Down Like the Economy

DJ Earworm offers up his latest year-end mashup retrospective, putting together the top 25 songs of 2009. For me, despite how remarkably well it all hangs together, this doesn’t quite have the magic of last year’s collage, but it’s still a great way — much as I would prefer to never hear those BEP songs again — to relive the year in pop. Most of these songs were drilled into my head, and probably yours too, though I have to note that I missed a few of these given that my pop fix comes from Jamn94.5 here in Boston, rather than say Kiss108, so I (gratefully) skipped some of the non-hip-hoppy anthems making the rounds this year.

The most striking bit to me is the part we first hear&see at 0:22 to 0:32 (and gotta love the video mashing to accompany the audio — I mean, these tracks exist and circulate as much videos as they do as songs). It’s a string of people singing “DOWN,” and it made me realize how frequent that word was in underpinning and running through so much pop/rap/dance this past year. There’s something appropriate and deeply zeitgeisty about that, and not just because of the so-called Great Recession we’ve been in. Obviously, “down” is a multivalent term — something that Lil Wayne exploits in the simile I borrowed for the title of this post — but there’s a way that downness really nails not just the mood of the year (which was manic-depressive, if anything) but, for me anyway, the mood of the decade. I blame a lot of that on eight friggin years of George W. Bush, and as much as Obama has disappointed with his pragmatic centrism, I can only HOPE that the next year and the next decade will offer an UPswing of sorts. As usual, pop will be a barometer.