[Note: Just like last year, part one today; the top ten tomorrow.]
It seems like just yesterday I posted The Best Songs of 2009, According to p². Of course, it probably seems like that to me because most of the songs on that list are still blowing up my iPod a year later. I always think I hate new music, so I tend not to listen to it until it's already been a hit for three months. Then I "discover" all these great new songs (that already have muzak versions by the time I get around to them).
In my defense this year, my iPod was stolen in February and it's only recently been replaced. So there were several months during the spring and summer that I had very little access to music. I almost always write in silence, so even when I'm sitting here at my laptop I'm not usually listening to anything.
Fortunately, the AMAs give me clues every year as to which songs I should have been listening to all along and I catch up by playing them over and over until my ears bleed.
A couple things about the list. Even though they were both all over the AMAs this year (and just about everywhere else), I still have never consciously listened to a song by either Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber. I can't even really give you a reason why. I just haven't. So, they may have recorded the very best songs of this year, but you won't find them here because I don't know about them.
I live in an alternate universe where everyone that has ever finished in the top 10 of any American Idol season gets preference over anyone not named Madonna, Diana or Belinda. So, on this year you're likely to find a whole bunch of songs you've never heard before. But that's good news, right? Who needs to read a list of only songs you already have heard and gotten over?
19. I Like It (Enrique Iglesias) -- Weird thing about this song. The beginning totally reminds me of Telephone (Lady Gaga and Beyonce). But I almost hate that song; meanwhile I love this one. Ain't pop music fickle? I guess it's really me that's fickle, but you get my point.
18. Alejandro (Lady Gaga) -- This song sounds to me like a collaboration between ABBA and Ace of Base. It's not one of my five favorite Gaga tracks, but it's light years better than Telephone.
17. Binary Love (Blake Lewis) -- This is from Beatbox, the second album from the runner up of season six of American Idol. I have no idea what the hell this song is about, but I love it anyway. The thing about Blake Lewis (for me at least) is that his electronic sound is so throwback to the 80s (while still sounding current) that the first time I hear one of his songs, I get a nostalgic feeling and I almost immediately love it.
16. Beast of Burden (Lee DeWyze) -- After season eight, the song that snuck (sneaked? i never remember) up on me was Kris Allen's cover of Apologize. Just like that one, I don't remember being blown away by Lee's performance night rendition of Beast of Burden. I know I liked it, but that was about the end of it. Then I listened to the studio recording and it just became one of those songs that I keep returning to over and over. It obviously lacks the aggressiveness and grit of the Stones version, but Lee's more laidback take on it works just as well for me.
15. The Truth (Kris Allen) -- I'm going to be honest. If anyone else had recorded this song, I would have never listened to it more than once. But because it was Kris I gave it several chances to win me over. Eventually it did. I still think his debut album is mostly a disappointment, but I like him enough that I'll be happy to give his next release the opportunity to win me over.
14. You Take Yourself With You (Bo Bice) -- I have to be honest and say that I've had the exact opposite reactions to Bo Bice and Carrie Underwood (they finished second and first respectively in season four of Idol) than I expected. I thought I would love just about everything Bo did and that Carrie would succeed or fail without any support from me. Turns out that I haven't ever really fallen in love with Bo's post-Idol music. This song is an exception. It's more country than rock, which makes it even more surprising that I like it. But music's like love. You may have a "type" you always go for, but you never know what's going to sweep you off your feet.
It's from his third album (mysteriously titled "3") and it's the first song I've liked of his since his first The Real Thing (2005). Having moved around the country several times during my life, I completely identify with the message of the song. Plus, it's one of the more radio-friendly songs he's recorded.
13. Doesn't Mean Anything (Alicia Keys) -- I never really took an interest in Alicia Keys until I heard her with Jay-Z last year on the American Music Awards. I still haven't listened to her older stuff, but I immediately went and downloaded Element of Freedom. Great album. This is one of my three favorite songs from it. And the bridge in this song is awesome (I have somewhat of a bridge fetish -- music bridges, not water-spanning ones).
12. California Gurls (Katy Perry) -- Enough of the Katy hating already! I can't believe how many people actively hate Katy Perry. But to tell you the truth, I think she might actually like it that way. Of course, most of the people I know that hate her are people my age. And people my age now hated Madonna in 1985. I think it's almost necessary to have the disdain of the older generation if you want to remain relevant in popular culture.
Anyway, I guess this song is supposed to be her response to Empire State of Mind. If it is, it's perfect because it feels so perfectly SoCal, in the same way Jay-Z wrote something that epitomized NYC. And I love both songs.
11. Terrified (Katharine McPhee) -- I don't really remember listening to this song when I first downloaded Kat's album, but then Didi Benami did it during Hollywood week of Idol and I went back and started playing it. It quickly became one of my most played songs in iTunes. The version I like is featuring Jason Reeves (although I defy you to actually hear anyone but her singing on this track), but the video features Zachary Levi. Since I've never heard of either one of them before, I have no idea why they made the switch when they released this as a single and made the video.