2009: The top 10 in pop music

By JIM MACNIE  |  December 22, 2009

BÉLA FLECK | THROW DOWN YOUR HEART: AFRICA SESSIONS | ROUNDER
The banjo kingpin rolled through Africa, spending time in Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, and other countries, interacting with string players, percussionists, and singers galore. He was looking for a historical context for his instrument, but he came away with an addictive swirl of voices, lutes, koras, and a 15-foot marimba. Travelogue, true. But one that comes up with a bevy of effervescent goods that walk on the folkie side.

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III | HIGH, WIDE & HANDSOME: THE CHARLIE POOLE PROJECT |SECOND STORY SOUND
The runaway wit and trenchant poignancy that's marked Wainwright's work for 35 years bubbles through this set of tunes by and about Charlie Poole. Loudo has found himself a historic landmark that may turn out to actually be a forebear. The hard-drinking hillbilly could be silly or serious (mostly silly), and from "I'm the Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World" to "No Knees," this rather telling portrait thrives on both zest and sympathy.

SONIC YOUTH | THE ETERNAL | MATADOR
I've got nothing against extrapolation, and there's not a dissonance-prone outfit that has made more hay with long and windy skronk that Team Thurston. But pithiness has always upped their power quotient, and on this collection of concise baubles, the thorns are bolstered by focus. That also enhances the intensity and raises a flag for the less-is-more formula remaining a winning rock strategy.


TEN MORE GREAT TITLES

K'NAAN | TROUBADOR (A&M)
FRANCO FRANCOPHONIC VOLUME 2 1980–1989 | STERNS
YEAH YEAH YEAHS | IT'S BLITZ! | INTERSCOPE
PHOENIX | WOLFGANG AMADEUS PHOENIX | GLASS NOTE
LEONARD COHEN | LIVE IN LONDON | COLUMBIA
LA ROUX | CHERRY TREE RECORDS
A.C. NEWMAN | GET GUILTY | MATADOR
WILLIE NELSON | WILLIE AND THE WHEEL | BISMEAUX
MIRANDA LAMBERT | REVOLUTION | COLUMBIA NASHVILLE
RAEKWON | ONLY BUILT 4 CUBAN LINX, PT II | ICEH20


TOP 10 SINGLES

BLACK EYED PEAS | "I GOT A FEELING"
JAY-Z | "EMPIRE STATE OF MIND"
MIRANDA LAMBERT | "DEAD FLOWERS"
SEAN KINGSTON | "FIRE BURNING"
BRAD PAISLEY | "WELCOME TO THE FUTURE"
BLACK EYED PEAS | "BOOM BOOM POW"
THE LONELY ISLAND | "I'M ON A BOAT"
KELLY CLARKSON | "I DO NOT HOOK UP"
JAY-Z | "RUN THIS TOWN"
THE-DREAM | "WALKIN' ON THE MOON"

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