As per tradition (if something can be called a tradition if you’ve only done it once before…) here’s my list of the top songs of 2010. Well, it’s something of a misnomer, to be honest, as most of my favourite songs of the year have already featured in my Top 10 Albums post, so this is an opportunity to recognise the impressive efforts of those bands who weren’t eligible for inclusion on that list. Some of these are good tracks from otherwise bad albums, others from records that only missed out by the skin of their teeth, and yet more come from bands who didn’t release a full album this year. No matter what their provenance, however, all ten of these songs are well deserving of their places. When viewed together, the Top 10 Albums and Top 10 Songs lists are a solid representation of what I think the best music of 2010 was.
10. My Best Theory by Jimmy Eat World. Jimmy Eat World were at one time lauded for being one of the only bands from their scene to hit the big time without sacrificing any of their integrity. Sadly their albums have spiralled downward from the genius levels of Clarity and Bleed American, and this years effort, Invented, was their worst yet. Lyrically hackneyed and sounding like it was put together with very little thought at all, it seems like a sad end for what was once a fantastic band. Despite its failings, however, I found myself listening to the lead single, My Best Theory, an awful lot this year.
9. Fantasist in March by Lupen Crook. I was absolutely certain that Lupen Crook was going to be huge in 2006, but after releasing a series of interesting yet commercially untenable albums he’s virtually sunk without trace. His strangely compelling lyricisms and 12-string stylings did manage to poke their head above the parapet for a moment this year, but I think this is probably the last track of any quality that we’ll be seeing from him, alas.
8. I Think Ur A Contra by Vampire Weekend. For an album that was hyped to high heaven, Vampire Weekend’s sophomore effort, Contra, was something of a wet sock. I liked their first album – not as much as some, to be sure, but I did like it – but Contra left me very cold indeed. The final track, however, is a little slice of production genius, so while they weren’t within a country mile of the Top 10 Albums list, they scoop a consolation placement here.
7. Pittsburgh by We Are Scientists. Yet again We Are Scientists have managed to produce a really boring album that has one track on it that I just can’t stop listening to. Pittsburgh was smuggled in among the morass of mediocrity that made up their LP Barbara, and is an absolute gem of a track; a poignant reminder that WAS actually can write a pretty darned good song when they put their minds to it. Read my full review of their album here.
6. Not In Love by Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith. I don’t normally have any time for Crystal Castles; their music is just not my cup of tea at all, which I imagine will come of no surprise to my regular readers. If I want to listen to dance music then… well, I may as well chop my ears off, quite frankly. As far as I’m concerned it’s the last haven for the criminally unmusical; the only thing worse than a dance track is a dance track remix… Add Robert Smith into the mix, however, and I’m all ears; this cheeky little cover warrants a pretty decent placement on this list purely because it’s so nice to hear his dulcet tones again.
5. The Wrong Car by The Twilight Sad. This first half of this list has been made up solely of good tracks from bad albums. At this point I can take a more cheerful, upward-looking view of the year’s music. This stonkingly good record only missed out on inclusion in the Top 10 Albums list as it’s nought but a lowly EP. Despite it’s diminutive stature, it’s a pretty solid collection of songs, of which the title track, The Wrong Car, is the real stand-out. Read my full review of their EP here.
4. Over and Over by Gregory & the Hawk. This track comes from a very good album indeed, and only missed out on a place in the top ten albums because, whilst very good, it wasn’t quite as good as the ten LPs that did make the list. A sterling effort, nonetheless, and had all the songs been as good as this one then the album could well have topped that list. In the last month or so I’ve been listening to Over and Over over and over and over…
3. Zorbing by Stornoway. I first came across this fantastic song when the band played a BBC session at this year’s Glastonbury. Alas, the production on their album doesn’t quite capture the magic of their live presence; they’re trying to make it too ethereal, when in my view a more grounded, less reverb-heavy approach would suit them better. Thankfully all the production niggles in the world couldn’t stop this track from being absolutely super.
2. Pretty Fair Damsel by Sam Amidon. The Toad Session Sam Amidon did of this track was one of the musical highlights of 2009, so I really wasn’t expecting the recorded version of Pretty Fair Damsel to be anywhere near as good. Thankfully Sam’s approach to recording is completely different to his attitude when playing live, so this version can really be viewed as a completely separate entity. Which ever version you hear, Sam Amidon is providing a refreshingly novel approach to traditional music; one that a lot of the current crop of trendy “nu folkies” could learn an awful lot from.
1. Ten Paces by Toodar. Oh if only these guys had recorded a full album – how fantastic it would have been! Still, it’s early days for yet for Toodar, and their star is still on the ascendent, so I’m hoping for an album soon. There was a lot of shuffling and re-shuffling in the order of this list prior to publication, but the one thing that didn’t change was that this song was in the top slot. By far and away the best song I’ve heard all year. Read my full review of their EP here.