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Friday, January 01, 2010

Top 10 Movies of 2009

Yep, it may be 2010, but I'm not quite done with the countdowns yet. I think I saw more movies in 2009 than any year before and, even though this is a music blog, I thought I'd highlight the cream of the crop. So here are my top ten movies of 2009, in alphabetical order:

Inglourious Basterds
The Road
Sherlock Holmes
Star Trek
Up In The Air
Where The Wild Things Are

Plus, some extras:

Honorable Mentions - Drag Me To Hell, Knowing, (500) Days Of Summer, Let The Right One In

Movies that I loved but didn't connect with the general public and/or critics - Gamer, Jennifer's Body, My One And Only

Movies that everyone loved yet didn't quite connect with me - Up, Avatar, Public Enemies, Adventureland, District 9

Pure crap - Race to Witch Mountain, Transformers 2, Dragonball: Evolution

Movies that might knock their way onto my list once I finally see them - The Hurt Locker, A Single Man

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2009: 2-1

2. Melody Club - Goodbye To Romance

What a stunning run of albums these guys have had. Making irony-free pop music is an occupation that’s becoming more and more rare, but Melody Club managed to record an album that hearkened back to the days of shimmering bubblegum pop music with a rock edge. It’s a shift for them, downplaying the synths in favor of a meatier, guitar-influenced sound. There was nothing else like it recorded this year, and it easily wins the prize for the jolliest sounding record of 2009. The band is probably past their prime commercially, but I pray that they stay together and keep recording because they would leave behind a very big hole in the market if they stopped.


1. Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

Nobody defined pop music in 2009 more than Lady Gaga. She single-handedly took control of the year, spawning armies of imitators while fearlessly steering herself into what looks to be a long-lasting career. The Fame Monster was the exclamation point on a flawless run of singles. It managed to top her debut in every way possible and offer a portrait of a true pop artist. The album is short, just like some of the best records of past decades, and all the stronger for it. There isn’t a bad track here, or a song that doesn’t instantly sound like a huge hit single. There are hooks within hooks, bizarre lyrics, and the opportunity for even more out-of-this-world costumes. What more could you want?


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Top 50 Singles of 2009: 5-1

5. Dyno - Don’t Speak Love

My favorite new indie group of the year, this song was seemingly written using a template of everything that I love. A stunning example of why Swedish pop is so unbeatable.

4. Lady Gaga - Poker Face

Her official, world-conquering arrival. For that alone, it’s worth noting. But that’s forgetting the sheer brilliance of the song.

3. The Galvatrons - Cassandra

The track where I can safely use the “synths from Van Halen’s Jump” comparison. That, by the way, is pretty much the highest praise in the world.

2. Alcazar - Stay The Night

Never liked them too much before, but this song single-handedly changed that. This will sound as fresh and joyous twenty years from now as it does today.

1. Lady Gaga - Bad Romance

Her gutsiest single to date, and the release that marked her speedy evolution into a proper pop artist. This is so far ahead of anything else on this list, it’s ridiculous.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2009: 4-3

4. Cinema Bizarre - Toyz

By far the highest ranking German album on my countdowns ever, this was a real pleasant surprise this year. It’s the longest album on the countdown, so that means there’s a little bit of filler, but all in all this band’s electro/glam makeover was a resounding success, even if it wasn’t met with the sales it deserved. Bounding between dramatic power ballads and dancefloor stompers, it’s an extremely strong set of mainstream pop/rock songs, and the album Tokio Hotel should have released this year. I doubt many people have even heard it, which makes it the perfect recommendation for this catch-up time of year.


3. Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment

The number three spot is split between this album and the entertainment Lambert gave us on Idol this year. It’s impossible to separate the two. Luckily, though, on its own the album doesn’t disappoint. It’s overproduced and overblown, sure, but that’s what this type of pop music should be. More importantly, Lambert’s the first American popstar in a long time to attempt uttering words like “glam rock” in the context of mainstream radio play. For that alone he deserves one of the top spots. There were a couple of potholes on the road to success, but his second single is starting to take off and I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.


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Top 50 Singles of 2009: 10-6

10. Blake Lewis - Heartbreak On Vinyl

The Idol runner-up’s best single to date. A smart, hooky ode to record stores and those who love them.

9. Tommy Sparks - She’s Got Me Dancing

A springtime party track in a year where there weren’t many to go around. From the squeaky synth opening to the undeniable hook, this was pure magic.

8. Lady Gaga - Paparazzi

Gaga’s most lasting radio single yet, the jaw-dropping video was what really propelled this to the forefront of people’s minds. Several months in, it still hasn’t gotten old.

7. Melody Club - The Only Ones

A galloping pop single signaling a shift in the band’s sound, this track just makes you feel really, really good. Simple as that.

6. Filthy Dukes & Tommy Sparks - Messages

Even better than Sparks’ solo stuff, this electro dance track was the coolest thing to come out of the UK this Summer. I prefer to think of it as the 2009 Scissor Sisters comeback single that never was.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2009: 6-5

6. Blake Lewis - Heartbreak On Vinyl

If someone would have told me early in the year that a Blake Lewis album was going to end up on my top ten countdown, I wouldn’t have believed them. I was not a big fan of his thrown-together debut and had all but written him off. It turns out that he did exactly what he should have done with the follow-up. He forgot about selling records and made the album that he wanted to make. It’s obvious that this was a labor of love, and it’s all the more better for it. This is one of the most flawless electro pop albums of the year and a highlight for American Idol and talent show contestants worldwide.


5. The Galvatrons - Laser Graffiti

My top five is littered by albums that should have sold more than they did this year. The Galvatrons were one of the most exciting new bands of 2009, yet the public didn’t seem to warm to them as much as I did. Their influences are my influences when it comes to music, so I was bound to love them. The songs are uniformly great and the synth work is awesome. The videos were also amazing. The only thing that kept this from going higher is the production, which feels too cluttered for its own good. Still, song-wise, this is a flawless album.


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Top 50 Singles of 2009: 15-11

15. Shakira - She-Wolf

A defining moment in a career filled with them, this strange, seductive dance track ushered in a new era for Shakira.

14. Miley Cyrus - Party In The USA

Proving she’s more than a (sometimes obnoxious) TV personality, this was the song of the Summer, even if you weren’t a Cyrus fan. Just try to resist that chorus.

13. Cinema Bizarre - I Came 2 Party

One of the more unusual RedOne productions of 2009, the former Tokio Hotel soundalikes recorded this booming club track and instantly gained a new fan.

12. Bodies Without Organs - Right Here, Right Now

The aural successor to Chariots Of Fire, this started off the new album with a bang and possesses one of the group’s catchiest, poppiest hooks yet.

11. Alexander Rybak - Fairytale

An oddball on the countdown, just as it was in Eurovision. Sometimes oddballs are good, and in this case a fiddle played with the vigor of an electric guitar is even better than good.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2009: 8-7

8. Alphabeat - The Spell

Alphabeat changed up their sound with this second album, which is always dangerous, especially when the first one was such a success. For the follow-up, they amped up the electronic elements and took inspiration from 90’s dance music. The result is a remarkably consistent album that, song-for-song, is probably better than their debut. It doesn’t have the staggering highs of the last one, but it’s a different kind of album and one that grows with time. Bottom line is that this group is one of the best pop bands out there, and they only cemented that fact in 2009.


7. Bodies Without Organs - Big Science

What to say about BWO that hasn’t been said already? Four albums in and they remain as polished and immediate as ever. They’ve never released a bad album, so it’s easy to get complacent about their music and forget that compared to anything else in the genre, they are the ones to beat. Big Science might just be their best work yet. Though it didn’t possess the number of hit singles of albums past, it’s an excellent batch of songs that veer ever so slightly in the sci-fi direction, which is always a plus for me.


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Top 50 Singles of 2009: 21-16

20. La Roux - Bulletproof

The catchiest moment on her album, this is the single that cemented La Roux as an artist with staying power.

19. Melody Club - Where Do I Belong

A single that was never given the push it deserved, this is a classic Melody Club pop song with shimmering synths and a melody that refuses to leave your head.

18. Johan Krafman - Disarmed

The type of song Ola Svensson would have easily taken to the top of the charts, this was yet another example of why the Nilsson/Bassflow combo is unstoppable.

17. Linda Sundblad - 2 All My Girls

Max Martin’s best output in a year full of amazing songwriting, it took frenetic to another level. The Hammer dancing in the video is forever scarred in my retina.

16. Donkeyboy - Ambitions

A soaring, surprise Summer smash (how’s that for alliteration?), these Norwegians came out of nowhere and took their home country by storm.

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