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Best Music Of 2009, From 'Song Of The Day'

Here's a novel idea: What if someone who listens to a lot of music were to compile a year-end list describing his or her 10 favorite records? A brief glance around online reveals that one or two people have already tried it, so I figured, why not join them?

That tiny handful of lists — okay, it's more like hundreds of overstuffed wheelbarrows full of lists — reveals something of a critical consensus around a bunch of titles that were far easier for me to admire than love. Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, Animal Collective's Merriwether Post Pavilion and Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca had several things in common: All are wildly inventive, widely beloved, creatively made marvels, and I can't recall more than a handful of words from any of them. They're worthy of recommendation, to be sure, but they didn't feel fully relatable; call me a soppy mope, but at the end of a given year, I'm far more likely to dwell on albums and songs that exude a fair bit of earned insight, even ache.

So here's my Top 10. It may be the equivalent of a single teardrop in a vast sea of year-end reflection, but the music is glorious. (Click here for more entries in NPR Music's ongoing look at 2009's best.)

All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's Top Ten List For 2009

Monitor Mix Blogger Carrie Brownstein's Picks For The Best Music Of 2009

All Songs Considered Producer Robin Hilton's Top Ten List For 2009

More Coverage Of The Best Music Of 2009

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)