Top 50 tracks in 2009

This was my blogging new year's resolution last year, and I intend to keep it: a top list of my 50 favourite tracks of 2009 (fuck decades!). I've rather sporadically - based on availability of fast internet access - thrown music into a big bin and then whittled it down, so it's really all over the place and skewed towards blogs and the first half of the year and the US. But hey, at least I reveal my biases ahead of time! (Links go to the tubes or whatever where available.)

1. Gracious "Nappa Man" K - Migraine Skank (original pre-release version)
Something about how this is structured with the interlocking rhythms totally blows my mind (I really should have a go at analysing it at some point!), and even though there's (mystifyingly, since I love it) no more Funky on this list, this totally represents that genre's deep genius in bringing rhythm-based music forward. 2009 was Migraine Skank's year.
2. Don Omar - Virtual Diva
Album of the Year: See previous post. Picking just one song off this was super-difficult, but I went for the iconic single in the end.
3. Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling
4. Untamed feat. Mr Marcellus - Fill It Up
5. The Sounds of Arrows - Into The Clouds
I decided I needed to sprinkle in a few token indie entries in here. Wouldn't want to be politically incorrect, the poor underprivileged white middle class need their share.
6. Barikad Crew - Toup Pou Yo (thx Rachel!)
7. Illie - Liquified Dopeness
I really should listen to more Jerk.
8. Tinchy Stryder feat. Amelle - Never Leave You
9. Leila Chicot - Renaissance
10. Medina feat. Allyawan, Palestine & Aida - Så Dom Gör Det (Fiend Version)
11. Ace Hood feat. The-Dream - Mine
12. Hard Kaur - Follow Me
Songwriter of the year: Pritam. Bollywood really got a re-injection of musical quality this year thanks to the writing and production genius of the jovially bearded Bengali. He may have nicked all his tracks from the koreans (bizarrely) but it's hard to miss what a breath of fresh air one composer has brought to the Mumbai film industry. Runner-up: The-Dream.
13. La Roux - In For The Kill (Skream's Let's Get Ravey Mix)
14. Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart
15. James Fauntleroy - Te Amo
16. La Factoria - Apartade de ti
17. Freds225 - Instru Logobi 225
18. Dizzee Rascal - Holiday
19. Ce'cile and Live Wire - You Got Me
20. Kenny Margant - T'Oublier
21. Frenchie - It's Ok (Knel Mix)
22. Amerie - Tell Me You Love Me
23. Nina Sky - On Some Bullshit
24. Circlesquare - Dancers (Russ Chimes vs. Anoraak Remix)
25. T.I. - Hell of a Life
If this was 2006 this might well have been a top ten track for me - this culminates the mega-major-key euphoria that made southern hip-hop so wonderful that year.
26. AC Slater - Hello (Ricorb befriends Kim Jong-il remix)
27. Blak Ryno - Pon Di Earth
28. Ray Rich - Know She Cold
29. Mariah Carey - Standing O
30. Willy Northpole feat. B.O.B. - Hood Dreamer
31. Kartier - Ma Pones Mal
32. Tim Benson - Love At First Sight
33. Swine Flu - Starter
34. Dennis Ferrer - Hey Hey
35. Sean Garrett feat. Young Joc - Smooches (Chief Boima Remix)
Global Ghettotech of the year: as in - purpose-made "exotic" music. This remix is lovely and could make anyone reconsider their attitude towards fusion as a concept.
36. Kaysha - Be With You
37. Newkid - Gör Det För
38. Ali Ashabi - Eteraf
39. Discovery - Osaka Loop Line
40. Unlady Like - Bartender
41. Tavrvs - Vharder
42. Tynisha Keli - Rockstar
43. Al Brown - I Don't Know
44. DJ Hans - Akh Da Nishana
45. Joker - Do It
46. Khriz y Angel - Dime
47. Slicer feat. Tazzz, Renegade - Murk Em
48. Young Dro - Clean With It
49. Busy Signal - Black Belt
50. Trae feat. Krayzie Bone & Twista - I Won't Change

Happy new year, everyone!


Genre of the year: Reggaeton

There have been many great genres this year. We all enjoyed the fresh appearance of logobi, I've totally got into zouk-love, and at some point I've started to really "get" a lot of the previously mysterious trance/hardcore hybrid genres, like hardstyle.

But there's one considerably older style of music I've consistently returned to, which has really made my 2009: Reggaeton. To some people, this is bizarrely the year the genre died, but from my perspective it's never been more vital or more interesting, and it's forged a path quite different and refreshing compared to everything else going on at the moment. Yes, it's connected to the wider movement towards electro and trance-oriented sounds that might actually have peaked already, but even more so it's tapped straight into the source - Reggaeton 2009 has been channelling the eighties, and everything good about them!

Sometimes, it's been very direct. Compare, for instance, the following track...

ZK Feat. Crac MC - Disculpeme Senorita

..with just about any italo disco, most obviously perhaps this Raggio De Luna classic:

It's a fun leap, one I think not many other genres have made this year. Little flourishes of new wave, italo, video game music, hi-nrg and freestyle are evident in many more Reggaeton tracks this year, but for me that's far from the only interesting idea that's been revived from the eighties. For instance, remember earlier in the year I had a little obsession with collecting tracks about robots and sex? Well, the theme has been brought back in a major way in Reggaeton this year!

Which brings me to what must surely be the album of the year, any genre: "Idon" by Don Omar, which brings together all what's been great about Reggaeton beautifully. A super-ambitious science-fiction concept album (when did pop music last produce one of those?), it perfectly encapsulates the complex platonic soul of great music: instinct mingled with intellect, emotional warmth meets calculating coldness. Just like the best eighties music! The sheer, the square and the dirty feed off each other, in a heady/pelvic mixture of body and mind. And it manages to do so in a musical costume where the Caribbean lives side-by-side with everything from Bon Jovi to Jam and Lewis, with tiny bleeps and massive rumbles, industrial, faux-orientalism, just about anything in breathtaking scope.

It's perhaps hard to capture in a single track (get the album!) but luckily there's the awesome cyborg-inflicted musical-conceptual video for The Chosen/Virtual Diva to whet your appetite. Somewhere here I think the best of 2009 might well be located.


Genre of the Week: Putaria/Funk Putaria

...and what a week it's been - guests, viral infections, moving and not being able to reply to comments due to a bug (sorry Umb, Dave Quam). One good thing though is that I've come across a rather interesting and vibrant strand of the Brazilian funk scene that I've never heard about before, and which seems to be very much alive and kicking - most of the stuff I've found on the net is less than a year old.

Putaria literally means "harlotry", and seems self-descriptive as much as it is pejorative. (Taking pride in negative descriptions is hardly anything new in the music world.) In a genre that already is fairly crude in its lyrical content and simple in its production, this stuff seems to go another step down the ladder - the production is wonky in a semi-amateurish way, the sound decidedly lo-fi, the feel decidedly closer to, say, cumbia villeira or juke than to something ultra-clean in the trance-electro mould. Interestingly, this has the effect of producing some startlingly messy, complex-sounding productions with unexpected musical touching points:

Treble culture, anyone? This dubby, mixtapy, industrial-tinged piece with its pre-distorted drum sounds would fit perfectly blearing out of a mobile phone, it's hardly been cleaned up to a higher standard. (And is all the more wonderful for it, aesthetically!)

Apparently (this is the only English-language source I've got at the moment) putaria, like prohibidão before it, is a function of the most violent and poor neighbourhoods even within the Favelas. Unlike the macho-posturing prohibidão, though, this material is rather porno-dystopian, and among other things happily accepts female performers:

(Video probably NSFW)

Again, I'm struck by the lo-finess and the high amount of distortion on the usually clean tamborzao, and the weird polyrhythmic productions surrounding it. Good percussive stuff here! And this seems to be new as a sonic style as well, most of the material from two years ago and last year is much cleaner. For this year's putaria, there's a very good amount of available on Youtube, especially served by some excellently-compiled playlists. This one and this one have been especially enjoyable.

Finally, one thing I can't keep away from you, though it's only incidentally connected: this guy, I'm assuming a middle-class intermediary, who's uploaded a few putaria videos. Isn't it great that the täbb/pretty boy style has spread to Brazil as well? Look at his videos for more images!


Break Pong

There's just so much interesting music in the eighties and early nineties that the laughable, essentialist "World Music" managed to miss. Point in hand is the extremely unusual and post-punkishly awkward combination of breakdance drums and faux-traditional jaipong music, break pong, which awesome Indonesian rarity blog Madrotter just introduced me to. Following the link and downloading reveals some damn weird drum machine+pseudogamelan weirdness, straight outta Karawang.

And as this freshly Youtube video reveals, the idea is still (perhaps surprisingly) alive:

Massive stuff. See also the sample-heavy jaipong craziness of Ega Robot, same source.


Talk on Global Ghettotech

This will be of marginal interest to the vast majority of my readers, but I'm holding a short talk about global ghettotech, it's development, the differences from world music - and of course its problems, here in Helsinki on Tuesday. The talk will be in Swedish at the request of the organisers, pop culture analysis group Chorus.

Venue: Café Aula Bar, Malminrinne 2, Helsinki
Date: Tuesday 8 December
Time: 1900-2100