I apologise for the lateness of this – better late than never though, right?
This is pretty self explanatory, these are the albums I enjoyed the most in 2009. The ones that were released in 2009, that is, otherwise this list would be full of old things – as apart from the top two albums I didn’t listen to many BRAND NEW albums in 2009. Because of that, the fact that I overplayed one or two albums all year, this has been quite hard to put together. But we all like lists, and everyone else has done one, so here we go. I thought i’d be a LITTLE bit different (only a tiny bit, mind), and write more about what the top 5 albums mean to me, and what they make me think of, instead of things like what they sound like and where they charted, blah blah blah if you need to know then listen to them yourself blah blah blah:
Other albums that don’t quite make the top 10 but are quite good nontheless (in no particular order):
Abnormally Attracted To Sin – Tori Amos, Guilty Pleasure – Ashley Tisdale, Ellipse – Imogen Heap, Forget The Night Ahead – The Twilight Sad, The Resistance – Muse, Fever Ray – Fever Ray, Fixin To Thrill – Dragonette, Don’t Stop –Annie, Rated R – Rihanna, It’s Not Me, It’s You – Lily Allen, The Spell – Alphabeat, Two Suns – Bat For Lashes
10. Polly Scattergood – Polly Scattergood
9. 3 Words – Cheryl Cole
8. Manners – Passion Pit
7. It’s Blitz! – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
6. Hands – Little Boots
5. She Wolf – Shakira
4. Far – Regina Spektor (which I forgot to put in the list when I first made it. HOW COULD I? Its an amazing album!)
3. Tonight: Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
When I was younger, I had a massive crush on Alex Kapranos. MASSIVE. He was responsible for my ill-advised brief dabble with wearing ties, blazers and Converse when I was 13. Which now I think about it, probably just made me look like an Avril Lavigne fan. Which I wasn’t. But anyway, I LOVED Franz Ferdinand. LOVED THEM. But then I outgrew my Converse (not literally, just…yknow, for the purposes of this ramble) and my liking for Scottish men with floppy hair, and when I got their second album for Christmas I wasn’t very impressed. So when I heard this year that they were returning with a new album after 4 years away doing god knows what, I didn’t really care. I only downloaded it out of a sort of loyalty I felt towards them, and didn’t expect much from it. But it’s brilliant, and I played it solidly for about 2 months or so. It makes me think of my journeys to college, and thinking that I should really play something else, but not being able to and just listening toTwilight Omens for the 63rd time that day. It was one of those albums, and still sounds brilliant now – especially the LUSCIOUS Ulysses and that ending to Lucid Dreams that could hypnotize you and make you want to dance (but in that cool, indie kid kinda way) at the same time.
2. Fame Monster – Lady GaGa
I have always loved Lady GaGa, ever since a little pop music blog went on and on about how amazing her first album, The Fame, was, at the end of 2008. I first started listening to her before she was launched in the UK, and before everyone caught on to how insanely catchy her songs are, and I’ll never forget how hearing The Fame for the first time made me feel – I had just started listening to pop music again after shunning it for years, and it was so exciting. But that was The Fame, which topped my end of year list in 2008. Fast forward a year, and Lady GaGa is EVERYWHERE. You cannot open a tabloid magazine without seeing her face (or her behind), and many bizarre publicity stunts and interviews have ensured that she has been one of the biggest talking points in 2009. Overexposure isn’t great for any artist, and at times GaGa came off as batshit crazy, calculated and a bit fake and pretentious, spending most of the latter part of the year talking about her ‘art’, when she started off the year warbling about how she was so drunk she couldnt find her keys or her phone. But just as I was getting sick of her, she brought out The Fame Monster, a sort of follow up to The Fame. It is 8 songs of amazing pure pop perfection. It has an amazing collaboration with Beyonce. It features the amazing lyrics “We French kissed on a subway train, he tore my clothes right off, he ate my heart and then he ate my brain”. It has two sets of amazing artwork. It can basically just be summed up as ‘amazing’. You can even get a version with a lock of GaGa’s hair included, which is also probably amazing, if you like that sort of thing. If GaGa can continue to release pop gems like this, I don’t care if she goes out every day dressed in just her socks talking about how she’s bigger than Jesus, I’ll gladly ignore everything but the music. (Which is kinda how it should be, but thats something for another post). But yes. Amazing amazing amazing. She is one of the most exciting things to happen to pop music for a long time – and I mean pure, unashamed pop music, not something that’s pretending to be cool, pretending to be something other than pop, which is what has been happening for so long. You can tell that GaGa does what she does because she loves it, and she loves her fans, and, well…I love it, and as her immense popularity shows, I’m not the only one.
1. Lungs – Florence & The Machine
Do you ever hear things that make you just…GO CRAZY with lust? Isn’t that amazing? It happened with about 5 of the albums I’ve featured here. There is nothing better than hearing something and falling instantly in love with it – that need to listen to something again and again is hard to beat, no matter what kind of music you listen to. It’s what makes being a music fan.
This didn’t happen when I first listened to Lungs. In fact, I hated it. I thought Florence & The Machine were another of those massively hyped, ‘too cool for school’ acts, darlings of the critics but with very little to back up the acclaim. At the beginning of 2009 there was so much hype about Florence that it immediately turned me off her/them, and I ignored her(/them, I still don’t know whether to count the ‘machine’ too). But then, obviously, I downloaded it, out of curiosity more than anything. Initially I didn’t like it. At all. I thought it was trying too hard to be cool, to be different, and ended up sounding like a terrible melting pot of clashing sounds and styles. I put the album in my computer’s recycle bin. But the hype would not die down, and I began wondering if I was wrong or not. Combined with the fact that I’m also so easily swayed by anything that anyone says on the Popjustice forums, I decided to rescue Rabbit Heart, Dog Days Are Over and Howl from the dark pit of my recycle bin after being told countless times that they were amazing. And they are.
I don’t know why I didn’t like the album on the first play. I mean…that voice! The lyrics! The harps and guitars and pianos and random twinkly bits! The euphoric key changes and backing vocals and and and…OHHHHHH. I played it until I got sick of it. Until I literally started feeling sick whenever I heard the songs. At the time I was writing for a whisky company’s magazine (don’t ask) and this album was all I listened to, so now I automatically think of whisky when I listen to this album. But I don’t let that put me off. This album defined my 2009, and I’ve still got the album on repeat after 6 months or so. When I listen to album closer (if you dont count the bonus disc) and Candi Staton cover You’ve Got The Love, I just want to cry with happiness (yes, every time. It gets a bit embarrassing), as it makes me think about how even though my year started off as such a bad year for me, it ended so amazingly, and it just sums up perfectly how I feel now, which only the music that makes you go crazy with lust does.