Friday, December 17, 2010

Best of 2010: Songs of the Year

I'll admit that I kind of didn't want to do this post this year. Reasons for that stemmed almost exclusively out of laziness (it takes forever to write these), but then I decided my year-end best of CD which I give out every Christmas was too fucking good not to share. The first round of CDs go out to close friends this weekend so I figured that now would be as good a time as any to reveal the contents. Many of these songs came from the summer which was a fantastic summer for music. This list is 17 songs long, I'll keep my comments as brief as I can. The final CD will have one more song - the retro song of the year - but that post is proving harder to write than I anticipated and will probably see the light of day next week sometime. So without further delay, here we go. (Sorry pop children, no Robyn. I just can't do it.)

1) Get Outta My Way / Kylie Minogue
Usually, these lists are in no particular order, but the #1 song on this list is the #1 song of the year for me. No other song even came close to defining 2010 like Kylie's "Get Outta My Way" did. I was obsessed with this song in the late summer and I still play it like it came out yesterday. It fit Kylie like a glove and I predict it will be a Kylie classic despite its poor chart performance even overseas. The lyrics were empowering and kiss-offish in just the right way. It also had a video that I dissected in a late summer post that reduced me to a screaming fangirl in a way that only Kylie can. Not since 2007 when Debbie Harry's "Two Times Blue" dominated my listening has a song come so close to wrapping up the whole year in 3 and a half minutes. "Get Outta My Way" did just that and for that reason, it is 2010's Song of the Year.

2) King of Anything / Sara Bareilles
I wasn't sold on Sara Bareilles' first album, although I did like "Love Song." I picked up her second album Kaleidoscope Heart on Amazon MP3 for $1.99 on the strength of "King of Anything." If there's anything I like, it's a defiant kiss-off song, and "King of Anything" delivers that in spades. Intelligent lyrics and a piano driven melody don't hurt it either.

3) Telephone / Lady Gaga & Beyonce
Is Lady Gaga backlash about to start now that I've finally given in to her charms? My daughter and I adore this song - we sing along to it in the car all the time and she knows the lyrics better than I do. It does what every fantastic pop song should do - burrow into your brain and never leave. Easily the best phone song since "Hung Up."

4) Shame / Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow
It's kind of fashionable to hate on this song, but I really really like it. I think it's the fact that it's a duet between two men which I feel is something of a rarity. The song is not going to cure cancer but it's catchy and cute and sometimes, with pop music, that's all you really want. I also enjoyed the Brokeback Mountain-ish video. Those two guys (who are, for the record, both straight) really just need to get a room.

5) Jona Vark / Gypsy & the Cat
My friend Steve is the only reason I know about Gypsy & the Cat. He thought I might like "Jona Vark" since it was "very Fleetwood Mac-ish." He was right and I've played the hell out of it in the last quarter of the year. G&tC have an album out that is only available in Australia and I think I'm going to have to figure out how to procure a copy. Cool electronic music that doesn't leave your head hurting when you listen to it.

6) Rocket / Goldfrapp
What if Goldfrapp had recorded the soundtrack to Xanadu? I think that with their album Head First which was one of 2010's first perfect pop records, you get at least an idea of what it would have been like. I heard "Rocket" very early on in 2010 and it has stuck with me all year.

7) Oh No!/ Marina & The Diamonds
Another song that Anna has really taken a liking to, Marina Diamindis is one of my favorite new artists of 2010. This isn't surprising as she has a big female voice most people are used to me loving pretty much instantly and she is classically beautiful as well (check out the "Shampain" video if you doubt me - or better the "Hollywood" video.)

8) Hormones / Tracey Thorn
"Hormones" is the most bittersweet song on this list (quite a feat considering Mary Chapin Carpenter is represented here as well.) A mother's ode to her daughter whose hormones are "just kicking in" while hers are "just checking out," the bittersweet is surrounded by a great melody and other lyrics that can cause dads to see the women in their lives with respect. As the dad to a daughter who is "only half grown up," it sure resonates with me.

9) Wonderful Life / Hurts
Hurts is so hard to figure out. I like their odd Pet Shop Boys meets Johnny Hates Jazz sound, but a little bit of them goes a long way. Their song "Better Than Love" made my summer list, but when it came right down to it, it was the more melancholy "Wonderful Life" that's had more staying power. It is kind of a cousin to Black's "Wonderful Life" in that you almost believe that it really is a wonderful life.

10) The Way I Feel / Mary Chapin Carpenter
So many good songs on The Age of Miracles, so little space. "The Way I Feel" is perhaps the most authentically Chapin song on the album in that it highlights her uncanny ability to marry her smarts and way with a lyric with a country-pop hook. This is a perfect driving song and whenever I listen to it in my truck, I just want to hit the road and drive for the horizon.

11) Broken / Madonna
There were enough Madonna leaks this year that it was almost as if we got a brand new album. Most of the leaks were of dubious quality and many were cast-offs from American Life (read: not very danceable) but "Broken" was a notable exception to this. Recorded during the Celebration sessions, this song is classic latter-day Madonna. Her voice is low and commanding and the chorus is as memorable as anything she's done in a long time. Miles better than just about anything on Hard Candy, I'm glad this saw the light of day.

12) History / Groove Armada (featuring Will Young)
Bubbling over with sexual energy, "History" is what Will Young really needs to be recording now. As has been pointed out by others, his songs seem oddly neutered. Not so with this. It was another January 2010 song that survived 12 months of really good music to earn a spot here. Here's hoping Will's rumored all-dance album takes a cue from this song.

13) Raise Your Glass / P!nk
I am oddly resistant to P!nk. Even though I like most of what I hear from her, I always feel like she's the token female artist that people that don't like female artists very much feel okay in liking. Why I let that perception keep me from enjoying P!nk's pretty good music is probably my loss. That said, "Raise Your Glass" is my favorite P!nk song since "Don't Let Me Get Me."

14) You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me / Cher
As the first new Cher song in almost a decade, it could have been 4 minutes of cats screeching and meowing and it would have made this list. Happily, it was a solid ballad the likes of which we haven't seen Cher do in a while. Complete with dance remixes, this whets my appetite for the long awaited new Cher album (no release date yet.)

15) Be My Thrill / The Weepies
I didn't like The Weepies Be My Thrill album as much as I liked Hideaway, but this is definitely a standout track that has got a lot of play as summer turned into fall this year.

16) Turn On The Radio / Reba McEntire
This is the second year in row that a Reba song has made this list. Do I dare declare that I am in the midst of a Reba renaissance? Time will tell, but this song had me at with the cheeseball line "Try to call, twitter me, text until your fingers bleed." And when the video ended up featuring Reba as the ultimate cougar, I knew this song would end up here come December.

17) Any Which Way / Scissor Sisters
Half a year after it came out, I'm still kind of warming up to Night Work. I don't know why - it's really everything I love about cheesy pop music and the Stuart Price factor which made Confessions on a Dance Floor and Aphrodite so appealing is hard at work here as well. That said, "Any Which Way" was an early favorite. It's also the only song from the year (that I know of) to mention L'Eggs pantyhose. That kind of obscure reference more than earns it a spot on this list.

And besides, I just wanted another excuse to post the picture of the Scissor Sisters' Night Work album cover - the album cover that launched a thousand "that was my senior picture" jokes.

Many of you can be expecting the CD with these tracks (plus one) so you can get your 64 minutes of Dan at any time you so desire.

Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear it. Keep it clean. Or don't.


John said...

I love this list. At least half of these artists are in contention for my list, although not all with the same tracks.

BTW, that MCC track is actually getting some consideration at country radio right now.

Dwayne said...

Nice list. Some new discoveries for me. Thanks.

Have I run into my first Robyn hater?
Even "Call Your Girlfriend?"

Dan said...

I don't hate Robyn, but she really does nothing for me. Even "Call Your Girlfriend" has nice music, but the voice is so grating to me!

All in all, I'd rather listen to Duffy. *ducks flying vegetables*

Glad you liked it otherwise. It's in pretty heavy rotation these days.

xolondon said...

The Oh No video is brilliant. I assume Anna has seen it. Marina is a STAR!

Hormones is showing up on many lists, as it should!

I love that your song of the yr references zombies!

BUT I don't know the Weepies song... hmmm

Anonymous said...

"Get Outta My Way" is also my fav song from this year. So addictive and good, cheers for Mr. Price production on this one!!!

Anonymous said...

Just head to JB Hi Fi, a major retailer in Australia to purchase the Gypsy & The Cat album, believe you me you won't regret the purchase, my album of the year, so many great subtle 80's power rock pop references meets the bands own pop sensibilities...Merry Christmas! - Mark: