2010 was an excellent year for indie and pop music. For me, the top story was that Lady Gaga became boring. I have over 100 albums on my Spotify playlists that I listen to regularly. However, I was able to whittle down my final list to my favourite fifteen songs (not albums, mind) of the year. I no longer listen to albums on a stereo, but mainly on computer or other portable listening device, and like 99% of the rest of you, I tend to download the tunes that touch me the most. Here are 15 of mine, in no order:
'Dead American Writers' by Tired Pony - REM and Snow Patrol guys create MOR classic. Classic gets played too much and begins to bore. But still, great.
'She Said' by Plan B - from the best album of the year, and perhaps the most unlikely. A star is born.
'Ready To Start' by Arcade Fire - the Montreal band create a decade-defining album, and this is one of the best on it, with its "businessmen drink my blood" capturing the meltdown mood perfectly.
'Love The Way You Lie' by Eminem with Rihanna - the most disturbingly catchy and powerful song ever written about beating up one's partner. The rapper is back.
'Nothin' On You' by B.o.B. - the summer's best Top 40 love song, with a truly sweet mix of rap and vocals.
'Girl I Love You' by Massive Attack featuring Horace Andy - this under-rated album produced a track of intense moodiness that recalls their finest work.
'La Collectionneuse' by Charlotte Gainsbourg - Beck produced the album from which this comes, which is a masterclass in French cool.
'Anyone's Ghost' by The National - this year's moody indie US band, the song captures "going out with your headphones on again" loneliness with a notable beat.
'Dancing on My Own' by Robyn. Kylie Minogue, Rihanna, Minaj, Hot Chip, Perry, Kellis, and Cilmi all created great pop songs this year, but the best was from Robyn's brilliant trilogy.
'Careless' by Sarah Harmer (a Canadian) is a light and utterly charming pop song, that effortlessly came to reside in my affections.
'Heartache by Numbers' by Bryan Ferry does Ferry favours - it takes his vibrato longing, his melancholy homme fatale persona, to its pinnacle. Easily one of the finest of his songs. His running around with "every girl in town" and "I'd be your lover not your friend" hit the right note.
'Boyfriend' by Best Coast is, like 'Candy', 50s-retro New Wave stuff, and really sweet, cute, and sort of darkly ominous. "The other girl is not like me, she's prettier... and has a college degree" rings true and is bleakly funny.
'Desire Lines' by Deerhunter - with its Pixie's-style - is one of the finest indie songs in a while. I love it.
'Pull Out' by The Soft Pack is Garage the old way - just snotty-nosed teens sneering to insanely catchy nasty guitar, bass and drums. A lot of 'Rock Lobster' in this. "No more negotiation - write the legislation - pull out" is a great mantra for Californians who want their own nation. Thrillingly basic.
'Night' by Zola Jesus was a dark horse but became my favourite song by a mile at year's end - a mix of The Knife and Siouxsie & The Banshees, her vocals are eerie, macabre, portentous, and hint of wicked deeds nocturnally looming or pending. But also sadness, romance, dignity and something elegiac. It has a "bed of thorns" and resting bones. It's magnificently what it is.
14 Honourable mentions: Superchunk's 'Rosemarie' is cool; I Blame Coco's 'Selfmachine' is rather good, in a 'I Am Not A Robot' way (another fave by Marina and The Diamonds). Frankie Rose and The Outs created one of the best B-52 indie twang retro 50s songs ever with 'Candy'; Foxy Shazam was the weirdest songsmith of the year with catchy off-kilter 'Connect' which is a bit like Thriller-era Jackson mixed with Eels. Paul Weller had a great come back track with 'Wake Up The Nation' but its call to throw away facebook seemed quaint by year's end; 'Vaporize' by Broken Bells was a dreamy pop tune from Shins lead singer; 'All Time Low" by The Wanted is great boy band stuff; Janelle Monae was brilliant channeling James Brown in 'Tightrope'; 'Monkey' by Robert Plant is seriously weird ("tonight the monkey dies"?); Hole's 'Nobody's Daughter' was fun retro-grunge; and finally, 'Big Len' by The Jim Jones Revue is nasty rock at its wildest - break out the shotguns and the rotgut. Don't forget the comeback of Edwyn Collins in 'Losing Sleep'. Beach House also deserves mention for 'Norway'.
Others that deserve to be attended to would include new albums by Vampire Weekend, The Black Keys, The Dead Weather, Hurts and Kanye West. There. I'm done.