The Absolute Best Songs of 2009 (.25 of the way through)


Today is the 91st day of 2009, or (almost) exactly one quarter of the way through 2009. Is it too soon to start thinking of "Best Songs" honors? I don't think so!

Before I get into the list, I want to set up some ground rules: The only songs eligible are songs that were released as singles in 2009 (Jan 1st - March 31st, in this case). This will really limit this initial list, as some of my favorite songs of the year have been non-single album tracks, like "Summertime Clothes" by Animal Collective, or "Dull Life" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Well, actually, I think that's the only rule.

Let's get on to the list, shall we?

Here is a nifty player containing the 10 songs on our list (plus 5 honorable mentions), thanks to IMEEM. I suggest you click here and take a couple of seconds to sign up to IMEEM, so you can get beyond that 30 second-per-song stream limit they put on unregistered users.'s Absolute Best Songs of 2009

Honorable Mentions: The Decemberists - The Rake's Song, Bon Iver - Blood Bank, Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve, Calvin Harris - I'm Not Alone, Rye Rye - Bang (ft. M.I.A.)

10. St. Vincent - The Strangers

Clearly a Polyphonic Spree graduate, Clark uses the orchestra and choir to her advantage, but rather than utilizing the joyous anthems of the Spree, "The Strangers" contains dark, creepy melodies that have the same ultimate effect. It's a rewarding song, and one that grows with repeated listens. - Adam Offitzer

09. Phoenix - Lisztomania

"Lisztomania," with its hypnotic drum beat, smooth vocals, and dance-rock awesomeness, grabs you from the opening beat; exactly what an album-opener needs to accomplish. It becomes truly great once the drums kick out, leaving only the keyboard and the voice of Thomas Mars, who beautifully tells us that we’ve “got to let it go.” - Adam Offitzer

08. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero

"Zero" marked the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' long-awaited return and debuted their new sound, served with an extra order of synth. The lead single is driven by blunt, animalistic energy piled over Karen O's commands: "Shake it like a ladder to the sun... So get your leather, leather, leather on." Embrace the L.A. gloss and glitz. It's Blitz!

07. Royksopp - The Girl and The Robot (ft. Robyn)

A standout in one of 2009's first great albums, "The Girl and The Robot" gives a tasteful, albeit not very subtle, nod to Justice’s more ominous records (think "Let There Be Light," "Genesis"), as well as Robyn’s own "With Every Heartbeat." Even though the song has a definite dark tone, it doesn’t take away from its dance-floor appeal. This song will easily remain one of 2009's best dance songs.

06. Peter Bjorn and John - Nothing To Worry About

I think Kanye West may have put it best when he leaked the song: "SHIT IS DOPE!! DRUMS ARE CRAZY AND I LIKE THE KIDS ON THE HOOK." But allow me to share my thoughts without all-caps and in clearer language. With Nothing To Worry About, PB+J have yet again crafted one of the best singles of the year. The chorus is mind-blowingly catchy, the hip-hop drum beat is hypnotically head-bopping, and the instrumental flourishes before the chorus hits are phenomenal. Even the lyrics are addictive- "trou-ble seems, trouble seems to follow you, it's always round you like something you subscribed to!" One of the most memorable, replayable, sensational songs of the year. - Adam Offitzer

05. Bat For Lashes - Daniel

Natasha Khan claimed she "can turn her hand to pop's alluring fairy dust should the mood take her," on her second LP Two Suns; and her mood brought her to write the  beautiful and mythical trailer single, "Daniel." The song is instantly Bat For Lashes' most accessible and (omg) danceable track to date. The synths are intertwined with poetic lyrics like: "Daniel, when I first saw you / I knew that you had a flame in your heart / And under wild blue skies / Marlboro ruby skies / I found a home in your eyes."

04. Grizzly Bear - Cheerleader

"Cheerleader" features lead singer Ed Droste working his vocals beautifully into an up-and-down drum beat, with light guitars, horns, and even a choir in the background chiming in. Grizzly Bear' production is only getting better, as their songs are consistently layered to create a harmonic, psychedelic experience for your ears that you'll want to go through a few times. This is just fantastic stuff to listen to and take in. In the context of the full album, It is an even better experience for listeners, but even as a stand-alone track, "Cheerleader" is a winner. -Adam Offitzer

03. Wavves - So Bored

"A lot of times, bands like this come along, and they achieve this aesthetic that is like fuzzy/garage rock/nihilist/beach-guitar-bro/post-punk/etc, or probably some more formal genre that I am not aware of. It seems to appeal to the core demographic of ‘music critics’ who are men between the ages of 28-48. This means that Generation Y is not represented by many authentic ‘tastemaking’ music information sources (and probably rightfully so)... Grade: 1.3 out of 10 runoffs" - The Hipster Runnoffs

02. N.A.S.A. - Gifted (ft. Kanye West, Santigold, Lykke Li)

"Gifted" marked the first time I truly fell in love with a piece of music in the new year. We all used "Gifted" as a measuring stick, or marker for N.A.S.A.'s debut album, The Spirit of Apollo, leaving for many, many disappointed listeners. It's not that the album was bad, because it wasn't — this song is just that damn great.

N.A.S.A. terrific production is modern as it is nostalgic for 2007's "bangers". N.A.S.A. knew they wouldn't top this one and they made damn sure they pushed the talents of their monster cast into the right places: Kanye and all his swagger open up the track in a way only Kanye West can, then Santigold follows his greatness and I am proud to say that she held her own, but Santigold doesn't truly shine until she, along with Lykke Li make up  the catchiest hormonizing chorus of the year. I don't think we'll come across a better pop song in 2009.

01. Animal Collective - My Girls

I rarely find myself at a loss for words, but when the layers of “My Girls” wash over me I find it tough to voice my feeling. The best words I can find to describe the track are big, epic, massive. It’s the kind of track, if you listen to it loud enough, that builds up slowly inside you until it's about to explode, at which point it gracefully excuses itself and leaves you in the rain wondering which way is up. "My Girls" is at once lushly complex and devastatingly simple – an off-rhythm bass drum and light percussion move the track forward, while repetitive vocals and continuously lilting electronic loops take the listener to a state of euphoria.

I can count on one hand the number of songs that completely immobilize me the way “My Girls” does – Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place”, Four Tet’s “She Moves She”, TV On The Radio’s “Staring At The Sun”, and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”. Judged by the company it keeps, “My Girls” will be echoing in my ears for years to come. - Chris Barth

Read on for PMA Contributor lists.

Adam Offitzer's Favorite Songs of 2009 (so far)
10. U2 - Get On Your Boots
9. Miniature Tiger - Cannibal Queen
8. The Decemberists - The Rake's Song
7. Daniel Merriweather - Water and a Flame (feat. Adele)
6. Coldplay - Life In Technicolor II
5. Phoenix - Listzomania
4. Dan Deacon - Build Voice
3. Bon Iver - Blood Bank
2. Peter Bjorn and John - Nothing To Worry About
1. Animal Collective - My Girls

Chris Barth's Favorite Songs of 2009 (so far)
10. Mos Def - Quiet Dog
9. Calvin Harris - I'm Not Alone
8. Raekwon f. Ghostface Killah and Method Man – Wu Ooh
7. N.A.S.A. f. Spank Rock, M.I.A., and Santogold - Whatchadoin?
5. Phoenix - Lisztomania
6. Alela Diane - White As Diamonds
4. Grizzly Bear - Cheerleader
3. Peter Bjorn and John - Nothing To Worry About
2. Dirty Projectors and David Byrne - Knotty Pine
1. Animal Collective - My Girls

Jeff Lind's Favorite Songs of 2009 (so far)
10. Oasis - Falling Down
9. Telefon Tel Aviv - The Birds
8. Asteroids Galaxy Tour - The Sun Ain't Shining No More
7. Grizzly Bear - Cheerleader
6. Justin Townes Earle - Mama's Eyes
5. Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve
4. Peter Bjorn & John - Nothing to Worry About
3. Just Jack - Embers
2. Animal Collective - My Girls
1. Bon Iver - Blood Bank

Half Note's Favorite Songs of 2009 (so far)
10. Dan Auerbach - My Last Mistake
9. Andrew Bird - Oh No
8. Marissa Nadler - River of Dirt
7. Silversun Pickups - Panic Switch
6. The Lonely Island - Jizz in My Pants
5. Beirut - La Llorona
4. Bat for Lashes - Daniel
3. N.A.S.A - Gifted
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero
1. The Decemberists - The Rake's Song

What are your Top 10?