10. Steel Panther – Feel the Steel
Easily the funniest album of the year. Yea, it’s a joke, completely disposable and insanely obscene, but most of the tracks are better musically than the material they’re satirizing.
9. Beatles Reissues
In 2009 we saw yet another Beatles revival. There was their Rockband game (awesome) and the reissuing of all of their albums in mono and stereo. Now I didn’t buy any of them, but they’re obviously better than pretty much everything else that came out this year.
8. Kings of Leon – Only By the Night
I really tried to resist this album. I felt “Sex on Fire” when it came out, then “Use Somebody,” but then the latter got fucked out on the radio. Even though the song was overplayed, that doesn’t devalue the quality of the tune. Aside from the two singles, Only By the Night can be played front to back and has the best rock and roll vibes and vocals of the year.
7. Lady Gaga – The Fame
I can tolerate “Just Dance.” “Poker Face” is an abortion. “Love Game” is just silly. “Papa Razzi” is kinda catchy. “Bad Romance”–absurdly entertaining. The point is that Lady Gaga wore me down. I hated her, but then after the realization that she wouldn’t be a one-hit-wonder, I stopped caring about the ridiculous outfits or the cheesy electro-pop. She’s just ripping off what Madonna did 20 years ago. Her VMA performance (below) may have pushed her over the edge for me. Even for all the theatrics and posturing, her album has five of the most popular club jams of the year.
6. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
When this album was released, I thought it would resonate more and rank higher. But over the past seven months it just hasn’t made its way back into the rotation. 21st Century Breakdown rocks and continues Green Day’s resurgence. Maybe it’s time to revisit the 21st vs. American Idiot debate again. Idiot: four or five monster hits. 21st: maybe two successful singles?
5. Paramore – brand new eyes
Not a giant leap forward, but the songs on brand new eyes are catchy and right in my pop-punk wheelhouse. Haley Williams makes a case for female vocalist of the year but her literal experiential songwriting hasn’t matured to the level of her pipes.
4. Lil Wayne – No Ceilings
This mixtape is the best rap release of the year. Jay-Z may have had a few hits off The Blueprint 3, but Weezy flips two of those tracks, “D.O.A” and “Run This Town” with his own, more original flows on No Ceilings. Wayne’s word play, analogies and rhymes are so far beyond everyone else in the game. His clever sports references alone are worth the listen.
3. Rustic Overtones – The New Way Out
Hardly the album I expected or wanted, but The New Way Out defies genres and can simply be called great music. The verses on “I Just Can’t Shake You” are my favorite bars of music this year.
2. Kelly Clarkson – All I Ever Wanted
The best pop album of year. Clarkson seems to finally feel comfortable in her own skin and delivers the strongest tracks of her career, returning to her uptempo and fun roots with passionate ballads for balance.
1. Big D and the Kids Table – Fluent in Stroll
I had pretty much written off Big D. Strictly Rude was decent but a little too ska for me. But then, wandering the record store this summer with the need to hear some new tunes. So I picked up Fluent in Stroll and got the biggest musical surprise of the year. They somehow manage to pull off a combination of motown, punk, pop and soul to fuse and new genre they dubbed stroll. Fun, upbeat and fresh.