Quarterly report: My favorite songs of July-Sept. 2009

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Another three months have passed, which means it's time to run down my favorite songs of Q3. Look out for the albums list tomorrow. And for reference: Q1 singles // Q1 albums // Q2 singles // Q2 albums

(1) Drake feat. Trey Songz, "Successful" I jumped on the "Best I Ever Had" bandwagon too late to rep the year's best hip-hop/R&B track on the last quarterly report, but allow me to hype up another fine selection from the former Degrassi star. Drake's moody meditation on making it big exudes bravado, desperation and a hint of resignation, as if he knows the money, cars, clothes and hoes he's striving for aren't going to bring the satisfaction he seeks. The radio edit wisely cuts Lil Wayne's perfunctory guest verse, leaving our star to wallow in his own spotlight.

(2) Kid Cudi feat. Kanye West, "Make Her Say" "Pokerface" was already an amazing dance-pop single, but Cudi's reinterpretation hijacks Lady Gaga's signature song and rockets it to the outer reaches of the stratosphere, where it can lazily orbit around Kanye's planet-sized ego. (I kid, Yeezy!) That a song so juvenile in its subject matter could be so next-level in its execution is one of pop's greatest, goofiest contradictions of the year.

(3) Thom Yorke, "All For the Best" A cover of a Mark Mulcahy tune recorded for a benefit album to support Mulcahy and his kids in the wake of his wife's death, "All For the Best" is what happens when the frigid electronics of Yorke's The Eraser melt in the wake of warm-hearted human compassion. This is as beautiful as anything he's ever done, a perfect musical ration to tide us over until Radiohead gets around to dropping another LP. Bonus tidbit: The track features backing vocals by Yorke's brother Andy.

(4) The Flaming Lips, "Silver Trembling Hands" Of a kind with the rest of Embryonic's hallucinatory soundscapes yet miles ahead in the accessibility department, "Silver Trembling Hands" is the best single the Lips have dropped since the lovable schmaltz of "Do You Realize??" That insistent bassline, those ridiculous screams, the glorious release of those guitar chords on the chorus — this is how you keep psych-pop vibrant in 2009.

(5) St. Moses the Black, "West of Tolovana" I could have just as easily selected "Pangaea," the A-side from St. Moses the Black's sublime debut 7-inch, but I opted for B-side "West of Tolovana" because it's what first captured my imagination. The track alludes to the ocean floor, but listening to this song makes me feel like I'm floating on a raft down a river of acid. And like the elusive lady in the narrative, it always leaves me wanting more.

Listen at MySpace

(6) Times New Viking, "Move to California," (7) Matt Munhall, "Hipsterese," (8) Yo La Tengo, "Nothing to Hide," (9) Black Eyed Peas, "I Gotta Feeling" (10) Phantods, "Missed the Boat"