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Best of 2009: lists (part 2)
Posted at 2:30 PM, 24 December 2009 -

The online music publications have been publishing the inevitable "best of the year" lists. This is the second round-up of the Xenomania songs/albums that appear on those lists. (See part 1 here)

Orange Music Store: Top 10 Dance Tracks of 2009

Mini Viva - Left My Heart In Tokyo
Penned by the creative wizz-kids behind Girls Aloud's back catalogue and performed by a pair of loopy-as-you-like young starlets, 'Left My Heart In Tokyo' was only ever destined for chart glory.

Stuck Records: The Best 50 Singles of 2009

5. Mini Viva - Left My Heart In Tokyo
It’s a shame that for its greatness, ‘I Wish’ has seen Xenomania revert back to familiar territory with a ‘Call The Shots’-style mid-tempo number. Back in late summer ‘…Tokyo’ showed much promise from the duo who were (and hopefully still are) being groomed as GA’s natural successors. A very tasteful yet delirious song with many surprises (including false endings, disco baselines and crowbarred middle-eigths), it proved to be something of a slow-burner in the charts against the odds. Their launch has been surprisingly low-key, let’s hope 2010 gives us the chance to know them a little better.

Totally Dublin - The Ten Best Pop Albums Of 2009

2. Pet Shop Boys - Yes

Over 25 years into their career Messrs Tennant and Lowe wrote a top ten hit for Girls Aloud, won a Brit for Outstanding Achievement and, with the help of Xenomania, concocted their best album in years. Their trademark plangent melodies and wry lyrics are here in abundance. Love etc,. takes the subject of vacuous celebrity culture and has something intelligent to say about it. All Over The World takes a snippet of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and transforms it into a global-pop stomper. Pandemonium – which is ostensibly about Kate Moss and Pete Doherty – is typically witty, glamorous and brilliantly catchy. Legacy wraps a surreal lyric (“The Carphone Warehouse boy has been on the phone…”) around a sombre melody. The highlight is The Way It Used To Be – a dramatic pop belter to match anything in their back catalogue.

Fairfield County Weekly - 50 Nifty Records From '09

Pet Shop Boys - Yes

With the assistance of British hitmaking team Xenomania, the PSB concocted their best, frothiest, most hum-along-able album in more than two decades. Lead single "Love etc." is just as unforgettable as any of their previous singles. — D.T.

Drowned in Sound - Top 50 Albums of 2009

40. Annie Don't Stop

The Guardian - Critics' poll 2009

48. Annie – Don't Stop

Stuck Records: The Best 50 Singles of 2009

35. Pet Shop Boys - Did You See Me Coming?

This is a straightforward pop song and two people meeting, the attraction is obvious, or is the object of Neil’s attentions one step ahead and controlling the show? The stand out moment is as the middle eight ends and goes into the instrumental, it makes the song for me. Not the obvious choice for a second single from ‘Yes’, there are more singleworthy tracks on there, but this song breezes along quite nicely and it’s a positive song about the beginnings of a love affair. LA

30. Mini Viva - I Wish

In the January 2010 issue of Word magazine, Peter Robinson wonders whether (in order to make the charts reflect music consumption more accurately) a hypothetical 13-year old “hammering the same tune on repeat for eight hours on You Tube” should count towards that song making the chart. If this rule were in place in the last two months of 2009, Mini Viva’s single I Wish would probably be number one on the basis of my You Tube views alone, such is my tireless – and possibly mid-life-crisis-presaging – obsession with the song and its video. I find everything about it just utterly compelling; the double chorus, the lovely crystal clear synths, the sky-scraping melody. It is the last great single of the noughties and Mini Viva are the first great pop group of the “tens” (or whatever it will be called). I realise that Simon Cowell is a force for conservativism in pop, and that the last thing pop needs is undue regard for “tradition”, but this RATM4XMAS thing seems like anti-pop, pro-rock, pseudo-political, musical snobbery to me – and that’s just as conservative as Simon Cowell. Buy “I Wish” by Mini Viva instead! Honk your horn for bright as a button, primary coloured future-pop! Hrnk hrnk!! CG

6. Girls Aloud - The Loving Kind

Some of us (i.e. me) literally popgasmed at the news that Pet Shop Boys had collaborated with Xenomania on a song for Girls Aloud. If you are looking for a Pop Trinity they would be a good candidate. A midtempo affair in the same vein as ‘Call The Shots’, it had trademark Tennant melancholy, desperation (‘I’d do anything’) and hopelessness over someone’s suspected ability to be loved or loving. It’s what Neil once termed ‘tragi-disco’. Meanwhile, musically it makes one want to curl up in its warm synths against winter’s bitterness (an electro blanket?) and have a hot chocolate to hand. Although I pictured mist, station platforms and collars pulled up, the video reflected underlying anger with the girls smashing glass and various objects. But looking stunning while doing so. So fair enough. Girls Aloud’s last top ten single to date was a beautiful affair.

3. Girls Aloud - Untouchable

On the surface this is just a “fan favourite” from 2008’s ‘Out Of Control’ album which delightedly received a release towards the beginning of this year. But dig a little deeper and it’s much more significant. The original version runs at just short of seven minutes, make no mistake this is one epic pop song – although it was trimmed down to a much more radio friendly four minutes upon release. It also became Girls Aloud’s first official single (ignoring ‘Theme To St. Trinians’) to miss the top ten, which feels almost criminal considering some of the lame cover versions that have out-peaked it. Yet what makes it so good? Is it the immediately distinctive twangy hook? The build-up into a 90s-esque trance ballad? The beautiful “without any meaning we’re just skin and bone, like beautiful robots dancing alone” lyric which closes the track? Like the best Girls Aloud songs, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which is that crucial factor which keeps the whole thing hanging together so it’s best to stop analysing and just enjoy the sheer rush of another Xenomania classic.

14. Pet Shop Boys - Love etc.

On their best single for donkey’s years the Pet Shop Boys take the subject of celebrity and treat it with some compassion – a nice touch for the most famous ironists in modern pop. Love etc started out as a Xenomania backing track which the production house had been holding back for another artist, but Tennant and Lowe kept asking after the bouncy tune they’d heard in the studio until finally the Xenomania resolve was broken. It is in some senses an atypical single for the Pet Shop Boys in that it doesn’t sound like any of their previous, and yet at the same time there’s something about it that is unmistakably “them”. Maybe it’s the namechecking of Gerhard Richter, I don’t know. What I do know is, after The Beatles, the Pet Shop Boys are the best pop group there has ever been, and Love etc. is a worthy addition to the “oeuvre”. CG

Amazon.com - The Best Songs of 2009

4. Pet Shop Boys - Love etc.

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