The Perfect 10
by Kaitlin Isabella and Craig Reynolds
In the 1960s, the 3:33 single was both a recipe for pop perfection and a blueprint for the banal, but the rise of FM radio, which opened the airwaves to long-playing sonic art, radically devalued the meager pop song. In the ’00s, however, as iTunes and peer-to-peer file-sharing smashed the artifact of the album (and the music industry as a whole) to bytes, the concise package of the individual song has never seemed more relevant, or fun. Here is our humble list of mixtape essentials and penultimate dance party jams, in 2009 rewind.
“Rosyln” Bon Iver & St. Vincent
Whether you trend toward Team Edward of Team Jacob, it’s impossible not to melt with this song, which even surpasses excellent contributions to the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack from bigger indie stars like Grizzly Bear, Thom York, and Lykke Li.
“Walkabout” Atlas Sound
From the solo project of Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox and featuring Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, “Walkabout” is a delightful slice of pop perfection from an artist known for cranky, sometimes uninviting work.
“I Wanna Kill” Crocodiles
This song sounds like the Old Pink. The Old Pink in the 1980s, the Old Pink in the 1990s, and the Old Pink today. Gritty and anthemic.
“I Make Her Say” Kid Cudi
When this deliciously raunchy take on 2009’s most ubiquitous pop gem first hit the internet, it was tagged “Poke Her Face.” Over the cooed melody to “Poker Face,” a song about faking it in bed, Cudi & Co. exude street corner machismo as they brag, oblivious and hilarious.
“Come for me, comfort me, cover me.” Instant. Indie. Classic.
“Empire State of Mind” Jay-Z
With this unapologetic shout-out to NYC (which returns the pop goodness missing from recent efforts), Jay proves once again he can make it anywhere (although he still isn’t sure about you).
“I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” Discovery
Evoking Tom Tom Club’s 1981 “Genius of Love” (or Mariah Carey’s derivative 1990s hit “Fantasy”), “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”’s snakecharmer melodies showcase Dirty Projector Deradoorian’s distinctive vocal theatrics.
“Hooting & Howling” Wild Beasts
Operatic, urgent, and androgynous pop disco, “Hooting & Howling” updates last year’s love affair with Hercules and Love Affair.
“IRM” Charlotte Gainsbourg
Channeling Broadcast in style and sampling from an IRM machine in practice, this title track from the daughter of French pop royalty (Serge) and producer Beck turns a near-death experience into haunting electronic rock.
“Little Secrets” Passion Pit
With its delicious chorus of “Higher and Higher,” this song would have ranked near number one had 2009 ended in May, but a serious case of overexposure dragged it lower and lower. If you were locked out of Mohawk Place last June, you have a second chance to see them at the Town Ballroom on March 28.
“Animal” Miike Snow (Crookers re-mix)
This version, by Italian duo Crookers, bumps and grinds in all the right places, turning the plain-by-comparison original into an over the top dance floor classic.
“Accusations” The Juan MacLean
Featuring lite disco rhythms, funky synths and glamorous purring vocals, “Accusations” is almost as good as 2008’s “Happy House.”
“Funny Little Frog” God Help the Girl
Originally an austere gem on Belle & Sebastian’s Life Pursuit, this version, from leader Stuart Murdoch’s new side project, slows it down, grooves it up, and wraps the whole thing in orchestral trimmings.
1. “When I Grow Up”Fever Ray
Through eerily pastoral synthesizer mists and skittering electronic beats emerges the mangled, pitch-shifted voice of the Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, suggesting both the Grim Reaper and a mummified tribal dancer ritually exorcising some unknown demon.
2. “Anonanimal”Andrew Bird
A song within a song within a song, with equally circular lyrics: “I see a sea anemone/The enemy/See a sea anemone/And that’ll be the end of me.” Bird, who performed this number during his autumn visit to Babeville, manages to deliver so much multi-syllabic alliteration without sacrificing resigned ennui.
3. “My Girls”Animal Collective
Abundant in bristling synths and sing-along melodies, this call for “Four walls and adobe slats” by which to provide for one’s family marks joyful maturation after a decade of experimentation.
Blissful pop perfection. This Sophia Coppola-approved quartet first brought dance jams to indie parties with “Too Young,” featured in the 2001 film Lost in Translation.
5. “Two Weeks”Grizzly Bear
When Grizzly Bear appeared at the bottom of a 2005 Soundlab bill, a meager audience witnessed their glorious set. Two weeks later, Grizzly Bear were indie darlings leading the charge for respectability in mainstream circles. “Two Weeks” captures the group’s trademark harmonies in full bloom.
6. “Stillness Is the Move”Dirty Projectors
2009 was the year for these quintessential art-rockers, whose early work, including a pop opera about Don Henley, earned them least-likely-to-play-Letterman honors, but sure enough they did (Fallon too). “Stillness Is the Move” captures the group’s angular rhythms, fragmented guitar work and awkwardly crystalline harmonies.
7. “Actor Out of Work”St. Vincent
The highlight of St Vincent’s performance at Babeville this fall, “Actor Out of Work” builds perfectly, juxtaposing handsome vocals with a hauntingly insistent counter-rhythm, all propelled by a bombastic straight-marching beat.
8. “A Teenager in Love”The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Yes, that charming beat juxtaposed with brittle, forlorn guitar jangle may seem familiar to those of us with an awkward stance and a poetic bent, but why complain. Although singer Kip Berman is no Morrissey, the lyrics do cleverly abuse the title of Dion and the Belmont’s classic ode to squeaky-clean heartbreak in its lament for “a teenager in love with Christ and heroin.”
9. “Home”Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
One of the most adorable folk-rock love songs ever, this rollicking sing-along duet culminates in the how-can-you-go-wrong chorus, “Home is where ever I’m with you.”
10. “The Old Days”Dr. Dog
Dr Dog, who played Mohawk Place in the spring and returns February 1, mixes country and folk elements. Throw in a dandy salon piano and you’ve got yourself a hoedown.blog comments powered by Disqus
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