Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of 2010 Playlist

Look who hasn't posted in a year! And yeah, I probably won't start posting again with any regularity (I'd be shocked if it were before the end of 2011), but my love of list-making has temporarily brought me back. In the next few days, I'll throw together my Top 10 albums of the year, but for now, you'll have to tide yourself over with my playlist of my favorite songs of the year. (Streamable at the link!) 17 songs, 79 minutes, nothing but awesomeness. Only rule: One song per artist. Also, this isn't a ranking - it's just how these particular songs fit together best as a mix. Click through if you care about my rationale for my choices, but if you want to go straight to jamming out, I won't blame you.

1. Odessa by Caribou

Best dance song about a woman leaving her husband ever? Probably so. I love the way new elements are continually introduced, thus making what seems like a repetitive song anything but. Also, according to iTunes, this is my most listened-to song of the year! Exciting.

2. Alive by Goldfrapp

An example of a good-to-great song that's elevated by an awesome video.

3. Power by Kanye West

It was a tough choice between this and "Runaway," but this (a) flows a little better on a mix and (b) is probably the best example of the contrast between the arrogance and insecurity that makes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy such an interesting album. Plus: that beat.

4. CMYK by James Blake

An electronic track that features warped samples from "Caught Out There" by Kelis and "Are You That Somebody?" by Aaliyah? Sign me up. James Blake released three excellent EPs this year, and I'm pumped for his first full album next year.

5. Got Nuffin by Spoon

"Got Nuffin" comes near the end of Transference, and it's as close as the album comes to releasing the tension that builds up throughout its runtime. Fortunately, it holds up out of context, with its chugging guitar line and Britt Daniel's impassioned vocal keeping things interesting.

6. Aminals by Baths

(sic.) A great little electronic ditty that wouldn't be out of place on a Boards of Canada album, if they were still making albums. Bonus points for a genuinely sweet (as opposed to creepy) use of children's vocals.

7. Pow Pow by LCD Soundsystem

James Murphy free associates about the compromises that come with getting older (and a whole lot more, like how we have a black president and you do not, so shut up), getting more riled up as the music builds and builds until it reaches a classic LCD Soundsystem release. It's probably not the best song on This is Happening, but it's the one I returned to the most.

8. Fuck You by Cee-Lo Green

What else can I add that hasn't already been said? SO FUN.

9. Dancing On My Own by Robyn

Proof that pop music can have a heart. This song should've been huuuuge, but Robyn is just a little too out there for the American pop scene. I still dance around every time I hear this, even if that's just a head bob on the Metro.

10. Take 'Em Up by Shit Robot

Nancy Whang, DFA's go-to female vocalist, delivers one of her best performances on this track, spouting non sequiturs over a great retro-but-not-too-retro beat. No deeper meaning here, but that's just fine when things come together this well.

11. Tightrope (feat. Big Boi) by Janelle Monae

It's hard to pick one track to represent Janelle, but this is the catchiest and the sassiest song she served up this year, and as an intro, it gives a nice window into the weird, wonderful world of The Archandroid. Also: classy brass.

12. I'm New Here by Gil Scott-Heron

Between the sample on Kanye's album and his own release, it looks like Gil! Scott! Heron! is back in a big way. A surprisingly touching song from an unexpected source.

13. Not in Love (feat. Robert Smith) by Crystal Castles

This remake of an solid-but-unremarkable song from Crystal Castles' second self-titled album shows the importance of a) lots of synths, and b) a killer vocal. Who knew Robert Smith could still sound so good? (Apparently Crystal Castles did.)

14. Only an Expert by Laurie Anderson

I'll probably lose some folks here, but I continue to love Laurie. Although this is a bit more direct than most of her work, I don't think it suffers for it; if anything, the urgency and immediacy make it stand out from her other output, and it shows off her unique brand of humor and delivery to great effect.

15. I Walked by Sufjan Stevens

So many artists resort to electronic glitchery when they're out of ideas, but Sufjan really knows how to use it to enhance a song. Here, the fuzzed out drum machines and bleeps and bloops really drive home the melancholic beauty of the song.

16. Decisions (feat. Yuksel Arslan) by How to Dress Well

Who would've thought some of the best R&B of 2010 would come from a German dude?

17. Take It In by Hot Chip

Best closing song of 2010. Best love song that mentions Wheel of Fortune. Most endearingly earnest chorus of the year. A perfect note to go out on.

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