Thursday, January 4, 2001

McQ's Favorite Tracks of 2010

Hey Rock n' Roll Fans,

Here they are, my favorite tracks of 2010!

Clicking on the song title will take you to either amazon or my review of the album, allowing you to sample a portion of the track.

Last updated 09.25.2011

McQ's BAKER'S DOZEN (+1) 2010

1. F--- You! - Cee Lo Green:  Was there ever any doubt!  Sure, it's coarse, so what?  Prudes and puritans aside, this is an impossible song not to like, and an even harder one not to relate to. An instant classic.  Perfect video, too.  For a song so about the words, a about the words.


2. Lost In The World/Who Will Survive In America - Kanye West: After dropping eleven gigantic, internally obsessed, game-changing tracks to start 2010 album of the year My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye's final two songs would close on an outward note.  He may be immature, but Kanye's no dummy, and as Janelle Monae also acknowledged with her Cold War, he knew breaking ranks with the African-American culture police and incorporating such a vast number of musical influences from outside the traditional African-American forms would raise some alarms. So what does he do in response, he starts his closing number in the whitest way possible, sampling a art-rock track from the whitest of white contemporary artists, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, then explosively morphs it into a tribal chant, then a Michael Jackson homage, then finally closing with a sample of Gil Scott Heron protest number that has nothing to do with the content of the rest of the album but everything to do with the cement the song's intended message of reassurance to African-American musical community..."Relax, my brothers, the whole world is our playground now.  We can lose ourselves in these new musical possiblities and still emerge defiantly ourselves in the end."

3. Tightrope - Janelle Monae: Soul was back with a vengeance in 2010, and no performer brought it back with more excitement or off-the-wall invention than performing arts school alum Monae. This track, her modernized homage to James Brown, would have been an easy song of the year choice if not for Cee Lo.  This is also the rare music video that actually enhances, rather than undermines, enjoyment of the song.

4. Paris Nights/New York Mornings - Corrine Bailey Rae:  This breezy number about falling in love amongst the jet setters, my favorite light pop song of the year, may feel a touch out of place on an album focused on working through the grieving process, but taken on it's own it is a sheer delight.  Feeling as though it were ripped right off of Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On (minus the drug-addled haze), it captures those first head-over-heels moments of falling for someone better than any song I've heard in quite some time.

5. Burden Of Tomorrow - The Tallest Man on Earth: Just an acoustic guitar and sheer melodic perfection from a promising Scandinavian folker rightfully compare to pre-electric Dylan.

6. Rill Rill - Sleigh Bells: From one of the year's noisiest album comes ironically one of the year's most delightful pop songs.  Sweet, summery ear candy.

7. Afraid Of Everyone - The National: It's been said that to become a parent is to be afraid for the rest of your life.  I've never before heard a pop song try to tackle this feeling of parental unease towards malevolent forces unknown, but The National absolutely nail it the first time out in this emotional high point from album of the year High Violet. Any parent who remembers their child's sweet infant voice will know exactly what  new father Matt Berninger is singing about in the song's closing refrain of "Your voice is sorrow in my soul, soul, soul/Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul."

Also, when was the last time a band sounded this good on Letterman?

8. TAOS - Menomena:  My favorite ass kicker of the year.  An endless array of pre-recorded instrumental and vocal samples drop in and out without warningin this chaotic Peter Gabrielesque track that  always threatens to sponaneously combust, yet somehow holds together for five glorious, full-throttle minutes.  And this video selection proves the band can reconstruct it live.

9.  How I Got Over - The Roots: M.I.T. physicist Randy Pausch said something in his famous "Last Lecture" that has stuck with me ever since, and I paraphrase.  "I'll take earnest over hip any day of the week.  Earnest lasts! Earnest cares!"  Well, the Roots don't say it the same way in this explicit but beautifully rendered Philly-soul/hip-hop meditation on transcending an inner city upbringing, but the message is exactly the same and worth repeating over and over, which they do like a mantra to end this track.  A What's Goin' On for today's generation.

10. Ten Cent Pistol - The Black Keys: In a complete reversal of sentiment from my comments for the previous track, the Ohio based retro-blues rockers release the coolest retro-blues rocker of their career.  It's less about the jams, and more about texture here, but it's got a mesmerizing sound. Just going with a still frame video on this one...enjoy the vibe.

11. The Battle Of Hampton Roads - Titus Andronicus: As I said in my review of their 2010 album The Monitor, this track offers up youthful self-loathing on a near unprecedented scale.  A hysterically over-the-top  meditation on growing up young, bored, an unappreciated in New Jersey, with an even funnier end-line reversal.  At fourteen minutes, it runs on too long, but for those first seven minutes alone earns it a spot in my top 13. Another stillframe youtube selection to let you focus on the lyrics.

12. Norway - Beach House: The high water mark for another beloved contemporary indie band.  Gorgeous chamber pop.

13. Spanish Sahara - Foals: Hands down the year's most compelling Brit-Pop effort...a fabulous In Rainbows-styled anthem.  Could we have a new Radiohead coming of age before our ears? Here's a live, for-radio performance.

14. Why We Build The Wall - Anais Mitchell: (Going one over 13 to highlight this great song) The byzantine politics of personal entrapment, as dictated by Hades to the denizens of his underworld in the centerpiece track to the best folk album of the year.

Here Are The Other 10s From 2010 So Far - Listed Alphabetically By Artist.

The 9s From 2010 - Alphabetically by Artist

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