It’s been a minute, but I’m back with more Best of the Decade content. This time it’s breaking down my 200 favorite songs of the decade, which was obviously no easy task. In my opinion, picking 200 albums was so much easier, since you have so many fewer choices to make. Picking 200 songs out of 200 albums, plus other albums from the decade… now that’s intense.
Here’s a stat breakdown for ya before we get into the meat of everything. Think back to my list of 200 albums. According to my iTunes, that’s 2,266 different songs. To listen to it all, it would take me roughly 6.4 days, which translates to about 9,216 minutes. And that’s just the 200 albums I narrowed down from the 500 albums I picked throughout the decade of making Top 50 Albums of the Year lists. Elsewhere, I made a playlist of all my favorite songs of the decade, spanning over 1,500 song selections. That’s roughly 190 hours, aka 6,540 minutes. There is obviously overlap between the two lists, but that’s definitely over 10,000 minutes of music I have to get through to pick my favorites. Now I’ve narrowed it down to 930 minutes, a cool 15.5-hour playlist. Easy peasy!
But enough of Mr. Professor up there, onto some arbitrary song ranking decisions. Below you’ll find 150 of my top favorite songs of the decade ordered in an alphabetical fashion, followed by a loose ranking of my 50 favorite songs of the decade. Things were moving around even on the day I put this out, so clearly just listen to everything listed here, or at least in the top 50.
Conveniently a Spotify playlist for all the songs listed here. The songs marked with a ** are not on Spotify and I’ve linked in the song name using elsewhere sources.
You better read more – I didn’t type all these words just for them to sit there!
150 FAVORITE SONGS, SORTED ALPHABETICALLY::
** = song is not on Spotify, but maybe on other streaming services
- ALVVAYS – “Archie, Marry Me” 
HEYYY HEYYY… MARRY ME, ARCHIIIEEEE
This is literally all I need to say here.
- ALVVAYS – “Dreams Tonite” 
Bordering on being too sickly sweet, but Alvvays skirts around that by continuing to be one of the most endearing songwriters in music today. Ultra dreamy in the best way.
- ANGEL OLSEN – “Shut Up Kiss Me” 
SHUT UP KISS ME HOLD ME TIGHT
SHUT UP KISS ME HOLD ME TIGHT
STOP YOUR CRYING, IT’S ALRIGHT
SHUT UP KISS ME HOLD ME TIGHT
- ANOHNI – “Drone Bomb Me” 
Blinding, powerful lights helmed by Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never surrounding ANOHNI’s unmistakable voice. She spins a kind of a love story, but in actuality it’s a narrative of a young girl who wishes to die via drone after her family was killed by a drone strike. An apt summation of the decade, musically and lyrically.
- ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI – “Round and Round” 
*Na na naaaa naaaa… (wa wa wanaa) na na naaaa naaaa… (wa wa waaaa) doobee dooboo deeboodoo, doobee dooboo deeboodoo – “it’s always the same, as always”*
- A$AP ROCKY – “Wassup”  **
The best fusion of Rocky + Clams Casino there is. Goes hard with the smothering force of a smoky pillow.
- AVA LUNA – “PRPL” 
Smoothness incarnate. Singer Felicia Douglass absolutely kills it. Great spacing between notes to really make every single sound pop and matter.
- AYE NAKO – “Cut It Off”  **
Kind of a forgotten song / personal treasure of the decade. Absolutely killer hook. Making the most simple ingredients into something that’s exciting and electric.
- AZEALIA BANKS – “212” 
Nine years out and this song still gets me bobbing up and down in my seat.
- BEACH HOUSE – “Wild” 
I used to have a toy keyboard that had that same drum machine cymbal used here.
- BEACH HOUSE – “Lemon Glow” 
Dizzying cascades of paranoid synths and dirge-like keys. New territory for Beach House and they nailed it here.
- BECK – “Defriended” 
Another personal favorite. I’ve said it time and time again: I wish Beck made a full LP of music that sounded like this. Weird, bouncy, Cole M.G.N.-helmed pop music.
- BEST COAST – “When I’m With You” 
When I think back to summer of 2010, there’s no way I can’t include this quintessential window-down, picnic-blanket, shade-seeking, sunglasses-mode jammer.
- BEYONCÉ – “Countdown” 
I really like dancing along to this song with my partner.
- BIG THIEF – “UFOF” 
After my grandmother passed away this year, listening to this song makes me break down in ugly tears not even 30 seconds in. I also have the lyrics on the back of a sweatshirt. Good thing it’s not on the front.
- BLANCK MASS – “Please” 
Unholy, ear-searing brilliance. The most accessible Blanck Mass track is still a masterclass in aural body horror.
- BURIAL – “Come Down To Us” 
Continues Burial’s streak of immaculate world building, creating something beautiful and unlike anything he’s ever done before.
- BURIAL – “Street Halo” 
I love the pace of this song. It reminds me of a rainy chase sequence between two people who have nothing left to lose.
- CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “The One” 
That bouncy synth… how can you say no to that? Plus, the boomerang synths in the chorus? Get out of here.
- CCFX – “The One To Wait” 
Sounds like it’s a lost classic from the 80s or 90s, but may already be a lost classic of the 10s. Big Q Lazzarus vibes. We need more CCFX in our life.
- CHAIRLIFT – “I Belong In Your Arms” 
The chorus makes me want to run and jump through a grassy hill and twirl with the clouds.
- CHARLI XCX – “Focus” 
Simple song, executed perfectly. Production on point. Wish it wasn’t just a standalone single.
- CHARLI XCX – “Roll With Me” 
Not for the faint of heart. SOPHIE brings the heat on this song with her weirdness and Charli keeps up without breaking a sweat. The duo definitely aims to make the listener sweat buckets, however.
- CHARLI XCX – “Out Of My Head (feat. Tove Lo & ALMA)” 
So hard to pick a song off Pop 2, but this is the song that hooked me in first. Does a lot with a little – beat is pretty spare, but Charli & co. make an earworm for the ages.
- CHARLI XCX – “Gone (feat. Christine & The Queens)” 
“Silver Cross” off Charli is good, but let’s be real. The synergy between Charli and Chris is so thick it could alert some night guards by knocking things over with its mass. Combustive in all the right places.
- CHASTITY BELT – “Joke” 
An apathetic anthem. Modern slacker culture has a lot to thank Chastity Belt for.
- CHELSEA WOLFE – “Sick” 
This song still wraps me up in its melodramaticism seven years later. A gothic funeral march into a pit of quicksand… one for the ages.
- CIRCUIT DES YEUX – “Black Fly” 
I want Haley Fohr’s voice to wrap me up in a carpet and throw me into a lake.
- CLAMS CASINO – “I’m God (Instrumental)”  **
This may have been for a song that came out in 2009 but I do not CARE. It’s a 10s classic and nothing will change my mind. Cloud rap forever. Shout out to Imogen Heap.
- CLOUD NOTHINGS – “Wasted Days” 
Talk about bold – putting a near 9-minute song as the second track of a hyped album. Better make it as sick as possible. Ope, looks like they did it.
- CULTS – “Go Outside” 
A glittering treasure. A beacon of the golden era of indie pop (in my mind – I’m old now!). I remember listening to this single and feeling like my whole world was opening up, which is funny thinking back. Endless replays, endless mix CD inclusions.
- DANNY L HARLE – “1UL” 
It’s HUGE DANNY. High octane, accelerated pop. One of the finest PC Music cuts.
- DEAFHEAVEN – “Dream House” 
The classic introduction to so many new black metal fans. Pummeling, self-deprecating, yet still retaining a shred of hope as it twirls just out of grasp in a whirlpool.
- DEAN BLUNT – “The Narcissist (feat. Inga Copeland)” 
Immediate transportation into a smoky city noir detective scene.
- DEATH GRIPS – “Hacker” 
Like an AI – a song that’s constantly learned and adapting to harmful malware, growing extra prongs of defense and warping into different iterations of brutal thumping.
- DELOREAN – “Stay Close” 
A joyous, irony-free blast of chillwave pop. Sounds so dated already, in the best way possible. A portal to a more hopeful world.
- DESTROYER – “Chinatown” 
Opening a door into an alternate dimension. I’ve labeled this on my own as the Essential Oil Dimension, but it can be whatever zone of pleasure that works for you.
- DESTROYER – “Sky’s Grey” 
The moment when everything… “clicks”… shivers down my spine.
- DIIV – “Doused” 
Name a shoegaze-ish song from this decade that people went harder to than this one.
- DIRTY BEACHES – “Lord Knows Best” 
I stood out on a pier at night, just as the weather started getting a little colder, listening to this song. It brought me such feelings of unfounded nostalgia and romance like you wouldn’t believe.
- DISCLOSURE – “White Noise (feat. Alunageorge) 
Hard to choose a song off the electric Disclosure debut, but this song’s music video is set in Detroit so I have to give it the edge there. Also have to find a spotlight for Alunageorge, one that flamed out in the early decade – very sad about that.
- DUSK – “Eyes in Dark Corners” 
This is a song that’s made for rolling down your car windows and belting along with it.
- EMPRESS OF – “Standard” 
Just a badass song. Hard to pick a favorite off this album but this is the one for now.
- FEAR OF MEN – “Born” 
One of the best examples of Fear Of Men’s mastery of jangle pop. Simple and satisfying.
- FIONA APPLE – “Every Single Night” 
Our first taste of Fiona Apple in the new decade was a great one. Love the dynamic changes on this song, plus the swinging melody. Again – hard to choose a favorite song.
- FKA TWIGS – “How’s That” 
Hard to pick one song from the twigs + Arca EP EP2 but this is the finest showcase of both of their talents: an slimy, shimmering alien instrumental and a vocal delivery that exudes so much emotion in just about five or six words spoken from twigs.
- FLEET FOXES – “Helplessness Blues” 
I’ve noticed that this song has a lot of correct, precursory notions about how this generation of young people will feel finding worth in the workplace, about how they’re encountering economic problems that generations previous did not. The fact it’s a beautiful song at that is a great plus, but this song hits harder than ever in 2020.
- FLORENCE + THE MACHINE – “Never Let Me Go” 
No one is too cool for Florence. This is the truth.
- FLYING LOTUS – “Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar & Thundercat)” 
This song shows off the best qualities of all three associated with the song. Wild Thundercat bass, punchy Kendrick verse and propulsive, psychedelic electronics.
- FORD & LOPATIN – “Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)” 
Another personal gem. Wild synth explorations and a whip-fast hook.
- FRANKIE COSMOS – “Embody” 
A song that kept me afloat during a hard time. Bordering on TOO wholesome.
- FRANK OCEAN – “Nights” 
SO many ideas packed into one song. Like the scope of “Pyramids” but shrunk down to fit into the mid-late 10s attention span.
- FRANK OCEAN – “Pyramids” 
Oh hey, I just mentioned this song. An epic pop song. I’d say the opening minutes are iconic at this point.
- FRIENDLY FIRES – “Heaven Let Me In” 
This is just a straight up blast. Great for any work out playlist or just to dance along to.
- FUCKED UP – “The Other Shoe” 
“WE’RE DYING ON THE INSIDE” is such a great thing to yell at the top of your lungs. A line from this song is in my instagram bio.
- FUTURE ISLANDS – “Seasons (Waiting On You)” 
Hard to remove this from the Letterman performance, but this is just such an amazing song and one that defines the decade, in my opinion.
- GORILLAZ – “Empire Ants (feat. Little Dragon)” 
Starting as a shimmering, delicate beauty, the track eventually breaks open with a submerged-sounding synth breakdown with lovely vocals from Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano. A classic Gorillaz song in my opinion. Would kill to hear this song live.
- GROUPER – “Living Room” 
“I’m looking for the place the spirit meets the skin
Can’t figure out why that place feels so hard to be in
For all of us at this ill-fitting party
Busy pretending to relate
And it’s getting harder and harder to fake
Acting like everything’s in its place”
- HAND HABITS – “Actress” 
Kind of like “Living Room” above this here, this is a song about trying to be yourself but also living in expectations that yourself or others set upon you. My top Hand Habits song, they kill it here.
- HOLLY HERNDON – “An Exit (feat. Amnesia Scanner)” 
This song, to this day, gives me anxiety where I ball up my fists and shake them a bit. Something about the manipulations to Holly’s voice here just set off my fight or flight every time.
- HOW TO DRESS WELL – “What You Wanted” 
One of those songs that’s impossible for me to sing along to (because I can’t keep up), but I try every time. Just so beautiful.
- HUNDRED WATERS – “Wave to Anchor” 
The rollercoaster synth line in this track. How can anyone deny it?
- JAI PAUL – “Jasmine (demo)” 
I remember ripping a YouTube version of this song on the day it was released just so I could play it on my radio show that night. (I don’t believe it was up for purchase yet).
- JAMIE XX – “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (feat. Young Thug & Popcaan)” 
The snap at 1:51. That’s really all you need to make an amazing song. Especially since the line that precedes it is “Imma ride in that pussy like a stroller”.
- JANELLE MONAE – “Cold War” 
Triumphant-ass song! Hell yeah! Badass!
- JAPANESE BREAKFAST – “The Woman That Loves You” 
“You should try to do as little harm as you can to the woman that loves you”
- JENNY HVAL – “That Battle Is Over” 
The last minute of this song is pure euphoria, but the whole thing is great as well.
- JENNY HVAL – “Conceptual Romance” 
One of those songs that morphs my surroundings while listening. Like traversing in a slow-motion night realm. I don’t know what that means, but that’s what I think.
- JESSICA PRATT – “Greycedes” 
Some of the best guitar work on any Jessica Pratt song, plus her vocal melody on this track is just perfect.
- JESSY LANZA – “Kathy Lee” 
Micro grooves galore on this song. Making a song that locks you in to its groove with the least amount of flair in its instrumental.
- THE JOY FORMIDABLE – “Whirring” 
The Joy Formidable could have not put any other music out this decade and they’d still be one of the best bands in it solely thanks to this amazing song. More than half of it is a crazy guitar solo and instrumental breakdown. Ultimate catharsis.
- JULIA HOLTER – “Betsy On The Roof” 
Would love to see a short-form play written with the lyrics in this song being the basics of the plot.
- KACEY MUSGRAVES – “Space Cowboy” 
“So you can have your space, cowboy”
- KANYE WEST – “All Of The Lights” 
Blasting this in my car as a late high schooler, coming up on his final months of school, was nothing short of irony-free bliss.
- KATE NV – “Binasu” 
Wacky and charming synth explorations. Sounds like it could be from an 80s anime.
- KELELA – “A Message” 
There was a period in college where I could listen to this song on repeat for days. Seriously, I would NOT stop listening to this song. The last part is pure Arca-led bliss, with fragments of voice chaotically shifting and blurring out of frame.
- KELELA – “Waitin” 
This is a song that makes you feel GOOD. Makes you feel cool, attractive, all the best.
- KENDRICK LAMAR – “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” 
Another song that makes you feel cool. Also I’m sure it didn’t coin the phrase, but it popularized “don’t kill my vibe” – a very important aspect of life in 2020.
- KING KRULE – “Out Getting Ribs” 
Even when Archy was going as Zoo Kid, I was down for life. What he could do with just his gravelly voice and guitar was pretty stunning. I had a friend that would say “dude – that song is so insane” every time he saw me at lunch. Like he didn’t like it at first because he hadn’t heard anything like it, but afterwards he couldn’t stop listening to King Krule. I hope he’s still listening.
- KING KRULE – “Dum Surfer” 
Talk about a chaotic, satisfying song. A song that you don’t really have to do any critical thinking or feeling to, but it really feels like a crazy theme park ride, like you’re going through some sort of haunted house on a fixed-track buggy ride. Extremely entertaining.
- KISSES – “Bermuda” 
A lost chillwave classic! Not sure if this would be considered chillwave actually, but it’s bright, summery, got a retro feel to it. Perfect for the summers and has stuck with me throughout the whole decade. They need to put out more music, what gives?
- THE KNIFE – “A Tooth For An Eye” 
This song sounds so excited to be alive. Like a room full of children all raising their hands, wildly bouncing up and down, popping out of their seats to gain a chance to win some candy or something. Bursting at the seams with energy.
- KRILL – “Tiger” 
If your song doesn’t end with an uninterrupted, 1:12-long repetition of a thundering riff, don’t show it to me. Just listen to this song.
- LANA DEL REY – “Video Games” 
How can I count out “Video Games”? I was BIG on the Lana hype when this song came out. Then the SNL performance kind of wrecked it. Sure, I can say I’m a fake fan since I’ve been a huge “Video Games” person since, but whatever – it’s a great song. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it many more times for other songs here – ICONIC!
- LAUREL HALO – “Thaw” 
This was the last song to be cut from the Top 50 above. So hard to not include this in my Top 50 songs. Brilliant, anxiety-inducing electronic that’s the best microcosm of all the sounds and feelings stemming from Quarantine. Beautiful and shocking in the same breath.
- LEMONADE – “Neptune” 
Another iconic tune from the early 10s, for me at least. This song alone got me to preorder this full LP. Beautiful pop song with faraway steel drums. Almost like the death of chillwave has left a lasting, haunting, moody specter upon our protagonist.
- LONNIE HOLLY – “I Woke Up In A Fucked Up America” 
I’m not usually a fan of outwardly political commentary music, but when it’s this brutal and well-done, I’ll give it a pass. All hail king Lonnie Holley and his legion of junk.
- M83 – “Midnight City” 
My top favorite song of 2011. I’m guessing this was EVERYONE’S top favorite song of 2011, because it has somehow not gone away. When we first heard this people were like, “oh man, a saxophone solo? What a cool idea! Hell yeah!” We know this song spawned all sorts of corporate copycats, but it still holds a very special place in my heart. Formative track to say the least.
- MAC DEMARCO – “My Kind of Woman” 
This song still gets me wrapped up in naive, juvenile feelings of young love. Chalk it up to Mac’s jangling guitar and swoony keys.
- MAJICAL CLOUDZ – “Heavy” 
A chrysalis I would hide in as the waves of natural sadness washed over me.
“I’m not heavy, I’m nothing.”
- MAJOR LAZER – “Get Free (feat. Amber Coffman)” 
A key summer playlist song. Put this on in the car and you’re vibing man. Funny enough my partner and I love this song and arrived at the Women’s March in 2016 just as Amber Coffman got onstage to perform this song. We had no idea it was going to happen. A sweet moment in an otherwise dark and ominous time.
- MERCHANDISE – “Green Lady” 
Merchandise…. please come back. Brings me back to their iconic ballads from Children of Desire.
- MICA LEVI – “Love” 
Mica was somehow able to synthesize how it feels to be completely emotionless, or rather drained of emotion. An empty husk walking amongst real live, breathing humans. Appropriate since this is from a soundtrack about an alien masquerading as a human.
- MITSKI – “Nobody” 
When Mitski’s “Nobody”‘s starts echoing further and further away as the bright and cheery instrumentals start getting louder, it’s a bit eerie, but so so satisfying.
- MITSKI – “Townie” 
The song that started my Mitski journey. A big time late-college jam.
- MITSKI – “Your Best American Girl” 
The best Mitski song. Imagine if I liked the rest of Puberty 2 as much as this one song.
- MR TWIN SISTER – “In The House Of Yes” 
Jubilant, buoyant, party time song for late nights. Accompanied many a late night walk back from a concert or just wandering around in the evening in NYC.
- MY BLOODY VALENTINE – “Who Sees You”  **
When it comes to MBV, you gotta love the buzzsaw guitars above all. This one brings em. Favorite song off mbv by far.
- NATALIA LAFOURCADE – “Hasta La Raíz” 
Beautiful, wistful pop music en español. Everyone should know Natalia Lafourcade.
- NATALIE PRASS – “Short Court Style” 
Impossible not to move a part of your body along with that opening bass line. It’s IM-POSS-I-BLE.
- NEON INDIAN – “Polish Girl” 
The first song I played on the radio with my lovely cohost Ryan. Will always have a special place in my heart. I initially downloaded this from some free mp3 site and the file was corrupted, skipping at a certain part every time. Since then I’ve gotten a legit version and I still get wigged out when I don’t hear the skip.
- NICOLAS JAAR – “No” 
I saw Nicolas Jaar live once and got right to the front of the stage because most folks didn’t know who the opener “Yves Tumor” was… whoever that is. Anyways, a couple next to me at the front stuck it out the whole show. Then when Jaar started playing this song, they started taking videos, selfies of them with Jaar in the background… just so many pictures. Then they left. I’m not even mad, it’s that good of a song. They had to get through like 45 minutes worth of Against All Logic stuff though, which was sick.
- OMNI – “Cold Vermouth” 
Petition for more snappy, whip-smart post punk in the 20s and less hulking brutes.
- ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER – “No Good” 
The catharsis on this song is way too intense. The climax is like being put in a ultimate galaxy prison.
- OWEN PALLETT – “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt” 
This song is eternal and you’re gonna have to pull it from my cold, dead hands when the end of the world comes.
- PANDA BEAR – “Alsatian Darn” 
Objectively the best song on Tomboy.
- PURITY RING – “Fineshrine” 
Someone bring Purity Ring back, please! Their first record still carries the magic, especially early single “Fineshrine”. Definitely felt SO cool listening to this before all my friends got into them. I’m not even gonna lie.
- QUIRKE – “Break A Mirrored Leg” 
One rogue Best New Track in Pitchfork stuck with me for life. This track is a thrill ride, top to bottom. Unrelenting jabs of bass with unsettling vocal manipulations screeching overhead. It’s an intoxicating, invigorating track that has left my head buzzing for six years.
- RADIATOR HOSPITAL – “Blue Gown” 
The other song I’d pick off this record would be “Fireworks”, featuring lead vocals from Maryn Jones (of Yowler, All Dogs + prev. of Saintseneca). This one features Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) and if you squint enough, it’s like listening to a Swearin’ song but with Katie as the backup singer instead of her twin sister Allison. I still love Swearin’, but this is like some alternate dimension type shit. Once in a million middle earth type shit.
- THE RADIO DEPT. – “Heaven’s On Fire” 
So hard to choose one song off this record, since every single one is a sweet, perfect thing. Might as well go with the lead single! Listen to the whole dang album if you like this song.
- RADIOHEAD – “True Love Waits” 
I wasn’t waiting on hands and knees like other Radiohead fans were, but this was still a great finisher to their 2016 record. I’m a huge fan of the melty pianos they put on this record and this is a great showcase for them.
- RATKING – “Canal” 
RRRRAT! I still think of lower NYC sounding like this.
- REAL ESTATE – “It’s Real” 
Another iconic indie rock cut from the early decade. Beautiful and shiny, like sun shining off a pond into a thicket of old trees.
- REAL LIES – “North Circular” 
Another dark horse cut. Shout out to David, the only other Real Lies fan I know of. Has a great build up, and nice to hear something that isn’t Burial or grime that makes me think “woah, so this is what London really sounds like”.
- SAINTSENECA – “Happy Alone” 
I’ve seen this song performed live six times now and let me tell you, the chorus is very cathartic to sing along to.
- (SANDY) ALEX G – “Gretel” 
The finest Alex G song made this decade. Yes I can fight you about it. The strings are marvelous, and the chord progression is perfect for head banging along to.
- SHABAZZ PALACES – “Shine A Light (feat. Thaddillac)” 
Kind of crazy how my favorite Shabazz song comes from maybe my least favorite album they put out this decade. It has unreal levels of cool and is mad psychedelic. Love the bass rattles my skull + inside of my car when I’m driving around my home town.
- SKEE MASK – “Rev8617” 
One of the prettiest and well-designed electronic songs I’ve ever heard. Once the bass comes back in around the 2:00 mark I get goosebumps.
- SKY FERREIRA – “Everything Is Embarrassing” 
Another great pop song! Love the synthetic strings in the background and Sky’s vocal melody is great as well. Just a classic song from the decade. Can we get more new Sky music now, please?
- SLAYYYTER – “Mine” 
This brings me the same feelings as Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”, which is one of the highest compliments a pop song can get.
- SMERZ – “Half life” 
Just bludgeon me til I’m unconscious with the bass in this song. I mean, really. So chaotic but so cool. Could this be considered EBM? At a certain point it sounds like it’s a feral beast rummaging around in a vent. And that’s sick.
- SMITH WESTERNS – “Weekend” 
THE song to blast in the car when hanging out with friends after school or on the weekends. I knew my time with these folks was limited during my senior year since I was going to be moving, so this was like something that enhanced the pleasure that I had with them. Something that made the most mundane things feel iconic and memorable.
- SOLANGE – “Losing You” 
A breezy breath of fresh air. Can’t separate this song from its iconic music video, which features Solange in various scenes around Cape Town, South Africa.
- SOPHIE – “BIPP” 
The song that started the PC Music popularization. I mean, it’s hard not to love this song if you’re into hyped-up, radical pop music. Approaches past aesthetics, but is encased in a manufactured, plastic shell.
- SOPHIE – “Immaterial” 
Kind of a level-up from “BIPP” – thanks to vocals from Mozart’s Sister, this song brings another element of humanity to SOPHIE’s plasticized pop music.
- ST. VINCENT – “Surgeon” 
Knotty, delirious, wispy, hazy. With this song, St. Vincent stepped into a new era that included Strange Mercy and St. Vincent as definitively her own song. Nervous jammers that erupted with anxious flair. “Come cut me open”.
- ST. VINCENT – “Prince Johnny” 
Again, another nervous jammer. St. Vincent’s voice is much more confident and strong here, but the instrumental is dark and foreboding. Such a satisfying track.
- SUFJAN STEVENS – “All Delighted People (Original Version)” 
Gotta love Sufjan going long. Kind of a mess with piles of choirs and orchestras all over the place, but a blessed mess. Always been a huge fan of this one.
- SUN ARAW – “Deep Temple” 
One of the finest representations of early Sun Araw work – just completely batshit psychedelic assaults. Wicked guitar shredding stuck in murky muck of heavily affected, blown out bass and wacky psychedelic keys. It kinda sounds like if Beck’s “Where It’s At” was duplicated endlessly and layered on top of each other. This is definitely not for everyone, but it puts me in a trance. Slap some early Sun Araw into your ears during a busy commute, surrounded by people, and you’ll find bliss in the chaos.
- TAME IMPALA – “The Less I Know The Better” 
This song has my name in it.
- TAME IMPALA – “Apocalypse Dreams” 
The first Tame Impala single from Lonerism and really clued me in to think “wow, this Tame Impala record is really going to be something, isn’t it?” Indeed it was. Ok, now this is epic.
- THOM YORKE – “Dawn Chorus” 
Come for Thom Yorke’s solo stuff, stay for that muted, haunting synth texture. Holy cow. When human emotions fail to come to the surface, the use of computerized programs come to the rescue.
- TR/ST – “Sulk” 
I’ve never been to a fetish club or a rave or any kind of crazy laser night in a basement, but I can see this song existing perfectly in that environment.
- TWIN SHADOW – “Slow” 
This song went on ALL my mix CDs I made for friends in high school. The pitch-perfect 80s throwback was too alluring! For a high school junior, this blew my mind.
- U.S. GIRLS – “Navy & Cream” 
One of the wilder songs on this list. Dark and brooding like a noir or revenge film. Psychedelic, dissonant drum machine backing Meg Remy’s dramatic vocals. And don’t get me started on the wild guitar solos. These sound like they’re strangling the life out of the guitars themselves. It’s hard not to get swept up in the fury of it.
- U.S. GIRLS – “Rosebud” 
Glamorous! Love the pairing of the strings and the lounge keyboards. Plus, Meg Remy’s voice again is too good. I always think about seeing this song live and again, one of my favorite things.
- VAMPIRE WEEKEND – “Diplomat’s Son” 
An underhanded favorite that I’ve found a lot of people love. Great to see a longer, late-album track have so much affinity tied to it. Helps when the song is as bouncy and as catchy as this one.
- VAMPIRE WEEKEND – “Unbelievers” 
The tinwhistle solo on this track. Are you kidding me?
- VINCE STAPLES – “Norf Norf” 
Another shout out to Clams Casino for making this insane, harrowing beat. And of course to Vince to being himself.
- THE WEEKND – “The Morning” 
I thought I was cool in thinking that “The Morning” was my favorite House of Balloons song since its release, but after checking other Best Songs of the Decade lists, I’ve found I’m not special or unique at all. It’s just plainly the best song on there. And this one doesn’t even have a Beach House or Cocteau Twins sample on it.
- WEYES BLOOD – “Do You Need My Love” 
Hearing this song live is one of my all-time favorite things. So grand, so gallant, so wistful.
- WHITE DENIM – “I’d Have It Just The Way We Were” 
A romp in the grass. Practically diffuses good times from its pores. Jazzy and raucous in the same breath. Don’t sleep on White Denim.
- WHITNEY – “Dave’s Song” 
Drove around the town my parents live in on an early spring day shortly after this album came out and found an incredible peace while listening to this song. It was short-lived, but for that moment it was well-timed and seriously affecting.
- WILDHONEY – “Soft Bats” 
Shoegaze is not dead! This is an amazing, overdriven pop song. Amazing!
- WOMEN – “Eyesore” 
Not sure how a song can both meander and drive at the same time. This song sounds like it’s a slacker tune but with the rigidity of a post punk crusher. Long live Women.
- WYE OAK – “Lifer” 
“I have to love the life I make, make up for all the space I take”
Not to mention Jenn Wasner’s guitar solo in this song is just ridiculous.
- YEASAYER – “Ambling Alp” 
If you’re a true indie rock person from the early 10s and you weren’t totally into this song, I’m gonna have a hard time taking you seriously. Triumphant and highly powerful for a high school junior.
- YO LA TENGO – “Ohm” 
“Resisting the flow”
- YOUNG THUG – “Wyclef Jean” 
This song is absolutely ridiculous and it’s so hard for me not to love it.
“My money band’s longer than a Nascar race” alone is an amazing line.
- YUCK – “Get Away” 
I will never forget you, Yuck. You made one of the best rock songs of the decade.
50 FAVORITE SONGS OF THE DECADE:
Big boy hours right now folks – better buckle up your hot take belts cause we’re going mining in some magma-level jams right here.
50. MERCHANDISE – “In Nightmare Room” 
Children of Desire has three classic tracks on it – “Time”, “Become What You Are”, and “In Nightmare Room”. I’ve found that I’m in the minority in thinking that “Room” is the best of the three. I love it’s sharp guitar riffs and lead singer Carson Cox’s dramatic crooning. Just so unabashedly retro, but still feels incredibly current. PLUS – the faint hand percussion in the back. It’s fierce, enigmatic and badass.
49. 2 8 1 4 – “恢复” 
This song accompanied me on every late night train ride out of New York City for a full calendar year. I’ve listened to this song so many times. I’ve also fallen asleep to it, nestled into the odd headrest of a Metro North train many times as well. In my opinion it’s the pinnacle of vaporwave. A murky cocktail of watery pianos, shimmering synths and disembodied computerized voices ripple against throbs of muted bass. Put this record on during your next evening commute and watch how it morphs your surroundings to its liking.
48. CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Gimmie Love” 
When I finally caved and checked out E•MO•TION back in 2015, I remember feeling like I was oversold on the hype surrounding this record on the first three tracks. Then “Gimmie Love” comes in and I’m instantly changing my mind. This song immediately clicked with me. Its rollicking, bodacious production and Jepsen’s lovable delivery (especially in the chorus, oh my goodness) cemented it as the ultimate CRJ highlight for me.
47. YOUNG GALAXY – “We Have Everything” 
This is a song that’s stuck with me for so long and been a dark horse as the list has progressed. It’s just such a fabulously satisfying song, the chorus especially, rich with balance between all the present sounds in the mix. The voice of Catherine McCandless is underhandedly powerful, reciting lines in a confident cool manner while decadent, synth scales oscillate and blink in the background. There’s a nice touch of electric guitar in the back that’s not too intrusive. The steady, disco beat is also a great driving factor pushing the song along. I got to see Young Galaxy for the first time in 2018 in NYC and I’m so grateful they played this one. This one has stayed with me through so much.
46. BEACH FOSSILS – “Shallow” 
Another song that’s stuck with me through thick and thin, the emotional peak of Beach Fossils’ tremendous Clash The Truth. I was jamming on this song when it was just a demo back in 2012. I was stoked to hear BF break out of their shady haze of their previous records and start kicking ass by kicking up the tempo and showing off their performing chops. It’s easy to focus on the beautiful, driving guitars on this track, but the real MVP goes to the drummer. They really crush it on this track, emphatically blasting in fills to keep the sound of the chugging guitars varied and standout as the song progresses. Think of this song as the good twin to DIIV’s “Doused”.
45. CHINO AMOBI – “PARADISO” 
This song is absolutely bananas. The self-titled centerpiece to Chino Amobi’s 2017 album, it packs in motifs and sounds previously heard on the album and cranks the intensity all the way up, making for a dramatic, macabre vision of an apocalyptic future. Cacophonies of voices clash together, industrial sounds decay as soon as they’re introduced. The heavenly voice of 1010 Benja SL maintains as a constant throughout the shifting landscape, acting as the narrator on this track. It could be a beautiful day outside and this song could persuade me into thinking that it’s raining hellfire on my doorstep. It’s that immersive. Definitely not a leisurely listen, but a worthwhile one nonetheless.
44. JOHN MAUS – “Quantum Leap” 
I don’t really understand a lot of what Maus is saying on this track, but boy oh boy does it get me hype. The acrobatic bassline keeps things moving throughout the whole song, then when the starry keyboard line pops in during the chorus, its given a whole new layer of mystique. In my eyes, this is the quintessential John Maus. Groovy, minimal, but HUGE and makes you wanna dance. Not to mention the absolutely wicked synth freakout near the end of the song. It’s quick, but man it’s SO satisfying. It’s a wild whirlwind of a track that has the most emotional catharsis out of most other Maus songs.
43. JOANNA NEWSOM – “Sapokanikan”  **
It’s SO hard for me to pick a favorite song off of Divers, so I decided to go with the one I heard first. This song ain’t no slouch though, packing in some of Newsom’s most complex wordplay to date into a relatively brief five minutes. Can we appreciate how she wrote the piano line in the second verse to no longer play chords, but broken down chords that eventually morph into a mixture of both deconstructed and constructed chords? It’s kind of like we’re listening to this song constantly unfurl until we realize Newsom has us exactly where she wants us, wrapped up in this majestic story and laying out a beautiful climax where she hits her high register. The flutes and piano at the end? Come on. How can you not like this album?? It’s absurdly good.
42. DNTEL – “Connections” 
Something about this song brings me a kind of peace I cannot explain. Something about its quirky, twinkling electronic sequences and steady beat lull me into a sort of trance. Plus, unlike a lot of other instrumental electronic or dance music, usually it feels like it’s just one loop that continues and varies from time to time, but stays on the same track for its length. On “Connections”, we see the melody and groove take multiple detours, constantly shifting into new sounds and patterns that not only complement what came before it, but set up for what’s coming next. It’s so charming and has been so vital to me over the last four years. I hope you find some love in its beeps and boops as well.
41. JAI PAUL – “BTSTU (edit)” 
This song blew my damn mind in high school. It’s quiet and unassuming to start off, with the “don’t fuck with me, don’t fuck with me” kind of coming off as a joke. Like ok nerd, why don’t you speak up a bit and we won’t mess with you. Then the overblown blasts lay down and suddenly, everyone’s acting proper. This song lit the blogzone on fire and handily established the dynasty of Jai Paul. Even today this song carries a futuristic sense of magic, mostly because we haven’t heard anything else like it since.
40. TOPS – “Way To Be Loved” 
The bringer of instant good times. This whole record Picture You Staring brought me and my college friends endless joy in our final year of school, but this song was the one that put the team on its back. I mean, have you even heard the chorus? The perfect riff? The air guitar potential is limitless. It will never get old. The undeniable hit of TOPS’ discography, in my opinion. Plus, the band always extends it in their live setting, making for a head-blowing, euphoric, essential live experience that everyone should witness at least once.
39. EL GUINCHO – “Parte Virtual” 
One of the most futuristic songs I’ve ever heard. Previously indulging in breezy beach music in his early career, a quick hiatus yielded us an El Guincho record that was incredibly bold; overstuffed with wild production and freaky new aural ideas I’d never heard before. This song in particular is such a headrush with its obtrusive 808s and whip-fast, computerized details. Seems like everything just moves so fast it’s hard to take a tally of what’s actually happening. It’s no wonder why Rosalía has emerged as one of the most exciting new voices in pop music with this dude in her corner. Obviously not saying that he’s responsible for it all, but he’s clearly been ahead of the curve since at least 2016. Even then I had trouble wrapping my brain around songs on the record. Seeing this song live in 2017 was potentially one of the best live experiences I’ve ever had.
38. WASHED OUT – “Before” 
Undoubtedly the best Washed Out song. You have your “Feel It All Around”‘s and “Hard To Say Goodbye”‘s, but this one has been the king for me. Absolutely blissful, feathery synths lift the track up like a fluffy cloud throughout its length, while kaleidoscopic sounds expand and contract along the way. It’s simple, but it’s a song that I’ve put on in public settings and always get positive feedback. Good vibes, as they say.
37. PLAYBOI CARTI – “Magnolia” 
I know Carti has so many more hit songs and this was purely his major smash, but I still can’t get over how this song makes me feel. Pi’erre Bourne’s absurd 808s he lays on this track are THE iconic bass sound. It was just so weird. This song is a huge smash and is still so weird. A true testament to the power of this track.
36. ROSALÍA – “Pienso En Tu Mirá – Cap.3: Celos” 
Speaking of Rosalía, we see her here, making a song that seamlessly fuses the punchy world of flamenco with the world of pop, a synergy that works incredibly well. Taking the rapid-fire percussive blasts (normally generated by tap shoes) and handclaps (from a cadre of backup singers, as heard here) traditionally heard in flamenco music, Rosalía adds a modern twist with punctuating 808s and her own gorgeous vocal delivery, at times inflected with computerized effects. The result is magnificent, making for one of the most addicting pop songs in recent memory. Not to mention the video is equally incredible.
35. YVES TUMOR – “Limerence” 
This song is pretty simple, but man does it hit me hard. Yves Tumor may be fully embracing the alternative pop angle now, but his ambient work is something to marvel at. It consists of a mesmerizing loop of ambiguous tones and textures, occasionally backed up by thunder and gunshots, along with the main “narrative” of the song, featuring a the audio of a woman’s voice interacting with the person that’s currently filming her. The song is open ended in the way that these video clips could be made in real time as the song progresses, making the song a personal, intimate love song. Another interpretation is that either the woman who’s being recorded or the cameraman is watching this footage back after the relationship disintegrated. One could infer that because the track is filled with tumultuous thunder and ambiguous sound effects, that it’s the latter situation. Either way, it’s a immersive, misty world that’s hard to leave, despite the dull aching it inflicts upon you.
34. SASSY 009 – “Feel me” 
This is just a super badass tune that almost singlehandedly influenced me to purchase the five song EP it’s featured on – international shipping! It’s got a great beat, a lovely flute line, and when the song breaks open at around 3:28; absolute heart eyes from me. According to my last.fm I’ve listened to this song alone 150 times. Seeing it performed live was a fabulous experience, because no surprise, it slaps #intheclub.
33. OVLOV – “Where’s My Dini?” 
One of the most masterful builds in any rock songs. The song starts pretty groggily, but in the chorus things start to break open and get louder. Then it fades out. The second time around, the loudness is sustained and eventually melts down into a totally distorted, fuzz-dripping guitar solo, crackling into the oblivion. It’s very rare that I don’t anxiously tap my foot when the chorus isn’t happening during this song. It’s an extremely glorious, cathartic experience.
32. KELELA – “Bank Head (Extended)” 
Hoo-wee! Whenever I hear the opening claps and bass of this song I say that, cause I love this song so much. Its grooves are snappy, making it super easy to move along to. Kelela’s voice really shines here, one of the first songs where she really flexed her range. Just an expertly arranged and performed pop song. If you haven’t experienced it yet, just put it on and start bobbing along.
31. BECK – “I Only Have Eyes For You”  **
I heard this cover before I heard the famous Flamingos version. However, at the time, even this Beck cover blew my mind. I think he does the Flamingos version justice, keeping all the she-bops and coats of reverb in tact, but definitely sounding like Beck and not an old doo-wop group from the 50s. I absolutely love Beck and his voice, so hearing it in this inspired context was a dream. Any version of this song I’ll like – probably. Don’t hold me to that, you freaks.
30. WEED – “Leash” 
I’m not saying that this song stopped me from being depressed for a stretch of time, but I am saying that my time being not depressed coincided with the time I listened to this song A LOT. Almost like it beat it out of me with sheer force. This thing is absolutely furious and gets angrier as the song progresses. I’ve likened it to a piece of space debris picking of velocity as it plummets to the earth. Cutting through the sky with a burning intensity, a wanton disregard for any human life below it, and starts breaking apart in the lower atmospheres, scattering smaller, fiery shards across the horizon as the major chunk impacts in the ocean with a sizzling hiss.
29. THE BETHS – “Little Death” 
It seems as though we’ve hit a little pocket here of cathartic rock songs. With Ovlov, Weed and nwo comes The Beths. I’ve talked at length multiple times about how much I like this song, but another one won’t hurt. It’s such a lovely song about love and infatuation, ramping up the intensity through the chorus as the lead singer adds on new physical symptoms from seeing their crush. The guitars are powerful and there are some total air-drum worthy drum fills. Like I’m talking “Tom Sawyer”-esque drum fills. Like what indie rock song these days has technically impressive and emotionally impactful drum fills? This song is so badass dude I’m TELLIN YOUUU. Any rock fan owes it to themselves to listen.
28. AMEN DUNES – “Believe” 
Again – I’m not quite certain why I love this song so much. I think it’s a tremendously satisfying experience with a steady tempo and good vocal delivery. The way it develops, the way it’s executed, the way it makes me feel small in this big world, but doesn’t do it intimidatingly. It just is, and it is good.
27. ZOLA JESUS – “Remains” 
The entirety of Zola Jesus’ 2017 album Okovi is powerful, but for my money “Remains” is the most impactful. The whole album revolves around tragedy, regret, remorse, and other self-flagellating feelings. This song acts as the final thrash of resistance against reality, then shifting into an angry acceptance of said reality, as it’s crumbled around her. The stabbing piano arpeggios are ultra-effective in ramping up the intensity of the track, plus Zola’s voice is as formidable as ever. You can almost picture her singing this song with intense strobes going off behind her. It’s a cinematic, moving track to finish an intense record.
26. HUNDRED WATERS – “Murmurs” 
Not sure what it is about this song that makes it so special, it just hits so different. Maybe it’s the sequence of bassy electronics that start the song and are never heard from again (in the forefront, anyways – you can hear them backing up the chord structure a bit). Maybe it’s the stabs of piano. Maybe it’s the minimal percussion. Maybe it’s the brilliant voice of Nicole Miglis. It all comes together beautifully on “Murmurs”, one of many essential Hundred Waters songs you need to have in your life.
25. KANYE WEST – “I’m In It” 
“Damn your lips very soft, as I turn my Blackberry off” – this line is already dated, but damn it still sounds cool. I’m not gonna quote the rest of that section here because it’s quite NSFW. “I’m In It” features one of the best beats on Yeezus, some of the best one-liners (and some of the worst, but I mean, maybe that puts them in a different category of best?), and features Assassin and Justin Vernon on the same track, just to name a few good things about it. It’s MASSIVE and is like a better version of “All Day”, with its head-rumbling 808s and slow, meandering tempo. “Pop a wheelie on a zeitgeist”.
24. ELITE GYMNASTICS – “Here, In Heaven 4 & 5 (CFCF Remix)”  **
“Here, In Heaven” is one of the best songs of the decade. Its chopped & screwed companion, “Here, In Heaven 2” is also one of the best songs of the decade. “Here, In Heaven 3” is a cover of the original by How To Dress Well, and it’s pretty good. Where we get to now is “Here, In Heaven 4 & 5”, which is a remix by CFCF, the only remix to make it into this 200-song list. To boil it down to extreme basics, this sounds like it could be in a modern-era Studio Ghibli film. It’s got weepy pianos, synthetic orchestras, what sounds like some icy FM synths, and takes the screwed version of the song and turns it into a touching, micro-symphony full of melodramatic anime emotion. If I could list all versions of “Here, In Heaven” here I would and it would probably bring this rating up near the Top 10, but alas, you just have to listen to them all, eh?
23. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – “Jubilee Street (Live In Copenhagen)” 
The only live version of a song to beat out the original. And I mean, there’s no question as to which one’s more effective. Nick Cave + the boys go absolutely HARD on this live version (and I can confirm they go this hard EVERY time, or at least in Copenhagen and in NYC). The slow build throughout the lyrics resulting in the epic repetition of “I’m transforming, I’m vibrating, look at me now!” is incredible every time. Hearing the crowd screaming along with the song with rapturous glee, hearing Nick jump on the piano at the song’s emotional climax for a quick gallivant through the melody before just abandoning it to get closer to his fans in the front row, then jumping back onto the piano as the the band starts to get louder and louder in the back? It’s unreal. If you have the chance, go see this band live. Make the time! It’s worth it!
22. JESSICA PRATT – “This Time Around” 
Serenity, grace, beauty. These are three words I would use to describe this song. Cheesy to some, but man this just hits all the pleasure centers in my brain that thirst for a delicate, minimal singer songwriter ballad. Almost completely comprised of Pratt’s voice, her guitar strumming and a light dusting of keyboard, “This Time Around” is one of the more intimate songs on this list. Its simplicity being its shining light. Evoking a day spent watching steam rise from a hot drink, or a flower sway next to an open window, or watching a pet sleep in a ray of sunshine. It calls upon the little things in life and helps you pivot your attention to them, allowing their naturally occurring beauty to shine for you.
21. DEERHUNTER – “Helicopter” 
Another song that I would put on every mix CD I made from 2010 – 2011. I probably listened to this song 30 times in the week it was released. It’s a beautiful, touching song that works great within the Deerhunter catalog. The guitar in the chorus? I mean come on. Another great choice off Halcyon Digest would be “He Would Have Laughed”, Bradford Cox’s tribute to Jay Reatard (which is just SO good, a song I need to hear live one day), but “Helicopter” is just such a quintessential high school track that I’ll always associate with that time, despite consistently listening to the song well into my late twenties.
20. HOP ALONG – “Texas Funeral” 
“NONE OF THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN TO ME WITHIN MY LIFETIME” is a great thing to shout along to when you see Hop Along play this song live. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. That refrain is in the chorus and it’s pure electricity for those who dig the band. Frances Quinlan’s voice orchestrates the symphony of overflowing emotion featured on this track, whether it be from the guitar solo, the super distorted, space-filling guitars in the background, or the lively percussion keeping everything together; Frances is the one with the baton. She’s leading the way through this powerful Painted Shut highlight.
19. MISTER LIES – “I Walk (feat. Jessica Blanchet)”  **
This is a song where it makes you feel like you’re floating through space. Walking through a mire of emotions, either aimlessly wandering through an impenetrable fog, or sinking into a bottomless pit of existential ooze. Guest vocalist Jessica Blanchet hilariously makes for my favorite Mister Lies song, her unique, soulful voice providing a unique texture to this low key blend of downtempo, Burial-esque minimal electronic. The whole song is pretty washed out, like a heavy current of rain has washed away any defining details of its past and now exists with the identity of “worn, grey establishment”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s the mood of the track. Over time, recollections of buildings or landmarks that we pass by on commutes swirl and fade together into one cohesive smear in our memory, much like the end of this song, where Blachet’s voice is doused in reverb and artificially stretched into infinity, effectively becoming part of the instrumental. This kind of sound is synonymous to the early 10s – the first few breakthroughs in bedroom production. A beautiful, irony-free time where discovery was nearing its peak. I found this on Soundcloud randomly. It’s a find that has stuck with me for over eight years now. How wonderful is that?
18. TIRZAH – “Inside Out” 
Back when I had my radio show in college, I think this was the song that got the most people coming into the air studio asking what it was. Usually it was people in the lobby that were just chilling, but I occasionally had someone who was walking past the station on their way somewhere, heard the song and came in from there. Hooked from the hallway. For good reason, too. This song might seem a little obtuse and weird for some pop or R&B fans, but just let it play a few times and you’ll find that its micro-grooves are so inviting and body moving you won’t want to stop playing it. It didn’t really sound like anything else at the time and it still sounds distinctly Tirzah, even after her debut record is quite different as a whole: same woozy textures, same relaxed flow, same expert use of bass, same use of unorthodox, or rather rarely-heard sounds. Don’t sleep on Tirzah’s early EPs, because they’re FIRE. And shout out to Mica Levi for all the work she did on this song too.
17. BJÖRK – “Family” 
Although most of this track is devastating, with Björk lamenting the fracturing of her familial triangle of mother, father and child. With Arca and Haxan Cloak-assisted production, the first half of this track is pretty minimal, save for the eerie, dissonant orchestra laying the bedrock for Björk’s grievances, along with steady rounds of bass-amplified ammunition, launching like shells from the base of the orchestra and the sound of its impact echoing far in the distance. Closer to the midway point, the orchestra fizzles out save for one cello executing a brilliant solo, and the emphatic blasts of bass return as well. After this volatile in between section, the orchestra opens up into a tremolo and a chorus of partially synthetic, totally ethereal voices flood the soundstage, surrounding themselves around Björk and act like some blustery, cushioned vortex, a protector against raw, incoming emotion.
I would replay this latter section over and over in the early months of 2015. My college town had been getting so much snow, and watching the crystalline flakes swept up into shimmering formations in the winter sun and wind was an amazing sight to see. I would want to stop right there on the way to class just so I didn’t miss the beauty. So yes, this track is devastating at its face, but it’s also one of Björk’s most gorgeous, dreamy and environmentally manipulative, allowing the listener to hone in one the small beauties happening around them rather than nestling inside themselves.
16. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – “Home” 
This Is Happening is loaded with classic songs, but “Home” is the one that has resonated with me for the longest. After parties or get-togethers in high school, I would blast this song in my car on the way home, trying to cement the times I just had into the memories associated with this song. For the most part, it just made me think about how much I’ll miss my friends and my hometown once I move away after graduation (that’s a big theme in my music consumption around 2011 – my family moving from MI to CT). This track has some great motion, has some lyrics about memory and debauchery, and has a very sing-alongable chorus of “aaaa-AAAAAAAAA AAAAA-aaaa” – classic LCD.
15. BIG THIEF – “Not” 
It’s the guitar solo, it always has been and it always will be. Adrienne Lenker is just choking the everliving life out of that guitar and I am always down for it. As a wise scholar once said, indie rock can have a little catharsis, as a treat. In this case, it looks like Big Thief took a bit too much from the catharsis cookie jar and are drunk with relieving, anxiety-provoking and building power.
14. DAUGHTERS – “Guest House” 
Like being strapped into a big can opener and slowly being cut apart by grinding gears. Like being dropped into a boiling cauldron of oil and rolled down a cliffside. Like watching a friend get skinned alive. Like being locked out of your own house as it’s burning down. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit hyperbolic with these similes, but you get my drift. This song is intense, the first half especially. The second half of the track features booming, ominous brass signaling an end to the mania of the previous three minutes. When the crashing percussion and squealing guitars fade away, the brass remains. It then fades into a tidal current of synthetic strings, pushing and pulling against the weary emotions of the listener. It’s like for most of the track everything is tinted with these blood-red glasses. Anger, confusion, hopelessness, sadness and rage is all you can feel. But once the lenses come off and reality starts to sink in and waves of release and regret wash over you. The first time I heard this song I was loaded with goosebumps at the end. What a masterful closer to a record, but especially this one.
13. THE AVALANCHES – “Subways” 
An eternal summer hit. What are the chances that the weekend I move to NYC this album comes out? Literally riding on the subway on my first weekend in the city was a blissful, freeing feeling. There were no longer worries about catching a Metro North train back to Connecticut, or getting back to my job I was working at two days a week in the city. I could get on the subway and let it take me wherever it wanted if I was down for it. Feel my body sway or shake or swing along with the train as it careens down those ancient, dark tunnels. Soak in the sights, sounds and smells (but never tastes) of the clientele and their personal paraphernalia: books, dogs, oversized bags, steel I beams, plants, showtime stereos, boxes of gummies, a spilled latte, a spilled Arizona can, peanut shells, small children watching out the window as we cross the Williamsburg Bridge and the sun hits the East River perfectly… it’s a feeling, as well as a mode of transportation. The Avalanches bottled that feeling and made it so you can cruise around on a subway whenever you need to, just a chance to get away for a while.
12. KASPER MAROTT – “Drømmen Om Ø – Forever Mix ’19” 
Like “Subways”, this is another quintessential summer tune for me. I would walk around the city listening to its sprawling length (14 minutes) and just vibe with its mutating groove as I drank in the sights and sounds of the city around me. The beat of the song itself is quite upbeat, making the internal tempo of the listener have to keep up, encouraging movement. Elsewhere, embedded deeper in the track there are amorphous washes of warmth, slowly creeping across the pavement. Acid house bubbles out from within the main groove and settles down quickly. Things progress, but in a logical fashion. New sounds build and build, establishing their presence within the framework, do their thing, and then release back into the song, allowing new sequences to have their time. It’s like moving through a city, block by block. The structure stays the same: a grid. As you progress up an avenue, each block contains something different, some new stimuli enters the arena of your mindspace. It’s a brilliant, body-moving odyssey that I plan on keeping in my phone for years just to continue exploring those aural blocks in the future.
11. JESSY LANZA – “Oh No” 
Y’all, I love Jessy Lanza’s music so much. The title track off her fabulous 2016 record is great. You all should know this since it’s my #11 track of the decade. It features an irregular drum pattern, little jabs of keyboards, and glamorous walls of synth in the chorus. It’s not until 2/3’s of the way into the song where things get REALLY interesting. It moves into this instrumental breakdown, reminiscent of micro-electronics used in Yellow Magic Orchestra’s music, and crafts some insane tilt-a-whirl of sound where tons of little fragments of grooves are spinning around at a breakneck pace. It’s so sick and gets me head bobbing like crazy every time. Again, this is a hard record to choose one track off of, but hearing this song live was a game changer. Like I’ve said with most of the songs here – GO SEE THIS ARTIST LIVE, it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
10. TODD TERJE – “Inspector Norse” 
If you know this song, you know why it has to be in my top 10. At this point I feel like it’s already regarded as a dance music classic. The little melodic groove on this track is just too infectiously happy and irony-free, begging the listener to just dance along with it. It inspires feelings of genuine joy from the deepest recesses of malaise. It straddles the line of corniness, landing in the perfect sweet spot that begs you to dance along because it’s just so joyous but also because it’s just a really, really good song. Seeing this song performed live, again, was a blast. Terje and his band had a crew of dancers draped in Christmas lights shuffle onstage and encourage dancing from the crowd. The dancers too, are doing a routine mostly filled with dance moves your dad does at wedding receptions: the shopping cart, the sprinkler, the lawnmower – it’s inviting you to dance however you want to, without judgement. It’s a vital piece of dance music from the decade that everyone should listen to at least once.
9. JULIA HOLTER – “In the Green Wild” 
As we progress further into the Top 10, I’m realizing that my reasoning for liking these songs will be more and more “man… this song is just so good, you know?”. That’s kind of how I feel right now about “In The Green Wild”, but let’s extrapolate. It’s a perfectly paced song, loaded with dreamy imagery of losing your body in the forest with the sound of the sea in the background. The steady upright bass throughout the track is definitely a big draw. The thought of plants and animals laughing along with you as you venture through an unknown forest seems a little scary and psychedelic, but the vibe overall is a blissful one. I love the violin or viola line in the latter half of the track. It’s just so good, you know?
8. ARCADE FIRE – “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” 
I had only recently become an Arcade Fire fan around the time The Suburbs came out. Maybe for about a year previous I had consisted on a diet of only Funeral and a few songs off Neon Bible. I had a perception of what Arcade Fire was and what they could do. Then “Sprawl II” came out and blew me all the way away. A marching synth pop banger with feelings of defiance against the sprawl of suburbia and decay. Again – high school T absolutely ate this thing UP, playing it for friends who immediately dismissed it for sounding like Bruce Springsteen. Fair! The little programmed synth line that comes in at 1:34 and stays for the remainder of the track blew my mind as a kid. In my opinion this is THE best Arcade Fire song and likely won’t be topped.
7. BEACH HOUSE – “Levitation” 
I’m a big fan of album sequencing. Having a good opening track is usually KEY for me, as it is for a lot of people. “Levitation” is the best opening track out of any Beach House album. It sets the perfect tone for the rest of Depression Cherry. The song slowly builds things up in a gorgeous way, adding in more and more instrumentation as it climbs higher in volume and substance. The song is slow and warbly for the most part, continuing to climb through cloud cover and plunge through the unknown.
However, a bit past the three minute mark is one of the most magical moments in any Beach House song, or frankly any song of this decade. A flash in the darkness. Little bursts of light in the form of guitar and keys chiming together, flickering in the air outside a plane window, a faraway signal calling for you. You’re lost in its hypnotic allure. The world filters out from view, only the beacon remains. “There’s a place I want to take you” – Legrand is calling for you from the unknown above, “As our bodies lift up slowly”. A bright light opens up, everything filters out and is swallowed up into pure, shimmering energy. Now THAT’s how you start an album. Does the rest of it deliver? Sure, it’s a blissful experience but hoo boy, nothing tops this song after the three minute mark. Allow yourself to submit to its cosmic glow. Yeah I recycled this from my 10 Best Beach House Songs list – so what? Did you even read that post? Go do it!
6. GRIMES – “Oblivion” 
What is it about this song? The favorite song of the decade among so many people my age. The rubbery, tactile beat is likely the initial draw here. Something about it is intoxicating, imprinting itself in your memory as one of the more memorable sounds of the decade. Going deeper, the song is about Grimes’ being sexually harassed on the street, and the resulting paranoia and pain that she experienced afterward when she went outside or was with a man at all. She took that traumatic experience and turned it into a career-defining song, one that doesn’t wallow in pity or anything, but rather embraces a new set of confidence and has ultimately guided her career since. It’s a wonderful pop song, with little homespun details that have undoubtedly inspired so many like her to pick up a cracked copy of Ableton, a keyboard and make some weirdo pop music in their bedroom.
5. HOP ALONG – “Tibetan Pop Stars” 
In my opinion, this is THE Hop Along song. If you asked me if you could only listen to one Hop Along song to get a feeling of the band, I’d tell you this one. One reason why is thanks to Frances Quinlan’s wild vocal delivery (as always), wantonly throwing herself around in the throes of emotion. She goes from quiet pleading to defiant belting in some sections. Her vocals are backed up by a propulsive rock framework, taking emotional cues from popular emo music at the time, along with a trembling violin at points. Glacial-like slabs of guitar slam against each other alongside a tom-and-cymbal centered drum pattern. Like any great Hop Along song, it’s overflowing with emotion. The final singalong part of “My love is average” is a blast to be a part of in the end, especially live. It’s a roller coaster ride that has been with me for nearly the whole decade.
4. BEACH HOUSE – “10 Mile Stereo” 
“10 Mile Stereo” is the absolute perfect representative of Beach House’s “epic” style of songs. Starting off with a clear, energizing guitar pattern and simple kick drum, Legrand lays out the groundwork of the track before atmospheric keyboard and additional percussion filters in. The the first chorus hits and the keys are arcing towards the heavens, touching the cosmos. Legrand is hype now too, hitting triumphant melodies while piloting the star cruiser higher and higher into the stratosphere. Now at this point in a normal song, you’d think we’d descend back down to Earth for the verse. Au contraire, lovely reader.
Beach House continues to amp up the volume through the next verse, now adding a lovely ascending keyboard arpeggio to go along with the other layers of instrumentals. Alex Scally’s guitar work is minimal at best, continuing to do a light chugging rhythm that’s pretty innocuous for the most part But what’s that? You forgot about the drums? Well not anymore, as crashes of cymbals build up and release like stars exploding across the universe. Scally revs up to a scintillating tremolo to match the skying keyboards. To really put the cherry on top of this epic odyssey, the final word echoing into the vast expanse is “forever”, marking that even though the song may be over, it’s still floating out there, somewhere.
3. GANG GANG DANCE – “Glass Jar” 
This 11:22-length song was the first single off Gang Gang Dance’s excellent 2011 album Eye Contact. It doesn’t earn the “best song on the album” honors easily, but man it does a lot of great things to clinch it. It’s all about the masterful build here. It’s a smoky scene, with lots of ambiguous synth play and odd vocals popping up out of nowhere. Pops and rumbles of percussion explode in the wings of the soundstage, it’s like they’re going off on both sides of you in the aisles of a big theater. Then when the building is done, lead singer Lizzi Bougatsos leads the shaman call in the ritual, adding a vital, human voice to the swirling smoke of energetic, psychedelic instrumentals. No sound is taken for granted, as each one leads into the climactic “meat” of the song, six minutes into it. Once it hits, it’s hard to not get wrapped up in its beauty. It’s one of those songs that definitely doesn’t feel as long as it actually is.
2. JOANNA NEWSOM – “Baby Birch”  **
If you don’t feel anything after listening to this song, I really have no idea what kind of person you are. Very likely a emotionless one, maybe? I know that seems harsh, but seriously now. This might be the best song Joanna has ever written, and also one of the most devastating. Masterfully arranged, written, performed, produced, etc. It’s the best. The depth of metaphors, the shock of the imagery, the force of the instrumentals, the swiftness and grace of Newsom’s voice, the steadiness of the harp. This song truly has it all. Yes I’ve been hyping up Joanna Newsom on all of my Best of the Decade lists, but for good reason. She’s a defining artist of this decade and everyone should really sit down and listen to this song and hear what she’s saying and how she’s saying it. Next level songwriting. Forming a powerful tandem with Grouper in my 2010s, truly unstoppable.
1. GROUPER – “Headache” 
Have you ever been on the beach alone on a cloudy day? I had the luxury of living about a 10 minutes drive to the ocean for most of the decade, which impacted my life in so many ways that I’m sure I’m not aware of all of them yet. If you haven’t been to the beach alone on a cloudy day, just picture yourself in front a large body of water with no one else around. You’re just staring out at the sea, its vastness dwarfing you.
Being a human is pretty stressful and sometimes things make us feel bigger than we actually are. Or potentially things that don’t matter feel bigger than we are, like deadlines, relational conflict or personal conflicts. We have to remember that truly nothing is bigger than the ocean, an interconnected body of life that supports billions of humans and an innumerable amount of animal, plant and microbial life. It’s literally the most important thing on the planet. That’s why I find going to the ocean or a large body of water calming. Purely existing next to this massive living organism, packed with life and life-giving properties, puts into perspective how insignificant we really are. Its currents will continue to push and erode and churn away at the earth even after we’re gone. If you submerge yourself in the ocean, it will toss you around no matter what. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like or what you own, the ocean will treat you the same as anyone. It is the Earth’s great equalizer. We are constantly and eternally humbled.
This song reminds me of that feeling of being overshadowed by something bigger, being pushed and pulled along in not an aggressive way, but in a natural, astrally-based manner. Its massive soundstage imitates a peerless view of the endless horizon and the steady guitar reminds me of the rhythm of the waves washing ashore. The slow, over-arching drone in the background that gets built up as the song progresses reminds me of the ocean’s depth and murky mysteries that lie beneath. Grouper’s beautiful, subdued vocals remind me of the clouds that drift overhead and the pockets of sunset that escape through holes in sky. Slices of gold, purple and pink light making their way to you, briefly shining bright into your eyes as you let the waves carry you away.
This is a feeling I let envelop me on the regular. It’s a song that allows me to wallow in a depressive state sure, but likewise one that allows me to recalibrate my emotions. It reminds me of what’s really important, to focus on what’s in front of me and what in my life should carry true meaning, and continue forging on. I know that no matter what I do, the Earth will continue pushing me along as the current chooses. It’s a meditative moment that I can access at almost any time. Thanks to this song and mostly everything else Grouper has released, she has been one of, if not my favorite musician of the decade. By far the one I’ve listened to the most and most consistently. I can’t thank her enough for her contributions.
ARTISTS WITH MULTIPLE SONGS REPRESENTED:
I know what I like. Evidently, it’s mostly only 28 different artists.
- 4: Beach House + Charli XCX
- 3: Kelela + Mitski
- 2: Alvvays, Beck, Big Thief, Burial, Carly Rae Jepsen, Destroyer, Frank Ocean, Grouper, Hop Along, Hundred Waters, Jai Paul, Jenny Hval, Jessica Pratt, Jessy Lanza, Joanna Newsom, Julia Holter, Kanye West, King Krule, Merchandise, SOPHIE, St. Vincent, Tame Impala, U.S. Girls & Vampire Weekend (24)
AVERAGE SONG LENGTH:
Clearly my favorite songs are not the most radio friendly – more like the ones you put on when you wanna run for a bathroom break. No shame in that!
- Top 50: 5:16 minutes
- Top 200: 4:39 minutes
I didn’t even mean to do this intentionally but in the Top 50 songs it’s an equal breakdown between male and female artists – 25 each. Onto the full 200-songs stats.
- 99 songs by male-identifying artists
- 97 songs by female-identifying artists
- 2 songs with split focus between male and female-identifying artists
- 1 song by a non-binary artist
- 168 – the # of artists featured in this list.
- 65 – the # of artists here not featured in my Top 200 Albums list.
- 14 – the # of mostly-to-purely instrumental songs.
- 9 – the # of songs featured that are not currently streaming on Spotify.
- 3 – the # of songs en Español.
- 1 – song with a Japanese name by a non-Japanese artist.
- 1 – cover
- 1 – live version
- 1 – remix
(- year: full 200 // top 50)
- 2010: 22 songs // 5 songs
- 2011: 27 songs // 5 songs
- 2012: 26 songs // 7 songs
- 2013: 21 songs // 6 songs
- 2014: 19 songs // 3 songs
- 2015: 21 songs // 6 songs
- 2016: 19 songs // 4 songs
- 2017: 19 songs // 6 songs
- 2018: 17 songs // 5 songs
- 2019: 9 songs // 3 songs