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The 42 most memorable pop music moments of 2009: Part IV

December 24, 2009 |  9:00 am
POP_2009

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Best collaboration by anthropomorphic studio whizzes embargoed from release by record-label mumbo jumbo: When Danger Mouse (producer/multi-instrumentalist Brian Burton of Gnarls Barkley) reached out to Sparklehorse (the reclusive musical soundscape-ist Mark Linkous) about laying down some new tracks, the result was “Dark Night of the Soul,” an album full of lo-fi ballads of Gothic sweep and apocalyptic churn, chockablock with fuzzed-out hip-hop beats and contributions by a who’s who of invited singers – including Suzanne Vega and Julian Casablancas. Art house auteur David Lynch even stepped in to shoot an accompanying photo book. But when it came time to release the music, Burton’s label, EMI, got litigious about commercially distributing the work in conjunction with the coffee table book. Endgame: “DNOTS” is out there, widely available for free online, but never reached iTunes. (Chris Lee) Photo: Downtown Records

Neonindian Music genre with the most absolutely impenetrable subgenres: Indie rock. Underground rock music has long been about subdividing and pegging names to ever-more-obscure offshoots. But really, can you describe exactly what constitutes “chillwave” or “glo-fi?” What about the unprintable name of an especially nasty strain of shoegaze? 2009 was the year indie rock officially ate its tail and became one massive in-joke for the two dozen people who for whom Neon Indian represents a watershed in production styles. (AB) Photo: Lefse Records

Batforlashes Best year for mystic lady rock: In a secret ceremony in a northern wood, Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks got together and let out a siren call, audible only to other mystic ladies-in-training. Not only did we have Bat for Lashes’ “Two Suns,” a lunar romance partially birthed at Joshua Tree, but Bat for Lashes bandmate Caroline Weeks came out with the gorgeously fragile “Songs for Edna.” Closer to home, Warpaint is readying their mysterious psychedelia for a debut album in 2010 from Rough Trade Records. (MW) Photo: Bat for Lashes. Credit: Brooke Nipar



Gaga_moca95 Best pop fashion item: Lady Gaga’s Frank Gehry hat. There were Dali-worthy disco balls, bubble-wrap getups and a coat of Kermit the Frog pelts in Gaga’s extensive 2009 wardrobe. But the most audacious of all might have been her Frank Gehry-designed hat for her appearance at the reopening of the Museum of Contemporary Art. It wasn’t her most attractive piece -- it looked like a post-industrial wasp’s nest -- but to walk outside and behold another Gehry creation down the block was to be reminded that pop is fundamentally public spectacle, and nobody did that better than Ms. Germanotta this year. (AB) Photo credit: Ann Johansson / For the Times

Lambert_ama Performance that spawned the most hypocritical outrage: Adam Lambert at the American Music Awards. After Britney Spears and Madonna’s scripted onstage liplock and Katy Perry’s for-the-boys bicuriosity, it was only a matter of time before a male pop singer planted one on another fellow on a public stage. But who knew that Glambert’s actually-quite-tame AMAs performance would have caused such a kerfuffle? To unpack the public reaction is to wade into deep rapids of double standards; a place where a joyless lyrical threesome with Spears goes unremarked upon and Lil Wayne can proposition literally every single woman alive in a song, but a bit of light S&M among guyliner’ed rocker boys can turn TV audiences apoplectic. Somewhere, a bewildered David Bowie is wondering what decade we’re living in. (AB) Photo: Getty Images

Gucci_mane Best cameo rapper: Gucci Mane. Despite his many legal imbroglios, the Atlanta rapper managed to have one of the most productive years behind the mic in 2009, guest-versing on more than 150 tracks across mix-tapes, albums and singles, all sporting his husky drawl and ubiquitous “Gucci!” catcall. His most popular one, Mario’s magnificently wacky slow jam “Break Up,” had the year’s most reassuring advice for spurned dudes: “Girls are like buses. Miss one, next 15 -- one comin.” (AB) Photo: Getty Images

RELATED:

The 42 most memorable pop music moments of 2009: Part VII

The 42 most memorable pop music moments of 2009: Part VI

The 42 most memorable pop music moments of 2009: Part V

The 42 most memorable pop music moments of 2009: Part IV

The 42 most memorable pop music moments of 2009: Part III

The 42 most memorable pop music moments of 2009: Part II

The 42 most memorable pop music moments of 2009: Part I

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