The 10 Best Songs of 2010

As another year comes to a close, we start our year-end festivities by featuring our top 10 songs of the year. With so many fantastic choices to choose from, our first official consensus song list brings the finest cuts of the year forward. We’ll reveal our top albums of the year throughout the next few days but for now, the best songs of 2010:

10. Future Islands – “Long Flight” (Thrill Jockey)

A seesaw synth, giddy textures, and a gliding baseline approximate the anticipation of a returning traveler, someone who proudly “went off and saw things [he]’d never seen,” but the scene soon turns tragic as his lover is an airport no-show, later found at home with another man. As the truth sinks in, the bass gets heavy and the melody maniacal. Vocals cycle through stages of grief, at turns exhausted, sassy, confrontational, aloof, and inconsolable, repeating but barely believing the lusty reason: “just cuz you needed a hand.” A fiery reminder that whether it’s celebrated or mourned, love is all-consuming. ~ Greg Argo

9. Cee-Lo Green – “Fuck You!” (Elektra Records)

“Fuck You!” was the most unlikely summer jam in history. A profanity laden, brokenhearted …dance party? Very rarely does a line like “If I was richer, I’d still be with ya, now ain’t that some shit?” become a universal basher – but that’s the genius of Cee-Lo Green. With his unfuckwithable swagger and ridiculously sunny production, he can turn even the most dejected scene into a hit. “Fuck You!” is the antidote to infatuation. ~ Luke Winkie

8. Caribou – “Odessa” (Merge)

The kick-start, the pounding drums, that insatiable singular melody and those swooning vocals, Caribou’s “Odessa” was a chiming symbol of new arrivals. Words about an ex girl and an ode to disco synths and electronics, it kick starts Swim with an undeniable sheer of mesmerizing ebb and flow. Through all the colors of sounds, it further established Daniel Snaith’s outfit as one of the brightest. ~ Bryan Sanchez

7. Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs” (Merge)

Upon first listen, “The Suburbs,” the album opener off Arcade Fire’s 2010 release, I was immediately absorbed by the bright, piano driven direction the album was taking. As a huge fan of the group’s previous body of work, this record was highly anticipated and this song surely encompasses their musical progression to date. ~ Ryan Egan

6. Kanye West – “Devil in a New Dress” (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)

Kanye and his signature bravado are on full display, seemingly effortless but painstakingly crafted. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by Smokey Robinson is sampled, and based on the subject matter it is an appropriate choice. The beat is laid back, restrained and dreamy. There is an appropriate sense of subtlety, sexuality, and temptation, when combined with Kanye’s tongue-in-cheek wordplay and you begin to see why this track really shines. The track switches gears and Rick Ross adds that final touch of braggadocio to seal the deal. ~ Jay Russell

5. Arcade Fire – “Suburban War” (Merge)

Leave it to Montreal’s most enterprising collective to breathe some life into a hackneyed topic like suburban malaise. On this nascent epic about getting the hell out of dodge, Win Butler and Co. examine the ambivalent relationships we all have with our childhood stomping grounds. Yet as affecting as it is, the real emotional pay dirt comes in the track’s final minute and a half when the midtempo groove shifts into double time; drums pound, guitars chime, and voices soar with the sort of matchless urgency that has long been this band’s trademark. ~ Adam Costa

4. LCD Soundsystem – “Dance Yrself Clean” (DFA/Virgin)

In pin-pointing a year where music was bursting at every seam with new explorations, “Dance Yrself Clean” showcases the captivating, expansive role music can play in all of our lives. James Murphy and Co. make through the first few minutes with a playful keyboard line and calculative percussion before the explosion hits and everything smashes away. As with life, the title depicts exactly what the music is intended for: dancing your entire body clean. ~ Bryan Sanchez

3. Deerhunter – “Helicopter” (4AD)

The sprightly “Revival” may have been the first single to emerge from Deerhunter’s 4th LP, but it was the gauzy shimmer of “Helicopter” that made for one of autumn’s most delightful soundtracks.  Belying the track’s pastoral ambience and candied melodies are Bradford Cox’s crestfallen lyrics, which seem to be loitering near that transcendental junction where religion and pharmaceuticals often frequent one another in art.  The failure of either to quell the resulting feelings of alienation (“No one cares for me / I keep no company”) is a bummer, but they don’t stand a chance of extinguishing the song’s resplendent beauty. ~ Adam Costa

2. Kanye West – “Runaway” (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)

“Runaway,” the shattering centerpiece of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, represents everything the mythical pop-god Kanye West has come to be. It’s a little funny, “let’s have a toast for the jerk-offs!” profoundly revealing “And I just blame everything on you, at least you know that’s what I’m good at,” but mostly, crushingly sad. West is one of the few pop stars who’s able to let his deepest, most guileless emotions lead his creative direction. And “Runaway” is the best example of that. ~ Luke Winkie

1. Sufjan Stevens – “Djohariah” (Asthmatic Kitty Records)

Seventeen minutes of tightly composed sadness surrounding a hyper high school talent show guitar solo. One girl’s name that none of us knew existed beforehand. Sufjan Stevens’ indie legacy forcing us to sit through it over and over again. It’s worth it every single time. ~ Nick Bush