I may have tipped my hand a bit by already posting my Top Albums of 2010, but I hope there are still plenty of surprises left for my continued conquest of all aspects 2010. Today I am going to be looking at tracks, but before I go on I should probably state that I am not including covers in this list. I am only including one song per band/artist. So far those are the only stipulations. Sadly, that means that Weezer’s excellent cover of “Viva la Vida,” likely the second best song of the year, is not eligible. It also means that “Monster” will not be making the list. With those possible marks of shame out of the way, we are on to the list.
15. “Permanent December” – Miley Cyrus
For some reason teen sensations seem to be attracted to the month of December. Last year had Demi Lovato’s “Remember December,” this year had Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift both releasing songs about the month. Also about love. Miley’s track is a standout of the album, catchy lyrics matched with pinpoint delivery. The song does not fall prey to the offputting overtness of Miley’s CD possesses.
14. “Shutterbug” – Big Boi
The highlight of Big Boi’s record is the insanely energetic “Shutterbug.” The song does not have a huge complexity in terms of theme, but the lyrics are so well crafted and the production is simply off the charts. “Shutterbug” may not be the year’s best song, but it is likely the year’s most fun song.
13. “Runaway Love” – Justin Bieber
I was hesitant to listen to Justin Bieber, and I cannot say that I was wrong in that decision. What I can say is that ‘Runaway Love” is one Hell of a song. The songwriting is simplistic, but the delivery and, to a lesser extent, the song content, is executed at a high enough level to make up for that quality. I have a hard time getting excited for Bieber, but can understand the excitement.
12. “On Melancholy Hill” – Gorillaz
Do you like to relax? Do you like to listen to great songwriting? Do you think that “Rhinestone Eyes” is the second song on this CD and could just as easily have occupied this slot? As do I, so here we are. This song captures emotion, but it never get too overt or manipulative. Plus the actual instrumentals are just so seductive.
11. “All Delighted People” – Sufjan Stevens
The EP may not have been Sufjan’s best work of the year, but it does house his best song. The near 12 minute epic is loud, it is quiet, it is beautiful. Sufjan’s composition is the strongest point of this track, which given the quality of the lyrics is simply astounding.
10. “U Should Know Better” – Robyn ft. Snoop Dogg
Robyn was basically prolific this year. I have not listened to as much of her as I should have, but damn did I listen to this song a ton. The back and forth between her and Snoop, both in verses and in the chorus, is fantastic. The broken vocals Robyn brings are great.
9. “Drunk Girls” – LCD Soundsystem
There is, many times, a brilliant way to use repetition. “Drunk Girls” makes wonderful use of repetition, along with a splendidly upbeat mood to make a song that should probably be played on the radio. Also at parties. Likely everywhere else as well. Plus, what a video!
8. “Me, Myself, and Time” – Demi Lovato
It was a fairly quiet year for Demi, at least by her standards, but most of that is likely attributed to the Camp Rock stuff going on for the majority of the early portion of 2010. However, preceding that hype train Demi premiered this song on Sonny With A Chance, and it hit with a bang. Not Demi’s deepest song, it still allows her to show off her ability to sing, though for someone with her talent the choice to add in so much voice enhancement is odd, and marks a continued growth as an artist. Also, it kills me to leave off “Make a Wave”
7. “Fuck You” – Cee-Lo Green
There is something brilliant about a song that uses juxtaposition in the way that Cee-Lo’s song does, setting a break up and, to a lesser extent, crude language, next to the wonderfully catchy and, seemingly glad, song as a whole. This is another song I had missed out on during the initial run, but if right now is any indication I can say this one will stick around into 2011.
6. “Younger Us” – Japandroids
While Japandroids’ EPs are littered with terrific songs, it is “Younger Us” that seemingly stands at the top. I am still fairly young, I reckon, but the sense of yearning on display in the song is heartbreaking, a realization that time has past, a desire to revive old flames and older times. Maybe that rush will never be the same, maybe we will always yearn, perhaps we all just drown, or float. I don’t know these answers. Japandroids probably don’t either, but they sure can celebrate the questions.
5. “Infinity Guitars” – Sleigh Bells
“Rill Rill” seems to be the popular Sleigh Bells song making lists this year, and given my love for the CD I would not discount it as a great track, but for me “Infinity Guitars” encapsulates all that makes Treats one of the best albums of the year. It’s loud, it’s distorted, it is probably close to a Siren’s song. So fantastic.
4. “Critical Drain” – Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Cee-Lo’s song may have been a non-existent middle finger to a past flame, but SSLYBY’s standout track apparently flips the bird to everyone. Or at least critics, which tangentially includes myself. Does placing this song here make me a masochist? Probably not, but those trips to The Dungeon may. Either way, I could have put any number of the tracks from this record here, but what makes “Critical Drain” stand out is the song’s craft. The lyrics are mystifying, the instruments are magical, it bleeds energy and comes near the middle of a CD that benefits from this shot in the arm.
3. “Only Existing Footage” – The Extra Lens
As we get closer to the top I can probably select any number of tracks from these records. I debated which song from Undercard would make this slot, but what ultimately made me settle on “Only Existing Footage” are the poetic elements that categorize the talents of John Darnielle. A seemingly forgotten movie set becomes a micro-chasm for the frailty of the human condition. This idea is highlighted by the yelped out bookends to each verse. Maybe annihilation is lurking around each corner, perhaps oblivion is always calling. Maybe all we can do is hop on a Red Eye and keep going.
2. “Trainwrecks” – Weezer
If the no cover rule was not in effect “Viva la Vida” would be here because, through Rivers’ voice, that song takes on a dual meaning that Coldplay simply cannot aspire to, but since I am not allowing covers I feel that “Trainwrecks” captures the best of Weezer’s latest in a nice three and a half minute journey. The pseudo-orchestral beginning that leads to a barrage of lyrics involving bad choices, mixed with the pride in Rivers’ delivery, elevates the track to new heights. Self destruction at its finest.
1. “Runaway” – Kanye West ft. Pusha T
And perhaps at number one we find self indulgence at its finest. From the chilling lonely piano notes at the beginning to the extended autotune retelling of the song in the latter half, “Runaway” stands out as one of the greatest songs highlighted on one of the greatest albums. The chorus is, simultaneously, an apology, a celebration, a startling display of self reflection, and a single piece of advice. We get that in the first minute and a half. Of a nearly ten minute song. Let us not even consider the short film that goes along with the song. Even Pusha T’s verse works in relation to the overall feel of the song, if not completely in theme. Baby I got a plan, runaway as fast as you can.
Some decisions had to be made here, it was hard to leave off songs like “Shakespeare” and even Swift’s “Mine” toward the end of the list. But I think this list likely represents what I think are songs that will withstand the test of time. Still, I am going to, briefly, post an unabridged version of the list.
Top Tracks of 2010 (Unabridged)
1. Runaway – Kanye West
2. Monster – Kanye West
3. POWER – Kanye West
4. All of the Lights – Kanye West
5. Chain Heavy – Kanye West
6. Hell of a Life – Kanye West
7. Blame Game – Kanye West
8. Runaway Love (Remix) – Kanye West
9. POWER (Remix) – Kanye West
10. Viva la Vida – Weezer
Until next year, enjoy.