TC’s top 40 albums of 2009

Say adios to the ’00s! This is TC’s top 40 albums of 2009.

Believe it or not, this is the 7th consecutive year that I’ll be counting down my favorite music. I’ve been part of this great event every single year since 2003. This time, we’ve reached the end of the decade. That’s insane.

The first 4 years, I had my old weekly countdown, The TC 10, determine the year-end statistics for me. Of course, those days are long gone, so the last couple of times I’ve done my year-end countdown, it has been a mixed bag of formats. This year, I’m gonna end the decade right by returning to the unbeatable model I chose back in 2007: my top 40 albums of the year, along with some singles as bonus material. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Who will take the crown this year? You will soon find out, right here. We’ll have a blast as we send off the ’00s. The long road to #1 starts all over again, right now. I hope you’ll come along for the ride one more time.

Singles (Winter)

LMAO, “I Miss Those Days” was actually the first song I added to iTunes with the “2009” label. Poor, poor Mixi.

This song got me stoked for The Decemberists’ new album. Turns out the album is just overlong and boring.

Remember this band? Apparently they put out some new material this year. This song was briefly addictive.

The fantastic duo that brought us “Yea Yeah” now also brought us the equally charming “Daylight” in 2009.

Gotta love the guy. I never take the time to listen to an entire Morrissey album, but the songs are always quality.

The winter feels like such a long time ago, when “Right Round” was just out and we thought Ke$ha was black.

Not sure I really approve of this countrified Michelle Branch, but at least “This Way” was a decent track.

Yes, “If U Seek Amy” got the best of me for a while. Don’t lie, you liked it for a bit too. I said stop lying to yourself!

This is a charming little acoustic song heard on an episode of the Adult Swim show, Moral Orel. It’s amazing.

You got Lykke Li, you got Santigold, you got Kanye West, and you got N.A.S.A. mixing it all together. You win!

It’s like She & Him, but the other way around. He & Her. Never listened to the whole M. Ward album.

This is a totally random band that I discovered thanks to the iTunes Store’s listing of “what’s hot” some week.

Really a dumb song by an even dumber band, but I turned it up a few times. I’m being honest and inclusive.

Their album came out eons ago, but “Untouched” hit U.S. radio in winter ’09 and I got addicted all over again.

I probably never got Shiny Toy Guns’ album because they’re one of those bands that’s best in limited doses.

The band of “Lazy Eye” fame came back in ’09 with this attempt at keeping alternative radio on life support.

Singles (Spring)

“Eat You Up” really dominated the beginning of the spring for me. Not sure why I never checked out more BoA.

Neil Young doesn’t have anything left to prove, and this fantastically blunt release from him, well, proves it.

Eminem’s big return, right? MTV world premiered this video at 6:00 in the morning. That’s where we are, folks.

The song that gave us “I’m so 3008, you’re so 2000 and late.” Fergie is a gem; the rest of BEP is dispensable.

Never got to see the tour because they cancelled the date in my city. Thanks a lot! Solid cover anyway.

The film Observe and Report was responsible for giving us this wonderful cover of the legendary Pixies track.

I got really sick of this song after hearing it every 45 minutes on the radio, but before that, I really enjoyed it.

Green Day tried to out-American Idiot themselves with 21st Century Breakdown. They tried too hard. Shame!

Want a track that sounds exactly like “So What,” just not as good? This one’s for you. Sorry, Ashley! You tried.

The guy behind The Mixtape About Nothing plus Lady Gaga and a line referencing McLovin’. That’s all you need.

I can’t tell you why Marilyn Manson is still around, but this track is a fabulously apocalyptic glam rock jam.

Jem is wonderful. She recorded a cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow” for some love songs compilation. It, too, is wonderful.

Look, I’m not even gonna try to defend it, I’m just gonna say I listened to “Goodbye” a lot in the late spring.

Miley Cyrus meets amber waves of grain. This is basically her own “No Boundaries.” Total cheese-ball of a song.

Linkin Park are way past their prime, but you know, you can’t really argue with this straightforward, listenable track.

Rancid are the best at making song after song about persevering through everything together as a band.

I never fully explored The Blueprint 3, but this is the first of three single releases from Jay-Z that I enjoyed.

Singles (Summer)

Fearless clocked in at #13 on my top 40 albums of 2008, but this track dominated summer 2009 anyway.

Similarly, I had One Of The Boys at #12 last year, but this single was everywhere during late spring and summer.

Regina Spektor returned early this summer with this beautiful song. The cover art reminds me of Coraline.

It seemed to come and go in about a week’s time, but I enjoyed this new single from Mandy Moore while it lasted.

Here we go again with the BEP, but it’s impossible to deny the addictive quality of “I Gotta Feeling” this summer.

Jordin Sparks in this song became the master of repetition. Repeat everything 3 times; it gets stuck in your head.

The venerable Weird Al returned with a trifecta of three singles, all of which hilariously great as you’d expect.

For a greatest hits compilation song, this sure was quality. I enjoyed the original mix as well as the video version.

These two singles were released before MCA’s health issues delayed their new album. Get well soon, MCA!

The collaboration of the summer. Such a powerhouse of talent behind this track, and one hell of a creepy video.

Charming little song from up-and-coming singer/songwriter Mindy Smith. I discovered her thanks to iTunes.

Muse released one of the greatest rock singles of the summer in “Uprising.” I mean, even Glenn Beck liked it!

Forget the amber waves of grain, “Party In The U.S.A.” was all about Miley’s imaginary city life. Jay-Z who?

Yet another iTunes discovery of yet another charming little song by yet another wonderful singer/songwriter.

Hey young world, I’m the new Slick Rick. If you didn’t enjoy this single, you’re not being honest with yourself.

Easily one of the most addictive songs of the summer. No question, Blair Waldorf totally makes this track.

“Tik Tok” introduced the world to this promising new talent fun as all hell, in your face, badass party-starter.

Singles (Fall)

Couldn’t have had a better single. It’s right up there with “Before He Cheats” as one of my favorite Carrie songs.

I didn’t really get on board the Crash Love bandwagon, but this AFI single was memorable nonetheless.

I can kinda appreciate that Rivers and Weezer are doing whatever the hell they want at this point. May as well!

Not really heard outside the gamer/WoW circles, but if you like Felicia Day, it’s one hell of a guilty pleasure.

Not exactly a huge return to fame for Natalie Imbruglia, but still a pretty different electro-Euro-ish single for her.

Given my inexplicable emotional attachment to the city of New York, you can bet I really enjoyed this one.

The singles just kept coming from BeyoncĂ© this year, and “Sweet Dreams” was by far the best if you ask me.

One of the most infectious alternative/electronic tracks I’ve heard all year; props to Gossip for making it.

The last of Black Eyed Peas, I promise. Come on Fergie, ditch those guys and make a rock album already.

Foo Fighters finally got their Greatest Hits album this year, and “Wheels” was a great companion track.

If you’re a fan of The Postal Service, you might enjoy this blatant imitation. Did it win you over for a week, too?

I dunno what to make of this one. Leighton more-or-less talks the whole time, but it’s terribly captivating.

Flyleaf would be one of the most boring bands on the planet if they didn’t have Lacey. So, good job Lacey!

This fantastic collaboration produced one of the best videos of 2009. I can’t wait for Charlotte’s IRM in 2010.

The album as a whole could use some work, but “Friday I’ll Get Over U” is a decent first single for Allison.

Look, it’s Paramore Jr.! I swear these kids look like they’re 14, but hell if I didn’t enjoy this infectious little song.

The Strokes’ frontman recorded this wonderful cover of the hilariously great Christmas song from SNL.

Cover of the ’80s benefit track. Andrew W.K., Tegan and Sara, David Cross, many more on this true gem.

Top 40 Albums

I always like to kick off the list with a great one (last place but not least), so it should be no surprise that The Lonely Island is the perfect match for this year’s #40. Incredibad is the comedy album of the year. It’s got everything, from the SNL digital shorts like “Jizz In My Pants” and “I’m On A Boat” to some hilarious and mindblowing original tracks like “Dreamgirl” featuring Norah Jones. Never thought I’d hear Norah Jones and her beautiful voice in a song that’s “brought to you by Chex Mix.” No other comedy album in recent memory has been so consistently great. Incredibad forever!

It’s got the trippiest album cover of the year, for sure. I swear it’s not actually moving. The actual music is a trip in itself, as well. I’ve only listened to this album a couple of times as a whole, so it’s difficult to single out any individual tracks, but it’s all together a great experience. I never really got into Animal Collective before, as their past music was just too bizarre for my taste, but I think this is the album that’s finally accessible enough to appeal to the masses. The brilliant combination of electro-pop elements and indie rock hallmarks has made Merriweather an incredible critical success, and it’s not hard to understand why. Listen for yourself; you’ll be convinced. You’ll be drawn into the psychedelic sound.

Wilco has been around for some 15 years, but you can mark down 2009 as the first year I actually listened to an entire album from this band-of-all-trades. How could that be? Who knows, but I became aware of that fact as I listened to the first single, “You Never Know,” back in the spring. It was just such a pleasant, solid no-nonsense track, it inspired me to check out a full album for once. The band has cycled through elements of rock, folk, americana, and who knows how many other genres over the years, but on the brilliantly titled Wilco (The Album), it seems like it all coalesces together into a common sound that really defines, well, Wilco. If that’s not meta enough for you, just listen to “Wilco (The Song).”

If you’re not familiar with Alison Sudol, a.k.a. A Fine Frenzy, all you really need to know is that she’s a charming singer, songwriter, and pianist who makes great indie rock music with a pop bent. Sounds like a winning combination to me. Somehow, I totally slept on her 2007 debut, One Cell In The Sea, but I took note during the lead-up to the release of this year’s Bomb In A Birdcage, as the iTunes Store highlighted a song from her every week for a while. Sudol is passionate about literature, which comes through in her lyrical stylings and makes her music a joy to listen to. Her professional name, A Fine Frenzy, is itself inspired by literary work; it was taken from a line in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you want a good track to start your venture into Bomb In A Birdcage, I suggest “Electric Twist,” which is simply delightful.

Much greater than your typical Various Artists collection of covers, War Child Presents: Heroes is a truly unique take on such a compilation. The original legends themselves (people like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Ramones, U2, Blondie, Paul McCartney, and Elvis Costello, to name a few) personally requested this set of covers from today’s best artists. Among others, you’ve got Beck doing “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” Duffy doing “Live And Let Die,” Franz Ferdinand doing “Call Me,” The Like doing “You Belong To Me,” and my personal favorite, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker.” Karen O is such a perfect fit for that song. If that’s not enough, all the proceeds go toward the War Child charity, which provides aid to children in war-stricken areas of the world. Great music for a great cause!

No matter the results of American Idol, it’s clear Adam Lambert is the one contestant that truly made a name for himself and perhaps the only one we’ll remember in the years to come. His debut album, For Your Entertainment (not product placement for the fledgling record store), is about a dozen different things at once, thanks to the hasty production and revolving door of songwriters. You can almost hear Justin Hawkins, Pink, Lady Gaga, and some of these other writers being channeled through Adam Lambert’s voice. It’s uncanny in some cases. Stunningly, however, that doesn’t take away from the quality of the album at all. It’s an impressive debut given the short time Adam and crew had to throw it together. The track written by Pink, “Whataya Want From Me,” has emerged as the clear standout track for me. By the way, nobody but Adam Lambert would put out such intentionally ridiculous cover art; I love it.

If you haven’t yet heard of The Ettes, this indie-ish sorta-garage rock band from Nashville, now is the time to wake up and take notice. While their previous material has had more of a drawn-out retro sound, Do You Want Power kicks it up a notch or two with a more modern production style and a full array of short, punchy rock tracks. Lead singer and guitarist Lindsay “Coco” Hames lends a unique vocal style to the album that’s instantly memorable. The album remains solid from beginning to end; fittingly, the book-end tracks are the ones I keep going back to play the most, from the tight, powerful first track, “Red In Tooth And Claw,” to the classical-tinged ballad that ends the album, “Keep Me In Flowers.”

More than eight years on the scene and just as relevant as ever, Alicia Keys has proved she can keep putting out albums as good as any in her catalog with her latest, The Element of Freedom. This kind of feels like 2007 all over again, with another end-of-the-year album release that I haven’t had much time to digest at the time of this writing, but even on my first listen, I was instantly drawn in by Alicia’s intimate and elegant style, which gradually evolves with each of her albums and reflects her maturity as an artist. The familiar “Love Is My Disease,” the powerful and emotional “How It Feels To Fly,” and of course the now-legendary “Empire State Of Mind Part II,” rank among my favorites on the album.

Your first time listening to music by Natasha Khan, a.k.a. Bat For Lashes, will likely make you think, “OK, this is pretty chill.” But upon further listening, you’ll start to discover there is a whole world hidden inside her soft melodies and calm, cool beats. Just try to figure this out: Natasha herself describes Two Suns as “a record of modern-day fables exploring dualities; two lovers, two planets, two sides of a personality.” She describes an alter ego she sings through in numerous tracks, Pearl, as “a destructive, self-absorbed, blonde, femme fatale of a persona” who acts as the yang to the yin of Natasha’s “more mystical, desert-born spiritual self.” While our minds get collectively blown by all the subtext to be found within, all you really need to know is that Two Suns is a wonderful voyage of dreamy art pop.

We often fall into the pop-friendly habit of referring to females in music as “singers,” but make no mistake, Orianthi is an all-out musician and highly skilled guitarist who only recently started moonlighting as a singer. In the last several years, Orianthi has worked with a handful of legendary artists; most impressively, she recently had the honor of being the lead guitarist for Michael Jackson and was scheduled to perform throughout the entire This Is It concert tour. Orianthi’s debut album, Believe, combines her proven skill set on the guitar with her own songwriting and vocals. Turns out she’s a pretty remarkably great singer as well. Her song content is accessible and relatable, from the lead single “According To You” to other favorites of mine like “Bad News” and “Think Like A Man.” Believe is worth owning for those tracks alone, but stick around for the 4-minute solo instrumental “Highly Strung” and you’ll be blown away.

Last year at this time, none of us would’ve predicted the roller coaster year that Rihanna had. Rated R could have and probably would have been something very different under normal circumstances. The fact remains, however, here we are and this is what we have. “Russian Roulette” seemed as if it was at the same time dominant and pensive, a chiller of a single that always left me with mixed feelings after listening to it. Beyond that, the darker, don’t-mess-with-me Rihanna remains with us throughout most of the album. Tracks like the single “Hard” featuring Young Jeezy, “Rude Boy,” and the rather strange collaboration with Slash of all people, “Rockstar 101,” proved to be memorable for me. Still, once the dust settles, I’d like to see Rihanna’s next album return to a brighter outlook with fewer troubles and more fun.

Probably the most difficult album to defend out of the entire 40, but you know, I’m trying to be honest here. After seeing Selena Gomez a couple times on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (best show, by the way) I decided to check out her album. I’m not sure who or what exactly is “The Scene,” but it sounds nice, so… I’ll take it. Fair enough. The title track, “Kiss & Tell,” is a pop powerhouse that I found myself playing again and again. Other key tracks like “As A Blonde” and “Falling Down” rock out the house about as much as you can expect from somebody in this stage of making music. Given the lyrics and Selena’s voice, this album is pure pop, no doubt, but the music itself is very rock-infused. Maybe that’s what all this “The Scene” stuff is about. I’m not here to say this album should win awards; I’m just saying if you give it a chance then you will enjoy listening to these tracks over and over again. That’s a success. Nice work, Selena.

This is the third artist in a row that’s younger than me. Man, that is ridiculous. Anyway, if you haven’t heard of La Roux, here are the basics. Her name is Eleanor Jackson; she’s from the UK; she makes that electro-pop, synth-pop, whatever kind of music that I tend to like a lot lately; and she brings with her a revolving door of supporting band members on her recordings and on tour. She just released her debut, self-titled album earlier this year. It’s a pleasure to listen to. The most popular track and single, “Bulletproof,” I discovered thanks to iTunes, much like a lot of other stuff this year. La Roux has been hugely popular in the UK already, and I can’t wait to see if and when she takes the world by storm. She is another strong voice in the revival of this ’80s style synth-heavy music, and I can’t get enough of it.

Here we have the artist behind my #1 album of 2006, which of course was Alright, Still. Three years ago we witnessed in Lily Allen such a fresh face on the scene of alternative pop music, someone who could craft these wonderful, cheery songs out of the most mundane and frustrating of topics. Her attitude and style were unmatched. On her follow-up album this year, It’s Not Me, It’s You, I was waiting for more of the same, and I found some of it, but the rest of the album didn’t quite hit the mark like her debut album did. No matter, much of it was still enjoyable, from the first leaked song “Everyone’s At It” that I played into the ground probably due to its overpowering snyth backing track, to the unbeatable instant classic “Fuck You” that really captures the spirit of everything I’ve loved about Lily Allen. Instead of up and abandoning music like she’s threatened, I hope Lily heads back into the studio and goes back to the drawing board for her next release, focusing more on her witty tongue-in-cheek style of expression that made us fall in love with her.

Many rock bands chose 2009 as the year of excess, going all out and way over the top with their albums, making them unnecessarily long and associated to some kind of abstract meaning that’s supposed to be so “important” that we should feel obligated to sit back and figure out their grand philosophy on our life and times. I mean sheesh, just please, not now. Pearl Jam went the completely opposite direction on their newest album, Backspacer, and I think that’s why I enjoyed the thing so much. Instead of all that bullshit, we got 36 minutes of no-nonsense, straightforward, solid and upbeat rock that actually doesn’t make you wish your life and the world was over. It’s freakin’ amazing. I loved the single “The Fixer” for just that reason; I also quite enjoyed “Gonna See My Friend” and “Supersonic” among other tracks. Thank you, Pearl Jam, for doing what was right for rock music this year. You gave us just what we needed.

Much like Alicia Keys a few blocks back, the fabulous Norah Jones has been a solidly great artist for the entire time we’ve known her, which was the greater part of the decade. Her first album in 2002, Come Away With Me, won me over nearly instantly, and I’ve been in the “Norah Jones rules” column ever since. Memorable singles like “Don’t Know Why,” “Sunrise,” and “Thinking About You” are just as great now as they were then. Now on her newest album, The Fall, Norah has broken the mold a bit, making a concept album about a fledgling relationship and incorporating some different sounds and styles that we haven’t heard before. The album shines all the way through, from the first track and single, “Chasing Pirates,” all the way to the end of the album with “Man Of The Hour,” in which Norah delightfully declares that the only one you can really count on to be there for you all the time is your dog.

I always like it when great bands come out of nowhere. This one I think I discovered in the spring thanks to some kind of top downloaded indie albums list. If you have been hanging out in Scotland since 2001, you might know that My Maudlin Career is actually Camera Obscura’s fourth album, but it’s the first one I’ve heard. It’s quite the throwback of an album, with some clear ’60s pop influence going on throughout many of the tracks, especially the opener “French Navy,” one of my favorites. I was lucky enough to score free tickets to see them perform live in May or June or so. They’re really a charming, awkward band; they don’t speak much, but when they do, it’s pretty fantastic. The album closer “Honey In The Sun” is their best song by far; it was a spectacle to behold in a live performance, and it has enough happy energy to keep you going for quite some time. Ironically, not so maudlin after all.

Chicago’s own Kid Sister, known in her non-stage life as Melisa Young, has certainly made a name for herself on her impressive debut album, Ultraviolet, which finally hit the shelves earlier this year after a handful of singles that dated all the way back to 2007. Kid Sister combines traditional hip-hop stylings with unbelievably strong, synth-infused backing beats (there’s that synth again; seems to be a 2009 trend, at least on my list). You can tell Melisa is proud of her roots as she emphatically announces, everybody from the best side, I’m reppin’ the midwest, right? on the excellent single “Right Hand Hi.” That’s something I can support. Both the inflection of her voice and the content of her lyrics are unique and different than you’d expect from the average female MC, which makes the album even better. Infectious tracks like “Life On TV;” “Daydreaming,” the collaboration with Cee-Lo; “54321;” and “Big N Bad” rank among my favorites. Melisa’s personality really shines in this fun collection of songs. I hope to hear much more from Kid Sister in the future.

There have already been so many wonderful new artists I’ve found thanks to the iTunes Store this year (it’s really a music discovery place these days, not just a store), and you can add another to that list with Anya Marina, an artist who has previously dabbled in all kinds of fields; she was once an aspiring actress, a radio DJ in San Diego, and a comic. She launched herself out of obscurity and into a solidly building career in singing and songwriting by making her way onto the Grey’s Anatomy and Twilight: New Moon soundtracks. Don’t be misled by the general awfulness of those two items; Anya’s music is much greater than the drivel that’s happening on the screen while you’re hearing her in the background. She has a sweet voice that also sounds wonderfully mischievous. Anya’s songs are complex, lyrically; poppy and delightful, musically; and diverse, instrumentally, with horns and who knows what else popping off. The track I discovered first was “Vertigo” early this year; other fantastic songs on the album include “Afterparty At Jimmy’s,” “Cowboy,” and the greatest one of the entire bunch, the enthralling “All The Same To Me.”

It would be a near-impossible mission to one-up Riot!, the pop-infused collection that launched them to worldwide stardom, so instead Paramore decided to take a different direction for their most recent album, Brand New Eyes. The band famously struggled through much of 2008, and Brand New Eyes is an album that reflects a decidedly changed Paramore, one that has matured and has been through that whole cycle of becoming so popular that you don’t know what’s real anymore. As a result, gone are the pop-punk anthems, replaced by straight-up rock songs with deeper meanings, more reflective lyrics, and harder instrumentals. “Ignorance” rocked the summer, and I’ve also enjoyed the more recent release, “Brick By Boring Brick.” While the album isn’t as memorable to me as Riot! was, Hayley is as great of a singer as ever, it’s still a good time, and I’m interested to see where Paramore goes from here.

Splitting the countdown this year is Maria Taylor, yet another wonderful singer/songwriter I discovered on the iTunes Store. I swear, seems like half of my list this year is coming from people like this. Maria has released a few albums over the latter half of the decade, but LadyLuck is the first I’ve ever heard. In addition to writing and singing, Maria is also a multi-talented musician, playing the piano, guitar, and drums on her recordings and in live concerts. The first track I discovered was “Time Lapse Lifeline,” a surprisingly pleasant up-tempo song about an imagined life that fades away in the blink of an eye. Other great songs on the album include the title track, “LadyLuck,” as well as my favorite, “100,000 Times.” Maria easily masters the entire alt-pop spectrum, from the more radio-friendly, poppier songs, to the more stripped down, reflective tracks. LadyLuck is well worth your time and gets better with every listen.

The first time I heard the lineup of Them Crooked Vultures, my jaw almost dropped to the floor. Such a cavalcade of talent in this band. You’ve got Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, and most ridicu-mazingly of all, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. I could stop right there and you’d know this band has to be great; there’s pretty much no way they couldn’t be, with that kind of talent. Their self-titled album is an unabashed, non-stop festival of rock, full of mindblowing tracks that keep winding back and forth and in and out musically for minutes at a time. Fantastically, some of these tracks sound like a highly experimental garage band, making it all the more stunning that these big names are the ones behind the recordings. Them Crooked Vultures is classic rock for the 2000s and ’10s. Particularly great tracks include the single “New Fang” and the mind-tripping “Elephants,” a 7-minute wonder to behold. If all that isn’t enough for you, well, Liam Lynch made the cover art. It’s true! That’s the greatest gift of all.

I first discovered Meg & Dia three years ago with their album Something Real, their first mainstream album that was a mixed bag of re-recorded acoustic demos and tracks inspired by popular literature throughout history. Creative, perplexing songs like “Monster” and “Setting Up Sunday” stood out to me, and I quickly became a fan of the Warped Tour darlings. Now, they’re back with Here, Here And Here, an album whose title references a narrative by Mozart, in which he explained how he wrote music by simply pointing to his heart, mind, and ears, and saying “here, here and here.” It’s hard to pin the album to one specific genre; tracks like “Black Wedding” and “What If” are mostly straight-up Warped Tour style pop-punk, while “Bored Of Your Love” is as no-frills as you can get, and my favorite on the album, “Agree To Disagree,” is pretty much a hoedown, a veritable square dance of a song. Meg & Dia constantly switch up their style to keep things interesting; as a result, Here, Here And Here is one of the most unique recordings of the year.

Truly a super supergroup, the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek-ishly named Monsters of Folk is comprised of Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, and M. Ward of She & Him. I think Rolling Stone said it best, so I’ll just let them speak for me: Monsters of Folk are already being called this generation’s Traveling Wilburys, but a better comparison is Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The band yokes together a quartet of folk-minded rockers at the top of their game, often creating something even greater than the sum of its parts. “Say Please” was one of my most played songs of 2009, thanks in large part to the incredible, nearly hypnotic melody that these guys create when they get together. I also quite enjoyed “Ahead Of The Curve,” one of the most melancholy sounding songs you’ll ever hear with such upbeat lyrical content. Messes with your mind! The opener “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)” and the soulful “Whole Lotta Losin'” also rule. Monsters of Folk is one of the best projects to come along in recent memory.

Kelly Clarkson went down a very different path just a few years ago for My December, eschewing the pop formula for a very strange beast of an album that dabbled in rock-powered tracks with bitter, Alanis Morissette-esque lyrics. While I enjoyed many of those songs, and while it was an interesting experience of an album, I think it was somewhat refreshing for all of us to see Kelly Clarkson return to what she does best on All I Ever Wanted. I think a good summary of what happened to make this album comes from a review that I read around the time the album came out; it said Kelly has now mastered writing pop songs that express emotional truths but also sound good on the radio. Her voice really shines on true pop songs like these as well, as she possesses a voice that’s stronger and simply better than a dozen average pop stars combined. My favorite track here is the Katy Perry-penned “I Do Not Hook Up” (by the way, Katy + Kelly, now that’s a powerhouse of pop). It should’ve received much more play than it did; “Already Gone” is a weaker single if you ask me. “I Do Not Hook Up” should’ve been the song of the summer. Anyway, I also much enjoy “If I Can’t Have You” and “Why You Wanna Bring Me Down.” All I Ever Wanted is pleasing to the ears and the mind from beginning to end. Keep up the good work, Kelly! An album like this is exactly what we want to hear.

In case you didn’t know it, Neko Case is one of the greatest people ever to live. This “honourary Canadian” alternative country singer and songwriter has been a member of the excellent indie group The New Pornographers for many years, and she has also had an unbelievably top-notch solo career. I had the pleasure of listening to her music and becoming a fan of hers in early 2006, fueled mainly by her previous album, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. Early this year, Neko returned with Middle Cyclone, her latest solo effort and another ridiculously great album. As the title suggests, Middle Cyclone has recurring lyrical themes about tornadoes and nature; Neko describes throughout the album how she has sometimes neglected relationships with other humans to instead connect with nature, and she comes to terms with the implications of that reality. Now, that’s a lot of heavy meaning and it’s a beautiful task in itself to pick apart her words and make sense of it all, but beyond that, the actual music itself and the sound is unbeatable. Just listen to “People Got A Lotta Nerve” (best song title of the year, by the way), and you’ll know what I mean. That might actually be my song of the year, period; I sure played it enough. Other tracks like “This Tornado Loves You” and “Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth” are also simply the best. Did I mention the whole album was recorded in a barn, with an array of pianos that she got for free off of Craigslist? and the cover art?! Good lord, Neko Case is magnificent.

Jack White can do no wrong. It’s something I’ve said many times as the years go by, and it just keeps getting more and more true. His newest band is The Dead Weather, an alt-rock side project and supergroup of sorts, featuring lead singer Alison Mosshart of The Kills, as well as members of Queens of the Stone Age and The Raconteurs, which of course is Jack White’s other other band. I really can’t tell you how great it is to have Alison Mosshart in this band. Her vocals are ridiculous in the best way; her raspy voice battles with and plays off Jack White’s voice like no other. Their debut album, Horehound, is what I’m here to talk about, so let’s talk about it. First single, “Hang You From The Heavens,” was a wake-up call early in the year, shouting at us to say that brilliant rock music is alive and well. The calm like a bomb “I Cut Like A Buffalo” is also one of my favorites. However, nothing beats “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” in which the epic battle of the voices, White v. Mosshart, truly takes shape. Back and forth, over and over. LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT GOT IT FIGURED OUT. That song doesn’t just kick ass, it kicks your ass. The Dead Weather’s cover of “Are Friends Electric?” by ’80s mainstay Gary Numan is also exceptional; it showed up as a B-side early on in the year. Anyway, put it all together, and this band is one of the best things to come out of 2009. White and Mosshart, you win.

Shakira has gone through many phases of an illustrious career in music, which I’m sure everyone is familiar with at this point. From her early days as a Spanish language-exclusive artist, to her English language debut in ’01, to her continued evolution throughout the decade, we’ve seen just about all the sides of Shakira that we can see. At least, that’s what we thought before She Wolf happened. What I love about this album is that Shakira more-or-less decided, “screw it, I’m just going to do whatever the hell I want, because I can.” Don’t get it twisted, She Wolf is absolutely bonkers. Just listen to Shakira describe her inspiration for the title track: “I was in the studio in a bad mood that day, then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting.” Genius! The electro-pop blips and bleeps throughout are also crazy and new for Shakira. The fabulous and hilarious “Mon Amour” is one of my favorite songs of the year. Passengers with destination to Hell, please proceed to your gate, we are ready to board now. I can’t get enough of it. Shakira totally won me back by taking a risk, loosening up, and being quixotic and wacky. I love it. Way to go, Shaki.

Amanda Blank is relatively new on the scene as a rapper and singer from Philadelphia. She has been under the surface for a few years, popping up every so often as a featured artist on tracks by M.I.A., Ghostface, Santigold, and some other wonderful people like them. She released her debut solo LP, I Love You, this summer. If you’ve heard “Might Like You Better,” Amanda’s half-way cover and new interpretation of “Never Say Never,” the ’80s classic by Romeo Void, then you already know her music probably isn’t for everyone. The beats are hard and aggressive; her vocals are in-your-face; her lyrics are at times blunt and forthright, and at other times strikingly heartfelt; her rhymes are inspired and skilled. Even I’ll admit the album was a bit overwhelming on the first listen, but I quickly grew to love it, and it soon became one of my most played albums of the year. I kept going back to hear everything again, from the banger anthems like “Make It Take It” and “Lemme Get Some” to the album’s few softer moments like “A Love Song” featuring Santigold and “Leaving You Behind” featuring Lykke Li. The former track was actually adapted from a remix of Santigold’s “I’m A Lady” that first appeared on last year’s Diplo mixtape; a nice callback. Amanda Blank puts it all on the table on I Love You, and she did an amazing job. It’ll be great to see what she serves up next.

Who would’ve thought one of the best pop albums of 2009 would be made by someone from the Disney set, someone who made a throwaway pre-teen-ish pop album with help from the Jonas Brothers just a year or two ago? Holy geez, Batman. This whole situation really reminds me of Hilary Duff’s Dignity back in 2007. This time, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Demi Lovato. What an incredible transformation in such a short period of time. This lovable starlet was successful in making a pop album that’s higher quality from front to back than some others with a decade of experience behind their back. Demi is quite the character, anyway; judging from her appearances on Jimmy Fallon and other talk shows, she’s obviously very intelligent, she knows and appreciates an unusually wide range of music (even death metal, believe it or not), and she should already be worlds beyond marketing and promoting stuff to 10 year olds. If you listen to Here We Go Again, it quickly becomes obvious that Demi is beginning to break the mold. She wrote nearly every song on the album. Her powerful vocals may soon rival the likes of Kelly Clarkson. The wide range of genres that she covers here is extremely impressive for someone at her stage in the game, from solidly great electro-pop (“Remember December”), to fierce synth-powered rock (“Got Dynamite”), to throwback soul that reminds you more of Duffy than Hilary Duff (“Every Time You Lie”). If you won’t give Demi Lovato a chance because of her background, then you’re a fool. Demi has a very promising career ahead of her in singing and songwriting. Here We Go Again is already brilliant pop music.

It was nearly two years ago now that we first heard “February Air,” the debut single from Lights, thanks to an Old Navy commercial. Here we are now at the turn of the decade, and Lights has more than made a name for herself, touring the world, winning awards, and finally releasing her debut LP, The Listening. Last year, Lights’ self-titled EP was so good that it was my #11 album of 2008, despite only being six songs. Quite a few of those songs have been re-recorded and added to the full-length album, along with a number of brand new tracks we haven’t heard before. If you’re familiar at all with her music, you know Lights was pretty much transported here from the ’80s; she “tickles a gnarly synth” in her own words throughout the album, and there are plenty of new wave influences to be found. The old standbys “Ice” and “The Last Thing On Your Mind” are as good as ever on this album, and new additions like “Lions!” and “Second Go” are even better. It’s a quality album by itself, but the reason The Listening made my top 10 is in large part due to Lights’ excellent live show. I was able to see her perform at a small club near my hometown back in October. I was literally inches away from the stage, which made it all that much better. Lights put on an amazing show, rocked a keytar for most of it, and proved herself as one of the sweetest and nicest people I’ve ever met when I spoke with her after the show. I snapped the above photo during that show. Finally, a picture on which I actually own the copyright! Back on track, Lights is delightful, charming, unique, and extremely talented, and her exemplary The Listening is my #10 album of 2009.

Believe it or not, Tegan and Sara are one of my favorite bands. I bet you never would’ve guessed that. Their previous album, The Con, was my #1 album of 2007, and I’ve been a solid fan of the Canadian indie pop/rock duo since early 2003, when I discovered “I Hear Noises” and “Monday Monday Monday,” which would become one of my favorite songs of all time. This year, the T&S returned with Sainthood, which in their own words is a collection of songs featuring “secular themes of devotion, delusion, and exemplary behavior in the pursuit of love and relationships.” It’s also the first time they’ve written songs together instead of separately. In past years, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Tegan and Sara perform live a number of times, which really increased my personal connection with the songs on If It Was You, So Jealous, and The Con. I enjoy Tegan and Sara’s live shows because they banter back and forth throughout the show and explain many of the meanings behind the songs. I haven’t yet had the chance to see them perform songs from Sainthood, so maybe that’s why the album isn’t even higher on my list this year, but the fact remains, it’s a great album nonetheless. The first single “Hell” and album cut “Northshore” will rock you right out the house. Other tracks such as “Arrow,” “Alligator,” and the album closer “Someday” also proved memorable. It’s another top notch album in the ongoing catalog of one of the best bands in music today. Sainthood is my #9 album of 2009.

Here we go again with the electro-synth revival. Little Boots is easily one of this year’s best discoveries I made in all of music. Her debut album, Hands, is excellent from top to bottom, ranging from that ’80s style pop to European-influenced dance tracks and featuring disco-esque numbers throughout. The opening track and first song I heard, “New In Town,” is an electro-pop anthem in which Little Boots shouts, I’m gonna take you out tonight, I’m gonna make you feel alright; I don’t have a lot of money but we’ll be fine, no I don’t have a penny but I’ll show you a good time. That’s something I can support. The song was apparently inspired by the “seedy side of life” in L.A. and the strange people she met while recording the album. It’s one of the best songs of the year. Beyond that, there are just tons of excellent tracks to be found here. I’ll avoid the obvious pun regarding “Stuck On Repeat,” a track I played a lot. I love “Remedy,” “Meddle,” and “Symmetry.” The song tacked on to the very end of the album, the title-track “Hands,” is so simple and sweet and also one of my favorites of the year. Little Boots is a fantastic singer, talented songwriter, and a pretty great musician on the keyboard as well. What a great collection of songs. This was the year of wonky pop. Hands is my #8 album of 2009.

Let’s take a break from the snyth madness and talk about an artist that ruled 2009 in terms of simple pop/rock and folk pop. From the great state of Ohio, it’s Kate Voegele, the musician turned actress (One Tree Hill) turned, well, musician and actress both. She is yet another artist I discovered because of placement and promotion on the iTunes Store, and she’s actually the highest of that massive group on my entire list this year. iTunes released one song from A Fine Mess once a week for about 5 or 6 weeks leading up to the release of the album, which was really a brilliant move, as it got me hooked on each of those songs, one by one, and made me even more interested in hearing the whole collection. Once I got the album, I knew right away it would be one of my favorites of the year, and sure enough, I kept playing it front to back again and again, most recently just a few days ago. So many tracks on this album are great, so I’ll just run through some of my favorites. The opener “Inside Out,” the single “99 Times,” the charming and infectious “Playing With My Heart,” the bonus track “Say Anything,” and the stunningly beautiful final track “Lift Me Up” are the best of the bunch. To use the same word again, let me just say this is a beautiful album, full of inspired, thought-provoking, and uplifting songs that anybody could appreciate. I hope Kate Voegele keeps making music for a long time and more people start taking notice, because these compositions are simply wonderful. A Fine Mess is my #7 album of 2009.

I totally slept on the buzz surrounding critical darling Lykke Li back in 2008, but I made up for it this year after seeing her show up on Last Call with Carson Daly of all things, believe it or not, in March. She had the whole half-hour to herself and performed a bunch of songs off of her debut album, Youth Novels. I watched it all in amazement and then nearly instantly rushed to get the album. What I found was one of the best exports from Sweden that the world has ever seen. I guess you could call this album electro-pop as well, much like many others on my list, but something makes Youth Novels different. It’s very much an experience to take in, from beginning to end. Listening to the album was a calming and chilling trip in itself. The nearly spoken-word opener, “Melodies & Desires,” is both haunting and hypnotic. The standout tracks from Youth Novels are the repetitious “Dance, Dance, Dance,” the joyous and musically diverse “Breaking It Up,” and the best track on the album, “I’m Good, I’m Gone,” which has the best verse structure and build-up to a strong chorus that I’ve heard in a long, long time. It quickly became one of my most played tracks of the year by any artist. Throughout the year, the album withstood the test of time and just kept getting better, making me believe Lykke Li is a true treasure in the world of music, and easily making Youth Novels my #6 album of 2009.

The Bird and the Bee is a fantastic musical duo from Los Angeles that specializes in indie pop and the mainstay genre on my list this year it seems, synthpop. The two musicians are Irana George, “the bird,” and Greg Kurstin, “the bee,” who has worked with all kinds of legends, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen, Beck, and The Flaming Lips. The site Pitchfork best explained their origin, saying, “The Bird and the Bee didn’t exactly come out of nowhere so much as evolve organically after George and Kurstin first connected when the latter was enlisted to work on the former’s solo debut.” They formed in 2006, but I discovered them at the very end of 2008 when their latest album, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, was one of the first albums with the “2009” label that made its way to my iTunes. I was instantly drawn in by Irana’s hypnotizing voice and the pulsing synth-powered music behind it. “Diamond Dave,” an ode to David Lee Roth of all people, was one of my first favorites off of the album. “Love Letter To Japan” is another fantastic track. The best one, however, is “Polite Dance Song,” which starts off with 10 straight seconds of pounding percussion and never lets up. The Bird and the Bee is a project for the ages. Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future is my #5 album of 2009.

Here we have one of the best bands in the world. U2 have proven themselves as one of the greatest and longest lasting groups, always versatile and ever-evolving as the years go by. Lots of hipster type people like to claim that U2 is so over and they love hating on Bono, but I say to hell with all of them. U2 put out the best straight-up rock album of the year, and all the members of the band are some of the best musicians that modern music has ever seen. We last checked in with U2 at the end of 2004, when How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was all the rage. Now they’ve returned with No Line On The Horizon, which in my opinion is their best album of the decade and maybe even then some. While the first single “Get On Your Boots” was a questionable choice given all the amazing tracks on the album, the Justice remix of it was mindblowing. I could really run through the entire rest of the album, but I’ll pick out a few tracks that I enjoyed the most. “Magnificent” is just that; “Moment Of Surrender” is a beautiful 7-minute track; “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” is amazing on the album and even better live; and the best track, “Unknown Caller,” blends traditional U2 powerhouse music with a peculiar arrangement of lyrics about technology, electronics, and the Internet. It’s so bizarre that it ends up being a veritable work of genius. U2’s music remains as powerful and uplifting as ever; the band remains relevant more than 25 years after their first break. It’s an amazing feat. No Line On The Horizon is my #4 album of 2009.

The best Canadian indie rock band this side of anyone, Metric is fronted by Emily Haines, who masters the synthesizer and guitar while adding her own incredible vocals to every track. They’ve been one of my favorites since I discovered Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? in early 2004. Tracks like “Succexy” and “Combat Baby” were perfect for their time and solidified Metric as an incredibly talented band. Live It Out in 2005 was also a pretty great album, but their newest one, Fantasies, is easily the best front-to-back album that the band has ever assembled, and they didn’t even need a label to do it. Metric self-released the album internationally and it soared to the top of the Canadian charts. As for the actual songs, the bombastic “Help I’m Alive” was the first track we heard in the late winter and got the album off to an unbeatable start. In the middle of the album, the more stripped down and emotional “Gimme Sympathy” is one of the best Metric songs I’ve ever heard and maybe one of the best songs I’ve ever heard from any band in recent years, period. At the end of the album, the fabulously glam rock “Stadium Love” ends it all with an incredible bang and then the music ripples away and fades out for a solid minute. Metric just demonstrated they’re here to stay and continue making the best music of their career, securing the spot for the excellent Fantasies as my #3 album of 2009.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been on my good list since their debut in 2003, and the song “Maps” defined a generation of music and will go down as one of the best songs of the decade, but it wasn’t until this year that the band released their best album. The almost too great for words It’s Blitz! took 2009 by storm back in the early spring. “Zero” blew away everybody; I think that’s pretty safe to say. One of the best songs Yeah Yeah Yeahs have ever released right there. The whole album could’ve kept riding the coattails of “Zero” and it would still be great enough, but they immediately top themselves with “Heads Will Roll.” I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so pumped about a song. Freakin’ brilliant. But that’s not all! Supporting tracks like “Dull Life,” “Dragon Queen,” and “Hysteric” make sure the album never gets boring and stays top-notch the whole time. If that’s not enough, the final track “Little Shadow” is Karen O. at her best and is a showcase for her marvelous vocals. I really can’t get over how great this album is. I knew early in the year that it would at least be in my top 5, easily. Turns out it got even better as time went by. It’s Blitz! is my #2 album of 2009.

Here it is. The album that turned pop music on its head, from the artist, musician, and performer of the year. Lady Gaga took the reigns and singlehandedly changed the game and challenged our expectations, mesmerizing and mystifying the world with her music, personality, and extravagant performance art.

Before she went by her stage name, Stefani Germanotta learned the piano at a young age and then began playing and singing at small clubs in the Lower East Side of NYC. She began to break out of that scene when she gained the “Lady Gaga” stage name and performed along with another talent, Lady Starlight, at Lollapalooza in 2007. She later built on her foundation of avant-garde electronic music by incorporating the sounds of glam rock and pop melodies, landing her in the niche that began to give her international success. Lady Gaga found a wide audience in countries like Canada and the UK before the rest of the U.S. started taking notice.

Just one year ago, Lady Gaga’s debut album The Fame was just beginning to make its rounds. By the time that “Just Dance” broke on U.S. radio in the last days of 2008 and first days of 2009, the story behind Gaga had become muddled. Who was this new pop star, anyway? We would quickly find out that her background was vastly different from most pop stars and she had so much more to offer. Through the success of supporting singles like “Poker Face,” “LoveGame,” and “Paparazzi,” the U.S. and the world began to recognize Lady Gaga as a household name.

Still, though, some casual observers were not yet aware of just how unique of a musician and performer she is. Then, over the summer and fall, it happened. The piano version of “Poker Face.” The other videos hitting YouTube of when Gaga was still Stefani. The performance at the VMAs. The Fame Monster. The video for “Bad Romance.” Suddenly, the world saw not just a pop singer, but a musical force to be reckoned with.

It was an impossible, incredible transformation to watch happen throughout the year. The Fame Monster was the perfect evolution, with “Bad Romance” and its supporting visuals building the elaborate persona of Lady Gaga, and emotional tracks like “Dance In The Dark” and “Speechless” stripping it away, showing us the woman behind the mask (sometimes figuratively, and sometimes literally, given her inexplicable array of costumes).

Lady Gaga’s music spans the continuum of pop, electronic, dance, and glam rock. Her live performances and videos represent an atmosphere of theatre that has been sorely missing from pop music. It’s truly a performance and truly art. Her ever-changing style and personality bewilders us and leaves us guessing. We never know what Lady Gaga is going to do next, which makes her ongoing appearances and performances all the more enthralling.

Whether she goes on to define an entire generation of pop music has yet to be seen, but of all the artists out there right now, Lady Gaga is the only one who could pull it off. Like yin and yang, like Jekyll and Hyde, The Fame and The Fame Monster defined 2009 in music. What happens next is anybody’s guess, but one thing is certain. Make no mistake about it, The Fame with The Fame Monster is my #1 album of 2009.

Mixi – “I Miss Those Days”
The Decemberists – “The Rake’s Song”
The Von Bondies – “Pale Bride”
Matt and Kim – “Daylight”
Morrissey – “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris”
Flo Rida f/ Ke$ha – “Right Round”
Michelle Branch – “This Way”
Britney Spears – “If U Seek Amy”
Britta Phillips – “Closeface”
N.A.S.A. f/ Lykke Li, Santigold, Kanye West – “Gifted”
M. Ward f/ Zooey Deschanel – “Never Had Nobody Like You”
Asobi Seksu – “Glacially”
The All-American Rejects – “Gives You Hell”
The Veronicas – “Untouched”
Shiny Toy Guns – “Ghost Town”
Silversun Pickups – “Panic Switch”

BoA – “Eat You Up”
Neil Young – “Fork In The Road”
Eminem – “We Made You”
Black Eyed Peas – “Boom Boom Pow”
No Doubt – “Stand And Deliver”
City Wolf – “Where Is My Mind?”
T.I. f/ Justin Timberlake – “Dead And Gone”
Green Day – “Know Your Enemy”
Green Day – “21 Guns”
Ashley Tisdale – “It’s Alright, It’s OK”
Wale f/ Lady Gaga – “Chillin'”
Marilyn Manson – “Arma-God-Damn-Mother-Fuckin’-Geddon”
Jem – “Yellow”
Kristinia DeBarge – “Goodbye”
Miley Cyrus – “The Climb”
Linkin Park – “New Divide”
Rancid – “Last One To Die”
Jay-Z – Death Of Auto-Tune”

Taylor Swift – “You Belong With Me”
Katy Perry – “Waking Up In Vegas”
Regina Spektor – “Laughing With”
Mandy Moore – “…Break Your Heart Any Day Of The Week”
Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling”
Jordin Sparks – “Battlefield”
Weird Al Yankovic – “Skipper Dan” / “Craigslist” / “CNR”
Madonna – “Celebration”
Beastie Boys – “Lee Majors Come Again” / “Too Many Rappers”
Jay-Z f/ Rihanna and Kanye West – “Run This Town”
Mindy Smith – “Highs And Lows”
Muse – “Uprising”
Miley Cyrus – “Party In The U.S.A.”
Kate Earl – “Melody”
Keri Hilson f/ Kanye West and Ne-Yo – “Knock You Down”
Cobra Starship f/ Leighton Meester – “Good Girls Go Bad”
Ke$ha – “Tik Tok”

Carrie Underwood – “Cowboy Casanova”
AFI – “Medicate”
Weezer – “(If You’re Wondering If…) I Want You To”
The Guild f/ Felicia Day – “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar”
Natalie Imbruglia – “Want”
Jay-Z f/ Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”
Beyonce – “Sweet Dreams”
Gossip – “Heavy Cross”
Black Eyed Peas – “Meet Me Halfway”
Foo Fighters – “Wheels”
Owl City – “Fireflies”
Leighton Meester f/ Robin Thicke – “Somebody To Love”
Flyleaf – “Beautiful Bride”
Charlotte Gainsbourg f/ Beck – “Heaven Can Wait”
Allison Iraheta – “Friday I’ll Be Over U”
Hey Monday – “How You Love Me Now”
Julian Casablancas – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”
Fucked Up – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

40. The Lonely Island – Incredibad
39. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
38. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
37. A Fine Frenzy – Bomb In A Birdcage
36. War Child Presents – Heroes
35. Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment
34. The Ettes – Do You Want Power
33. Alicia Keys – The Element of Freedom
32. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
31. Orianthi – Believe
30. Rihanna – Rated R
29. Selena Gomez & The Scene – Kiss & Tell
28. La Roux – La Roux
27. Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You
26. Pearl Jam – Backspacer
25. Norah Jones – The Fall
24. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
23. Kid Sister – Ultraviolet
22. Anya Marina – Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II
21. Paramore – Brand New Eyes
20. Maria Taylor – LadyLuck
19. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
18. Meg & Dia – Here, Here And Here
17. Monsters Of Folk – Monsters Of Folk
16. Kelly Clarkson – All I Ever Wanted
15. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
14. The Dead Weather – Horehound
13. Shakira – She Wolf
12. Amanda Blank – I Love You
11. Demi Lovato – Here We Go Again
10. Lights – The Listening
9. Tegan And Sara – Sainthood
8. Little Boots – Hands
7. Kate Voegele – A Fine Mess
6. Lykke Li – Youth Novels
5. The Bird And The Bee – Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future
4. U2 – No Line On The Horizon
3. Metric – Fantasies
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
1. Lady Gaga – The Fame / The Fame Monster

There were all kinds of ups and downs in 2009, but I think we can all agree it was a fabulous year of music. Thanks so much for reading through everything here and supporting my top 40 albums of 2009. It has been such a wonderful way to send off the 2000s. As we enter 2010, I wish you the very best. Here’s to the next decade!

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