220px-the_house_that_dirt_builtThe Heavy – “Sixteen” – (2009)

The Heavy is a British indie rock band that had one smash hit, but this follow up single didn’t get as much love. But it should – it has a very old feel and fit in really well with other songs that came out about this time (see: horns). It’s worth a listen.

John Mayer feat. Taylor Swift – “Half of My Heart” – (2009)

Well 2009 is officially over five years ago, so I can feature songs from that year. And this duet between John Mayer and Taylor Swift gained significant radio popularity in the first half of 2010. It peaked at #25 on the Hot 100 and its best performance was on the Adult Top 40 chart, where it reached #2. This is the kind of song the Adult Contemporary crowd loves.

Wilco – “You Never Know” – (2009)

I’m not even a fan of Wilco, but for some reason I have four or five of their songs. Wilco fans tend to be of the die-hard variety and I am definitely not among them. I scanned through this album when it came out and grabbed two songs off of it because I thought they were okay – my picks of the album, so to speak. This song isn’t as “weird” or “indie” or whatever you like to call it as many of their immediately-previous tunes. “Accessible” is a word I’ve seen used to describe this album – and it’s definitely apt for this song: it’s easy to get into.

#34 – David Gray – “Fugitive” – (2009)

This song comes from right neat the end of our eligible period for this list. But I’m glad it made it because it’s an amazing song and my favorite David Gray tune. It wasn’t a major radio splash, but there were stations where it received a fair amount of airplay (and where I live, that’s saying something). I loved this song when it came out and listened to it constantly… while writing this, it marks the first time I’ve heard it in a little while, and I think I’ll start listening to it all the time again now. It’s so good.

#85 – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – “The Golden Age” – (2009)

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour is a Danish pop band and this is the song that put them on the map. It was featured in a Heineken commercial (which doubles as the music video – Heineken has used some pretty awesome music in their ad campaigns over the past five years or so). The song is from their debut album and is a combination of styles that gives it a cool vibe – especially with the accented vocals from lead singer Mette Lindberg. Oh, also: there’s a horn section! It’s just one of those original songs that picked up a sizeable amount of fame during the decade.

#102 – Norah Jones – “Chasing Pirates” – (2009)

The lovely Norah Jones is one of the best artists to come out of the 2000s. She was nominated for a Grammy for this song and didn’t win – the first time that had happened in three nominations. Tell me the vocals on this song aren’t incredible (she lost to Lady Gaga at the Grammys, which is a crime). The jazzy feel coupled with the beating drum gives this song a really cool vibe that you usually don’t find in a song that crosses genres such as pop and jazz. The song wasn’t a huge hit – a top ten in two countries and top 50 in many others. The U.S., of course, while being obsesses with Lady Gaga, really wouldn’t know good music if it ran them over. This song didn’t chart here. Another crime.

Well I’m wasting no time in starting our next countdown: the Top 100 Songs of the Noughties. The 100 greatest songs released between 2000 and 2009. I chose to call it “the noughties” because that is my favorite name for the decade and the “00s” looks dumb and isn’t as fun to say. Now, in previous countdowns I’ve instituted rules such as “one song per artist.” That’s not the case this time around. And I know the theme of this blog is “re-discover songs from your past” and 2009 wasn’t all that long ago. But the entire decade has ended (were in the 4th year of the next decade, if I may scare you a little). Enough time has passed to sort through the music and find what I thought was the best – and that’s just it. It’s my opinion. You probably won’t agree, but at least you’ll get an insight into my warped mind. But seriously, I will try and make an argument as to why each song is here.

Also, you may notice a slight favoring of songs from the year 2000 and early 2001. This is because I love the 1990s and the 1990s didn’t end until 9/11. Think about it. They didn’t. At least not musically (okay, 2001 was pretty different from 2000, which was just an extension of 1999). There is also a favoring of later in the decade with the middle part getting skimmed over. Because it sucked. Almost all of these songs got regular radio airplay on pop music stations (with very few, and worthy, exceptions). The two songs I feature this week were “leftovers” – songs I don’t remember hearing on the radio that I personally discovered after the decade had ended. Here we go…

Nicola Fasano vs. Pat Rich – “76, Ocean Drive (Apache Vocal Mix)” – (2009)

Nicola Fasano is best known for the song he remixed that Pitbull turned into an international hit. Pat Rich is an Italian DJ who teamed with Fasano to produce this irresistibly catchy house track that has a great Ibiza/tropical feel.

Julian Marley – “Rosehall” – (2009)

Awake was Julian Marley’s 2009 Grammy-nominated album. It’s only the third album he released since his debut in 1996. He, of course, is the son of Bob Marley. This song is a decent reggae song with a very good beat. And yes, there will be other Marley’s on this list.

Akcent – “That’s My Name” – (2009)

Here’s something you probably haven’t heard. Hell, here’s a genre you probably haven’t heard – Romanian dance-pop. Akcent is a group of three guys from Bucharest, Romania who have been performing Romania’s signature electro-pop sound since 1999. It has that accordion-gypsy feel to it. Sure, it’s otherwise just bubble-gum pop music with crap lyrics. But the feel of the music is what it’s all about – closing your eyes and hearing those Mediterranean sounds that put you in a very European mood. It’s one of my favorite things and the reason I listen to music like this.

Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado & SoShy – “Morning After Dark” – (2009)

Everything Timbaland touched in 2007 was golden. He ruled the year. His first hit that year featured Nelly Furtado and so did this, the first single from the follow-up album, released in 2009. It was not as strong as anything from 2007. Timbaland was responsible for Nelly Furtado’s transformation from quirky to, well, hot. And she’s the best part of this song. Timbaland is singing very strangely and it makes the song feel like a joke – not like it’s terrible, but like he’s trying to make it funny or something. The response from fans was hit or miss, with the song charting at very different positions all over the world. It wasn’t a great follow-up, but he’s got a new album due out this summer, so we’ll see if he can bounce back.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Songs from Lonely Avenue – (2009)

Brian Setzer is a brilliant musician and, somehow, this is his first album made up of entirely original material. He usually stuffs his albums with covers – er, his own take on songs from rockabilly to pop classics. But he has done something wonderful here by writing all his own songs. Listen to this album from start to finish and it will play like a movie. I’ve never listened to anything and thought I was watching a movie with my eyes closed. It’s the perfect score to something from the beautiful genre of film noir. “Lonely Avenue” is one of the best tracks on the album and it sets the mood perfectly. There are plenty of upbeat numbers as well, including the back-to-back “Mr. Jazzer Goes Surfin’” and “Mr. Surfer Goes Jazzin’.” I’ve been meaning to feature this album on the site here since it came out (three years ago!). Well, I finally got around to it.

Flo Rida feat. Wynter Gordon – “Sugar” – (2009)

Flo Rida kind of looks like a cartoon character. A little bit? I think it’s the very exact facial hair. The dude can rap though. This was a top five hit in the U.S. and it very poorly “samples” Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” – which is an awesome 90s song. I don’t like that it’s using Eiffel 65 – but this is one of the best songs on the album. Paradox. Flo Rida has actually had some pretty huge songs with very impressive beats and lyrics… but this one was kind of cheating.

Chantal Chamberland – “La Mer” – (2009)

We’ll finish this week off with a little more French music. Chantal Chamberland is a talented jazz singer from Canada and “La Mer” is a classic French song written in 1943. If it sounds familiar (minus the lyrics), it’s because Bobby Darin used the music, quite successfully, in his song “Beyond the Sea.” The songs are not translated versions of each other – they’re two different songs, lyrically, with the same music. Chamberland’s version of “La Mer” is about as good as they come.

Lady Gaga – “Alejandro” – (2009)

I know, I know, “Two Lady Gaga songs in a row? Really?” Yeah, this is it, I promise. “Alejandro” was released as a single in late May of 2010. Where I live, songs make the radio about 3 months after they do everywhere else, so I never got to hear this before I left the continent. I remember seeing the video on DeeJay TV in Venice and thought it was catchy. So now, whenever I hear it, I think of sitting in a restaurant at about midnight in Venice. The owner was nice enough to still be open for a handful of Americans who were strolling around in the mind-boggling heat and humidity after 11:30 at night looking for dinner. It was the follow-up single to “Bad Romance” and it is better than that song. “Ale-Ale-Alejandro…”

Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance” – (2009)

This song had been out for quite some time by the time I was looking at heading home from Europe. Whenever I think of this song I think of one person I was with and she would sing the “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah” part of this song (the catchy part). The song isn’t anything special. It’s definitely better than Lady Gaga’s first two big singles but they’ve gotten better since.

Edward Maya feat. Vika Jigulina – “Stereo Love” – (2009)

Well there’s a reason this song has over 126 million views on YouTube. It is the longest charting song in the European Hot 100’s history (46 weeks), with 17 of those at #1. The song first appeared in 2009 and rocked the spring and summer of 2010. It didn’t peak in the United States until 2011. Edward Maya is Romanian, and the rumor you hear whispered in Europe is that Romania has the best dance clubs. With guys like Maya out there, I believe it. This song was absolutely huge. The video was shot in Greece, which isn’t in Spain, but the Mediterranean coast is pretty amazing regardless of where you’re viewing it. I can think of few better “summer songs” than this. It’s awesome.

K’naan – “Wavin’ Flag” – (2009)

K’naan is a Somali-born Canadian rapper. How many Somalian singers do you know? Anyway, “Wavin’ Flag” was one of the official songs for the 2010 World Cup. Actually, I believe that “Waka Waka” was the official official song. This was Coca-Cola’s official promotional song. Anyway, it reeks of soccer, football, futbol or whatever you wanna call it. It also is very international sounding – and just about every country had their own remix of the song. So what does this have to do with Spain? I was in Spain the day before they won the 2010 World Cup. It was about to get crazy. I was rooting for Holland.

Domino Dancing – “You Are My Sunshine” – (2009)

I really don’t know anything about Domino Dancing. Not where they’re from, who they are. Nada. I do know a few things: 1. I heard this song everywhere last summer (mostly at outdoor music festivals in France). 2. It is very misleading. Yes, I heard it everywhere, but not the full song. The first two minutes of this song consists of somebody singing “You are my sunshine” to a decent beat. This turns most people off to it. Then, at the two minute mark it goes insane. This was the part I heard in Europe – the part without lyrics. So I had no idea what it was. When I got back to North America I searched and searched. It took over four months but I finally found it and I’m so glad I did because it’s pretty awesome.

La Roux – “Bulletproof” – (2009)

If you ignore that haircut you just might be able to enjoy this song. It’s sooo catchy but I hated it at first – because I saw the music video, which more or less horrified me (you’ll notice I did not include the music video below… mostly because Polydor won’t let me). But I grew to love it. It was a Top 10 in the U.S. and a #1 in the U.K. – and rightfully so. There is something decidedly English about this song. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s “electropop” and electropop isn’t something that U.S. really embraces anymore (not since the 80s anyway). Listening to it, even her voice has a very synthetic quality about it (probably because it was run through an auto-tuner) but the way she says “bulletproof” can really hook you in. Love it.

Muse – “Uprising” – (2009)

So I figured since Muse was the other “big band” in France last summer that I’d include it in the France portion instead of leaving it for England (which filled up quickly). “Uprising” is one of those badass rock songs that transcends radio pigeonholing. Yeah, it was a smash on rock radio but it made its way over to the pop stations too. The fact that it appeared in promos for every TV show known to man as well as a few movies… or so it seemed… certainly didn’t hurt. This song really was everywhere. It rivals “Supermassive Black Hole” as my favorite Muse song.

Phoenix – “1901” – (2009)

My first day in Nantes I had lunch with some locals and I inquired about what bands were currently popular in France and was quickly told in wonderfully accented English that Phoenix and Muse ruled the stage. Phoenix is actually a French band from Versailles, while Muse is British. “1901” has appeared in several television commercials and is listed among the best songs of 2009. It is the bands biggest international single to date.