Monday, December 20, 2010
Top 25 Songs of 2010: Honorable Mentions
So here we are 2010. We made it. YOU made it. It didn't look look too promising early on, what with that Haitian earthquake and that Tiger words tornado. And then there was that leaky faucet on the gulf coast that took a while to plug. With little to celebrate in the news, music did what it does best; fill the vacuum (however impossible that is scientifically). I listened to thousands of songs this year, liked hundreds, and made a playlist of an absurd number before I pared until I could pare no longer and I was left with 40. As this blog post is entitled Top 25 songs of 2010, I decided to bunch songs 26-40 together into an honorable mention category which I'll be sharing today, and the rest to be counted down over the next few days. I limited myself to one song per artist, so if you don't see your favorite song on hear, I apologize profusely. I'd also love to hear your own favorite songs in the comment section.
Before The Deandre Way, Soulja Boy's name was mud. Worse than mud actually, because mud wasn't responsible for the 2nd worst song of the decade, but he redeems himself for that turd with Mean Mug. 50 and Soulja's verses slickly dovetail each other, nearly overlapping at times, and coming from all directions. The threats 50 and Soulja dispense here carry more weight than your standard hip-hop trap talk, 50 literally daring you to challenge him by the end of the song. If I were you, I'd try to avoid eye contact.
I don't remember how I happened upon this song, but I wish I did, because I would go back for more. Coming from Worcester, I wasn't expecting something so sprightly, but that serves me right for judging a band by its hometown. If that were the case, then Bruce Springsteen would smell bad and the Beatles would have bad teeth.
I keep waiting for the day when The Love Language blow up and are in car commercials, but until that day I guess I'll have to settle for being their number one fan and seeing them at the tiny TT the Bears whenever they swing through Cambridge. Their debut album was my #1 of last year, and while Libraries isn't as strong, it still had a lot to offer. As a song, Heart to Tell leaves you wanting more. Another verse, another chorus, more of whatever they take to infuse so much energy into 2:26. Anything really, just don't end. No? Well, I guess that's why they have the repeat function.
I'm sure Maya will be celebrating the end of 2010 with a little extra exuberance. Heck, 2011 can't be much worse. There was the scathing NYT article that challenged her authenticity, a string of poor performances that hurt her rep, and a poor received album that hurt her bottom line. Whatever you though of MIA this year, XXXO is a song that can be enjoyed completely independently. Sure she rambles on about downloads and tweets, but if she keeps bundling her social critiques in such easy to swallow packages, I'll follow her anywhere.
Shad - Rose Garden
I wrote about this song a few months ago for an On Repeat post, but it still stands up as one of the best music videos of the year and a fantastic song on its own merits. MIA should take a lesson from Shad on how to deliver a message without being grating, and it should be compulsory listening for hip-hop artists who feel obligated to swear in every song simply for the sake of doing it.
The Dream is gross. Let's get that out of the way first. I hope his mother has never listened to an album of his, because she would surely send him to his room without dinner. He does not mince words when it comes to what he intends to do with the young women he beds. Now call me old-fashioned, but such brashness is not how one finds a nice lady to take home to said mother. Yamaha is just about as romantic as he gets, and even then it's the girl who is his "little Yamaha". Hard to like at first, but even harder not to love once it gets going.
Cults are a mysterious band, but it's clear from the beginning of Go Outside where their name comes from. Jonestown leader Jim Jones talks over the xylophone introduction, before mercifully drowning him out. Maybe their whole album will have different cult figure ramblings opening each song. If that's the case, I can't wait to hear how they dress up the Manson folks. It will be tough to top this.
It wouldn't surprise me if most girls hated Kate Nash. She sings about being a vindictive, jealous girlfriend, effectively showing all of her genders well-guarded relationship cards. As catty as she may be at times, she is also fragile and loyal, and at the end of the day has the same fears and insecurities as everyone does, she just sings about them.
Darwin Deez - Radar Detector
Oh Darwin, what are you doing with those mashed potatoes? Is that clever? Am I missing something? And what's with the curls and headband? You make yourself very easy to hate, but what you lack in accessibility, you make up for in musical charm. If you buy into his shtick, you will be well-rewarded with songs like Radar Detector. If you don't, well, I won't hold it against you.
Disregard that album artwork. I said stop looking at it. I know, it's hard to stop looking at, and even harder to unsee. Now with that introduction, you are likely expecting a comedy album or a folk album. Ariel Pink is neither of those. They sound closer to an inspired outtake from one of the Brady Bunch's musical episodes. You know what I mean. The high choruses, the ebullience, the bell bottoms. They're all here. Except for Jan, she's probably reading or something. "Time to Change", eat your heart out.
Freeway and Jake One - One Thing ft Raekwon
Raekwon has had a good year. He was on his way up before Kanye gave him a boost, riding high from the near-universal praise following 2009's Only Built For Cuban Linx II, but he is arguably better here on "One Thing". I love the back-and-forth chorus between the soul sample and the rappers, lamenting the "turncoats" and "snitches" with a combination of paranoia and fury. I can relate to absolutely nothing in this song, but that doesn't make it any less awesome.
Known for making songs with mathematical precision, Spoon shook things up a little bit on Transference, the fruits of which are best seen on the rollicking "Written in Reverse". The notes sound like they are being pounded into a dusty bar piano, and the electric guitar operates without a leash, playfully interjecting without warning. The trajectory of the song is never compromised, but cracking voices and intersecting solos abound, things that the Spoon of the last decade would have never allowed. I'm not arguing with the results.
Big K.R.I.T. is from Mississippi. Things are different there. There are candy yams and collared greens. The water is muddy. But there are still drugs, and people still rap. Big K.R.I.T. is living proof.
Diamond Rings - All Yr Songs
I told myself I wouldn't link any videos in this write-up, but I'm breaking that pact to showcase the video for All Yr Songs. Firstly, All Yr Songs is the best kind of catchy. The words are clear, the voice is simple, there are like 3 chords. You can sing this song as you are listening to it for the first time. But the video. I'm half convinced it was just unearthed from a time capsule, but Youtube tells me otherwise. I owned each of those basketball jerseys, and the laser photo background is icing on the cake.
The Black Keys - Everlasting Light
The Black Keys have been reviving rock and roll for the last 5 years, and I am beyond thrilled that they are starting to get the recognition they deserve. Their songs are on a bajillion commercials, they've been nominated for a Grammy, and they played Madison Square Garden last tour. Things are coming up roses for this duo, and their newest album, while a bit too long, has a bunch of gems. Especially the T. Rex stomper Everlasting Light.