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Top 10 of the Top 40 in 2009

Despite the last two tracks ultimately being space filler I could take or leave with little to no qualms, #s 1-8 are definitely the pinnacle of Top 40 beauty in 2009. And to me, that's a hell of a lot of great songs for a classification of music known to corrode souls and devolve brain usage. So color me excited that upon this new year of 2010, the resident "hip hop" station in town decided to switch its format to, you guessed it, Top 40. Now I will have charts from two radio sites to analyze and help determine my monthly Top 40 Spectrum! Huzzah! Let's see how this past year in pop clocked in first...

10. "My Life Would Suck Without You" by Kelly Clarkson
Slinky metallic but adorably friendly guitar riff a la the more unforgettable "Since U Been Gone"? Check. Anthemic rip-roaring chorus with a bit of wry humor and unapologetic directness thrown in for good measure a la the almighty predecessor "Since U Been Gone"? Double check. Using the word "suck", a killer toy/plastic-sounding drum fill, and a richer bed of whirring keys, making the track just a tad distinctive from her indie-friendly hit-to-end-all-hits "Since U Been Gone"? Yup, good work Clarkson, you almost got labeled with a big fat "retread" tag!

9. "You Found Me" by The Fray
I don't know about you, but songs that start off with a dude pretending his voice is slurry and talking about how they found God usually aren't my cup of tea. But you add in the only (and I'd like to emphasize *only* here) guitar lick that is both technically proficient and creatively catchy, I'll just about swallow whatever lyrics and whatever absurd vocal tic any band with a Rob Thomas fetish wants me to. And thus I have done here, advocating for you to listen to The Fray, or any band of their ilk, for what is surely to be the first and last time in my life.

8. "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga
It was a long time coming. Eventually she had to release a genuinely good single. I mean, c'mon, the foot-in-the-door mediocrity of "Just Dance" and outlandish freak swagger of "Poker Face" were two ends of the spectrum Gaga was clearly not comfortable representing. Her true calling is indeed the mediocre freak art of "Bad Romance", where she is allowed to get just a tinge dark and strange in the way of visuals rather than in the way of sex act innuendo. It's been done before, but never in such a wide arena, which is commendable enough, to say nothing of the fact that this song is an earworm of epic proportions, showing us that once and for all, Gaga is here to stay.

7. "Replay" by Iyaz
It goes down like an effing lukewarm smoothie. At least Sean Kingston uses fire and suicide metaphors for crying out loud! What do we have here? A song about a metaphorical iPod? Ho-lee crap. Ooh what I did just notice though is that when he says "a girl that could write you a symphony" there's a little synth-string fill. That's cute. Ah! See what I mean? No matter how much you try to knock this song down, it just resuscitates itself with a big dumb smirk on its face, catching you when you're most vulnerable, making you think about a nice rollerskating break on the beaches of Aruba when the sad truth is you're wearing wool socks and you still can't get warm enough because it's freaking two degrees outside. Haha I love the way he sings "shawty" in the chorus! Ack! Damn you and your incorrigible cuteness, Iyaz!!

6. "Knock You Down" by Keri Hilson
It's too bad that in future years, so many will look back and praise Rihanna for supposedly perfecting the female hip hop pop star sound of the late 00s (yes, that sounds ridiculous to me as well) when Keri Hilson does the same shtick with ten times the expression and range Rihanna could ever hope to achieve. The problem is not only did this song kind of whimper out after its initial phase of overplay, but Kanye and Ne-Yo steal the show so much during the verses that Hilson's smooth yet piercingly emotional chorus rides shotgun to their silly wordplay ("pimp ship" being one of the high/low points of this rollercoaster of a song). And that hi-hat skitter! Finally someone has used that overused that beat with sparse success!

5. "Mad" by Ne-Yo
Speaking of Ne-Yo, is this guy not the megastar Chris Brown is simply because he's even more innocuous and doesn't use AutoTune? Because this dude can sing. Yes, the "whoa-uh-ohhhh" groanings at the beginning with the synthetic piano plodding are definitely not harbingers of a standout pop song, but as soon as dude starts into the verse, this track takes off like a slow-motion rocketship of emotion. And while it's all as cheesy as that last statement, Ne-Yo and what I believe is himself backing up his own vox thread together to create a tapestry of silky R&B that's unrepentantly fueled by love, confusion, and sorrow. It makes me long for the days of D'Angelo and Seal in a way that no other pop star does today.

4. "Tik Tok" by Kesha
Where did this come from at the last minute, 2009? Did you do it just to grab us by genitals as we left out the door to see our families for the holidays? Huh? Is that the kind of relationship you think this is, Top 40? One where you can just drop a hella bomb of a brash swaggering WTF in my face as I'm wrapping up my reflection on the year, thinking that there was no unclassifiable single mixing together scenester crabcore ethic, amusingly bitchy chanteuse exterior, and completely empty and devoid of meaning interior? How about a song that means absolutely nothing but makes you bump and flex those dance muscles like there truly is no meaning life to get us ready for another decade of living life in existential dread? Yeah, that sounds good, thx!

3. "Day 'N' Nite" by Kid Cudi
What a slacker this guy is. It sounds like he's literally falling asleep while he mumbling out these rhymes, or he's just waking up and sputtering 'em out in exchange for a first sip of coffee. And that's exactly what makes it so hypnotic! His dreamy aesthetic is precisely what Top 40 has needed, which is ironic since usually what music needs is an energy booster to encourage the music that there is something to celebrate, not a muscle relaxant that inspires everyone to just chill out for a quick second. But that's what Top 40's has come to. It used to be boring and now it's just too flashy and all up in our grills. Unfortunately it's impossible for Cudi to completely floor everyone his first time out with this subtle shift in hip hop, but maybe overtime the Kanye protege will shake some butts off of the dancefloor and into a pair of Boses.

2. "Good Girls Go Bad" by Cobra Starship
Emo has officially died, my friends. Sure, so many have prematurely pronounced it deceased for years now, but the truth is, it was just struggling for air until now. And it's delightfully fitting, actually, that emo died not in a glorious fury of flames and slit wrists, but in a cavalcade of glitz and glamor, i.e. everything that's completely opposite of everything that it ever stood for (if a genre of music based around whining about girls could ever really stand for anything). And as a former emo boy extraordinaire, I am proud to officially eulogize the guitars that emoted and the lyrics that lamented lost youth. Now, we, like Gabe Saporta (formerly himself a full-fledge emo boy in the Drive-Thru Records band Midtown), must make the good girls go bad instead of letting their badness make us sad. We are through, emo, and I have traded you in for white sunglasses, neon sports cars, and a guest verse from an attractive teen soap opera star.

1. "Love Story" by Taylor Swift
There is now but one way to communicate the notion of love, and that is through song. The song "Love Story" by Taylor Swift, to be more precise. Let's leave it at that, because really, there's nothing to be said except to let the song tritely but oh so honestly speak for itself...

Romeo save me, they try to tell me how to feel /
This love is difficult, but it's real /
Don't be afraid, we'll make it out of this mess /
It's a love story, baby just say yes

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  1. Blogger DoktorPeace | 5:01 AM |  

    I listened to the Cobra Starship song for the first time over the weekend. Actually, I watched it to look at Leighton. I was expecting fun pop, but I pretty much hate it. Sounds too easy/lazy/boring, and I hate the No Doubt-ish group chant in the middle.

    Still, so pretty...

  2. Blogger DoktorPeace | 5:04 AM |  

    PS That reminds me that I kind of love the Cobra Starship "Snakes on a Plane" song. But that video has more sideboob - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1wMyKQ6jUg

  3. Blogger qualler | 8:43 AM |  

    I must reference dude fashion blog Magnificent Bastard with regard to the lead singer from Cobra Starship's white sunglasses (spoiler alert: the dude is a toolbag!):


  4. Blogger chris | 9:00 AM |  

    Haha see cuz I hate that Snakes on a Plane song and love this. I guess we're not soul mates after all, Doktor.

    And whatevs, white sunglasses rule!

  5. Blogger DoktorPeace | 4:52 AM |  

    Sigh... I guess I'll have to find another engaged bloguleer upon whom I can turn my attentions.

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