#1 – Ian Brown – Stellify
From: My Way
Released: September 28, 2009
Buy it: Here.
As a self-admitted John Squire apologist (and major fan), it kind of feels a bit odd to give Ian Brown top props for the year. But here’s the thing, I have to argue with pretty much everybody to make my points about John Squire’s better moments on his two solo albums. With Ian’s music, I don’t have to argue with anyone. I returned home in November to find my parents dig it (is it cool to admit that? Or is that a strike against it? Whatever, I think it proves the point). It’s not to say King Monkey’s brilliant through and through — indeed My Way as a whole is as uneven as any of his post-Stone Roses work, but the thing about an Ian Brown album is that you’re always guaranteed one or two tracks that are going to knock it far, far, far out of the park. “Stellify” is easily the top choice here (although “Just Like You” provides stiff competition) — it’s the best hook you’ll hear this year, it’s the coolest love song of the last few years and the fact that it was written for (but never recorded by) Rihanna is both her loss and indie music fans’ incredible gain. Brown said it’s the first pure, direct love song he ever wrote (er… “Love Like a Fountain”?), but if this is the result when he uncovers a romantic flare and stops pontificating on arming space, evolution, religion, war and politics (OK, OK, I do love “My Star,” “Dolphins Were Monkeys” and “The Feeding of 5000”), he proves to be just as affecting. Horns have seldom sounded so celebratory as they do at the 2:40 mark, you find yourself singing along before the song ends, of if not that, then certainly shadow boxing. I will still be one of the first to buy John Squire’s next album if he ever puts down his paintbrushes again, but I’m not going to take sides anymore. Ian Brown’s just too fantastically enjoyable. And the fact that he can put out a song like this TWENTY years after the album he’s most celebrated for… how can you not root for the guy?
As is tradition with the #1 song, here’s the video. It’s one of the better videos of the year too, although I don’t at all dig the fact they cut the song down tremendously for it.