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

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top 100 songs of the decade so far

werewolf60. Fiona Apple – “Werewolf
(2012; Epic)

Fiona Apple’s scathing indictment of an ex-lover sounds a bit harsh, but it’s not as though she lets herself off the hook. Accepting much of the blame for the relationship’s disintegration, Apple’s typically heart-on-sleeve delivery is especially powerful; you can practically feel her eyes burning holes in you as she laments. Although the song’s wry wit provides a hint of relieve, it’s truly the somber tone that really impacts. And yet, despite the power of directness throughout Apple’s work, the most crushing moment of “Werewolf” is also the most bizarre and ambiguous. The horrifying screams of children that appear from nowhere suggest something altogether more unsettling is lurking beneath the surface. Ultimately, no one quite conveys emotional instability and a striking self-awareness quite like she can. – CK

top 100 songs of the decade so far dirty projectors59. Dirty Projectors
Gun Has No Trigger
(2012; Domino)

David Longstreth’s titular weapon is a symbol of the larger issues he has with America’s occasionally impotent leadership and with mass media’s superficiality weakening it as an actual tool for the masses. “You’d see a million colors/If you really looked” is an anthem for champions of the empty promise; for Dirty Projectors, the devil isn’t just in the details, it’s in the lack thereof. Powered by little more than a broken beat and cooed female choir that somehow suggests Warp Records’ electronica, this turned into arguably the biggest hit from Longstreth’s weirdly expressive Brooklyn band. – AB

Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold58. Parquet Courts
Stoned and Starving
(2013; What’s Your Rupture?)

You’re not going to need to study much or think too hard to get the point of Parquet Courts’ masterpiece of song about being baked, hungry and in Queens. I could go on about the Feelies meets ’70s album rock guitars, but do you have any microwave burritos or something? I skipped breakfast. – SC

Usher Climax57. Usher – “Climax
(2012; RCA)

There has been plenty of futuristic soul released this decade, but there’s only one “Climax.”  It doesn’t exactly fit neatly with the decade’s narrative of PBR‘n’B (or whichever unfortunate subgenre tag you want to throw around) — no this is something icier and sparer—nor does it align itself with the bombastic electropop that’s been dominating pop radio as of late. When Usher croons in that aching falsetto he has a slickness and control that comes with being a seasoned veteran, but not at the expense of the song’s poignancy. That “Climax” didn’t become one of his biggest hits is understandable, but a shame nonetheless. It’s easily Usher’s best song in years.- CK

top 100 songs of the decade so far terje56. Todd Terje – “Strandbar
(2013; Olsen)

“Strandbar,” translated into English, means “beach bar,” and in the context of Norwegian disco maestro Todd Terje’s 2013 single, seems a perfectly fitting way to summarize its carefree and sexy groove. Of course, when this description was leveled at Terje by a radio executive, he didn’t mean it in such a flattering way. His loss — “Strandbar” is as close to a perfect dance single as you’ll find in recent years, its space-age synthesizers and house piano riff converging into something that seems curiously simple at a distance, but captivating on an entirely different level in execution. Beach bars should be so lucky to have someone like Terje providing the soundtrack for wriggling and writhing between their half-naked patrons. And if the four-minute version of the track on last year’s It’s Album Time doesn’t go on long enough for your tastes, there’s always the eight-minute “Strandbar (disko)”. Euro-funk this good shouldn’t have to end so soon.  – JT

The Knife Full of Fire55. The Knife – “Full of Fire
(2013; Mute/Brille)

For The Knife’s crowning, final album, Shaking the Habitual, the Swedish brother-sister duo test their listeners’ patience with a handful of experimental, industrial noise tracks, one of which clocks in at over 19 minutes. “Full of Fire” is another prolonged burn that’s just as abrasive and corroding, but Karin Dreijer cuts through the pulsating commotion with troubled thoughts on the nature of political activism and the value of standing for something: “When you’re full of fire, what’s the object of your desire?” While the entire song asks the question of what should motivate action, the final 20 seconds is an explosion of anxiety and urgency with the line “Let’s gender baby, let’s talk about you and me” repeated with increased distortion until it’s abruptly cut off—it’s an exhilarating final sprint to end Karin’s test of endurance. – DG

top 100 songs of the decade so far gorillaz54. Gorillaz – “On Melancholy Hill
(2010; Virgin)

Don’t be fooled — post-apocalyptic love is just as heart breaking and soul crushing as it is now. In the land of plastic trees and contemplative manatees, heartbreak flourishes as our narrator lets us in on a tender confession: he’s in love, and only we know it. “On Melancholy Hill” is the kind of song that makes longing and despair sound attractive — dreamlike even. Sonically, they achieve this juxtaposition using bright and upbeat synthesizers against waves of therapeutic and spacey vocals. Ambient “ahhs” decorate the song in bursts. The inner monologue details a tender declaration of love (“Cause you are my medicine/ When you’re close to me”) that is unlikely returned. There’s even an offer to go around the world in submarines. Yet Damon Albarn remains with his longing, “If you can’t get what you want/ Then you come with me.” Bittersweet, catchy, and well crafted, “On Melancholy Hill” is proof that Gorillaz have this thing down to a science. – AA

top 100 songs of the decade so far rapture53. The Rapture
How Deep Is Your Love?
(2011; DFA)

It’s unfortunate The Rapture broke up, when they did, because “How Deep Is Your Love?” — one of the last singles they dropped before calling it a day — is a fucking jam. Luke Jenner’s voice hasn’t sounded this great since Echoes, and slimmed down to a trio, it’s remarkable to think they were able to create something so full and alive sounding. All the elements are there: the predominant house piano, drums, bass and a fucking sick sax solo to close everything out. If there’s one last great thing they accomplished before secretly disbanding, it was creating a song that pays homage to underground house/disco tracks that most dance-punk bands spend their whole careers attempting to emulate. – GM

Savages - Silence Yourself52. Savages – “Shut Up
(2013; Matador)

For all their fierce energy and timely sense of discontent, Savages sure know how to write an earworm of a rock song. The London post-punk quartet rip open their debut album Silence Yourself with this edgy, roaring anthem. The crunchy bass, whirlwind guitar and thunderous drums are the perfect accompaniment to Jehnny Beth’s hazardous groans, creating an aura owing credit to Joy Division and Siouxsie and The Banshees. But just as you think you have Savages’ number, they breakdown to a twisted, gritty take on surf-rock before letting the track come to an end.- ATB

Danny Brown Old51. Danny Brown
25 Bucks” [feat. Purity Ring] (2013; Fool’s Gold)

Robust with images of what Danny Brown has endured in his life, Old is a conquest of descriptions that read like the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities. While Brown pursues his hedonistic desires on the second half of his opus, the first half is where Brown details growing up poor in Detroit. “25 Bucks” sheds light on his mother making ends meet by braiding hair on the porch. “Arthritis in her fingers, carpal tunnel in her wrists/ ‘Bout to feed her kids at night sit between her legs and twist.”  Brown’s high-pitched delivery rattles off how difficult it can be to live a life rife with daily uncertainty, but there’s a brief moment where he slows down and lowers his pitch just a tad before emphasizing how a good night was simply being able to afford fast food. – DP

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