20) “Boombox (ft. Julian Casablancas),” The Lonely Island. Mr. Casablancas, who all but disappeared after 2006’s First Impressions Of Earth, returned with a new sense of humor in 2009, even if it is hard to decipher whether Julian brought the earnest, hilarious delivery to “Boombox” or if TLI pushed him to it. Structurally, the song moves through 4 different scenes — first, a posh country club then a corporate boardroom then Wall Street and finally a convalescent home. TLI push these “old white people” to “let loose”; before we know it, they’re on the floor fucking. It’s a tribute to the power of music (“the music washed away all the hate”), but not really — despite it’s posturing, “Boombox,” is a comedy episode set to music. Unlike so many other attempts, this musical comedy works — as a fucking great song, no less. [YouTube]
19) “False Jesii Part 2,” Pissed Jeans. Clocking in at two and a half minutes, this is Pissed Jeans reappropriating the 21st century pop song for Pennsylvanian garage rock. Even the anguished screams of the chorus’ yeahagyeahagyeahag are catchy enough for the most sludge-adverse listeners. That said, the verse is uncanny in its dialogue, simultaneously celebrating laziness and disavowing it (“I could put on a tight black shirt / but I don’t bother / I could tell a joke and make the whole room laugh / but I don’t bother”). When I saw the band live in Berlin back in 2008, they took the stage at 1 a.m. Nevertheless, lead singer Matt Korvette tore around the room shirtless, hanging off exposed piping, twisting his nipples and grimacing, sweaty and red-faced. Their stage-presence was apathetic to the audience, avoiding eye contact and speaking only to themselves. They could’ve talked to us, but they didn’t bother. Fortunately, in 2009, there’s one thing they did bother to do — they wrote the catchiest song of their career. [YouTube]
18) “Watching The Planets (feat. Karen O),” The Flaming Lips. After making this list and listening through it, I have a confession: this song is too high. “Two Weeks” and “Watching the Planets” are do for an old switcheroo. That aside, what about the song itself? Well, it’s a return to what the Lips did on Zaireeka, that crazy 4 CD ultra-stereophonic experiment released in 1997 with a 0.0 review from Pitchfork. These “planets” Wayne refers to must be a long way off because we’ve got a fair bit of noise in the transmission: the drums, which play anchor to the songs sprawling psychedelia sailboat, reverberate with splashes of fuzz; the vocals, well, they’re fuzzy too. All of Embryonic is a sort of mini-essay on 2009: the lo-fi, the NSFW music video, the only passable singing, the guest spots by MGMT and Karen O (see: Kid Kudi, Beck’s Record Club, N.A.S.A., Where The Wild Things Are, Yeah Yeah Yeahs obv.) and somewhere here Embryonic becomes so much a result of late 2008’s aural preferences that it instead becomes the sound of 2009 itself. [YouTube]
17) “Mature Fantasy,” Drummer. Not too much to stay about this one, just a few notes: #1) thank you, Drummer, for being straightforward. No curve balls here. No spirit-quest for originality with this band, only good old rock played by a band full of drummers rocking out on instruments besides the drums. Ah, fuck. That’s unique isn’t it — the whole band-of-drummers thing? Yeah, it is. You know what else is unique? Numerical lists with no #2. [YouTube]
16) “Only If You Run,” Julian Plenti. Can Mr. Plenti, err, I mean Paul Banks ever not sound like Interpol? The voice is still inseparable from the band — this solo project could be an Interpol LP, and this song a track therein. The guitar tone is straight off Our Love To Admire, the drums are still drums, there’s a few keyboards here and there but nothing to signify that J. Plenti is anything more than diet Interpol. Still, even without that mustached troublemaker of a bassist, Banks is on his game here — the slow-motion punch of the bassline and his signature nasal voice pleading with the listener to take heed (“you will make it / only if you run”) come together seamlessly. He makes a strong case for himself. But we’ll take your advice Mr. Plenti only if you take ours: record another Interpol album soon, but make it better. It’s that easy. [YouTube]
 Except for one lucky drummer who gets to actually play percussion. I wonder if they drew straws (or drumsticks)?