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THE CRITIC: Top 30 Best Songs Of 2010

by Rudy Klapper 26 December 2010 One Comment E-mail Rudy Klapper

1. Steel Train – Fall Asleep (Steel Train)

Sometimes the best songs are those that don’t take any extra thought to delve into, any unnecessary analysis or self-introspection. Sometimes the best songs just click, hitting home with visceral emotion and lyrics that don’t skip around the point but take aim right at it. Anyone’s who’ve ever lost someone, whether emotionally or literally, can relate to this song, which speaks to loss and hope better than almost any other song I’ve ever heard. And frankly, that ragged guitar solo is genius.

2. Titus Andronicus – The Battle of Hampton Roads (The Monitor)

“Is there a girl at this college who hasn’t been raped / is there a boy in this town that’s not exploding with hate / is there a human alive ain’t looked himself in the face without winking or saying what they mean without drinking who will believe in something without thinking what if somebody doesn’t approve / is there a soul on this earth that isn’t too frightened to prove?” Is there anything about this song that hasn’t already been said?

3. Spoon – Goodnight, Laura (Transference)

Who knew that Spoon, a band so meticulous and spartan in their image and sound, would create one of the most touching songs of the year? Britt Daniels, too, can love.

4. Cee Lo Green – Fuck You! (The Lady Killer)

It’s a shame the radio censors had to neuter this song, because the general public is missing out on one of the great mainstream pop songs of the past several years.

5. Noisia – Machine Gun (Split the Atom)

Noisia previously had been a strictly drum & bass group, but Split the Atom and lead-off track “Machine Gun” opened the world up to a whole new, aggressive Noisia that brushed aside genre tags with ease. Party starter of the year.

6. Deerhunter – He Would Have Laughed (Halcyon Digest)

The biggest grower on this list, this was the last song I warmed up to on Halcyon Digest, but when I finally did I don’t know how I could’ve preferred any other song on the album to this. The poignant second half and the way the song just cuts off so abruptly is brilliant.

7. Rogue Wave – Solitary Gun (Permalight)

It took four albums, but Rogue Wave finally made the prototypical power pop tune, all muscular melody, irresistibly catchy lyrics and the kind of song that just refuses to grow old.

8. The Tallest Man on Earth – King of Spain (The Wild Hunt)

This was the song that got my over Kristian Matsson’s sometimes grating voice and made me love him. Also helps that it has some of the best lyrics and affecting melody on the entire Wild Hunt record.

9. Defiance, Ohio – Hairpool (Midwestern Minutes)

Ever feel like you’ve been away from home for too long, and when you return everything seems different, like there’s some kind of disconnect impossible to see and define but there nonetheless? Defiance, Ohio know too, and they’ve made the perfect song for it.

10. Surfer Blood – Catholic Pagans (Astro Coast)

For all the lyrical nonsense thrown into the second stanza, “Catholic Pagans” was the love song of the year for a gorgeously pragmatic declaration in the wrenching first verse.

11. Jonsi – Go Do (Go)

“Go Do” is such a fantastic opener because it is Jonsi’s debut album – a sugar rush of eternal optimism, buttressed by an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink instrumental mentality and that indescribable feeling that everything is going to be okay.

12. The National – Conversation 16 (High Violet)

High Violet always seemed to me like an album that was greater than the sum of its parts rather than sporting any truly amazing songs, at least compared to some of the National’s past individual efforts. But “Conversation 16,” with its relentless drumming, haunting background vocals and typically great lyrics, almost makes it.

13. Japandroids – Younger Us (No Singles EP)

If this had been on their debut it would have been my favorite song. “Remember that night you were already in bed / said ‘fuck it’ got up to drink with me instead” was the theme of my summer.

14. The Black Keys – Never Gonna Give You Up (Brothers)

You’d be forgiven for thinking this came out of some Sun Studio in the late ’50s / early ’60s, but the Keys’ cover of this Jerry Butler standard is spot-on. Not to be confused with Rick Astley.

15. Stars – Changes (The Five Ghosts)

Amy Millan’s finest hour. When they closed their L.A. show with this, it was straight up magical.

16. Geographer – Verona (Animal Shapes EP)

Never heard of this band until I saw them open for Stars and their simple but energetic live show blew me away. “Verona” was the best, with its heartbreaking lyrics and awesome wood block.

17. Ra Ra Riot – Boy (The Orchard)

When those drums crash in and that bass line starts running things like a conductor with a out-of-control case of ADHD, I just want to dance along and practice my falsetto along Wes Miles’ angelic voice.

18. Kanye West – Gorgeous ft. Kid Cudi (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy)

“Is hip-hop just a euphemism for a new religion? The soul music for the slaves that the youth is missing?” Uh, yes. And there have been few better holy bibles than Kanye’s newest and this song in particular, especially when Kanye reminds us not to forget about his black balls. How could we?

19. Wolf Parade – Little Golden Age (Expo 86)

I’ve always been a Spencer Krug fan but Dan Boeckner absolutely steals his thunder on Expo 86 with this highlight, a nostalgic look back at college done right and one that hits home as I prepare to graduate.

20. Big Boi – Tangerine ft. T.I. and Khujo Goodie (Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Legend of Chico Dusty)

An impossible to resist tribal beat, guest spots that don’t quit, and Boi’s standard superb flow . . . a microcosm of The Legend of Chico Dusty as a whole and my favorite song off it.

21. Free Energy – Dark Trance (Stuck on Nothing)

Arena rock lives!

22. Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Noisia Remix) (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP)

Noisia proving they can dominate in any genre they please, and Skrillex with another great mix to build on top of.

23. Delta Spirit – Ransom Man (History From Below)

The kind of old school ballad that I imagine listening to by the fire with a half-empty bottle of whiskey . . . in the middle of the woods.

24. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (The Suburbs)

Arcade Fire’s third record was kind of a disappointment for me, but for the first five minutes they had me quite excited with this gem of a melody.

25. Taylor Swift – Enchanted (Speak Now)

You know how I know you’re gay?

26. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Everlyn (Let It Sway)

There’s something to be said for perfect power pop, and this song might be the closest Boris Yeltsin have ever come to simple perfection.

27. Porter Robinson – Say My Name (Say My Name)

That first drop is guaranteed to get the fists pumping, but it’s the second that blows the doors open and shows that this 18-year old prodigy knows his electro.

28. She & Him – Home (Volume Two)

Seeing this performed at Coachella while the sun set and Zooey absolutely killed it as the crowd sang along was one of the best concert experiences of my life.

29. Foals – Spanish Sahara (Total Life Forever)

Few songs this side of post-rock do buildups quite as exquisitely as “Spanish Sahara.”

30. Tomba – Disturbed (Disturbed)

The vilest, most revolting dubstep mix I’ve ever heard. Listening to the full 35 minutes is like excavating a sewer, and it’s beautiful.

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