Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 50 Songs of 2010: 25 - 1

..And now, the 25 best songs of the year. After this, I'll be listing the top 10 albums of 2010.

25. "Slow Jabroni"

Surfer Blood
Astro Coast

Astro Coast's slow burner, "Slow Jabroni" is riveting in expressing cold separation and striking intimacy that's impressively honest for such a young band: "Ooohhhhh...take it easy on me".

24. "The Popular Thing"

Jukebox the Ghost
Everything Under the Sun 

A big, happy, piano pop bear hug.

23. "All Things This Way"

Male Bonding
Nothing Hurts

At a minute and a half, "All Thing This Way" must be 2010's highest concentration of face-melting rock.


22. "Blessa" 

Toro Y Moi
Causers of This

"Blessa" rides the gentle waves of a summer coastline, while warped beats and keyboard glisten, submerged below.

21. "Bottled in Cork"

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
The Brutalist Bricks

Feel-good rock that actually rocks. Ted Leo and co. remain electrifying.

20. "Bang Pop"

Free Energy
Stuck on Nothing

Speaking of feel-good rock, how about feel-on-top-of-the-world rock?

19. "Devil in a New Dress"

Kanye West [ft. Rick Ross]
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

That looped sample from "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by Smokey Robinson, that swaggering guitar bridge, that smooth-as-silk verse from Rick Ross: all make for a showstopping track.

18. "What's In It For?"

Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo

"What's In It For?" has the warmth and sing-along friendliness of a campfire song, only with some beautiful guitar flourishes and an airy chorus the Shins wish they'd discovered first. 

17. "True Loves"

Hooray for Earth
[Album out Spring 2011]

Forgive me again for perhaps jumping the gun on another pre-released song, but "True Loves" demands urgency: tribal drums frame a sleek, futuristic pop song that rises and falls like airwaves into space.

16. "Where'd All the Time Go?" 

Dr. Dog
Shame, Shame

"Where'd All the Time Go?" is charming, 60's-washed folk pop showcasing Dr. Dog at their most assured and most musically engaging.

15. "Oh, Maker"

Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

Nestled among a frenzy of high-tempo funk, experimental pop and a vast array of other wild and wonderful genre fusions, I found this song's sweet soulful tune irresistible and performed beautifully. 

14. "Carolina"

Broken Dreams Club EP

Girls channel Pink Floyd to stunning effect, before emerging with the kind of sweeping, heartfelt chorus we all knew Girls was capable of. But here they outdo themselves.

13. "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

Arcade Fire
The Suburbs

The Suburbs intends to be, but it is on this track where it feels like there's the most at stake. Throbbing synths ring out like approaching alarms and Regine Chassagne's singing is, well, mountainous on a truly compelling epic.

12. "Let's Go Surfing" 

The Drums
The Drums

That whistle. Sure, this is an awesome song in large part because of that surfy riff, and the simplicity is disarming (the guy just wants to go surfing, and don't care 'bout nuthin' else). But that carefree whistle is probably what I'll remember most about this song.

11. "All Day Day Light"

The Morning Benders
Big Echo

With a chorus you want to shout from the rooftops (once you watch the music video to figure out the words), "All Day Day Light" is a great indie rock band at its far.

10. "When I'm With You" 

Best Coast
Crazy For You

Southern California stoner pop with a penchant for the days of fun-in-the-sun Beach Boys. Best Coast's debut LP closes on this exciting lo-fi rocker that combines a cowabunga surf riff with lyrics less innocent than its surface suggests.

9. "Year's Not Long" 

Male Bonding 
Nothing Hurts 

It only takes about 6 seconds for the year's best punk album to burst with a transcendent fury.  While Kevin Hendrick's ghostly wail floats above, Robin Silas Christian and John Arthur Webb lay down a fiery punk soundscape leaving no earth unscorched.

 8. "Diplomat's Son"

Vampire Weekend

Playful synth beats and a sunny tropical melody propels Vampire Weekend's longest track to a warm summer day you never want to end.

7. "Ambling Alp"

Odd Blood

Primal urgency makes the futuristic pop of "Ambling Alp" compelling from start to finish. The thundering drums force you alert, while the soaring chorus pulls you closer and commands you to live in the now.

6. "Tightrope"

Janelle Monae [ft. Big Boi]
The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

Staying stationary for the duration of this frenzied boogie is scientifically impossible.

5. "Stay Close"

Stay Close

The official song of summer 2010. Rare are songs like this that can capture the enthusiastic freedom, fond nostalgia, and simple high-on-life excitement that this Ibiza-flavored dance pop gem can.

4. "Swim" 

Surfer Blood
Astro Coast

As you can tell, I absolutely love songs that explode right out of the gates, and "Swim" is one such song. But the fact that it keeps bursting through a pounding drums and a stadium-sized chorus quickly earned the song a place in the year's top 5.

3. "Free Energy"

Free Energy
Stuck on Nothing 

Everyone has an anthem, at least for certain periods in their life, whether they admit it or not.  I don't know if "Free Energy", with its classic rock swagger and lyrics about finally letting out into the world on your terms, is that song for me right now. But it's trying awfully hard to be.

2. "Runaway"

Kanye West [ft. Pusha T]
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

A stunning response to his many haters. Every artistic risk works here, from the sparse piano-note time keeper to the opaque singing dying an autotuned death. I'm moved in particular by the latter motion, as the meaning is unknown, but breathy gaps in the gorgeous drone prove that something is trying to get through.

1. "Heaven's on Fire"

The Radio Dept.
Clinging to a Scheme

The best, and most romantic, song of the year is not about romance. It is probably not obvious upon the first few listens, as the first obstacle is the shoegazing haze softening Johan Duncanson's humble vocals, but it's about the soullessness of the music industry, working for profits rather than art.  This position is more authoritative when taking the opening quote seriously: Thurston Moore's railing against rock and roll as "big business" and "the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture". The lyrics are thematically clever, hinting that it's actually a girl Duncanson's thinking about; whenever he sees her, "heaven's on fire". But ultimately, the message is strengthened by the sonics, which are gorgeous from all sides. Heavenly piano pulls the composition skyward and weaves through the bridge. Clean bass and warm guitar ground the song in a strong melodic base. Duncanson's low drone bends with the melody just enough to guide it along wonderfully. The piece de resistance is probably that burst of joyful horns and Disney strings to add just another flourish. As all these elements wash over, it feels like a grand symphony for that really special someone. While the Radio Dept. seem to have more political intentions in mind, it doesn't make "Heaven's on Fire" any less intimate, even if the only sure love here is between me and this song.

No comments:

Post a Comment