Writer Best of 2009: Marcus K. Dowling


Name: Marcus K. Dowling
Location: Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD
Website: http://www.tgrionline.com
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We’re bringing back our Writer and Reader Top 5ives for the of the best releases of the year. I’ll be profiling a new reader and writer each day over the next several weeks to see what their best tracks of ‘09 were. If you want your Top Five releases to appear on the site, enter your submissions here.

Successful – Drake f/ Trey Songz

“I want the money/money and the cars/cars and the clothes/the hoes/I suppose/I just wanna be/I just wanna be successful.” And in one refrain, Trey Songz summed up an entire generation. It’s a fair assumption to make that the “me” generation is back in full force. However, as with most things in our day and age, the assumption of a perfect synthesis of this is faulty at best. Yes, we’re back to a “me” generation, but unlike the 80’s wherein we were hoodwinked as an entire nation into believing that the goals of money, cars, clothes and hoes were all well within reason, we’re something entirely different. We’re a culture of the dual forces of cynicism and irony, one that makes us all believe we deserve material gain, but definitely unsure if the path to acquisition will be swift, difficult, or for many, even possible at all. Somewhere in Songz’s elegant yearning and Drake’s insistent pleading, you hope beyond hope, as you hope for yourself, that they’ll be “Successful,” and the universe will ultimately be okay.

“Pon De Floor” – Major Lazer

Pon De Floor?” Massive. A dancehall sonic acid test, with marching band drums, it takes popular underground dancehall rhythms and spaced out noise, and somewhere between the two with the help of veteran Vybz Kartel, Diplo and Switch create a track so delirious that it inspired wild dancing not just in the controversial video clip, but in literally every dance club, large to small, worldwide.

Florence and the Machine – “You’ve Got the Love” (The XX Remix)

The XX, the world’s first British/gothic/soul/hipster act, took Florence and the Machine’s elegant downtempo pop cover of Candi Stanton’s 1986 post disco/jazzy soul hit “You’ve Got the Love,” and with a dash of UK 2-step, the most amazing loop of a harpsichord, and vibraphones (!) remixed and redeveloped the song from lovelorn dance pop standard into something more aligned with Florence’s usual moody yet hopefully upbeat temperament. The magnificence turned the blogosphere and ALL DJs worldwide on their collective ears.

Simian Mobile Disco x Beth Ditto – “Cruel Intentions” (Joker Remix)

Ditto, the Rubenesque soul stirring chanteuse becomes Ditto the purring sex kitten with the help of some of the funkiest synths in awhile, which, when aided by a dubstep bassline placed so low in the mix that it is less than overtly perceptible, and an addendum to the style, not the style itself. The track comes off as some smoldering, sexy trunk funk, as if Keith Sweat and Dr. Dre got together at the heights of their careers and made classic material at it’s chorus, with some retro leaning Afrika Bambaataa leaning electro funk at the ephemery. Simply incredible.

David Guetta ft. Kelly Rowland – “When Love Takes Over”

“When Love Takes Over,” the lead single from Guetta’s album, is a piano driven electro paradise crafted as a showcase for Kelly Rowland’s vocal artistry. Nearly sampling Coldplay’s piano line for “Clocks” chord for chord throughout doesn’t hurt the mainstream appeal of the track either, but Kelly Rowland sings this song as if she’s fully aware that it’s about to make her tons of money and redirect her entire career. It’s debut at this year’s Winter Music Conference in Miami is seen by many as one of the musical touch points of the year, and it’s clear why.