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AiMT 2009: Best Non-Single Songs (w/ Bonus Phony Cover Art)


photo by Nick Crew

It hasn't been the most active year for AiMT, but I've tried my best to keep my ear to the ground, so I'll hereby commence AiMT 2009 with this list. While I'm tempted to guarantee more 2009 lists to come—specifically albums, singles and remixes—like last year, I'll just say, "I'm working on them." You see, these lists tend to be daunting for me, so only the good Lord knows whether or not I'll actually get them all finished. It could be that I get overwhelmed after finishing only one (see 2007) or that I manage to crank them all out after a few long nights (see 2008). Only time will tell.

This particular list may merit some explanation. Last year I made a singles list, and I plan to do the same this year. (I don't like settling on all-encompassing songs lists because I'm old-fashioned.) The problem is there were so many songs this year that felt like singles but technically weren't released commercially as such. Cue this list. And since these tracks aren't singles and therefore lack cover art, I made some dreadful, tacky fake covers. Why? I dunno—to meme up this feature or something. Click them to enlarge. Collect 'em all!

This list isn't as thorough as the other '09 lists will be. I'm sure I overlooked plenty of tracks that merited entries here, but this list is really more about songs that felt like singles or songs that I mistook for singles.

And lastly I'll give my disclaimer that AiMT 2009 (as well as subsequent years) is not comprehensive genre-wise. The entries on these lists are on topic for AiMT, so they're basically limited to dance-pop, dance music, hip-hop, etc. That's why list darlings like Animal Collective and the like are getting skipped. Maybe if I have time I'll make an off-topic list, but again, there are no guarantees in this cruel world. Enjoy!

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #15
Ellie Goulding - "Starry Eyed" [blogs]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #14
Rich Boy [ft. Skapio] - "Kool-Aid Kush & Convertibles" [blogs]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #13
Jennifer Hudson [ft. Ludacris] - "Pocketbook" [Arista]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #12
Cassian - "Final Round" [Bang Gang]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #11
Ikonika - "Sahara Michael" [Hyperdub]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #10
Washed Out - "Feel It All Around" [Mexican Summer]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #9
Mavado - "Gyal Bend Ova" [blogs]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #8
Bestrack - "Do It All Night" [Bouchemiture]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #7
Crookers [ft. Kid Cudi] - "Embrace the Martian" [Fool's Gold]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #6
Robin Thicke [ft. Nicki Minaj] - "Shakin' It 4 Daddy" [Star Trak/Interscope]

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #5
Friend - "Doki" [blogs]

"Doki" is perhaps the champion track of the regretfully coined "chillwave" movement. Friend is London-based producer Jesse Kanda, and unfortunately his Shima EP never dropped. Not much else to report about this steel drum-laden chiller other than it has a sweet minimalist video made from Wong Kar-wai film footage. Hopefully we'll hear more out of Friend in 2010.

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #4
Gucci Mane - "Lemonade" [So Icey/Asylum/Warner Bros.]

Gucci earned a cult following through the mixtape circuit in years past and has been a major player in the ATL music community since '05, but '09 was truly Gucci's year. He broke into the mainstream in a big way, and his number of featured spots probably tallies up there with Weezy and Drake. For many people, it was too easy to hate Gucci in '09. Just when the ATL-based crack rap waters started to subside, 'long comes this newly hyped poster boy with more tired tales of drug trafficking, an exaggerated Southern drawl, lots of big jewelry and even *gasp* a grill. (Soo '05.) But Gucci's stylistic lagging didn't stop him from putting out some really competent material, like the quirky Bangladesh-produced "Lemonade."

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #3
Dâm-Funk - "(My Funk Goes) On & On" [Stones Throw]

When Dâm-Funk impacted earlier this year, so many questions swirled around music circles, namely, "Where did this guy come from?" While his alien brand of G-funk felt so relevant in '09, it didn't fit comfortably into any of-the-moment blossoming music scenes. Dâm is a movement unto himself. We'll likely hear a billion artists biting this dude's sound in 2010. It just seems inevitable. "On & On" comes from Dâm's Toeachizown 12-inch series (and now double CD).

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #2
Big Boi [ft. George Clinton & Too Short] - "Fo Yo Sorrows" [blogs]

Inclusions and outtakes from the long-delayed and still forthcoming Big Boi solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty have been leaking for nearly two years now, and the Organized Noize-produced "Fo Yo Sorrows" sits near the top of the pile. George Clinton graces the track with one of '09's most infectious hooks, and Big Boi is in essential Outkast throwback mode. If this song is any indication of how good Chico Dusty will be, it could very well be the much needed period piece antidote that does for Outkast's legacy what OB4CL2 has done for Wu. Chico Dusty should be out in February on Def Jam.

PHONY COVER ART! Click to enlarge. #1
VEGA - "No Reasons" [blogs]

Alan Palomo of Ghosthustler and Neon Indian fame is also the force behind VEGA. While Neon Indian saw an album release and extensive touring in '09, VEGA only got a short-lived blog buzz back in May and dropped no commercial releases. "No Reasons" was slated to be commercially available on Vogue College Records via VEGA's Well Known Pleasures EP, which sadly never hit shelves. "No Reasons," unlike the hazy lo-fi synthpop sounds of Neon Indian, is slick and glossy. It's topnotch filter house-enriched dance-pop ambrosia, and it's easily in the same league as your favorite Daft Punk track. It demands the attention of any dancefloor whose patrons are even the slightest bit adventurous. Let's hope the EP delays mean Palomo is shopping around with the majors.

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