The Year In Review

#Top 100 song 2010, part II: from 20 to 1

The Year In Review #Top 100 song 2010, part II: from 20 to 1The final countdown. Which are the most played songs of this year? Everyone has their list. This is ours.

20. Crystal Castles feat. Robert Smith: “Not In Love” Apart from the ability to write extraterrestrial melodies, Crystal Castles have proven to have great taste when it comes to doing cover versions. It’s quite a job to dig between the kilos of hairspray, the horrible names (Platinum Blonde) and other eighties debris to rescue a melody which, with the voice of Robert Smith, acquires a new dimension. Because if you add the unmistakable heartbroken tone of the prince of darkness to that version, charged with dystopic synthesisers and helium voices, the result can only be what it is: an instant retro-futurist pop classic that freezes the soul and in equal measure sets the heart on fire. Franc Sayol

19. Four Tet: “Love Cry” On “Love Cry”, the first single off “There Is Love In You”, Four Tet crossed the rhythmic pulse of Krautrock with the sensuality of deep-house, with astonishing results. A drum oozing humanity, a vocal sample and a bass without appendages was all the prodigious Kieran Hebden needed to offer us his particular interpretation of house. A few elements that, seasoned with various effects, stretch and twist in nine minutes that seem way shorter. So good I could cry. FS

18. Ariel Pink: “Round And Round” In the middle of the hypnagogic explosion, Ariel Pink decided to take a step forward and recorded a record outside of his bedroom. The result was “Before Today”, an album that showed us a more accessible Ariel Pink without mutating his personality. The man is as eccentric and addictive as always on “Round And Round”, a catchy soft-pop song built around a circular bass line and those typical vocal inflections that take us back to the golden age of AM radio. FS

17. Wild Nothing: “Chinatown” British indie-pop from the eighties is where Wild Nothing’s music takes us back to, inseparable from the introverted feeling of bands from labels like 4AD, Postcard or Sarah Records. Jack Tatum was born when that age was in its dying seconds, but that hasn’t stopped the young Virginian from capturing the essence of that feeling on the album “Gemini”. “Chinatown” is the album’s standard, a song which, through its ethereal guitars and a melody that makes its way through the fog, takes us to one of those moments of sad ecstasy in which, despite the mist, one feels consoled for a few moments. FS

16. B.O.B.: “Airplanes” Of all the “featurings” pop-rap could offer, this one is definitely the weirdest. B.o.B.teams up with Hayley Williams, pseudo Suicide Girl and vocalist of Paramore, formerly the biggest band of the most commercial emo-punk-rock. And the thing is: it works, precisely because of that contrast between the flow of the first and the vocal quality of the latter. Sometimes mixing sweet and salted turns appetisers in creative cuisine. Mónica Franco

15. Caribou: “Odessa” Caribou surprised friends and enemies with the first single from the acclaimed “Swim”. The band had gone from the psychedelia drenched in kosmische of “Andorra” to poppy nu-disco, just like that. But if anyone can pull off such a sonic twist and not die trying, it’s Dan Snaith. Studio wizard and musical production genius, on “Odessa”, and by extension on all of the record, he emerges as a meticulous explorer of the ways and means of synthetic unity between pop with disco. Like a contemporary Arthur Russell. FS

14. Pantha Du Prince: “Stick To My Side” Hendrik Webber and Noah Lennox were destined to meet. And it was to be expected that the result of this union would be something big. “Stick To My Side” is one of those strange fruits that can only be picked every once in a while. One of those songs that come from pure genes, in which their creators have found the perfect balance between their two genomes in order to achieve a better result. In this case, the chimes and lovingly organic style of typical Panda Bear melodies, who once again sings about daily existentialism on a song that is pure protein for the soul. FS

13. These New Puritans: “Hologram” The band of the brothers Barnett left people petrified with their second album. It was a totally arty stylistic twist, almost snobby; and that “almost” is what made “Hidden” one of the gems of the year. “Hologram”, an obscure and heartfelt ballad with percussive and instrumental weight behind it, defines and exemplifies the new stylistic line of TNP, which is, at the end of the day, what made us fall in love with it. MF

12. Drake: “Over” Where are the polygamous rappers, the addicts of gold bought in bulk, the restraining orders and the possession of weapons charges? The genre has matured; it’s no longer fashionable to be the baddest. Now it’s cool to know where the balance is between pouting one’s lips without appearing gay and making the crowd lift their arms in the club while they’re moving their shoulders. Okay, girls love emo-rap; but you, ex-gangstas, don’t you just love Drake? MF

11. Gold Panda: “You” On “You”, Derwin Panda (yes, that’s how he calls himself) sublimated his formula. Vocal micro-samples that seem to want to escape from the loop, beats halfway between hip-hop and IDM, and synth lines of organic textures come together in a small gem that shines as hard as it is difficult to label. Is it IDM? Is it post-dubstep? Is it instrumental hip-hop? It’s none of the above and at the same time all of the above. It’s electronica for the new millennium. From here to eternity, and beyond. FS

10. Jamie Woon: “Night Air” When Burial remixed Jamie Woon’s version of “Wayfaring Stranger”, back in 2007, it was clear that Will Bevan’s misty landscapes and sliding rhythms became Woon’s elastic voice extremely well. But on “Night Air” the affair goes further, because here the dubstep wizard made him a suit that takes the emotive capacity of this post-modern crooner with the cherubic voice to its highest level. “Night Air” sings about the night, carried by the best imaginable production for the task. Pure magic. FS

9. Janelle Monáe: “Tightrope” It’s technically impossible to not snap your fingers, clap your hands or stomp your feet to the rhythm of “Tightrope”. Janelle Monáe announced the coming of “The ArchAndroid” with this brilliant piece of revivalist soul, infecting us with the same energy and good vibes that OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” did little under ten years ago. This is the perfect appetiser to one of the most brilliant and tasty records of the year and makes us want more and more of this young artist, in the broadest, most religious and strictest sense of the word. MF

8. Best Coast: “Boyfriend” Judging from what she says in her songs, the life of Bethany Cosentino is the paradigm of carefree California youth: beaches, sunsets and flirting. A good life, described in these darts of noise-pop with surf genes. It’s a formula that has taken Best Coast to the Olympus of indie and that reaches high levels of perfection on “Boyfriend”. A sweet song that shows us the bitter side of that joie de vivre. Because, as Bethany very well knows, in California there are always girls that are thinner, prettier and smarter than you. FS

7. James Blake: “Limit To Your Love” James Blake, the new idol of post-dubstep fans, strips Feist’s “Limit To Your Love” to the bone in order to give it a new suit, purer and lighter, with precise pianos, pulsating electronics, vocals and space. Closer to intimist, minimal pop than to any derivation of the rave continuum, Blake becomes a soulful crooner, brooding and melancholic, to turn a track that’s not his into a vocal jazz standard, of that hotbed of ideas and confusion that is typical these days of what used to be dubstep. Prodigiously sober. Luis M. Rguez

6. Kanye West: “All Of The Lights” We could claim that it’s the only track on the controversial “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” that ‘Ye haterz haven’t slagged off. We could say that if we would count all the credits on this song (Elton John on one extreme, Fergie on the other, and between them Rihanna’s voice between trumpets) we wouldn’t have space left to say anything about it. We could appeal to the energy of that beat only, which is pure fervour at nine in the morning on the tube and at 3AM in the club. But any of those reasonings would lead to the same conclusion: this is what a super tune sounds like. MF

5. Robyn: “Love Kills” It’s hard to select just one of the many techno pop sweets Swedish Robyn has filled the three parts of her huge “Bodytalk” trilogy with this year. Even so, “Love Kills” takes the biscuit thanks to its insistent chorus and base that is a purely synthetic bubble. Progressive-spirited and massively appealing Euro-dance, as sensationalist as it is effective, useful when it comes to making bodies sweat on hi-NRG dancefloors. Robyn warns you: “If you're looking for love, get a heart made of steel, cuz you know that love kills.” LMR

4. Cee Lo Green: “Fuck You” What better way to tell someone to take a hike than with your biggest smile on your face. If we take the concept to a musical context, the result is “Fuck You”. Cee Lo Green was angry, wanted to spit fire in the form of notes and didn’t want to cut down on the use of the finest Anglo-Saxon insult. But far from coming up with some violent rap or sickening rock, the little big man offered up a piece of classic soul that confronts content and container with addictive results. “Fuck You” has something almost religiously enthusiastic about it; Cee Lo’s pianos, choruses and phrasing blend together in a crushing song that could be considered the first angry gospel hit in history. Blessed madness. FS

3. Arcade Fire: “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” It might be true that Arcade Fire’s last effort mainly feeds off the rancid breaths of anthemic rock, but almost at the end of it, as the second-to-last card from a deck marked by the epics of their earlier work, the synthesisers peep around the corner, neon lights are switched on, almost in disco fashion, in an eighties-spirited track that is nothing but a great panorama of the most common feelings of adolescence. The five-and-a-half minutes of the second act of “Sprawl” are a pure reflection of suburban ennui, of the dissatisfaction of those who feel different from the others, of those who feel out of place and are at the same time trapped in alien and alienating surroundings without which we wouldn’t know how to live. Arcade Fire abandon, for an instant, their comfort zone to come up with one of their best and most evocative (new) songs. LMR

2. The-Dream: “Yamaha” Terius Youngdell Nash, alias The-Dream, writer of urban mainstream mega-hits like “Umbrella” (Rihanna) or “Single Ladies” (Beyoncé), returns in the form of a young Prince, still candid and green, to sing vehemently about the thing that deep down moves us the most: sexual desire and attraction, although here that impulse takes the shape of paraphilia. Because beauty draws more than twenty horsepower, or in this case, a human bodywork so tight and well-set that it makes the man turn to metaphors, to identify as an object of desire the curvy lines of a brilliant Japanese-built machine. Or is it the other way around? The voice of The-Dream turns into velvet and boils luxuriously between flashes of synthetic funk and hooks that are a tribute to the most schmaltzy R&B from the mid-eighties. “Police hate us, why? ‘Cause they never seen a girl with an ass so phat.” LMR

1. Magnetic Man: “I Need Air” The equation “smash hit + dubstep supergroup” can only have “banger” as a result. The recent pop orientation of the Croydon sound was one of the musical phenomena of the year; with its detractors and its fans, the reality is there. And when, in five, ten or fifteen years, the equivalent of Lady Gaga is making tunes at 140 BPM, those who make the effort to look back will have to recognise that “I Need Air” is the single which, in spite of being completely immersed in progressive textures, was the seed of a new branch of British music. “I Need Air” is the near future told with the emotions of the recent past: the spirit of the summer of love, the adoration of the DJ, and the goose bumps take the music from 2010 to 2011. We face the end of the year with the biggest enthusiasm for what’s coming next. MF

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