I saw these lists and my eyes lit-up with the opportunity for a good music breakdown, the only problem I ran into was my lack of a truly diverse taste in music. I’m a dude from Queens, NY that grew up in the 90’s and back-in-the-day my uncles were straight hip hop heads…diversity in my music collection stretches to my family’s Haitian roots via Kompas, so deal. Now that I’ve made my own conscious choices on the matter, I prefer to remove myself from America’s pop & mainstream culture when it comes to music. As such, this critique will address select rankings and elements of the list as opposed to a comprehensive analysis of the entire list (I know you like that line of bs right there, haha).
Rolling Stone’s Best Songs of 2009
This isn’t surprising especially for what is the greatest “NYC Anthem” since Sinatra’s “New York, New York” but what does it mean for Jay-Z, the former hood icon for crossing over from the streets to the beats and never giving in to the system. It’s a great track but ask any New Yorker who listens to HOT97 or frequents the hip hop clubs and they’re sick of it. I’m sick of it too, well not the song (benefits of being away) but the mentality it’s created revived. When I first heard the song I knew everyone in THE WORLD would get hype off of it and swear the missed the memo that New York was the place to be and now everyone is gushing with the “Empire State of Mind.” Even the switch.crew asked me to define it and it was a question I couldn’t answer easily. Put it this way, most people have pride in their hometown but not everyone’s hometown is hype enough to make an award-winning song about and that’s what bother’s me, Jay-Z has made songs about New York in the past (NaS did too), and yet this track is the golden child and that’s because it can sell a dream, like Sinatra’s track did. What’s next for Jay? I hope he’s making the system “talk mo’ bucks,” because if he gets anymore commercial I’ll have to revert to the Reasonable Doubt times. If you really need proof, listen to the edited & un-edited versions of Empire State of Mind, the delivery affects the message.
Really though?! America loves seventeen-year-old girls from the Midwest who can sing their hearts out because I’ll give Miley Cyrus that, she has above average singing talent to make this song a hit. But, beyond that this reminds me of those whack-rappers who make songs that live-and-die by the chorus and hooks…in this song they hook with constant repetition and the chorus is so simple I can see why 40 & 50 year-old adults got hooked as well. Here’s the credit I can give to this song…in a recession when times are tough for the average American its a real feel good song. However, don’t try to run-up on Rev.R and tell me this is the greatest song ever…I’d shelve it wherever the dusty copies of the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls of the world now reside.
On a dark night or even in a really dark club, Lady Gaga would scare the bejesus out of me if she walked up and asked for my number! I think a lot of what makes Lady Gaga so popular is the act/appearance associated with her and at times its over the top (see her various outfits at the MTV 2009 VMA’s) but that’s what keeps people interested. What does that mean for the rest of her career? I guess for the next 3-4 years she’ll get increasingly drastic and reach the point that it’s too much and she’ll go on a hiatus and make music just-to-the-right-of-the-spotlight. Oh but I will say that I think Gaga is a better singer by far than Miley Cyrus and she can hang with Beyoncé (but it was a shame seeing them together in the music video for “Video Phone”).
Sigh. What-to-say about this song? It was murdered on the radio, murdered with remixes (there’s an EP on iTunes with 5 mixes), and it might have been murdered entirely making its appearance on this list a tribute to its short-lived replay value. Just like Miley Cyrus’s hit song above, the Black Eyed Peas have people hooked on this track like a drug. I might have liked this track at some point but I can’t remember anymore and it’s not in my iTunes.
Congratulations to Kid Cudi for making the list. My commentary on this song just got cut really short…because I found out Kid Cudi made a music video to this version of the song and its funny…very Cudi-esque, meaning it borders between Half Baked and a hip hop video, yes he got video girls!
17 | Drake — “Successful”
Again congratulations to Drake for making the list and showing the world what happens when you get a co-sign from Lil Wayne and actually have talent. In my opinion, Drake is more popular and could sell-out a concert faster than Kid Cudi…and Drake hasn’t even dropped his first album yet. Drake is the hip hop enigma of 2009, he came out of nowhere from Degrassi to Rap and no one has challenged him for it. Meanwhile we find out Rick Ross was a corrections officer and he gets fried for a month about it.