Welcome to the tracks that rocked our world over the past year. Disagree with our choices? You can vote your own favourites to the top, over on the Tracks Of 2009 Reader Poll.
You'll also find our 50 albums of the year here.
Plus, to read all-new reviews of the 50 best albums and tracks of the year, plus all the trends that defined the year, pick up the new issue of NME, on sale from Wednesday December 9.
When HEALTH suddenly got sexy, we didn’t know where to look
A driving, relentless riff, guitars put through pedal after pedal until they sound like hell’s own rave, Jake Duszik’s ghostly, coldly lustful vocals oozing contempt and desire at the same time.
A treatise on the nature of fame, disguised as a tale of relentless romancing
Referencing everything from Hitchcock to House Of Holland, it culminated in our gal Gaga killing her boyfriend as a publicity stunt. Postmodern comment? Or simply par for the course? One thing’s for sure, Lady Gaga has devoured Stefani Germanotta for good. The Haus Of Gaga always wins, and this Lady’s not for moving.
An emotional leap of faith set to stabbing synths
Strangely powerful yet angel-wing-light at the same time. This will still sound staggering in a decade’s time.
Signalled the arrival of one of 2010’s brightest hopes
The sort of tune that screams “play me!” 12-months-a-year, eight-days-a-week, packing as it does the three key ingredients of perfect pop: nagging riffs, swoon-inducing harmonies and handclaps aplenty.
Jigga, both back on form and in lavishly playful mood
“The city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien” he spat, but this had a power way beyond pharmaceutical.
Glucose-drenched acid-sonics - and something of a hit
For nearly six minutes it teetered on the edge of Frankie Knuckles’ classic ‘Your Love’ (also the base for the much-covered ‘You Got The Love’), but teasingly never quite dived in. Plus the gradual realisation that the “I just want four walls and adobe slabs” lyrics were a paternal rumination over the housing conditions of Noah Lennox’s ‘…Girls’ showed a more human, emotional side to the band.
Sometimes, the best thing a song can do is make you shut your eyes and jump up and down rapidly on the spot
After ‘Dance Wiv Me’ annihilated dancefloors nationwide, no-one expected its follow-up to enjoy anything like the same level of success. Yet ‘Bonkers’ was such a cast-iron belter it made everyone from skinny-jeaned fops to sportswear-clad trainee muggers make the letter ‘T’ with their hands and bellow “TUNE!” long and loud.
The moment of majesty comes during THAT chorus
A song that bleeds belief, thanks to Milo Cordell’s swaggering beats and Robbie Furze’s coldly nonchalant lyrics, which combine to create something with the rage of a whirlwind trapped in a very small room. It’s the Big Pink’s equivalent to ‘I Wanna Be Adored’; big, brash and absolutely magnetic.
For all ‘Primary Colours’’ brilliance, it’s this, their most forward-thinking moment, that shines the darkest
Drumbeat from Neu!. Morbid croon from Nick Cave. Bassline from Can’s ‘Yoo Doo Right’. Synths from Portishead’s ‘The Rip’.
Yep, The Horrors’ ‘Sea Within A Sea’ wasn’t the most original song of the year. Talent borrows, genius steals though, and when the aural patchwork quilt is as enthralling, scary and menacingly euphoric as this, who cares.
The sound of the entire band putting aside their past difficulties and just having fun for the first time
Beginning with a synth pulse straight from Studio 54, ‘Zero’ was immediately, grippingly the sound of Yeah Yeah Yeahs emerging from their red booth in the shadows onto the dancefloor. Not just emerging either: as the song stepped up its disco beat with Karen O exhorting you to “climb, climb, climb high up”, then exploded into an ecstatic, multiply-climactic thriller, it was apparent they were storming the...