My Top Songs of 2009

Top Songs of 2009Every year, Adi and I get together with my friends Kerry, Pavel, Kristen, and Tommy and review our albums of the year (mine and Pavel’s). We seemed to let a few years get away from us but we did do it for 2008, 2007, and 2006 this past May. For 2009, we will definitely maintain the tradition. But, I wanted to publish something on my blog that is end-of-the-year music related. So, here are my top 25 songs for 2009 in alphabetical order (by artist). In many cases, this year for me was very much a “Singles Year” and in a lot of cases, I may not even like the entire album that these songs are on.  And I will admit – it is very pop and diva heavy but give me a break. I had a tough year being unemployed and all. So what if Lady Gaga, Shakira, and Rihanna helped me though it! Note that some of these songs may have been released in 2008 but were played a lot in 2009. Enjoy and please comment with your favorites regardless of whether they are on my list or not!

Arctic Monkeys – Crying Lightning

Arctic Monkeys get more mature with every album and this single definitely captured my attention. Given their age, I think they’ll be putting out great music for years to come.

Bat for Lashes – Daniel

Daniel is one of those songs that really takes your breath away. As soon as I heard it, I knew it was a candidate for one of my singles of the year. Natasha Kahn’s voice is like chocolate and velvet and all things good. Some critics have written about a Fleetwood-Mac-like opening but I don’t hear it.

Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Just when you think “I wonder what happened to that band Doves“, they return. And this time it’s one of the strongest tracks of their career. Kingdom of Rust has a spaghetti-western-meets-the-dark-side-of-johnny-cash feel to it and it’s so classic that it sounds as if it’s always existed. What do you think?

Editors – Papillon

Recently my Song of the Week, Papillon is a triumphant return to form for Editors who lost their way a bit on their second album. Dark and ominous, this track is straight out of the Joy Division rule book. And I love the video of the man being chased through a tunnel.

Fever Ray – Triangle Walks

Wow 2009 was a rough year but one of the truly great things to come out of it was Karen Dreijjer Andersson’s solo album as Fever Ray. Performing one of my favorite concerts ever with an incredible light show, Fever Ray’s single Triangle Walks is spooky cool. I even turned on my friend Amy to them via one of my previous posts, that features Seven. Any thoughts on Fever Ray?

Friendly Fires – Kiss of Life

It’s good that Friendly Fires re-released their album with this song on it because it’s definitely a highlight. I was even able to win over my picky niece to this band as a result of hearing Kiss of Life. Also a song of the week, I point out the similarity of this song to one by Boney M. The lead singer of this group is one of those guys that I kind of consider ugly and cute at the same time. And there’s something hot about the way he moves in that 80’s New Wave style.

Gliss – Morning Light

I’m always a sucker for any band that sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain, even if the rest of their album is different. This LA band brings on the J&MC mood with Morning Light.

Gossip – Heavy Cross

Fashion icon, activist, and indie “heavy weight”, Beth Ditto is one of the coolest chicks of the decade and does Gossip proud with their 2009 album Music for Men. Her voice will go down in history as one of the best female of modern times. I missed their live show at Terminal 5 earlier this year but will be lining up for the next one. Let me know if you’re into Gossip.

Holy Ghost – I Will Come Back

I’d like to have a whole album from Holy Ghost filled with tracks as good as I will Come Back. In a previous posting, I compared it to New Order‘s Confusion. This is a 2009 track with a total 80’s feel both in the beats and in the video production. It’s unfortunately not on the link of the LaLa playlist below because they’re an up-and-coming artist.

Howling Bells – It Ain’t You

I don’t know a whole lot about Howling Bells other than they’re Australian, really cool, and should be bigger in the States. I’m glad that my friend Chris sent their CD Radio Wars to me. It Ain’t You was not accompanied by an official video and it may not have been a single but it was clearly my favorite song from Radio Wars. Click on the LaLa link below to hear It Ain’t You.

Jay Z – Empire State of Mind

There’s something about the combination of Jay Z and Alicia Keys in this song that really makes for a powerful punch. Not normally “my thing” at all but this song delivers in a big way. And it’s even better that it’s about my favorite city – New York.

Lady GagaBad Romance

What a year for Lady Gaga. Few had even heard of her in late December, 2008, and now she’s a mega superstar. And the release of Bad Romance is the icing on the 2009 cake that was definitely baked just for The Lady. As my friend Chris said, Bad Romance is more than a song. It’s an event. The video says it all. Do you love it or not?

Lady Gaga – Poker Face

She was the first female artist to ever have 4 consecutive number one singles in the U.S. but Poker Face is what really put her over the top. One of the most unique and memorable tunes of the year. And I love the fact that I got my great niece to sing it as I videoed her. Hover your mouse over the bottom left corner to find the play button and sorry about the ad.

La Roux – Bullet Proof

Pile on the pop for me this year! La Roux brought back a ton of great 80’s synth memories. On a debut album filled with classic tracks, Bullet Proof stands out as the catchiest. And check out all the fun 80’s decor in this video. A bit OTT but I love it.

La Roux – In for the Kill

I wish that La Roux would make it past the dance club circuit in the states and onto the mainstream charts, although I have a feeling it won’t happen. But a few years from now, they’ll be as well known as Yaz was at the end of the 80’s. In for the Kill is my second-favorite track on La Roux’s debut album by the same. I love the angular synths that harken back to early Eurythmics days. Hover your mouse over the bottom left corner to find the play button. Let me know what you think.

Lily Allen – Fuck You

Filled with catchy, witty, and snarky lyrics, Lily Allen‘s sophomore effort does not fail to please. This track was one of my favorites and now this particular video requires you to sign up for a YouTube account to listen to it but it’s well worth it. Made by her fans, it’s a clear stand against homophobia, which I also posted here.

Miike Snow – Animal

I don’t know a whole lot about Miike Snow other than they’re from Scandinavia and I kept hearing this track in the oddest of shops and places. It’s very catchy. I’ll have to investigate the album.

Muse – Uprising

As soon as I saw Muse perform Uprising on the VMAs (at Radio City Music Hall I believe), I was blown away. What a powerful song. Muse are a band with a big sound fit for stadiums. With a reputation for sounding like Queen vocally, I can’t imagine this band being compared to Radiohead when they first came out but they were. Muse claims they sound better in big venues and I’m sure they’re right when they play Uprising. Tell me if you’ve seen them.

Phoenix – 1901

When Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix came out I thought – ok, here comes another Phoenix album. A few pleasant tracks but nothing noteworthy. But this time, it’s different. The album is really cohesive and 1901 was a huge and memorable hit, complete with a Cadillac car commercial to put them over the top.

The Presets – If I Know You

I’ve already profiled The Presets in a Song of the Week post. Love this track, its moodiness and cool LA vibe. Can listen to If I Know You over and over again and never get tired of it. Do you like it?

Rihanna – Russian Roulette

I must admit that after Umbrella, I thought Rihanna was an average pop starlet that stumbled upon a well-written hit single and that she would be a one-hit wonder. I even didn’t like any of her performances of tunes from Rated R on the awards shows. But after reading Jon Pareles’s review of Rated R, I decided to give the album a listen on LaLa. It’s great. It’s a dark album of Rihanna coming to terms with her disastrous relationship with Chris Brown and it really puts her in a new league. Russian Roulette is my favorite track.

Shakira – She Wolf

Everyone’s entitled to their yearly dose of fluff or “ham and cheese” as my friend Neil would say. This year, for me, it’s Shakira‘s She Wolf. It’s a throwaway dance/pop track that is cheesey and infectious, especially with her howl interspersed throughout. Shakira is a talented artist, capable of much more as evidenced by the classic Hips Don’t Lie, on with she collaborated with Wyclef Jean. She Wolf does not match that but it does show off Shakira’s hot body so much that I even thought of changing teams!

U2 – Moment of Surrender

If there’s one track that should some up U2’s No Line on the Horizon, it’s Moment of Surrender. Its seven plus minutes of heartfelt grandeur comprise a classic moment for a band that will soon eclipse all others as having one of the longest running careers (as a relevant 21st-century rock band (please don’t talk about The Rolling Stones). Here is a live version of Moment of Surrender. Let me know you’re thoughts.

The Veils – The Letter

Chris introduced me to The Veils, which I highlight in one of my Song of the Week posts. The Letter is certainly a highlight of their latest album, Sun Gangs.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have definitely redeemed themselves with It’s Blitz. It’s a danceable album but one that doesn’t allow them to lose their great hard edge. And Karen O’s voice and persona are as fantastic as ever. Heads Will Roll, the second single, is by far my favorite track on the album.

So there you have it, my 25 noteworthy tracks of the year. Tell me what you think.

  • Which were your favorites?
  • And which do you think are crap?

Come on. Be honest – I can handle it – as long as you’ve listened to each of them twice!

If you’d like to listen to my top songs of 2009 in an uninterrupted playlist, you can do so on LaLa (if you live in the U.S. (Sorry International Friends) You’ll be seeing my album list later in the year. In the meantime, please let me know.. Did I miss anything? What were your favorite tracks this year?

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Author: John Vasko

I’m an Internet and Social Media Media Enthusiast always trying to keep up with what’s news or what’s new in technology. On this personal blog, you'll find music reviews, photos, weird or tacky things I found online, and lifestreaming.

  • Tracey

    This is great John, thanks! I'd encourage you to check out:

    Sweet Disposition, Temper Trap
    M79, Vampire Weekend
    Don't Throw Me Away, The Mumlers
    New Theory, Washed Out
    Songs Remind Me of You, Annie


  • scottspiegel

    Cool list! Fave tracks from albums I've heard so far this year:

    Röyksopp: The Girl and the Robot
    Fever Ray: When I Grow Up
    Animal Collective: My Girls
    Little Boots: Hearts Collide
    Regina Spektor: The Calculation
    La Roux: Bulletproof
    Lily Allen: The Fear
    Howling Bells: Nightingale
    Gossip: Heavy Cross

  • jvasko

    Tracy, thanks for the tips. I will check those out. I love the new
    Vampire Weekend track Cousins. And the Annie LP was on my list. Thanks.

  • jvasko

    Scott, thanks for your recommendations. I'll give those tracks a
    listen. Do you like the whole Animal Collective album? Glad you liked
    Howling Bells.

  • bogdan migulski

    To me, that Bat for Lashes song sounds a LITTLE like Fleetwood Mac's 1982 album, Mirage (the one with “Gypsy” and “Hold Me,”) after the 1:00 mark.

  • Troy Peterson

    Nice List!
    If I were to put my top 10 for 2009, this would be it.
    Some might not be from “2009”, but they were new to me in 2009.

    Glasvegas – Geraldine
    the grizzly bears – two weeks
    snow den – anti-anti
    One Eskimo – Kandi
    Zoe Keating – Sun Will set
    Brett Dennen – San Francisco
    Mat Kearney – All I need
    Gomez – Airstream Driver
    Monsters of Folk – Baby Boomer

  • jvasko


    I love the Glasvegas album and especially Geraldine-the social worker!
    I have to get and listen to Grizzly Bear. It's on everyone's lists.
    Love the One Eskimo track you turned me on to. Mat Kearney I just
    heard recently and I remember his voice sounding like Chris Martin's.
    Haven't hears the new Gomez or Monsters of Folk. I'll check them out.

  • jvasko

    Thanks Bogdan, I'll check that point out. Loved that Fleeteood Mac

  • xbora

    Nice list John, listening right now on Lala. A few overlaps with the list I made; Muse , La Roux, Arctic Monkeys, Editors, Fever Ray. I sent you my list too (Gigsby on Lala). Wishing you much great music in 2010!

  • jvasko


    Already got through half of your list on LaLa. I loved the Fuck
    Buttons track, Temper Trap, and Maps. Love that album. Will send you a
    note when finished. Thanks for the comment.

  • Vanessa

    Great list–John!

    just wanted to say i love the Bat for Lashes song—she reminds me a little of Tori Amos, and actually, i hear an instrumental riff in the song that is straight out of Tori's song “Caught a light sneeze”. But she blows Adele out of the woods!

  • jvasko

    Funny! Thanks.

  • Vanessa

    Great list–John!

    just wanted to say i love the Bat for Lashes song—she reminds me a little of Tori Amos, and actually, i hear an instrumental riff in the song that is straight out of Tori's song “Caught a light sneeze”. But she blows Adele out of the woods!

  • jvasko

    Funny! Thanks.

  • Vanessa

    Love the Gossip! That is a great single too.
    by the way, your blog is looking slick.

  • jvasko

    Thanks Vanessa. Glad you like the new look!