Best Tracks of 2010 (#60-31) January 17, 2011Posted by Richard Bolisay in Music, Yearender.
AND THE LIST CARRIES ON. This is awful late, but it doesn’t matter, right?
I’m done with the best and worst album covers, best opening tracks, best music videos, and best EPs. So what do we have here? Yes, the best tracks of 2010, half of them, because time is my enemy, and time is leaving me out of sorts. I don’t know when I can give the other half, but I hope you will stay tuned. One time I realize I was writing some of these annotations in my dreams, and when I checked my notebook, voila, they’re already written. So, you never know.
But here’s the thing: I selected sixty songs that defined my 2010, but *spoiler alert* the usual suspects are glaringly missing. S—— S——, K—– W—-, R——-, T– N——-, T– D— C—– C—, L—- M——, among others. Well, in the spirit of fairness, I decided that the artists included on the tracks list will not appear on the albums list, and vice versa. That way, we avoid overkill. Also, more challenge. If they’re not here, maybe they’re on the other list. Or maybe I didn’t like them that much.
Game? OK, all of the lights!
60. “All I Ever Wanted”
[All I Ever Wanted]
Although much less pronounced, “All I Ever Wanted” begins with a continuous strumming of guitar similar to the signature entrance of “My Life Would Suck Without You.” And then Kelly Clarkson’s voice strikes while the iron is hot, softly at first, then goes full-blown at the middle, until she picks up the pieces and leaves an impression of finality. But she’s never finished. She only returns stronger with a much bitter aftertaste. Among her string of hits, this is one of her loudest thunderstorms. I bet you wouldn’t even think it’s a remake.
Every review of The-Dream’s Love King makes a reference to Prince, and really, could this guy be a worthy successor to TAFKAP? Well, for one, “Yamaha” sounds straight out of Prince’s greatest hits record: pitch perfect bass beats, smooth and sultry layers, fervent writing full of sexual come-ons. “Still got your name tattooed on my back” is a giveaway, though. That ain’t Prince. We all know that he won’t have it on his back, right?
B.o.B feat. Hayley Williams
[B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray]
Forget the rap and the sequel. It’s Hayley Williams’ verse that makes this soar and achieve an unprecedented sweep: a refrain better than all the Paramore songs, a few good and a lot bad, combined.
57. “Yun Lang”
True Faith feat. Armi Millare
Drum-heavy True Faith is not a surprise. Even in “Dahil Ikaw,” the beats march convincingly, a few times stealing the show from Medwin, as they provide the song a pleasant stride of mindful indifference. “Yun Lang” is much more driven, the guitars are on the go, and Medwin‘s voice shakily twists and turns. The force is with them, and the force is letting them run wild and free.
56. “King of Anything”
The strength of this track lies on its unwavering sarcasm, how Sara Bareilles ridicules the guy in question, batters him with sharp words, and storms him black and blue. She delivers her lines fiercely with a sweet cherry on top and relishes the kick stanza after stanza, amid the fancy claps, amid the insatiable refrain.
55. “Heartbreak on Vinyl (Chew Fu Radio Fix)”
[Heartbreak on Vinyl]
Whichever remix you listen to, Blake Lewis’ ode to lost record bars and dusty turntables remains undiminished because it’s the lyrics that keep it real and heartfelt. He sings it as he lived through the bygones, piercing the listener with the “analog memories” it evokes and the “crates of love” it unearths. The techno and disco beats only serve to embellish, to beautify what already is beautiful.
Burst is not an overstatement because rapture is what these four guys from Louisville deliver. Their debut is never short of excitement, as the tracks, one after another, revel in a streak of hedonism. “Vultures,” for instance, features a crazy bass line and an addicting chorus that lay out the carpet before letting the real shindig come in. It’s a blast like no other.
53. “Ain’t No Talkin’”
[Earth vs The Pipettes]
When you arm The Pipettes with a mad chorus, they could be fatal. They could crush you to pieces and fold you to their will. Despite the cold reviews for their latest album, not to mention carrying on with a different lineup, undeniable is the fact that Ani and Gwenno Saunders could pull new shapes and throw old weight. The two minutes of “Ain’t No Talkin’” are relentless pop at its finest, unstoppably infectious, whipping glee like marijuana.
52. “Five Trees”
It’s becoming a habit that I continue to enjoy: selecting a single from an up and coming band to include in a list and seeing if they can make it big in the succeeding year when they release their first record. This year it’s Chapel Club, a five-piece group from London that is slowly becoming one of the immensely anticipated bands in 2011. “Five Trees” is not a perfect single—it’s not as catchy as what some bloggers purported it to be—but it’s teeming with youthful promise. It sounds more derivative than original, but the band’s temper leaves so much gusto to be looked forward to. I’m all ears for the debut.
If the only reason this song finds its nook here is the lurching hook of “Kill that memory”—or the burly muddle of Frank Reyes’ barako voice, Buwi’s bass, and Gabby Alipe’s gnashing guitars—then I rest my case. Not that these guys need any defense for having too much blood in their cocks anyway.
You call it pop when the music succeeds in titillating your senses, in hooking your ears from start to finish, and in leaving you with a meaningful smile on your face. You call it bliss when you press repeat a couple of times and you still can’t get enough of it. You call it pop bliss when Goldfrapp sings it and you can’t help but dance. Classic.
49. “Somebody To Love”
[My World 2.0]
Justin Bieber isn’t popular for the wrong reasons. His rise to fame is one of the finest examples of twentieth century pop machinery at work, from the way his image is sold to prepubescent girls to the manner in which his songs are arranged, tangling soul, dance, hip hop, and R&B in one strong record. But above all the larger than life persona, what makes him stick is that his hits are never bigger than him. “Baby” has catapulted him to insane prominence, but the moment he sings, “I don’t need too much, just somebody to love,” he comes across as a boy who simply shares our worst illness: lovelessness.
[Crazy for You]
Some songs are irresistible because they reflect our own grand stupidities. Take this singer’s whim: “The other girl is not like me / She’s prettier and skinnier / She has a college degree / I dropped out when I was seventeen / If only I could get her out of the picture / Then he would know how much I want him.” Oh, infatuation. The fondness for oversight. The penchant for wallowing. The attraction to hurt. Bethany Cosentino squeezes the sap full of daydreams, wishes, and stars. Underneath the table, her cat looks on while scratching the pedalboard.
47. “Run Devil Run”
“Oh!” and “Gee” were excellent hits, but it’s “Run Devil Run” that turned Girls’ Generation into a group of invincible proportions. These ladies know how to skate on the strapping hurl of beats, and how to pummel and flirt with the right kind of flair. No wonder the devil lost to all nine of them. They romp on the dance floor and voila, ablaze.
46. “Half of my Heart”
John Mayer feat. Taylor Swift
The deceit is you see a knight in shining armor singing, a guy in suit looking at his watch, waiting, caressing a piece of his heart, the “half” he mentions in the title. John Mayer’s so good at this it’s his bread and butter, the failed romance being reminisced, the heartbreak warfare, the songs tinged with regret. But Taylor Swift? More than halfway through the song, she nurses his wounds and hums until the fragments break into smaller and smaller circles. And Kanye, hear this: he lets her finish. How sweet.
45. “Forever and Ever Amen”
“It’s forever, baby it’s forever” sounds like a line from a Britney Spears hit but make no mistake—the only difference is that The Drums are not as popular as Britney, which, come to think of it, makes all the difference. The track smacks of cheer and youthfulness, with “all the stars in the sky / and all the flowers in the fields” conjuring images of adolescence spent on endless thinking and pointless courtship. “Forever and Ever Amen” provides an aching soundtrack to all these memories that just can’t let us go.
[The Beat Is…]
True story: I was standing in the elevator when a guy tapped my shoulder curiously. I took one of my earphones off and heard him say, “Hey, they’re from my country!” I looked at him, surprised, a beautiful guy with soft features, carrying a suitcase, probably on his way to meet a client. He added, “I’m Danish.” Then my face lit up and only then was I able to reply, “Stine’s so pretty, isn’t she?” He laughed. I thought I was in an Alicia Silverstone movie. And the door opened and life went on. I never saw him again in the building. Sitting at my workstation later that afternoon, I thought: what a way to strike up a conversation. What a nice song too. We could be dancing, only we never got the chance.
Jamie Foxx feat. Justin Timberlake and T.I.
[Best Night of My Life]
The thing is: Justin Timberlake’s collaborations always work. Keeping up with the thumping beats, he sets the bar high as he sings the verse before the refrain, and Jamie Foxx and T.I. simply glide through, wrapping the song in delicious swagger.
Death Threat are back with their eighth record and they promise to make a bloody killing, sonic-wise and hoodie-wise. I suggest, before it comes out, pick up this early spool of shit on Youtube, bounce, and go on a bender. Also, protect ya neck.
41. “How I Got Over”
The Roots feat. Dice Raw
[How I Got Over]
Black Thought and the rest of The Roots have truly gone a long way. 2010 was a big year for them, releasing two exemplary albums that attest to their shining gift for writing songs that simmer with vigilance and introspection. The title track from How I Got Over is one of them. It bestirs as much as it amuses, particularly with the splendid clasp in the refrain: “Out on the streets / Where I grew up / First thing they teach us / Not to give a fuck / That type of thinking can’t get you nowhere / Someone has to care.” Amid the smooth run of verses, the sludge settles down and clears the surface, leaving the good vibes afloat.
40. “Breakneck Speed”
Tokyo Police Club
High school is the point of all return—the space in our heads that occupies as many good memories as trash—and Tokyo Police Club evoke plenty of them in their first single from Champ. Blame it on the bass, on the spark of current it spreads throughout the song, or on how the drums and keyboard pick up the glitter and take off in all directions, or on Dave Monks’ rusty voice which feels like a stubble, like our crush had way back then. Indeed for three short minutes, we were back on that fateful dance on prom night.
39. “Solitude is Bliss”
The opening line “Cracks in the pavement underneath my shoe” provides a suspicious image, like a Polaroid slowly revealing lines and faces, and then the emotions finally take shape. The guitars lick the words and they start to taste like chicken soup on a rainy day, thawing out fast, melting off, being carried away by lovely earworms. “There’s a party in my head and no one is invited,” Kevin Parker shares. Golly, I’m sure it was fun.
38. “Heaven Can Wait”
Charlotte Gainsbourg feat. Beck
Charlotte Gainsbourg’s return to music is a cause for celebration, for me at least. From Jarvis Cocker in 5:55, she now finds herself under Beck’s guidance, driving her music career into its most charming direction. In IRM, Beck is obviously smitten. His orchestration is luminous and Charlotte takes everything in, her subservience to beauty has always been a wonderful trait. “Heaven Can Wait” is their loveliest offspring, crying of happiness, sniveling with delight.
It’s painful to be reminded how terrible the new Interpol record was. The bright lights were turned off, no more antics were played, and our love to admire was lost. Yeah, completely fallen hopes for a solid album, but hell, as far as singles go, they can still bring a tempest. As always, Carlos D’s angular bass lines shine in “Barricade,” as well as Daniel Kessler’s sparse guitars and Sam Fogarino’s blaring drums. Paul Banks slides in and out of monotone in favor of progression and next thing we know his supple fury is beginning to break loose.
36. “hahahaha jk?”
[Sit Down, Man]
Who will survive in America? Its hip hop artists! The country will never run out of them—it’s like a huge factory of rap music. While most mainstream musicians can’t get the fuck over huge tits, booze, and vajayjays and tell every detail of them in their songs, Das Racist are far from claiming indifference and self-righteousness. Actually, they couldn’t care less. One of the highlights on their second mixtape is “hahahaha jk,” a whack track making fun of the junk white culture (“We not racist / We love white people!”) using spot-on references (“Ford trucks, apple pies, bald eagles / Yeah, Chitos, Doritos, Fritos, Pringles, Kraft Singles, Slim Jims, Sierra Mist!”) and killer non-sequiturs. It’s full of muscle, and sweating with wit too.
[Mornings and Airports]
Just the thought of Ebe Dancel leaving Sugarfree hurts. And then the announcement came via Twitter and all of a sudden it’s true. It’s not as if I didn’t see it coming, but really, breakups are much more painful when it comes to local artists because the memories were first-hand. “Telepono” will always be Sugarfree’s most wounding hit—the first cut is the deepest, as they say—and “Hangover,” listening to it now, does sound like a goodbye, a fitting farewell to those years behind and ahead, those years the band has shared with us in beers and tears, from dreamless days to sleepless nights, through thick and thin, on the road often traveled, time and again.
34. “Ambling Alp”
The release of Odd Blood is a bold move from Brooklyn band Yeasayer. Quite a divider, I must say, but on the basis of “Ambling Alp” alone, the change proves to be noteworthy. The pleasures we get and they derive from their experiments are abounding, especially with the dizzying colors and textures that permeate the track. While Chris Keating is talking about Nazis and three famous boxers, here we are, loading up on LSD and taking off our clothes.
Robbie Williams feat. Gary Barlow
[In and Out of Consciousness: The Greatest Hits 1990-2010]
Imagine, it took Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow 15 years to finally reunite and sing together again, but jesus, how marvelous the price of the long wait was. “Shame” is easily the best Robbie Williams song in years. The feelings dig deep into his departure from Take That, the healed wounds, the funny anecdotes (“So I got busy throwing everybody underneath the bus / Oh, and with your poster 30 foot high at the back of Toys-R-Us”), the realizations worded beautifully in the refrain. The first time I listened to it, my eyes welled up in sadness. Now, for the nth time, I know these are tears of joy.
32. “Find Your Love”
[Thank Me Later]
My first thought after listening to Thank Me Later is that if Drake were to record 808 and Heartbreak, it would have sounded much better. I bet Yeezy won’t agree, but he won’t completely deny it either. Try to listen to “Find Your Love” and the song perfectly fits into Kanye’s previous record. Its heavy singing is a risk on Drake’s part, making it sound a little girly, especially in light of the fact that hardcore rappers hate singing and stripping a tune. But it’s a risk worth taking. Instead of opening his fly and lowering his pants, Drake opens his heart and lowers his defenses. He once expressed that “Find Your Love” should have been sung by a woman, but hearing his take on it, he just earned my respect.
31. “Superfast Jellyfish”
Gorillaz feat. Gruff Rhys & De La Soul
Can’t say I was a huge fan of “Stylo” or “Rhinestone Eyes” or even “On Melancholy Hill,” but the only track that got me all wet in Plastic Beach is Gorillaz’s collaboration with super furry Gruff Rhys and super hip De La Soul. “Superfast” is charming and cheery, yet in its skid of words it also takes the issue of mass consumerism seriously, the “pretty packages of frosted delights” that rule our lives, the conveniences we take for granted, the world we fill with rubbish, and the selfish acts we commit to nature. Damon laments how everything gets “cheapened” by the dozen, but it will only hit us hard when all that’s left at McDonald’s are jellyfish burgers and eel nuggets. That’s actually how smart we claim we are.