This is entry #2 in the “My Year in Lists” series of posts. Check back every day for a new list!

Like most years, 2009 saw it’s fair share of trends that some may look back upon years later with a great amount of curiosity. From certain sub-genres gaining popularity to fights between bands that spawned fierce message forum debates, there was no shortage of oddities in the world of music this year. Here are some of the most baffling.

Lo-Fi/Shitgaze Becomes Cool: Perhaps one of the biggest puzzles of the year revolves around the rising popularity, and critical acclaim, of artists who intentionally use lo-fidelity recording techniques to make music. With very few exceptions, many of these albums sounded like old cassette tapes found in the attic that happened to contain music on them. Artists such as Wavves, Vivian Girls, and Nodzzz have received much critical love, and liking these bands has become a badge that most hipsters wear with pride. The problem is that the music is usually very non-substantive and at some points unlistenable. There are arguments to be made for lo-fi records. For instance, the Thermals 2003 debut “More Parts Per Million” and the Magnetic Fields 2008 release, “Distortion,” displayed that noise can make for some very enjoyable music. However, the fact that many groups are using these techniques for the sake of using them and nothing more is a mystery in itself.

Vinyl Sales Soar: According to a recent New York Times article, the sale of vinyl records has increased 35 percent in 2009 compared to last year. Many companies are releasing their newest albums on vinyl, and are also re-releasing classic albums in the format. Many cite this increase in sales to the fact that people are rediscovering that vinyl has better sound quality, and that album art and liner notes are a big draw. That’s all fine and dandy, but I several problems with this new found embrace of records. First, albums on vinyl usually cost more than CD’s or MP3 downloads do. Even if you get the MP3 downloads for free with purchase, I would much rater pay 20 dollars for two albums. Additionally, the record player is now being used as a status symbol. People look at you differently if you tell them you have a record player, and sometimes if you say you don’t, for some reason. Truth be told, I prefer the ability to take my music wherever I want, and I’m sure the sound quality isn’t THAT different. Maybe I’m the uncool one, but it doesn’t make sense to have your coolness level be based upon something that most people thought was dead back in 1986.

Indie Bands on Movie Soundtracks and Commericals: It seems that 2009 was the year for indie bands to put their music on soundtracks to movies and commericals. It’s an age old tactic, but this year went just a little out of hand. From Phoenix touting Cadillac, to Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver appearing on the “New Moon” soundtrack, it seems movies are replacing late-show guest spots as the way for indie bands to gain fame. Yes, I understand the argument that appearing on a soundtrack to a hit movie or a car commercial will get your band noticed and make you a little money. However, there is a lot to be said for people saying “Hey, y’all released an excellent album this year, and I look forward to seeing you live,” instead of, “Oh my god, that song you had on the Twilight soundtrack was so good! I downloaded it off of iTunes!” Don’t even get me started on people who like the Arcade Fire based solely on the “Where the Wild Things Are” commercials!

Guitar Hero/Rock Band Branch Out: I did a story on this trend a few months back. Check it out here.

Beef- It’s What’s For Dinner: The world is by no means a perfect place. Bands will have their squabbles with other artists, and conflict will ensue. However, 2009 was the year where some of the most important names in music were facing off against each other, with lesser known bands stirring up their fair share of trouble. In March, we had Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips calling out the Arcade Fire. Coyne referred to the band as “pricks,” and said that they treated other people, including their own crew, like dirt. Win Butler of the Arcade Fire responded soon after, and Coyne later apologized. That same month, Radiohead came under fire from Miley Cyrus and Kanye West, who were relatively ignored by Thom Yorke at the Grammys. Additionally, the band was subject to even more confrontation later in the year when Matthew Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces called one of their songs  “bogus.” To add to all of this, some of these tensions turned into actual violence. After months of verbal confrontations between Wavves frontman Nathan Williams and Black Lips leader Jared Swilley, things finally escalated into a full out fight when the two bands happened upon each other in Brooklyn. With all of this animosity going on in the music world, my only question is: Where Is the Love?

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