Headphone Nation’s 100 Favorite Songs Of The Decade (So Far): 2010-2014

 

In alphabetical order:

 

Against Me! – “True Trans Soul Rebel”

Don’t be fooled, “True Trans Soul Rebel” is a song that’s meant for every restless young soul confronted by loneliness (“All dressed up and nowhere to go”, “Who’s gonna take you home tonight?”) and growing pains (“Making yourself up as you go along”). Punk music hasn’t sounded this compelling since The Replacements, and when Laura Jane Grace shouts “Does God bless your transsexual heart?” you can’t help but to shout back, “Yes, he (or she) does”.


 Alvvays – “Adult Diversion”

It seems that most of the attention put on Alvvays goes to “Archie, Marry Me”, one of the many great song off this Canadian band’s excellent 2014 self-titled debut. But for me, it’s the album opener that always gets me. The miracle here is how “Adult Diversion” reminds you of every single indie-pop band you’ve ever heard while at the same time sounding something completely new; even after 100+ listens, Molly Rankin’s vocals and Alec O’Hanley’s guitar still sounds fresh and uplifting.


Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”

Arcade Fire has never been afraid to ask the hard questions (“When love is gone / where does it go? / And where do we go?”), but never before have those questions sounded more compelling than on “Afterlife”. The band doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but with Doomsday Disco as groovy as this (thanks James Murphy!) we’re all too busy dancing to worry.


Arcade Fire – “Suburban War”

The Suburbs is full of excellent songs, some that are better than “Suburban War”, but I can’t think of a better song that epitomizes the mood of the album. First there’s the contentment for a quaint and uneventful life (“There’s nothing to do, but I don’t mind, when I’m with you”) and our willingness to follow those whom we love (“You grew your hair, so I grew mine”). Then the figurative “war” begins with the realization that your contentment has turned into denial and that all is not well in your fenced-in paradise (“You cut your hair, I never saw you again”). Now it’s us vs. them (“Now the music divides, us into tribes, you choose your side and I’ll choose my side”). Then the war begins, but is it already a lost cause? (“All my old friends, they don’t know me now.) That’s the beauty of this song – you could write an entire thesis on its meaning, or you could just turn it all the way up and enjoy Arcade Fire at their most grandiose.


Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Round And Round”

It’s ok to not like this song. Ariel Pink is a weird dude (and as of lately kind of an asshole). The lyrics are weird. There’s no way to describe why this song is great without sounding like a pretentious dick. Pitchfork says it’s the second best song of the decade so far, which might make you hate it even more. It’s ok to hate this song. Ok now that I got that out of my system, I have to say this: I absolutely love this song. Seriously, everything about this song is great. To me it sounds like the Grease theme song. It’s strange and always pleasing, and it always makes me smile. It’s ok to hate this song, but it’s also ok to love this song.


Best Coast – “Boyfriend”

It’s actually fitting that Bethany Cosentino would eventually duet with Rivers Cuomo. Both Best Coast and Weezer inspired countless garage bands to write catchy guitar-driven pop-rock songs about the opposite sex and Surf Wax America. I’m not saying that Crazy For You or “Boyfriend” will be as influential as The Blue Album, but I’m also not saying that it can’t be.


Beyonce – “Countdown”

Trying to fight against the ultimate pop machine that is Beyonce is hopeless. I tried once, and it was too much for me to handle. I couldn’t do it. Just listen to “Countdown” and give in to the perfection. Just. Give. In.


Beyonce ft. Jay Z – “Drunk in Love”

Her sudden album-dropping may not have changed the music industry like everyone thought it would (she’s wasn’t the first to do it), but her self-titled album still sounds powerful, especially “Drunk in Love”, which was the moment Beyonce finally out-shined her famous husband and became the undisputed biggest female pop star in the world.


Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

Dev Hynes is a quiet music genius who has done everything from Green Day-inspired folk to writing and producing songs for Sky Ferreira. His best work however might be from his Prince-inspired persona Blood Orange and songs like “Chamakay”, which sounds like a humble Prince singing for all the lonely millennials whom litter the big cities.


 Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Guy with beard gets dumped, guy with beard escapes to a Wisconsin log cabin and writes songs for an album, said album becomes a huge hit, guy with beard becomes BFFs with Kanye West, guy with beard lives happily ever after. This could have been the end of Justin Vernon’s story and we all would have been happy. Instead, Vernon made Bon Iver and proved to the world, especially with “Holocene”, that he was a world class musician who was too big for folk music. No Peter Gabriel comparison could do this song justice, though I can see some future director pulling off a Cameron Crowe with this song.


Bruno Mars – “Locked Out Of Heaven”

In 2012 Sting buried the hatchet with Andy Summers and Steve Copeland and they all came together to write “Locked Out Of Heaven”, and all was right again in the world. Wait, this isn’t a Police song? Uh…well ok, this is still a great song.


Calvin Harris and Rihanna – “We Found Love”

So if EDM is my generation’s Disco, then is “We Found Love” my “Dancing Queen” or “I Feel Love”? Is this the song that was able to cross genre-borders and make everyone dance and, even if it was for just for four minutes, make the stingiest hipster a Calvin Harris fan? I think so.


Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”

It seems that songs like “Call Me Maybe” came and went many times in the past decades of pop music. Yet in this meta-obsessed decade, it was a genuine shock to hear a new female pop artist with a hit single who didn’t have a cryptic Lana Del Rey backstory, a Lorde like mission statement, or a Taylor Swift sized PR campaign. Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, this song wasn’t a scheme by the Canadian Illuminati and that this great pop song became so popular because it was good? Anyone? No? Well, I guess the Internet wins on this one, but I’ll still enjoy the song.


The Cave Singers – “Swim Club”

Because weird-beard-folk was a strange and wonderful thing we had in this decade.


Cayucas – “High School Lover”

It’s always fun running into high school crushes long after high school has ended, and Cayucas nails that strange encounter in the very likable (and strangely danceable) “High School Lover”.


Chromatics – “Kill For Love”

Chromatics got attention for contributing to the Drive soundtrack, but Johnny Jewel and co. earned their critical praise with their follow up album and its title track. It’s so beautiful and synthy, you’ll forget how disturbing it is that Jewel would actually kill someone in the name of love.


CHVRCHES – “We Sink”

CHVRCHES had one hell of a year when they blew up in 2013 with their debut album The Bones Of What You Believe, which had just enough electronics and just enough human touch to appeal to everyone. Every song off the album is good, but I listened to “We Sink” the most.


Cloud Nothings – “Stay Useless”

Possibly the defining “guitar indie rock” song of the decade so far, considering that in 2012 the 90’s revival had just fully kicked in and Dylan Baldi had come into his own as a songwriter while still sounding like the 20-year-old he was, singing about what 20-year-old pop-punkers usually sing about (“I’m never gonna learn to be alone”).


Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part of Me”

Here and Nowhere Else was a great album, but the album closer is the transcending moment of this album or anything else Baldi has done so far in his young career. Baldi had confessed in interviews that he wanted to be a better singer, and you can really hear his improvement on this song. And Baldi is learning a thing or two about life as he grows up from being a 90’s brainchild into one of the great modern punk writers. (“I’m learning how to be here and nowhere else”).


Coldplay – “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”

In 2011 Coldplay continued to follow U2’s footsteps and they released their own version of Pop with their misguided yet surprisingly earnest Mylo Xyloto. But like PopMylo Xyloto still managed to have a few major hits. Its biggest one has now stood the test of time (and hundreds of remixes) to become Coldplay’s most uplifting song and the unofficial soundtrack to every major international sporting event.


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