You thought the endless lists and general short-term nostalgia was over? Oh, how silly you all are.
Here's an exhaustive* list of the top 99 singles of 2009 according to the only website that counts, aka Musick:
- Amerie 'Heard 'Em All'
- Animal Collective 'My Girls'
- Annie 'My Love Is Better'
- Antony & The Johnsons 'Crazy In Love'
- Au Revoir Simone 'Another Likely Story (Aeroplane Remix)'
- Bat For Lashes 'Daniel'
- Beach House 'Norway'
- Best Coast 'When I'm With You'
- Beth Jeans Houghton 'I Will Return I Promise'
- Beyoncé 'Sweet Dreams'
- Beyoncé 'Halo'
- The Big Pink 'Velvet'
- Blue Roses 'Does Anyone Love Me Now?'
- Brigadier Ambrose 'Helium'
- Casiokids 'Finn Bikkjen'
- Charlotte Gainsbourg 'IRM'
- Chew Lips 'Salt Air'
- Cold Cave 'Love Comes Close'
- Crookers feat. Kelis 'No Security'
- Dirty Projectors 'Stillness Is The Move'
- Discovery 'Carby'
- Dizzee Rascal 'Holiday'
- Drake 'Best I Ever Had'
- The Drums 'Let's Go Surfing'
- Ellie Goulding 'Under The Sheets'
- Erik Hassle 'Hurtful'
- Fever Ray 'Seven'
- Florence & The Machine 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)'
- Frankmusik 'Gotta Boyfriend'
- Friendly Fires 'Kiss Of Life'
- Fuck Buttons 'Surf Solar'
- Girls 'Lust For Life'
- Golden Silvers 'True No9 Blues (True Romance)'
- Good Shoes 'The Way My Heartbeats'
- Gossip 'Heavy Cross'
- Grizzly Bear 'Two Weeks'
- Health 'Die Slow'
- Holly Miranda 'Forest Green Oh Forest Green'
- The Horrors 'Who Can Say'
- HURTS 'Wonderful Life'
- The Invisible 'London Girl'
- Jack Penate 'Pull My Heart Away'
- Jamie T 'Sticks 'N' Stones'
- Jay-Z feat. Kanye West and Rihanna 'Run This Town'
- Jazmine Sullivan 'Bust Your Windows'
- Jordin Sparks 'Battlefield'
- Julian Casablancas '11th Dimension'
- Karen O & The Kids 'All Is Love'
- Kid Cudi, MGMT & Ratatat 'Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)'
- Kings of Convenience 'Boat Behind'
- La Roux 'In For The Kill'
- Lady GaGa 'Bad Romance'
- Lady GaGa 'Paparazzi'
- Laura Marling 'Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)'
- Le Corps Mince de Francoise 'Something Golden'
- Liars 'Scissors'
- Lily Allen 'The Fear'
- Little Boots 'Remedy'
- The Maccabees 'Love You Better'
- Major Lazer feat. Mr Lex & Santigold 'Hold The Line'
- Manna 'Some Girls/Some Boys'
- Marina & The Diamonds 'Mowgli's Road'
- Maxwell 'Pretty Wings'
- Mayer Hawthorne 'Just Ain't Gonna Work Out'
- Micachu 'Golden Phone'
- Mini Viva 'I Wish'
- Mos Def 'Life In Marvellous Times'
- Mpho 'Box 'N' Locks'
- Mumford & Sons 'Little Lion Man'
- The Pains of Being Pure At Heart 'Higher Than The Stars'
- Passion Pit 'The Reeling'
- Penguin Prison 'Animal Animal'
- The Phenomenal Handclap Band '15-20'
- Phoenix '1901'
- Pop Levi 'Police $ign'
- Raphael Saadiq 'Sure Hope You Mean It'
- Rihanna 'Russian Roulette'
- Roisin Murphy 'Orally Fixated'
- Rose Elinor Dougall 'Start/Stop/Synchro'
- Royksopp feat. Robyn 'The Girl And The Robot'
- The Saturdays 'Ego'
- Shakira 'She Wolf'
- Slow Club 'It Doesn't Have To Be Beautiful'
- Solange 'Stillness Is The Move'
- Sonic Youth 'What We Know'
- Taken By Trees 'My Girls' / 'Sweet Child O' Mine'
- Thom Yorke 'Hearing Damage'
- VV Brown 'Shark In The Water'
- The Veronicas '4 Ever'
- The Very Best 'Warm Heart of Africa'
- Washed Out 'Feel It All Around'
- Wavves 'So Bored'
- Wild Beasts 'All The King's Men'
- Wildbirds & Peacedrums 'My Heart'
- The xx 'Islands'
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs 'Zero'
- Yeasayer 'Ambling Alp'
* the ones we could remember
You thought the endless lists and general short-term nostalgia was over? Oh, how silly you all are.
The Horrors – Primary Colours
If someone had told us we'd be putting The Horror's second album as our album of the year we would have laughed in their face, simultaneously spraying them with spittle and generally making them look like a laughing stock. And yet, Primary Colours is such a monumental piece of work that even if you think they look like a bunch of malnourished Tim Burton clones, it's impossible to deny the results. Cynics have suggested that the quality is down to Geoff Barrow, he of Portishead fame, who came on board as producer, and though his fingerprints are all over it – the creeping keyboard figure that rises out of 'Sea Within a Sea' was similarly used on last year's Third – the songs are key, and luckily they're more than amazing. From the slow-burning opening of 'Mirror's Image' to the propulsive, Can-esque drive of 'Sea Within a Sea', Primary Colours takes the template of their debut and piles on layers of keyboards, treated guitars and in amongst the noise, Faris Badwan's strangled vocals. 'Who Can Say' managed to overcome the nagging thought that it might have been about Peaches Gelfof by being just about the best thing we heard all year, an exciting mix of Motown-esque drums, dramatic pauses and a keyboard riff from pop heaven. 'New Ice Age' and 'Three Decades' resembled the best songs from their debut only much better, whilst the heady keyboard swirls of 'Scarlet Fields' saw them playing with different textures. So, there you have it. The second album by a band written off as a joke has won the coveted Musick album of 2009 award. Next year, put your bets on Scouting For Girls.
Key track: 'Who Can Say'
Fever Ray – Fever Ray
Musick is a big fan of albums that feel like they exist in their own little world. They get released in the same way as other albums, but listening to them feels almost alien, as if the only way to fully appreciate it is to dress up in white face paint and put on a blonde wig. Maybe that's just with this album. Created by Karin Dreijer Andersson, aka one half of The Knife, Fever Ray is an eerie concoction, mixing creepy, slow-moving melodies with Andersson's often heavily treated vocals. On the one hand everything is made to keep the listener unsettled and at arm's length, but there's also a warm core to the record that centres around the birth of Andersson's child. The mundane – lyrics about dishwasher tablets, tending to a neighbour's plants, etc – is twisted and contorted, whilst the harrowing 'Concrete Walls' hints at post-natal depression. As with Bjork's Vespertine, it's an album that deals with the domestic, but also seems to rally against greed and the need for power (“More, give me more, give me more”). It's an album that you need to live with, it's dark secrets revealing themselves slowly and carefully. Best not to listen to it if you're having a bad day, but if you're looking to be transported to some kind of dark netherworld then this is a brilliant place to start.
Key track: 'Seven'
The xx – xx
With a musical palette as minimal as the artwork and a live presence that bordered on the comatose, these four (as they were then - Baria Qureshi has since left) ridiculously young Londoners took hold of the latter quarter of 2009 with their beautiful, drip-feed pop. Centred around the loving glances cast between lead singers Romy Croft and Oliver Sim, there's a strange atmosphere that runs throughout the album, the listener feeling as if he or she is intruding on a private conversation. Musically, it's a skeletal mix of spindly guitar lines, atmospheric drum patterns and little else. In fact, it's so minimal and patient that when it does reach a relative crescendo or a shift in pace it can feel like the biggest rush. 'Islands' is as pacey as it gets, Croft and Sim exchanging coy lines over a pattering drum sound, whilst the album drifts into beautiful stillness with the closing 'Stars'. Taking its cue from acts like Aaliyah as much as the more obvious influences such as The Cure (at least in terms of their favourite colour; black), xx was the sound of youthful exuberance tinged by dark nights and lack of sleep.
Key track: 'Crystalised'
Florence & The Machine – Lungs
Of all the acts hyped to the hilt come January 2009, Florence and her Machine seemed the least likely to finish the year with one of the biggest selling debuts. If early single Kiss With A Fist was all playful petulance, the newer songs on Lungs show that playful spirit had been channelled into gorgeously OTT epics that mixed strings, choirs, pounding drums, fluttering harps and, if you listen carefully, a kitchen sink solo. It is pop turned up to eleven, with everything pushed to the front to create a wall of sound so strong it often threatens to overwhelm the songs. It’s this tension that makes ‘Cosmic Love’ or ‘Howl’ so powerful, as if they’re about to implode at any minute. Riding the crest of the sonic wave is Florence herself, the owner of a voice so swollen with emotion it’s almost painful to listen to her dissect and rebuild relationships in each song. Credit must also go to producers Paul Epworth and James Ford who somehow manage to keep the various strands together, making sure the songs themselves remain the key ingredient. Lungs is momentous not just because it lives up to the hype, but because it has the feel of a timeless record, one that can’t be simply dismissed as ‘the sound of 2009’. It’s more than that.
Key track: ‘Drumming’
Wild Beasts – Two Dancers
Remember the days of landfill indie? No, really, try and remember them because it’s important to remember the bad times so we can appreciate the good. Cumbria’s Wild Beasts may use guitars, drums and vocals and all be men, but they’re also evidence that using those instruments need not make you The Courteeners. For their second album, these four super intelligent young men decided to play about with time signatures, tamper with ideas of love and sex and throw out the rulebook that stated it wasn’t a good idea for white men to mess about with falsetto. Two Dancers is a complex, densely layered concoction that swirls about on a maelstrom of highly strung guitars and pounding drums, but somewhere in the middle gorgeous melodies start to appear as on the wonderfully catchy, ‘All The King’s Men’. As with Dirty Projectors or Grizzly Bear, the band are aware of how sounds play off each other, of how well harmonies can coalesce with sudden blasts of noise and then simmer down to something beautiful. Basically, it’s enough to warrant much excitement as to where they might go next.
Key track: ‘All The King’s Men’
Annie – Don’t Stop
For connoisseurs of perfect pop, Annie’s much-delayed second album was anticipated with such fevered emotion that over 200 pages had been created on the Popjustice.com forum before it finally saw the light of day. Thankfully, no-one was disappointed, with producers Xenomania, Paul Epworth and Richard X combining to create one of the best pop albums in recent years. In amongst the playground chants (‘Hey Annie’), stuttering electro (‘I Don’t Like Your Band’) and sophisticated synth ballads (‘Marie Cherie’), Annie’s glacial vocals and unique delivery helped make each song at least twenty times more memorable than most other chart music, which, given the fact this inexplicably failed to chart, is all the more amazing. In it’s original incarnation, the brilliant fuzz-pop of ‘My Love Is Better’ featured a certain Girls Aloud on the chorus, but record company wrangles meant they were removed. This is probably not that significant, but for the sake of symbolism we’ll assume it was because they couldn’t handle the fact that the quirky pop mantle had been passed on to someone else. Girls Aloud are dead, long live Annie.
Key track: ‘I Don’t Like Your Band’
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
In the past, it’s been easier to slip Animal Collective’s name into a conversation in the hope of impressing someone than it has been to actually enjoy listening to them. Previous albums have been as wilfully impenetrable as they have been inspiring. Merriweather Post Pavilion changes all that however, being simultaneously more grown-up and controlled and yet with a childish urge to experiment. Musically, it’s as Technicolor as the mind-bending cover art, with pulsating dance rhythms emerging unexpectedly on tracks such as opener ‘In The Flowers’ and the jubilant single ‘Summertime Clothes’. With ‘My Girls’, they made their finest song, a simple, heartfelt plea for domestic bliss (“I just want four walls and adobe slats for my girls”), cased in a euphoric musical confection.
Key track: ‘My Girls’
Antony & The Johnsons – The Crying Light
For the follow-up to the Mercury-prize winning, I Am A Bird Now, Antony Hegarty and his band of not-so-merry men and women, scaled down their sound to the bare bones. Piano, strings, a smattering of drums here and there and very little else augment that tremulous, haunting voice on songs that deal with the end of the world (‘Another World’), death (‘Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground’) and father-son relationships (the bluesy ‘Aeon’). So sparse are the arrangements, that the slightest thing can trigger the raising of a hair on the back of the neck, such as the mournful flute that appears from nowhere on ‘One Dove’ or the way everything falls away during ‘Kiss My Name’ to leave a lonely drum tattoo. By the closing ‘Everglade’, however, Antony seems to be transported to a different world, as swooning, sumptuous strings cascade around a swollen vocal. Less showy it maybe, but The Crying Light is more than equal to its predecessor.
Key track: ‘One Dove’
Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
Not many albums avoid pigeon-holing as keenly as Bitte Orca. Like the album’s title, things seem to have been thrown together because frontman Dave Longstreth thought they might sound good together and it’s to his infinite credit that they nearly always do. So, we get modern-day R&B as performed by four white folk from Brooklyn in the shape of ‘Stillness Is The Move’, cinematic chamber pop (‘Two Doves’) and discordant guitar noise peppering an otherwise sombre harmony-lead ditty (‘Temecula Sunrise’). Unlike most albums that try everything but master nothing, Bitte Orca works because the ideas never swallow the songs. ‘Useful Chamber’ may have undulating keyboard riffs and strange, backward noises, but it also has a brilliant melody and somehow all the fragments are held together. Plus, they’re Bjork’s favourite band, so, you know, it stands to reason that they’re amazing.
Key track: ‘Stillness Is The Move’
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
Show Your Bones, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ last album, is one of Musick’s favourite things, ever. Needless to say, expectation for the follow-up was high and not even the admission that Nick Zinner had stepped away from his guitars in favour of the synth could dampen it. Luckily, It’s Blitz! represents the perfect follow-up, expanding on their core sound to take in elements of dance (‘Zero’, ‘Heads Will Roll’) and, er, Celtic folk (‘Skeletons’), whilst not forgetting the things that made people fall for them in the first place. At the centre of the musical melee, Karen O crafted an emotional core that gave each song a weight that contemporaries such as The Killers or MGMT could never match. ‘Runaway’ and ‘Hysteric’ were two of the best songs they’d ever committed to tape, the former a tear-stained ballad, the latter a gorgeous tribute to finding the right person.
Key track: ‘Zero’
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Of all the surprises in 2009, few could match seeing Grizzly Bear’s third album nestling at no. 8 on the US album charts. For all Veckatimest’s splendour, it’s hardly an easy listen, what with the undulating time signatures, off-kilter melodies and complex string arrangements (courtesy of classical protégé Nico Mulhy). Yet, there’s something warm and inviting about the chamber music the band create, be it with the simple piano riff on ‘Two Weeks’ or the sumptuous harmonies that swirl around nearly every track. Somewhere in the mix, however, there’s a sense of unease, as if the ground beneath your feet isn’t as solid as you thought. Somehow, the band has conspired to make the most beautiful and delicate soundtrack to impending doom.
Key track: ‘Two Weeks’
Mos Def – The Ecstatic
In what felt like a pretty barren year for hip-hop, it was kind of surprising that the one stone-cold classic came from Mos Def. Not that he doesn’t have pedigree – 1999’s Black On Both Sides, naturally – but his recent output was either muddled (The New Danger) or creatively impotent (2006’s True Magic). From the off, Mos Def sounds rejuvenated here, spitting politically charged rhymes over aggressive horn-blasts on ‘Twilite Speedball’ or heady, swirling narratives on the brilliant future-pop of ‘Life In Marvellous Times’. Featuring production from Madlib, Chad Hugo and the late J Dilla, The Ecstatic fuses funk, jazz and Afrobeat to create a dense, layered sound that rewards repeated listens.
Key track: ‘Quiet Dog Bite Hard’
Girls – Album
It’s easy to be cynical about Girls considering the fact that they’ve seemingly appeared out of nowhere with a fully-formed debut, aesthetic (heroin chic Hanson) and a penchant for artfully debauched music videos. It all seems a bit too perfect to be true. Thankfully, Album is a delight, mixing singer Christoper Owens’ heartbreaking tales of addiction and loveloss with Beach Boys-esque harmonies or stoned wig-outs (the seven-minute ‘Hellhole Ratface’ is a definite highlight). Forget the back story (singer was raised in a cult, becomes a drug addict, meets millionaire who gives him some cash, forms a band) and focus on the music, man.
Key track: ‘Lust For Life’
Brigadier Ambrose – Fuzzo
Yes they’re friends of the blog and it’s true that we might not have heard this album had this not been the case, but how we came about hearing about them is neither here nor there. The fact remains that if this album was an embarrassment to music then it would not be on this list. Hailing from the cultural black-hole that is Medway (main claim to fame; chavs), they’ve created an album that bristles with a strange mix of despondency and aggression, both in awe of the town that spawned them and simultaneously wanting to burn it to the ground. Musically, it’s a mixture of Graham Coxon-esque guitars, jaunty keyboard flurries and time signature changes that would make Pavement proud. The best thing to come out of Medway…ever!
Key track: ‘Helium'
Micachu – Jewellery
The word ‘original’ is banded about with such disregard for the English language that we once heard it used to describe Kasabian. Kasabian! The music Micachu (aka 22-year-old Mica Levi) makes is wholly original, sounding, at times, like an argument between four different songs. Levi is known to utilise everyday objects in her songs (such as a hoover on ‘Turn Me Well’) or make sounds using instruments she’s created herself, which makes it all sound terribly pretentious. It’s not, it’s just a brilliant example of a hugely creative young talent proving magic can happen on a shoestring (which appears on a number of tracks no doubt).
Key track: 'Golden Phone'
Jack Peñate – Everything Is New
The title of Peñate’s second album could not have been more appropriate had he called it This Second Album Is Really Quite Different To The First One. As with friends The Maccabees, Peñate ditched the prevailing sound of his debut (a kind of annoying indie rockabilly) in favour of a much more expansive sound, taking in afrobeat (‘Tonight’s Today’) and elements of dance and gospel (‘Pull My Heart Away’). Helped by producer Paul Epworth, Everything Is New is the sound of a young talent realising his potential.
Key track: ‘Pull My Heart Away'
La Roux – La Roux
There are very simple rules when it comes to having a top 3 single. Firstly, the song must enter high and then drop down rapidly. Secondly, the song must be by an established act and/or talent show winner. Thirdly, if neither of the former, then the song must be on an advert or a pleasant listen for when you’re driving in your car or sat in the kitchen. Somehow, La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ managed to break all these rules, taking on a life of its own as it slowly clambered into the public consciousness. Fronted by the shock of red hair that is Elly Jackson, La Roux managed to combine icy synths and cheap beats with lyrics about love and loss to create a handful of perfect pop singles.
Key track: ‘In For The Kill’
Lady GaGa – The Fame Monster
From prospective one-hit wonder to the world’s biggest pop star in the space of twelve months, Lady GaGa has straddled 2009 in a way that’s made all of us feel slightly uncomfortable. Whilst most people would be happy with a debut that features two of the biggest selling singles of the year, Lady GaGa wasn’t content until she’d recorded an extra eight songs, four of which could be singles, one of which features Beyoncé and all of which must make Madonna choke on her Kabbalah water. Good enough to be the follow-up to The Fame proper, The Fame Monster is somehow even better for showing complete disregard for anything as boring as following a normal release schedule.
Key track: ‘Alejandro’
The Maccabees – Wall Of Arms
Drafting in Arcade Fire’s producer Markus Dravs and adding a whole load of shimmering guitar lines does not a band make, of course, but on The Maccabees’ second album it makes for a far more dynamic album then they mustered with their debut. Built around those towering guitars and Orlando Weeks’ swollen, yelping vocals, the “indie also-rans” (source: just about every music journalist, circa 2007), have taken a massive leap towards building a lasting career. Plus, ‘Love You Better’ is properly amazing.
Key track: ‘Love You Better’
Cold Cave – Love Comes Close
Hailing from Philadelphia, Cold Cave is less a band and more a one-off experiment. Featuring members of bands with names like Xiu Xiu and Prurient, the whole thing could easily whiff too strongly of arty intellectualising, and yet, for all its icy detachment, Love Comes Close is a beautifully human album. Cloaked in synths and simple drum programming, its nine songs are paeans to life in sprawling cities, with deceptively simple choruses at the heart of each one.
Key track: ‘Love Comes Close’
The other day we were queuing in the Post Office when who should we see but Missy Elliott, standing there in her (slightly tatty, it has to be said) gold tracksuit. Now, regular readers to Musick will know that our relationship has soured somewhat following a nasty argument about money and a mildly negative review of some of Missy's recent output. With that in mind, we approached cautiously, keeping a small pack of Cadbury Snacks at hand just in case our offer of an apology wasn't accepted (Missy loves her chocolate). Thankfully, Missy seemed to have forgotten all about our disagreements and treated us to a big hug and an incredibly convoluted hand shake that involved elbows and all sorts.
We asked Missy what she'd been up to given the fact that her new album, Block Party, was due out about ten months ago and has yet to materialise. She went on about how Timbaland had just started night school (he's doing a woodwork course) and that the record label weren't particulalry happy with how the first couple of songs had done. We sensed some sadness behind the sunglasses and tried to cheer her up by offering to listen to some of the new songs she'd been working on. So, over some milky tea and another bag of Minstrels she played us this:
We're not going to lie, what followed was pretty ugly. Things were said, stereos were smashed, words like "rehashed" and "former glories" were banded about and it all ended with Missy trying to stuff a Wagon Wheel somewhere a Wagon Wheel does not belong. Still, it's best to be honest with Missy and hopefully she'll realise that we were only trying to help. Fingers crossed there's better on the album, should it ever materialise.
We've featured these two acts a couple of times of late, but they're both back once again with the renegade master, which is nice. First up are Hot Chip who recently gave us this and have now come back with this, their first single from their new album of the same name:
Apologies for the static, it's what Parlophone have determined appropriate for the visuals before the video is finished (they started filming it today, fact fans). It's a rather wonderful single, no? It's got all your favourite Hot Chip elements without being an obvious rip off of former glories. Plus, the sentiment is typically sweet, taking the idea of a one night stand and turning it into something that lasts a whole lifetime...oh God.
Next up, it's Marina & The Diamonds who's only just released this as a kind of 'buzz' single, so is now back with what will be her first single proper. We're guessing this will come out at some point in January, perhaps just before the BRITS, where perhaps she might, possibly, who knows, win an award? Either way, it will be around the time of all those lovely lists proclaiming her and her ilk as the resurrection or something. This is 'Hollywood', which comes with it's very own video:
As with most of Marina's songs this takes a little while to sink in. It might be the jauntiness, or the faint whiff of Mika in the music and Paloma Faith in the 'wackiness'. But we tend to think that Marina is better than that, and the bit where she puts on an American accent and says, "Oh my God you look just like Shakira, no no you're Catherine Zeta, actually my name's Marina", proves it.
As the yuletide approaches, it's getting harder and harder to find any music to recommend, unless the new Westlife album floats your boat, in which case the virtual door is that way. So, this may well be the final New Musick Monday of 2009 *stunned silence*. So, let's, for one last time, do a little recap on last week, shall we? Brigadier Ambrose performed well given the fact the album is self-released and wasn't available in shops (that happens in the new year), whilst Rihanna's album somewhat under-performed by entering outside the top 10 (although the single made it to number 6, so what does that tell us? No, really, what does that tell us?). Lady GaGa was more successful, entering at number 7 and celebrating at least six songs in the top 75. Well done the GaGa.
BUY THIS AGAIN OR FOR THE FIRST TIME
Lungs (Deluxe box set edition) by Florence & The Machine
Around this time, record labels decide it's best to make money by releasing albums by talent show contestants, old boybands or re-packaging an existing album to guilt trip genuine fans into buying the album again. This re-release of the brilliant Lungs (look out for it in Musick's rundown of the top 20 albums of 2009, coming, er, ahem, well, kind of soon-ish), adds three extra discs that encompass a live album, remixes, covers, demos and a DVD with all the videos and a live show. PLUS, you get expanded artwork and an essay by David Vann, who, as we all know, is a very talented author. Better than putting it in a slipcase and adding a couple of b-sides don't you think?
LAUGH AT ALL OF THIS
Untitled by R Kelly
First of all, please click here to be mortified. That's 'Pregnant', one of the many delicate ballads R Kelly has recorded for his new sex opus. This, let's not forget, is the man currently battling charges for having sex with a minor. Here are some of the choice lyrics that Kelly uses to make the pre-teens swoon (ALLEGEDLY!!):
"Girl you make me wanna get you pregnant...Knock you up, pregnant, Knock you up"
"Shes more than a mistress enough to handle my business / Now put that girl in my kitchen"
"Now I ain’t got nothing to do tonight, I gotta wait for my crew / I just wanna put some in you"
'Forest Green Oh Forest Green' by Holly Miranda
OK, so this came out a few weeks ago but it's so great we thought it best to try and get it a few more downloads. Produced by Dave Sitek and featuring members of TV On The Radio, this is the first single taken from Miranda's forthcoming album, The Magician's Private Library. It features some gorgeous vocals, some bells and indeed some brass. Here she is doing a gorgeous version of 'Ex-Factor' by Lauryn Hill:
This song came out in America about six months ago, but we've only just stumbled across it because, frankly, we're massive idiots.
It's called 'Best I Ever Had' and it's by Canadian rapper/singer, Drake. It's the kind of low-slung, sex jam (ewwww, what an awful phrase) that before you listen to it you need to perform some kind of inner monologue in which you pretend to be the presenter of a West Coast radio show. "This joint right here is for Kanesha, you know who you are baby. You're the best I've ever had, for real". Or something. If not, imagine Tim Westwood introducing it with a hilariously irrelevant sound effect (BOOM) and/or jumble of street lingo.
Which ever way you cut it, the beat is SICK. The video, however, is pretty appalling and was directed by Kanye West...
As someone on youtube pointed out; "breast i ever had". The wag.
Drum roll please...
We are pleased to announce Musick's first every competition! Whoop, whoop. Now, we're not asking you to draw us a picture, write us a poem or take part in an elaborate pyramid scheme in the hope of stealing your money and running away to live in Antigua. No, all we ask is that you, er, send us an email.
Those kind people at Island Records are giving us two free tickets to see 'bound to be big in 2010' Swedish singer, Erik Hassle. If you're unfamiliar with his work you should listen to this and this, or re-read something we did about him here.
The gig isn't like a normal gig, it's like a party but with a real life pop star performing. It's in a secret location (all we know is that it's an apartment!) in East London and no-one will know where it will be until the last minute. You will also need a password to get in. It will be like Skins, only real. There will be free alcohol on tap, so you have to be over 18 otherwise we'll all get in trouble with the law and we don't want that do we?
Here's a (very small) poster that contains a lot of the information we've just given, but in a much more graphic style:
The gig is on Thursday 17th December and all you need to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org to be in with a chance of winning. You might get to meet Musick too, although don't let that put you off.
Also, you can download a video of Erik covering 'Someday' by The Strokes by clicking here.
Next week we'll be giving away a hot air balloon ride with Little Boots.
We've done a few things on Theophilus London before, but so far all his songs have either been appearances on remixes or songs that heavily feature some sampling or chunks of other songs. 'Humdrum Town' is his first song 'proper' and it's every which way amazing.
Here's the song in question:
Once again, the guy's struggling with the whole concept of making money from his music and is allowing you, the lucky listener, to download the track for free from here.
Kelis is back!!! Not just back like when she came back on this occasion, but back properly, with a new single taken from a new album.
'Acapella' is produced by David Guetta and is quite literally the best thing she's done since 'Milkshake'. In case you're still wondering, yes it is a massive club banger.
Expect this to be everywhere in the discotheques early next year. We can't wait to shake our groove thing to this.
We all knew last week would be a success, in fact, we made sure of it. Echo sold over 160,000 copies in its first week, to debut at number 1, but that's about half of what her last album sold in the same period. Now, we're not suggesting that the wheels are falling off Leona's career per se, but what she lacks that a lot of other pop stars have is a definite personality. Songs like 'Happy' don't help matters. Speaking of personalities, Will Young's best of crashed in at, er, no. 9, which is hardly the work of a TV talent show alumnus, but we're pretty sure that's all he can hope for now. The Arctic Monkeys single seems to be missing from the top 40, which must be some kind of blip, right?
Fuzzo by Brigadier Ambrose
OK, confession time, this band are friends of the blog. Not just, "oh yeah, we met them at a party, they seem like nice guys" kind of friends, but proper "we went to school together" type friends. We feel the need to make this clear from the outset given the fact that we love this album so much it's going to seem like nepotism either way. You'll assume we're friends even if we weren't when we say that Fuzzo is one of the best debuts of 2009. Influenced by surrealist British comedy just as much as they are by bands like Blur, Belle & Sebastian and Pavement, they've crafted an album that keeps one eye on the everyday and the other turned skywards. It also features this lyric; "Silences don't really mean a great deal anymore/ One minute for footballers and two minutes for war / Three for terrorist atrocities / Four for the death of Morrissey". Kind of says it all really.
BUY THESE MONOCHROME BEAUTIES
Rated R by Rihanna
The Fame Monster by Lady GaGa
Two of pop's biggest characters return with albums on the same day, one trying to build a new image after some well-publicised personal problems and the other cementing her status as 2009's best megastar. Rated R is a darker, denser affair than Rihanna's previous efforts, featuring far more aggressive, almost sadomasochistic imagery. Guns are licked, fired and drawn on skin (she has a tattoo of one on her hip), whilst love is variously depicted as dead, deadly or, er, Spanish ('Te Amo'). WARNING: This album features will.i.am. Lady GaGa's The Fame Monster on the other hand should be subtitled "what this? Oh I knocked this up in my lunch break", such is the run of form she seems to be on. Eight brand new songs, four potential singles, Beyoncé drops by for a brief cameo and somewhere Madonna dies a little inside.
Fall Be Kind EP by Animal Collective
This 5-track EP is a little bit darker, a little bit denser than their last album...oh, have we written that before today? Erm, it's their equivalent of Rihanna's Rated R album, only with longer songs and slightly more droning. Very good as ever, in other words.
This story makes us very nervous and excited.
Lest we remind you that last time Lady GaGa performed live she was left hanging from the rafters covered in fake blood. PLEASE can we let this happen again in front of the Queen.
If not, we'd like these scenarios to occur:
- Lady GaGa comes out dressed as the Queen before stripping off to reveal a dress made of £50 notes
- Lady GaGa comes out dressed in nothing but a see-through coat and the Queen's silhouette shaved into her pubic hair
- Lady GaGa agrees to come out dressed in a demure two-piece, which then sets on fire as she runs from one side of the stage to the other screaming "Charles, I wanna take a ride on your disco stick"
- The Queen comes out dressed as Lady GaGa thus diluting any controversy
This is the video for Vampire Weekend's new single 'Cousins'. It turns out that this was just a 'teaser' or 'taster' for their new album, Contra, which is a shame as it's far more interesting than this. When that familiar guitar figure kicks in at the 45 second mark we felt a strange sense of sadness and disappointment, like when Bambi's mum died.
The video is much more interesting, what with all the camera work and face-changing technology (well, they use masks, which is probably the least technological aspect about the video, but it sure is fun). It was directed by Garth Jennings, one half of Hammer & Tongs.
This is the frankly incredible new video for the Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck duet, 'Heaven Can Wait':
This is another version of the frankly incredible new video for the Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck duet, 'Heaven Can Wait':
There are so many highlights it's impossible to point them all out. What we do wonder is how the hell they pitched the idea for this video?
Director: "So, there will be a man with pancakes for a head, a guy in a giant pair of tights playing tennis, a dinosaur with a wig on (in the bath) and a giant green troll creature being held at knife point".
Record label: "We were going to go with them performing it in front of a white background, but perhaps your idea is better. We'll get back to you".
We weren't expecting great things from our selections last week, so, as you will see from this week's picks, we're going all out for the chart glory this week. Amerie was our most bankable bet and she was nowhere, Joe Goddard's album probably sold about 11 copies and the Girls single missed the top 75 too. We're trying not to be too despondent, but it's difficult.
BUY THIS FOR YOUR MUM THIS CHRISTMAS
Echo by Leona Lewis
This week can rightly be labelled 'run up to Christmas' week. For those lamenting the inclusion of someone like Leona, the only other options were that dire-sounding Them Crooked Vultures album or the new Stereophonics collection...So, we thought we'd include this so that if you were having problems deciding on what to get your mum or your older sister for Christmas, this might help you out. Echo isn't exactly what you'd call experimental, but there are moments when that voice wraps itself round an undeniable melody and you get a strange feeling in your stomach (see 'Outta My Head'). 'Happy' is still really dull though.
BUY THIS FOR YOUR NAN THIS CHRISTMAS
The Hits by Will Young
We will be buying this for our Nan and we suggest you do the same. Well-executed, intelligent pop music sung by a nice young man who doesn't swear or 'carry on' like all those other ghastly singers and who has a handful of genuinely great singles. For example; the piano ballad, 'All Time Love', the career-defining 'Leave Right Now' and the underrated 'Who Am I'. What you will need to do, however, is put a little note on the present label, warning your elderly relatives not to listen to the first two songs. 'Evergreen' is an abomination and Will's jazzy cover of 'Light My Fire' is about as jazzy as Simon Cowell's record collection. After that, the rest is plain sailing.
DOWNLOAD THIS (FOR YOURSELVES)
'Cornerstone' by Arctic Monkeys
After the lukewarm reaction to 'Crying Lightning' and the general frustration at the lack of tunes on Humbug, Arctic Monkeys release what their record label will hope is the song to reverse their sales slump (the album sits at no. 75 this week). Luckily, it's a brilliant, beautifully phrased singalong that benefits from the relatively stripped back production and Alex Turner's characterful croon. Revelling in their new-found desire to sell less records, however, the band have made a video that makes Turner look like an androgynous electrical salesperson from the Eastern bloc.
Penguin Prison has been blogged about a lot recently, but not by us. That's because we're lazy and notoriously behind the times.
This doesn't make this single any less great.
Perfect for a depressingly grey Friday afternoon.
One of the blogs that does feature him a lot is called Neon Gold Blog (the label also releases his music), and it's so much better than most blogs out there that it's kind of depressing. You can download a lot of great things from there, free of charge. We recommend the 'Kids' remix by Chiddy Bang and 'Havin' My Baby' by Think About Life. (Expect both to feature on here soon, because that's how we roll; someone else does the leg work and we swoop in and steal the glory).
This is a song by Beyoncé featuring Lady GaGa. It's a bit shit. This is it:
Reasons it's bad:
1). It wasn't a great song when it appeared on I Am...Sasha Fierce over a year ago and, unsurprisingly, it hasn't grown into a good song over night.
2). Lady GaGa doesn't really suit it and her vocals have obviously just been tacked onto it rather quickly (they even sound louder in the mix then the rest).
3). Videophones are a bit creepy aren't they? Not as good as telephones.
This is a song by Lady GaGa featuring Beyoncé. It's really great. This is it:
Reasons it's great:
1). It's was originally written for Britney who didn't want it and was then offered the guest spot on it but then decided she'd quite like it on her own forthcoming Greatest Hits package and GaGa said "No, I'm going to get Beyoncé on it instead".
2). It's got three choruses, Beyoncé's rap bit is brilliant and the whole thing thunders along at a rate of knots.
3). As we said above, telephones are great.
Alicia Keys has a new single out. It's shit. This is it:
Reasons it's bad:
1). The sentiment is basically "I've got so much money and wealth and luxury goods but if I haven't got a boyfriend then it's all meaningless". Boo-hoo, Alicia. If only you hadn't brought the third plasma screen in your bathroom, he might have stayed. Also, being rich and lonely is better than being poor and lonely so please move on.
2). It sounds a lot like her last top 10 single, 'No One', so is quite cynically a rip off of a previous hit
3). It's just really dull, isn't it?
This is Alicia Keys' next single. It's much better. This is it:
Reasons it's good:
1). It's all about being broken-hearted - like the shit song - but makes that sound interesting and fresh, and not the subject of millions and millions of other songs
2). She sounds genuinely engaged with the song and not like she's recorded it on the loo like the last one.
3). It's better than the first single.
Lady GaGa is like marmite. That's what people say, right? That you either love her or hate her? Well, we're allergic to marmite, so that makes no sense. We don't break out into a rash when 'Just Dance' comes on, or slowly start to choke when the 'Paparazzi' video starts. By strutting around in her pants for the cameras and seemingly being EVERYWHERE she's become the pop star that everyone's heard of and got an opinion on. This is a good thing, given that these kind of worldwide megastars are increasingly rare and who wants a pop star that is, you know, down to earth and just, like, really nice and just feels blessed to be doing what they're doing, etc.
Anywho, she'll be releasing a new(ish) album in November called The Fame Monster. This is one of the amazing covers, taken by fashion photographer Hedi Slimane:
The album features 8 new tracks (including a duet with Beyoncé) as well as the original Fame album that everyone who wants it probably has already. Still, it's better than just chucking on some remixes and a DVD with three videos on it. This is the first single, 'Bad Romance', which has a video that is, frankly, barmy. Watch it until the end to get the full impact:
This is a new song from Hot Chip that you probably read about yesterday. So, why didn't we do this blog post yesterday we hear all 10 of you cry? Were we off at a swanky party? Did we get VIP tickets to an amazing gig? Were we injecting heroin with one of JLS? No, we just couldn't connect to the internet last night due to BT's incompetence...sometimes life is that prosaic.
It's rather good, isn't it? It starts off a bit Hot Chip by numbers, but then blossoms into a really lovely chorus that makes us want to sway a bit. Nice organ sounds too. 'Take It In' may or may not be the first single from the band's new album, One Life Stand, which is out in February.
What an unmitigated disaster last week was. For a start, the Marina single is actually out on the 16 November (yeah, thanks nme.com!) and the much-touted and intermittently amazing Julian Casablancas album only went and missed the top 40 altogether. Just goes to show that oodles of 'proper' music press coverage (Musick included, naturellement) and a killer first single means diddly squat when your fanbase are only interested in the next album by the band you're meant to be fronting. The Nirvana reissue didn't shift many units either, but there was also a live album out at the same time and that managed to sell quite well, so we're claiming a small victory. Hurrah! This week's a bit of a struggle to be honest...
Harvest Festival by Joe Goddard
Joe Goddard is the bearded one from Hot Chip. Not the singer, but the one who sometimes wears those retina-destroying woolly jumpers and worked on some of the early (and best) stuff by Little Boots. Harvest Festival is a diverting, kind of enjoyable slice of warm electronica that isn't exactly light years away from his day job, but does miss the pop sensibilities of their best bits. So, when we say 'buy this' we kind of mean 'buy this if you've got some vouchers left over or your Gran has found a fiver down the back of the sofa and given it to you thinking it was a tissue'.
DOWNLOAD THE CLUB BANGERS FROM THIS
In Love & War by Amerie
For those not on top of who's who in the great post-Beyoncé feisty female R&B challenge that took place about five years ago, Amerie is the woman that made this piece of perfection. She then went on to release some more songs but everyone just wanted to listen to '1 Thing' so nothing much ever happened career-wise. This is her fourth album and though it's not exactly trying new things, it does feature some pretty special moments, not least the first single, 'Heard 'Em All'. Again, you might not want to actually buy this. Oh, we don't know, just do what you want.
'Laura' by Girls
Girls are that band with scraggly hair and the backstory that everyone from Pitchfork to, well, other similarly minded music websites are calling 'the greatest thing of 2009'. This is the second single from their new album, Album, and it's a rather lovely concoction, all jangly guitar and little boy lost lyrics. The singer sounds like Elvis Costello, but looks like one of Hanson had they turned to crystal meth after 'Mmmbop'.
We've always had a slight issue with Beyoncé. Not because we don't like her, it's just that we want the best from her. If pop is a school - with Peter Andre cleaning the loos - then Beyoncé is the head girl, the one with all the ability, the one that everyone loves to hate and aims to be like. It's always been a slight disappointment to us that she's never previously been able to match the peak of 'Crazy In Love', her first solo single proper, and everything since then has been left lying limp in its wake. 'Deja Vu' was mildly diverting at first, 'Irreplaceable' is alright, 'Naughty Girl' has some appeal, but it wasn't until 'Single Ladies' and then 'Sweet Dreams' that we thought, "yes, Beyonce, this is you living up to your promise, well done. Now, where's your Geography homework?".
One thing that no-one can deny is that on stage Beyoncé is just about the most exciting thing to watch since, well, Michael Jackson. That is some accolade coming from us, believe it. You want truck loads of energy? Check. You want a sassiness that borders arrogance but keeps it in check? Er, check. You want a voice that sounds like honey, mixed with butter and a shot of vodka? What!? Check. Award shows just aren't the same without Beyoncé strolling in, shedding some clothes (she's not compromising her Christianity though) and putting on a show that makes Lady GaGa look like Stacey Solomon.
This is enough proof surely?
That look at the end that says, "yeah, you knows it. Can't no-one mess with the Beyoncé". We imagine she does refer to herself in the third person too: "Jay-Z, can you please get Beyoncé a biscuit? Yes, a wagon wheel would be fine for Beyoncé".
Lightspeed Champion is back, back, back! You've been waiting for this, right? In all honesty, we really like his debut, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge, so this is actually pretty exciting. Not exciting, actually, more mildly diverting...
This is some of PR bumf:
Lightspeed’s early leaning towards American country dressings is traded here for a palette that draws on classical music and even musical theatre. Producer and mixer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley) assembles the eclectic grab-bag of influences: joltingly ‘70s guitar and synth sounds, classical piano, Greek choruses shouting reprisals, and at least one ukelele-driven moment.
(The album is called Life is Sweet! Nice To Meet You, by the way).
This is the tracklisting:
1. Dead Head Blues
3. There’s Nothing Underwater
5. Faculty Of Fears
6. The Big Guns Of Highsmith
8. I Don’t Want To Wake Up Alone
9. Madame Van Damme
10. Smooth Day (At The Library)
11. Intermission 2
13. Etude Op. 3 'Goodnight Michalek'
14. Middle Of The Dark
15. A Bridge and a Goodbye
This is a teaser for the video for the first single, 'Marlene':
The album is out on the 1st February 2010.
nme.com eat your heart out!
Róisín Murphy's last album, Overpowered, was something of a lost pop classic. Mixing warm electronica with pop hooks Kylie would claw Dannii's eyes out for, it seemed destined to catapult Murphy back to the upper reaches of the charts after her time with Moloko. Of course, this didn't happen and despite releasing nearly half a dozen singles, Murphy was dropped by her label and forced to watch as Little Boots et al came along to fill the gap marked 'intelligent electro pop starlet'.
Murphy is currently focusing on her new creation (she's 9 months pregnant), but has found the time to announce the release of a taster single, entitled 'Orally Fixated'. And what an odd concoction it is. Over stuttering synths and cheap beats, Murphy intones "Eat me/ Drink me" before something resembling a song begins to take shape. This then merges into something Madonna would have rejected circa 1986, before a guitar solo comes crashing in to up the what-the-fuck ante.
Something tells us she's signed with an indie label now.
Yeasayer are a bunch of guys who make music with instruments and their mouths. They have released an album, which collects together some of these recordings and now they're about to release another one. In order to generate some excitement surrounding this release, the band have decided to pick one song from the bunch and let you, the public, download it for free. Their hope is that once you've heard the song you will think, "that was jolly nice, I might purchase the album once it's released".
It helps that 'Ambling Alp' is proper bangin' all up in our collective grills. Ecouté:
You hear some Animal Collective in there? We do too. But it's a genuine leap forward for a band who previously seemed intent on tying themselves in knots in order to hide a catchy melody. We particularly enjoyed the last 30 seconds, where it sounds like someone's having a spasm on the keyboard.
The album, Odd Blood, is out in February 2010.
A little while ago we mentioned that Charlotte Gainsbourg had been working with Scientoligist-it's-ok-to-like, Beck, on her new album IRM. We also posted the title track, which was released as a free download a few weeks back. Now, the first single proper, 'Heaven Can Wait', has emerged and it's a lovely, plinky plonky strumalong, with Beck and Gainsbourg sharing vocals over a Beatles-esque melody and some rather lovely brass.
Please note, smoking isn't cool unless your French. Fin.
New Rihanna songs are like black-hued buses these days. You wait - well you don't actually have to wait that long the rate she releases material - for one and two come along at once. No sooner has lead single 'Russian Roulette' been premiered, then the second single, 'Wait Your Turn (The Wait Is Ova)' leaks.
Anyone still hankering for the Rihanna of old - all baggy jeans and the desire to hear a song played louder - should probably learn to deal with the new look Rihanna pretty quickly (that's a picture of the new album cover below). Gone is the softness and girl-next-door prettiness and in comes the razor-sharp haircut, jagged make-up and lots and lots of black. This track is another moody, mid-paced stomper, but has a certain edginess that 'Russian Roulette' lacks.
You get the feeling she could do a song entitled 'I love Salt & Vinegar crisps' and she'd still be asked if it was about Chris Brown. "Yes, you say it's about crisps, but why salt and vinegar? Isn't Chris Brown allergic to vinegar? Are you acting out some kind of revenge attack? It's all incredibly subtle". Possibly.
Mmm, so we're going through a bit of a barren spell. Not only did the amazing 'Islands' by The xx not dent that charts, but the band have had to cancel a number of shows due to exhaustion. So, they're putting in all this work, schlepping about the planet to play their music in tiny clubs and what do you do to thank them? You conspire to dump them in the black hole that is 'not inside the top 40'. As for the others, Devendra missed out altogether as did Hudson Mohawke, who should console himself with the fact that he's not Mr Hudson, who a friend of Musick had him confused with. Every cloud...
Phrazes For The Young by Julian Casablancas
What a very odd record. Taking in everything from '80s synth-pop to country melancholia, Phrazes For The Young finds Casablancas at a bit of a crossroads. With The Strokes on hiatus (although a new album is in the works), the guy that writes all their songs has decided to take eight new compositions and bolt on some new instrumentation, mess around with song length (nearly all of them are over five minutes) and generally try and confuse us. THIS IS A GOOD THING. Single 11th Dimension is the obvious highlight, but the giddy rush of River of Brakelights and the closing Tourist - complete with horn blasts - run it close.
DON'T PLAY GUITAR HERO, JUST LISTEN TO THIS
Bleach (Deluxe Edition) by Nirvana
Back in 1989, before 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', and before 'grunge' became the new fashion, Nirvana's Bleach was just another album on Sub Pop's roster. Slowly, it sold 30,000 copies, enough to warrant a follow-up, and the rest is history. Twenty years later (twenty years!?) Sub Pop are releasing this deluxe version, complete with rare live recordings and new artwork. The original album is a template for what Nirvana were about to become, featuring caustic shards of rage and frustration mixed with melodic moments such as the sublime 'About A Girl'.
'Mowgli's Road' by Marina & The Diamonds
EDIT: This isn't out until 16 November...we can only apologise. Not to pass the buck, but it was all NME's fault.
Cuckoo! When exam results are released there are usually headlines screaming things like, "Boys results decline as girls catch them up" or some such. The implication being that girls are only doing better because boys are doing worse. This trend seems to be moving to music, where certain parts of the media seem to be under the impression that the recent glut of talented female singers is only happening because the boys have either been off chasing spaceships (Robbie) or venturing into films (Justin). What's really happening is that these women are just making better music at the moment, and 'Mowgli's Road' - all jaunty piano and skyscraping chorus - is leagues above anything made by someone with a penis this week.
We mean this:
And yet, we also mean this:
Exhibit A is so appalling it makes us want to just give up on music, on writing, on using our eyes to look at things. We're fairly sure it's incredibly symbolic of Joss Stone's current argument with her label, who refused to release the album (oh, for why?) earlier this year. Is she making a grand comment about feeling trapped? Is she saying she feels like just another product, another paint-by-numbers model waiting for someone else to make her feel complete? It's all terribly complicated. It's also very poorly finished, crudely designed and actually a little bit disturbing in a Boxing Helena kind of way.
Exhibit B not only misses the boat on covers of Candi Staton songs by about a year, it's also incredibly dull. As in, it's almost miraculous how someone can turn a song like 'You Got The Love' (or 'You've Got The Love, depending on who you trust) into something as flat and lifeless as this. If this was playing softly in the background in our nearest Starbucks we would burn it to the ground.