John Legend & The Roots (courtesy of VH1)
10. John Legend & The Roots – Hard Times
If nothing else, 2010 should be remembered as the year of collaborations. After hearing “Hard Times,” one wonders how no one thought to bring the politically conscious hip-hop of The Roots and the soulful, impassioned voice of John Legend together earlier. The resulting track is powerful in its scope, and a bold statement from this collaboration of legendary artists.
9. Four Tet – Love Cry
Four Tet has been around for a long time – enough to witness and participate in the changing electronic trends over the years – and “Love Cry” proves it. The nearly 10 minute long piece takes listeners through myriad styles, from stark minimalism to pulsating dance beats and back.
8. Shad – Rose Garden
Undeniably witty with its lyricism and unbelievably catchy with its choice of backing samples, “Rose Garden” is how you make a hip-hop song for the ages. It’s so brief that you’ll be listening to it again and again to pick up on all the clever lyrical references and the fantastic guest contribution from Lisa Lobsinger, of Broken Social Scene and Reverie Sound Revue.
7. Broken Social Scene – World Sick
At this point, no one can deny that Broken Social Scene has a talent for epic, climax-laden songs. “World Sick” is no exception, with its anthemic chorus and the staggering creative weight of its multiple collaborators. Nothing introduces an album quite like this track does.
Get The Dirt
Subscribe to our weekly email about what's trending at Duke
6. Baths – Hall
If you’ve never listened to chillwave or its derivative genres, this is a place to start. A newcomer to the scene, Baths proves his mastery over the craft, marrying a glitchy, sonic landscape with blissful, nonsensical vocals. It is a brief glimpse into the dreamscape of the artist, with it swirling sounds and imagery.
5. Crystal Castles – Celestica
While no one doubts the duo’s ability at driving, wild dance music, “Celestica” reminds us that they’re no one-trick pony. This is Alice Glass at her most hauntingly fragile, and her vocal power is on full display here. It’s a fleeting, serene moment: the calm in the midst of a veritable electro storm.
4. Kanye West - All Of The Lights
What hasn’t already been said? “All Of The Lights” is everything you would need to know about Kanye's latest album: it's bombastic, loaded with a stunning variety of guests, unapologetic with its lyrics, and absolutely infectious. It’s a towering accomplishment in intricate instrumentation, and for once, Kanye’s lyrics actually are a highlight, as opposed to a mild distraction.
3. Yeasayer - Ambling Alp
Not even the most diehard of electronic skeptics can fault this song for lacking emotion and humanity. Even with the layers of samples and drum machines, this is a truly heartfelt, organic track, with its aphorism-laden lyrics and vocals. Who would have thought that, of all people, the bizarre, ineffable Yeasayer would be delivering the most poignant musical message of 2010?
2. The Love Language - Brittany's Back
With its churning, pounding rhythm section and blend of distorted vocals with crisp, clean instrumentation, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a catchier rock song this year. It’s a throwback to older, perhaps simpler days of rock and roll – a rare sight these days. The half-sung, half-shouted vocals are both infectious and heartfelt, and the song is over so quickly that you’ll find it on repeat again and again.
1. Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Let's get this out of the way now - I was vastly disappointed by The Suburbs. I get what Arcade Fire were trying to do, I really do; but to me, there was only one track where their longing for the suburbia of their youth came through: "Sprawl II." As a child of the suburbs myself, it is both devastating and uplifting simultaneously. Despite the shift in direction for the album, Sprawl II is pure, vintage Arcade Fire: sweeping in its orchestral construction and nostalgic with its lyricism, leaving us both joyous and drained with every listen.
Bonobo - Prelude/Kiara
Daft Punk - Solar Sailer
ceo - Come With Me
Cults - Go Outside
Big Boi - Night Night
LCD Soundsystem - All I Want
Massive Attack - United Snakes
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & The Cairo Gang - The Sounds Are Always Begging