bestof09

Oh, 2009. What music to my ears! It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…and one of the greatest years in Pop music since–well, since 2007.

Sorting out this list was truly difficult. All I want to do is reach out my arms and squeeze all of these little albums together for one, snugly show of musical appreciation. Honestly, fabulous year in music. It’s totally not fair to list you all in descending order based on quality, but hey…people love that shit. Just remember: You’re all winners in my book!

Well, except for you in the back there. You’re ugly.

Without further ado…

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40. Leona Lewis – Echo
39. Electrik Red – How To Be A Lady Vol. 1
38. Rupaul – Champion
37. Esser – Braveface
36. David Guetta – One Love

35. The XX – XX
34. Kelly Clarkson – All I Ever Wanted
33. Amerie – In Love & War
32. Mariah Carey – Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel
31. Blake Lewis – Heartbreak on Vinyl

30. Ciara – Fantasy Ride
29. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
28. Imogen Heap – Ellipse
27. The Gossip – Music For Men
26. Junior Boys – Begone Dull Care

25 .Cheryl Cole – 3 Words
24. Y.A.S. – Arabology
23. Amanda Blank – I Love You
22. Frankmusik – Complete Me
21. Annie – Don’t Stop

20. The Saturdays – Wordshaker
19. Little Boots – Hands
18. Pet Shop Boys – Yes
17. Shakira – She Wolf
16. La Roux – S/T

15. Nadia Ali – Embers
14. Utada – This Is The One
13. Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You
12. Sally Shapiro – My Guilty Pleasure
11. Fever Ray – S/T

10. Polly Scattergood – S/T

polly scattergood cover

Painfully under-reported here at MuuMuse, Polly Scattergood’s debut is a weird, warbling pop triumph, complete with broken vocals and quivering falsetto. The album, which brings to mind a cross between Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, and Kate Bush, takes a neurotic, autobiographical dive into the perils of pills and psychosis.

Just please…don’t touch her.

9. Miike Snow:  Miike Snow

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MuuMuse Review

Looking back, the surprise wasn’t that the Swedish hit-making duo Bloodshy & Avant would come up with some brilliant tunes on their own venture into the music scene, but that the sound they would produce would be like nothing we’d ever heard before. Rock, folk, glittering electronica…throw it all in a blender, and there you have it: The debut album from Miike Snow.

8. Noisettes – Wild Young Hearts

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MuuMuse Review

Trading in the screaming, carnal stomps of their debut LP, What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf?, the Noisettes have returned–and this time, they’re feeling nostalgic.

Keeping the best hooks from the doo-wop era in mind, Shingai Shoniwa and the rest of her UK troupe have produced some of the best feeling, best sounding tunes of the new century with their second LP. Combining classic melodies (“Wild Young Hearts”) with contemporary production (“Don’t Upset the Rhythm”), the band has once again proven themselves as one of the most innovative, musically intriguing acts of the new century.

7. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns

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Bat For Lashes’ second LP Two Suns, is a mysterious, ethereal creature.

Inspired by landscapes and created in isolation, the album is as mysterious as it is compelling, providing enough distant howls (“Glass”) and spooky echoes (“The Last Sound”) to make the casual listener want to flick the lights on while listening at night. At the same time, warm, enveloping numbers, including one of the year’s best songs, “Daniel,” keep the album burning bright long after the final embers flicker down.

6. Peaches – I Feel Cream

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MuuMuse Review

What else is in the teaches of Peaches? Apparently, a whole lot more than you’d ever expect.

Hitting harder than ever, Peaches’ went for the jugular on her raucous fifth LP, I Feel Cream. While songs like the Donna Summer-esque “I Feel Cream” and “Lose You” hinted toward a next-level variety of disco inspired music-making, the remainder of the album’s punchier numbers, including “Serpentine” and “Trick or Treat,” have since become instant Peaches classics, reminding us that the real Miss Nisker still knows how to hit it hard.

5. Tiësto: Kaleidoscope

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In five words…Indie Takes to the Dancefloor.
MuuMuse Review

It’s one of the few albums that ended up sounding as good on the speakers as it does on paper: The King of Trance meets the voices of the independent music scene, from Tegan & Sara, to Metric‘s Emily Haines, to Tilly and the Wall‘s Kianna Alarid, as well as a few familiar faces (Calvin Harris, Sneaky Sound System).

A stunning, slamming body of work (and a whole fuck-load of fun), Kaleidoscope may not have appealed to Tiësto’s trance purist fans, but it sure made music sound better in 2009.

4. Röyksopp: Junior

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In four words…Swedish and Nordic Delight.
MuuMuse Review

Röyksopp is probably one of my favorite electronic acts of all time, and with the release of their March effort Junior, it’s becoming easier and easier to explain why.

Perhaps the greatest definition of “smart pop” of the year, the Nordic duo have combined just the right amount of trickling, fluid electronica, heavenly strings, and pounding bass to create some of most savory pop confections of the year. Couple the beats with vocal contributions from some of pop music’s most accomplished Swedish songstresses, including Robyn, Lykke Li, and The Knife‘s Karin Dreijer, and you’ve got a nearly unstoppable collection of intelligent, dancefloor-ready musique.

3. Florence + The Machine: Lungs

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In three words…The Beast Within.
MuuMuse Review

Certainly the most impressive artist debut in recent history, Florence + The Machine’s Lungs is an immense collection of macabre, magical music that transcends the limited confines of genre. Not pop, not rock….just a body of music surging with carnal energy and an insatiable rhythm, all thanks to fiery lead singer Florence Welch.

From the stampeding chaos of “Dog Days are Over” to the roar of “Howl,” all the way into the last, glittering notes of “You’ve Got the Love,” Lungs is as close to flawless as a debut could ever sound. Though the word is often overused in modern society (which is a shame), there’s nothing else that can quite describe what comes out from this album aside from “Epic.”

As time goes on, the music grows even sweeter. Just remember to play it louder, louder each time…

2. Rihanna – Rated R

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In two words…Radio Killer.
MuuMuse Review

It’s tanking on the charts, it’s only bubbling under on the radio, and it’s her least hit-heavy album ever. But I’ll be damned if, two months after it’s initial leak, it’s not my most played album of the year.

This is 2009’s greatest “album” album; a cohesive product of media frenzy and pent-up emotion. The odds that this album would even be created are shocking as it is. I mean, here’s one of pop’s most commercially viable, radio-friendly artists, who’s decided to turn full circle and send a big middle finger to the label that created her by making a daring, haunted album full of anger and anguish without a trace of that Good Girl Gone Bad formula. Want to hear another “Umbrella”? Well, fuck off. You’re not finding it here.

Killer, damning cuts such as “Hard,” “Wait Your Turn,” and “G4L,” all take Riri to a darker, confident place than ever before, leading to one of the greatest surprises of the year.

It’s Rihanna’s first artistic statement, and for that, she’s earned my full attention.

One more time for the year: VIVA LA RIHANNOIR!

1. Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster

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In one word…Monster.
MuuMuse Review

With the release of a certain single back in October, Gaga managed to turn my hatred on its head, cause me to issue a public apology, and quickly morph me into a full-fledged, unapologetic fan.

While I’ve already gone through it in my review of the album, it bears repeating: The Fame Monster is indeed a monster. Eight perfect slices of hook-laden pop, all wrapped in a delicious ’50’s-horror inspired visual campaign. Murderous live performances, a stellar accompanying national Monster Ball tour…it’s a beast with such bite that Alejandro’s still weeping himself to sleep at night. The Fame Monster is a stunning addition to the growing back catalog of the 21st century’s most important and influential entertainer.

In a sea of gangsters, liars and thieves, of false prophets and seedy politicians, Lady Gaga is the only public figure I can truly hold accountable for having followed through on her campaign promise: She is saving the world, one sequin at a time.

As if there were any question, 2009 shall heretofore be known as the Year of the Gaga.