If I may be perfectly honest with you, this was a very easy list to whittle down. 2021 was a bad year for music and some of these songs are only on here by default; a better year would see them nowhere near the top. So some of these entries are going to read as less-than-rapturous hosannas even though these are technically my favourite songs of the year.
Dire times indeed.
Continue reading “Year End Music Countdowns #20: 2021”
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.
I typically save my insights for the music industry and music consumption for a section after my countdown. This observation, however, is more personal than anything and will be brought up during the countdown, so I’m going to lead with it:
A large amount of my favourite songs this year were discovered by complete accident.
I didn’t hear them on the radio, I didn’t hear them on iTunes, I didn’t hear them on Spotify, and I didn’t hear them at a concert.
I heard one over the PA in a department store. I heard one playing in someone’s car. I found one through a retweet. I heard in in a YouTube ad before a video.
There’s one that I wasn’t even intended to hear, and I’m technically “not permitted” to have it on my countdown because it was “not available in my area”- but I found a link to it on Reddit.
In fact, my very favourite song of the year I heard while tapping through Instagram Stories.
The common thread? These were all flukes. I was in the right place at the right time. Or the wrong place at the right time. I could have just as easily not been exposed to any of these songs.
That’s the nature of the industry now. You won’t find good quality music through traditional venues. You’ll find it everywhere else. In making music so accessible, the world has also made it that much harder to sift through the filler and find what’s relevant. What’s interesting. What’s good.
So here are the diamonds I’ve dug up from the dirt. The best songs of 2018.
Continue reading “Year End Music Countdowns #17: 2018”