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

Kendrick Lamar – “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”

Young Kendrick Lamar has repeated many times in interviews that he views himself more as a writer and not just a rapper, and he approaches music as a way to tell a story rather than just a way to rhymes words together. His masterful good kid, m.A.A.d city has some of the best storytelling of this decade as he details his coming of age as both a talented rapper and a young man from Compton, CA. Any Lamar song would do, but I’ve listened to “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” more than anything else he’s done, and each time it still sounds fresh.

Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”

Kurt Vile sounds like the only person in this decade who wasn’t paranoid. Seriously, while everyone else was telling us to freak out and be angry at everything and be overstimulated on whatever drug of choice (social media, adderall, etc), Vile was telling us to slow down, enjoy the mundane, and don’t worry about a thang. And we’re all the better for it.

Lana Del Rey – “Video Games”

This is the reason why we care about Lana Del Rey in the first place. Remember, there was once a time when this sounded so fresh and unique. This was post-“Hey, isn’t that Elizabeth Woolridge Grant?” and pre-SNL when we were still in love with an image, both literally and figuratively.

LCD Soundsystem – “Dance Yrself Clean”

It starts out slow and quiet, as if the party had just begun and people are starting to arrive. The guests exchange awkward small talk (nobody ever knows what to say at these things) as they wait for the party to get going. Present company patiently wait for the party to really start. Then the music slowly gets louder, the instruments a little louder, and the host begins to make himself known to his guest. Soon he has an announcement. An instruction. Dance Yrself Clean. And then the drop.

LCD Soundsystem – “All I Want”

It’s kinda Bowie, but it’s also kinda Talking Heads, but it’s also kinda an older and wiser (though still anxious) “All My Friends”. But it’s all Murphy, and it’s kinda perfect.

Lorde – “Team”

“Royals” is the perfect single and the song that will most likely define Lorde, but when will be begin to steer the conversation towards “Team” being her best song? This song seems to be the actual reflection of the young singer as the young global icon that most young people could actually relate to. So there.

M83 – “Midnight City”

In my humble opinion, this is the song of the decade so far. This is what this decade sounded like. It’s the sound of the total embracement of mainstream electronic songwriting that Radiohead started with Kid A, but it’s also the sound of Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness-scaled ambition. Everyone has heard this song. Everyone loves this song. It’s been played during the Olympics, Victoria’s Secret commercials, and Grand Theft Auto games. It’s the true universal hit song that could have only been made in this decade. And of course, there’s this.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert – “Same Love”

There’s still many issues to address and there’s plenty of work that needs to get done in our society (as always, we still have a ways to go), but there was some great progress for acceptance in this decade in American history. This song is a celebration of progress that we could actually be proud of.

 The Men – “()”

The Men Part 1: A New Hope For Brooklyn-Based Punk Bands To Sound Exciting Again

The Men – “Candy”

The Men Part 2: The Men Strikes Back With A Lou Reed-like Song That Proves That There Was Some Actual Songwriting Hidden Under All That Noise

The Men – “Another Night”

The Men Part 3: Return Of The Men As Swingin’ High Fidelity Rock N Rollers (Now With Saxophones!)

Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop”

“That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.” – J.D. Salinger in 1951 talking about Miley Cyrus in 2013.

 The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”

If The National are indeed “Men’s Magazine Rock”, then this song is the cover story on how to worry about your finances (“I still owe money, to the money, to the money that I owe / The floors are falling out from everybody I know”) and how to properly be in denial (“I’ll rest my eyes, till the fevers outta me”), all while sounding as fuzzy and grey as the Great Recession was back in 2010.

Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”

In an alternative world, Nicki Minaj would have used the momentum she had from her appearance on Kanye West’s “Monster” to become the world’s greatest female rapper. Instead she came out with Pink Friday, which was met with mixed reviews. The silver lining? “Super Bass”, a universal hit and one of the best club songs of this decade that promised Minaj a long career of DJs remixing her songs.

One Direction – “Little Black Dress”

Maybe it’s because I read too much Steven Hyden, but damn it this song is impossible to get out of your head. A perfect pop song from this decade’s international pop-making machine.

Palma Violets – “Best of Friends”

For a while, it seemed that these merry Brits were on their way to becoming The Replacements of England when “Best Of Friends” took over indie radio in 2012. The guitars are loud and sloppy, and it’s a punk song about wanting to be good friends with a lady friend because you actually care about her. Sounds like classic ‘Mats to me.

Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal”

Wait, this song has lyrics? I was too busy headbanging to this song that reminds me of good old New York rock n roll, back when Television was playing CBGB and back when being a cool New York band actually meant something. If you find this a little too loud, check out “Stoned And Starving”.

Passion Pit – “I’ll Be Alright”

A song that sounds this cheery should not be this sad. Michael Angelakos puts his heart on his sleeve as he fights with his past (“Can you remember ever having any fun”) and tries to learn to be ok by himself (“I won’t let you go unless I’ll be alright”). It’s the sound of anxiety, but there’s some joyful noise here.

 Perfect Pussy – “I”

I have no idea what Meredith Graves is singing about. I don’t think I’m supposed to know what’s she’s singing about. I’m ok with not knowing what she’s singing about. I’m ok with just letting a sea of glorious guitar feedback and thunderous drums take over my body.

Phosphorescent – “Song For Zula”

“Song For Zula” is about the many unpleasant faces of love. It’s a burning thing, a fiery ring, a fading thing, a disfiguring thing, a fickle feather in a stream, a cage, and a killer. But you’d never guess any of this, since the song sounds so moving and beautiful. Maybe we’re all better off thinking that this is a love song and not thinking that Matthew Houck could kill Zula with his bare hands, if he were free.

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