Where has the time gone? This is TC’s top 40 albums of 2010.
Somehow, this is the 8th consecutive year that I’ll be counting down my favorite music. I’ve been part of this great event every year since 2003. Last year, we sent off an entire decade, but I can’t stop there. I’m back for more!
As you might know, my year-end countdowns have taken different formats over the years, from a stats-driven recap of the best singles to my subjective listing of the best albums. This time, I’m revisiting the rock-solid format that first launched back in 2007. I’ll begin with some memorable singles of each season and then make my way through the top 40 albums.
In recent years, the likes of Lady Gaga, Santogold, Tegan and Sara, and Lily Allen have been victorious. Who will take #1 this year? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out. We’ll have great fun sending off 2010 in style.
The long road to #1 starts all over again, right here. I hope you’ll join me for another journey through the best music of the year.
Sia’s cover of this hit by The Church was one of the first songs I got in 2010 and a great way to begin the year.
Second in the series of those great covers from the Lincoln vehicle commercials this past winter season.
The last of the bunch from the Lincoln ads; a very moody and trippy track from CSS that’s perfect for 2 AM.
The Fame Monster was my #1 album of 2009, but this hilarious, unforgettable video kicked off 2010.
Wonderful throwback music that sounds like it would fit in just as well in the ’40s as it does today.
The monster hit from late last year that made its way to SIRIUS Hits 1 and inhabited my brain this winter.
I actually got this video for free on Xbox LIVE in 2008 and it sat there until I rediscovered it early this year.
Cute single from the Valentine’s Day soundtrack. Basically the standard Taylor Swift formula. Works for me.
Sadly, I never took the time to appreciate Plastic Beach as a whole, but this first single was a great one.
Truth be told, it turned really grating really fast, but I will admit I liked this song for at least a few weeks.
Speaking of grating, this shout-fest from Avril Lavigne launched this year’s Alice in Wonderland soundtrack.
One of the best pop songs of the year, hands down. V.V. Brown should be much more popular than she is.
Yes, the one from 2008. Their new album kinda blows, but "Kids" was still floating around on radio this winter.
I kinda felt like a 40-year-old woman when I got into music by Michael Bublé this year. It’s just so pleasant.
The best song from an experimental EP of mind-blowing music. I’ve yet to listen to their full-length LP.
One of many songs I discovered by sitting around waiting for random videos to show up on mtvU. It still exists!
Who would’ve thought we would ever get 17 remixes of "Alligator"? Most of them are pretty fantastic.
The first track on the cute Volume Two. Regrettably, the album didn’t stick with me the way Volume One did.
I don’t know if the world really needed a full album of Hall & Oates covers, but they sure are enjoyable.
It’s the return of New Young Pony Club! The darker sound of The Optimist was a departure from their last album.
Believe it or not, this was a new song released by Billy Corgan that was both pleasant and enjoyable.
Rated R made my top 40 albums of 2009, but the hypnotizing, colorful "Rude Boy" video launched in 2010.
There’s not enough room on this one line to describe the misguided, underwhelming project that was Bionic.
Internet radio station WOXY.com died for the 3rd and final time in March. This was the very last song.
One of the most controversial videos and most chill songs of the year. My favorite from Erykah in years.
I didn’t get into the full album, but this great single from New Pornos sure brightened my spring.
Unlike last time, the album as a whole didn’t really do it for me, but I played this one a number of times.
Bonus track from the Slash album; also features Alice Cooper and friends. Who would’ve thought?
I’m not sure there was any added value of having Ludacris on a version of this track, but the song’s nice.
The most fiery, controversial video of the year. Naturally, this non-threatening M.I.A. photo to go with it.
This band has like 500 people in it. Forgiveness Rock Record was too much for me, but I liked this track.
It’s Blur, in 2010! I know!! This wonderful little song was released for the Record Store Day in April.
American Slang felt like The ’59 Sound Pt. 2, but I guess you can’t really argue with that. Solid group here.
STP returned this year with a lackluster album but pretty nice lead single. I kept playing this one.
No time for haters, Rivers Cuomo looked like he had a lot of fun doing this. B.O.B. worked it out really well.
Hey, remember M2M? Yeah, me neither. Marit Larsen was one of those M’s, and this is her own thing.
Such a pleasant little band with such a pleasant little tune. I dare you, watch the video and try not to smile.
Crystal Castles is too many blips and bleeps and not enough music for me, but I did like this track.
Hilarious video and mindblowing electronic funk song from a band with one of the best names I’ve heard.
Two Suns made my top 40 albums of 2009, but I really fell in love with the song "Daniel" this spring.
Kinda chill, haunting, and every bit strange, you can’t go wrong with this memorable track from The XX.
Deftones are alive and kickin’, and if you didn’t believe it, just listen to this powerhouse of a song.
B-side to "The Nights Are Cold" single; a decidedly improved arrangement of an already great track.
From last year’s great Music for Men, it’s one of the most fun videos and songs you’ll find anywhere.
If you’re looking for a more chilling song that makes you think a bit, look no further than this one.
Vita Chambers sure makes catchy pop. I think she’s also like 15. Not quite Willow Smith, but good god.
For once, Eminem returned with a legit single, not a pop culture parody. It worked well for him, too!
Allison Moorer is a little bit country, a little bit folk, a little bit pop, and just the right combination for me.
"What a little slut!" The teaser that started it all. We’ll be seeing more of Sky throughout the seasons.
Jay-Z and Mr. Hudson came to SNL and dedicated "Young Forever" to Betty White. It was beautiful.
My most played song of the year (outside the top 40 albums), with a hypnotizing, life-as-MySpace video.
Hands was my #8 album of 2009, but the video for "Remedy" continued to be a delight this summer.
More from last year’s #1, The Fame Monster. What will 2011 have in store for Lady Gaga? I can’t wait!
You can always be sure The Roots will bring excellence; their reimagined "Dear God 2.0" is no exception.
What is it with those Twilight soundtracks? They’re alarmingly great, and they just keep getting better.
Last year, La Roux made it to my top 40 albums. This summer, "Quicksand" brightened up the season.
Such a likable, friendly band. The video for "Dance Floor" with Elijah Wood was a highlight of the summer.
My girls Tegan and Sara covered this song, which inspired me to check out the original. It’s great!
Here it is, the best single from one of the hottest new talents of 2010, the motherfuckin’ monster herself.
Speaking of, here’s the monster hit of the summer. You couldn’t escape it, and you wouldn’t want to.
This guy looks like a douche and he’s from Duke, but did I snap my fingers to this hot track? You bet I did.
While we’re at it, the other monster hit of the summer. This era, Eminem did everything right for once.
The scandalous "17" gave way to the glam art pop smash "One" this summer. Even more Sky in the fall!
You know who will brighten your day if you just play one of her songs? Natasha Bedingfield, that’s who.
I’ve been fond of the Tokyo Police Club for a few years now; they always put out great singles and videos.
Don’t let the night take you. Just listen to Chelley a few times and then you, too, will take the night.
Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley and with The Watson Twins) came back for more in 2010 with a new project.
Members of Dinosaur Jr. and Cobra Verde formed this great group. P.S. How about that album art?
Who doesn’t love LIGHTS? She released an acoustic EP that featured this mindblowing Rancid cover.
This wonderful duo’s music will make you chill out and rock out at the same time. Impossible? No!
"Very Busy People" is an enjoyable song that pokes some fun at our hyper-connected, always-on lifestyle.
This is one of the best electronic tracks of the entire year if you ask me, and why wouldn’t you ask me?
I’m pretty sure this is from last year, but I don’t really care, I played "Little Secrets" a lot this summer.
MeTalkPretty is an unsigned band that won an mtvU contest and got their video in rotation. Pretty nice!
The Killers frontman has stepped out on his own. "Crossfire" was a nice video with a twist-of-fate story.
You got Richard Vission, Static Revenger, and Luciana? You got the hottest dance track of the summer.
I affectionately called them "Paramore Jr." last year. They took a turn for dance-pop with this fun song.
"Booty Bounce" is the track that powers "Like A G6", so the way I look at it, get your hits from the source.
If you don’t experience great joy when you hear Cee Lo’s gleeful "Fuck You", then you have no soul!
Weezer and the Jackass crew together, with a song called "Memories"? There’s nostalgia everywhere.
Jackass, continued. You know why Karen O. is the best? Just the best? This right here is the reason.
Even more Sky Ferreira; the last appearance for 2010. Let’s hope we see the release of an album in 2011.
Tonight I’m gonna smack a bitch. Sometimes you gotta tell it like it is, and Kimberly Cole does just that.
It’s called Just Kait because she does it all. Vocals, guitar, bass, drums. She’s her own one-woman band.
The spark and soul of Rockferry is nowhere to be found on Endlessly, but oh well, can’t win ’em all.
I don’t know anything about Anna Rose except I stumbled upon "Picture" and it’s great. There you go!
Sarah Harmer and Neko Case together on one song? That’s a Canadian powerhouse. Doesn’t get better.
Let’s face it, Marnie Stern is crazy, but in the best ways. The guitar work on "For Ash" will blow your mind.
BANG BANG BANG. What’s that? "Get Some" is here. Lykke Li is great; "Get Some" is ridiculous.
Something was off about Loud compared to Rihanna’s previous efforts, but "Only Girl" still lit up the fall.
How is it that these guys never run out of great ideas for their music videos? Keeping the genre alive.
"We No Speak Americano" is a repetitive, infectious, brilliant piece of work that inhabits your brain.
The first time I heard it, I thought, wait, I’m listening to the pop station? The next week, I was addicted.
Quite the innovative ensemble. This track reminds me a lot of the "Oompa Loompa" song, no joke.
Not content with just Animal (to come on my top 40), Ke$ha returned to take over the fall with this one.
Probably the most underrated dance-pop track of the year. Kelly Rowland brings it in the best ways.
"Raise Your Glass" is the feel-good pop anthem for the rest of us: Just be yourself, unapologetically.
Who would’ve thought Will Smith’s daughter would start to take over the world at only 9 or 10 years old?
Dum Dum Girls are indie noise-ish pop from California. This track will get you hooked in one listen.
Canadian hip-hop at its finest. "We, Myself And I" sounds like a bunch of different genres in a blender.
James Blake recorded a chilling dubstep take on Feist’s 2007 masterpiece, and it works pretty well.
Nelly is still around? Who would’ve thought? "Just A Dream" is pretty generic, but I liked it anyway.
It’s the kind of no-nonsense ’00s power pop that I liked 8 years ago, except it’s 2010 and it’s a new band.
A Year Without Rain didn’t make my top 40 albums, but Selena is still a resilient new force in pop.
LIGHTS returned again (after her acoustic EP) with this charming single that would make anyone smile.
The Lonely Island somehow topped themselves in terms of silliness. No better way to send off 2010!
Top 40 Albums
Every year, I like to begin the list with an album that’s particularly memorable but unconventional. This year, Girl Talk fits the bill. All Day is a beast of an album, another non-stop mashup marathon that lasts over an hour. My favorite part? The brilliant amalgamation of the angriest song in the world, "Ante Up" by M.O.P., with the happiest song in the world, "Party In The U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus. I was so entertained by the unlikely blend that I made my own extended remix of it. Girl Talk is the master of his craft, and if you didn’t think so already, All Day will make you a believer.
Lillix is still around? Yeah, I had no idea either! After shedding most of their extraneous band members, the twice-double-named Tasha-Ray and Lacey-Lee decided to continue the project as an outlet for whatever music they felt like creating with whoever felt like joining them, more akin to a Tegan and Sara than a traditional band. They resurrected the original name of their group, Tigerlily, which dates back to 1997, as the title of their newest album. It’s upbeat, it’s fun, and it can’t be placed solidly into any particular category. Lillix are still finding their ground as a newly independent pop duo, but Tigerlily works extremely well. I hope it’s far from the last we hear of Lillix.
I’m more-or-less contractually obligated to include my sisters on my year-end countdowns, but Talking To You, Talking To Me could earn its place based on the album art alone. Isn’t it beautiful? Anyway, that’s beside the point. The album itself sounds decidedly different than 2008’s Fire Songs, but I think it’s a welcome evolution. Chandra and Leigh venture into many different styles of pop that they didn’t even touch on the last album. You can still trace their roots back to the alternative country and indie folk style that got them started, but it’s hard to categorize at this point. I recommend "You And Me" as an accessible track to help you appreciate The Watson Twins and their excellent work.
It’s always a joy to write these year-end lists because I get the opportunity to learn more about artists I’ve discovered from various sources throughout the year. Case in point, Lucy Schwartz. I only recently found out about this charming singer, songwriter, and pianist, but did you know she released her debut album in 2007 and was featured on Arrested Development back then? I didn’t! These days, she’s 21 years old and is described as an old soul with a exuberant voice, a description I liked so much that I lifted it straight from another review of Life In Letters. The best place to start is with her excellent song "Graveyard" and then you, too, will find yourself hooked on Lucy Schwartz.
Don’t tell Fitz and the Tantrums that it’s the 2010s, because they’ve been transported here from another time. This band is doing classic soul like it’s the ’60s, and they couldn’t be doing it better. Pickin’ Up The Pieces brings together all the usual elements of a traditional band in addition to a soul singer, church organs, and a horn section. Put it all together and you’ve got some unforgettable music that will be stuck in your head for days after you listen. This is a band that I want to see in concert; I can only imagine it’s pretty mindblowing. The single "Moneygrabber" is a good place to start your journey through time with Fitz and the Tantrums; also check out "Dear Mr. President" and the title track.
The Hold Steady first made an appearance on my year-end lists in 2007 with Boys And Girls In America, a truly excellent album that I totally missed out on when it was released the previous year but discovered later thanks to a friend of mine. That particular album was so much of an experience that it remains my favorite Hold Steady album to this day, but their continued efforts have still managed to register on my scale of the best music. I’ve always enjoyed the unique storytelling style of The Hold Steady’s music, and this album is no different in that regard. Songs like "The Weekenders", "Our Whole Lives", and "The Sweet Part Of The City" make Heaven Is Whenever a keeper.
I’ve been a casual fan of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists for many years now, ever since I spotted the video for "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?" back in early 2003 or so, but I think it’s fair to say I’ve never been a dedicated follower of the band. I gave a quick listen but otherwise didn’t pay much attention to their follow-up efforts in ’04 and ’07. That all changed this year with The Brutalist Bricks, a powerhouse of an album that would turn anyone into an Rx faithful. Tracks like "Even Heroes Have To Die" and "Where Was My Brain?" demonstrate that Ted Leo and friends are still going strong, and with The Brutalist Bricks, they have managed to put out their best release in a long time.
Courtney Love took a page out of the Billy Corgan playbook last year when she decided to resurrect "Hole" as the name of her band despite the fact she was the only remaining member and everyone else would be newcomers. The assumed goal, of course, was to give her work more visibility than it would get as just "Courtney Love" alone, and that definitely happened. But with Nobody’s Daughter, we also saw a return to a more focused Love, one who knows how to record top quality music, has an offbeat and oddly charming stage presence, and appears to be in control. Genuinely enjoyable tracks from Nobody’s Daughter like "Skinny Little Bitch", "Samantha", and "Pacific Coast Highway" are proof positive that no matter the name of the band, it’s time to take Courtney Love seriously again.
Despite the fact KT Tunstall’s debut album Eye To The Telescope was recorded in 2004, it didn’t make its way to the U.S. until ’06, setting us up for two great albums in as many years, what with the release of Drastic Fantastic in ’07. Since then, however, things were quiet in the world of KT Tunstall. Once her Drastic Fantastic tour wrapped up, she spent some time traveling the world, particularly the Arctic, South America, and India, all of which gave her the inspiration behind some of the songs on this year’s Tiger Suit, particularly the opener "Uummannaq Song", named after the town in Greenland. Much of the album tends to follow an electronic path, but it doesn’t stray too far from expectations. "Fade Like A Shadow" and "Still A Weirdo" are classic KT, and you can’t really argue with that. Tiger Suit is pretty solid.
The Black Keys have come a long way since the days of "10 A.M. Automatic", which was already more than half a decade ago, believe it or not. They earned their massive commercial hit with "Tighten Up" this year, a track that you’ve likely heard dozens of times even if you think you’ve never heard of The Black Keys in your life. It couldn’t have happened to a better band. Brothers is modern rock ‘n roll at its best and a welcome diversion from whatever else has been playing on rock radio the last few years. While I’m here, let me also say I greatly enjoyed "Ohio", an unreleased tune from their contribution to Record Store Day back in April, a bonus 7" record known as Greetings from Akron, Ohio. You know who else showed up on that record? Akron’s finest. They’ve been around over 30 years, and they’re coming up later.
Sea Of Cowards marks a change in the expected order of things from Jack White. In recent years, we’ve seen him alternate between his projects, but this time we got two albums in a row from The Dead Weather. That threw off my expectations, so I let the album sit for most of the year without giving it a fair chance. Luckily, I managed to right that wrong in the final few days of the year. I sat down with Sea Of Cowards and let it play many times. The result? I learned that this album is insane. Tracks like "Die By The Drop" are a bit unbalanced, but others like "I’m Mad" are just plain deranged. Alison Mosshart goes off the rails in ways you must hear for yourself to understand. Jack White himself is out of control, too. You might think he’d turn blasé and settle down as the years go by, but you would be wrong, my friend. You would be so wrong.
Glasser is Cameron Mesirow, a musician from California that got her start by firing up GarageBand and singing over a wild combination of the included beats and loops. That earned her a spot on an eMusic compilation nearly two years ago, and her star has been rising slowly but surely ever since. How do you describe Glasser? Well, her music is a little bit Bat for Lashes and a little bit Florence & The Machine, but there’s something about it that feels looser, less packaged. There’s a display of unfiltered individual creativity evident on Ring that feels at once spooky, nostalgic, and artful. I first discovered her song "Mirrorage" thanks to its accompanying video, the visuals of which are a perfect match for the ambience of her music. Some other top tracks to check out include "Apply" and "Home", but really, while you’re at it, just listen to the whole album. Ring is something you need to take the time to experience for yourself.
I feel like the rest of the world has already told you everything you might ever need to know about LCD Soundsystem, so instead I’ll just tell you about my personal experience. Nearly six years ago, "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" introduced me to the project, and I was sold right away. Later firebrand tracks like "North American Scum" kept me on board. In recent years, I’ve started to appreciate the more sincere works like "All My Friends" even more so than I did originally. This Is Happening brought more of the best of both worlds, epitomized by "Dance Yrself Clean", the nearly 9 minute long monster production. James Murphy says This Is Happening is the last LCD Soundsystem album. I don’t know if that’s true, but one way or the other, no matter what he decides to call it, I hope Murphy sticks around to bend the limits of various genres and challenge our expectations in the variety of unique, memorable ways he has so brilliantly pioneered.
Broken Bells is the pairing of James Mercer, the lead singer of The Shins, with Danger Mouse, the seemingly infallible producer behind Gnarls Barkley and a veritable cavalcade of modern rock albums in recent years. Knowing this, you might expect Broken Bells to be one of the best albums of the year, and you’d be right! Hence, its placement on the list. Whether it’s the psychedelic aura of "Citizen", the falsetto reaches of "The Ghost Inside", or the highly addictive quality of my own favorite track "October", you can’t go wrong with Broken Bells. With any luck, this self-titled effort from Broken Bells will be just the first of many albums we’re lucky enough to get out of this project.
The newest album from French pop singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, IRM was the first item labeled "2010" that mysteriously made its way into my personal music collection before the year even began. It was released in France near the end of 2009, and then it came to the UK and the U.S. in the first few weeks of 2010. With it being on the borderline like that, I decided to hold off until now to consider it for my top 40 albums. I’m glad I made that decision, as it gave me a full year to appreciate the album. The title IRM is the French equivalent of the acronym "MRI", the medical imaging technology that helped save Charlotte’s life after she suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2007 from a water skiing accident. She turned to Beck to write and produce the music for IRM. The lead single "Heaven Can Wait" features him; its haunting music video was excellent beyond words. IRM explores the themes of fear, mystery and anxiety in an enduring way that only Beck can imagine and Charlotte can realize. This is an album that means so much more once you understand how it came to be.
It was an unlikely resurrection of Akron’s hometown pride. Devo last released an album in 1990, and despite a few attempts here and there over the years, by all indications I think it’s safe to say nobody thought we’d actually see another one. Well, forget about that, because we did. Something For Everybody is quite the weird concept, but what else would you expect from Devo? The premise was, Devo would launch a marketing campaign, focus groups, and scientific studies to determine what the public ("The American People", if you will) wanted out of a new Devo album. Even their signature red "energy dome" got changed to blue. It was crazy, it was eccentric… and it worked. Devo put out a shockingly great set of songs, powered first and foremost if you ask me by "Human Rocket", an unbeatable and self-aware Devo anthem. Their live stage shows were out of this world. As it turns out, Something For Everybody may have been pretty accurate.
Ellie Goulding is a singer-songwriter and guitarist from London who rose to fame after topping the BBC Sound of 2010 poll and winning the Critics’ Choice award at the 2010 BRIT Awards. Her debut single "Under The Sheets" premiered on BBC Radio 1 in late 2009 and gained in popularity as the months went by; she also toured as the opening act for Little Boots, which gained her many new fans. Ellie Goulding’s music might not be as confrontational as Lily Allen, as bombastic as Amy Winehouse, or as deep and reflective as Adele, but she manages to hit a happy medium of electronic pop that works simply and beautifully. Her debut album Lights was released in the UK in early 2010 and has been slowly making its way around the world since. Some of my favorite tracks include "Every Time You Go", "The Writer", and "Starry Eyed"; the re-release Bright Lights very late in the year added some more great tracks like "Lights" and "Your Song" as well. Ellie is a true talent and she’s just getting started. This year, the UK. Next year, the world.
Truth be told, I don’t even remember how I first heard Brooke Fraser late this year, but I’m glad I did. Brooke is from New Zealand and specializes in that kind of pop/folk, borderline alternative country that I love. I began to appreciate her music quickly due to its refreshing sincerity, but also because of the content of her lyrics. The opener "Something In The Water" is a nice love song, but on the rest of the album, she covers a wide array of other topics with creativity and grace. "Flags" is about cultural injustice; "Ice On Her Lashes" is about dealing with death; and the standout track, "Betty" is the story of a woman who hides everything about herself, all the way down to a red birthmark in the shape of Canada that she covers up out of embarrassment. You’ve got Toronto hiding on your hip, honey, Brooke sings in the hook. You won’t find many albums that are more uniquely charming than this one. Flags is one of the best discoveries of the year.
Karen Elson had been a model for many years when she met Jack White on the set of the "Blue Orchid" video shoot in early 2005. The two apparently hit it off right away; they were married by June of that year. Karen’s career in music had been slowly coming into existence; she recorded backup vocals for Robert Plant in 2003, and then in 2006 she recorded a duet with Cat Power, a cover of "I Love You (Me Either)" for a tribute album to French musician Serge Gainsbourg, father of Charlotte, the author of my #26 album. (Wait, what just happened there? It’s like six degrees of separation back to my own year-end list. I may have shifted the space-time continuum.) Anyway, Jack White liked Karen’s singing and writing so much, he convinced her to release an album of songs this year, which was produced by Mr. White himself and released on his label, Third Man Records. No surprise, it’s great. The Ghost Who Walks is a little bit folk, blues, rock, country, and pop. The title track was one of my most played songs of 2010; "The Birds They Circle" and "The Truth Is In The Dirt" are other winners. Karen Elson is a true talent. Jack White approves; I approve; what else do you need?
The top of the lower half of the year-end belongs to Goldfrapp. Not afraid to take on a number of different styles over the years, the electronic duo have explored the sounds of ambience, glam rock, and dance since their debut a decade ago. Head First brings yet another musical direction for Goldfrapp, this time ’80s synth-pop. Many other reviewers have taken note of the influences from ABBA and Olivia Newton-John in the Xanadu era. Well, I’m on board. I guess I first got on the Goldfrapp train a few years ago when I discovered "Ooh La La" and "Strict Machine" from the back catalog, but this is the first time one of their albums has made its way onto my list. I knew this was going to be a good one as soon as I heard the first single "Rocket"; it got even better with "Alive" and its accompanying video, a bizarre and dark concept that starts with an ’80s workout VHS tape and ends with goths and vampires and blood and destruction. If that’s not enough for you, then what is? Even better, Head First is just 9 great songs. Short album! It has all you need and nothing you don’t.
Splitting the list at #20 this year is Taylor Swift. Last year at this time, Taylor was a universally acclaimed media darling, but since then, she’s managed to turn into a fairly divisive figure. Some have labeled her music repetitive and bland; others have taken aim at her personal life. But I won’t buy into that. While it’s true Taylor made a few missteps this year (such as the melodramatic and totally unnecessary "Innocent"), her otherwise excellent Speak Now is one of the best pop albums of 2010. Taylor Swift does a few things really well: The hopeless romantic teenage girl fairytale, the truly sincere innocence, the revenge of the ex-girlfriend, and the sometimes brutal honesty. Speak Now gives us all of that, and then some. The best tracks include the heartbreaking "Back To December" and "Never Grow Up", the rambunctious "Better Than Revenge" and "The Story Of Us", and the epic "Enchanted", my overall favorite. Taylor is no longer everything to everyone, but I like her, I like Speak Now, and I look forward to her further musical evolution in the future.
Her self-titled debut was one of my favorite albums of 2003, and then Fefe Dobson totally dropped off the map. The last I remember hearing of her was the pre-release track "Don’t Let It Go To Your Head" from 2005. After countless delays, her follow-up album Sunday Love was eventually cancelled and never saw the light of day. She then parted ways with her label. I thought her star had faded. "Don’t Let It Go To Your Head" was re-recorded by Jordin Sparks in 2009, and another Fefe track from the lost era, "As A Blonde" was given to Selena Gomez for her debut album. Given these events, I was pleasantly surprised to find out Fefe had gone independent and would release a brand new album in 2010. It was a long process in itself. "I Want You" was released some 18 months ago, and Joy didn’t hit the streets until this November. That said, the long wait paid off. "Ghost" and "Stuttering" are some of the best pop singles of the year. Other tracks like "Can’t Breathe" featuring Orianthi are well-crafted and no-nonsense pop/rock, and the hilariously titled "You Bitch" is guaranteed fun. Fefe Dobson is back in full effect, and that is a wonderful thing to be able to say.
I think if Arcade Fire had a motto, it would be go hard or go home. Arcade Fire doesn’t just deliver albums, they deliver thought-provoking concepts and experiences. The Suburbs is another trip in itself; a beast of a project. In lead singer and songwriter Win Butler’s words, the album is "a letter from the suburbs", not necessarily a love letter to it or an indictment of it. The album explores the despondence and desolation that comes from being stuck in such a soul-crushing atmosphere, but it also demonstrates there’s a flicker of life hiding underneath even the most hopeless of situations. Some of my favorite tracks include "Ready To Start", "Month Of May", "We Used To Wait", and the title track, but the clear winner here is "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)", which I like to think of as like Arcade Fire: The Song. I mean, "Sprawl II" is it, man. It has everything. Listen to every word of that song, and then listen to it again. In terms of the sheer quality and passion of the music, The Suburbs is easily one of the best albums of the year. Arcade Fire wins again.
My Best Friend Is You marks the return of Kate Nash following her debut album Made Of Bricks a couple of years ago. The first track to be released early this year was "I Just Love You More", a powerhouse of a song with Kate Nash squawking and shouting over a true headbanger of a beat. It was followed shortly after by "Do-Wah-Doo", a much poppier, pleasant track (with decidedly less pleasant subject matter in the lyrics, but such is the Kate Nash charm) that’s along the lines of "Foundations" from a few years back. The rest of the album is fairly good and presents a rather schizophrenic range of styles, but those two tracks are just the best. I played them dozens and dozens of times; more than most other songs all year. Stealing a line from another review, My Best Friend Is You is the best of "infatuation, jealousy, lust, and betrayal" in a way that only Kate Nash can deliver. She’s a firecracker; I’m glad we have her around.
Uffie is the anti-pop star. Forget everything you know about the way music is supposed to work. Uffie had been part of the underground electronic scene in France since the mid-2000s thanks to her relationship with and connections to a popular DJ and producer there. She has been (very) slowly releasing tracks since then, beginning with "Pop The Glock" all the way back in 2006. Most of those tracks made their way onto her debut album that finally came out this year, Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans, making it feel like somewhat of an Uffie: Greatest Hits. So what is Uffie like as a vocalist? The best term I’ve seen to describe her style is "anti-flow", an intentionally stunted delivery style that blends rapping, shouting, singing, and talking. In other words, a more organically derived Ke$ha before Ke$ha was even a thing. Uffie is crazy, sharp-witted, and notorious. The infectious "Neuneu", the very addictive title track, and the explosive "MC’s Can Kiss" are among my favorite tracks. It’s hard telling where Uffie will go from here, but Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans was worth the wait.
The politics of Katy Perry too often get in the way of her hits. Whether it’s the insensitive nature and dubious intent of her past debut singles "Ur So Gay" and "I Kissed A Girl", or the blatant hypocrisy that displays itself when she trots out her Christian upbringing (see her criticism of Lady Gaga and her appearance on Letterman over the summer), there’s a lot to bemoan about Katy Perry, the persona. I said it in 2008: If you want to enjoy the music of Katy Perry, you have to turn your brain off at the door. So you can be sure when Teenage Dream hit the scene, I promptly shut down my neurons once again. "California Gurls" featuring Snoop Dogg was a perfectly crafted work of pop music, the immediate sure-fire hit of the early summer. "Teenage Dream" itself, an adorable anthem of a song, came shortly after. Other tracks like "Firework" and "Circle The Drain" proved worthy as well. Say what you will about Katy Perry herself, but she’s the unavoidable pin-up girl of our generation, and some of today’s best pop music bears her name.
If there’s one thing you should know about my year-end lists, it’s that I’m honest and unapologetic about the music I listened to the most throughout the year. Case in point: Ke$ha. The placement of Animal on my top 40 albums says nothing about its artistic merit or lack thereof. Everyone knows this is party music, plain and simple, and there’s nothing wrong with that. From the moment "Tik Tok" came out of nowhere in the summer of 2009, I was sold. Was it some smart piece of art pop? Not even close, but it was never supposed to be. It was meant to be fun, and it was. Ke$ha came at the right time. Animal itself arrived in the first few days of 2010 and I enjoyed listening to it all year long. "Blah Blah Blah", "Your Love Is My Drug", "Take It Off", "Party At A Rich Dude’s House" and other tracks on Animal are certified hits. But the song that defined Ke$ha this year was "We R Who We R", which arrived in the fall as part of her bonus EP, Cannibal. "We R Who We R" is the anti-anthem. Tonight we’re going hard, just like the world is ours; you know we’re superstars, we are who we are. In other words, just lighten up for once and be silly; be yourself. Tell me, how can you argue with that? Too many things in this world are combative and depressing; don’t hate Ke$ha for embracing the lighter side of life.
The girls of The Like grew up around music. Vocalist and lead guitarist Elizabeth Berg is the daughter of record producer Tony Berg, and drummer Tennessee Thomas is the daughter of Pete Thomas, longtime drummer for Elvis Costello. With that kind of family history, it’s no wonder they started their own band. The Like first arrived in 2005 with their debut album, Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?, which included the track "What I Say And What I Mean", one of my favorites of that year. But then the band quickly vanished from the scene, presumably never to be seen again. So I was pretty shocked earlier this year when I stumbled upon the video for "He’s Not A Boy", one of the singles from their new album Release Me. The resurrection of The Like! How did this happen? As it turns out, they went to Brooklyn last year to work with Mark Ronson, and if there’s one thing we know about the Ronson family, they can do no wrong. Release Me is a vastly different direction for The Like. Gone is the typical ’00s alternative rock, replaced with a throwback to classic girl groups of the ’60s. If that sounds great, that’s because it is. The whole thing is done really well. Besides "He’s Not A Boy", some of my other favorite songs include "Wishing He Was Dead", "Walk Of Shame", "Don’t Make A Sound" and "Tell Me Why", the bonus track. The new The Like is retro fabulous, and I couldn’t be happier they’ve made a successful comeback.
I like hard-edged female-fronted rock bands and I like Toronto, so it’s only natural I’d save a spot on my top 40 albums for Hunter Valentine, a hard-edged female-fronted rock band from Toronto. I discovered the band’s lead single "The Stalker" passively this spring while watching a couple hours of music videos. Hunter Valentine reminds me a bit of The Distillers, Sahara Hotnights, and Tsunami Bomb, maybe if you took a few elements from all those bands and put them in a blender. Lessons From The Late Night is actually an EP of 7 songs, just 22 minutes in total, but it has better quality and consistency than a lot of full-length albums released this year. I’ve played the entire EP more than a dozen times and it’s hard to single out particular tracks, so I’ll just name them all. Beyond the aforementioned lead single, "Treadmills Of Love", "Revenge", "Scarface", "Barbara Jean", "She Only Loves Me When She’s Wasted", and "A Youthful Existence" are all top-notch rock songs. I’m glad I discovered this gem of a band and I wish them success.
Kylie Minogue is a true legend of pop music: Aphrodite is her 11th studio album, released 22 years after her debut. I’ve had a special place in my heart for Kylie throughout my entire life, no joke. Her version of "The Locomotion" was one of my favorite songs as a small child, and I’ve been following her music ever since, all the way through her rather excellent X a few years ago and Aphrodite this year. Kylie has been through just about everything at this point, and with Aphrodite, she has emerged victorious once again. Her reign this year began with the beautiful song "All The Lovers", the lead single and one of the best moments of the spring and early summer. The rest of the album hit during the first few weeks of summer and things got even better. "Get Outta My Way", "Closer", "Better Than Today", "Cupid Boy", "Can’t Beat The Feeling", and of course the title track "Aphrodite" are among the songs I’ve enjoyed the most. Executive producer Stuart Price said it perfectly: "Kylie is doing pop dance music at her best. When you look in your mind’s eye at everything Kylie is, it’s on this record." Aphrodite is indeed the best of Kylie Minogue: Powerful, emotional, meaningful, and beautiful.
Last year at this time, Florence & The Machine were mostly exclusive to the UK, with the rest of the world yet to discover their talent. BBC’s series Introducing helped launch them over there, but it was the release of "Dog Days Are Over" as a single in early 2010 that got them known in the U.S. as media outlets here picked up on the buzz. MTV also surprised a lot of us by nominating Florence & The Machine for a bunch of Video Music Awards and inviting them to perform on the show this year. Their popularity soared even higher with the inclusion of "Heavy In Your Arms" on the Eclipse soundtrack, which would later be included on a re-release of their blockbuster album, Lungs. This album contains elements of baroque pop, goth/art rock, and a bit of soul. "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)", "Blinding" and "Hurricane Drunk" are other must-listen tracks that will get you addicted to Florence Welch and her extraordinary machine. Lungs is my #10 album of 2010.
Sara Bareilles first hit the major leagues in 2007 when iTunes featured her debut single "Love Song" as a free download. She became a fixture on pop and AC radio by early 2008, and her debut album Little Voice dominated much of the first half of that year. Still, it would have been easy at the time to write her off as a one-hit wonder. If you fell into that group, well, you sure were proven wrong. Sara Bareilles came back strong this year with Kaleidoscope Heart, leading off with "King Of Anything", hands down one of my favorite songs of the year. I’m pretty sure I’ve played it more times than any other song that came out in 2010. The rest of the album proved to be great, too, surpassing the quality of her debut if you ask me. Other tracks you must hear include "Uncharted", "Gonna Get Over You", "Say You’re Sorry" and the "King Of Anything" strings version included as a bonus track. Sara is here to stay. Kaleidoscope Heart is my #9 album of 2010.
The resurgence of low-fidelity surf rock happened this year and its name is Best Coast. In case it isn’t completely and totally obvious, they’re from California. Led by Bethany Cosentino, their lazy summer anthem "When I’m With You" started making the rounds early in the year and peaked in the summer, the perfect time to listen to Best Coast. They went on to release Crazy For You, which took that concept and expanded it into an entire album. "Boyfriend", "Our Deal", "Bratty B", and the title track are all great selections. I had the pleasure of seeing Best Coast live as part of Midpoint Music Festival in the fall, and it was a super chill good time that you’d be hard pressed to beat. The best part? Bethany and crew continued to hang out after the show, sitting around a table and having pretty long conversations with whoever felt like joining them. What a carefree, down to earth band. Bethany talked to Pitchfork early this year and described Crazy For You thusly: "I talk about weed and my cat and being lazy a lot." I love it. I mean, with Best Coast, what you see is what you get. P.S. It’s true that Bethany’s cat, Snacks, is the coolest cat on the block. Crazy For You is my #8 album of 2010.
Janelle Monáe is a sight to be seen and a sound to be heard. Signed to Bad Boy Records in 2008, most of the world took notice to her this year when she performed "Tightrope" featuring Big Boi on the Late Show with David Letterman. It was a mind-blowing, memorable performance, but if that’s all you know about Janelle Monáe, you’ve missed out on a lot.
Her album The ArchAndroid is the second and third "suite" of a series called Metropolis, a grand concept that began with the first "suite", The Chase EP in 2007. Metropolis got its name from the 1927 silent film of the same name, which Janelle has referred to as "the godfather of science-fiction movies" in interviews. Specifically in The ArchAndroid, Janelle takes on the alter ego Cindy Mayweather, an android from the future. In her vision, androids are the "other" in future society; a segregated minority. "I feel like all of us, whether in the majority or the minority, felt like the ‘other’ at some point," she said. Those themes take The ArchAndroid from future sci-fi to past and present classism and politics. It’s a wonder to take in and understand, and that’s in addition to the already top-shelf musical quality of the album. I’ve gone on too long already, so I’ll just say "Cold War" (and its emotional, one-take video) and "Come Alive (War Of The Roses)" are the best.
I got to see Janelle Monáe with Of Montreal live in concert in September, and it was one of the craziest, over the top, totally ridiculous stage shows I’ve ever seen. It was not just a concert, it was an other-worldly experience. It was a three-hour transformation of a small space, that tiny venue in my hometown, into an unbelievable futuristic world. That show made me appreciate The ArchAndroid even more than I already did. Look, either Janelle Monáe has already blown your mind, or she soon will. Take notice. The ArchAndroid is my #7 album of 2010.
Just three years ago, Marina Diamandis was selling a self-produced EP of songs on her MySpace page, pressing them onto CD-R discs and shipping them out to whoever would buy them. She sold 70 copies. Now, she’s taking over the world. With a little help from Neon Gold Records, she got to tour around the UK (her home) as well as Australia as an opening act; she eventually got signed to 679 Recordings to produce her debut album. Deviating from the usual band name premise, she said, "I am Marina. You are the Diamonds." Her first single "Mowgli’s Road" began to take off in the UK, and in early 2010, she took second place in the BBC Sound of 2010 poll, opening the door to worldwide recognition.
I picked up on the video for "Mowgli’s Road" in the spring and I was instantly hooked. Her unique voice, lyrical concepts, new wave throwback style, and the bizarre video itself drew me in. That was followed by "Hollywood", the major single that saw her further popularity in the U.S. for the first time. Soon as I touched down in L.A., they said, "Oh my God, you look just like Shakira, no no, you’re Catherine Zeta", actually, my name’s Marina, she sings brilliantly. Another great one from the album is "I Am Not A Robot", a calming anthem for the unique and awkward, Marina herself among them. Put it all together and you have one of the best indie pop albums of the year. The Family Jewels is my #6 album of 2010.
Sleigh Bells is the unlikeliest of duos. Derek Miller was once the guitarist for hardcore band Poison The Well, and Alexis Krauss was once a member of a virtually unknown teen pop group called Rubyblue. She also appeared in a Nickelodeon Magazine commercial in 1997 or so. Flash forward to 2008, Alexis was with her mom at a restaurant in Brooklyn while Derek was waiting tables. He mentioned that he was looking for a female vocalist to accompany him for a music project. Alexis’ mom volunteered her right away, and Sleigh Bells was born. What came next was nothing short of insane.
Treats pushes the outer limits of music, and literally pushes the edge of the wavelength in terms of amplification level. In the loudness war, Sleigh Bells has won. You can’t go any further. The wall of noise is offset by Alexis’ hypnotizing melodies. To use some terms that other reviewers have used, Treats is bombastic, raw, visceral, fresh, ear-busting, and remarkable. Some of my favorite tracks include "Kids", "Tell ‘Em", and the calm before the storm "Rill Rill", but the top one in my book has to be "Infinity Guitars", the track that turned me on to Sleigh Bells in the first place. "Infinity Guitars" will eviscerate you, and you will enjoy every second of it. POW POW POW POW POW. Treats is my #5 album of 2010.
I’ve been a casual fan of Sia for many years. I first heard her on "Destiny", the song by Zero 7 that was released in 2001 and made its way to a little-known block of late night music videos called MTV2 Dance in 2002. I came to like her trippy, sleepy, somewhat jazzy delivery style on "Destiny" right away. Later on, I fell in love with "Breathe Me" from her album Colour The Small One.
Some years went by, then I rediscovered Sia once again very early this year when she released "Under The Milky Way", a cover of the 1988 song by The Church and the first of a handful of songs to be featured in those Mercury commercials. In the early summer, We Are Born arrived, and with Sia fresh on the mind (thanks in large part to her excellent song "My Love" from the Eclipse soundtrack that was released around the same time), I made sure to give her whole album a chance. I’m so glad I did, because it’s an amazing piece of work.
We Are Born is Sia at her best. It’s more upbeat than her previous work, for sure. She noted her childhood influences, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, which helped drive the sound of some songs on the album. Nick Valensi, guitarist for The Strokes, also contributed to the album. EW described it accurately as party music with a heart. I have many favorite tracks, including "The Fight", "Stop Trying", "Be Good To Me", "Bring Night", "Cloud", "The Co-Dependent", and "Big Little Girl", just to name more than a few, but the excellent "Clap Your Hands" has to be the winner. It’s one of the best songs and trippiest videos of the year. As a whole, this album is nearly unbeatable. We Are Born is my #4 album of 2010.
Kaki King is a seasoned guitar virtuoso. She pioneered her signature finger-tapping style while busking in NYC subways and then signed with Velour Records in 2002. She went on to release four albums of primarily instrumental material. The whole time, truth be told, I didn’t even have any idea she existed, outside of her guitar work on "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners" by Foo Fighters from their 2007 album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace.
Even then, I only knew her as a guest credit, not an artist in her own right. That all changed early this spring when she showed up on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Just who was this Kaki King? I watched her perform her lead single "Falling Day", and I was sold. I rushed to get Junior, an album that saw Kaki leave behind most of her classic finger-tapping in order to branch out into some new styles and more songs with her own vocals, making a transformation into a more well-rounded artist.
Junior is Kaki’s fifth album, as noted by the "Transmission No. 5" label that appears on the album cover. The art and much of the album itself carries a vaguely mysterious Cold War-era theme that’s both chilling and ominous. Put that on top of Kaki’s tangling guitar work, the strong percussion section, and the "post-domestic disgust" of her lyrical content, and you have one hell of an album. That ominous Cold War "everything’s going down" feel to the album likely came out of the despair she felt while writing its songs. "Listening to Junior, it’s apparent that if Kaki King hates her ex this much now, she really must have loved her then," one review said. Kaki King was heartsick and took out her loathing on all of us. It’s an album you have to listen to as a whole, from its opening track "The Betrayer" through "Death Head" and out to "Sunnyside", its heartbreaking conclusion. It’s unsettling, foreboding, contemplative, and brilliant. Junior is my #3 album of 2010.
Everyone remembers the night of September 13, 2009. Kanye West was over. He had finally gone too far according to the general public. His douchebaggery was no longer charming or funny; it was just mean. He could never recover from such a blunder. Forget it. Right? Well, I don’t have to tell you what happened. Kanye might have fallen off the planet for a while but he was preparing to come back with a vengence, fully embracing himself for both the bad and the good, imagining and then realizing what would become his grandiose and ever-evolving vision, a "hedonistic exploration" of his psyche. The result? This masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Kanye released a somewhat outrageous amount of the album well before it came out. It started with the premiere of "Power" and its hypnotizing, incredibly short music video; "Power" would go on to be featured in promotional material for The Social Network, which was a perfect usage. It continued, of course, with "Runaway", which Kanye brought to this year’s stunning black and white VMAs exactly one year after he had been written off. Who else could sing, let’s have a toast for the douchebags, let’s have a toast for the assholes, and actually mean it? No one. The short film that came soon after was a wonder to behold. MTV played the film in its entirety; a rare event. Was he really going Michael Jackson on us? What’s up with that giant Michael Jackson head, anyway? "Runaway" the song was enough to try to comprehend, but the film was even more than that; it gave us a preview of half the album.
Speaking of, let’s get to the album itself. Man, what an album. Kanye himself is at the top of his game here, delivering some of the best lines he’s ever written. That said, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy isn’t just a Kanye album. It’s a gathering of talent, a veritable revolving door of the best names in the business. It feels very much like a group effort: Kanye featuring the world. I can’t even keep track of all the guest appearances. "Georgeous" has Kid Cudi, of course. The monumental and wondrous "All Of The Lights" features everybody under the sun. Who isn’t on that song? "Monster" has the unstoppable Jay-Z himself, the always welcome jaunty gruntle of Rick Ross, and what’s probably the best Nicki Minaj verse you’ll find anywhere. "So Appalled" and "Devil In A New Dress" continue to up the ante. Near the end of the album, we hit "Blame Game" featuring John Legend, and just when you think you’ve heard it all, here comes nearly three minutes of Chris Rock out of nowhere for comic relief in what’s otherwise probably the most destitute song in the genre of hip hop. "Lost In The World" segues into a spoken word piece by Gil Scott-Heron that ends the album on a powerful but sobering note.
Aside from the stunning array of talent and music variety found on the album, it’s a rare window into the mind of a troubled but resilient visionary, at once vulnerable and invincible. It’s an album that challenged the boundaries of modern music. It’s an album that will continue to be dissected and analyzed for years to come. It’s a mind-blowing body of work that must be appreciated as a whole, beyond radio singles. It’s an incredibly cohesive album that must be heard from beginning to end, and then heard again, and again. It’s that grandiose and ever-evolving vision, realized and encapsulated. Quite simply, it’s Kanye’s masterwork. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is my #2 album of 2010.
Here she is, the most killingest pop star on the planet. No one would have predicted it at the beginning of the year, but 2010 was the year of Robyn. I was browsing around some music blogs early this year when I got word of "Fembot", her first new song release of the year. I stepped back for a moment. Wait, that Robyn? The adorable little Swedish girl with the comically large bubble jackets who could ride with the hardest of them? The singer I first fell in love with in 1997, the one with those bubblegum pop anthems "Show Me Love" and "Do You Really Want Me"? Yes, that Robyn. It was true.
I got to studying right away. I found out that Robyn did not in fact mysteriously disappear after the year 1997 came and went. No, she went on to release two more albums in Sweden that didn’t really go anywhere, and then she did something bold. She left her record label and started her own, Konichiwa Records. She released a self-titled album in 2005 that was entirely her own thing, nobody else telling her what to do anymore. It worked. Robyn was a commercial and critical success in Sweden and the UK, and it was so ahead of its time it’s ridiculous. She was doing her own blend of electro-pop in 2005 that would go unmatched for years. Once the initial success of Robyn ran its course, the album was re-released in 2007 and she spent the next few years touring and contemplating her next project.
That brings us back to 2010. "Fembot" was blowing my mind; I couldn’t believe it was real. Once you gone tech, you ain’t never going back, Robyn sang self-assured on the fiery, futuristic track. I knew right away, whatever she was working on, it was going to blow everything else out of the water. Just the one track by itself already did, and that was only the beginning. The weeks went by and we learned of Robyn’s plans to conquer the entire year. Instead of releasing one album, she would release three EPs: Body Talk Pt. 1 in June, Body Talk Pt. 2 in September, and Body Talk Pt. 3 in November, for a total of 21 new tracks in 2010. It was a grand idea, but would it be successful? Was this staggered approach the right idea? No use acting like we don’t know the answer, so let’s cut to the chase: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Body Talk Pt. 1 hit the Internet early, in April. It was fire. Flames shot out of your computer after you downloaded the thing. It opened with the bombastic "Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do", which was followed by the aforementioned "Fembot", the monster hit "Dancing On My Own", the wonderful "Cry When You Get Older", the outrageous "Dancehall Queen", as well as "None Of Dem", an acoustic recording of the upcoming release "Hang With Me", and the bonus track "Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa", a traditional folk song from Sweden. I swear, Robyn could’ve stopped right there with Body Talk Pt. 1 and it would’ve been enough to make my top ten. It was an EP of unusually great pop music.
Body Talk Pt. 2 also hit somewhat early (surprise!) in August. In what was an unbelievable feat, Robyn managed to put out another eight songs that were at least as great as the first set, if not even better. "In My Eyes", "Include Me Out", "Hang With Me", "Love Kills", "We Dance To The Beat", and "Criminal Intent" ruled the late summer and fall. The standout from this set, however, was "You Should Know Better" featuring Snoop Dogg. I don’t even know if I have the words to describe this gem of a song, which The Times said transformed Snoop into a "cuddly international treasure", the best phrase I’ve ever heard. You see, I danced with the devil in Kathmandu; I came humming and blasting with the boogaloo, too; now I declare most solemnly; the prince of darkness know better than to fuck with me, Robyn laughs, knowing just how cute she sounds while spitting those hardcore lines. This set finished with an acoustic recording of "Indestructible", which would show up for real on the next set, much like the acoustic "Hang With Me" did on the previous set.
Body Talk Pt. 3 arrived on time in November. This set brought the full version of "Indestructible", as well as four additional tracks. "Time Machine" is probably the most solidly arranged, unmistakably heartfelt pop song I’ve ever heard, not to oversell it or anything. "Call Your Girlfriend", "Get Myself Together", and "Stars 4-Ever" rounded out the final set of songs with an earnest sincerity that you won’t find anywhere else. You and me together, stars forever, Robyn sings out loud with true passion at the very end of the album. These five tracks from Pt. 3, in addition to the ten best tracks selected from Pt. 1 and Pt. 2, were packaged together on the full-length album, Body Talk, which was also released in November, finally putting a cap on Robyn’s epic year-long Body Talk project.
Robyn makes pop music with a heart, which sets her apart from everybody else in the game. Like most of us, she is a complex person with a full range of emotions. Unlike most of us, however, she expresses every last one of those emotions through her music. Whether it’s self-assuredness and confidence or vulnerability and sensitivity, Robyn will lay it all out there on the track. Robyn said it herself: "I love big sad pop songs. That’s where I naturally go. That’s the best." Sure enough, she created and released a greater number of those songs on Body Talk alone than anybody else could in their entire career. There’s a certain three-dimensional, genuine quality to Robyn and her music that you simply can’t find anywhere else. Her music transcends the production of its sound. In every way, her music is human. Simply put, Robyn is the best. Make no mistake about it, Body Talk is my #1 album of 2010.
Sia – "Under The Milky Way"
Shiny Toy Guns – "Burnin’ For You"
CSS – "Twilight Zone"
Lady Gaga f/ Beyoncé – "Telephone"
The Living Sisters – "How Are You Doing"
Cascada – "Evacuate The Dancefloor"
Kerli – "Walking On Air"
Taylor Swift – "Today Was A Fairytale"
Gorillaz – "Stylo"
Lady Antebellum – "Need You Now"
Avril Lavigne – "Alice"
V.V. Brown – "Shark In The Water"
MGMT – "Kids"
Michael Bublé – "Haven’t Met You Yet"
Warpaint – "Stars"
The Happy Hollows – "Death To Vivek Kemp"
Tegan and Sara – "Alligator" Remixes
She & Him – "Thieves"
The Bird And The Bee – "Maneater"
New Young Pony Club – "Lost A Girl"
The Smashing Pumpkins – "A Stitch In Time"
Rihanna – "Rude Boy"
Christina Aguilera – "Not Myself Tonight"
The Soft Pack – "Answer To Yourself"
Erykah Badu – "Window Seat"
The New Pornographers – "The Crash Years"
Band of Horses – "Compliments"
Slash f/ Nicole Scherzinger – "Baby Can’t Drive"
Taio Cruz – "Break Your Heart"
M.I.A. – "Born Free"
Broken Social Scene – "Forced To Love"
Blur – "Fool’s Day"
The Gaslight Anthem – "American Slang"
Stone Temple Pilots – "Between The Lines"
B.O.B. f/ Rivers Cuomo – "Magic"
Marit Larsen – "If A Song Could Get Me You"
Elizabeth & The Catapult – "Race You"
Crystal Castles – "Celestica"
The Disco Biscuits – "On Time"
Bat for Lashes – "Daniel"
The XX – "Islands"
Deftones – "Diamond Eyes"
Camera Obscura – "The Sweetest Thing"
Gossip – "Pop Goes The World"
Laura Marling – "Devil’s Spoke"
Vita Chambers – "Young Money"
Eminem – "Not Afraid"
Allison Moorer – "The Broken Girl"
Sky Ferreira – "17"
Jay-Z f/ Mr. Hudson – "Young Forever"
M.I.A. – "XXXO"
Little Boots – "Remedy"
The Roots f/ Monsters of Folk – "Dear God 2.0"
Metric – "Eclipse (All Yours)"
La Roux – "Quicksand"
The Apples In Stereo – "Dance Floor"
Lady Gaga – "Alejandro"
Steel Train – "Turnpike Ghost"
Nicki Minaj – "Your Love"
B.O.B. f/ Hayley Williams – "Airplanes"
Mike Posner – "Cooler Than Me"
Eminem f/ Rihanna – "Love The Way You Lie"
Sky Ferreira – "One"
Natasha Bedingfield – "Touch"
Tokyo Police Club – "Wake Up"
Chelley – "Took The Night"
Jenny and Johnny – "Big Wave"
Sweet Apple – "I’ve Got A Feeling"
Lights – "Fall Back Down"
Wye Oak – "For Prayer"
The Limousines – "Very Busy People"
Delphic – "Doubt"
Passion Pit – "Little Secrets"
MeTalkPretty – "Wake Up!"
Brandon Flowers – "Crossfire"
Richard Vission f/ Luciana – "I Like That"
Hey Monday – "I Don’t Wanna Dance"
Dev – "Booty Bounce"
Cee Lo Green – "Fuck You"
Weezer – "Memories"
Karen Orzolek – "If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough"
Sky Ferreira – "Obsession"
Kimberly Cole – "Smack You"
Just Kait – "Sick"
Duffy – "Well, Well, Well"
Anna Rose – "Picture"
Sarah Harmer f/ Neko Case – "Silverado"
Marnie Stern – "For Ash"
Lykke Li – "Get Some"
Rihanna – "Only Girl (In The World)"
OK Go – "White Knuckles"
Yolanda Be Cool – "We No Speak Americano"
Mumford & Sons – "Little Lion Man"
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – "Janglin"
Ke$ha – "We R Who We R"
Kelly Rowland – "Commander"
Pink – "Raise Your Glass"
Willow Smith – "Whip My Hair"
Dum Dum Girls – "Bhang Bhang, I’m A Burnout"
Shad – "We, Myself, And I"
James Blake – "Limit To Your Love"
Nelly – "Just A Dream"
The Downtown Fiction – "I Just Wanna Run"
Selena Gomez & The Scene – "Round & Round"
Lights – "My Boots"
The Lonely Island – "I Just Had Sex"
TOP 40 ALBUMS
40. Girl Talk – All Day
39. Lillix – Tigerlily
38. The Watson Twins – Talking To You, Talking To Me
37. Lucy Schwartz – Life In Letters
36. Fitz And The Tantrums – Pickin’ Up The Pieces
35. The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever
34. Ted Leo And The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
33. Hole – Nobody’s Daughter
32. KT Tunstall – Tiger Suit
31. The Black Keys – Brothers
30. The Dead Weather – Sea Of Cowards
29. Glasser – Ring
28. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
27. Broken Bells – Broken Bells
26. Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
25. Devo – Something For Everybody
24. Ellie Goulding – Lights
23. Brooke Fraser – Flags
22. Karen Elson – The Ghost Who Walks
21. Goldfrapp – Head First
20. Taylor Swift – Speak Now
19. Fefe Dobson – Joy
18. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
17. Kate Nash – My Best Friend Is You
16. Uffie – Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans
15. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
14. Ke$ha – Animal
13. The Like – Release Me
12. Hunter Valentine – Lessons From The Late Night
11. Kylie Minogue – Aphrodite
10. Florence & The Machine – Lungs
9. Sara Bareilles – Kaleidoscope Heart
8. Best Coast – Crazy For You
7. Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
6. Marina & The Diamonds – The Family Jewels
5. Sleigh Bells – Treats
4. Sia – We Are Born
3. Kaki King – Junior
2. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
1. Robyn – Body Talk
I want to thank you for reading TC’s top 40 albums of 2010. It’s hard to believe I’ve completed 8 consecutive years of these year-end lists. I’ve had so much fun over the years describing my favorite singles and albums as they’ve related to events in my life and the rest of the world. Once again, thank you so much for your support this year and every year. I hope you have a very happy and healthy new year. I wish you the best in 2011 and beyond.