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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Thursday, 14 January 2010 00:00|
Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You
Of all the albums released this year (from Metric's Fantasies and Calvin Harris' Ready For the Weekend, to any of the other of the massively successful albums), you are probably wondering why I chose to go with Lily Allen's sophomore album. Well, in a year where new albums by the Pet Shop Boys and U2 seemed to find the artists stuck in musical ruts, Allen explored new styles, new sounds, and new themes. In the end, I listened to It's Not You, It's Me more than any other this year.
People didn't expect the album to be as huge as it was, and I think the largest contributing factor to the success of It's Not Me, It's You is the personal connection that Allen makes to the listener. While not the most cohesive work out there, Allen still manages to explore several themes over the course the album. Whether it is examining her celebrity or her future, as sung in "The Fear" and "22", failure of relationships through various means in "Back to the Start" and "Not Fair", or the good and bad of families in "Chinese" and "He Wasn't There", there seems to be at least one song on the album that speaks to every listener.
Topped off by the satirical ditty "Fuck You" becoming a runaway hit in many areas of the world (including North America), whereas many artists and bands end up faltering on their second album, Lily Allen struck gold.
Lady GaGa - "LoveGame"
There were a lot of catchy, addictive songs released in 2009. At the very beginning of the year, I was all about "No You Girls" by Franz Ferdinand and "Fuck You" by Lily Allen, but by spring, and right into the summer, and then fall, I was all about Lady GaGa's "LoveGame".
There can be no denying that she is a creative and musical force to be reckoned with at the moment, and 2009 was certainly good to her. "LoveGame" is one of those songs that works well in almost any format. It is catchy enough for radio, danceable enough to be heard in all the clubs on a Saturday night, and a great song to have in any playlist on your mp3 player for the gym. This song has it all.
"LoveGame" created a buzz that was further solidified with the recent release of "Bad Romance" (which is slowly working its way into my brain as well). I hate to make comparisons like this, but Lady Gaga could very well have the kind of impact on music that Madonna did some twenty-five years ago.
Watch this one, because "LoveGame" is only the beginning.
Best Large-Venue Concert
Kylie Minogue at the Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario - October 9th, 2009
I didn't see many big-venue shows this year, and the ones I did could not measure up to the experience of seeing Kylie Minogue during her first ever North American tour.
Marilyn Manson was horrible, Britney performed but did not sing (and I accept that), which left U2 as the only real competition for this accolade.
While the U2 show at Rogers Stadium in Toronto was out of this world, going hand in hand with their space theme for the tour, it couldn't hold a candle to Kylie Minogue from my seat in the third row only weeks later.
My review of the Kylie show pretty much sums up my feelings, but let it be known that after seeing her twice already during her previous tour, this third experience absolutely blew my mind.
Best Small-Venue Concert
Bloc Party at the Bronson Centre, Ottawa, Ontario - March 17th, 2009
I saw many smaller-venue shows this year, and most were quite good. In fact, I think this was the year where bands and artists really hit their stride in terms of live performance.
There are way too many to list in this column, but notable mentions should be made for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Bluesfest in July, and Metric at the Civic Centre in October. The live performance that takes the top prize, however, is Bloc Party at the Bronson Centre in March.
This was my second opportunity to see Bloc Party live, and they were far and away better this time around. Not to say that my first live show with them headlining was a negative experience - on the contrary, actually. Bloc Party puts on a killer show, but this one back in March was different.
I fell instantly in love with their third album, Intimacy, when it was released in late 2008, and the opportunity to hear the material live was a real treat. The band certainly knows how to please an audience, playing old favourites as well as the new tracks, and, in general, completely rocking out.
It is unfortunate they have gone on an indefinite hiatus, as their hard work - both in the studio and on stage - is finally starting to pay off. I can only hope that my second time seeing them was not my last.
An Ottawa native, Mike is a government worker by day, and a self professed music and comic book junkie the rest of the time. To him music is more important than water or air.