75. MGMT – Flash Delerium/Someone’s Missing
Lead single “Flash Delerium” was reticent to release its charms, just don’t mistake that for meaning there are none present. It’s a fantastic mess of a song. “Someone’s Missing” is more straight forward but no less enjoyable. MGMT, for all of their drug-inspired imagery, are much smarter than they let on. “Someone’s Missing” plays at the fact that the band may have lost a few fans with such a tough album, one bereft of world-conquering tunes like “Time to Pretend” or “Kids”. They clearly don’t care, and they shouldn’t; they’re on a very interesting path even as the bandwagon gets a hell of a lot lighter.
74. Timbaland – If We Ever Meet Again (f. Katy Perry)/Morning After Dark (f. SoShy & Nelly Furtado)
73. Taio Cruz – Break Your Heart/Dynamite
72. Diplo f. Pantera Os Danadinhos – Percao
Diplo is a good producer, and the music here is a likeable slice of MIA/Santigold type gitch. The song is truly brought to life though by Brazilian Pantera Os Danadinhos. I have no idea what she’s talking about in this Portuguese lyric, but it’s mighty fun bopping your head while trying to guess.
71. Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People (Classic Rock version)/Vesuvius
“All Delighted People”, from Sufjan’s EP of the same name is a slow-builder, more rewarding with each subsequent listen. Mr. Stevens has impeccable pop instincts and a knack for horripilating. “Vesuvius” proves impactful from the moment it begins. Is it an ode to a mountain? A metaphor for something unattainable? Whatever Sufjan’s intention, the song is simply gorgeous.
70. No Age – Fever Dreaming
Bat-shit crazy, tatterdemalion and the life of the party. In fact, “Fever Dreaming” isn’t just the life of the party, he’s the guy who gets arrested for pissing on a cop that was sent to the party in the first place because of the commotion he was causing. Rabble-rouser!
69. Sleigh Bells – Tell ‘Em
Bat-shit crazy as well, carrying a futuristic laser gun that spews cotton candy. Also, the sister of “Fever Dreaming”. As the cops drive away with her brother, she shoots a blow dart that takes out a tire. As the cop car stops and the cops return to the house to seek out the perp, she escapes slyly, not before sneaking her brother out of the car. Someone else, probably a recent MIA song, gets arrested and everyone is happy.
68. Tennis – Marathon
Unmistakably attention-grabbing, like a Camera Obscura song mixed with 60’s Motown sensibilities. Pretty and wonderful and relevant. A must listen.
67. Yeasayer – I Remember/ONE/The Children
I’m cheating even more here by putting three songs in one spot. Thing is, I’ve liked them all a tonne at different times. “I Remember”, the wayward, lovetorn ballad; “ONE”, the 80’s indebted slick piece of funk; and “The Children”, the morbid, hallucinogenic, bastard son. I find a couple parallels between Yeasayer and MGMT very interesting. First of all, they’re pals. Both from Brooklyn, tourmates during their debut record tours, and interested in breaking any pre-conceived notions of what kind of band they are. They’re both, ahem, experimental to put it mildly, with sounds and no doubt substances. I would love to sit in on a conversation between these guys. Seeing them play together a couple years back, I thought that Yeasayer were better live and MGMT had better songs. Funny that they’ve switched each others’ clothes at this point. MGMT have reverted back to a less commercial sound while Yeasayer have swung for the fences and made their unique brand of psychedelia accessible for all. More specifically, MGMT’s “Kids” couldn’t be more peppy if it tried. On the other hand, Yeasayer’s synonymously titled “The Children” couldn’t be more dark and witching if it tried. I’m going to enjoy watching both of these bands move forward individually, but also as some sort of weird Brooklyn psych-pop fellowship.
66. Tokyo Police Club – Wait Up (Boots of Danger)
Bringing pure fire from Newmarket. Well done lads.
65. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
The catchiest song from her Max Martin helmed latest. When pop is this polished and uses dance-style layering and come-ins to this effect, it’s hard to resist.
64. Shakira – Waka Waka
A lot of derisive chatter about this song doesn’t dissuade me from saying it’s as catchy as Lucifer’s baseball glove in his hellish house league (read: he uses a particularly effective brand of stick ’em and it works). Who cares that a non-African sang the World Cup theme song? I don’t. Shakira’s vocal stylings have rarely been so endearing.
63. Bagraiders – Shooting Star/Matt White – Love
The McDonald’s combo. Bagraiders’ “Shooting Star” is that insufferably catchy dance song from McDonald’s breakfast ad of earlier this year. Matt White’s “Love” is the song that accompanies the recent McRib ad. One pure dance, one pure pop, both proving the creative marketing team at McDonald’s may be without a conscience but not without ears.
62. Fang Island – The Illinois/Daisy
Dance-punk enthusiasts go large with “The Illinois” and “Daisy”. Both tracks are wondrously epic, mixing accelerated guitars with chanting refrains. These songs are good for your heart, like Stephen Hawking and his Grand Design is difficult to impart.
61. Cee Lo Green – I Want You/Satisfied
Lady Killer indeed. A fantastic duo of tunes, back-to-back and stuffed right in the middle of his smooth-as-buttermilk, soul-inspired LP. Cee Lo drips style and grace with these two tracks about love and pleasure. No one (seriously, no one) croons better than Cee Lo. He’s at the top of his game and when he uses that powerhouse of a voice at full force, he can melt steel like in a colour fight, aqua-marine batters teal. He’ll be known for that ubiquitous, two-worded send off of a song this year. Quite frankly though, that does a disservice to the rest of the very strong material on The Lady Killer. Don’t sell yourself short next time Cee Lo, you’re not just a lady killer, you’re a bona fide and indiscriminate hitman.
60. Daft Punk – TRON Legacy (End Titles)
Unfortunately, the Tron Legacy soundtrack is not a proper Daft Punk album — more of a score — so we only get a pittance of what the Daft are capable of. “TRON Legacy” does however, firmly show the world that DP can still bring electro-magma awesomeness whenever they please. The kicker here is the massive orchestra that accompanies the duo and doesn’t sound out of place in the least. It only leaves the listener salivating for their next effort. Come again soon boys.
59. My Chemical Romance – S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W & The Kids From Yesterday
Ambitious to their core, MCR are back with a grandiose, multi-themed saga that primarily involves empassioned youth fighting against, to put it simply, “the man”. For all of the weighty thematic content, the hooks are often immediate and precise. “S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W” is one of the best songs they’ve ever done; full of layered guitars and swaying vocals. “The Kids From Yesterday” is the considerably hooky ode to bygone youth. MCR have a smart, considered voice that begs to be heard, and are the “young” band most likely to come up with a Green Day, American Idiot-style, world-conquering album later in their careers once people have written them off.
58. Marina & The Diamonds – Oh No!/Hollywood
The first offerings from the breakout star of 2010. With a winning smile, pretty face and most importantly sky-filling hooks at every turn, Marina Diamandis has issued her curriculum vitae on The Family Jewels LP. Clearly obsessed with fame, success and its trappings, this woman knows exactly what she’s getting into and sounds like she’s having one hell of a time taking the plunge into the abyss. “Oh No!” and “Hollywood” would be other artists’ best songs, but they’re not even close to the best of what Ms. Diamandis’ album has to offer. The sound of a star going Red Giant.
57. Bombay Bicycle Club – Ghost/Dust On The Ground
Two songs from their mid-2009 album, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, both of which were on my list last year. I couldn’t help it; every time either of these songs played this year, I had to stop. They were just too damn rewarding not come back to. Both “Ghost” and “Dust On The Ground” are exceedingly rewarding listens. Displaying such staggering musicianship on a debut album is frightening. This English band will have a lot to say before it’s all said and done.
56. Hot Chip – One Life Stand/Thieves In The Night
Maybe the most feel good band on the planet. Unquestionably one of the best. Both of these songs are distinctly joyous. A marvel of a band that continues to please.
55. Guster – What You Call Love/Stay With Me Jesus
For a band that’s not a singles band, Guster have a plethora of astonishing songs. One of the most likeable bands on the planet, they’re also unbeknownst to the masses. Content in giving their fans what they want is commendable. “What You Call Love” is happy yet aching; triumphant trumpets percolating around the scolding lyric, “what you call love, is just urgency; what you call love, is the place you turn in an emergency; what you give up, when it’s not what you want it to be, well that’s not love, what you call love…” Jaw-droppingly poignant in its simplicity, such is one of the golden charms of Guster. “Stay With Me Jesus”, with its gorgeous and quiet guitar-strummed hook, is not a simple religious plea to the bearded one. First of all, most of the band are Jewish, and they’re too clever to write something so basic. Moreover, it’s a song about how some people believe faith is exclusive and the inherent silliness of such an assertion. All the while, the heavy idea is massaged with beautifully sung “Hallelujah’s”. Stay with me Jesus? Sure, but as long as everyone’s invited and Guster’s playing as we chill.
54. Kanye West – So Appalled f. Jay-Z, Pusha T, RZA, Swizz Beatz & Cyhi The Prince/All of The Lights f. Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Elton John, Elly Jackson, Fergie, The Dream, Tony Williams, Kid Cudi, John Legend, Charlie Wilson, Ryan Leslie
Easily the longest song title of the year if you factor in the featured artists, “All of The Lights” has to be tongue-in-cheek. I’ll be frank, I can’t even hear half of the people the song purportedly features. I’m unconvinced they’re all actually there. Either way, the beat is throttling. Yeezy steals this song easy, and right off the bat too, as he demands, “something wrong, I hold my head; MJ gone, our ni**a dead!” Cearly, Yeezy is distraught and his anxiety is palpable. His anxiety is all-encompasing too, and it has his personal life reeling, “restraining order, can’t see my daughter; her mother, brother, grandmother hate me in that order.” Kanye owns this song with a ferocious, face-slapping vigor. “So Appalled” is waaaaay less effusive but possibly even more affecting. It’s a calculated menace, kind of like Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones”. The strings in the background lend a sense of impending dread that make the song impossible to ignore. Bonus points to Kanye for getting Jay-Z to not only sound alive, but even a little invigorated. Extra bonus points for how everyone says “ridickalous”. A movie of song from a film course of an album.
53. Band of Horses – Northwest Apartment/Neighbor
“Northwest Apartment” is probably the most upbeat song BOH have ever done, and it’s one of their best. A sing-a-long, foot-stomping, mega-sized tune, it proves BOH can do energy if they please. The thing is, they just sound so wonderful when they do down-tempo stuff, something album closer “Neighbor” aptly reinforces. Ben Bridwell sounds so peaceful, even if he’s yearning for an unattainable past. “Neighbor” begins as softly as silk that I can hear it breathing. Its breaths are so relaxed it sounds like it’s about to go to sleep — but not because it’s boring. The second half of the song doesn’t exactly explode, but it moves from almost closing its eyes to opening them wide, looking upwards to the sky and whispering a thank you under its breath. The organ to close the song is freaking fantastic. Superb efforts, yet again from BOH.
52. CEO – Come With Me
Somewhere, a club in Sweden plays this song every Saturday. I wish that club was closer. I’d get in on that. Oh Sweden.
51. The Electric Anthology Project – I Dim Our Angst in Agony
An expedition of a song. A cover of one of my favourite songs of 2007, Built to Spill’s “Goin’ Against Your Mind”. What’s interesting is that the cover is by Built to Spill. Under the moniker The Electric Anthology Project, the band has covered several of their own songs with an electronic hue. The awesome guitar intro of the original is transformed into a dripping synth intro. Both are fantastic. Very creative.