Welcome to the weekly Newsroom Poll, where we will give you a sneak peek into the lives and minds of some of the correspondents, writers, editors and producers here at MTVNews.com. Every week, they'll answer a poll question that will reveal some of what we talk about behind the scenes here in the newsroom. Enjoy!
Nothing gets us excited like a good list, so when MTV News' James Montgomery made a list of the best albums of 2009 so far, it sparked a ton of debate amongst the staffers here. We also had long talks about whether or not Drake's mixtape really is the greatest we've heard so far this year. All this back-and-forth led to this week's question: What's the best song of the first half of 2009?
Even though the mixtape this song debuted on Kanye's blog last summer, I'll have to go with Kid Cudi's "Day N' Nite." Sure, I may be biased because he's a fellow Clevelander, but that song has a long shelf life (probably due to the countless remixes that are put out). Everything he does is catchy, from Kid Cudi's style (which is something that straddles singing and melodic rapping) to the track itself (from the major scale synths to sampling bands like RATATAT and Band of Horses). I don't think a song without a proper album has been this successful since Lisa Loeb's "Stay." (Lisa Loeb / Kid Cudi comparison = Success!)
I pretty much exactly fit the description James Montgomery gave of the stereotypical Brooklyn-residing Wilco fan in his Best Albums of 2009 So Far list on Wednesday. And not only is Wilco (The Album) my fave album of the year, but their show in Coney Island on Monday was definitely my favorite concert of the year too. But this list is about our favorite jams, and I have to say none of Wilco's latest stand above the others. So, continuing with my predictably Brooklynite taste, I've got to go with the Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Zero." I think it's about some ambitious performer who's still a "zero" to everyone but is on climbing a "ladder to the sun" while wearing leather. Or something like that. Anyway, the driving beat and Karen O's wails make me want to break out into an ecstatic run every time I hear it. Gets a bit dangerous when I'm listening at the office.
Wow, I'm a big loser. I couldn't name a single song that came out in the first six months of this year. "Halo" is fun, though!
The one song that stands above all others is "Uffe's Woodshop" by Tyondai Braxton. I'd recently made a concerted effort to stop listening to Battles' Mirrored and start giving other music a chance, and then this song came along by one of the album's masterminds to serve as a very enjoyable replacement. I just wish I didn't have to stream it from the Warp Records Web site all day.
At the beginning of 2009, I was unemployed and seriously considering changing my career path and getting into medicine or copper mining or something. Working at the magazine I used to work at had sort of eroded my interest in pop culture in general and in music in particular, so I spent most of the first part of the year listening to sports podcasts and Nine Inch Nails albums. It was rare that a new song or album wandered into my transom — I still haven't heard the Animal Collective album. But right around the time I was interviewing for my new sweet MTV gig, R. Kelly dropped a mixtape. Kels is probably my favorite artist of the 21st century, not only because of the whole amazing "Trapped in the Closet" fiasco but also for the remarkably great Double Up ("Girl, I'm not about to sit up here and argue with you about who's to blame or call no no names/ Real talk") and the fact that he scored one of the biggest hits of his career ("Ignition (Remix)") right after the whole sex tape controversy first broke. So it was only fitting that R. Kelly was the first artist that brought me back into the world of pop music, and that's why Kels' "Tip the Waiter" is my #1 jam of the first half of 2009. It's got everything that makes an R. Kelly song great: It takes place in a club, is fantastically literal, has a ton of Auto-Tune and is simultaneously charming and filthy. I also happen to love the fact that in his remix of "Every Girl" from the same mixtape, he claims that he really wants to have sex with the Statue of Liberty. But that's another blog post entirely.
While my first instinct is to answer Das Racist's "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," I've only really been bumpin' that jam for the past month or so. (Plus, I bet that will be James' answer.) The song I have listened to the most in the past six months is actually the opposite of a "jam," really — it’s Morrissey's "You Were Good in Your Time," the 10th track on his latest LP, Years of Refusal. It was the song that immediately stood out to me after hearing the entire album for the first time — it's beautiful, haunting, and really showcases his lovely voice, which only gets better with age. (I think Moz has become a sort of smooth, Rat Pack-esque crooner in recent years, and I am totally into that.) It also reminds me of the Smiths' "Rubber Ring," in that I think it’s written about the fans’ relationship with him — from the point of view of a fan that is thanking him for what he’s done, but letting him know they’ve moved on. (The latter part has yet to happen for me, though — forever obsessed!) I guess it isn't exactly 2009’s party-in-the-club-banger, but whatever. I also listened to Busta Rhymes' "Respect My Conglomerate" about 100 times in a row last weekend, if that counts.
A lot of people look at the Cool Kids' Gone Fishing mixtape like it's just a bunch of scraps from the perpetually upcoming full length. (The Bake Sale doesn't count, as all those songs were on the Internets a year before that dropped.) But for those of the more minimalist persuasion, Gone Fishing really delivers. But this isn't about my favorite mixtape. When "Pennies" starts up, the droney bass and lo-fi drum sequence deliver the head-bob, the first verse bounces along, leads into a chorus that ends in "this is the sound of throwing pennies on the ground," and then everything gets quiet. Then a voice. Is that ... Luda?! Epic verse. Best line: "I get a hundred a verse, so put a bid on it/ Unless you're God, or got a Cool Kid on it/ Then I might do it for free/ 'Cause what these bitches do for them, they might do it for me." So at that point, I'm content. But wait, there's more (RIP Billy Mays)!!! Then Bun B slays a classic verse as per usual. It's so good I actually shouldn't even be talking about it.