Welcome to The New York Rockmarket’s end of the year list spectacular. This is when I talk about how lists are fun but ultimately meaningless, and apologize for not posting the last few days because I’ve been compiling my lists. This is also where I talk about favorites as opposed to best, like I did last year. All of those things still apply. I’m making two lists this year: Favorite Songs and Favorite Albums. I’m going to attempt to skew my albums list a bit more towards the critical, but this songs list is just straight-up about fun, beautiful, moving songs. Some of the songs are actually terrible, but I like them. Each artist can only be listed once, for the sake of music discovery. (Why are there fish in the header, you might be asking. Because I like them. That’s my rationale for this list, as well.)
Here we go, my favorite songs of 2010. I hope you find some new bands that you really like.
50)“I Think I Like U 2” – Jamaica I know you’re looking at me a bit skeptically right now. But, come on. This song is a BLAST. It’s ridiculous and fun and the bass line is irresistible. Plus, the fact that they’re French makes it more acceptable that you want spend all night dancing to this song in your bedroom. The real reason I first fell in love with this song was that I thought it was about a young man trying to face up the the fact that he actually enjoys U2’s music. Which is pretty funny, if you listen carefully.
49) “Something. Somewhere, Sometime” – Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore This song is so comfortable, so familiar. One of my favorite things I have ever heard, and I forget where I heard it, is that we make mistakes so that we can learn forgiveness. I think that’s a very wonderful, small, comforting idea, and that’s what this song feels like to me.
48) “Go Sell It On The Mountain” – Tim Fite Tim Fite released a wonderful album this year called Under the Table Tennis. None of the better blogs seemed to care to much, which is an absolutely mystery to me. It’s incredibly political (maybe that’s why) and tackles issues like corporate greed and capitalism in today’s quickly declining America. Not only is it fantastically timely, but Fite combines his love of classic hip-hop with his own extremely eccentric personality. This song is strange and political, and may actually be the closest thing we have to a true anthem of 2010.
47) “Ladies Let’s Go” – Hula Hoop Hello llllllllllladies. My sister once told me that she absolutely hates it when people use the word ladies. She claims that it’s intrinsically creepy. This song may be intrinsically creepy in certain parts of its message, but it’s also infectious. The drums and handclaps make a framework for the swinging melody, which always accomplishes its goal of getting me moving- I can’t listen to “Ladies” without at least tapping my feet.
46) “Decisions” – How To Dress Well “Decisions” has been on nearly every best song list that I’ve seen. That’s because of the atmosphere it creates- it’s a new sound. Listening to this song feels like wading through a fairytale jungle, where everything is gossamer green and shimmering.
45) “Marathon” – Tennis “Marathon” is so sugary sweet that it almost undoes all of its goodness. Still, it’s such a cute listen that I can’t help but love it. I wrote about it for NYLON Magazine earlier this year. I stand by what I said then: “Moore’s voice is a cross between the sweetness of Zooey Deschanel and the badass vocals of Best Coast. She sings as if she’s the sole member of a 1960s girl group, while Riley provides a breezy background awash in fuzzy guitar that could only be from 2010.”
44) “Blood Dries Darker” – Woods Another year, another fantastic, nostalgia-tinged album from Woods with any number of songs that could have made my favorites list. I like this one in particular because the hook just really gets me. The pre-chorus is so well-constructed that my heart flutters a little bit no matter how many times I hear it. This song would have been further up on the list too, if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t think it’s a very big departure from “Rain On,” my Woods track on last year’s list. Still, I’m very glad that Woods has turned into a standard for excellence this year.
43) “Chinatown” – Wild Nothing In many ways, this was Wild Nothing’s year. I think I saw them upwards of ten times over the last twelve months as we all watched them go from tiny blog darlings to a critically important act. I love their live set; it’s brash and bold and beautiful. Their recordings, though, don’t do it for me quite as much. All the tracks sound just a touch too Flock Of Seagulls heavy on the keyboards to me. Still, this is a beautiful song from a band that was really important to many of us this year, so it’s going on the list.
42) “Lemonade” – Braids This song is wonderful along the same lines at “Decisions.” At first, I liked this song for its peculiar, tart atmosphere. When I saw the band live, I realized that I might be in love. There were intricate guitar parts that I had thought were keyboards and a female lead vocalist who can command a room based solely on her guitar abilities in the form of Raphaelle Standell-Preston. I’m expecting a lot from this band, and I hope to look back on this list someday and feel proud that I included Braids.
41) “Free Energy” – Free Energy I know. I know, I know, I know. But…but…but…GUITAR SOLOS!!!!! In less than a year, Free Energy went from being a wonderful throwback band to a barf-inducing Van Halenish rip-off in most people’s eyes. I argue that there’s something more interesting at work here. For every Toro y Moi and Washed Out who play music influenced by 80s synths and Kate Bush, there has to be a pendulum swing in the other direction. 2010 was a big year for the 80s, and Free Energy is the other side of that coin. Big, scuzzy rocker hair with big, stadium guitar solos. This music is fun and sentimental- that’s why we all started paying attention to the band in the first place. I think of them like The Darkness. Same enjoyable riffs and power chords, but instead of dripping sarcasm, Free Energy is earnest. Free Energy earnestly plays good stadium rock. And I choose to embrace that. I love this song.