Top 100 Songs of the Decade So Far (2010-2014)

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top 100 songs of the decade so far

Thundercat - Apocalypse90. Thundercat
Heartbreaks + Setbacks
(2013; Brainfeeder)

With his debut album The Golden Age of Apocalypse, Thundercat proved himself worthy of being held in the same regard as jazz greats like Jaco Pastorius. But after having long been a secret weapon within the neo-soul/hip-hop community, Thundercat finally unleashed his own unstoppable pop jam with “Heartbreaks + Setbacks” — a track that fully showcases both Bruner’s extraordinary talents in both bass playing and songwriting. Both catchy and otherworldly, “Heartbreaks + Setbacks” showcases Thundercat’s superb musicianship, steeped in jazzy atmosphere and lots of emotion. With sinewy bass lines, gorgeous chops and stellar production from Mono/Poly and Flying Lotus, Thundercat transports listeners to the farthest reaches of the universe, a journey unmatched and one only he could lead. – GM

top 100 songs of the decade so far passion pit89. Passion Pit – “Take a Walk
(2012; Columbia)

Michael Angelakos has a lot on his plate. For someone who has made public his struggles with a serious case of bipolar disorder, he’s seemingly only grown stronger with every passing year and release. “Take A Walk” is mostly based off stories of family members enduring failure and it’s also an expression that provides some invaluable life advice. Oftentimes, we, as people need to remove ourselves from certain situations and “Take A Walk” expresses it colorfully. This is one of Angelakos and Passion Pit’s most emotionally powerful tracks, and one that continues to resonate with each passing year. – GM

top 100 songs of the decade so far cold cave88. Cold Cave – “Confetti
(2011; Matador)

In spite of his background in hardcore, work with Dominic Fernow of power-electronics nightmare factory Prurient, and close ties to the eclectic, yet metal-leaning Deathwish Inc. label, Wesley Eisold found his calling when he first caressed a synthesizer. And nowhere is that synthesizer as vibrant and arresting as it is in the piercing opening notes of “Confetti.” The true highlight of 2011’s Cherish the Light Years — honorable mentions go to its amps-on-11 bookends — the track feels like an all-hook joyride for its nearly six-minute duration, but what lurks beneath is what makes it all the more compelling. Not unlike Johnny Jewel’s various subtly unsettling new wave exercises, this is where Eisold seduces just before going for the kill — when he croons a strange turn of phrase like “It’s important that evil people look good on the outside,” he does so wrapped in the catchiest tune he’s ever written. “Confetti” has a sinister interior, but it feels so good on the outside. – JT

top 100 songs of the decade so far rhye87. Rhye – “Open
(2012; Innovative Leisure)

In 2012, the indie music scene lit up like the Vegas Strip when a song that could have been featured in the 90s film Indecent Proposal appeared without warning. Compared repeatedly to British-Nigerian sexy songstress Sade for the sensual croon and soulful R&B sound, “Open” was, as far as anyone could tell, sung by a woman. Everything about the track, including the mysterious and rather erotic video that released shortly after, led listeners to believe it was indeed voiced by a woman. But for anyone familiar with the actual singer, Mike Milosh (who goes by the name Milosh for his solo electronic/R&B career), it was no surprise when the smoke cleared and two guys emerged, backlit by a blazing building (ignition source: their LP, Woman). Robin Hannibal and Mike Milosh formed their band Rhye through coincidental circumstances and crafted a lush, body-bumping album that respects the space of silence as much as Milosh’s soft, luxurious vocals. – NG

Katy B top 100 songs of the decade so far86. Katy B – “Katy On A Mission
(2011; Rinse/Columbia)

The ’00s and ’10 have been a true Renaissance for pop songs about clubbing — not a new concept by any means, but one that still gets a surprising amount of mileage. You can chalk that up to the romanticism of being young, single and probably drunk (pick your poison), and some of the most intoxicating documents of twentysomething nightlife are found on the tracklist of On A Mission, the debut album by young Londoner Katy Brien. If you want to skip straight to its most potent three minutes and 39 seconds, descend into the dry-ice and subwoofer ambiance of single “Katy On a Mission.” With some woozily alluring dubstep beats from Benga, Katy puts a more enchanting spin on the dancefloor girl-meets-boy tale thanks to her impressive vocal range and just a dash of sass. “Sink into the tomb,” as Katy chirps, and picking yourself up off of its plush VIP room couches proves incredibly difficult. Queue it up again, because this right here, I swear will end too soon. – JT

crystal-castles85. Crystal Castles – “Celestica
(2010; Fiction/Polydor)

No other band in the past five years — or even ten years — blended pop accessibility with outright chaos as well as Canadian synth-pop duo Crystal Castles. So why did it seem like an even greater surprise to hear them tackle something as direct and as gorgeous as “Celestica”? On their stellar second self-titled album, the group see-sawed between abrasion and initimacy, and amid the heavenly synths and buoyant beats of this standout single, nothing felt quite as shocking as hearing Alice Glass sing, softly, “When it’s cold outside, hold me/ Don’t hold me.” That’s all before you dive into the backstory, in which the group took the name from an industrial manufacturing company where a worker committed suicide by diving into a vat of molten plastic. So, maybe don’t get too comfortable with this one. – JT

Perfume Genius too bright84. Perfume Genius – “Queen
(2014; Matador)

When Perfume Genius arrived in 2010 with his sparse, homespun debut Learning, he appeared to be one of the young decade’s most promising talents. That promise was certainly fulfilled in “Queen” (not to mention the parent album Too Bright) although certainly not in the way many of us were expecting. The song is a bold proclamation of a fully blossomed talent. Rather than expanding on the slow burning piano ballads Mike Hadreas had already perfected, with its synth pulse and defiant chants, “Queen” is a bold step forward. Sure, on the surface it’s a sardonic look at the way some view homosexuality, but really “Queen” is a rallying cry for the disenfranchised of any stripe.- CK

top 100 songs of the decade so far twin shadow83. Twin Shadow – “Five Seconds
(2012; 4AD)

George Lewis Jr. rides a motorcycle, wears a leather jacket, combines blazing guitar work with a soulful core, and has an appetite for sex and romance that puts most troubadours to shame. Twin Shadow, at times, feels like the ghosts of ’80s trysts on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, but where the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter draws parallels to some of the best artists of the ’80s — Prince, Springsteen and New Order alike — the shadows of the past that loom in the background of “Five Shadows” never overshadow the sheer passion and power in Lewis’ breathtaking expression. Its synthesizers boom and weep, its guitars scratch and squeal, and Lewis unleashes his love-is-a-battlefield cry, “There’s no way to forget it all!” Songs this earnestly stylized have a tendency to fall apart under the weight of the melodrama, but Twin Shadow ties it up neatly in a bandana bow before riding off into the sunset.  – JT

top 100 songs of the decade so far baroness82. Baroness – “Cocainium
(2012; Relapse)

Baroness’ Yellow and Green is a case study in how to be a metal band without exclusively playing metal, and standout track “Cocainium” the psychedelic anthem that rides the very line that the band continues to blur. It swirls and flutters more than it bludgeons or throbs, maintaining what seems like a gravitationally impossible ethereal heaviness. It’s metal you can dance to; it’s rock music for time traveling. But most of all, it’s a shining moment in the group’s songwriting, Pete Adams and John Baizley’s intricate guitar work being braided around a haunting and subtle melody more than a roaring or anthemic one. But as with the best of metal’s classics, it holds up even when stripped of its elaborate arrangement. In his first show after a horrifying bus accident in 2012, Baizley performed “Cocainium” solo at a 2013 SXSW showcase, revealing both the delicate beauty and the jaw-dropping majesty of the song with just one single guitar. – JT

PJ Harvey top 100 songs of the decade so far81. PJ Harvey
The Words That Maketh Murder
(2011; Vagrant)

Polly Jean’s recorded output has slowed down recently — two albums in the last eight years — but she hasn’t lost relevancy. She switched things up a little, however — 2011’s Let England Shake found Harvey playing around with an autoharp and singing about the history of conflict and loss of life. And “The Words That Maketh Murder” sums up the album rather nicely: Songs that sound pretty but come with some gruesome lyrical baggage. Lyrical phrases like “I’ve seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat, blown and shot out beyond belief” and “death lingering, stunk, flies swarming everyone…Flesh quivering in the heat” paint a brutal picture of history’s worst war scenes. But the music flows with elegance. Shimmering autoharp strings, a slow pulse bass drum stomp, and clapping high hat lead to this Eddie Cochran approved question from PJ: “What if I take my problem to the United Nations?” It was a political statement from one of the greatest diplomats in alternative music. – JJM

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