Greatest Songs of 2009, #20 to #16

20. “Animal” by Miike Snow

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“Swedes: they’re still insane! Enter Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, better known as Bloodshy and Avant, the Stockholm production duo known for doing tracks with Madonna and Britney Spears, notably on the single-of-the-century contender ‘Toxic.’ Here they hook up with indie boy Andrew Wyatt, manhandling his plaintive love ballads until they explode into freewheeling electro fantasias.” (Rolling Stone)  

19. “White Liar” by Miranda Lambert

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“I think someone’s in a little songwriting funk. The #37-stalled ‘Dead Flowers‘ had intriguing lyrics but a generally bland sound; this one has the inverse problem. The melody and production are reminiscent of Little Big Town‘s best rustic country-rock, and there’s a much more commanding hook here than ‘Dead Flowers’ had, but the effort is compromised by throwaway lines like the chorus’ closing ‘And I don’t know why, white liar.’ Don’t know why what, MirLam? If her word sense is a little rusty, though, her storytelling bone is strong as ever. She keeps finding interesting new ways to frame her standby ‘vengeful woman’ character, and here she imbues a rather ordinary song conceit (calling out a lyin’ man) with a good dose of dry attitude, plus a twist that invites a whole different layer of psychology to the party. The shortage of lyrical meat gives the song an “undeveloped storyboard” kind of feel, but the overall energy of the execution goes a long way toward making up for it.” (Country Universe)

18. “Slowly (Oh So Slowly)” by Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band

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“Ever since the lonesome-cowboy-in-Brooklyn sound of his 2005 Bright Eyes‘ release, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, Conor Oberst has moved away from his early, gloomy bedroom folk towards something closer to country, and certainly warmer and more inviting. And now, backed by the Mystic Valley Band on his second solo record for Merge, he’s loosening up a bit, giving his songs a new, wide-open feel. ‘Slowly (Oh So Slowly)’ is not, as its title implies, his warbling, cracked brand of hushed folk. It is all rollicking country-rock, big with twanging guitar leads and busting with organ rundowns. Oberst’s singing is clear and lively here. He raises his voice to a contained shout once or twice, but never breaks the melody in favor of histrionics. And he smartly continues to push the more winking side of his dark themes. You can picture him half-grinning as he belts out the line, ‘Dementia, you better treat me good.'” (Prefix Magazine)

17. “Successful” by Drake

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16. “Ulysses” by Franz Ferdinand

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“‘I’ve found a new way, baby,’ sings Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos on the slashing funk-pop album opener, ‘Ulysses.’ But has he really? Three albums in, FF are doing the same thing, more or less the same way, with the same proficiency that catapulted them to the top of the international indie heap: setting louche tales of sex and romance to ferociously catchy white-boy disco grooves. …’Ulysses,’ which is about getting high out of sheer boredom, may outdo every previous Franz song for pure earwormy infectiousness.” (Rolling Stone)