Saturday, December 18, 2010

Top Ten Songs of 2010

As usual, most of the best songs of the year came from artists on my best albums list, and I tend to exclude those songs on this list so I can highlight a few other discoveries.

At the bottom of this post, though, I've included a playlist of all the songs noted here as well as a few of my other favorites -- hopefully it captures most of what I think are the best songs of the year. Now on to my top ten:

10) Stornoway - "Zorbing"
I don't know much about this Oxford-based band, but their debut single is a nice slice of folk-pop featuring an irresistible refrain.

9) The Mynabirds - "Let the Record Go"
The Mynabirds is the name for singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn's new act. She released an excellent debut record this year, with this song a good representation of the her upbeat, retro-pop sound.

8) Basia Bulat - "The Shore"
Canadian folk singer-songwriter Basia Bulat writes songs of exquisite beauty, helped by a lilting alto voice that makes everything sound just that much more delicate and intimate. "The Shore", featuring just Bulat on her autoharp, is the kind of spare melody that is all the more powerful because of its simplicity.

7) Surfer Blood - "Swim"
Floridians Surfer Blood sound like they should be from California -- "Swim" is a pure shot of sunny beach power pop, with a catchy chorus and anthemic vocals.

6) School of Seven Bells - "Windstorm"
New York's School of Seven Bells is comprised of three sisters and one male bandmate who write ethereal, hazy pop songs. This single off their latest album is their best work yet, combining air falsetto vocals with intricate instrumentation.

5) Broken Social Scene - "Texico Bitches"
Broken Social's Scene's newest album, Forgiveness Rock Record, just missed making my albums list so I wanted to highlight one of the better, more up-tempo songs on that disc. "Texico Bitches" is a pretty simple melody, but it has an infectious beat and makes good use of the band's many members.

4) The Morning Benders - "Excuses"
Another charming California-style pop number on this list, "Excuses" shift perfectly between doo-wop ballad and aggressive wall-of-sound instrumentation. A nice, sunny number to warm your heart in the depths of winter.

3) Metric - "Black Sheep"
Canadian indie rockers Metric left this track off last year's excellent Fantasies because they couldn't find a place to put it on the album. It's just as well, since the song fit very well in indie music ethos of the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I have no idea what the lyrics mean but the song sounds great.

2) Caribou - "Odessa"
One of the most original tracks of the year, "Odessa" is a dancehall number with earworm beats, tender vocals, and awesome hooks. It's an enchanting song that borrows heavily from disco and techno but emerges as something entirely unique.

1) Aloe Blacc - "I Need a Dollar"
Given the continually poor state of the economy, I suppose it's not surprising that the song that resonated most with me this year was Aloe Blacc's neo-soul number "I Need a Dollar." Blacc recorded the song 4 years ago, but it's only been released this year on his debut album and received attention as the theme song to HBO's How To Make It In America. It's a fantastic number, enhanced by Blacc's soulful vocals and the urgency of the background beat.

I've compiled all the songs above along with a few of my favorites from my album list into one playlist here:

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