In no particular order, we've selected the favorite tracks from this year's monthly playlists for our tenth annual Choice Cuts end-of-year mix. I'll be revealing them throughout the week. And now, the first five:
1. "What You Know" -- Two Door Cinema Club
You can't deny the catchy power pop of Northern Ireland indie rockers Two Door Cinema Club. "What You Know," which the group performed on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last January, is the perfect pick-me=up to lead off this year's Choice Cuts compilation. (Two Door Cinema Club's track "This is the Life" also showed up on our November mix.)
2. "Helena Beat" -- Foster the People
While everyone was going nuts over "Pumped Up Kicks" -- which, let's face it, is awfully annoying -- I was drawn to the less cloying "Helena Beat." (Radio is now catching up and starting to play it as well.) Five years from now, you're going to quickly change the station if "Pumped Up Kicks" comes on, but you'll gladly stick around for a listen to "Helena Beat."
3. "Going And Going. And Going." -- Icebird (RJD2 & Aaron Livingston)
This was a tough one, as I had to choose between two excellent Icebird tracks (the other being "Charmed Life"). I went with the slightly more uptempo "Going And Going. And Going." I guess I'm a sucker for DJ/singer collaborations and Icebird -- a combo of RJD2 (Ramble John "RJ" Krohn) and Philadelphia crooner Aaron Livingston -- is this year's winner.
4. "Block After Block" -- Matt & Kim
Brooklyn-based Matt & Kim (Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino) hit it big in 2009 with "Daylight." "Block After Block," off their late 2010 album "Sidewalks," carries on their upbeat sound.
5. "Armistice (RAC Remix)" -- Phoenix
"Armistice" is actually an old track, off Phoenix's 2009 album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix," so I considered not including it. But RAC's 2011 remix of the song gives it a fresh, dancy spin, and I just couldn't resist.
Tomorrow: The next batch of Choice Cuts tunes.