Well, the year is just about over now, which means that those “Best Of 2009” lists just won’t let up anytime soon. Two weeks ago saw my “Top 40 Albums of 2009” list. Now, it’s time to get down to the finest singles of the year. LET’S DO THIS.
All chart and sales figures provided by Wikipedia.
20. Mariah Carey – Obsessed (Listen)
It was the guiltiest, most quotable pleasure of the year: “Obsessed,” the so-bad-it’s-good, so-good-it’s-bad mid-tempo jam leading off the charge of Mariah Carey’s less than successful twelfth studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel.
You love it, you hate it, but there’s no need to get all fired up with your Napoleon complex; the only thing that could have made this song better would be if it came bundled with a George Foreman grill and a bottle of Windex.
“Obsessed” topped the charts at #7 on the US Hot 100, as well as #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs list and Top 20 in many territories around the world.
19. Beyonce – Video Phone ft. Lady Gaga (Listen)
Though it would be impossible to top the weave-tossin’, hip-poppin’ brilliance that is “Diva,” “Video Phone” is just about as close as you can get to replicating that level of fierce-nass. Already an instant classic off of I Am…Sasha Fierce, the injection of Lady Gaga‘s ridiculous, warbling verses and a fantastic music video made the song damn near untouchable.
That being said, “Video Phone” generally failed to catch on with the general public, stalling at #65 on the Hot 100 with no sign of fueling back up again anytime soon.
18. Cheryl Cole – Fight For This Love (Listen)
It was the tensest moment on X Factor this year: The debut performance of a solo Cheryl Cole. What would she sound like? How would the song fare? Breaking out with a hip, sleek routine (once a soldier, then a samurai) and a nasty dance break sequence, Cheryl fought, fought, fought for the public’s love, effectively dominating the latter half of 2009 with her debut single.
Though not the strongest song off of her debut 3 Words, it’s certainly the most influential: “Fight For This Love” broke the record for the fastest selling UK single, debuted at #1 in both Ireland and the UK, and scored the highest first week sales for a single in 2009.
17. Ke$ha – Tik Tok (Listen)
It’s loud, it’s obnoxious, and it’s all I listened to during the summer: “Tik Tok” is drunk-pop revelry at its finest, and one hell of a way to debut.
The song as just hit #1 on the Hot 100, according to yesterday’s Billboard news.
16. Shakira – She Wolf (Listen)
If anyone else sung this, it would be a disaster. But it’s not just anyone–it’s Shakira, the lust-worthy Latina songstress capable of making a coffee machine in an office sound downright sexy. The release was aided by an equally weird/brilliant video, featuring the singer doing enough limb-bending choreography to have Gumby crossing his legs in pain while watching.
“She Wolf” and its Spanish counterpart “Loba” climbed to the #11 spot on the US Hot 100 and a #1 position on the Hot Dance Club Songs list, as well as dozens of Top 10 positions all around the world.
15. Madonna – Celebration (Listen)
Ringing in over twenty-five years of international success in the music industry as the world’s reigning Queen of Pop, “Celebration” had quite a bit of hype to live up to. While some criticized the singer for trying too hard to maintain relevancy, the song served its purpose and ultimately contributed to the Madonna legacy of pure, unadulterated escapism tacked to a disco dancing beat.
While “Celebration” stalled at #71 on the US Billboard Hot 100, the song took a Top 5 charting across most other parts of the world, including a #3 peak in the UK’s Single Chart.
14. Rihanna – Hard (Listen)
Leading off one of the year’s best albums, Riri goes harder than ever before with a cocky chorus and a newfound swagger and delightfully confident sexuality. Lots of brags (“The hottest bitch in heels right here”) and lots of burns (“Ain’t like me, that chick too phony”). And as for that personal shout-out near the song’s end? “Where dem blah-gahs at? Where dem blah-gahs at?” Yeah…bonus points all around.
“Hard” has since climbed to the #11 position on the US Hot 100, though it’s still too new to declare the song’s peak position.
13. Sugababes – About A Girl (Listen)
As the unexpected dawn of a new era began late this year with the departure of Keisha Buchanan and the arrival of Jade Ewen, haters and doubters declared the girl group officially dead.
As it turned out, the Sugas have never sounded sweeter. “About A Girl” was the defiant anthem the girls needed to survive, earning a #8 spot on the UK Charts and proving that Jade Ewen is a voice to be reckoned with.
12. Lily Allen – The Fear (Listen)
Leading off the campaign for her sophomore album, It’s Not Me, It’s You, “The Fear” took a wry stab at the socialite life. With Greg Kurstin‘s glittering electronic beats and that gorgeous, dizzying chorus, it’s not hard to miss out on Allen’s dripping sarcasm: “I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless /’Cuz everyone knows that’s how you get famous.”
The song took the #1 spot on the UK singles chart, as well as scoring the “Best Track” award at the Q Awards.
11. Natalie Imbruglia – Want (Listen)
It’s all that you could ever want, over and over again: A lush, disco melody on repeat, “Want” is the sugary surprise single that led the march for Imbruglia’s solid fourth studio album, Come to Life.
Sadly, the song was never quite given its due credit, eventually peaking at #22 in Australia and #88 in the UK.
10. Gossip – Heavy Cross (Listen)
Did any other song send a chill running down our spines this year quite like Beth Ditto‘s howl of “I choose you!” just one minute into “Heavy Cross”? Doubtful. The song itself is a rocking smash, complete with jagged guitar riffs and disco-tinged drum beats, but it’s the Fred Falke remix made this release truly sublime.
The single premiered quite well overseas, including the #2 position in Germany and Switzerland, as well as the #14 spot on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.
9. La Roux – Bulletproof (Listen)
Say what I have about Elly Jackson‘s nasty attitude or her oft-insufferable falsetto, La Roux’s debut provided some of the catchiest, hookiest tracks of 2009. Add some bright, colorful ’80’s-flavored beats to one unstoppably catchy chorus, and there you have it: “Bulletproof,” a track that more than validated all those “One to Watch” list predictions last year.
“Bulletproof” took the #1 position on the UK charts, a #1 slot on the US Dance Charts, and a gold certification in Australia and New Zealand, amongst dozens of other countries.
8. Annie – Anthonio (Listen)
With the 2008 Don’t Stop campaign at a halt for more than half a year, “Anthonio” was the much-needed reassurance that the Anniemal was still alive and well. Soothing, melodic italo-disco sweeps over the speakers as the singer recalls the tale of the no-good, dirt bag who left alone and pregnant. What more could you ask for?
While it never landed a spot on the main Singles charts, “Anthonio” climbed to #5 on the UK Indie Chart.
7. Girls Aloud – Untouchable (Listen)
The word epic is far overused in modern society, but this song cannot be properly described by any other term: Clocking in at just under seven minutes, “Untouchable” is the Girls Aloud’s own “Bohemian Rhapsody,” complete with euphoric flares of synthesizers and a classic Xenomania beat.
In the greatest Pop Injustice of 2009, “Untouchable” charted just outside the Top 10 position in the UK at #11, effectively ending the girl group’s run of twenty Top 10 singles.
6. Florence + The Machine – Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) (Listen)
I’d seen some references to Florence over the summer, but it wasn’t until her performance of “Rabbit Heart” on Later…with Jools Holland that I realized just how magical this witchy woman and her music actually were. Honorable mentions go out to the equally deserving subsequent singles from Lungs, including “Drumming Song” and “You’ve Got the Love.”
“Rabbit Heart” peaked at #12 on the UK Singles Chart.
5. Bat For Lashes – Daniel (Listen)
Haunting vocals, warm droplets of synthesizer, and an endless, searching sense of loneliness, “Daniel” quickly became the clear, crowning victory of Bat For Lashes‘ Two Suns sessions.
“Daniel” peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart.
4. Royksopp – Girl and the Robot (Listen)
Combine Sweden’s Pop Princess with Norway’s electro-geniuses, and you’ve got yourself the greatest robot love song from a Swedish chanteuse since Margaret Berger‘s “The Robot Song”…and that’s saying a lot.
The song took on the #2 position on the Norweigan Singles Chart and a surprisingly modest #25 position on the Swedish Singles Chart.
3. Britney Spears – 3 (Listen)
Considering it’s Britney (bitch), “3” is pretty low on my “Best Of” list. With a less-than-stellar video (the director’s cut having redeemed the original), Britney’s ode to playing Yahtzee with a friend or two (or Freudian exploration of fantasy, depending on who you ask) walks the line between sexy and sleazy a bit too unevenly, at times coming off childish and tacky (which is why I’m ready for a break from further Max Martin collaborations.) Subject matter aside, it’s still an unbelievably catchy record, and one hell of a Britney classic.
The single was an instant success with radio, nabbing the #1 spot on US radio, as well as a position in Top 10 charts all across the world.
2. Ellie Goulding – Under the Sheets (Listen)
Up until a few months ago, newcomer Ellie Goulding had released nothing but a few demos and behind-the-scenes videos on her MySpace.
“Under the Sheets,” her debut release, is a gorgeous, multi-layered tapestry of hypnotic electronica and breathy vocals, not all that far from the major league stuff of Imogen Heap and BjÃ¶rk. The song’s replay-ready quality, coupled with a yelp-at-the-top-of-your-lungs harmonies has, for better or worse, sprinkled all sorts of high expectations around the upcoming release of her debut album in 2010.
“Under The Sheets” has since peaked at #53 on the UK charts.
1. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance (Listen)
A crashing anthem of a chorus. Hitchcock references. A vogue-ready middle eight. Hooks a plenty. Nonsensical syllables abound. Fame. Death. Sex. Love. I’m a free bitch, baby.
As the most powerful, raucous celebration of pop music in years, “Bad Romance” has finalized Lady Gaga’s transition from a flavor of the month to an icon in the making. Though she may credit “Speechless” as her greatest song to date, it’s “Bad Romance” that takes the title in my book blog.
The song took the #2 spot on the Hot 100, as well as a #1 ranking in several countries internationally, including Canada, Italy, Sweden and the UK.
As if there were any question, “Bad Romance” is the best single of 2009, bar none.