Listeners' Choice: 2009's Best Songs (So Far) In July, thousands of NPR's All Songs Considered listeners cast votes for their favorite songs of 2009's first half. Bob Boilen, the show's host, discusses the results and plays some of listeners' favorite songs with NPR's Melissa Block.
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Listeners' Choice: 2009's Best Songs (So Far)

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Listeners' Choice: 2009's Best Songs (So Far)

Listeners' Choice: 2009's Best Songs (So Far)

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

A few weeks ago on the program, we mentioned the online poll being run by All Songs Considered, asking listeners to pick their three favorite songs of the year so far. And now, the results are in.

(Soundbite of song, "Blood Bank")

BLOCK: This song came in third in the listener poll, and All Songs Considered host, Bob Boilen, is here to talk about it and the rest of the top three.

Bob, welcome back.

BOB BOILEN: Thank you.

BLOCK: And we're listening to a song by the group Bon Iver. The song is "Blood Bank."

BOILEN: It's a song that was recorded in a cabin a few years ago in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It's on a new EP that he's put out, an EP of four new songs.

(Soundbite of song, "Blood Bank")

BON IVER (Musician): (Singing) Well, I met you at the blood bank. We were looking at the bags, wondering if any of the colors matched any of the names we knew on the tags. You said see look it that's yours, stacked on top with your brother's. See how they resemble one another's, even in their plastic little covers. And I said I know…

BLOCK: And tell me more about Bon Iver.

BOILEN: Bon Iver is an artist that came out of nowhere and had the best album of 2008, a record called "For Emma, Forever Ago." And it's not surprising that this is a favorite record of the year because people love his sound. It's slow, it's building. It's highly emotional music.

BLOCK: Okay. So Bon Iver and "Blood Bank" coming in third. On to second place now.

(Soundbite of song, "Two Weeks")

BLOCK: And, Bob, this is the song "Two Weeks" by the band Grizzly Bear.

BOILEN: Grizzly Bear is a really hugely eclectic band, very spacious, and they've made this fantastically wonderful pop song that often sounds at times like The Beach Boys, frankly.

(Soundbite of song, "Two Weeks")

GRIZZLY BEAR (Musicians): (Singing) I told you I would stay. Would you always, maybe sometimes make it easy? Take your time.

BLOCK: Okay. Well, the suspense is killing me, Bob. The number one song of the year on the All Songs Considered - All Thongs Considered - that would be a poll.

BOILEN: That's the beach version of the show.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: The number one song of the year so far, according to the All Songs Considered poll, is?

BOILEN: "My Girls." It's by a group called Animal Collective. And their music is very heavy, pulse-based music, very tribal music, very electronic base. And I know tribal and electronic could feel really opposed. But when you're in a club with 1,000 people, dancing to this throbbing music, there is something totally dynamic and tribal about what they do.

(Soundbite of song, "My Girls")

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE (Musicians): (Singing) I don't mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status. I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls. I don't mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status. I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls. Is it much that I feel…

BLOCK: Bob, when you're doing these polls, putting these lists together, how do you know that fans of, say, Grizzly Bear or Animal Collective aren't organizing campaigns to push their song right up to the top?

BOILEN: Well, it's certainly easy to tell by the spike in votes that you'll get all at once. And then it's certainly all so easy just to go to the MySpace page of a band, and you'll see their campaign right there, just like the fans will. So we really take all that into account.

BLOCK: Uh-huh. Thinking about these songs and looking at these groups, you've got 20-something, maybe barely 30-something white guys, not the most diverse sample of music here. Nobody's writing in, apparently, saying, you know, Kenny Chesney or Diana Krall or Beyonce have the song of the year.

BOILEN: We haven't gotten that. You know, All Songs all year long plays all sorts of music, but there's no doubt that the most vocal people, the people that write to me all the time, the people that I'm in contact with, the back and forth, is between people who are often in their late teens, 20's and 30's.

But I have to say people who are baby boomers find often connection into the music that these 20, 30-year-olds like. And that's because the people making this music are very in touch with the music of the past. It's not a disconnect. It's a straight line. It's a straight line back to music of the past that weaves in and out of a lot of music that we can find on this poll. And you can see all 30 best songs of the year so far…

BLOCK: So far.

BOILEN: …and best 30 albums of the year so far at npr.org/allsongs.

BLOCK: NPR All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen. Thanks so much.

BOILEN: Thanks, Melissa.

(Soundbite of song, "My Girls")

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE: (Singing) I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls.

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