Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published January 7th 2019
2009 - a year of musical greatness
Well, that didn't take long! In a recent column on the songs of 2016 I finished by asking if there were any years you wanted to see done. Well, bless my cotton socks, if I didn't get two emails within a day, both asking for the same thing: 2009, a decade ago. Yes, 10 years!! Anyway, I had the distinct impression they thought I'd struggle even more than 2016 to find anything decent from that year…
Now, in 2009 I was a teacher of 11 to 13 year olds, and I did not believe in a quiet classroom. Music was a constant, and so I was subjected to a LOT of modern pop music. Wow, so much modern pop music… I was ready to throw in the towel even before ploughing through my record collection and trawling online. Add to that it was the year of TV singing contest winners (Susan Boyle, anybody?) and things looked rather dire.
And 2009 saw a sad loss to the musical world. Michael Jackson died on June 25th. Thriller is still the biggest selling studio album (as opposed to greatest hits or live album) of all time, and it certainly is a brilliant piece of pop.
Michael Jackson in 1988
Still, musically, all was good. 2009's pop output might have been scant, but the rock was awesome… and the popular classical was fantastic.
To say this is going to be an eclectic list is probably understating it somewhat…
As usual, the honourable mentions list to start: '21 Guns' (Green Day); 'Caligulove' (Them Crooked Vultures); 'Can't Buy A Thrill' (UFO); 'Carmina Burana' (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) (actually a version of 'O Fortuna')' 'Drumming Song' (Florence the Machine); 'God Only Knows' (Orianthi); 'Here We Are Again' (Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers); 'Hey Soul Sister' (Train); 'How I Met Your Mother' (The Friday Night Boys); 'It's Not You' (Halestorm); 'Modern Day Delilah' (Kiss); 'Outer Space' (Kram); 'Someday' (Rob Thomas); 'Still Unbroken' (Lynyrd Skynyrd); 'Stranger In Town' (UFO); 'The Ballad of John Henry' (Joe Bonamassa); 'Toccata / Carpimus Noctem' (Trans-Siberian Orchestra); 'Turnin' Left' (Chickenfoot). Yep, not a bad way to start this year off, I reckon!
Now, as I have said before (most noticeably in my 2008 list) I don't include comedy songs in my lists. However, in 2009 there was a very definite comedy song of the year:
'Ringtone' by 'Weird Al' Yankovic
I first heard this track at the concert I went to around this time, then it was released on the download album Internet leaks and it was just as good without the audience participation or feel-good of the concert experience. And I am sure its sentiments are something many of us can relate to!
Now for something a little different: my top 3 instrumental tracks of 2009! Two of these should have appeared in my rock instrumentals column, and I have no idea how they slipped my mind. I have no-one to blame except me. Anyway, I hope this makes up for it.
'Highly Strung' by Orianthi feat. Steve Vai
Before she and Richie Sambora stunned us all with their amazing Radio Free America album, Orianthi was shredding the world with another guitar master, and this result is quite frankly incredible. How could someone so young be so damn good?! And Steve Vai is no slouch either. Of course. Just incredible, and ten years on she's showing no signs of slowing down.
'Thankyou, Mr. Ludwig' by Kram
Kram is the drummer/singer from Spiderbait, one of my favourite Australian bands of all time. Seen them live a few times, got a few of their albums, play 'Shazam' way too loudly. You know the deal. So I got a bit excited when Kram announced he was releasing a solo project, called Mixtape. I duly purchased the download and this track was the one I was drawn to. I am a sucker for good drumming and this is exceptional drumming. I can't say anything more; just listen to it and be blown away.
'Nutrocker' by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Christmas lights video
And we're back to the pop/rock/classical genre with the awesome Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This remake of the old B.Bumble and the Stingers' track is updated and enhanced and just full of greatness. It is a track that needs little else said, except that I do love me some high-energy pseudo-classical!
And now, my top ten… what? 14 songs in total? Yes. Obviously, I liked 2009. Despite the students in my class…
'Death To All But Metal' by Steel Panther
So, let's start with some heavy metal because why not? Now, this track is not to be taken seriously ("Why do my lyrics sound like Dr Seuss?") and I think that is the joy of it. I know Steel Panther are supposed to be a parody band, but some of their stuff is actually better than the bands they are parodying (see Spinal Tap for something similar). Still, a fun song.
Don't Cry Out Loud by The Ten Sopranos No video!!
It's a shame there's no video, but you can hear the track on Spotify if you are a member, or (better yet) buy the album! An Australian group of 10 sopranos (duh!) take that classical/opera feel and turn an already awesome song into something simply amazing. It is fantastic. I bought the album on the strength of another track, but this song captured me from the word go. Find it. You will not be disappointed (so long as you like a bit of opera).
'New Moon Rising' by Wolfmother
Wolfmother's self-titled debut was a great piece of throw-back rock. Then came two albums I liked, but only liked. This is off Cosmic Egg, and is so clearly the stand-out track. It's got everything we expect from Wolfmother, and that's what we, the fans, want. Rock music played at a 1970s style with an updated tempo. Nice.
'New Fang' by Them Crooked Vultures
Not a proper video
Yeah, supergroups weren't supposed to exist anymore. That was such a 1970s concept… Ha! Them Crooked Vultures came out, featuring Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin!) and the album was, frankly, awesome! Best track from it was this, with a distinct QOTSA feel, but who cares? Great, great track.
'I Gotta Feeling' by The Black Eyed Peas
I was introduced to this group by students in my class, and, I have to say, I have enjoyed a lot of their music over the years. And in 2009, this song was played to death by those same students. Despite that over-familiarity, and probably because I hadn't listened to it in a long, time, going back to it now, yes, it is a good pop song. Singable, danceable, and fun. What more do you need?
'Paradise City' by Slash featuring Fergie and Cyprus Hill
Not a proper video
Regular readers will undoubtedly note that this is the third time this track has appeared in a column: first here; more recently, here! I love it (obviously), and don't have much more to add except, it's great. Enjoy!
'The Wrestler' by Bruce Springsteen
The title track from my favourite movie of the year, The Wrestler (Rourke was robbed at the Oscars) is a sad song that befits an incredibly sad film. It is a film about a wrestler, yes, but about a man who cannot let go of the past. And the song is the same. It encapsulates the movie perfectly. Unfortunately, I saw all too much of myself in the film. Still do, for what it's worth. This song depresses me, but damn if it isn't great.
On the back of this one song I went out and bought the album Brand New Eyes It was a great album, but this track stands out head and shoulders above the rest. I love the chorus line ("Ignorance is your new best friend"), I love the musicianship, I love the tempo changes, I love the lyrics… it is an awesome song.
'Little Lion Man' by Mumford & Sons
And let's finish with my favourite song of the year – this piece of goodness. Folk music meets rock with a "don't give a damn" approach. At the time, I thought it related to me and my teenaged years; now I listen to it and the lyrics speak directly to me and the end of my marriage in 2018. Which means, I guess, it is a timeless piece of lyrical magic, and if I'm alone in the car I crank it up to 11 and scream it all out: "It was not your fault but mine…" Most definitely.
Now, quick mention: two albums were my albums of the year, and I can't separate them: Them Crooked Vultures by Them Crooked Vultures and Night Castle by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I know, odd choices, and different, but excellent choices none the less.
And there we have it – the songs of 2009. Great year! What's next? Suggestions, comments, etc. are always welcome.