, this was the standout vocal performance of the year.)
9. I’m Not Alone – Calvin Harris
10. Baby Can’t Stop – Lindstrom & Christabelle
11. Did You See Me Coming? (Unicorn Kid mix) – Pet Shop Boys
12. Bulletproof – La Roux
13. Russian Roulette – Rihanna
14. Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer – Darkstar
15. Raindrops – Basement Jaxx
16. Jetstream (Lindstrom remix) – Doves
17. The Howling – The Phantom Band
18. Love Etc. – Pet Shop Boys
19. Crystalised – The xx
20. Day ‘N’ Nite – Kid Cudi vs Crookers
21. Audacity Of Huge – Simian Mobile Disco
22. Kilometer (Aeroplane ‘Italo 84’ mix) – Sebastien Tellier
(I spent much of January and February obsessing over Aeroplane remixes, but this was the only one with a 2009 release date.)
23. How To Stay Alive – Gong
(Joint winner of my video of the year, along with #2. Please promise me that you’ll watch this in full-screen?)
24. Daniel – Bat For Lashes
25. You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
26. Lion Hat – Unicorn Kid
27. Umbrella Beach – Owl City
28. My Girls – Animal Collective
29. Stillness Is The Move – Dirty Projectors
30. New In Town – Little Boots
31. Tirsdagsjam – Lindstrom & Prins Thomas
(I once mistyped this as Tirdgasjam. Arf arf.)
32. Love Me Like This (Nonsense Dub) – Floating Points
33. Zero – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
34. This Momentary – Delphic
35. Fireflies – Owl City
(Absolutely baffled by the almost unanimous hipster hate for this one.)
36. Wee Monsters – Unicorn Kid
37. Islands – The xx
38. Folk Song Oblivion – The Phantom Band
39. Omen – The Prodigy
40. Empire State Of Mind – Jay-Z ft Alicia Keys
(Oh God, have I become one of those people who lists token Jay-Z tracks in an effort to pretend that he still “keeps up” with hip hop?)
41. Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas
42. Tic Toc – Permanent Vacation ft Kathy Diamond
43. Runaway – Grum
44. Ready For The Weekend – Calvin Harris
45. Cannibal Resource – Dirty Projectors
46. Pretty Wings – Maxwell
47. Paparazzi – Lady GaGa
48. Basic Space – The xx
49. A Nightingale – Isolee
(B-side of the year, if there is still any residual meaning in the concept.)
50. From Africa To Malaga – JJ
51. Maybe So, Maybe No – Mayer Hawthorne
52. Moto Moindo – Staff Benda Bilili
53. Rushing To Paradise (Walkin’ These Streets) – House Of House
54. I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
55. Not Fair – Lily Allen
56. If You Ever Get Famous – The Duke & The King
57. These Are My Twisted Words – Radiohead
58. Poker Face – Lady GaGa
59. Hooting & Howling – Wild Beasts
60. Embers – Just Jack
61. Arrogance Ignorance And Greed – Show Of Hands
62. Get Fresh – Kid Sister
63. Young Forever – Jay-Z ft Mr Hudson
64. Kingdom Of Rust – Doves
65. In The Morning – Fuzzy Logik ft Egypt
66. Take Me Back – Tinchy Stryder ft Taio Cruz
67. Lisztomania – Phoenix
68. Let’s Go Surfing – Drums
69. Party Hard – Donae’o
70. One Day – The Juan Maclean
71. General – Buraka Som Sistema
72. Chasing Pirates – Norah Jones
73. French Navy – Camera Obscura
74. S’il Fallait Le Faire – Patricia Kaas
75. In For The Kill (+ Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey Remix) – La Roux
76. Number 1 – Tinchy Stryder ft N-Dubz
77. Make It Better – Anoraak
78. Bad Habits – Maxwell
79. Ambling Alp – Yeasayer
80. We Are The People – Empire Of The Sun
81. Story Of A Heart – Benny Andersson Band
82. Never Leave You – Tinchy Stryder ft Amelle
83. Method Of Modern Love – Saint Etienne
84. 1901 – Phoenix
85. 11th Dimension – Julian Casablancas
86. Love Story – Taylor Swift
87. Hyph Mngo – Joy Orbison
88. Animal – Miike Snow
89. Holiday – Dizzee Rascal
90. For Your Lover Give Some Time – Richard Hawley
91. Halo – Beyonce
92. Run This Town – Jay-Z ft Rihanna & Kanye West
93. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
94. Bad Gyal – Ms Dynamite
95. Fire Burning – Sean Kingston
96. T-Shirt (+ Crazy Cousinz Vocal Remix) – Shontelle
97. It’s My Time – Jade Ewen
98. I’ll Keep On Loving You – Walter Jones
99. If I Had A Heart – Fever Ray
100. Restless – Buraka Som Sistema
Here’s a Spotify playlist, containing a sample track from 33 of these albums.
1. Live In London – Leonard Cohen
2. Vertical Ascent – Moritz von Oswald Trio
3. Here’s The Tender Coming – The Unthanks
4. Tres Tres Fort – Staff Benda Bilili
5. The xx – The xx
6. Bitte Orca – Dirty Projectors
7. Warm Heart Of Africa – The Very Best
8. II – Lindstrom & Prins Thomas
9. BLACKsummers’night – Maxwell
10. Le Suivant – Smith & Mudd
11. Origin:Orphan – Hidden Cameras
12. Arc Light – Lau
13. Checkmate Savage – The Phantom Band
14. Yesterday And Today – The Field
15. Tarot Sport – Fuck Buttons
16. Merriweather Post Pavillion – Animal Collective
17. Troyka – Troyka
18. La Roux – La Roux
19. The Fame Monster – Lady GaGa
20. My Maudlin Career – Camera Obscura
21. The Glare – McAlmont & Nyman
22. The Middle Way – Keaver & Brause
23. Imidiwan: Companions – Tinariwen
24. Two Suns – Bat For Lashes
25. Inspiration Information – Mulatu Astatke & the Heliocentrics
26. 2032 – Gong
27. The Future Will Come – The Juan Maclean
28. Two Dancers – Wild Beasts
29. Vagarosa – CéU
30. Ready For The Weekend – Calvin Harris
31. Hands – Little Boots
32. Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast – Cornershop
33. JJ N° 2 – JJ
34. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Phoenix
35. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
36. Party Hard – Donae’o
37. See Mystery Lights – YACHT
38. Real Life Is No Cool – Lindstrom & Christabelle
39. The Glass Bead Game – James Blackshaw
40. It’s Not Me, It’s You – Lily Allen
Reviews of most of these can be found on my freelance blog.
3. Cliff Richard & the Shadows
4. Crystal Stilts, Wet Paint, Manhattan Love Suicides
5. The Unthanks
6. The Specials
7. Neil Young
8. Elbow, The Acorn
9. Gary Numan
11. Late Of The Pier
12. Bat For Lashes, Yeasayer
13. Eurovision Preview Night
14. Lionel Richie
15. Dizzee Rascal
16. Bellowhead, Belshazzar’s Feast
17. White Denim
18. David Byrne
19. Telepathe, Times New Viking, Rainbow Arabia, Icy Demons
20. White Lies
21. Unicorn Kid
22. The Nolans
23. La Roux, Heartbeat, Magistrates, The Chapman Family
24. Basement Jaxx
25. Fuck Buttons, Zun Zun Egui
26. Melanie Safka
29. The Phantom Band
30. Slaid Cleaves
32. V Festival: Oasis, Lady GaGa, Athlete, Human League, Joe Lean, Miike Snow, Proclaimers, Bjorn Again
33. Glasvegas, Friendly Fires, White Lies, Florence & the Machine
35. Tinchy Stryder
36. Animal Collective
38. VV Brown
39. Easy Star All-Stars
40. Okkervil River, Dawn Landes
41. Portico Quartet, Red, Natalie Duncan
42. The Magic Numbers
43. Alabama 3
44. Keane, Frankmusik
45. La Roux
46. Maximo Park, Bombay Bicycle Club
47. Kaiser Chiefs, Black Kids, Esser
48. Alesha Dixon
You know what? That might just have been my gig of the year. And hence a bugger to write about, without defaulting to gush. So I’ll write it up tomorrow, once the dust has settled.
The xx, Beyonce and Gong: take heed. The bar has been raised!
Thursday update: I’ve been a bit poorly today, so this will have to wait a while longer.
I don’t know whether anybody else remembers this – I certainly didn’t, until I checked the archives last week – but I’ve actually made one of these “write a blog post every day for a month” pledges before. In September 2006, to be precise: and it was heartening to discover that I made good on the promise.
Tomorrow’s final post should be a doddle. Dymbel and I are going to see Cliff Richard and the Shadows at Nottingham Arena, on their fiftieth-anniversary-slash-farewell tour – and as it’s a “payer” rather than a guest list job, I shall be released from all professional duties, leaving me free to blog about the gig to you lot instead. By way of preparation, I can strongly recommend this article by Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley, which appeared in Guardian Film and Music two Fridays ago. Cliff was long overdue for a fair-minded critical re-evaluation, and I agree with most of the points made.
Now that the summer recess is over, it’s good to re-engage with live music. As well as recent gigs from Tinchy Stryder, Fuck Buttons and Ungdomskulen, I had a whale of a time at a wedding reception in the village on Saturday, bopping around to a distinctly superior covers band (sourced by the father of the groom, who played in a chart pop group in the early 1970s). Choosing the right range of songs for an all-ages crowd, and playing them accurately and skilfully, without letting individual egos intrude, is an art all of its own – and the band in question succeeded delightfully in their mission. And although – once again – I tried to rein in those pointy fingers, I have now accepted them as my signature look. Hell, people have expectations! I cannot disappoint!
Earlier today, I conducted a “phoner” with the folk musician Jon Boden, best known for fronting the 11-piece band Bellowhead. It was an amiable and thought-provoking encounter – particularly towards the end of the call, when we got onto the subject of private versus public “ownership” of songs. I’ll be bunging it up on the freelance blog in a couple of weeks’ time, in advance of Bellowhead’s Nottingham show.
That’s all that I have for you today. Back tomorrow night, with breathless tales of His Cliffness. Ooh, I’m that stoked!
Tell you what: let’s bury yesterday’s dodgy little tale under an avalanche of lovely images (taken by K) from this year’s Beyond Limits exhibition at Chatsworth House.
We particularly liked Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden, which involved the freeform placing of several hundred stainless steel balls in one of the ornamental pond. Curiously, the vast majority of said balls opted to clump together on one side of the pond, regimentally lined up in rows. Occasionally, a smaller cluster would attempt to break away from the parent clump, drifting a short distance out into the middle of the pond – only to run out of steam and drift back again. Elsewhere on the pond’s perimeter, small groups of renegade balls had drifted into the shallows. Some had become stuck in marshy areas, unable to drift away again. An even smaller number of individual balls had detached themselves entirely from the group, finding their own individual spaces.
Naturally, we decided that the whole piece was a Metaphor For Society, and therefore a Profound Masterpiece.
The exhibition runs until 1st November. Highly recommended, as always.
L: Igor Mitoraj: Eros Bendato Screpolatio.
R: Subodh Gupta: Leap of Faith.
Claude Lalanne: Olympe (grande).
Ju Ming: Taichi Series: Pushing Hand.
L: Francois-Xavier Lalanne: Carpe (tres grande).
R: Aristide Maillol: L’Harmonie, Premier Etat.
Sol Lewitt: 1 2 3 4 5 (Brescia)
Jedd Novatt: Chaos Mundaka.
L: Manolo Valdes: Ariadna 1.
R: Fernando Botero: Dancers.
Henry Moore: Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped.
Bernar Venet: 222.5° Arc x 5.
Antony Gormley: Angel of the North (Life-size Maquette).
L: Niki de Saint Phalle: Buddha.
R: Jaume Plensa: Heart of Trees.
Ju Ming: Taichi Series.
Guy Zagursky: Mirror against Mirror.
L: Ugo Rondinone: Air gets into everything even nothing.
R: Richard Hudson: Marilyn Monroe.
L: Zhan Wang: Artificial Rock #70.
R: Marc Quinn: Archaeology of Desire.
L&R: Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden.
L: Eric Goulder: The Woman.
R: Sorel Etrog: Mother and Child / George Rickey: Two Lines Up Excentric Twelve Feet.