I always like reading lists of the best music for a particular year, since it gives you an idea of what you may have missed. Putting one together can be a little more challenging. 2010 started off slow in terms of good music, but ended up on a high note, with some high-quality, yet not necessarily high-profile, releases. So here we go.
Best 2009 song I first heard in 2010:
Memory Tapes – “Green Knight.” There’s something obsessively intriguing about "Knight". Part of it is the sample in the middle of the song — the squeak of rubber soles on a basketball court-which leads to the surprisingly catchy chorus. And like a good chillwave song, "Knight" succeeds best at evoking memories of the end of a hazy summer.
Best 2010 song by a three-man Canadian power trio:
Rush – “Caravan.” Since any Rush song would by default go near the top of my yearly lists, I carved out their own category. Long after their contemporaries are playing third stage at the local Corn Dog festival, Rush are more popular now than ever. “Caravan” features one of their best in-song jams, proving they still have it, and then some.
Favorites of 2010
15. Delorean – “Stay Close.” The manager may not be from Barcelona, but this indie dance crew is. Props to the person who gets the reference.
14. Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp.” Yeasayer’s mix of world music and Phil Collins (but seriously, they’re big fans of Phil) may not always gel, but “Ambling Alp” was a notable exception.
13. Robyn – “Dancing on My Own.” A polished, pure, and profound slice of synth pop. Robyn occupies a unique niche as an indie icon who makes music better suited to Top 40 radio.
12. Eluveitie – “Thousandfold.” Eluveitie deliver Celtic/pagan metal, minus the cheese, which is not an easy task to accomplish. It is the only song in this list to feature a hurdy-gurdy.
11. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – "Better Things." “Things” is a memorable and potent mixture of Motown, Stax, funk, and soul.
10. Morning Benders – “Promises.” My wife introduced me to The Morning Benders, and while their total output has some highs and lows, “Promises” brings clever arrangements and soaring vocal harmonies.
9. All That Remains – “Hold On.” Metalcore with melody, brought to new heights by Phil LaBonte’s excellent vocals. A big step up songwriting-wise for the band.
8. Janelle Monae – “Cold War.” When Monae delivers the most powerful lyric of the year (I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me), chills ensue.