The 100 Best Songs of the 2010s

The legacy of pop music in the 2010s will be a similar story to that of many a blockbuster released in this decade: a largely reductive look backwards bookended by a few interesting new ideas. We started off with a boom in pop music spearheaded by Lady Gaga and Kanye West in the final years of the aughts, paving the way for the demolition of the barrier between indie pop and mainstream pop by groups like Foster the People and AWOLNATION. Dubstep, though derided by many critics, could have been the sound of these past 10 years with a little finesse.

But everything was ruined in 2013 by Daft Punk with their absolutely horrible funk-redux album Random Access Memories. The rest of the decade followed suit and mercilessly pilfered the past, using only the worst elements of old genres to create music that pushed no boundaries and existed only to say “hey look i can make my songs sound just like the old times”.

Most artists took their cues from a small handful of influences: the aforementioned Daft Punk, The Black Keys, Lana Del Rey, Sam Smith, Arctic Monkeys, and Mumford & Sons. Eventually everyone started doing everything, resulting in one giant genre that all dabbled in simultaneously. It wasn’t until 2017 that mumble rap emerged as something brand new and switched things up a little, morphing into a more melodic variant that may lead to something new in the 2020s.

For now, here’s what I salvaged from the past 10 years. This list is far from groundbreaking. Nor is it a representation of the decade’s biggest hits. It’s not culturally relevant or a succinct snapshot of what will be remembered in years to come. Instead it’s a thorough collection of songs with hooks. If there’s one thing I can guarantee, it’s that every one of these tracks has an instantly recognizable melody. It may not be trendy or popular, but this is undoubtedly the only countdown you’ll find on the internet of the decade’s catchiest songs.

100. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings- Father John Misty

J. Tillman has yet to write that one big crossover pop hit that will get him the mainstream accolades he deserves, so for now this 2012 song is the instantly recognizable calling card he’s got.


99. Lost in the Echo- Linkin Park

The best thing about this song is that it’s exactly what Linkin Park should have sounded like in 2012. A little bit of dubstep, a little bit of contemporary style hip-hop, and a dose of “classic” Linkin Park helped the band regain their footing after the experimental A Thousand Suns.


98. I Walked- Sufjan Stevens

There are two versions of Sufjan Stevens. There’s the supremely weird, glitchy electronic tinkerer, and the auteur of hushed acoustic folk. It’s the former that dropped 2010’s The Age of Adz, with this first single as the centrepiece.


97. Black Cloud- Postdata

R.E.M. have now been out of commission for nine years, and only a scant number of modern rock acts have used the alternative act’s sound as a template for their own. For a band that was once one of the biggest in the world, their influence is barely felt just two decades later.

So it’s nice to hear little bits of their legacy filter into tracks like “Black Cloud”, with its ambiguous lyrics and mid-tempo angst. It’s “The One I Love” but darker; a great slice of Americana made new.


96. R U Mine?- Arctic Monkeys

A year before the band totally reinvented themselves and became one of the most influential acts of the decade they dropped this brawny teaser single that effectively showed the world what they were going to become.


95. Wildest Dreams- Rolemodel

Bilingual EP

Toronto’s most popular bands this decade all sounded nearly exactly the same: like a jangly, whimsical, upbeat Target commercial. So it’s comforting to hear that there are a few artists in the Big Smoke that break from that tradition. RLMDL is a one-man project that doesn’t really sound like what anybody else is doing. “Wildest Dreams” is simultaneously glacial and balmy, with swaths of deep January synths meeting a voice pillowed in July reverb. It also carries the unmistakeable spirit of Toronto in its blue-hued keyboards and rattling hi-hats. Sure, it’s Toronto 1984 as opposed to Toronto 2014, but it’s hard not to imagine the project’s mastermind Jordan Allen being influenced by the city’s industrial waterfront and flashy entertainment district.


94. National Anthem- The Gaslight Anthem

It might be a rewrite of 2008’s “Here’s Looking at you Kid”, but this 2012 rumination on relationships and modern technology is still a winning acoustic ballad.


93. Bury Me- Actors

I don’t know anything about this band, and having heard the rest of their stuff I don’t think they’re going to be anything resembling a creative force on the music scene, but this one song is pretty great. Imagine Interpol‘s Paul Banks doing a cover of Econoline Crush‘s “Sparkle and Shine”, or New Order going industrial and you’ve got the gist of it.


92. (Everything is) Debatable- Hellogoodbye

Imagine if the disco revival aesthetic in Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” or Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” weren’t reductive and mindlessly repetitive and you have a good idea of what Hellogoodbye have done with the title track from their 2013 album. While the jangling guitar flourishes and four-to-the-floor drumbeat are straight from 1976, the existential lyrics, squiggly keyboard solo and pulsating synths slathered over the whole song are strictly 2013. This is how modern artists should borrow from the past but remain rooted firmly in the present.

91. The Hermit- T.O.L.D

its-not-about-the-witches

A cursory listen to this band gives one the impression it’s yet another zeitgeist-grabbing pastiche of soul, pop and dance. But then, nestled deep in the album there’s this black-as-night anthem about some sort of nightmarish river. It’s entirely unexpected and kind of terrifying, drawing on both the power of a massive gospel choir and subtle accoutrements like conga drum flourishes. It’s bleak and harrowing and totally deserving of the unsettling album art.


90. Leathers- Deftones

2010’s Diamond Eyes was a serviceable enough album, and after 4 years of no Deftones it was most certainly welcome, albeit very safe. The lead single/title track plodded along in a very predictable, mainstream radio way. Deeper album cuts were decent, but the age-old Deftones formula of { heavy/screaming Chino + spooky ethereal Chino drawling out his syllables through molasses} bordered on parody at times. Koi No Yokan is no radical departure for the band, as they do stick to the tried and true for a good part of it, but there’s a renewed energy and willingness to experiment present on the record. Lead single ‘Tempest’ is six minutes long and features an aggressive riff missing from the band’s recent repertoire. ‘Leathers’, the promo single, starts with 40 seconds of ambience before kicking into a vicious verse and a melodic chorus where Chino sings with real conviction. It’s the sound of a band back in shape and ready to move forward.


89. Same Mistakes- The Echo Friendly

Whether intentional or not, the fact that this song cycles through the same melody over and over while the two vocalists bemoan their tendency to get stuck in a routine is a nice touch and helps sell it as a top-tier self pity anthem.


88. american dream- LCD Soundsystem

Upon listening to my 2016 year-end countdown, someone told me that my taste in music was “sad man wailing over twinkling bells”, which isn’t entirely inaccurate. It also describes this song to a T.

Yes, LCD Soundsystem have written a song that checks every one of my boxes.

It wasn’t until seeing the band headline a festival last year that I understood exactly why they’re so revered. This isn’t to say that I’m suddenly a #1 fan of James Murphy‘s repetitive 7-minute electronic poetry, but I respect his craft and recognize him as an auteur of genuine art.

A cursory glance shows that this new song bears all the hallmarks of your standard LCD Soundsystem song. It’s six minutes long, built over a cyclical chord progression, and the lyrics are about a guy disillusioned with modern love. Unlike the rambling milquetoast of “Someone Great” however, “american dream” is- dare I say, melodramatic? The celestial keyboard riff sounds like the saddest lullaby melody ever recorded, and Murphy sounds legitimately distraught at times. There’s even a fully cohesive outro where everything escalates and comes together like a real song and everything. New York’s poet laureate actually caved and wrote something in traditional song structure, and it worked out wonderfully.


87. All of the Lights- Kanye West

Everyone wonders why Kanye has the massive ego he does, seemingly forgetting that he was revered as a saint for the bulk of his career. Critics tripped over themselves to praise every bit of music he released, hailing 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as a perfect masterpiece. It was a tremendous record to be sure, but you can’t be surprised at the way 2019 Kanye acts when reading the critical acclaim leveled at him from 2005 onwards.

“All of the Lights” is a manifestation of West’s massive ego couched in the maximalist sound that defined the early 2010s. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster of a song, filled to the brim with regal synths, skittering percussion, and an all-star line-up of guest features from across the genre spectrum.


86. Black Sheep- Metric

Looking back it’s baffling as to why “Black Sheep” was not a radio single. Released at the tail end of the album cycle for 2009’s Fantasies, it could have easily extended the band’s streak into 2011. Instead they opted to release a different soundtrack single- their contribution to the Twilight: Eclipse compilation. That song floundered and has since been forgotten; “Black Sheep” remains a staple of Metric’s live show and a reminder of how great the music for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was.


85. Lovers’ Revolution- Iron & Wine

It’s hard to describe exactly what “good lyrics” sound like, but you know them when you hear them. Sam Beam makes “good lyrics”. He is without a question one of the best lyricists of our age, and it was an absolute delight hearing him evolve and surround those words with increasingly fuller arrangements on his albums. Here too his words start out mostly unadorned as the song around them grows more complex with each passing verse, the song threatening to buckle under the weight of them all as it crosses the melodic tightrope.


84. Bells of Paonia- The Fresh & Onlys

House Of Spirits

A verdant, sprawling track with a relentless pulse in lieu of a rhythm section, this song coasts along on a wash of massive, melancholic guitars that buoy the downcast lyrics.


83. Glory- Jean Michel Jarre feat. M83

E Project

As bizarre as it is to write, M83 has had some bad luck with cinematic music. The master of widescreen electronic anthems had a terrible experience scoring the indie flick Black Hole, then had an even worse time scoring big-time movie Oblivion. Plus, the last two songs he’s done were for the Divergent movies and they’ve both been incredibly boring. He’s the king of music meant to be played in movies, but Anthony Gonzalez and movies just don’t mix.

Here he’s just a featured artist, teaming up with his role model, the inimitable Jean-Michel Jarre. The pairing works fantastically and shows that both French composers still have the touch. The video is once again iconic. Perhaps Gonzalez just needs to stay away from movies and focus on the music.


82. Escapee- Architecture in Helsinki

There’s an effortless bounce to “Escapee” that puts it in the same family as Len‘s eternal “Steal my Sunshine”, with every part of it seemingly engineered to put a spring into your step.


81. Good Things- The Menzingers

Working class punk really started to gain traction in 2012, with Gaslight Anthem‘s ‘Handwritten’ being a commercial success and Canada’s own Japandroids bursting into the mainstream with their own fervid (and very excellent) spin on the sound. The Menzingers stay true to the sound as well, crossing a lot of Replacements with a little Nirvana and ending up with a catchy, concise rock belter.


80. New Low- Middle Class Rut

It’s hard to put these two guys in a niche. While they’re a sort of spiritual successor to Rise Against, bottling the anxiety and tension of the depressing economic climate, they can’t really be sonically lumped in with any of their contemporaries on the charts. “New Low” can be best described as “workman-punk”. Backing self-doubting lyrics and a ruthlessly efficient guitar, the drums literally sound like an assembly plant, pounding away like the band’s namesakes, unrelentingly right to the end.


79. Veil- Pure Bathing Culture

There’s a grandiose richness to Pure Bathing Culture’s sound, a lush sense of space similar to Beach House if they weren’t on Ambien. “Veil” is a prime example of that richness, continuing the band’s record of solid records.


78. I Really Like You- Carly Rae Jepsen

Jepsen is a survivor. Not only did she somehow manage to resurface years after competing on Canadian Idol, but she survived the music industry’s old paradigm where she would have been a “one-hit wonder” and made a career with a cult following online. She successfully transitioned into the new paradigm where charts and sales no longer matter and ensured she’ll be selling out venues for years to come.


77. Black Honey- Thrice

to-be-everywhere-is-to-be-nowhere

Thrice’s career trajectory is a strange one. They started off big in the emo/screamo scene of the early 2000s. Released an absolutely amazing album in 2005. Released an ill-advised QUADRUPLE album in 2008. Followed it up with a series of increasingly poor releases. Broke up. Got back together. Released a really, really good comeback album out of nowhere, with this devastatingly crushing beast of a hard rock tune as a highlight. Singer Dustin Kensrue‘s voice has become tough and grizzled, and when he launches into a vicious chorus the new tone accentuates the anger behind the song. Who’d have thought that environmental issues would be the catalyst for reinvigorating an old hardcore act?


76. Pretty Pimpin- Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile’s bad trip became Kurt Vile’s best song.


75. Highway Patrol Stun Gun- Youth Lagoon

Trevor Powers gave up too early. Soon after the release of this 2015 album Youth Lagoon ceased to exist, seemingly right before the project would have blown up.


74. Sails- Hooray for Earth

This is what it would sound like if Tokyo Police Club tried to be Depeche Mode, but in a good way.


73. Without You- Joseph

This is a band that knows what a good song is; the production is so on point it seems almost too good to be true. The dynamics are perfect, with each kick drum hit in the chorus hitting with the force of a thousand gut punches.


72. Lost You / Lost You – How to Dress Well

care

There’s a heartbreaking plainspoken nature to this song, and whether frontman Tom Krell intended it that way or not, it entirely makes the track. From the deceptively simple but intensely specific lyrics to the almost sardonic attitude Krell has towards his experiences, the song manages to stay heartfelt but realistic. It’s melodramatic yes, but it doesn’t lose itself in starry platitudes. It’s actually three words at the very end that sum up his juxtaposition of blind optimism and grounded realism. After singing “I guess there’s no peace / ’til I’m in my grave”, Krell follows it up with a spoken, sarcastic “well that’s great!”. An audible shrug as he realizes that after all the big cinematic moments, life goes on.


71. Fall (M83 vs Big Black Delta remix) – Daft Punk

In many ways this song acted as a trailer for the cinematic event that “Midnight City” would be later in 2011, signalling M83’s subtle tweaks to their sound and placing them in the public’s view on the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. Collaborating with the vastly underrated Big Black Delta, M83 provided the arpeggiated synths and falsetto hook while BBD contributed his trademark glam-stomp. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t launch to the same heights with his first full-length album later that year, as that would have been a solid double feature with M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.


70. Down by the Water- The Decemberists

One of the greatest injustices in modern music is the fact that the Decemberists didn’t reach the same heights as Death Cab for Cutie, despite trying their absolute hardest to score a crossover hit. Not that they were ever especially obtuse, but their penchant for literary references did hamper them a bit. So after their dense 2009 concept album they tightened up and did their best to write some straightforward alternative rock, drawing from the R.E.M well for “Down by the Water”. The result is a song that both stays true to their roots and is eminently catchy, a true anthem for old-timey prospectors.


69. Titanium- David Guetta feat. Sia

“Sia!” cries Obi-Wan from the edge of the lava pit, “you were the chosen one!” But Sia did not save the world from faux-funk, even though she tried her best. And I mean really tried her best- Sia is, technically speaking, the best pop singer on the planet right now. In every song she pushes her voice to the limit, almost to the point of self-destruction. You can hear it both in her collaboration with Guetta, then her 2014 hit “Chandelier”. Both were the kind of rafter shaking EDM hits that should have brought the pop world back on track after Daft Punk had derailed it. But pop decided to wander off into dancehall territory after their funk sojourn, and maximalist pop was all but forgotten.


68. Burning Stars- Mimicking Birds

A gentle, Modest Mouse type acoustic song about caring for someone very much and oh gosh I am gonna start crying.


67. Girls and Boys in School- Neon Trees

It’s difficult to discuss the merits of this song without acknowledging the band’s shortcomings. This isn’t a band out to push limits, weave a massive narrative concept, or create a musical legacy. Neon Trees, in all honesty, are third-tier New Wave revivalists who were lucky enough to score a big hit with 2010 single ‘Animal’. But man, they know how to write hooks.


66. Santa Fe- Beirut

This, this right here is exactly what I like. When a band with artistic heft decides to “sell out” and attempts a crossover hit. It doesn’t matter whether the song itself actually becomes a hit, but the very fact that the band showed enough dedication to create something digestible for the common listener is commendable. Beirut do exactly that here, transferring their Mediterranean and Eastern European influences to a more standard pop pallet and succeeding wildly.


65. Far- Coheed and Cambria

Coheed slow it down for “Far”, dropping the prog and upping the emo for what is probably their best downtempo song.


64. Playing House- Active Child feat. How to Dress Well

If Washed Out is the godfather of chillwave, Active Child is absolutely the same kind of figurehead for the indie R&B movement. With his choirboy falsetto and harp skills he began the trend of glacial, atmospheric songs that bridged the divide between alternative music and R&B. Later followed by How to Dress Well, Autre Ne Veut, and SOHN, Active Child never really got t


63. Wildest Dreams- Ryan Adams

1989

Imagine if the band Real Estate actually knew how to write a good song? It might sound like this. A golden-hued alt-country rendition of the Taylor Swift single that suits the melody far better than the original arrangement did. Particularly great is the way Adams revises the vocal hook, integrating the falsetto note into the lyrics rather than the weird hiccup-sigh Swift does in her version.


62. Lawless- Colours

ivory

The iTunes “review” section above every album is very seldom a useful tool. In 90% of cases it’s just bland PR, empty bits of positive fluff with no real value that are most likely written by Apple‘s interns. However there was a line in the write-up for Ivory that compared Colours to “Drake meets Deftones“, and it’s a description so apt that I feel compelled to mention it. This song is essentially if Drake had real actual woes and joined an electronic Deftones cover band.

Pairing ethereal, moody verses with thunderous wall-of-sound choruses with a strictly electronic palette, it’s a fresh new breed of EDM-rock that earns the top spot not for being the most melodic or most well-written song but because it’s so sonically different from everything else out there. If there’s any justice in the world, this sound will spawn imitators and we’ll finally get some sort of new dark electronic genre to shake up a scene that desperately needs shaking.


61. The Light Behind Your Eyes- My Chemical Romance

Some time before My Chemical Romance disintegrated, they released a series of short EPs that at one point were meant to be on a full album. It’s easy to see why the band opted to put them out into the world separately, as they were barely cohesive. Here we had a power ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on a hair metal album in the late 80s, written and produced more like a Motley Crue or Metallica slowburner than anything else. That said, it was the best of all the disparate singles tossed out in that window and with the band reuniting may find newfound recognition.


60. In the Fall- Future Islands

Long before they were “the band with the guy who danced funny on David Letterman” they were “the band with the guy who sounds like a lovelorn Dracula”.


59. I Love You, Will You Marry Me- YUNGBLUD

A blend of ska, emo, and brit-pop all packaged up into one neat song called “I Love You, Will You Marry Me” by YUNGBLUD. It’s a fun burst of energy that sounds like very little else in the mainstream arena.


58. Falling Apart- Neverending White Lights feat. Bed of Stars

If there’s one thing Daniel Victor does perfectly, it’s evoking a sense of nighttime in his songs. Not just because he sings the word “night”. He picks the perfect guitar tone, synths, amount of reverb. There’s really no listening to this song when it’s anytime before sundown.


57. Young and Cold- The Raveonettes

In a ‘Watchmen’-like revisionist timeline, 1960’s pop might have sounded more like this. It’s a downright pretty melody begging to become a songbook standard, but the dark lyrics and the group’s trademark shoegaze distortion will probably prevent that from happening. Which is a shame, because campfires around the world would benefit from eminently singable tunes like this.


56. What You Know- Two Door Cinema Club

TDCC arrived to the scene just a few years too late- about three to be precise. If they’d released this song in 2007 they would be roughly…twice as popular as they are now.


55. Close to You- Neon Trees

One other thing Neon Trees do really well: nail the sound of 1983 like nobody else. This is still the best Police tune the Police never wrote.


54. Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win- Beastie Boys feat. Santigold

This decade was tailor-made for the Beastie Boys. The alt-rap crew were one of the first groups to seamlessly blend rock and rap into a coherent whole, a feat currently being attempted by most new acts from the past few years. Tragically the world lost founding member MCA in 2012 and the group disbanded soon after, making their 2011 album The Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. II their final release. Eclectic like the rest of their discography, their track with Santigold had the Boys dabbling in sun-soaked reggae and showed off their incredible versatility.


53. Tell ‘Em- Sleigh Bells

Breathlessly lauded as the next big thing in 2010, it was impossible to talk about Sleigh Bells without their origin story. The brainchild of a hardcore punk frontman and a pop group vocalist, they threw away both those genres in favour of blown-out rock that made it on every year-end list. Then they disappeared, leaving behind this ode to a lit cigarette falling in slow motion towards a trail of gasoline.


52. Without You (The Rebirth)- Dillon Francis feat. T.E.E.D

Without You (Remixes)

Usually when an artist records a song, that’s it. They’re done with it, and it’s up to others to give it a remix. So if the song is good up until a point and then screws up, we as listeners are forever stuck with a disappointed feeling of a wasted opportunity. Dillon Francis himself took control here, realizing that the original “Without You” was good but lacked drive, and recreated it to give us a song that delivers on all cylinders. It’s a full-fledged concise pop EDM banger, better than every other Top 40 dance hit out there. The hook alone puts Avicii’s entire last underwhelming record to shame, and hopefully gets Francis on songwriting and production duty in the upper echelons of the industry.


51. Forever- CHVRCHES

CHVRCHES are a band that have not budged an inch since their breakthrough in 2013. It’s fascinating how there are thousands and thousands of bands that can be grouped under the “synth pop” umbrella, but some can still carve out distinct niches for themselves with this sort of focus. The Scottish trio still use the same patches, the same glimmering sawtooth synths,  and the same big drums they’ve always used, and are all the more unique for it. New record Love is Dead stays right on course, and delivers another round of quality tunes like “Forever”.  Absolutely pristine production on here- a perfect example of how modern mainstream music should be mixed.


50. Don’t You Give Up On Me- Lissie

my-wild-west

Lissie‘s been kicking around for a while, and it’s surprising (and strangely comforting) that she didn’t make the jump to electro pop alongside everyone else. That’s not a slight against that genre, but the fact that she stuck to her country-pop roots while her peers all jumped on the more popular bandwagon shows strong resolve. It paid off, as this song really only works as a wistful country pop track. Equal parts Shania Twain and Neko Case, Lissie splits the difference between the two singers’ style and combines the former’s pep with the latter’s plaintive mood. It’s tonally dissonant, but results in a classic pop hit that begs for more recognition.


49. Super Bass- Nicki Minaj

The album reissue is often times the music industry’s craven attempt at boosting sales of an artist they really want to do well. Sometimes it’s to bump an album that didn’t ignite the charts the way it was supposed to (see: Imagine Dragons’ Smoke + Mirrors). Other times it’s to underhandedly break records (see: Katy Perry’s California Gurls). It’s the former that applies to Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday, which was supposed to be the grand debut of Nicki Minaj after her scorching guest verse on Kanye’s MBDTF. It was not.

The deluxe edition of Pink Friday came about half a year later, this time with an actual hit single in tow. It was a brazen do-over for Minaj, but “Super Bass” is the rare bonus track that deserves to be on the album proper. Combining Minaj’s motor-mouth rapping with pixie dust synths turned out to be a winning mix and helped establish her as one of the decade’s biggest hip-hop stars.


48. Adore- Amy Shark

Most contemporary love songs are just a series of generic platitudes and vague declarations of devotion. There’s a bank of about 50 words that artists dip into and make their lyrics with. To add to the interchangeable nature, the perspective is always the same as well- that of someone in a relationship that is either going really well or not so well.

“Adore” is the heart wrenching sound of Amy Shark pining away for an unrequited love, a late night ballad thrown over a woozy guitar hook and a leisurely hip hop beat. Shark speaks directly from the heart, but it’s never accusatory or bitter. She simply celebrates tiny moments with her object of affection, relaying the entirely relatable experience of magnifying every interaction when in the throes of love. The simplest brush of your arm against theirs becomes the stuff of legend; you’ve got a permanent set of rose-coloured glasses on. The sincerity dripping from Shark’s voice when she delivers these and other sentiments is very evidently genuine, especially when she sings the words “I adore you”. It’s a pure expression of emotion that makes every other pop song sound like it was written by a Hallmark card committee.


47. Never Come Down- Brave Shores

It was in 2015 that a celebrity grifter decided to run for political office, and everyone laughed and laughed. That celebrity grifter even went on SNL and danced to Drake’s inescapable hit “Hotline Bling”. The visuals of that dance were then arbitrarily mashed up with this song, creating a strange bit of internet anarchy that was surreal to describe.

That grifter went on the become the president of the United States, much to everyone’s consternation, and he gradually became less a joke and more a threat to the world’s stability.

Looking back at that moment, it’s sad to see at how dark the world’s become, but it’s also turned this song into an expression of naive innocence. It’s linked to a time when nobody thought that this guy could become president. He was just a meme, a joke, a buffoon that we could all quip about. In a strange way this effervescent pop hit represents the lightness of our collective consciousness in 2015, a time capsule free of the constant political strife we endure nowadays.


46. Gimme- Banks

Ten notes. That’s all it takes to make the best instrumental hook of the whole year. Slinking around through almost the entirety of this electo-pop gem, it proves just how important a central motif is to any piece of pop music. The trance synths and warped vocals are entirely welcome accoutrements, but it’s that ten-note hook that affirms this song as one of the year’s best.


45. Veto- SOHN

Tremors

1Unjustly shunned by the hipster elite, Vienna-based SOHN is another solid competitor in the indie R&B scene. Smoother than Active Child but not as decadent as the Weeknd, he specializes in cold, sterile atmospheres that evoke strong emotions while remaining sonically chilly.  


44. Into You- Ariana Grande

dangerous-woman

If you’re gonna be a corporately produced and owned multi-million dollar popstar, you ought to have some pretty great content to back it up. It hasn’t seemed like that lately (more on that later), with very few singers-including Grande– delivering any sort of memorable product. On this track, however, the Grande and co. pull it off. The hooks are platinum plated, the production immaculate. The aesthetic is fairly unique too; a dark pop song with no atonal dance bass, and an actual melody (!) in 2016 is a rare thing. I’ll forgive them for blatantly cribbing Kate Boy‘s style, but only because they put it to good use. It begs the question though- if this kind of straight up old school type of pop song can still be written….why aren’t there more of them???


43. Lost on You- LP

lost-on-you-single

If Gwen Stefani turned folk troubadour, or if Elle King actually wrote a good song, it might sound like this big city take on a decidedly rural genre. Laura Pergolizzi takes the feel of her hometown New York and perfectly distills it in this sweeping, orchestral ballad.


42. Singularity- Bright Eyes

Ray Kurzweil seems like he’d fit right in somewhere between Jordan Peterson and Elon Musk. Even if the futurist had the best of intentions, a lot of his theories and ideas were based on wild speculation and not much of what he’s postulated over the years has come to fruition. Nevertheless he’s gained a cult following, as many “whoa far out man” geniuses do. One of those fans appears to be Conor Oberst, who’s “Singularity” is essentially a primer on Kurzweil’s musings. Philosophy aside, it’s a delightful song, perfect for those who have always wanted to hear a Beatles-esque lullaby about the AI revolution.


41. The Man- The Killers

You may argue that this song is derivative, that the lyrics are corny, that the Killers have jumped the shark. Those are all valid criticisms. What you cannot argue is that this song is the world’s best walking song. There is no song you can walk to better than this one. For all their melodrama, the Las Vegas quartet has always had a sly sense of humour present in their music. Their “Derelict Santa” Christmas trilogy is a good example, as are their sketches with Jimmy Kimmel. This humour’s helped offset their towering statements with a wink and a grin, and it’s amped up a bit more than usual in this song for any listeners who don’t understand subtlety. Brandon Flowers plays a swaggering caricature of machismo with an ego so big it almost matches those of real celebrities. It’s beefed up so much you couldn’t possibly take the words at face value, particularly lines like “Baby I’m gifted/ See what I mean?/ USDA/ certified lean”. In case all that isn’t enough- there’s a sound effect of a champagne cork popping to hammer the sarcasm home. The lyrics match the thick, brawny riff perfectly, and the Bowie-esque strut (including a shout out to Fame) makes for a confident first single that sets the stage for an exciting new sound from the band.


40. World Princess, Pt. II- Grimes

Art Angels

Claire Boucher has crafted an instantly recognizable sound with meticulous production, but more importantly, she has written good melodies to back up all that production. You can throw all the patches, samples, and augmented chords you want into a track, but it will amount to nothing if the song doesn’t have a catchy hook. This song has hooks in spades, outclassing all the MOR indie-alternative acts trying to be experimental and failing miserably. The only problem is that now there is absolutely no reason to accept any less than this from anyone. Why listen to horrible music when something this good is capable of being made? Tolerance for generic music should now be at zero.


39. Fractals- Keep Shelly in Athens

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2The Greek duo’s melodic approach to synth-pop has yielded nothing but sterling singles up to now, with this fourth offering featuring an extended shimmering keyboard outro. 


38. Self vs. Self- Pendulum feat. In Flames


The intensity of a metal act fused to the iridium core of a D&B powerhouse. To put it into Canadian terms: imagine if Alexisonfire did a song with USS.


37. Video Games- Lana Del Rey

As I mentioned at the outset, this countdown is largely bereft of the decade’s chart toppers and taste makers. This is one of the few exceptions, and I’ll say without hyperbole that any list missing Lana Del Rey is wrong. The performer was absolutely one of the most influential acts of the decade, and “Video Games” is objectively a classic. The songwriting and structure is in the same company as the world’s biggest and best songs, transcending past being a piece of music. It’s a cultural moment, a standard that will no doubt be in every songbook for generations to come.


36. Five Seconds- Twin Shadow

Imagine a really angry, leather-clad Peter Gabriel circa 1984 playing with a post-punk band and you’ve got a good idea what this dark one-man project sounds like. New Wave isn’t a genre known for raging frontmen, so the bitterness and callous lyrics create an interesting contrast with the sweeping synths and chiming guitars found on Twin Shadow’s 2012 effort ‘Confess’. “There’s no way to forget it all!”, George Lewis Jr. yells several times on the track, speaking directly to whomever spurned him. It’s a blunt, honest approach that eschews his past romanticism, but doesn’t devolve into boneheaded post-grunge finger pointing accusations. “I’m not trying/to make you cry” Lewis sings. He’s just getting it all out the best way he knows.


35. Red Eyes- The War on Drugs

Lost in the Dream

The general consensus among the music journalism community in 2014: this was, hands down, the best rock song of the year. And that was an important distinction to make in 2014 where everyone was trying everything and genre crossovers were ubiquitous. This is not a pop rock song, it is not indie rock, hard rock, folk rock, psychedelic rock, or wizard rock. This is unadulterated rock music that contains Adam Granduciel’s heart and soul; a tumbling, effusive celebration of life itself.


34. Ran- Future Islands

It was 2010 that Future Islands first appeared on these charts with the queasily great “In the Fall”. Since then they’ve improved exponentially every time they released another record, jumping up a few spots each time. A few years back Sam T. Herring and company finally broke through to the mainstream with the hit “Seasons (Waiting On You)”, along with Herring’s inimitable dance moves on Letterman. While that song was great and deserved the accolades it got, it was missing a few touches that would have launched it into stratospherically great territory. Clearly the band feels the same, as they’ve essentially rewritten that song but augmented it with a more melodic bass line and a crunch to the chorus that amps up the song’s dynamics. They’ve essentially delivered the purest expression of their band’s directive, the perfect Future Islands song.


33. High for This- The Weeknd

Remember when nobody knew who Abel Tesfaye was or what he looked like? He was a mysterious producer operating from some basement in Toronto, releasing shadowy R&B that got nothing but love from critics. That’s a reality we can never go back to, and as much as he tries, neither can Tesfaye. His worldly experience means that he can never write from that same perspective and recreate the vibe that got him noticed. It would be nice if he brought back the choirs though.


32. Forever (Giorgio Moroder remix)- HAIM

Forever - Single

Leave it to Moroder to effortlessly channel his inimitable style into a low-key indie track and make it sound completely natural, as if this is how the song had always existed. The earth-shaking piano stabs and vocoder are Moroder trademarks but coexist with HAIM’s guitar chug without any problems. The new disco drum track and soaring keyboards filling in the empty space of the sparse original, and the arrangement ends up bringing the melody to the heights it deserved.


31. Windshield Smasher- Black Moth Super Rainbow

The Black Keys meat-and-potatoes rock influenced a lot of acts over the decade, some more obviously than others. It’s expected that newer rock acts would take cues from the Akron duo; not so expected that a psychedelic collective would do the same. Somehow it works. TOBACCO and his fellow weirdos take a Ford commercial riff and run it through every known hallucinatory drug known to the world, ending up with a supremely bizarre song like nothing you’ve heard before.


30. Cali God- Grace Mitchell

If Lorde‘s abdicated the throne of dark mistress of darkness, perhaps it’s Grace Mitchell who can sit herself down in that seat. The Oregon-born ingenue doesn’t have too much of a catalogue to pore over, but it definitely seems like she’s vying for the title of Lorde 2.0. The first time many people heard of the very red-headed Portland native was when the then 16-year old prodigy covered Hall and Oates‘ classic “Maneater” for the Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack back in 2013. She’s gearing up to introduce the world to her original work on a grand stage, playing not only WayHome but also this year’s Coachella, and there’s been a smattering of new material released over the course of the past few years. 

This is the latest offering, and it’s a heavy-hitter that makes Lorde’s “dark” songs sound like Anne Murray ballads. A demonic chorus of pitch-shifted vocals hit what sounds like the lowest bass note possible, and the whole affair evokes a nightmarish post-party scene in a Los Angeles ghetto at 3:00 AM. Mitchell’s husky voice sets her apart from the dozens of singers trying so hard to be the next Ella Yellich-O’Connor, and adds the dramatic weight this song requires.


29. What Happened to My Brother- Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle

There are sad songs. There are depressing songs. Then there’s a whole new level of bleak that only Mark Kozelek (and probably some Scottish bands) can reach. That’s the level you’ll find this song at, a punishingly somber ode to a brother lost to some sort of mental trauma. It’s not fully clear what it was that “happened”; it’s the aftermath that’s laid bare in the lyrics. Instrumentation is sparse, it’s the emptiness that says most about the lives of the family being described. It’s one of the most heartbreaking songs of the decade, the story of a once brilliant star that burnt out far too soon.


28. Midnight City- M83

After about a decade of being a critic’s darling, Anthony Gonzalez was (unwillingly?) thrust in the spotlight when his brand of celestial synth-pop became the hot new sound of 2011. It was the right song at the right time and ended up becoming one of the most important links between indie and pop. This was an anthem of youth for both clubber and tumblr, a crossover hit that appealed to every millennial listener.


27. Violet- The Districts

With its odd time signature, “Violet” is a shining example of how to try something different but still make a song people actually want to listen to. It’s not just the heartbeat rhythm that stands out either; pinpointing a definitive influence is challenging as well. Singer Rob Grote‘s vocals are absolutely informed by Hot Fuss era Brandon Flowers, and the lead synth line sounds like something from that record as well. The bouncy folk crossed with distortion guitars is a little more difficult to trace to a specific sound though, and makes for a song that can truly be called original in this day and age.


26. Terrible Love (Alternate Version)- The National

The National’s songs are sad by nature, but there was a special kind of sadness listening to “Terrible Love” and knowing that this was their apex. This was the perfect National song, ensconced within a structure that would only work once. It’s the band’s pinnacle, a stately anthem that fully and completely defines them and their sound. They knew it too, hence their re-recording of it for mass consumption.


25. Ambulance- The Amazing

There are only two times of the year you can listen to this song: November and January. There’s stark beauty to it that gets amplified by the cloudy grey skies of winter and barren tree branches, its full effect only felt in the sunless daylight of the cruelest months.


24. Shell Games- Bright Eyes

Conor Oberst‘s final lead single as Bright Eyes ended up being a triumphant middle finger to music critics who had lambasted 2007’s Cassadaga. Instead of another folk song Oberst delivered something resembling a Journey power anthem, complete with a fist-pumping call-to-action (??). It was a hilarious and bold move that resulted in an effective swansong and one of the band’s catchiest songs, period.


23. Bigger Than Us- White Lies

If I may be subjective for a moment: this is a deeply uncool song. It’s a straight up middle-of-the-road rock anthem, like if Joy Division wanted to rub shoulders with Hinder and OAR. It’s got that soaring, quasi-religious chorus that would fit in on any youth group’s Spotify playlist, despite the rest of the song being incredibly bleak and depressing. It just works though.


22. All the Rage Back Home- Interpol

El Pintor

After having their 2010 self-titled album critically mangled and losing their bassist, Paul Banks and company took a bit of a breather and dropped out of the spotlight.

They came back in 2014 with the best song they’ve ever written.

A dark, sleek post-punk anthem, it gallops along on an uncompromising rhythm section, powering relentlessly even through the bridge where most songs would reprise a drumless intro. The bass and drums are in lockstep with each other, a tense partnership that proves Paul Banks fills Carlos D’s shoes pretty well. It all culminates with the percussion suddenly getting louder, then ebbing away like the waves in the song’s video, pulling the song out to sea and fading to black. It’s a genial touch and proves that in the end, Interpol were the best band that came out of the early-00’s NY revival.


21. Bloody Mouth- Moons

Moons had no proper album, no label, and barely any online presence. What’s not a mystery though, is that this one-man project had a great track record. All TWO of his tracks were powerful, dark, tense, and perfectly titled. Where ‘Waves at Night’ sounded like a night on a dark beach, with dissonant digital haze smeared across keyboards from the bottom of the ocean, ‘Bloody Mouth’ is a harrowing, orchestral plea for relief. It’s that dark discomfort that not only hangs over the vast soundscape, but brings it to life.


20. Down- Anberlin

It’s a strange situation when a band decides to revisit (read: rip off) one of their own songs and the second iteration ends up being better than the first, but that’s exactly what happened here. The parts of 2007’s “The Unwinding Cable Car” are reconfigured into a new arrangement that ends up being devastatingly more heartwrenching than its predecessor ever was.


19. Afterlife- Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire have always known what their strengths are and have channeled all of them into the penultimate track from Reflektor. It’s pensive without being preachy, upbeat without being cloying, and nostalgic without being regressive. It’s the best of Springsteen and New Order in one endlessly melodic and satisfying package.


18. Sing Along- Sturgill Simpson

Time may finally be up for Bruce Springsteen as the patron saint of modern indie; the new wellspring being drawn from resides on the Texan ranch belonging to ZZ Top. That wellspring is what contemplative country singer Sturgill Simpson took a deep swig from before he crafted this bold and bizarre Frankenstein project called Sound and Fury: a concept album developed as the soundtrack to a Netflix anime special. Discarding nearly every vestige of his earthy acoustic trappings, Simpson takes the bluesy sound of the Black Keys and shoves it into a deep fryer. This song is Kentucky Fried Black Keys, with a big greasy riff and a devil rock disco strut that makes every similar act sound anemic by comparison.


17. You and I- Washed Out feat. Caroline Polachek

RIP chillwave, 2009-2011. The short-lived subgenre was poised to take over the indie world at the start of the decade, with most acts splitting the difference between Washed Out and Animal Collective. The most prominent chillwaver would go on to disown his creation in 2013, but not before he wrote the singularly most quintessential chillwave song. If there is one song that defines every single aspect of the genre effectively, it’s “You and I”. The Balearic beat, Vaseline-smeared vocals, and summertime synths all come together into the one beach jam to rule them all.


16. Can’t Deny My Love- Brandon Flowers

The Desired Effect

When Flowers released his first solo album, he didn’t really know who he wanted to be. As a result, Flamingo felt unfocused and strangely rough at times, a sort of demo collection that wasn’t really fleshed out. On The Desired Effect, Flowers knows exactly who he wants to be. He’s the Dragonball Z style fusion of Bryan Ferry and Bruce Springsteen. A lounge lizard with a heart of gold. A Vegas crooner with dreams of the heartland. The album itself gets spotty at times, but it produces some of Flowers’ best material to date, with or without The Killers. It’s doubly fresh because the last two songs the Killers released before the hiatus were total soft rock duds and it seemed like that was the direction any new material would head.

Instead we’ve gotten a dark, almost sinister cut of 80’s-indebted synth-rock. It’s a kitchen-sink single where every part fits so well (that one flute part!) that it’s almost too much of a good thing. There’s almost too many hooks. There’s almost too many accents. But Flowers knows to rein it in and keep it from getting overly crowded, setting himself apart from overproduced contemporaries. It’s a fantastic song and hopefully a sign that The Killers will one day slay again.


15. Circles- Digitalism

There’s a robotic precision to “Circles”, like if Daft Punk relocated to a dance club in Berlin and decided to write a euro-jam with Krafwerk. It’s a tightly-wound track with an appropriately circular hook laid over a razor-sharp drum track, looping around like the symbol for infinity pulsating on the club wall.


14. Lipstick- Ariel Pink

Of all the slacker kings that strolled onto the scene this decade, Ariel Pink was the most idiosyncratic. Mac Demarco, Mikal Cronin, and Kurt Vile kept their laconic soft rock relatively straightforward, but Pink went weird. “Lipstick” sounds like it was recorded off a cassette found in an attic in 1983, telling the story of the Black Dahlia murders over a distant pan flute hook. And somehow it all works, even with the strange squelches and cartoonish voices that float in and out over the course of the song.


13. Pay No Mind- Madeon feat. Passion Pit

Adventure

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I really disliked Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky”, and most of the accompanying album that was Random Access Memories. Not only did they betray their fanbase by completely ditching the groundbreaking sound they established, but they did it by taking on reductive, derivative funk. If that’s not bad enough, the sound caught on and soon every artist, pop and indie alike, were noodling around on jangly guitars. Even artists who had absolutely no business doing so, like Death Cab for Cutie and Nickelback.

“Pay No Mind” is what Daft Punk’s 2013 release should have sounded like. It does incorporate a few funk signatories, but it melds them with modern sensibilities so the song actually sounds like something new, something fresh. It’s also the best Passion Pit track of the decade, similar to the way “Uptown Funk” will forever be considered the best Bruno Mars song of the decade. Madeon is a talent to watch out for, as he’s part of a new wave of EDM artists (along with Urban Cone and Porter Robinson) more concerned about melody and structure rather than pumping a crowd of drug-addled kids up.


12. Coffee and Cigarettes- Jimmy Eat World

With a direct lineage to the early 90s emo explosion, Jimmy Eat World know exactly what that scene and the world it emerged in was like. With “Coffee and Cigarettes” they translate everything about that era into a concise four minute tale of a college graduate trying to make it big on the west coast. It’s not meant to be a tearjerker, but there’s something deeply melancholic about the sentiments expressed in the song. “Of all the things I think I’ll miss/ staying up with you/ coffee and cigarettes” Adkins sings, lamenting the loss of the little (read:best) things in life.


11.Don’t Take the Money- Bleachers

Interesting how the influence of the 80s is so incredibly prevalent in modern music, but it’s really only mined from a handful of artists? There’s a whole decade of sounds to use and yet most acts only take cues from U2, Prince, INXS, The Cure, and Bananarama.

Jack Antonoff though, being the drama geek he is, knows that the most emotive moments are sometimes also the most heavy-handed. And he’s not embarrassed to telegraph his appreciation for those moments. Imagine a trailer for a movie where Mary Elizabeth Winstead has to choose between the wealthy tech tycoon Paul Giamatti and starving artist Dave Franco and you have an idea of the earnest nature of this song. “Don’t Take the Money” has hints of Erasure, Simple Minds, and even a little Howard Jones in its DNA. It’s decidedly uncool, but after years of constant plastic jangle-funk “coolness” from every other band in the world, this New York-centred story of picking love over money is a welcome island of respite.


10. High Five- Sigrid

There’s not much that differentiates Sigrid‘s “High Five” from the music her fellow Scandinavian pop sprites are making- except for the fact that it is the jam of jams. Halfway through 2018 I’d believed I’d found a front runner for song of the year- and I was right. It’s beyond cliche to use “confection” as an analogy for pop music, but the instant rush this song delivers is incomparable to anything other than the flood of endorphins that hit your brain when you have yourself some sort of sugary treat.


9. Calgary- Bon Iver

One of the decade’s biggest glow-ups was Justin Vernon, who transformed from the guy who sequestered himself in a cabin after a break-up into the guy who loved messing with Auto-Tune even more than his pal Kanye West. Trading in his sparse acoustic arrangements into extravagant, sometimes convoluted electronic experiments, Vernon carved out his niche early in the decade by appearing on West’s “Lost in the Woods”. A year later he released the haunting self-titled record that would define his new sound and stand as his most pivotal work to date.


8. Northern Lights- Kate Boy

There are basically two key components that a song must have to deserve a coveted on these year-end lists: innovation and memorability. “Northern Lights” has both in spades. It’s a capital S Single that inverts pop music tropes while staying a pop song. Here are three things I could describe this song as: No Doubt if they had been an electronic band in this decade. The xx if they weren’t always depressed. Icona Pop’s “I Love It” if it weren’t a vacuous millennial empowerment anthem. It’s dark dance music, and it feels like it could be played at a party where everything is subtly sinister. Sure it’s got the big chorus, but it’s also got a spiky, cold outro, where synths jut out like shards of glass. It’s a song that simultaneously party and non-party at the same time, a Schrodinger’s Party sort of conundrum. Hopefully it heralds a collection of more of its ilk in the near future; Kate Boy are too good to remain in the shadows, even if they like it there.


7. Iscariot- Walk the Moon

The widely parodied second season finale of The OC worked so well in part because of the pitch perfect song choice. Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ lacks conventional song structure, allowing for a powerful build-up to the now legendary “mmm whatcha say” drop. ‘Iscariot’ works in a similar way, with the choruses hinting at the epic conclusion but allowing for a natural progression into it. If The OC were still running to this day, this song would no doubt be featured over a dramatic closing montage, complete with quick cuts, pained close ups, and in the last quiet 20 seconds, a fade to black cliffhanger.


6. Factory Flaws (Radio Edit)- Young Galaxy

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In 2015 Grimes surprised everyone when the album version of “Realiti” ended up taking everything good about the critically acclaimed demo and improving on it in every way, resulting in a sigh of relief from her fans.

It’s sort of the reverse situation here, but one that also has a great result. The album version of “Factory Flaws” was decent, but it sounded weak and underfed. It didn’t have any sort of drive, and for something on an official album was woefully underproduced. The single version of it though- now here’s a song.

From the first five seconds of the song you can tell it’s been fully realized. It pops in all the right moments, it’s clean, it’s concise. It sounds like an indie interpolation of Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe”. And it makes you wonder why the band didn’t put this version on their album. Regardless, the fact that it even exists is a boon, and we’re all the better for it.


5. Aunt Betty- Middle Class Rut

If rock music still had any sort of pull in pop culture MC Rut would be kings among the left. The duo are essentially Bernie Sanders’ platform vis a vis Jane’s Addiction and with this song took their template to an even darker, heavier place than their debut ever went. The scorched earth atmospherics are still there, but the band has beefed up. It’s most noticeable during the bridge, when the Perry Farrell-esque vocals meet the crashing cymbals like waves in an ocean of civil unrest. There’s still a lot of injustice out in the world, and MC Rut don’t want you to forget that.


4. Punching in a Dream- The Naked and Famous

There’s a moment in this song at about fifteen seconds in where one of the synths sounds like it’s short circuiting. It flickers for a split second, a tiny spurt before the song begins in earnest. It’s that moment that perfectly defines what this song meant in 2011: a breath before the floodgates opened and indie pop took over the world. To put it bluntly, this is a perfect, 10/10 pop song, with no less than three arena-sized hooks buried in here. First there’s the opening keyboard jingle, which already would suffice– it’d be a decent song if you just had that repeating throughout. But then you also get the “wai-ai-ai-ai-ait” in the chorus. And then finally, at 1:06, out of nowhere you get a post-chorus synth riff bigger than you ever could have imagined with your wild brain. AND THEN, at the end, they have all three hooks going simultaneously. It’s the essence of a sugar rush distilled completely into audio, a 4-minute stadium pop classic.


3. Flesh and Bone- The Killers

Even if you are not a fan of the band, there is one thing that you can’t deny about this song: this is the sound of a band that knows exactly who they are, and exploit those strengths to their full effect. It is without a doubt the best song they’ve ever written, because it mines all their past efforts and assembles the best parts with Voltron-like efficiency. The melancholic hook, the monolithic keyboards, the heartland rock guitar, and of course the lyrical melodrama, this time telling the underdog-turned-champion story of a struggling boxer. And then, in the last thirty seconds of the song, it all suddenly happens at once; a realization of the Killers’ entire conceit within a surging, triumphant final chorus.


2. Begin Again- Purity Ring

Another Eternity

Before Daft Punk came around and derailed pop music with funk, the rising sound was maximalist electro. It yielded some great, huge, big hits and was on the cusp of evolving before everyone ditched it to pretend they were back in 1975.

It’s paid off immensely. While their debut album was interesting, it leaned a little too far into xx-aping territory, and the dark minimalist sound got stale over the course of the record. Here, they’ve gone from timid to unstoppable. A devastatingly powerful hook is coupled with a crushing chorus that explodes unlike anything on the radio nowadays.

But let me tell you exactly what it is that makes this song a 100% perfect example of what pop music should be-

During the first part of the chorus, the chords stop and start. They’re dry. It’s still big, but then it gets bigger. The second part of the chorus lets the chords blend into each other, continuous. It also throws in a skittering hi-hat that makes the flow even stronger, and increases momentum tenfold. That is exactly what elevates this song to great status, and what music in this day and age should sound like. Why don’t other bands get this? This is essentially a perfect song, and what every artist should strive to create.


1.REALiTi- Grimes

Art Angels

When it was released as a demo in 2015, the whole indiesphere was perplexed. “This is a demo?” they asked, referring to the decent production value and incredible songwriting. Grimes took the positive feedback to heart and rerecorded the song for her new album and for a moment there was hesitation among the fanbase. Would the song still be good? Or would Claire Boucher have the drum track drop out during the chorus? Or turn it into a minimalist dirge?

The fears were unfounded and the song went largely untouched, but it was cleaned up and the difference between this and the demo version makes clear why the first take was a demo. Everything about the new version is crisp and more confident, a strong and florid collection of hooks upon hooks. The best song of the decade from the best album of the decade.