It's that time of year again when we music-loving bloggers offer up our favorite songs of the year and open ourselves up to praise, ridicule and/or the obligatory "I can't believe x ranked higher than y" or "How could you forget [horrible noises] by [over-glorified über-indie hipster band of the moment]" comments. Have at it, monkeys.
Since this year was overflowing with great music, I've expanded my usual Top 20 list to a Top 25 and reinstated the "only one song per artist" rule.
And now, without further ado, here are the best singles of 2010!
25. World Sick
Broken Social Scene (from Forgiveness Rock Record)
Making a song about how fed up you are with the world's shit not sound preachy can be tricky business. Making a wall of five guitars sound melodious and uncluttered is even harder. And making a nearly seven-minute-long song seem just long enough has gotta be extremely tough. But somehow BSS easily manages all of these things.
24. The Mighty Sparrow
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (from The Brutalist Bricks)
This song just rocks, plain and simple. And for some reason, Ted's voice at the beginning reminds me of Cameron Frye trying to sound like Sloane Peterson's dad. "When the cafe doors exploded...Call me sir, goddammit!" Maybe it's just me, I don't know.
23. Fool's Day
Blur (non-album single)
OK, so this song wouldn't make my Top 25 Blur songs, but after seven years with no new songs, it was nice to be reminded that they've never officially broken up. I stick by my original assessment of it, that it's a "sweet, lovely, poppy song that seems to be quite literally about Damon Albarn's everyday life (in which I would love to spend just one day) and the band getting back together to record this song."
22. All You Need Is Now
Duran Duran (from All You Need Is Now)
Upon hearing the news that the Double D was releasing a new album, my squealy reaction was one only dogs, dolphins and 13-year-old girls could hear. They just managed to drop this single in under the wire and OF COURSE it made my list. It's vintage Duran. (Thank you, Mark Ronson, for wiping away all the slickness that Justin Timberlake tried to smear all over my boys.)
21. Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)
The Wombats (from This Modern Glitch)
Here's another band of Brits I was happy to hear are releasing a new album in 2011. It should be no surprise that I love these guys, as they owe quite a bit to both Duran Duran and Blur for their sound. "Tokyo," the first single, is a catchy, synth-laden dance hall track you might expect from Duran while a promised single, "Jump Into the Fog" (previously offered as a free download on the band's official website) borrows a bit from both bands.
20. Tiny Light
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (from Grace Potter & The Nocturnals)
A nice mix of pop, rock and blues from a critically acclaimed album that turned out to be quite a letdown. This truly is the one tiny, shining light on the record, which is full of boring "I'm a sexy chick rocker" crap, especially the abysmal second single, "Ooh La La." (Never EVER to be confused with Goldfrapp's awesome jam of the same name.)
Yeasayer (from Odd Blood)
I never go dancing anymore, but this is the kind of song that makes waiting on line for a half hour to pay a $10 cover to jam myself into a sweaty club that doesn't actually provide enough room to dance sound like a good idea.
18. Sea Change
Turin Brakes (from Outbursts)
This British duo isn't all that extraordinary, but they always manage to put out one song that really grabs me every time they release a record. (Their 2003 single "Pain Killer" was one of my favorite songs of the decade.) This one sounds like a lost track from Rumours or Tusk. So much so that these guys should really be paying Lindsey Buckingham royalties.
17. The Sound of Sunshine
Michael Franti & Spearhead (from The Sound of Sunshine)
I say it every list: every year has to have one and this was 2010's "feel-good song of the summer!"
16. Giving Up the Gun
Vampire Weekend (from Contra)
And here's another feel-good song. You know, I was never a fan of this band. I remember seeing them on SNL when they released their first album and wondering what the hell all the hype was about. It just sounded like a bunch of kids banging on shit in an alley to me. But there are some really catchy songs on Contra. Of course, these guys should be paying Paul Simon royalties for a lot of them (including this one). Still, derivative or not, I actually prefer this album to Graceland.
Goldfrapp (from Head First)
I already waxed poetic over the "Xana-super-duperness" of the new Goldfrapp record in my Best Albums So Far post, so I won't continue to blather on about it. But wow, I really need to start roller skating again.
14. Hurricane J
The Hold Steady (from Heaven is Whenever)
As with Vampire Weekend, I was never a fan of these guys during all the time they were being showered with praise from every angle, but this new album totally won me over. (I may have to go back and give their catalog another chance.) This is just one of many great anthemic tunes that begs to be belted out. Also, I like to think that this song was at least partly inspired by the classic Rex Smith TV movie, Sooner or Later.
13. Clear Skies
Keane (from Night Train)
I guess Keane has kind of a wussy reputation, but I don't care what anyone says. This is a great song. There are hand claps. And you all know (or you should) how I feel about hand claps. There may be some cowbell too. I swear I hear it.
12. Teenage Dream
Katy Perry (from Teenage Dream)
I guess this is the only bona fide Top 40 "bubblegum" pop song on the list, but it totally deserves to be here. Groan all you want, but you're probably singing the chorus RIGHT NOW. When "California Gurls" came out, I didn't think Katy could ever top its catchiness, but then she totally did with the very next single. However, the third time was not even more charming. If I ever hear that stupid "Firework" song again, I'm going to blow something up with an M-80.
11. Bloodbuzz Ohio
The National (from High Violet)
I won't pretend to understand what the hell this song is about (being carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees?) but I do GET it. It's like Bruce Springsteen, (old) INXS and Joy Division jumped into one of those telepod thingymadoos, got fused together and created something super-cool.
10. Crash Years
The New Pornographers (from Together)
How can you hear Neko Case's voice and not want to put her on a list of things that are good?
9. Burning the Bowery
Jesse Malin & The St. Marks Social (from Love it to Life)
I really fell in love with this album quickly, but I have to admit that the honeymoon is coming to an end. I still like it; I'm just not sure it's as great as I first thought. I stick by this single though. It's Bruce Springsteen after kicking those other guys out of the pod and inviting Ryan Adams in.
8. No Tears to Cry
Paul Weller (from Wake Up the Nation)
I love The Modfather, so I was pretty sad that I found his album disappointing overall. But this song is one of his catchiest yet, with blue eyed soul dripping from every note.
7. The Ghost Inside
Broken Bells (from Broken Bells)
I am such a sucker for a dude with a good falsetto. And I never expected to hear one from James Mercer, but he gets all Prince up in this bitch. Oh, and there are lots of hand claps to keep me (and you) happy.
6. Do You Love Me?
Guster (from Easy Wonderful)
Speaking of great falsetto and happy happy hand claps, there are plenty (along with some great chimes and doo-doo-doos) in this jangly power pop masterpiece. I keep wondering if I should have placed it higher.
5. On Melancholy Hill
Gorillaz (from Plastic Beach)
I think I've talked about this song here more than any other song released this year, so I don't know what there is left to say. Gorillaz released a slew of other amazing singles in 2010: "Stylo," "Superfast Jellyfish," "Rhinestone Eyes" and "Doncamatic," making picking just one a difficult task. But the '80s synth here just makes me feel all warm inside, and Damon singing a straight-up love song is too irresistible. I like to put on my headphones and imagine that we're propelling our way through the plastic sea in our little submarine, manatee-watching when we're not snuggled together drinking tea. Yeah, I need a date.
4. Everlasting Light
The Black Keys (from Brothers)
Ahhhh, more falsetto (and the all-important hand claps) from an unexpected source—this time it's the sex-tastic Dan Auerbach, whom, admittedly, I would not find nearly as sex-tastic if not for his guitar and vocal prowess. I had a hard time picking between this song and the sex-tastic "Tighten Up," but the falsetto won in the end. Oh, and because I feel like saying it one more time, "sex-tastic."
3. Fuck You!
Cee Lo Green (from The Lady Killer)
I can't stand hearing the cleaned-up version of this song (just because I hate when the radio and/or "the man" butchers perfectly good tunes), but if it hadn't originally been written with obscenities, I think it would still have been just as popular. This song is universally-liked, right? I don't know anyone who doesn't like it. Or maybe I just don't want to.
Band of Horses (from Infinite Arms)
This song narrowly missed the top spot. There was just another song that grabbed me tighter. (You're almost there!) But hey, Band of Horses shouldn't feel too bad because their album was the best of the year. Can these guys be hugely famous now, please? What more do they need to do? All get bowl haircuts and throw more "babys" into their songs?
1. Bushwick Blues
Delta Spirit (from History from Below)
You know, I considered moving to Bushwick once. (It's one of the few NYC neighborhoods where the rent is NOT too damn high. But the rapist to regular guy ratio probably is.) My old roommate wasn't having any of it, so we never did move. I guess I can thank him for that. Aaaanyway...the first time I heard this song, I thought, "Wow, this could be my favorite of the year," and I never did change my mind. I'm a sucker for songs about New York and tales of doomed love, so what more could I want? I guess maybe some hand claps, but I can't be so picky when faced with such a great tune.
Honorable mentions: "Amongst the Waves," Pearl Jam; "Baby Lee," Teenage Fanclub; "Boy," Ra Ra Riot; "Clap Your Hands," Sia; "Rules Don't Stop," We Are Scientists; "Young Blood," Norah Jones
It may shock some of you that Eddie Vedder's solo tune from the Eat Pray Love soundtrack, "Better Days," didn't make my list. I swear it has nothing to do with him getting married this year. He's just capable of writing much better songs. That one was just average.