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John Mays’s Favorites of 2009

January 5, 2010

In order to celebrate the launch of a brand new year we have asked our staff to reflect on 2009 a little prior to tackling 2010. So we asked them to answer a few simple questions:

5 Favorite Songs of 2009
4 Favorite Albums of 2009
3 Favorite Movies of 2009
2 Favorite TV Shows of 2009
1 Favorite Moment of 2009


NAME: John Mays
VP of A&R

OK, first of all, to ask me to limit my choices to only five songs for an entire year is cruel. Second, I get to work with some amazingly gifted songwriters. Seriously some of the best. I could honestly list only their songs in my top five, but even though I didn’t write them, I have enough influence on them that it feels a little ugly and self-indulgent to include them in the list. Gray, Hale, Germain, Martel… your work is excellent, and many of your songs certainly belong on any list of the best I’ve heard this year.

Now. With that little disclaimer out of the way….

  1. “Unnatural Selection” –  Muse: I don’t really agree with the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em'” message, but I dare you to listen to this intro and not keep going.
  2. “The Rising” –  David Hodges: In a pop context, it can get really hard to create a song with no lyric that evokes some genuine feeling. This one does it for me.
  3. “Between Jennings And Jones” –  Jamey Johnson: I hit the floor the first time I heard it. At first I thought maybe it was just the delivery. But no, it’s as good as honest songwriting can get. I love the swipe at record company execs.
  4. “How Far Do You Wanna Go?” – Gloriana: Yeah, I’ve heard this lyric before, but something about the way the music made me want to sing it over and over again moved me to ask myself the question once again. Here’s to a hook.
  5. “Reality Came Crashing Down” – Eric Peters: The best songwriting surprises you with that magic moment when you say “that’s exactly how I feel but I didn’t know how to express it” Thanks Eric. Everything works about this.

There were several releases this year that I would’ve fully expected to make this list, but ultimately left me disappointed. (U2, Imogen and Mute Math for instance). Then, as always, there were some nice surprise gifts from out of nowhere. As with the songs, it’s SO hard to narrow these down to only four, so I just went by the play counts. For one reason or another, here’s what I listened to the most this year.

  1. Muse – The Resistance: I’m a fan, but I have to admit, this one was a slow burner for me. Now I’m almost to the point of saying it’s better than “Absolution”. Brilliantly written, performed, recorded and mixed.
  2. The Kicks – The Rise Of King Richie: If at the moment the first sound comes from your speakers, you don’t reach to turn this up?… you’re not breathing. Rock and roll as it was intended. Start breathing.
  3. Civil Twilight – Civil Twilight: Had never heard of them, but had to find out who was behind “Letters From The Sky” that was popping up everywhere on film and TV. Something good about every song on this one.
  4. Mindy Smith – Stupid Love: So, so listenable. A little more production applied to this one than her first two, and it was exactly the right move. Vulnerable, powerful, timeless.

You love different movies for different reasons you know? With that in mind, I apologize to all the legalist who are now angry that I broke the rules and listed more than three. I did the best I could.

  1. Star Trek: Man this is fun. And how hard would it be to recreate a 2009 cool version of the original bridge of the enterprise?! Kudos to J.J. Abrams. I’ve seen this twice and am ready to watch again. Gimme some popcorn.
  2. Henry Poole Is Here: I know. A sleeper, but just give it a try. Some funny moments, but not really a comedy. Sometimes, another’s faith in the unbelievable can bring a lost soul right back to life.
  3. Slumdog Millionaire: How many people were inspired to do something to make the world better after seeing this movie? Millions maybe? How amazing. Makes me want to aim that high.
  4. Gran Torino: Yep, sure enough. Underneath almost every crusty facade, there’s somebody that wants to love and be loved. You just gotta spend enough time to peel back the layers.
  5. Phoebe In Wonderland: This actually came out in 08, but I didn’t discover it until this year. Quirky and slipping in-between fantasy and reality. Usually I’m not a fan of that approach, but I loved this one.

Not too hard to only name two. Not a banner year for TV, but I do look forward to watching these.

  1. Community: I suppose it’s a guilty pleasure. Joel McHale is the consummate smart alec and who knew Chevy Chase would be this funny again?! In one of the early episodes, Ken Jeong had one of the funniest three minutes of TV I’ve seen. Senor Chang explaining why HE teaches spanish. Jeong should win an Emmy.
  2. Flash Forward: This started out with a fantastic premise and a couple of great beginning episodes. It has slipped a little as it’s gone along and is now on a break until March. Still a great idea, and the first episode ended with one of the best chill-bump moments I’ve seen in a long time.

(Woops! forgot about Ken Burns’ “National Parks”. So well done, as one would expect. Makes you want to get in the station wagon and head out.)

Reading Acts 17 aloud to a band of brothers while looking over the city of Athens from Mars Hill.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. glenK permalink
    January 6, 2010 11:03 PM

    Since I rarely see you at church, this kind of thing is what I’d like to read on your Twitter instead of “snorkeling.” “beans.” “itchy.” “somnambulism.”

    • John Mays permalink
      January 7, 2010 5:42 PM

      I remember having a somnambulism, but I don’t remember tweeting about it.

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