Starting this weekend through to the end of the year, with the help of my Inner Casey Kasem, I will be posting my own personal Top 100 Songs of 2010 on my facebook page (to be followed by summary blocks here on SonicClash.com). These are the songs that have rocked my world (or at least my car stereo) the hardest for the last 12 months.
My eligibilty rules for the songs are as follows:
Songs must have been released on an album domestically, or charted as a single domestically or internationally, in 2010. Songs that appeared on a 2009 album are eligible to appear if they were released or spent most of their chart life as a single in 2010.
Because rules are made to be broken, there are two exceptions to the rules above on my list: Both songs were released on albums in late 2009 (and both those albums were represented in my 2009 list), and probably shoulda-coulda been released as singles this year but never were. One of the songs was licensed prominently for a wireless service commercial (featuring the artist) and also showed up in an episode of a prime time TV series. The other was an album highlight so loved by the artist’s audience as to inspire a couple of facebook groups lobbying for it to be the artist’s next single.
There is one song on the list from an album released late in 2008, but which charted as a single earlier this year.
There are two songs that I included in my 2009 list that ended up becoming U.S. Top 20 pop hits in 2010. If I hadn’t already included them on my 2009 list, they’d be here. They are “All the Right Moves” by OneRepublic and “Bulletproof” by La Roux.
There are a total of 91 artists represented in my Top 100, including artists listed as featured artists on songs.
One artist is represented 4 times. Two more appear 3 times. The artist who topped my 2009 list is here twice. The artist who tops my list this year is also represented twice.
53 of the 91 artists are American. 22 are from the UK. 5 from Canada. 3 from Sweden; and there’s one each from Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, France and Australia.
3 of the songs on this list have gone to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. 4 of them have topped the Billboard Country Chart. 3 were #1 in Canada. 6 were #1 in the UK.
And away we go:
Singer-songwriter Jerrod Niemann’s career has had a few false starts, but things changed when he became the first act signed to Brad Paisley’s label Sea Gayle, and what a first act! His debut single for the label – a cover of a 1993 single by the Australian folk-rock group Sonia Dada – hit #1 on the country charts and even crossed over to the Pop Top 40. I love the harmonies in this song… and Jerrod sang all of them himself. Just like Billy Joel and “For the Longest Time”.
#99: “I DON’T BELIEVE YOU” by THE THERMALS
Portland, Oregon’s Thermals are better known for writing nerdily incisive, political punk rock rants. Their latest album ‘Personal Life’ is a collection of nerdily incisive songs about, like, relationships and stuff. In other words: Suck it, Dianne Warren. Bite me, Danielle Steele. The video for the album’s first single stars former Sleater-Kinney guitarist and current NPR blogger Carrie Brownstein.
#98: “MIAMI 2 IBIZA” by SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA vs. TINIE TEMPAH
“I told her ‘wear suspenders and some PVC and then I’ll film it all up on my JVC’.” Probably the best dance song about making naughty home videos since the Andrea True Connection. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that London rapper Tinie Tempah’s accent makes the song’s trashiness seem more palatable. But I also love the way he strings together initials with the skill of a government agent or military officer.
#97: “STOP FOR A MINUTE” by KEANE and K’NAAN
One of the more unexpected collaborations of the year, Brit-poppers Keane were joined by Somali-Canadian rapper K’Naan for this fine little sing-along duet. And this wasn’t a one-off: K’Naan co-wrote and sang on two tracks from Keane’s latest album Night Train. The other one, “Looking Back” is built around an interpolation of Bill Conti’s theme from Rocky.
#96: “FIRE WITH FIRE” by SCISSOR SISTERS
Four years ago, they were channeling Leo Sayer, but the lead single from the Sisters’ long-awaited third album Night Work sounds like a long lost movie soundtrack power-ballad by Survivor. If I were doing a countdown of my favorite videos of the year, this one would probably be in the Top 10. To me, it’s a just a perfect combination of song and visuals, and I have a weakness for gratuitous public displays of awesomeness.
#95: “KING OF ANYTHING” by SARA BAREILLES
“You’ve got opinions, man. We’re all entitled to ’em. But I never asked. So let me thank you for your time and try not to waste any more of mine…get outta here, fast.” Sara Bareilles makes her toast to the douchebags! Taylor Swift may name the names of the ex-boyfriends she’s writing about, but Sara Bareilles is the girlfriend I would never cross. She’d write a song taking me down with more withering disdain and biting sarcasm than a Sarah Palin speech – only way, way sweeter – and make me love the song enough to sing along with it and share it with everyone on my facebook page.
#94: “THE RABBIT” by MIIKE SNOW
What N*E*R*D is to the Neptunes, Miike Snow is to Bloodshy & Avant, the Swedish production duo behind Britney Spears’s “Toxic”. Miike Snow’s self-titled debut album has been likened to a cross between a-ha and Animal Collective, but this song sounds more like it might have been written for Adam Lambert. And it’s video is so NSFW: A bearded Arnold Jackson, dressed like an early 20th Century colonial governor and flanked by a harem of scantily clad and oh-so-flexible women (who all look like they came out of 80s rap videos), snorts the cartoon essence of 2 Live Crew during a re-enactment of the As Nasty As They Wanna Be cover shoot. Much sand humping ensues.
#93: “I WANT THE WORLD TO STOP” by BELLE & SEBASTIAN
Now that nobody’s paying attention, Stuart Murdoch and his band Belle & Sebastian (which he’d formed with ex-bandmate Stuart David in the mid-90s as a school project) are making some of the best music of their career as demonstrated on the Glaswegian band’s 8th studio album Belle & Sebastian Write About Love. I love the low-key urgency of this song, and it’s heightened in the video by the constantly shifting camera angles that suggest movement while the band members themselves stay planted in their spots. There’s also something endearingly un-rockstar-ish about the band’s stage presence. My facebook buddy Brian says of Stuart Murdoch: “he obviously has a fine sense of rhythm, [but] he looks and moves like someone who doesn’t, at all; he reminds me of my Uncle Gordon (MIT School of Engineering) back when he’d only had his first one or two strokes.”
#92: “ON MELANCHOLY HILL” by GORILLAZ
As romantic, sweet, and sad as its title would suggest. This is one of my favorite Damon Albarn vocals ever, understated, uncharacteristically unironic. I love the line “you are my medicine when you’re close to me”, and I always get strangely choked up when he gets to the part about the manatee. #91: “ANIMAL ARITHMETIC” by JONSI
In which he lead singer of Iceland’s Sigur Ros demonstrates that he does indeed have a non-falsetto register. Also: percussion. Frenzied layers of booming and clashing percussion. The kick drum is ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille.
And that’s it for now. Click here for #90-81.