Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the Decade: Songs

10. Annie – Heartbeat - A perfect example of the way that pop music crossed over to the indie crowd, this song has the impeccable production of the best 80s synth pop, and a great vocal performance cooed by Annie. The song’s hook is infectious, but its greatest coup is using the ever more intense drum line to mimic the heartbeat of the title. An 00s pop classic!

9. Phoenix – Too Young - Another blog classic, Phoenix has still yet to top the pure pop joy of their first big hit. It instantly evokes the joy and tinge of melancholy of a great night out coming to an end. It’s powerfully emotional, and wrapped in a beautiful 70s style soft dance rock production.

8. The New Pornographers – The Bleeding Heart Show - As with many New Pornos song, this one is like three songs in one. It opens melancholy than crescendos to a slightly Spanish flavored swing, all the while building and building going through an unspoken bridge section, and another killer breakdown before finally exploding into the chorus: “Hey La Hey La Hey La Hey La Ooooohh!” harmonized before Neko Case cuts in over it all. A cathedral of sound, and a perfect power pop song with more hooks than a coat room!

7. Justin Timberlake – My Love - I love songs that are simultaneously danceable and emotional, and this is a perfect example of that. It blends a nearly avant garde Timbaland beat with a great vocal to create an enveloping sonic world. It also features one of the best guest verses of all time when T.I. comes in to tear up the mechanical precision of the rest of the song. Perfect for the club or for sitting alone in your room!

6. Arcade Fire – No Cars Go - The song begins in a swirl of horns and strings, as voices chant and instruments swell and drive us forward to a kind of utopia. It’s an anthem of defiance, that reaches an almost religious level of transcendence in the instrumental breakdowns, before swelling back for one more call to action. The song is a battle, and by its end, you come away exhausted and exhilarated.

5. Cut Copy – Hearts on Fire - Like a lot of the songs on here, “Hearts on Fire” is a micro-symphony, to the point that you could ask someone what’s your favorite part? Is it the bubbling synth line that underlies the first occurrence of the repeated chorus, or the Moroder like bass that follows it. Perhaps it’s the NES sounding synths in the instrumental section? For me, it’s the absolutely killer sax solo that starts as a ghostly background presence and builds to a growling climax, capping off a flawless pop song.

4. Justice – D.A.N.C.E - The greatest Michael Jackson song of the last twenty years? The anthem of Williamsburg for the past three years? One of the greatest pop songs of all time? “D.A.N.C.E” is all of these songs, an impossibly infectious song that goes from strength, a killer bass line, a great falsetto lead vocal, that weird cutting string line. The call and response finale. It’s all great! I loved this song the first time I heard it and I still love it, many listens later.

3. Arcade Fire – Wake Up - Perhaps the best film of 2009 was the two minute trailer for Where the Wild Things Are, which only reinforced the near religious power of “Wake Up.” A churning emotional buildup, “Wake Up” is a musical catharsis, that explodes in beauty and power. When the entire band comes in for the chorus, it’s chilling. And, the song even caps it all off with an exciting dance-y outro. A beautiful cathedral of music.

2. Daft Punk – Harder Faster Better Stronger - It started as a humble song, then grew to be sampled by Kanye West for the massive hit “Stronger,” and was mixed with “Around the World” in Daft Punk’s live set producing spontaneous ecstasy wherever it was played. But, the original is still the best. Masterfully using vocoder to warp the vocals into a bass line, a guitar solo and more. It features one of the most perfect bass lines of all time, and a constant sense of technological ecstasy. It’s arguably the greatest dance song of all time, and contains the raw material for many future hits.

1. Daft Punk – Digital Love - A strange, joyous expression of love filtered through 80s videogame guitar sounds and vocoder vocals, “Digital Love” is sonic ecstasy through and through. The opening guitar riff draws you into the song, before it segues into a catchy dance groove. But, things start to get crazy when everything cuts out and we hop to the b section for the “Why don’t you play the game” breakdown. Here, they juxtapose the vocal and a fantastic guitar riff, before merging the two for an incredibly joyous 80s sounding guitar solo, then cutting it all off for another breakdown backed by the most over the top guitar solo of all time, then finally bringing it all together for a smooth conclusion. It’s the happiest song I can think of, just pure joy in sounds, it’s the song every synth pop band has been trying to make for the past four years, but Daft Punk did it first and best. An undisputed masterpiece to cap off a decade of fantastic music!


Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch A Chorus Line,i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.

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