Best Tracks of 2010 – Part II

Day two of the week leads to my second grouping of songs from the list.  As the list dwindles down, I get more and more excited about the music.  All of these songs are gems, but the quality grows exponentially as we advance up the list.  I hope you agree.

Best Songs of 2010, Tracks 40-31

40. OneRepublic – “Good Life”
As someone who’s had fun ripping on the tedious monotony of Ryan Tedder’s music in the past (see: last year’s list), I am unabashedly and passionately in love with this song.  The almost formulaic Tedder has his typical thumping beat from most of his songs, but it’s the whistling and endearing lyrics that make this such a feel-good tune.  The lyric “Cause hopelessly/The hope is we/Have something to feel good about” transforms the piece into something meaningful.  Tedder and his bandmates legitimately want you to appreciate all of the wonder around you, and it comes across in the song.

39. Wale – “The Black N Gold”
Wale continues to represent DC with his fresh and inventive rhymes.  Is he the best MC out there? No, not by a long shot, but his rapid-fire flow and constant pop culture references make for a great jam. DJ Omega helps with the mixing as Wale discusses Frostburg women, taking it to the face, and even leads the song with “Wale, Ovechkin – the best on the Earth.”  His District swagger is incredibly contagious, and I especially love the swipe “Y’all Mario Brothers, I’m Metal Gear.”

38. Kid Cudi, Best Coast, and Rostam – “All Summer”
What do you get when you mix soaring, sun-tinged vocals, an infectious drum beat, and one of the best rappers in the game all focused on having some fun in the sun? One of the best songs of 2010, hands down.  Surf rock darling Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast provides the vocals, which consist of “All year long/We wait for sun/At the beach/We come undone” and “All summer/Drinking water/Trying to keep your eyes dry/Trying to keep your eyes dry.”  Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij provides the incredible instrumentation as backing to Cudi’s rhymes.  If you can’t imagine yourself basking in some rays while listening to this, you’ve lost any vestige of imagination you had left.

37. The National – “Lemonworld”
Brooklyn’s gruff band released another fantastic album this year, and “Lemonworld” is definitely a standout song.  Lead singer Matt Berninger’s distinctive baritone conveys a sadness to the lyrics, which seem to convey an overwhelming ennui regarding the suburban lifestyle.  The past decade has continued to skewer the ridiculous lifestyle of suburban America, but this song captures this depression in an entirely new light.   Lyrics like “So happy I was invited/Give me a reason to get out of the city…/Livin’ and dyin’ in New York, it means nothing to me” portray a man who’s given up on the false cheer of his wife.  Unfortunately, this track may have represented the feelings of 2010 a little too well.

36. Toro Y Moi – “Low Shoulders”
This bizarre and lush electronic composition overwhelms you with layered synth beats and vocals from the first few notes.  Toro Y Moi is actually only one man, Chazwick Bundick, which makes his musical accomplishments all the more impressive.  As part of the chillwave movement of music from 2009,  his lyrics are stream of consciousness, but the feeling of familiarity supersedes the  unique musical qualities of the song.  The song is certainly an acquired taste, but there’s legitimate talent in this creation, even if it lies beneath the surface.

35. Hurts – “Wonderful Life”
Several artists and groups have been trying to recall the synth sounds of the 80s and, besides the genius that was Ladyhawke’s first album, none have really succeeded.  That is, until Hurts released their debut last year.  The Mancunian duo of Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson merge haunting lyrics with incredibly complex compositions that instantly dig their way into your head.  “Wonderful Life” specifically deals with a man ready to throw himself off of a bridge, but a woman stops him at the last minute; the subject matter may be morbid, but trust me, the song itself is nothing short of breath-taking.

34. Hanson – “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin'”
Yes, Hanson.  If you heard this song on the radio and had no idea who the band was, you’d be sucked in, too.  Even if you knew outright, say, by watching their music video, I would be shocked to see you hate this ode to scorned lovers.  The big brass sound, impeccable guitar, frequent cowbell, and heartfelt vocals combine here for an refreshingly catchy sound that will certainly instigate some foot-tapping.  If these three brothers could escape their own past, this could be a huge crowd pleaser at large parties; even on my iPod, it’s a show stopper.

33.  Two Door Cinema Club – “I Can Talk”
Irish indie punk band Two Door Cinema Club created a flash of greatness with this intense track sure to grab you at the first note and not let go.   There’s an accessibility here that implies a pop production of more aggressive punk roots, but I’m certainly not complaining.  A sonic wall of sound hits the listener during the chorus, with pieces of jangly guitars in the verse hinting at the impending onslaught.  There’s a lot of music packed into a song that doesn’t even reach three minutes, and it just gets better with repeat listens.

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32. Janelle Monáe – “Tightrope (feat. Big Boi)”
Few people exploded on to the music scene like Janelle Monáe did in 2010.  One of the main reasons for that was this ambitious and varied take on hip hop that brought in vestiges of old school jazz, brass horns, turn-table mixing, and a brilliant guest spot from Outkast’s Big Boi.  There’s an almost constant marriage of vintage and contemporary, and her wail in the chorus is practically unparalleled.

31. Mark Ronson And The Business Intl – “Bang Bang Bang”
Established rap icon Q-TIP and up-and-comer singer Amanda Warner from MNDR lend their talents to producer wunderkid Mark Ronson’s lead single from his third album.  Ronson is never boring, and he fails to disappoint with a synthpop/hip-hop reimagining of classic French Canadian children’s song “Alouette.”  Q-TIP and Warner alternate between rapping and singing, respectively, and the partnership inexplicably works perfectly.  Never have I found someone yelling French numbers so enthralling.

Tomorrow, I’ll release the tracks that were lucky enough to place between 30 and 21.  If you love a song, hate a song, or just passionately disagree with a placement, then be sure to say so below.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Best Tracks of 2010 – Part II

  1. Eric

    You already mentioned the OneRepublic song as a fav, and I agree on this solid pick. I give you extra points for the ballsy Hanson pick. It is pretty catchy and clever. Tightrope would have made my top ten. I’m in the category of “People who think ArchAndroid was a brilliant album” and look to more from Janelle Monae.

    HOLD UP! Was that WALE up there?? He is shit. I repeat: SHIT! Your DC bias should not have let this slip into your top 100. I used to love running to Black and Gold and other Sam Sparro beats. Slowing this back down and adding what you call “one of the best rappers in the game” ruined it for me. Contagious? Minus 10 points, sir!

    Love the OneRepublic song and the Hanson, as well. Thanks for the props on those. I think when Janelle came out initially, I had “Tightrope” in my top ten, but it gradually slipped more and more as the year progressed. Who knows, maybe in a few years from now, I’ll see it as better than I do now.

    I didn’t call him “one of the best rappers in the game” this year, and actually pointed out that he’s not an elite rapper in any interpretation of the meaning. I do think that Sam’s original song was better, but I give Wale props for being audacious enough to use it as a sample. And like I said – I love his lyrics in that and consider it a perfectly enjoyable song.

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