The Top Twenty Songs of 2010


I broke one of my rules. I had to. I couldn’t make the choices I needed to make, so I dumped two songs I like but was really unenthusiastic about and-

I repeated artists.

I tend not to do that, simply because I believe you should try to allow as many artists on these lists as possible. There is always someone who reads them and discovers something new. If you repeat artists, it means that some band isn’t getting a spot on a list to be found out. It pains me. There are so many great bands.

But there were two artists that each had so many songs that I just could help myself. they each have two slots. The other sixteen- well, there is a lot of overlap between this list and my albums list. The year in music was quite terrible for quality singles. That explains why “Teenage dream” is on so many of them.

20. “Only Girl (In The World)”- Rihanna

I have fought my inner Rihanna fan for years. And this year, I just gave up. No one makes pop music as good as she is at this moment. Her voice is improving, her song selection is spot on, her cameos are brilliant, and this song just kicks ass.

19. “Odessa”-Caribou

When creating my lists this year, I noticed a sudden increase in dance music. Since my dance music heyday was back when Slam and Technotronic were played everywhere, and I did eventually out grow the rave scene, I’m stunned that it’s dominating my 2010 listening. After all, LCD Soundsystem is far and away my favourite album of this year. Canada’s Caribou gives me this lovely track, and I remember why the guy has been a former Polaris winner, and was a favourite to win again this year.

18. “The Ghost Inside”-Broken Bells

The mix of indie rock and heavy beats turns out to be a winning one, and Shins frontman James Mercer turns out to have an effective falsetto.  And that bell-like  piano sneaks up on you .

17.”Little Lion Man”-Mumford and Sons

Amazing acoustic guitar. Just amazing. This album almost made my top twenty. I have a soft spot for English folk music. Marcus Mumford has an amazingly rich , textured voice that makes me weak in the knees.

16.”REVOFEV”-Kid Cudi

The seventies piano sound matched with thundering drum claps and Cudi’s own rough singing makes for an interesting anthem. I’m still not sure what to make of Cudi. He’s not as gifted as Kanye, and not as charming as Eminem, and he lacks Jay-Z’s skill as a rapper. But he’s inventive and I can’t help but feel he’s making hiphop a better medium somehow.

15. “On Melancholy Hill”- Gorillaz

It’s almost hymn-like, this song. It’s got those elegant keyboards and Damon Albarn’s gentle vocals. The plink of the synths just make the song more elegiac.

14. “White Sky”- Vampire Weekend

I am a huge fan of Vampire Weekend’s staccato rhythms and unerring pop melodic sensibility. Yes, Ezra Koenig’s lyrics are arch, but hey, the man fights about Oxford commas in a three-minute pop song. Sorry, back to this song, a bouncy, cheerful sounding ditty. One of the most joyous listening experiences of 2010.

13. “I Saw The Light”- Spoon

Britt Daniel groans and mopes, Jim Eno smashes us with his kit, and somehow, a song with religious imagery feels completely unholy. I could create a belief system around this Austin band and bring world peace. Then suddenly, it goes somewhere else completely, and a simple piano part meets up with the sonic majesty and perfection is to be had.

12.”Dance Yrslf Clean”- LCD Soundsystem

I heard that opening click-click-click, the quiet synths, and James Murphy’s imperfect tenor muttering about words and friends. It’s simple, deceptively so, and then suddenly, with some of those “Ahhh” vocals increasing in intensity, it launches into a proper club track, and Murphy screams out his frustration. I love this song. And it’s sitting here at number twelve.

11. “Not Afraid”- Eminem

Eminem appears to be starting the healing process. A decade of fighting everyone and everything exhausted him. This song is him at the top of his form. It’s not amusing, it’s brutally honest. The anger creeps across your skin, and you feel for the guy, but when he begs for guidance, you hope he takes what’s offered.

10.”Runaway”- Kanye West

It’s tiring being a Kanye fan.  He releases music at an amazing clip, but he creates controversy even quicker. But he’s a fucking genius. And as much as his ego and attitude annoys me, I can’t ignore the brilliance of this song, from its music box piano, Kanye’s pleading vocals, the charming lyrics that show him flipping V’s at his critics while acknowledging he’s just like them, and we’re toasting douchebags and assholes, everyone.

I’d have a Mai Tai with the guy.

9.”World Sick”- Broken Social Scene

It’s an anthem. It’s a quiet anthem, but it’s an anthem, on par with Arcade Fire’s classic “Wake Up”. This one, though, is tired and pessimistic. “I get world sick every time I take a step.” As far as Canadian music collectives go, BSS have always been the realists.

8. “Your Hands (Together)”- New Pornographers

Silver bullets, science, art, accidents, and cures and causes all converge in the mess that only can make sense if it comes from the New Pornographers. It’s a propulsive track, one of the best rock songs of the year, and some amazing vocals from the band.

7. “Ready To Start”-Arcade Fire

There is always one Arcade fire song on the album that I just cannot get enough of, and this time its the lead off single of their Grammy nominated album. It’s not the most inventive track on the album, but sometimes, the classic sound is really what you want, and this one delivers in spades.

6. “Tighten Up”-Black Keys

The Akron blues rock band takes a blues riff and blends it with an amazing pop hook, creating a memorable track that seeps into your dreams when you least expect it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you become a mainstream success while remaining completely different and true to your vision.

5. “Bloodbuzz Ohio”- The National

Matt Berninger’s magnificent baritone mournfully sings about bees, blood buzzes, and owing money to the money he owes. There is no logic in what he’s singing about, but for the first time in the National’s history, the mood of the song made me forget that I have no idea what the dude is going on about. Those drums make me smile.

4. “Just The Way You Are”-Bruno Mars

It’s the most traditional pop song on the list, from the 24-year old wunderkind who prefers doo wop and grew up in Don Ho country. But with gorgeous vocal harmonies, and stunning beats, it’s one of two pop songs this year worth mentioning.

3. “POWER”- Kanye West

“No one man should have all that power,” Kanye opines as he raps about his faults and the faults of his critics over a King Crimson sample. He doesn’t mince words- SNL gets hit. And he’s as self-centred as always. By the end, he’s throwing himself out the window. We gave him too much power. And it’s killing him.

2. “Fuck You”- CeeLo Green

It’s simply the most fun one can have listening to a song. It’s bright, sixties soul melody contrasts with the modern slash and curse of CeeLo’s lovely soul vocals. Somehow, I don’t see Marvin singing this. Maybe Sam on a really bad day. But the humour of the lyrics, the sunshine of the music, and the cheekiness of the singer make this pure pop heaven.

It’s not number one. I know, it seems logical to have a song that brings joy to all as the number one song of the year. As great as it is, it’s not the song that makes my heart soar every time I hear it.

1. “I Can Change”- LCD Soundsystem

THIS song is my favourite song of the year- a lovely paean to adult love, with all the justification, fear, pleading, and compromise it takes to make it work. Over a synth line that somehow reminds me of “Funky Town” ( don’t ask), James Murphy uses a falsetto that is surprisingly lovely. He spares no feelings in his dissection, and by the end, you either have hope for your love or you don’t. Either way, you don’t leave as comfortable as when you came in.

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