The Best Singles of 2010
by DANISH AZIZ
The only thing I knew for certain when I started making these selections was that no songs from FIFA 2011 would make the cut. 2010's Best Songs list is limited to 15 picks and predictably features several of the top 10 selections from our best of the 1/2 year. This being something like the eighth year in a row that I've made a best music of the year list, it's become all too easy for me to predict common criticisms like: "it's only November" or "#3 just says the word 'marmot'" or "Pitchfork!!!!!" All rational questions and criticisms, and ones I've kept in mind while making this list. Having said that, please limit all comments to praise and marriage proposals since you probably don't know what you're talking about.
15. Jamie from The xx - "Far Nearer"
Okay, so this chune hasn't been released yet, but it captures the zeitgeist of 2010 better than any other song on here. The UK's domination of this year's list gives me faith that America will still lead the world in art when BRIC's in charge. (mp3)
14. Waka Flocka Flame - "Hard In Da Paint"
13. Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs"
This takes a lot of proven pieces and throws them together in a way you knew would work as an Arcade Fire song. Deliberate phrases and progressions and production designed to induce a cinematic and enjoyable wistfulness. (mp3)
12. Joanna Newsom - "Good Intentions Paving Company"
Joanna's cousin Gavin was elected Lt. Governor of California despite having banged his publicly-paid secretary and best friend's wife while in office as mayor of San Francisco. Joanna wrote a beautiful song that I think is partially about...Andy Samberg, which I have listened to an embarrassing amount of times. All in all I'd say the Newsoms pulled a few fast ones this year. (mp3)
11. Shabazz Palaces - "Blastit"
10. Twin Shadow - "Castles In The Snow"
There were a lot of "Twin" bands this year, but I think this is the only one you'll have to remember. Twin Shadow and Light Asylum represent Brooklyn in the list this year, which makes the borough seem like the Gotham of the Gargoyles universe. (mp3)
9. Happy Birthday - "Subliminal Message"
The singer from Happy Birthday, who also performs King Tuff, has a familiar but hard to describe voice. It's represented by the mathemusical equation of Scott McKenzie + yelping Pauly Shore = tight. Unrelated, but I'd wager a lot that Molly knows someone who slept with Pauly Shore. (mp3)
8. Light Asylum - "Dark Allies"
Until fairly recently the only way to hear this song was through live YouTube recording. Having since released a tour CD with the recorded version of "Dark Allies," you can now find proper mp3s of the song. The electricity that was so palpable in the live version (assisted by many audible "woooos!") is noticeably absent, but an almost campy ghoulishness fills the vacuum. (mp3)
7. Tamaryn - "Love Fade"
The only San Franciscan on this list (by way of New Zealand) shows a mastery of her genre and a voice that lends itself to many a swoon-gaze. (mp3)
6. Crystal Castles - "Baptism"
You either like Alice Glass or you don't, I tend to find her bearable by the grace of CC's beats. On "Baptism," though, her trademark screech is as integral to the beast of a track as the Timbaland-trance synths are. (mp3)
5. Delorean - "Stay Close"
The joyed out Spaniards of Delorean brought us the summer album we all needed, and for that we thank them. But it's winter now, and the half year's best jam has dropped a few spots to create some room as the party moves indoors. (mp3)
4. James Blake - "CMYK"
James Blake was arguably the most visible of the many British electronic artists featured this year. Blake's sound is ever evolving, but this song is the one that best represents a microgenre that Blake can lay claim to having blog-mainstreamed. (mp3)
3. Ariel Pink - "Round and Round"
I'll be honest, I can't name many other Ariel Pink songs I like, and lack of effort could certainly be to blame. But someone has to be held accountable for chillwave, and Animal Collective says "not us!" That doesn't stop this song from being one I found myself coming back to consistently throughout the year. (mp3)
2. Mount Kimbie - "Carbonated"
A lot of the higher ranked songs here are ones that I heard later in the year as the early hits fell victim to diminishing returns. Not the case with Mount Kimbie's "Carbonated," whose whispery beat seems to only get better with each listen. If you're a synesthete you're no doubt seeing a river of Reese's Pieces as you listen to this song. [SPONSORED BLURB] (mp3)
1. Girl Unit - "WUT"
The year's best song comes from yet another UK-based electronic artist, Girl Unit, whose label Night Slugs has been shining in 2010. Terms like "dubstep" and "post-dubstep" have become as unhelpful as "indie" when describing music, but suffice it to say that if you like UK dance music and you like(d?) southern rap then this is your anthem. For an added treat, just imagine Kyle's mom saying the "wut" parts. (mp3)