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

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top 100 songs of the decade so far

hot chip50. Hot Chip – “Take It In
(2010; DFA/Astralwerks)

Just when Hot Chip had built a reputation for delivering unpredictable music, they went and did something even more unpredictable by making something so straightforward. It’s a musical mind-twister. In 2010 the band delivered the excellent One Life Stand, a series of lush, somewhat romantic songs that show them rather settled and happy, a very different turn from their general energetic style. “Take It In” is gorgeous: a hooky, upbeat number about being in love and comfortable despite being out in the world alone. There’s a sense of utter devotion in the track, as frontman Alexis Taylor croons in that singular falsetto, like some kind of ‘70s AM ballad, “My heart has flown to you just like a dove.” A dove is the perfect image for the kind of comfort members of the band had found in wedded bliss and fatherhood. The track is dance-worthy with those excellent laser-sounding synths and programmed beats, but it remains a much subtler instrument than fans of Hot Chip were used to. – NG

cut-copy49. Cut Copy – “Take Me Over
(2011; Modular)

Cut Copy have written their fair share of catchy, endlessly danceable synthpop hits, and “Take Me Over” is right up there with all of the best songs from 2008’s modern classic In Ghost Colours. On top of a candy-coated, spunky bassline lead singer Dan Whitford is nothing but positivity and optimism: lines about “living your dreams” may be cliche, and the build-ups and crescendos may be predictable, but none of that matters when a final package sounds this good. – DG

top 100 songs of the decade so far yonkers48. Tyler the Creator – “Yonkers
(2011; XL)

I’m stabbing any blogging faggot hipster with a Pitchfork,” raps Tyler in the third and final verse of “Yonkers.” Alright, well, good thing that Treble isn’t a blog then. Not that we should take Tyler so seriously; he’s a prankster beatmaker that grew up in middle-class California. And he’s still just 23 years old, even though it seems like he’s been around forever. “Yonkers” was Tyler’s breakout song on his breakout album Goblin. His Gangsta Lead 1 and Fx_Hard&Soft machinery make for a creepy ass beat that was perfect for the black and white video of him hanging himself. Tyler said that “Yonkers” was a conversation between himself and his white, evil, swagged out alter ego, Wolf Haley, and it definitely sounds like an aggressive chat. “I’m a fucking walking paradox — no, I’m not,” starts verse one. Yes, Tyler, you really are. – JJM

spoon do you47. Spoon – “Do You
(2014; Loma Vista)

Is it me, or does Spoon seem to have an endless repository of incessant earworms that tend to turn up inconsistently imaginative, and often subversive, ways? The guitar pop of “Do You” is one of their most generous offerings to date, putting the melodies up front and center. Sure, there’s still a hint of cool detachment in Britt Daniel’s delivery, but “Do You” has an accessibility unlike even the most melodic songs in the band’s catalog (of which there are plenty). The lyrics are bit obscure as Daniel lets us know just enough to understand the bitter sentiment, leaving the details sparse and vague. But let’s face it, “Do You” is really all about that instantaneously memorable wordless hook anyway. – CK

Aphex Twin Syro46. Aphex Twin
minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]
(2014; Warp)

Richard D. James is the undisputed king of kludgy music made to sound natural. The first proper track from his first proper album in 13 years, 2014’s Syro, doesn’t quite find the longtime electro wunderkind throwing a stack of musical papers in the air and collecting them in what he thinks is the right order. Instead, through his scores of instruments “minipops 67” ends up finding strange common ground between gothy synthpop and squelchy acid house, the front and back halves shunted together across a bed of shuffling percussion. With whispered, pitch-shifted, and vocodered singing, and with keyboards both broadened to bell tones and squeezed to comic thinness, Aphex Twin finds a new shade of murky playfulness to accompany other canonical moments like “Come to Daddy.” – AB

Cloud Nothings Attack on Memory45. Cloud Nothings – “Wasted Days
(2012; Carpark)

This is what aggressive, emotional rock is supposed to sound like. “Wasted Days” has a boulder-heavy rhythm section, clean production, and Cloud Nothings’ fierceness here is unattainable for most metal and hardcore acts. The song has four parts: The more pop-leaning beginning with super clear guitar strings as the whoosh of tom rolls fly by; a hypnotic, chaotic jam of epic proportions; a landing strip of bass and drums for a chance to catch your breath; and an explosive finale with Dylan Baldi screaming, “I thought / I would / Be more / Than this.” When Attack On Memory was released, it sounded like Cloud Nothings was out for blood. “Wasted Days” was the band sticking the knife in and twisting. – JJM

Bon Iver essential 4ad tracks44. Bon Iver – “Holocene
(2011; Jagjaguwar)

Bon Iver’s music is as good as his name, except prettier and more accessible than even the best of winters. Taking a cue from the likes of Iron and Wine and Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) ventured into territory that tends to be unfriendly to wider audiences for the usual shoegazing kind of reasons. But as Bon Iver, he makes it happen for even the roughest crowd. We could have picked nearly any track off of 2011’s self-titled release because the album is just that listenable, vulnerable, and achingly good. But “Holocene” is the money song, with its gently building chord-structure, and stark observations that punctuate those quiet moments in the song, almost standing alone in its sparse landscape: “And I could see for miles, miles,” and “And at once I knew, I was not magnificent.” It’s introspective and compelling; it will make you feel exactly as you should: that you are standing on the precipice of your own life, searching for answers. – NG

Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze43. Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day
(2013; Matador)

The album opener and de facto title cut to Kurt Vile’s career best, Waking On A Pretty Daze, “Wakin on a Pretty Day” is nine-plus minutes of beautiful flanging guitar and insouciant vocals. It’s the perfect soundtrack for quick walk outside while the coffee brews, and for feeling thankful you’re not going into work like the rest of them. – SC

Destroyer Kaputt42. Destroyer – “Kaputt
(2011; Merge)

Dan Bejar has been penning alluring, wonderfully odd singer-songwriter ballads since the ‘90s, and while he’s always kept a high bar for quality and originality, 2011’s Kaputt found his lyrics radiating over a new backdrop of smooth jazz. Lyrically, Bejar’s introspective reflection on wasted days lands with both woe and longing as he recalls chasing women, cocaine, stardom, and riches. It’s a song about dreams and aspirations, as fleeting and painfully misguided as they may have been.- DG

top 100 songs of the decade so far wye oak41. Wye Oak – “Holy Holy
(2011; Merge)

After so many decades of pop music’s evolution, how well a band translates live shouldn’t have too much influence on one’s enjoyment of their songs. But with Baltimore duo Wye Oak, hearing just how much sound two musicians are able to make together onstage illustrates where there strengths lie. And if you don’t get the chance to see them live, then roller-coaster Civilian standout (with an actual roller-coaster video) “Holy Holy” provides the next best thing. There are some overdubs and some layers, but when you get down to it, the song is the result of a guitarist and a drummer simply rocking out together. And yet, they don’t show all their cards at once; the escalation takes some time, and the payoff doesn’t really come until the song’s explosive, climactic finish. You can see it coming on that ride toward the top, but the plunge isn’t any less exhilarating. – JT

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