Today I continue my ten-part series showcasing my personal picks for the best songs of last year.
70. Miley Cyrus – Party In the USA
“Seriously?” Yes, dude, seriously. You know why people hate this song? Because Miley sings it. That’s the only reason. Any other reason and you have no soul. Why? Have you listened to this song? It’s fucking awesome. Seriously. And Hannah Montana had nothing to do with its awesomeness. That crunchy bass line? That banging beat? And the melody is pop gold. I mean, it’s not like Miley had anything to do with the songwriting and production – she didn’t. She just sings. And the Auto-Tune makes her sound like sweet, sweet candy. Seriously. So stop pretending like you don’t love this song just because 14-year-old girls do, too. They’re not always wrong. Sponge Bob is still awesome.
For those of you still willing to lie and say you hate this song, and you don’t crank it when no one’s looking, nodding your head like yeah, moving your hips like yeah, let me ask you this: do you even like music? Seriously.
69. Neko Case – People Got a Lotta Nerve
She’s a man-eater, but still you’re still surprised when she eats you. The finest track from Middle Cyclone, Neko tells it like it is. Her croon matches perfectly with the new-folk sound peppered throughout. Case still has a way with words and the way to wrap them around a well-crafted production that feels one-half Old West, one-half slow New Pornographers. And if we’ve learned anything from recent happenings at Sea World, we call them “killer whales” for a reason.
68. Neon Indian – Mind, Drips
One of the trippiest songs from Psychic Chasms, Alan Palomo sends us in a different direction with a wordless chorus full of blips, beeps, and random looped samples, presumably from his father’s classic Mexican compositions. Palomo gives homage to his roots while sending us into the future. The keyboard line skips along, while the bass keeps a steady “dun-dun,” keeping the chaos in line.
67. Best Coast – When I’m With You
The San Fran lo-fi sound has blown up in a big way, but Best Coast remain the driving force, mainly because of pop like this. There’s no getting around it; if this didn’t sound like it was churned out in one take in a bathroom, high school girls would be singing it in their Mustangs. They would burn it on a CD alongside the newest hit from Kelly Clarkson and “Bubbly” from Colbie Caillat. It’s a great little track about that one guy who we just know will make us forget about life, all day and hopefully all night. After all, we all hate sleeping alone.
66. Cold Cave – Life Magazine
Imagine Joy Division behind a banging club beat and a distorted keyboard line so infectious it feels more like Duran Duran, and you’ve got this heavily-echoed dance track from the Xiu Xiu side dish Cold Cave. While their live show is a bit too apathetic and emo for my tastes, the music that they nonchalantly pound out from behind all those wires and knobs is pretty undeniably boss. This track is so good it was on a Radio Shack commercial! Crank it!
65. Micachu – Calculator
Micachu is a fascinating character, producing quirky pop on her self-made instruments alongside her bandmates in the Shapes. “Calculator” is a great introduction to the group, showcasing their unique instrumentation, their knack for well-crafted indie pop, and Micachu’s unusual lyrical themes. I’ll give you one guess what this song is about (hint: look at the title).
64. Drake – Best I Ever Had
Every couple had this conversation post-sex in the summer of 2009. It was a huge hit, and it’s the only good thing Drake has put out to date. Drake’s got flow and beats, but it’s the refrain that makes this song really work. You can’t sing along to a Drake song like you can to “Best I Ever Had.” Not to mention Drake is delivering more sensual one-liners than Teddy Pendergrass on a good day. Like most rappers, he’s more to the point than romantic (“she call me the referee ’cause I be so official/My shirt ain’t got no stripes, but I can make that pussy whistle”), but overall, it’s a banger that doubles as a dedication. To that special somebody, y’all.
63. The Smith Westerns – Be My Girl
These guys look like they’re fifteen, but on “Be My Girl,” they plead like a lazy barbershop quartet from the 60′s. The music they deliver is distorted and just as nonchalant as they sound, a slow waltz caked in noise and lo-fi sounds, perfect for a lazy day on the beach on weed. For something so slow, they still make it loud and fun.
62. Washed Out – New Theory
On Life Of Leisure, Ernest Greene perfected his trait of giving strong pop a laid-back electro feel. Life of leisure, indeed; Greene and his project Washed Out are at the forefront of the chillwave movement, and the sing-along chants that provide the backbone to “New Theory” are an upbeat introductory course to not only the new sub-genre, but one of the kings of it, as well.
61. The Very Best – Julia
No, it’s not a Beatles cover. Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit continue their not-so-hostile takeover of the craze MIA brought to the States. Like peers Major Lazer, the Very Best combine the native with the modern, creating a blueprint for the future of electro, hip-hop, African music, and, yes, even mainstream pop. If Esau was speaking English, “Julia” might have a chance to make a stab at Top 40 radio.