The TOP TWENTY-FIVE SONGS of 2010
At last, we arrive at what is, for me, the most difficult and perhaps the most controversial list of the year: the best songs. Without fear of exaggeration, I can honestly tell you that I’ve revised this list a minimum of eight times since I first wrote it. After all that effort, I’m no closer to feeling like I’ve assembled the perfect list.
Thankfully, that is not — and should never be — the point.
I recently read an anti-top ten list article posted by musician/writer John Roderick, and retweeted by Steven Page. His essential arguments made sense to me on an intellectual level. After all, music can’t be quantified. And it is in our contemporary nature as a society to want all things quantified and commodified. This is, at best, a misguided — and, at worst, corrupt — frame of mind. If we are to believe that numbers may be accurately assigned as signifiers for people, even for songs, then something deeper, more intuitive has been lost. This is not the Age of Reason; we do not function solely on the basis of our minds and logical thought, nor should we desire to.
This being said, I wouldn’t want to live in a world without the top ten list!
The top ten (or twenty, or fifty, or whatever) list is not supposed to be a perfect, accurate interpretation of the worth of the year’s songs. If that were even possible, that would be boring.
The point of the top ten list is, as writer, to wade waist-deep into the year’s music — that which you love, that which you hated, that which you’d forgotten about, that which you’ve been convinced to give a second chance — and to try to make some sense out of the glorious sonic confusion. As a reader of the list, the point is to feel your soul confirmed in some choices and to rage on fanatically against the injustices of inferior albums being raised to undeserved heights.
This is the urgent, enjoyable culmination of twelve months of experiencing new music. While others were mindlessly soaking in sounds through the radio’s narrow blinders, you were out there on the front lines, listening to full albums, making yourself vulnerable to disappointment in the face of new releases by artists you love, and endeavoring to hear bands and artists you never imagined yourself even listening to — never mind liking(!) — in the past.
This is the process we go through, and the top ten list celebrates that process. I may develop a more effective rating system — a good friend suggested developing a five-prong rating system for next year — but, for this year, I developed my list keeping in mind: how often I listened to the song, how strong the songwriting is (lyrically, composition, etc.), instrumental performance, vocal delivery, innovation, and overall effect. I could write a 500 word post on why “You Run Away” is my number one song, so I’ll limit my comments to what I’ve already written above.
Go ahead: sift through my flawed list. Love it, hate it, but for goodness’ sake, don’t agree with it entirely. And if you must, feel free to comment below.
1) “You Run Away” – Barenaked Ladies
2) “Uncharted” – Sara Bareilles
3) “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask” – Bad Books
4) “Tighten Up” – The Black Keys
5) “Four Seconds” – Barenaked Ladies
6) “Written in Reverse” – Spoon
7) “The Difference Between Us” – The Dead Weather
8 ) “Hurricane J” – The Hold Steady
9) “Still Your Song” – Goo Goo Dolls
10) “Claire’s Ninth” – Ben Folds
11) “21st Century” – Locksley
12) “Wasted Hours” – Arcade Fire
13) “Fire with Fire” – Scissor Sisters
14) “Little Lion Man” – Mumford & Sons
15) “Fistful of Mercy” – Fistful of Mercy
16) “Basket Case” – Sara Bareilles
17) “Taos” – Menomena
18) “Gasoline” – The Dead Weather
19) “Summertime” – Barenaked Ladies
20) “First Kiss on Mars” – STP
21) “Champaign, Illinois” – Old 97’s
22) “Half Crazy” – Jukebox the Ghost
23) “As I Am” – Goo Goo Dolls
24) “Thieves” – She & Him
25) “Out Go the Lights” – Spoon
“Dark Fantasy” – Kanye West
“I Can Change” – LCD Soundsystem