Skip to content

2010’s 21 Track Salute

  • by

Hey folks
 Feel like you need another take on the best songs of 2010?
Then please check out my favorite 21 tracks of the year (insightful commentary included)

-George McIntire

Music Director

21. “When I’m With You”-Best Coast

Amidst a record deficit and double-digit unemployment some might say that the California Dream has seen its best days come and go but Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast would more than likely disagree with you. On the group’s debut album “Crazy For You” Cosentino’s gushing pride of the Golden State is inescapable. A love she came to realized during her 9-month stay in New York City. On “When I’m With You” Cosentino, Bruno and Koehler channel the best of reverby lo-fi surf pop with plenty of woahs and frolicking riffs in a leisurely ballad about boys and the sort.

20. “Fuck You”-Cee-lo

1. Is there anyone else better than Cee-lo to turn a song called “Fuck You” into a bonafide banger? Cant really imagine Katy Perry or Modest Mouse replicating the same kind of success.

2. “Forget You” will go down as the biggest atrocity committed by censorship.

19. “Hood Pass Intact”-Dam Funk Feat MC Eiht

Fun fact of the day: did you that when you listen to music, one-side of your brain processes the vocals while the other side processes the instrumental? Therefore if you had heard “Hood Pass Intact” back in 2009 only the instrumental section of your brain would have been working leaving the vocal section out in the cold. No disrepect to the original but thank god Dam found out about this tidbit of pop psychology and subsequently lent his funkalicious voice to the track.

18. “hahahaha jk”-Das Racist

Das Racist is perhaps the only group out their that can reconcile the chorus of “hahahaha jk”.  The chorus epitomizes the group’s ambiguity and is evidenence of the group’s ability to avoid pigeonholing labels frequently seen in hip-hop.  That same ability is seen throughout the song in pop culture references such as four loko, soap operas, and even Dwight Schrute.  Whatever sub-genre of hip-hop they might fall under the thing that is for certain is that Das Racist are one of the more self-aware groups out today.

17. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”-Arcade Fire

In a song whose structure is quite reminsicent of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”-Arcade Fire songstress Régine Chassagne wistfully pays homage to her hometown of Montreal.  The fluctuating and buoyant synths prove to be a perfect compliment to Regine’s prideful ode about the urban planning of her hometown or lack there of. Arcade Fire aren’t renowned for churning out club bangers but nonetheless you’ll probably be engaging in some light shuffling of the feet and swaying of the hips when “Sprawl” is playing on the jukebox at your local hipster watering hole. And since we’re on the subject of Arcade Fire; their new album “Suburbs” is supposedly a concept album about white upper/middle class life in the suburbs. Which begs the question, do kids in the inner city have the same kind of fascination with “Suburbs” as kids in the suburbs have with rap?

16. “Barbra Streisand”-Duck Sauce 
In economics we learn that the equation for profit is total revenue(TR) minus total cost(TC). Therefore if Armand Van Helden and A-Trak’s hit single about the EGOT extraordinaire manifested itself in the form an economics formula it would be an economist’s wet dream. Listen to “Barbra Streisand” and then listen to Boney M’s 1979 post-disco hit “Gotta Go Home” and you’re bound to have an ‘ah ha!’ moment within the first 10 seconds ( All AVH and A-T basically did was loop the ooh-ooh part, reinforce the beat with a harder bass and snare, sprinkle some light electro effects and repeat barbra streisand several times-for those of you keeping track this is what I mean as the cost-and presto a fist pump inducing ecstatic disco/house banger-this is the profit. Now my words are more applause than jealous criticism; a hit is a hit no matter how much work was put into it. And as a DJ I certainly can’t complain about having another certified club banger in my cache. I just hope that AVH and A-T finally get it together and release a LP instead of just producing one hit a year and riding it out for a full 12 months.

15. “Ambling Alp”-Yeasayer

Yeasayer’s latest LP “Odd Blood” is the subject of one of the more interesting sophomore slump debates in recent memory but its lead single “Ambling Alp” remains immune from said debate. Now Im not usually a fan of artificial genre names but I find the label ‘passport pop’ begrudgingly fitting for this song. Their use of obscurely funky and dissonant flute and horn riffs demonstrate a distinct talent in transforming elements of ‘world’ music into joyful indie pop about various heavyweight boxers in the 1930s-the title comes from the nickname of Italian boxer Primo Carnera.

14. “When The Night Falls”-Chromeo

The best thing about Chromeo is that they know and willingly accept their place in the musicsphere. They know that they won’t ever attain the Best New Music accolade from Pitchfork and they probably don’t make much of an effort to scour the numerous end of the year lists to see if they got some shine. Success to them is measured in how many teenyboppers rush to the dancefloor when one of their songs come on. Chromeo are unabashedly hedonistic and simplistic; “When The Night Falls” best epitomizes their formula which consists refining sounds of 80s electro-funk and pop for an audience who most likely were born in or after the 80s. The lyrics have as much as depth as the next song about going to the club but still manages to capture the idiosyncrasies of the hoards of youngsters that make the trek to the club in hopes of attaining instant gratification. My only objection with this song is Solange’s cameo on the chorus, if she had a greater role this track would have been top 10 for sure.

13. “Window Seat”-Erykah Badu

Sure she was naked in the music video and sure that caused an ensuing firestorm of controversy but don’t let that overshadow Badu’s glistening voice and her intricate self-musings. On “Window Seat” Badu portrays herself as exposed but not vulnerable, contemplative but not philosophical. The song is almost too appropriate for the times you aimlessly stare out the window on a rainy day totally immersed in some deep soul-searching. Questlove’s drums combined with Badu’s “studio husband” James Poyser’s piano effortlessly evoke a soothing head-swaying warm glow that provides the perfect background to Badu’s introspection. On a total side note, the next time you fly Delta Airlines keep an ear out for the song, because you just might hear it when you’re boarding.

12. “Round And Round”-Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti

The thing I notice most about “Round And Round” is how rigidly divided and different the sections of the song are. If I played you the chorus and then a randomly selected verse, you would probably have a hard time believing both were from the same song. This is indicative of Ariel Pink’s eccentric personality; each bridge, section, chorus or verse could have been a song of its own. My favorite aspect of the song is how the chorus matures over the length of the song and eventually hits a flawless stride with the end product being an euphoric climax.

11. “Weekend”-Smith Westerns

Out of all the songs on this list, I probably hate this one the most. Why? you ask, well to put it plainly it makes me feel old even though I’m only 22. “Weekend” is overflowing with youthful exuberance and naïveté as evidenced by its carefree lyrics, foot-tapping guitar riffs and abundance of ooohs. The song is the lead single off of their upcoming lp “Dye It Blonde” due to be released in late January and is already a front runner for my 2k11 top album list.

10. “Celestica”-Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles’ may have named their second album after themselves for the second time in a row, but nevertheless “Celestica” showcases a drastic change in course from their previous effort. Both Ethan Kath(producer) and Alice Glass(vocalist) opt for a smoother and dramatically less stringent style on this track. Kath ditches the glitchiness for hollow electronic murmurs and Glass drops her screeching in lieu of a more grayish angelic sounding voice. As a music fan it is always to refreshing and pleasing when an act demonstrates their versatility, thereby renewing the lease they have over your ears.

9. “I Need A Dollar”-Aloe Blacc

Its Bill Withers for the Great Recession generation. “I Need A Dollar” unanimously wins the award for most relevant song of 2k10. It is almost too fitting that soul music be the genre to express the grievances and struggles of the recession generation especially since its birthplace of Detroit has an unemployment rate of 22.3% and has witnessed a mass exodus of it’s residents. When I saw Aloe Blacc in concert a month ago and “I Need A Dollar” came on I was so convinced he needed a dollar that I almost threw one on stage but then I realized I probably shouldn’t treat him like a stripper. Nonetheless like the greats of the Motown-era, Aloe Blacc is ever so persuasive and genuine.

8. “The Joy”-Kanye West feat. Pete Rock, Jay-Z, Charlie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield & Kid Cudi)

Hardly any corner of the interwebs is free from the massive accolades garnered by Kanye’s MBDTF. I of all people certainly do not object to the ubiquitous praise, in fact I think there should be more of it but yet I digress. My biggest grievance however is the dearth of recognition for the rest of the G.O.O.D Friday tracks. Had Kanye released the rest of the GF tracks as an LP, they would have easily gotten four stars. And the best of those tracks; “The Joy” finds itself at the number 8 position on my list. As soon as I heard the song my inner hip-hop head blurted out a huge “Ooohhh Shiittt!!!!”. Over a Pete Rock-crafted Curtis Mayfield-sampling beat Kanye and co spit some of the most delicious hip-hop lyrics this side of The Drought III: “This beat deserves Hennessy, a bad bitch and a bag of weed the Holy Trinity”.
 It’s old-school hip hop at its finest

7. “Do The Astral Plane”-Flying Lotus

It times like this that make me really hate music cliches because phrases like ‘genre-defying’ or ‘musical pioneer’ are perhaps the best way to describe Flying Lotus. Now before I delve into my review of this song I have to mention that Flying Lotus (born Steven Ellison) is the great grandnephew of Alice and John Coltrane (Any piece mentioning Flying Lotus is required to drop this fact). “Do The Astral Plane” is the zenith of the space opera that is Cosmogramma. It starts off cool and unfazed with some scat singing, a jolting violin riff, a house beat and a looped tingling woo. Ellison’s talent is demonstrated by his ability to effortlessly to stoop the track into a sort of melodic chaos that only a maestro like himself could pull off.

6. “Tighten Up”-The Black Keys

If you’re are indie band looking to break into the mainstream you should be carefully scrutinizing The Black Keys right now. “Tighten Up” the lead single on their sixth LP Brothers-produced by Danger Mouse-propelled the blues-rock duo to new heights without any significant trade-offs. Sure the track is poppy but it still retains their signature delta blues, only this time with a larger audience. Its their most financially successful song to date but the real success comes from the fact they did not sacrifice any element of their persona or sound (one might even go so far as to say they’re the anti-Weezer). Even the most die-hard Black Keys fans have probably resisted the urge to say “I like their old stuff a lot more, they’ve gotten too popular for me”.

5. “Tightrope”-Janelle Monáe

Going off its title, it’s not hard to tell that this song is about balance but I bet you didn’t know its also about a female android from the year 2719 with some pressing social issues. The song espouses the virtues of finding one’s own equilibrium while taking a cautioned stand against the high highs and low lows. It’s almost like the Rally For Sanity in futuristic R&B form. It’s one of those songs that immediately enthralls you and then you realize that only 10 seconds have past, leaving you overly eager to hear and dance to the rest of the song. From its supernaturally funky bassline to its triumphant horn section to its jolly ukelele, “Tightrope” ironically ends up on the highest of highs.

4. “Shutterbug”-Big Boi

The winner of this year’s biggest wtf goes to the man who produced the beat for this track-Scott Storch. That’s not a typo ladies and gents, he of “Lean Back” and “Candy Shop” fame is responsible for this retrofuturistic bombshell of a beat. To say I’m delightfully confounded would be quite an understatement. It is 100% electro-funk elation complete with booty-popping synths and robotic frogs burping. If this is what hip-hop is gonna sound like in the 2010s then prepare for the second coming of its Golden Age.

3. “Rill Rill”-Sleigh Bells

Out of all the tracks on Sleigh Bells’ debut and hard-hitting LP “Treats” Rill Rill is the softest sounding song, which is like saying it’s the thinnest kid at fat camp. On this one producer Derek Miller takes a break from the sounds of abrasive guitars and displays a skill at sampling comparable to that of a Pete Rock or DJ Premier-the song’s main riff is taken from Funkadelic’s “Can You Get To That”. Alexis Krauss’ voice sounds sensual however in contrast her lyrics are quirky but not weird and nimble but not light which is arguably the best way to address the trials and tribulations of teenage life.

2. “Monster”-Kanye West Feat. Jay-Z & Nicky Minaj

Forget all the melodrama.  Beefs with Matt Lauer/Bush 43 and Tailorgate-file that under who gives a shit. Lets forget for a second about the mushy self-deprecation on “Runaway” or the rousing chants of “Power”. I like my Kanye West with a healthy dose of unabashed bombastic swagger. Without a precedent in recent memory, Citizen Kanye artfully slaughters Monster’s violently jerky beat. And just when we thought he had repented for the sins committed by his ego, he reminds us that he’s “the best living or dead hands down huh?…my presence is a present kiss my ass” and lest I forget he did “Do the rap and the track tripled up and no assist”. “Monster” is the guiltiest of pleasures for Kanye’s haters because they loathe themselves for every minute they spend thinking about or listening to Kanye. Speaking of haters, some were quick to anoint Nicky Minaj as the reincarnation of Lil’Kim-that ended up being a failure of a prediction.  Nicky Minaj on the track is like that girl who gets a chance to play football with the boys in the schoolyard and ends up unleashing a torrent of 50 yard runs, mercilessly wrecking the competition leaving only ruins and a string of dumbfounded faces behind her. Its hip-hop bravado at its finest and most lethal.

1 “Dance Yrself Clean”-LCD Soundsystem

The most important lesson learned from the marshmallow experiment conducted by Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel in 1972 is that one’s ability to delay gratification is a strikingly accurate indicator and prediction of one’s achievement-in other words patience is quite the rewarding endeavor. James Murphy’s epic 9-minute wonder thoroughly encapsulates this lesson. The track begins with a 3-minute part that has a consistently bouncy and soft drum beat and then abruptly cuts to a nuclear bomb-like dropping of one of the most electrifying and galvanizing synths ever (I don’t know if you can tell this by now but I kinda like synths). Cathartic euphoria occurs over and over again but never seems to become dull or exhausting. Hypnotically singing along with the ah aaaah falsetto and subsequently dancing yourself clean when the beat plunges into beautiful mayhem generates a surreal intimate connection to Murphy. But Murphy’s impermeable authority over his audience in essence blinds them to his sincere genius and burdensome self-awareness. You see “Dance Yrself Clean” is yet another LCD track about the finiteness of youth and the dilemmas presented to us as we pass each age milestone and is also highly critical of Murphy and of his environment. In a twist of irony that could only be hatched by James Murphy himself, some of us actually be purging ourselves to a song mocking our obliviousness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *