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

PSY – “Gangnam Style”

This song is on this list for the music video, the most popular YouTube video of all time and the music video of the decade so far. But hey, it’s also a great song on its own merit.

Queens Of The Stone Age – “If I Had A Tail”

It was hard to only pick one song from Queens Of The Stone Age’s excellent …Like Clockwork, but I decided to go with the one that sounded the most like Physical Graffiti Led Zeppelin.

 Robyn – “Dancing On My Own”

The best dance tracks are always the most simple yet at the same time the ones most open to interpretation. Robyn sings of a man who won’t dance with her and she seems sad about it, but from the sound of the music she sounds like it’s an honor to dance alone. Or is the dancing an attempt to hide the denial of a broken heart? Do some dance to remember while some dance to forget? Either way, it’s hard not to dance along with her.

 Ryan Adams – “Lucky Now”

Are you guys proud of me for only picking one Ryan Adams song? Fanboy love aside, “Lucky Now” is special because it’s the song Adams was always destined to make. It treads classic soft-rock territory as an older, wiser Adams reflects on his former years when he was young, sad, and high. I’m just glad that he lived long enough to make this.

 SAFE – “Black Satin Living Room”

There wasn’t much attention given to SAFE back in 2013, which is shame considering how great this song is. “Black Satin Living Room” delicately balances real piano and vocals with distant feedback. Electronic music with a human touch – if only more electronic artists in this decade really listened to James Blake.

Savages – “Shut Up”

The video for “Shut Up” goes straight to the point just like Patti Smith did with “Gloria”, except this isn’t so much poetry as it is a command for you to put your fucking phone down and be in the moment, and the moment sounds loud and excellent.

Sky Ferreira – “Everything Is Embarrassing”

This has been a great decade for young female artists, but I feel that Sky Ferreira should get more attention than she has. To me she’s the best (or at least the most adventurous) of all the Taylor Swifts or HAIMs of the world. “Everything Is Embarrassing” especially is a time-capsule song that, twenty years from now, future Pitchfork writers will refer back to as one of the many “sounds” of the this early decade that influenced future female artists. Or at least I hope so.

Sky Ferreira – “You’re Not The One”

In an alternate universe, Sky Ferreira is the most popular young female artist in the world who’s inspiring women everywhere to check out Madonna’s Like A Virgin, Suicide’s Suicide, and The Best Of Siouxsie And The Banshees.

 Spoon – “Trouble Comes Running”

They were voted the best band of the last decade according to Metacritic, and if they continue to write songs like “Trouble Comes Running”, then they might win that award again for this decade, or at least the most consistently great.

St. Vincent – “Cruel”

St. Vincent’s latest self-titled album has grown on me where I would now consider it the band’s best album, but “Cruel” is still the perfect demonstration of Annie Clark’s talents as a guitar player and as a songwriter inspired by both Talking heads and prog-metal.

Sun Kil Moon – “Carissa”

“Carissa” is not an easy song to listen to. Mark Kozelek slowly picks an acoustic guitar as he asks a bunch of questions in a low growl of a voice, and he’s asking you the questions. Who put the flammables in the trash? Was it Carissa? Was it her kids just being kids? How could someone’s life just vanish up in flames? There’s got to be more to her life’s worth right? Like Kozelek says himself in this song, he’s got questions that he’d like to get answered, knowing that he may never get them. But he understands that, in asking the questions, he is trying to find “the poetry to make some sense of this.” Because that’s all we can do with music – find the poetry to make some sort of sense of our lives that at times can seem senseless. If that isn’t the point of art, than I don’t know what is.

Tame Impala – “It Is Not Meant To Be”

Sometimes you just gotta turn the lights low, plug in your dad’s old lava lamp, put on some Tame Impala, and just groove to that sound man.

The-Dream – “Yamaha”

“Little Red Corvette” updated for this decade, a decade in which Prince inspired more rappers than rock stars, and in which the rappers were the rock stars.

Titus Andronicus – “My Eating Disorder”

Scaling back from loud, wonderful mess of The Monitor, Local Business was Titus Andronicus trying to sound more Ramones punk than Springsteen rock. But “My Eating Disorder”, a nearly 9-minute punk song in three parts, reminds us that the band hadn’t lost any of its ambition.

 Titus Andronicus – “No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future”

Every couple of years, an older musician becomes the beacon of inspiration for all indie rock musicians. In the Great Recession, it was Bruce Springsteen. So it’s fitting that New Jersey band Titus Andronicus would make the best Springsteen-inspired record of them all, and “No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future” is an eulogy to all the losers trying to survive in these hard times in American history, and it’s just as epic and moving as “Jungleland”. Now all together now: “YOU WILL ALWAAAAAYS BE A LOOOOOOSER!!!!”

 Tyler, The Creator – “Yonkers”

Hearing Tyler The Creator admitting to us that he wanted to stab Bruno Mars in his (goddamn) esophagus was a highlight of this decade, a decade in which no one was safe from insult and when it was now commonplace (and somewhat expected if you wanted critical success) for rappers to sing about inner demons rather than fuckin’ bitches (and gettin’ money).

Vampire Weekend – “White Sky”

With all the love that Modern Vampires Of The City (rightfully) earns, we cannot forget that Contra is also a fine album that saved the band from being a one album wonder. “White Sky” works because it kept the key ingredients of what made us love the band in the first place (especially Ezra Koenig’s falsetto and his observations on smart people being dumb), but now the entire band had a new confidence that indicated the greatness that was soon to come.

 Vampire Weekend – “Step”

If “Obvious Bicycle” and “Unbelievers” are like the opening scene of Manhattan, then “Step” is all of Annie Hall crammed into a four-minute Woody Allen-like love letter to what a joy and drag it was to live and love in the New York City of this decade. And like Allen, Ezra Koenig uses his wit to make you smile (“Such a Modest Mouse”) and make you think (“Wisdom’s a gift, yet you’d trade it for youth / Age is an honor , it’s still not the truth”).

Vampire Weekend – “Hannah Hunt”

Regardless of what you may think of Oxford Commas and Horchatas, Ezra Koenig is a lyricist who speaks about the little moments of everyday life. No song does a better job of this than “Hannah Hunt”, a song about the necessity of trust and, without it, how there can be no future and no answer. But with music this good, this song can be about anything you want it to be – like you and me, “Hannah Hunt” has its own sense of time.

The War On Drugs – “Red Eyes”

Thank goodness for The War On Drugs for giving us memorable guitar riffs in a decade that was mostly full of spacey guitar “noise”. Also, very few moments in this decade beats that first time you hear Adam Granofsky scream “WOOO!”.


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