The Top 50 British Songs of 2009

2009 was a great year for British music, although much of it went unnoticed by the U.S. music press. Susan Boyle and the X Factor kids dominated the news, and a lot of good music got lost. Hopefully, this post will help remedy that.

Britain has always produced great ethereal female singer-songwriters, from Kate Bush to Liz Fraser to Beth Orton. This year, the genre was booming, giving us Florence + the Machine, La Roux, Bat For Lashes‘s Two Suns, and the kooky Marina and the Diamonds (who is certain to breakout in ’10). The Noisettes filled in the retro soul gap for Amy Winehouse and conquered radio with the indelible, Motown-inspired “Never Forget You.” Stalwart veteran bands like Manic Street Preachers, Pet Shop Boys, Bad Lieutenant (a.k.a. the “new” New Order), and Ash demonstrated that they still had creativity to burn.

And indie bands like Camera Obscura, The Horrors, The Maccabees, The Cribs, Bat For Lashes, and Doves showed real artistic growth, putting out their best work to date. Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr‘s effect on The Cribs has been nothing short of miraculous, turning an overhyped, immature indie band into a real contender.

And Doves, who’ve put out some of the best songs of the past decade, hit a peak with the Western ballad “Kingdom of Rust,” their most moving song yet (and, in my estimation, the best British song of 2009). Take a listen to all 50 tracks below. You may find some new favorites to add to your music library.

50. The Maccabees
“Can You Give It”
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49. Morrissey
“I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris”
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48. Ash
“True Love 1980″
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47. Fanfarlo
“Drowning Men”
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46. Lily Allen
“F*** You”
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45. Manic Street Preachers
“Jackie Collins Existential Question Time”
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44. Editors
“Papillon”
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43. White Lies
“To Lose My Life”
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42. Mika
“Rain”
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41. The Twilight Sad
“I Became a Prostitute”
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40. Jamie T
“Chaka Demus”
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39. The Horrors
“Who Can Say”
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38. Marina and the Diamonds
“I Am Not a Robot”
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37. Pet Shop Boys
“Building a Wall”
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36. Bat For Lashes
“Daniel”
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35. Franz Ferdinand
“No You Girls”
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34. Mr Hudson ft. Kanye West
“Supernova”
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33. The Horrors
“Sea Within a Sea”
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32. Paolo Nutini
“Candy”
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31. Pixie Lott
“Boys and Girls”
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30. Super Furry Animals
“Inaugural Trams”
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29. Camera Obscura
“Honey in the Sun”
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28. Florence + The Machine
“Drumming Song”
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27. Gomez
“Airstream Driver”
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26. Kasabian
“Where Did All the Love Go?”
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25. Arctic Monkeys
“Crying Lightning”
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24. Arctic Monkeys
“Cornerstone”
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23. Paloma Faith
“New York”
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22. Pet Shop Boys
“Did You See Me Coming?”
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21. The Big Pink
“Dominos”
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20. Doves
“Winter Hill”
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19. Mumford & Sons
“The Cave”
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18. Lily Allen
“The Fear”
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17. Calvin Harris
“Ready for the Weekend”
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16. Camera Obscura
“French Navy”
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15. La Roux
“Bulletproof”
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14. The xx
“Islands”
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13. Bad Lieutenant
“Sink or Swim”
Watch the videoWatch the videoBuy on iTunes

11. Basement Jaxx
“Raindrops”
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10. Dizzee Rascal
“Holiday”
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9. Franz Ferdinand
“Ulysses”
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8. Noisettes
“Never Forget You”
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7. Calvin Harris
“Flashback”
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6. The Maccabees
“Love You Better”
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5. Florence + The Machine
“Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”
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4. PJ Harvey and John Parish
“Black Hearted Love”
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3. Bat For Lashes
“Glass”
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2. The Cribs
“Cheat On Me”
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1. Doves
“Kingdom of Rust”
Watch the videoBuy on iTunes

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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