Best Radio Single of 2009: Jay-Z feat. Alecia Keys – Empire State of Mind


2009 was one of the first years in a long time that I actually listened to the radio. People think that I hate pop music, and that’s not the case. I love pop music, I just hate hearing the same 5 songs every 5 minutes on the radio. And since I get a lot of these tracks months before they hit the airwaves, they are already played out by the time they reach the public.

And yes, there is a lot of pop music that makes me feel old–Mikey Cyrus’ “Party In The USA” for instance. However, there was a lot of great, and innovative pop tunes on the radio. Like these for instance…

1.) Jay-Z Feat Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind

This is not as much as Jay-Z song as an Alicia Keys track. The epic hook (In New Yoooooork) is almost as grandiose as teh city itself. Even though Jay phones it in lyrically, the song itself has become and iconic crossover hit worldwide.

2.) Gucci Mane – Wasted ( feat. Plies)

If I were back in college, this track would be on blast 24/7 on the boom box we kept facing the window. “Wasted” is what what it’s supposed to be. An party song that would get the red cups in the air in dorm rooms from Cali to Cambridge.

3.) Mario – Break Up (feat. Gucci Mane and Sean Garrett)

Most of y’all know that my verdict is out about Gucci Mane. I mean, the dude is a perfect compliment to any rap song with a hot beat, but could he hold is own on an album? But while we discuss that, let’s look at Mario’s “Break Up.” The Bangladesh-helmed instrumental has enough bass in it to let both Mario and Gucci breathe, but it’s Mane who stands out further.

4.) Kings of Leon – Use Somebody

Yeah, I’m a huge fan of early Kings of Leon, the scruffier, less pop-influenced kind (I’m still holding onto My Morning Jacket for that sound), but “Use Somebody,” was the perfect rock/pop song. It has a bombastic, karaoke-ready hook,

5.) Maxwell – Pretty Wings

After a 8year hiatus, (and doubts about his sexuality), Maxwell’s “Pretty Wings,” marked a fitting return for the R&B crooner. I’m glad that radio found room for a soft, soulful, and downright beautiful tune.

The Rest of the entries below:

6.) Drake – Best I Ever Had –  I love the fact that Drake was able to work this single onto radio without a record deal. A few months after this track debuted for free on his So Far Gone Mixtape, it became a sex anthem, influltrating all areas of our conciousness. The track itself, produced by talented Canadian producer Boi-1da was like anything else I’ve heard on radio. Drake also gets a +1 for “Successful” too.

6.) Beyonce feat Kanye West – Ego – This is one of my favorite tracks of 2009 hands down, only because of the multiple double-entendres that would surely make the FCC cringe. “Stroke my big ego.” Winner.

7.)Pitbull –  ‘I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho),’ and Hotel Room Service – Pitbull killed the game this year, not only making Latin-influenced dance floor fillers, but marking a very interesting production turn for Lil’ John. Who knew the King of Crunk cold make uptempo Latin dance numbers?

8.) Rihanna feat Young Jeezy – Hard – So thanks to Chris Brown, the bubble gum image of Rihanna is gone, replaced with this dark, evil cyborg who likes to punish men military style. Not like I’m complaining or anything…

9.) 50 Cent – Baby By Me – Every release, 50 Cent tends to recycle the same formulas that proved successful the last time around. This time, 50 actually recycles a line from his previous hit single, proving he’s one of the few people in the industry who can sample himself. Surprisingly “Baby By Me,” did not pop off like I thought it would, and Before I Self Destruct fared poorly at the register. Is the 50 dynasty crumbling?

10.) Young Money – Every Girl – “I wish I could f%ck every girl in the world.” It’s almost a ralling cry for a 13 year old boy who just finds out how is parts work. Even though Lil Wayne’s ode to multiple sex partners makes a parent cringe, Young Money is just saying what every straight male is thinking.

11.) Trey Songz – I Invented Sex – I may or may not have had this song playing in the background with the lights turned off this year. I’m not gonna tell. I will say that Trey’s “I Invented Sex,” has reinvigorated the dying genre of R&B male sex staples, which has been on life support ever since R. Kelly went all “Trapped In The Closet” on us.

12.) Mary Mary – God In Me – As a dude who loves gospel music (and a secret Mary Mary fan for a minute) I almost ran  off the road when I heard this on the radio. In the music industry, there has long been a divide between the secular and religious. Not only did this track make the radio, but they somehow got Malice of the Clipse to drop a repentance on the remix as well. Praise the Lord.

13.) Brittany Spears – Womanizer
–  I’ve never been a huge Brittany fan, but her musical selections over the past few years show a more diverse than ever. Womanizer might have one of the more annoying hooks of the year, but I fell in love with this upbeat dance number.

14.) David Guetta feat Akon – Sexy Bitch – Yes, I prefer Calvin Harris’ production to David Guetta’s. But seriously, who am I to talk? The dude is probably reading this blog post on his private yacht somewhere on the South of France. Even though this single is hobbled by a video with less production value than an Flip video on YouTube.

15.) Ke$ha – Tic Tok – I love it how Ke$ha took every hipster girl’s swag, packaged it, and marketed it to teenage girls in Iowa better than Mad Decent ever could. Let’s face it. Uffie, Amanda Blank, and Kid Sister could rock this song a lot harder than Ke$ha. If only they had the radio airplay.