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A Delta Airlines horror story (or Why I Never Made it to Africa)
Favorite Songs of 2009: It's Not Fair!
I started a preliminary playlist back in middle November with the hopes that at least two or three additional tracks would make the cut before January, just to give the lineup a tad more variety.
No such luck.
This year's roster is heavy — like, embarrassingly heavy — on electropop artists. It's weird for me to notice the trend. I blame it on living in Britain, where pop music in general remains a venerated genre.
This was a year when I found myself drifting away from many of the indie folk acts and singer/songwriters who had dominated my headphones for the better half of the decade. New material from Neko Case and Sufjan Stevens, two former favorites, didn't make the final list, nor did several other artists that I expected to be there (Wilco, Rosanne Cash, Monsters of Folk, even Mary J. Blige).
Instead, a quick peek at iTunes tells me that my most often played track of the year was "One Day" by the Juan Maclean. Really? How'd that happen?
As with years past, I'm not being a total stickler for release dates; I know a couple of the tracks technically hit in 2008, but they registered on my radar in '09. So there.
Here's the playlist, in no particular order. And here are the previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.
1. "Not Fair" – Lily Allen
I couldn't get enough of this song in 2009. Country twang + off-color lyrics + Lily's angelic vocals = sheer brilliance. Plus, the video is exceptional, with a cameo from Porter Wagoner (!).
2. "Bulletproof" – La Roux
La Roux's catchy debut was easily one of my favorite albums of the year, and one of the few that I listened to on repeat. The video for this song reminds me of a level in Super Mario Galaxy.
3. "Million Dollar Bill" – Whitney Houston
I know, I know. It's just too easy to hate on Whitney, and it shocked me how vicious some folks were about her new album. "Bitch can't sing!" "She looks busted!" "Her dress fell off!" Well, enough with all the vitriol, OK? Admittedly, the comeback has had some issues, and yes, the album is fairly one-note, with way too many "look at me, I survived my struggle" anthems. But not this song, which deserves a place up there with some of the greatest Whitney tracks of all time.
4. "One Hundred Million Years" – M. Ward
I said before that 2009 was a year when I stopped listening to much folk. The new M. Ward is a glaring exception, the kind of album on which every track is a keeper.
5. "Teeth" – Lady GaGa
I'm shocked — shocked, I tell you — that this song ended up on my favorites list. I was a slow convert to the GaGa gang; I stupidly predicted that she would be a one-hit wonder. Then came singles like "Paparazzi" and "Poker Face" and I had to chew on my toes for a while. For me, this song is just so weird and unexpected, more like Shania Twain with lyrics by Anne Rice. I'm dying for HBO to catch wind of the song and use it in the promo spots for season three of "True Blood."
6. "One Day" – The Juan Maclean
As I said before, my number one most played song of the year. Crazy. It makes me think of Human League.
7. "Clean Up Woman" – Leela James
Poor Leela. She keeps trying, but nothing seems to work out -- not yet anyway. Her effort for '09 was an album of covers, which sort of smells of desperation. Still, I loved this version of Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman," and also found myself singing along to "Baby I'm Scared of You."
8. "Heartbreaker (ft. John Legend)" (Laidback Luke Remix) – MSTRKRFT
Such an interesting combination of vocals and synths. Makes me excited to see what this group does next. (The album version is a lot more mellow, but I love the pounding energy of the remix.)
9. "Heavy Cross" — Gossip
Beth Ditto and co. are on everyone's best-of lists this year. They deserve the acclaim. I didn't love the entire album, but "Heavy Cross," "2012" and "Pop Goes the World" were definitely keepers.
10. "Day 'N Nite" (Crookers Remix) – Kid Cudi
At the last minute I almost switched this track out with Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness." Either way, one to watch.
11. "Sexy Bitch" (f. Akon) – David Guetta
When we visited America in May, every other gay man I talked to was gagging over that damn David Guetta/Kelly Rowland song. You know the one. But for my money, this was the standout track on the album. I just love how silly the lyrics are: "I'm trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful; Damn, girl, you're a sexy bitch." (Call me crazy, Akon, but I think you need to try harder.)
12. "Please Don't Leave Me" (Digital Dog Club Mix) – P!nk
First heard in '08, but it was the remix and the video for this one that had me hooked. The video is an amazing homage to "Misery." Seriously.
13. "Dance Wiv Me" – Dizzee Rascal f. Calvin Harris
Apparently this was released in the UK in '08, but I didn't catch it until it showed up on Calvin Harris's "Ready for the Weekend" this summer -- hands-down one of my favorite albums of the year. "Stars Come Out" almost made my list and "I'm Not Alone" got played a few times too many in our flat this spring.
"Lala Song" – Bob Sinclar; "New in Town" – Little Boots; "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart" – Alicia Keys; "My Girls" – Animal Collective; "I Do Not Hook Up" (Bimbo Jones Club Mix) – Kelly Clarkson.
Happy New Year!
Here's my latest illustration for Creative Loafing's crime report. The doll and the box design are taken from by an actual Farrah Fawcett toy from the '70s, though I changed the layout slightly to make her name pop.
Blotter: A 44-year-old man walked into the Zone 5 precinct and said he hired a moving company to move his stuff to his new apartment on Piedmont Road. He said after the movers left, he noticed that three bins filled with pennies were missing (about $300 worth). The man called back later and added that his 10-inch collectable Farrah Fawcett doll was missing, too.
Merry Mixmas 2009: Everywhere It's Christmas
When I started compiling songs for this year’s playlist, I thought about going for the Full English: a CD of traditional carols. Then, 500 downloads later (seriously), I decided to ditch that idea and do what I’ve always done, which is try to put together a playlist that I’ll enjoying hearing year after year. Maybe it reflects the experience I’ve had living in London these past nine months. As much as I love the culture here, all the quirks of London life and the British character, living in the UK has made me realize just what an American I am. Boxing Day? Figgy Pudding? Mince pie? It’s all still a little overwhelming.
Anyway, here's the playlist:
1 Everywhere It's Christmas - The Beatles
2 Polly in the Holly - Dordán
3 Come On Ring Those Bells - Kristin Chenoweth
4 Sleigh Ride - The Three Suns
5 Interlude: It's Father Christmas! (from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe")
6 Christmas Is Coming - Harry Belafonte
7 Mary's Boy Child - Boney M
8 The 1st Day the Beat Dropped - Dynamix II
9 Bah, Humbug! - A Christmas Carol
10 Nuttin' For Christmas - Sugarland
11 All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) [MJ Cole Remix] - The Nat King Cole Trio
12 Pat-A-Pan - David Archuleta
13 A Child's Christmas in Wales - Dylan Thomas
14 Frosty The Snowman - Fiona Apple
15 Little Jack Frost Get Lost - Peggy Lee & Bing Crosby
16 Winter Wonderland - The Funk Brothers
17 My Mom And Santa Claus - George Jones
18 Another Word from Father Christmas - Various Artists
19 Jeanette, Isabella - Tori Amos
20 Christmas - Teddy Thompson
21 What's Today My Fine Fellow? - A Christmas Carol
22 Angels From The Realms Of Glory - Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band
23 We Wish You A Merry Christmas - The Greentrax Choir
24 I Am Blessed (Wax Tailor Remix) - Nina Simone
25 Life In A Northern Town - Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star
Download: Merry Mixmas 2009: Everywhere It's Christmas
Blotter: At the Georgia Aquarium, a security guard called police after an employee allegedly admitted to taking items.
What Should We Call This Crazy Decade?
What Should We Call This Crazy Decade?
(Many thanks to Mark Blankenship for giving me the chance to chime in on his always thought-provoking site.)