A couple of days ago, I shared my ten best albums of 2009. Here’s the follow-up…my ten best songs of 2009. One disclaimer: I play by a different set of rules for songs; songs from a couple of years ago can be on the list if I’ve discovered them this year. With that said, here goes…
(Another note: where possible, links are to YouTube videos or other places where you can hear the whole song. I don’t really like these “videos” that consist of the audio of the song with just an image of the album cover or artist, but it’s the only free way that I know of where I can allow you to hear the entire song…)
10. “Fugitive,” David Gray — This year, David Gray returned after three years away from the studio with the album Draw The Line. The highlight of this decent, if not stellar, album was the first single, “Fugitive.” Characterized by the melodic sense and thoughtful lyrics David Gray is known for, this song is buoyant and irresistible.
9. “Come On,” Green River Ordinance — A catchy, pretty straightforward song about reconciliation, this song was the first thing I’d heard from this Texas band. I downloaded the whole album based on this one song. I think it’s a great introduction to a band with a great future in music.
8. “What I’m For,” Pat Green — For nearly ten years, I’ve expected great singer-songwriter style country music from the amazing Pat Green. The title track of his latest album is a celebration of traditional American values and another example of what makes him great. Probably one of my favorite lines all year is: “You don’t have to guess what I’m against if you know what I’m for.”
7. “Traveler’s Song,” Future Of Forestry — I discovered Future Of Forestry this year; they’re a Christian rock band with a powerful sound and a unique lyrical approach. This song is the lead off track from their Travel EP; it combines allegorical lyrics comparing life (perhaps specifically the Christian life) to a journey with a huge, epic sound (is that a theremin at the end?). Truly incredible.
6. “You Hold Me Now,” Hillsong United — This song is my favorite worship song from this past year. Hillsong United always delivers compelling and thoughtful worship music, but this particular song is both musically moving and lyrically inspiring, reminding believers of what awaits them beyond this life. (The video linked to this song is the Hillsong version…the “big church” to Hillsong United’s youth…but it’s similar enough to Hillsong United’s version.
5. “Human Of The Year,” Regina Spektor — This is simply Regina Spektor’s most beautiful song, ranging in style from piano pop to hymn and classical-influnced sections. What’s it about? I’m not sure, and that’s pretty typical of a Regina Spektor song too…
4. “Agnes Day,” Immanu El — I don’t know if it’s something lost in translation from the Latin Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) to Swedish to English, or if it’s a play on words, but the first track on Immanu El’s Moen is a beautifully written piece of music. The lyrics don’t quite make sense, but at the same time they do, if you know what I mean. “Agnes Day” is one of those songs that has an intangible quality that makes it fascinating.
3. “Win Park Slope,” Gomez — On an album as full of great songs as Gomez’s A New Tide, it’s hard to pick out the best songs, but two songs really stuck out to me. “Win Park Slope” is densely layered with sound, creating an intriguing experience for the listener. The centerpiece of the song is the chorus of “Gotta win/gotta win/let me win,” where the band and vocals come together perfectly. The lyrics are fascinating as well; presumably the song is about the desire to succeed…oh yeah, and that abrupt ending is the lead-in to the next track, “Bone Tired.”
2. “Astral Days,” Immanu El — Here’s the requisite song from pre-2009 on the list. I discovered Immanu El back in January of this year, and this song is the best track on their debut, They’ll Come, They Come. Soundscapes reminiscent of Explosions In The Sky and vocals that are so far back in the mix as to almost be subliminal. The lyrics don’t so much tell a story as paint word pictures. (Man, that sounds cheesy…just listen to the song, and you’ll get an idea of why it’s such a beautiful song.)
1. “Very Strange,” Gomez — I guess this is another one of those “intangible” songs, but it’s one I can’t get enough of. I’m actually having a hard time writing specifically why I like this song. It’s just one of those perfectly written, intricately produced songs with clever lyrics and a great sound. I just love the song. (Click here for an acoustic performance by Ben Ottewell of Gomez.)