The Best Singles Of 2010

DME, please take a deep breath and wait like a few hours before you write your angry, hatred filled response to why this list is bad.

Unlike movies, this year was a particularly strong year for music. While I am still generally discouraged at the direction that hip hop and rock music is going (hip hop for going towards pop and away from artistry and rock for the direction its been going for the past ten years towards this indie/techno/80's influenced crap) I have been pleasantly surprised at the many singles that have been released this year- especially from hip hop artists. Jay-Z still rules the charts, Eminem revived his former glory after two albums and many years of garbage, and new comers like B.o.B. actually bringing emotion and story telling back to hip hop. I of course am biased (I mean I just admitted to not liking modern rock music) and no list about music will ever be objective. I know DME, a big indie music guy, is already fuming mad by this point and I haven't even listed a single song. But here's my top ten list of 2010.

10) Florence + The Machine "Dog Days Are Over"

I really don't know why I like this song. I think part of it has to do with the original and creative music behind it. Part of it has to do with the catchy clapping behind it. Part of it has to do with the fact that I love Florence's amazing vocals. I have never really taken the time to actually listen to words behind it (in fact I could do that right now while typing this post, but I'm not going to) but I assume by the title of the song and the music that it's about getting over troubles in your life and that wonderful feeling you get when that happens. I imagine if a literal boulder was being taken off of my shoulders this is the song that would be playing when it gets lifted. But I think I mainly just like the song because I can't get it out of my head.

9) Kanye West "Power"

Kanye is an egotistical blow hard and his video for "Power" is nothing short of egotistical. For some reason it only uses the first verse and chorus of the great song but it's something out of a Renaissance painting that's both beautiful and awe-inspiring. But would you expect anything less out of a Kanye West song entitled "Power"?

Not just by DME, but many critics pan West's 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as West's best album and while I disagree, it still is great and I've seen it on most critics top 5 albums of the year. Hell, even a crappy site like Pitchfork named it its #1 album of 2010. So I'd be remissed if I didn't put a Kanye song on here.

"Power" is just another example of why Kanye West is a top 5, maybe even top 3, rapper of all time. It's got an inventive and creative beat and just classic Kanye, ground breaking lyrics. And it's for that reason that I put this song on my list.

8) La Roux "Bulletproof"

You can watch the original music video here

I've actually been working backwards so this is the 8th song I've talked about and not the third. So I'm making this short. What makes this song great is that it's straight out of the 80's. If you hopped in the DeLorean and played this song for Marty McFly, he would think this was the newest single being released on the radio. 80's music a huge guilty pleasure of mine and for many others and this song brings us back to that place where the keytar was king.

7) Eminem f/ Rihanna "Love The Way You Lie"

Eminem's Recovery album was the best selling album of the year and that was fueled by his single "Love The Way You Lie". Eminem is at his best when he's rapping about his personal problems. That's what made his first few albums so great. But then he became the biggest star in the world and soon he had no problems. That in turn created crappy albums like Relapse. But after Eminem took a few years off, he came back with what made him great.

It's no secret that Eminem has a problem with domestic abuse as shown in songs like "Kim" and with his multiple arrests. So when Em expressed his emotions and feelings about the tumultuous relationship that he's been struggling with, it makes for great music.

And then your hear the chorus by Rihanna, who herself is a victim of domestic abuse. When I first heard this song, I would have sworn it was an anti-abuse song. I mean, come on, it's Rihanna singing the hook! But when you listen to the actual lyrics, it's not at all anti-abuse. In fact, it's almost pro-abuse.

But yet the lyrics fit the lives of these two singers perfectly and this song would not be any good if it was anyone else singing or rapping. And for that, "Love The Way You Lie" earns a spot on this list.

6) Cage The Elephant "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked"

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge fan of Nirvana/90's rock and classic Rock like The Beatles and The Who. And I think that's part of the reason I love Cage The Elephant so much and its album of the same name. And while this single was released in early 2009, it and the band didn't start getting big until 2010.

My brother convinced me that music is becoming cyclical. We are now in a time where 80's influenced music is king. I mean, just look at a song like "Bulletproof". Most current musicians are young and many of them and the up and comers were born in the 80's and that's the type of music they grew up on. But now that kids in the 90's are soon becoming legal to drink, he believes that grunge and 90's style college rock/alternative will start being more prevalent because that's what new musicians and soon-to-be-musicians grew up on. And I think Cage The Elephant is the beginning of that movement.

"Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" has blues inspired riffs from Stevie Ray Vaughn with a mix of early Red Hot Chili Peppers rock with some The Who cynical-towards-the-world attitude yet with a style that's all the band's own. And it's for that I put this song on this list.

5) B.o.B. f/ Hayley Williams of Paramore and Eminem "Airplanes (Remix)"

You can watch the original music video here

While I never understood why someone would wish for an event to occur just so that event could then in turn create a wish (I mean, why not just wish for the thing you want instead?), you couldn't help but be moved by this song. Plus, you loved to put that chorus as your facebook status/ got sick that everyone and their mother used it as theirs.

What's great about this song is that it's not a rapper trying to make a club hit, it's a rapper trying to explain what's happening in his life. Like what T.I. did in Paper Trails, B.o.B. is doing in "Airplanes". And the reason I chose the remixed version with Eminem over the original, is because I feel the true meaning of the song gets lost with B.o.B.'s original lyrics and the original song. The purpose of the song is to reflect upon how bad his life was and to realize how great he's had it now and to try and capture that feeling of despair he used to have. B.o.B. is telling the listener to keep your chin up because things will get better.

But when I listened to the original lyrics, all that came across was B.o.B. being whiny. He had a hit song and hit record so I was confused why he was bringing up all this stuff in his past. The original lyrics made it sound like he was sick of the fame and fortune and he wanted to go back to his shitty life. And if that's what he was trying to bring across (which I doubt) well then that turns an uplifting, inspiring song into just a whiny, pretentious radio hit.

But with Eminem adding the third and final verse and B.o.B. changing up his lyrics, his message becomes clearer and it's that great message with a great and powerful hook that made this song so great in 2010.

4) Mumford and Sons "Little Lion Man"

The first time I heard this song I was hooked. I loved the simplicity of it and a simple video to go along with it. Love is universal and you can never go wrong singing about it. We as guys have fucked up relationships and it's a crappy feeling. And while this concept is nowhere close to being an original concept in music, it's still done beautifully by Mumford and Sons.

The folksy guitar riff that starts off the song just sets the tone for the four plus minutes that follow it. It's great to hear musicianship being brought back. And the "Don't Fear The Reaper"-esque break down right after the second chorus is a great manifestation of that feeling of despair you have after you realized you fucked up the relationship.

It's a catchy song with great heart, great music, and a universal message and that makes this song so great and earns a spot on this list.

3) Lady Antebellum "Need You Now"

While I generally disrespect and hate country music as a whole, I give it its props when its props are due. Plus, if this song was performed the exact same way but by like Miley Cyrus, no one would call this a country song. This is a pop song.

Everyone has had a late night booty call. We've all gotten drunk and called/ hoped that your lover would come by your side at the end of the night. It's a crappy feeling when you're horny yet come home at night and there's no one there by your side. And never has that feeling come across so beautifully as when Lady Antebellum sings it.

This song is not in the least bit sleezy as you would think. It's about loneliness more than anything. That feeling that you want somebody there with you which just happens to get amplified by the few alcoholic beverages you've had.

Plus, how many times have you texted/ put as your facebook status "It's a quarter after one, I'm a little drunk, and I need you now"

For capturing that feeling that everyone has had, "Need You Now" earns a spot on this list.

2) Janelle Monae f/ B.o.B. and Lupe Fiasco "Tightrope (Wondamix Remix)"

You can watch the remixed music video here

I know a lot of people like the original version featuring Monae's founder Big Boi from Outkast better but I'm in love with the remix. The great part about Monae is that she's helping to bring soul and 60's R&B back to music. If the original had just come up on your iPod you would swear you were hearing a great classic coming out of Motown.

But the remix made the song better. It added a great guitar riff on top of the beat that helps to modernize it yet still get its soul (pun intended) in tact. And not only that, it made me a B.o.B. fan. I know it's Janelle Monae's song and her third rap verse at the end is really good (and I'll take it over a shitty Nicki Minaj verse any day of the week) but it's B.o.B.'s opening verse that I feel truly makes the song.

Monae's and B.o.B.'s clever rhymes (and Lupe's unnecessarily short but good verse) along with a great beat that still makes me dance and I haven't gotten tired of listening to it after four straight months makes this my #2 song of 2010.

1) Jay-Z f/ Alicia Keys "Empire State of Mind"

While technically this song was released in 2009, this song was by far and away THE song of 2010. Plus, Vh1 put this song in their top 15 videos of 2010 so I feel confident putting "Empire State of Mind" on my list.

I personally feel the best hip hop songs are the ones that are either extremely personal to the artist (i.e. "Dead and Gone" by T.I.), something that conveys universal messages (i.e. "The Crossroads" by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), or something reflecting upon the state of hip hop or Black culture (i.e. "Changes" by Tupac). Empire State of Mind falls into neither of these categories. Yet it's still awesome.

In fact, part of the reason the song is so awesome is because it's so different. Its still got great Jay-Z lyrics and flow like MDMA got you feeling like a champion/The city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien. I also kind of lied. This song is personal to Jay-Z and is sort if universal to millions of people who live in New York/love the city. It's number two (behind Chicago) as the greatest city in the world (that I've been to). Jay-Z is still so original and is still able to produce fresh lyrics and concepts.

Plus, this song has a great beat. As a buddy of mine once texted to me "Fuck Jay-Z for making a catchy ass song." It's true that "Empire" has a great hook by the talented Alicia Keys and a catchy beat. Now, if it just had a catchy beat but no depth to its lyrics, this song would be on my "hate" list. But alas, it's THE song of 2010.

But for being the song of the year, having a great beat, and awesome-as-always jay-Z lyrics, "Empire State of Mind" earns the top spot as the best song of 2010.

11) Chris Brown "Dueces"
I always love it when personal despair breeds great music
12) Muse "Resistance"
They're the great rock band of the past 10 years and the best "true" form of Rock we have nowadays
13) Cee Lo Green "Fuck You"
"She's an X-Box, and I'm an Atari" We've all had that one love who thinks she's better than us.
14) The Black Keys "Tighten Up"
A great music video to go along with a great, classic sounding rock song
15) Sara Bareilles "King Of Anything"
A great light, poppy break up song from an extremely talented and sort-of-cute songwriter


David "MVP" Eckstein said...

You are missing the following songs:

-Arcade Fire - The Sprawl II
-Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill
-Big Boi - shutterbug
-Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Round and Round
-Kanye West - Runaway
-LCD Soundsystem - drunk girls (or All I want)
-That Joanna Newsome song everyone loves
-Gold Panda - You
-Deerhunter - Desire lines
-Edward Sharp - Home

I'll drop the top 15 albums of 2010 list when i get back to madison in 2 weeks