We made it! After this brutal year of war and economic near-collapse, survival is an accomplishment. Boom! Boom! Pow! Indeed. It’s no wonder the year’s best songs were mostly pleas for help and obvious distractions. Here’s a look:
1. Ida Maria, “Oh My God” (Island)
A prayer for peace and an acceptance of helplessness paired with lots of guitars and even more screaming. “Oh my God, you think I’m in control? Oh my God!” Irresistible and timely!
2. Passion Pit, “The Reeling” (Frenchkiss)
They start with “We dug these holes we crawled into, now they’re my home” and then proceed to escape using words of encouragement, a driving beat and layers of comforting synthesizers.
3. Kelly Clarkson, “I Do Not Hook Up” (RCA):
Empowerment and self-esteem never sounded more infectious and Kelly Clarkson has never sounded more in control.
4. Jay-Z, “D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)” (Roc Nation)
Brash and in-your-face, “practically assault with a deadly weapon,” Jay tries to breathe life into a lackluster hip-hop year with a eulogy for the genre’s bad habits.
5. Sade, “Soldier Of Love” (Epic)
As riled up as the Queen of Cool gets, her soothing voice floating over a hip-hop framework and some jagged guitar bursts as she’s “still waiting for love to come, turn it all around.”
6. Shakira, “She Wolf” (Epic)
7. Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling” (Interscope)
Overexposed? Sure. But its unflagging optimism was contagious. And when most people think of 2009 years from now, this song will be what they remember.
8. Maxwell, “Pretty Wings” (Columbia)
This stylish sliver of soul, featuring Maxwell’s fluttering falsetto, sounds like it floats down from the heavens before rooting in your head.
9. The Dead Weather, “Treat Me Like Your Mother” (Third Man)
Jack White’s latest singing partner Alison Mosshart from The Kills can dish it out as well as he does, as they offer the transitive property of lying and turn spelling “manipulate” into a chant.
10. Taking Back Sunday, “Sink Into Me” (Warner Bros.)
A dizzying combo of rhythms and chants that shake things up before settling into a memorable rock groove.