Without doubt, this penultimate section of my song list is the most varied. The styles featured here swing from extreme to extreme but all belie a cohesion that was only topped by the twenty songs ahead of them. One group comes to mind; Of Montreal. Releasing the most Prince-aping disc of the year, Kevin Barnes' glam determination underlines the doggedness with which these other artists stuck into the raison d'etre of these songs.
Here they are...
40. ‘I Need You’ (Alicia Keys): I could wax lyrical about the many, many faults of Alicia Keys but 'I Need You' is the result of what she does right in spite of her earnest self. When she coos her lyrics and allows the music to shape the direction of the song and not her vocal affirmations, its rthe most sensual thing she's done.
39. ‘Indestructible Life’ (Old Time Religion): a collage of bad dialogue, chaotic music rushing wildly around…what the hell is happening here never becomes clear or resolves itself and while it’s scary, it’s also monumentally engrossing.
38. ’Yankee Go Home’ (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah): every list should make room for a little indulgence so we arrive now to CYHSY. When Ounsworth tears into the chorus it’s the most infectious thing ever and the socio-political context is pleasing yet unmistakably sad at the same time. It wasn't supposed to work but somehow it does.
37. ‘I’d like To’ (Corrine Bailey Rae): pitch perfect range finally found.
36. ‘Roc Boys (And the Winner Is…)’ (Jay Z): Jigga is back doing what he does best and though only white critics have been praising what is essentially just a plain good disc, everyone can agree on this track's greatness.
35.‘The Fragile Army’ (Polyphonic Spree): showing My Chemical Romance how it’s really done.
34. ‘Gronlandic Edit’ (Of Montreal): swiftly proving to be band of the year, Of Montreal treats us to some suave faux vocals and stunning textures. A real smooth triumph.
33. ‘Violet Stars Happy Hunting’ (Janelle Monae): Outkast’s best kept secret steps out with a totally rocking single that recalls the ephemeral danger of Grace Jones.
32. ‘Wild Mountain Nation’ (Blitzen Trapper): sweet retro rock tune.
31.Map of the Problematique’ (Muse): treads a constant and sublime line.
30.‘Hot Wuk’ (Mr. Vegas & Opal): wicked rhythm coalescing with devious intent as only Jamaican music can.
29. ‘Delirium’ (Rahsaan Patterson): bridges both funk and blues camps with its high-voltage of funk, making Patterson the most exciting R&B find this year.
28. ‘Art Bitch’ (Cansei de ser sexy): though CSS meander always somewhere between slight and swift variations of fun, ‘Art Bitch’ mixes enough MIA and Bjork-esque aesthetics to concoct an impressive hybrid of abstraction and attitude. Besides how do you top a line like, ‘I sell my crap/ and people ask for more’!
27. ‘Cobra style’ (Robyn): the stuff of which Pink can only dream to produce.
26.‘Faberge Falls for Shuggie’ (Of Montreal): the best Prince rave up since Beck’s ‘Sex Laws’.
25.‘Relax, Take It Easy’ (Mika): a smooth, retro romp that updates George Michael’s ‘Fast Love’ stoned vibe.
24. ‘Skip Ghetto’ (Pop Levi): even when softening his stance and delivery, Levi is still miles ahead of the pop batch.
23. ‘A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger’ (Of Montreal): astonishing sampling technique used in this track that teaches others how it’s done and so heartbreakingly too.
22. ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ (Justice): the strongest song with vocals on their debut, the Paris duo show their North American funk rivals how it’s done.
21. ‘Kidz Are So Small’ (Deerhoof): a blissful collage of Bjork-like childish admissions that work in an off-beat, simplistic manner. Witness how Satomi’s vocals concede ground to the bare essentials driving the tune and one realizes how nuanced her work has become.