Alright. I give up. I will now finally attempt something totally impossible and create a list of my favorite 10 songs of the year. 2010 was not just a year marked by totally unprecedented musical consumption for me, but it was also probably the most important year of my entire, short, 22 year old life. All of these songs mean more to me than any top 10 from previous years, because as I am so fond of saying when it comes to appreciating music: context is everything. What’s really funny after completing this list, is that despite spending half of this year in the bubble of the blogopshere, none of my Top 10 songs would be out of place on any NPR staffers list. Weird. My Top 10 Tracks after the jump!
10) Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, “Bottled in Cork”, The Brutalist Bricks
Where do I even start with this song? Like a lot of Ted’s best work, “Bottled in Cork” is meant to be sung along to, with a large group of people, preferably brandishing a bottle of some sort of alcoholic beverage. It reminds me of amazing times and of amazing people. This song also proves that Ted Leo still writes better pop punk anthems than anyone else in the business after all of this time.
9) The Thermals, “You Changed My Life”, Personal Life
I’ve wondered since The Thermals released this album back in September if they somehow knew to release an album about relationships, just for me, this year. Close to every song on Personal Life can finagle its way into one situation or another from the past 8 months of my life, but none as much as “You Changed My Life”–a track that showcases Hutch Harris’ forgotten talent for mid song riffs and Westin Glass’ talent for slick and simple drum beats. If you’re reading this you–and this song–really have changed my life.
8.) Sleigh Bells, “Rill Rill, Treats
Oh Sleigh Bells. I had such idealistic hopes about the stratospheres this band would rise to after releasing their debut album. Why has “Rill Rill” not become the standard soundtrack for boisterous TV ads or party scenes? It certainly provided backing for my party scene. Some of my fondest memories of the past year have this track playing in the background as well all dance and sung like idiots just for the fun of it all. Yesterday I played it on my iPod while on break during an increasingly hectic day at work and without fail I smiled and began tapping my foot. This one’s a rave up for the ages people.
7) Woods, “Blood Dries Darker”, At Echo Lake
I drove a lot this year. Like..a lot, a lot. I always went through some sort of ritual before hand to create a playlist that would be almost the exact length of the drive. “Blood Dries Darker” seemed to always end up as the first track. The song’s opening always just struck me as the beginning of some wild journey into parts unknown. In a year where most of the random things I was listening to were either incredibly folk-y, or part of the hipster scourge of chillwave, Woods gave me a middle ground to play on repeat.
6) Sufjan Stevens, “I Want to Be Well”, The Age of Adz
For various reasons I have been unable to listen to certain artists and bands since late October. It’s entirely possible that I will never ever listen to Bon Iver again. For some reason those various…reasons have not stopped me from listening to Sufjan. In any other year “The Age of Adz” would be a no contest album of the year. It has everything people love in 21st century Indie. A returning folk-icon drowns an album of heart wrenching tunes in bitterness manifested through a million bloops and beeps. “I Want to Be Well” is the banner track. Sufjan proudly exclaims to all the world that he is not fucking around and well all know he means it.
5) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Round and Round”, Before Today
This one is a no brainer. Ariel Pink is a weird fucking dude, and make no mistake, this is a weird fucking song, from a weird fucking album. Yet, “Round and Round” is endearing and special. Pink’s AM-ified production and love for grandiose 70s pop meld together the best on this track. I’ve heard the song a million times, but I still get chills when the chorus calls out “Hold on..”
4) Janelle Monae, “Tightrope”, The ArchAndroid
Like Sleigh Bells, I had high hopes that Monae would crash through popular culture and bring amazing music to the masses again. It hasn’t happened yet, but it really should. “Tightrope” is better than every single song on Kanye’s new album(yeah I said it). It’s dance-y, it’s hyperactive, AND it’s got a fucking fantastic verse from Big Boi. It’s soulful and sad, yet joyful and fun. It’s all about the balance.
3) Twin Sister, “All Around and Away We Go”, Color Your Life
Twin Sister emerged triumphantly past the heap of the blogosphere this year. They bridge the gap between the left field pop of the Altered Zones crowd and the well constructed dreamscapes of critical darlings like Beach House or Grizzly Bear. This is how a song like “All Around and Away We Go” can take a mere 9 or 10 months to creep its way to the top of my Most Played on Last.fm. I am of the strong opinion that styles like Twin Sister’s represent the future of what we still call “indie rock.” Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
2) Beach House, “Lover of Mine”, Teen Dream
Gosh guys, do I really have to say anything? This fucking band. That’s about all there is to say anymore. Teen Dream was released in January and will still stand atop my list of the best albums of the year. I could have picked any song for this particular list, but I chose “Love of Mine”. The song somewhat arbitrarily became my favorite, possibly because I remember them playing it at Vassar back in 09′ the most vividly.
1) Joanna Newsom, “Good Intentions Paving Company”, Have One on Me
Since February “Good Intentions Paving Company” has gone from one of my favorite songs of 2010, to one of my favorite songs. Period. I’ve convinced myself that it is perfect in every conceivable way you could want a song to be perfect. That’s ridiculous of course, but it’s perfect to me, and for the sake of this list that is all that really matters. Every quirky “sung” line is about my life in some way. Every tapped drum or pressed piano key hits me harder than any other drum or piano key ever played. I’ll concede that Newsom will never be for everyone, but everyone deserves to give this track a listen.