2009 was quite a year for music. Club beats were going mainstream, and many of the big artists we know and love today were just getting started.
Join us as we take a trip back in time to visit some of the most listened-to and best songs of 2009.
Just Dance – Lady Gaga
Before she was the legend she is today, Lady Gaga was a New York girl trying to break into the music industry. Her first big success, Just Dance, was a club banger that told the story of someone experiencing a disorienting, drunken evening.
The song itself was very much in line with 2009’s signature sound, yet it stood out in many ways, not the least being Gaga’s solid vocals and unique charisma.
I Got A Feelin’ – Black Eyed Peas
The Great Recession of 2008 saw financial firms go under, markets plummet, and the housing bubble burst. But, in the summer of 2009, people began seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Black-Eyed Peas ‘I Got A Feelin’ captured that optimistic moment perfectly. While it’s technically about the excitement of looking forward to a night out, the song speaks to anyone who wants to believe that things are improving.
Single Ladies- Beyonce
If you’ve been to a wedding, bachelorette party, or other similar events, you’ve likely heard Single Ladies by Beyonce. The song and its accompanying dance have become iconic in our culture, and 2009 was the year it was born.
Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas
To say that 2009 was a good year for the Black Eyed Peas would be an understatement. Their fifth studio album, The E.N.D. produced one Top 40 smash after the other, including I Got a Feelin’, Rock That Body, Imma Be, and of course, Boom Boom Pow.
The bass-heavy hit topped the U.S. Billboard 100 chart for 12 weeks and was named Billboard’s 2009 Song of the Year.
Fireflies – Owl City
In 2009, pop music was full of heavy bass beats and lyrics about “bottles and models.” Amid all this partying, we needed a song that helped everyone wind down and take a breather.
Fireflies by Owl City is a dreamy electronic lullaby featuring the soothing vocals of lead singer Adam Young. It topped the Billboard 100 Charts in the U.S. and several other countries, helping their album Ocean Eyes go six-times platinum.
Day n Nite – Kid Cudi
The brooding, repetitive sound of Kid Cudi’s Day n Nite makes perfect sense considering the lyrics were about a lonely guy who wanders around, seeking a connection he cannot find.
My Life Would Suck Without You – Kelly Clarkson
Yes, it’s a song about a dysfunctional relationship that both people would likely be better off leaving. But, that aside, it’s still a fun, sing-along anthem that people of all ages were rocking out to in ’09.
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Coldplay’s Viva La Vida received both critical acclaim and excellent public reception. The song’s sweeping, triumphant strings-based instrumental served as a perfect companion to its cryptic lyrics about a ruler’s downfall. Viva La Vida won Song of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards, and is mentioned on several “bests” lists.
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
For many people, Bad Romance was their first introduction to Lady Gaga’s avant-garde “Mother Monster” persona. The song was inspired by German techno and industrial music, and its memorable video featured an array of bizarre imagery.
Musicologists, psychologists, and art experts all weighed in on the song’s deeper meanings. Most importantly, though, people loved dancing to Bad Romance, and the chorus was incredibly catchy. Despite -or more likely, because of- these unusual features, the song shot to the tops of music charts around the world.
I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) – Pitbull
Cuban-American rapper/singer Pitbull was a significant contributor to the increase in the popularity of Latin music in the late 2000s. His hip-hop/reggaeton hit I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) made it to number 2 on the American Billboard 100 and also charted high in the international markets. With its sexy, playful lyrics and danceable beat, it was one of the top party songs of 2009.
Dead and Gone – T.I. Feat. Justin Timberlake
The powerhouse team-up of rapper T.I. and Justin Timberlake – both of whom were enjoying considerable success and popularity at the time- made Dead and Gone one of the top songs of 2009. The song is sung from the perspective of a man whose life choices lead to loss and his desire to make a new start.
Chicken Fried – Zak Brown
Zac Brown’s Chicken Fried has sometimes been the subject of debate. Is it an ode to Southern culture or a checklist of redneck stereotypes? Wherever you may fall on the topic, it’s undeniable that the song was a hit in 2009, so it must have resonated with plenty of people.
Circus – Britney Spears
By 2009, Britney Spears had already been a pop star for over a decade and had seen some challenging times in her life. The press had called her career done many times in the previous years, but Britney showed them she wasn’t down for the count. Her single ‘Circus’ became a chart-topper that showcased her talents and conveyed that she was the master of her own destiny.
Love Story – Taylor Swift
In 2009, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift was 19 years old and had already been ruling the country genre for several years. While Love Story was not her official foray into pop music, the song did manage to get crossover play on non-country radio stations.
Its universal theme of young, forbidden love resonated with audiences of all types but set itself apart by giving the couple in the song a shamelessly happy ending rather than a tragic one.
Birthday Sex – Jeremih
Chicago-based musician Jeremih wasn’t shy about the lyrics of his 2009 song Birthday Sex. He made clear what he intended to give the lady for her birthday, and female listeners everywhere wished they were in her position.
The song peaked at number 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and received heavy radio airplay and digital downloads.
21 Guns – Green Day
Some fans thought that pop-punk giants Green Day had flamed out after the success of 2004’s American Idiot, but the band came back swinging in 2009 with their single, 21 Guns. This arena-rock style power ballad may have gotten the crowds singing and swaying along, but that doesn’t detract from its serious message about patriotism and the consequences of war.
Use Somebody – Kings of Leon
This song about loneliness and longing is made all the more brutal by frontman Caleb Followill’s heartfelt vocals. It reached the top ten on Billboard’s Adult top 40 and Mainstream Top 40 charts.
Big Green Tractor – Jason Aldean
Not every girl is impressed by a man in a high-end sports car; for some, their chariot of choice is a John Deer. Jason Aldean’s song Big Green Tractor sings of the joys of rural romance, where simple pleasures like tractor rides and spending time under the stars make the perfect date.
Daniel – Bat For Lashes
British Synthpop performer Bat For Lashes (real name Natasha Khan)wrote and recorded this song about remembering a first love. Its vintage 70’s sound reminded many people of early Stevie Nicks, and while it didn’t chart high in the U.S., it did receive critical acclaim and became a favorite among the growing hipster movement.
Empire State of Mind – Jay Z Feat. Alicia Keys
Even if you’ve never been to New York, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ song Empire State of Mind will make you feel pride for the city.
Between Jay-Z’s rap that name-checks famous New York locations and celebrities, and Alicia Keys’ powerful vocals, the song was a ready-made hit and jumped to the Top of Billboard’s R&B charts.
Her Diamonds – Rob Thomas
After breaking from Matchbox 20 to pursue his solo career, Rob Thomas focused on writing songs that were intimate looks into his own life and experiences. Her Diamonds explores the struggles of Thomas’ wife, Marisol, who has an autoimmune disorder. The song captures the helplessness and pain we experience when a loved one has a chronic illness.
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz sings about the joys of blossoming love in this sweet, reggae-tinged ballad. The song climbed to the top of the adult contemporary charts thanks to its sweet lyrics and Mraz’s likable personality.
The Fear – Lily Allen
This scythe-pop tune from British singer-songwriter Lily Allen received critical accolades and healthy radio play in the U.S. and abroad. While not as popular as some of the big stars of the day, Allen gained respect for being unique and original and for delving into subject matter usually avoided in pop music.
The Fear criticizes the culture of consumerism and fame-chasing. It’s sung from the perspective of a famous person losing herself to the trappings of wealth and popularity.
Gives You Hell – All American Rejects
It’s safe to say that millions of teens experiencing their first breakup in 2009 vented their emotions by rocking out to Gives You Hell. The energetic track describes feelings of contempt for someone and the desire to see them get their comeuppance.
The song made it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 that year and was nominated for Best Rock track for the Teen Choice Awards.
According to All American Rejects’ Tyson Ritter, the song is about “this a-hole, it’s a dude who will never know it’s about him. It’s kind of this tongue-in-cheek way of looking at someone you hate….and it’s giving them the finger”.
I Run To You – Lady Antebellum
Lady Antebellum – now known as Lady A – was at the top of the country charts in 2009 with I Run to You. This song is about relying on a loved one during difficult times. The video for the song avoids the obvious theme of romantic love and focuses on the chain reaction of “paying it forward,”; doing good deeds for others after a good deed has been done for you.
Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolph and Lil Wayne
Kevin Rudolph’s song Let it Rock was meant to be an angry song about injustice and hypocrisy, but thanks to its anthemic chorus and hard-driving rock sound, it became one of the biggest party anthems of 2009.
Hot N Cold – Katy Perry
You can’t make a list of top 2009 songs without Katy Perry’s Hot n Cold. Most people could identify with this song about an indecisive lover on some level, but it was also simply a fun jam you could play in your car on the way to work.
Perry arrived on the scene with everything it takes to be a mega pop star. She had a quirky personality, a unique voice, and well-written pop songs, and her model-like looks didn’t hurt either. 2009 turned out to be the year she’d kick off what turned out to be a long string of hits.
Then – Brad Paisley
Country music is known for its breakup songs, but it also happens to be very good at songs about true, lifelong love.
Brad Paisley’s ‘ Then,‘ tells the story of a man reminiscing about his relationship with his wife. It starts with their first meeting and runs through the course of their relationship. At each point, he thinks he can’t love her any more than he already does, but as time goes on, his heart expands to love her even more.
The song was a hit, making it number 1 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Country Songs. It’s often played at weddings and anniversaries.
She Wolf – Shakira
Latin pop star Shakira released one of her most famous songs, She Wolf, in 2009, in both an English and a Spanish version. The song became a hit thanks to its throwback disco sound and the video featuring the star showing off her signature dance moves in a sexy bodysuit.
She Wolf is all about harnessing feminine energy and being your authentic self, a message that was very fitting for a time when women in music – and other fields – were finding their voices and going after what they wanted.
Top Songs From 2009, Final Thoughts
These were the best songs from 2009. It was a year to remember for sure, especially due to the music released that year. No matter what kind of genre you bop to, this list is sure to put some memories working in your mind.