Top 25

Top 25 Songs of the 2010s

Music is probably one of the Top 5 things I’m thoroughly interested in. I have the artists I follow — some since the 1980s — and I also pick up on new ones.

From 1998 to 2003, during university, my interest erupted. Long days spent walking grooves into the aisles of HMV and Sam the Record Man in downtown Toronto.

Often times, I would walk out of those stores with stacks of CDs. I mean, I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, so any money was sunk deep into music.

I keep tabs on what I liked most about a decade. This one was bookended by marriage and the entrance into the fifth decade of life.

Song: “Lazaretto”
Album: Lazaretto
Artist: Jack White
Year: 2014
Why: Who would’ve thought a song about a leper colony would have such a catchy riff? Jack White also manages to work his colour theme into the lyrics: “My veins are blue and connected”.
Song: “Synthesizers”
Album: The Spade
Artist: Butch Walker and the Black Widows
Year: 2011
Why: There’s a strong correlation between music videos that I like and the songs that make this list. The visual appeal of Dazed and Confused flaneur Wooderson seems to take me back to my teenage years. The backing piano track also reminds me of “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
Song: “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)”
Album: Dodge and Burn
Artist: The Dead Weather
Year: 2015
Why: Alison Mosshart sings like a woman seething post scorn, rueing of lovelessness taking full banshee form.
Song: “The Man”
Album: Wonderful Wonderful
Artist: The Killers
Year: 2017
Why: As the socio-political world changes, there are songs like this that harken back to self-identification. They’re needed.
Song: “Beg, Steal or Borrow”
Album: God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise
Artist: Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs
Year: 2010
Why: Growing up in a small town can be hard for the big fish. It’s an anthem for those trying to carve their own paths in the world from humble beginnings.
Song: “This Too Shall Pass”
Album: God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise
Artist: OK Go
Year: 2010
Why: Besides the novel video, which OK Go was consistently being creative in a STEM sort of way, this tune opened the decade with a sense of optimism.
Song: “Taken For a Fool”
Album: Angles
Artist: The Strokes
Year: 2011
Why: I spent the Aughts listening to early Strokes, the ones marketed by Shia LaBeouf in Transformers. But the latter Strokes catalog provides some awesome tunes. This one rises to the top for me.
Song: “Born to Die”
Album: Born To Die
Artist: Lana Del Rey
Year: 2011
Why: Jack Kerouacian Americana was reborn by the bedroom-eyed redhead who blended Tura Satana, Katharine Ross and Ann Margarett together into a catchy, marketable package. This time is an anchor of the 1960s revival, even if it brushed up against the Manson family again.
Song: “Body Talks”
Album: Young & Dangerous
Artist: The Struts
Year: 2018
Why: I prefer the original cut to the duet with Kesha. Luke Spiller has voice the rings true to its Freddie Mercury influence. Glam rock was given a kick in the pants and welcomed back to the mainstream post Bowie death. And these guys have been the most successful at it.
Song: “High Horse”
Album: Golden Hour
Artist: Kacey Musgraves
Year: 2018
Why: Disco and country fused together? What is this sorcery that vibes of a Philadelphia Experiment? Well, it was part and parcel of Musgraves’ Grammy-winning composition. Studio 54 violins, svelte vocals and enough Dolly Parton spunk in its lyrics.
Song: “Gold on the Ceiling”
Album: El Camino
Artist: The Black Keys
Year: 2012
Why: Bluesy rock riffs are what keeps me alive and thriving. Crank up the volume, rattle some vocals along with the guitars, and crash and splash those cymbals. The sweet sound of moxie.
Song: “Bad Guy”
Album: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Artist: Billie Eilish
Year: 2019
Why: Yes, a song performed by a teenager makes this list. But it channels deep for that Tori Amos, Fiona Apple and Kate Bush angst that haunts all our musical memories. And I love the “Chest always so puffed guy” lyric.
Song: “Gold”
Album: Built on Glass
Artist: Chet Faker (Nick Murphy)
Year: 2014
Why: Downtempo. Yes. Rueful. Yes. Lamenting. Even more so. A simple music video of toned roller skaters caught in headlights counters the lyrics of love with lust.
Song: “Some Nights”
Album: Some Nights
Artist: Fun
Year: 2012
Why: The tempo masks the sadness, frustration. It’s a great song to illustrate the lack of confidence in our future on this rock. The video, set in Civil War times, may even poke at that bear named divisiveness in the U.S.
Song: “Timebomb”
Album: Timebomb (Single)
Artist: Kylie Minogue
Year: 2012
Why: Kylie Minogue is a guilty pleasure. Ever since Fever or perhaps even before that during her bubblegum pop of the late 1980s. This is just a catchy-like-syphilis number.
Song: “Burning Desire”
Album: Paradise
Artist: Lana Del Rey
Year: 2013
Why: A large ballroom, a long white evening gown and a hair molded into 1940s Hollywood glam. That’s the video, which is brought to life further with the Jessica Rabbit vocals and a simple succession of piano notes.
Song: “I Don’t Know”
Album: Learn & Burn
Artist: the Sheepdogs
Year: 2011
Why: This decade had a strange fascination with the 1950s and ’60s. Not sure why. Perhaps a simpler life, sans technology. The ruminations of the Boomers yearning for their youth again? Regardless, the Sheepdogs channelled their inner Guess Who and ran all the way to Saskatoon with this one.
Song: “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Album: Sound & Color
Artist: Alabama Shakes
Year: 2015
Why: This song was on loop on my iPhone for quite some time. It sums up the division in the world. “What you like, what I like / Why can’t we both be right? / Attacking, defending / Until there’s nothing left worth winning” describes the hills died on by people on social media on a daily basis.
Song: “Fan the Flames”
Album: Compilation I, II & III
Artist: Sheer Mag
Year: 2017
Why: A lo-fi Philadelphia Experiment brought to you by a small Pennsylvanian band helmed by vocalist Tina Halladay. Her vocals make this rocking ditty.
Song: “Stompa”
Album: Harmony
Artist: Serena Ryder
Year: 2012
Why: Could this be a call to arms? More lamentations about the way our society continues to divide, the woes of financial burdens and trying to shed it for the greener side.
Song: “Can’t Feel My Face”
Album: Beauty Behind the Madness
Artist: The Weeknd
Year: 2015
Why: This song renewed my faith in modern R&B. There’s plenty of Can-Con on this list, but it also underscores the talent that our country has to over-saturate the American market.
Song: “White Knuckle Ride”
Album: Rock Dust Light Star
Artist: Jamiroquai
Year: 2010
Why: This amalgam of beats and discotech vibes brought me back to the early Jay Kay and team grooves of the mid-90s. It’s just funkified furiousness.
Song: “Biscuits”
Album: Pageant Material
Artist: Kacey Musgraves
Year: 2015
Why: Musgraves and Lana Del Rey were probably the two artists I caught on to during the decade. I love the message this song provides, especially during the growing din of virtue signalling and kangaroo courts of opinion.
Song: “Howlin’ For You”
Album: Brothers
Artist: the Black Keys
Year: 2011
Why: I don’t are if the Black Keys are associated with the hipster crowd. I dig their music, and their savvy for creative music videos. I mean the sexploitation theme was a little overwrought in the early stages of the decade, with Death Proof and Queens of the Stone Age playing it up. Regardless, bluesy rock all the way.
Song: “Uptown Funk”
Album: Uptown Special
Artist: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
Year: 2014
Why: There are so many reasons why this song takes the decade for me. The funk, the soul, the reference to Michelle Pfeiffer. It’s all bomb. Plus the brass section makes it feel like the end song of a Police Academy movie.

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