50. Far East Movement – Like a G6
Simple, unoriginal and hands down one of the catchiest songs of 2010. Brilliant.
49. Lady Gaga f. Beyonce – Telephone
Didn’t really appreciate this song in 2009. The attraction of this song lies in multiple areas, some of which being: Gaga’s glitchy hooks, Beyonce’s winning guest spot, and the digital manipulation. Apparently Britney Spears declined this song. Ouch. Probably for the best, no way she should have done better than Gaga.
48. Arcade Fire – Rococo/We Used to Wait
Like the album as a whole, “Rococo” grew…and grew and grew. Then it grew some more, like Elin does Tiger abhor while Nike tries to image restore. Didn’t actually like it like much to begin with. It’s absolutely massive now. There’s one other song on the album that I think may be a better pure pop song, but this one is close. A caustic remark on fickle youth, the music mimics the lyric and burns holes in headphones. The guitar that comes in at 2:30 is fan-freaking-tastic. “We Used to Wait” is an angel relatively speaking, but it still packs a bite as a stand alone track. No one, absolutely no one, can encapsulate the Zeitgeist like Arcade Fire can. On a collision course to become Canada’s best ever band (if they haven’t already done so).
47. Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are
Hella sweet and melodically superior to 99% of contemporary pop. Bruno Mars is clearly a talented cat. Bonus points for those bells. Bonus points for reminding me of her.
46. Salem – Redlights
Witch House. Dread Electronic. Drag. These are terms that can describe Salem and “Redlights” in particular. I think there’s an even better way to reference this song…let’s use a contemporary of Salem’s to help: Crytal Castles. The Castles, a solid group in their own right, are like that 16 year-old kid that goes to a rave club and pops E, proceeds to dance up a storm until exhausted, then passes out. “Redlights” (and Salem by extension) is the big brother of that 16 year-old kid who’s upstairs at the club, behind closed doors, completing a bulk meth-amphetamine purchase and nodding his head militantly to the beat as he looks down at the jumping club through his one way mirror. Dangerous. Listen, but at a distance for your own good.
45. Kendal Johansson – Blue Moon
Seriously, what’s up with Sweden? Why are they habitually awesome at music? It’s baffling. We can point to their social policies, support of the arts or water filtration system, but I don’t think we’ll find anything concrete. It has to stay a mystery lest others begin to copy. Kendal Johansson is yet another Swedish treasure and “Blue Moon” is a crying salutation; a devastatingly heartbroken jeremiad. The sound of two lovers’ engraved intials on an open rock face, only to be slowly eroded by years of water crashing over the rock. This song reminds us that time corrodes. Essential.
44. Kings of Leon – Pyro
The best song from Come Around Sundown. Most likely to be a huge radio hit in 2011 and it won’t be undeserved. Sticking point: “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII won’t ever be your cornerstone.” Dude sounds serious.
43. LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
The opening song on LCD’s latest is the best track on the record. For the first couple of minutes, it leaves the listener wondering what’s going to happen — it doesn’t sound like much, flutish beeping beginning at 1:49 notwithstanding. But then, at 3:08, the beat detonates and shit gets real in a hurry. Should have known. The rest of the song is as catchy and poppy as James Murphy has ever done. Lyrically, the always interesting Murphy offers another quotable line, “acting like a jerk except you are an actual jerk.” Do what he says and just dance yrself clean. You’re dirty even if you don’t know it.
42. Robyn – Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do/Dancing on My Own
The first thing we heard from Robyn this year was “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do”. Okay then. The song is brazenly farouche. Robyn tells us the multitudinous things that are “killing her”. The thing is, for all of her dying, the song is so fetching we must assume she’s not that hard done by, as she’s clearly having tonnes of fun being slayed. “Dancing On My Own” is the song that everyone seems to love most. It took me a while to hear it. While I still think there are a couple of better songs from the Body Talk series, “DOMO” and its many allures eventually wins out in the end. It’s the lyric, the digital noise, and maybe most of all, the utterly charming way Robyn, as only Robyn can, says Ooo-Wooo-Wooo. On a parallel earth, Robyn is playing to 100,000 seat stadiums nightly.
41. Sean Kingston f. Nicki Minaj – Letting Go (Dutty Love)
The most addictive song Sean Kingston will ever release. Sounding contemporary leaves the possibility it will sound dated in a while. This matters not. It sounds unbelievably good right now. Even Nicki Minaj, at her scene-stealing best, can’t upstage the strength of the hooks here.
40. Vampire Weekend – I Think Ur a Contra
My favourite song they’ve yet done in their brief but impressive career. A lilting, blossoming beauty of a song. Ezra Koening sounds angelic. A quiet, serene storm of a song. Simply beautiful.
39. Crystal Castles – Empathy/Not in Love f. Robert Smith
“Empathy”, harkening back to their debut album, tells us Crystal Castles still feels. It’s the sound of a Pacman pursuit, only when the ghost catches Pacman, it explodes upon contact, like the car when it meets the mysterious man in Unkle’s amazing “Rabbit In The Headlights” video, and subsequently breaks your computer/video game system. Dangerously accessible, “Empathy” is sweet poision. “Not in Love” comes to life with Robert Smith. Crystal Castles and Mr. Cure work wonders together. Nothing seems even remotely awkward or contrived with this hook-up. The song is a thrashing concoction of bleeding synths. The chorus of “Not in Love” just might be the biggest of the year. Well done.
38. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio/England
The National do heartbroken rock better than anyone. This is a fact. In the past the melodies have not always accompanied their wounded sentiments. That has changed. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is a colossal song, and in its four-plus minutes it’s filled with more drama than an entire Toronto municipal election. The song gushes blood like Paul Bunyan’s steps make thuds. “England” is simply august. It boggles my mind how The National pack so much emotion into a record. It’s one thing to intend to do so, but another (inspiring) thing altogether for the feeling to be so palpable and enduring for the listener. The National are a special treasure indeed.
37. Interpol – Success/The Undoing
Confident, greasy, salacious and erudite Indie is what Interpol do best. Apparently they cracked the hint of a smile with their last record, Our Love to Admire, so they said enough of that sunshine shit and went back to black. They still sound absolutely essential on “Success” and “The Undoing”, making tunes that only they can. “Success” opens the album and when the door kicks in at 1:42 , Interpol are back with a manic intensity. A deep breath can be taken. All is well, Interpol are intense and the world will not fall off its axis. “The Undoing” closes the album and is a haunted lighthouse sprinkled with Spanish pleas, swarming with honey-less bees. Along with “Pioneer to the Falls”, “The Undoing” is maybe the most epic Interpol have ever sounded. Vital.
36. Cee Lo Green – No One’s Gonna Love You
What a wonderful song Cee Lo chose to cover. Cee Lo, he of the one-of-a-kind, mega-sized voice; Band of Horses, wounded and heartfelt in almost everything they do. What a perfect combination. I wonder how Cee Lo came to choose “No One’s Gonna Love You”. He would have sounded great covering any BOH song, though he definitely picked the right one. It probably had something to do with the lyrical content of the song and that it fit nicely with the over-arching theme of The Lady Killer album. This is one of BOH’s best songs, but the reason why Cee Lo makes it so valiantly his own is the way he strokes it, converses with it and protects it. From the outset, it’s the way he sings the last word of the opening line, “it’s looking like a limb torn offfffffffffffffffffffffff.” The original is steady and contemplative, the cover soars like a phoenix. Magical.
35. Take That – The Flood/S.O.S.
The comeback. Sure, Take That, the all(Europe)-conquering boyband of the 1990’s have released a couple of records since 2006, purveying MOR tunes that made the band relevant again. They sung new songs and sold out arenas. All well and good. Now though, they’re alive. It seemed inevitable that Robbie Williams would come back to the group eventually. The biggest world-wide pop star of the past 15 years was at a cross-road. He didn’t seem ambitious anymore. He had clearly hit a lull. All this as he watched his former bandmates, the ones that a decade before had to watch his star explode, become a huge force again. Publicly, they’ve patched up their differences and seem comfortable with each other, surprisingly maybe, after such a long time apart. That’s part of the reason why “The Flood” and “S.O.S.” work so well. Conversely, some of the tension from such a long and ugly relationship remains, and that embedded friction is what really causes these songs, and the Progress album by extension, to skyrocket. Album opener “The Flood” is the best song they’ve ever written, a heart-on-the-sleeve, transparent lyric about how it all went down combined with the strongest melody they’ve ever come up with. Horripilating stuff indeed. “S.O.S.” is a frenetic, rock-tinged, paranoid ditty that sounds absolutely fantastic. Mark Owen takes care of the verses until Robbie comes in, sounding like he’s having the most fun he’s had in forever. Progress is probably a one-off, a record that will age well and proves these lads were at their most indispensable in their mid-30’s. Wowzers, didn’t see that one coming.
34. Wintersleep – Experience The Jewel
The best song from their sadly under-appreciated gem of a record, New Inheritors, “Experience The Jewel” is a marquee attraction like LeBron James’ mouth wishes it had a button for automatic retraction. Musically, a peaceful opening leads into a warm, steady middle section, and eventually culminates into a frothing crescendo of strings and guitars. Damn, have these Nova Scotia lads become awesome composers and musicians. People who know, know, but on the whole, Wintersleep are still Canada’s best kept secret.
33. How to Dress Well – Ready For The World
Hmmm. “Ready For The World” is flummoxing. It kind of belies any genre or typical song contruction. Its closest musical kin is probably Burial’s awesome “Archangel”. “RFTW” is just as awesome. This song floats around in the ether like voyeurism to a peeper. Maybe the biggest charm of this song is its malleability. It can mean 100 things to 100 people, and it would all make sense. A staggeringly deep and feeling tune.
32. Janelle Monae – Cold War
The most powerful song from one of the break-out stars of 2010. In terms of pace and swagger, this song is eerily reminiscent of Outkast’s “B.O.B.” Where that song was powered by an insane, speakerboxx-pounding, martial drum beat, “Cold War” is propelled by Monae and a crazy, capricious guitar line. We should have known the Cold War never ended, but there could have been no way of knowing that its re-emergence would be so blatantly publicized.
31. MGMT – It’s Working/I Found a Whistle
Anyone who jumped off the bandwagon has no ears. There are myriad pleasures on Congratulations, the strongest of which may be the album opener, “It’s Working”. MGMT sound impeccable, and there are more hooks in this song than drugs in which Lindsay Lohan partook. I know, it doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. Masters of double-tracking similar sounding words and double entendres, MGMT are at it again with “It’s Working”. Speaking again of the likelihood of confusing fans with a new direction, MGMT whimsically sing that it’s part of a grander scheme. And just like the “Electric Feel/Electric Eel” double-track, “It’s Working” is wonderfully layered with “It’s Lurking”, a comment on the insidious nature of their songcraft that requires multiple visits. I have to disagree with them about it lurking though, because it’s incessant and immediate. It sounds like a care-free Beach Boys track mixed with some amazing Mama’s & Papa’s style harmonizing. Brilliant stuff. “I Found a Whistle” is a flabbergastingly simple song. Relating to their uniquely awesome child-like sensibility, the song is a ballad about the joys of finding a cool toy. So simple, so affecting. MGMT are for real and have already proven they can do whatever they want and pull it off with aplomb.
30. Gayngs – Crystal Rope
Wow. This sounds like nothing else out right now. Almost indescribable. The sound of Law & Order. The sound of cheating. The sound of love-making. The sound of clay-making. The sound of stepping in tar. This song is imperative.
29. Goldfrapp – Rocket (Richard X One Zero remix)
Let me be clear, the original is kind of average. Richard X’s remix however, is a sleazy, sweltering and sizzling sauna of a song. A pure disco romp filled with circumstance and pomp. Alison Goldfrapp comes alive on this remix. Goldfrapp’s best tune since “Number 1”.
28. Linkin Park – Waiting For The End
Instantly joins “Numb”, “In The End” and “Faint” as one of Linkin Park’s best songs. It’s not as “hard” as previous efforts, but “Waiting For The End” gives us the best of LP — a teflon strong melody, Chester’s continually amazing voice, and electronic wizardry. Mike Shinoda has improved markedly as an actual singer and helps lift this tune up and into the stratosphere. Clearly having grown up, Linkin Park are still anxious, though seemingly not so worried about what lies ahead. The end result is a rock solid album in A Thousand Suns and especially the standout “Waiting For The End”.
27. Against Me – Teenage Anarchist
Tom Gabel spits venomous fire and wraps it up in saccharine, addictive guitars. “Teenage Anarchist” is a great track, in the vein of “Thrash Unreal” with its relatable, smart and ever-catchy hooks. No one does it like Against Me. Well done.
26. Band of Horses – Laredo/Compliments…
Redolent of fresh-air activity, cottage- and backwoods-sentimentality, and a smile-inducing obviousness about the every-day, Band of Horses win yet again with “Laredo” and “Compliments”. “Laredo” is the instantaneous smash, centred around a guitar riff that spans canyons and prances with coyotes. “Compliments” is the calculated and plodding, nature-conjuring woodsman, dazzling for its matter-of-fact sound and lyric. Ben Bridwell coo’s, “deep in the heart of the country, was a house I built from logs; a raven and a ladyhawwwwwk. Quiet and calm through the day, see the sun burn through the hall; approaching was a yellow, dawww-aww-awgg-aww-aww-awg.” Earnest is thy clothing Band of Horses. No one wears it better.