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

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Am I an idiot for thinking that I can only pick 100 songs to share with y’all and not feel guilty about all the other music that I’m leaving out? Is this list completely bias? Am I brain-dead from trying to write about why I love every single song on this list?

The answer is yes.

Reminder: this is a list of MY FAVORITE songs of the decade, not THE GREATEST songs of the decade. There is a key difference. Same rules apply to this list as they did for my favorite albums of the decade so far.

Also make sure to check out the spotify playlist with all these songs at the end of this list.

Alright, let’s begin.

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One Sentence Reviews Of Headphone Nation’s 40 Favorite Albums Of The Decade (So Far): 2010 – 2014

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Congratulations – you made it halfway through the decade. How does it feel? Did you come up with a good nickname for this decade yet? Is it as catchy as “The Noughties”? What were the highlights?

It’s easy to get caught up looking back at a particular year (or years) and try to pick out the few highlights that defined the year out of all the countless events. For any pop culture publication, it’s a cheap, bias way to get more hits, and it usually doesn’t do the year justice to what it was actually like.

But hey, we all love to make these lists, and we all love to read these lists.

One of the ways to define a decade is by the most popular (i.e. the easiest to define) musical trends of the time: the 60s were the age of Psychedelia, the 70s saw the height of Big Hair Music (heavy rock and disco), the 80s were the dawn of Indie and MTV, the 90s the mass takeover of Pop music (Grunge-Pop, Britpop, Rap-Pop, Noise-Pop, Trip-Pop, Boy Band-Pop, Riot Grrrl-Pop, it goes on), and the last decade saw the boom of the streaming revolution that we’re still in the middle of. Obviously there were more to these decades than those broad themes, but it gets the job done.

So what is the trend that will define this decade? Is this the age of Doomsday Disco (EDM, Reflektor), Mumblecore (what much of “Indie Rock” has become), or Black Stadium Rock (Kanye West and the realization of his Thriller-sized ego)? Or will we just clump together all this music, much of it angry and noisy, and call it “Great Recession Music”?

It’s too early to tell – we’re only halfway through this decade. There’s no telling to what we’ll be listening to within the next five years and what albums will come to define this decade. So to try and find any sort of pattern in the beginning of 2015 is challenging and probably not necessary.

But like I said, we all love these lists – so let’s have a little fun.

Below is a list of my 40 favorite albums released between 2010 and 2014 and the albums that have defined this decade for me so far. I tried to make things more interesting by describing each album using only one sentence. Of course you cannot properly sum up an entire album in one sentence – but it’s fun to try to anyways!

Please note – this is NOT a list of the GREATEST albums of the decade. This is just a list of my personal favorites, and I hope I introduce you to some great albums that you might have missed in this decade. If this were a GREATEST list, then there would be some albums that I wouldn’t have omitted and some that I would have taken off. For example, Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 good kid, m.A.A.d city is without a doubt one of the best quality albums of the decade, but I have no personal attachment to it – I just like it because it’s good.

There are also lots of albums that I’ve heard are great but I’ve never sat down with and listened to all the way through (Frank Ocean, Grimes, Tame Impala, etc). When I do my inevitable End-Of-Decade list at the end of 2019, some of those albums might appear after I listen to them more.

Also, some of these albums on this list aren’t necessarily “good”, but there’s something about them that I absolutely love or can relate to. Maybe it’s because it’s from a favorite artist, or maybe I have a strong association with that album and where I first heard it or who/what it reminds me of. No matter the reason, these are the albums that I loved the most in this decade so far.

And yes, there’s a good chance that I left out one of your favorite albums. Please forgive me.

This list is in alphabetical order, and click on each album cover for a link to a song from the album.

 

Alright, let’s begin.

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Happy Days: Happy LCD Soundsystem Day!

Tonight at selected theaters across the country, Shut Up And Play The Hits will be playing, and if you can go then go! The movie follows James Murphy and his very last show with LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden on April 2, 2011. Below is the movie’s trailer.

In honor of this special day, let’s us for a second stop to reflect on the awesomeness that is James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem.

The band only released three albums, but they are all great albums that fused punk and disco, and the music helped define what indie music could be in the 2000s. The middle album, 2007’s Sound Of Silver, is the band’s crowning acheivment. A dance record that just about every music fan could love, this nine track effort is a genuinely great record that manages to make you think while you dance, and it makes all the David Bowie comparisons just. Click here to see more of my review of Sound Of Silver.

If you’re not familiar with James Murphy, click here to read an excellent NPR article explaining why you should love LCD Soundsystem.

Below I’ve got some of the band’s best songs, including “All My Friends”, which I consider to be one of the best songs I’ve ever heard (sorry that I’m not sorry for making such a claim).

“Losing My Edge”

 

“Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”

 

“North American Scum”

 

“Someone Great”

 

“All My Friends”

 

“Dance Yrself Clean”

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Music Journal: What I’ll Remember The Most About Music In 2011

2011 was a good year for music.  It got weird at times (LuLu anyone?), and sometimes things were just plain bad (LuLu anyone?), but in 2011 there was always something to talk about in the world of music…like Lulu.  There are a few among many moments that I’ll remember the most – the first time I saw the music video for “Yonkers”, the death of Amy Winehouse, the new Radiohead album suddenly being released and then all the extra drama over its quality, and many more.

Here’s what I’ll remember the most about music in 2o11.

2011: The Year of Adele

No one had a bigger year than Adele in 2011.  She was inescapable, and her mega hits “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You” played everywhere and at all times.  Her second album 21 is America’s best-selling album since Usher’s Confessions back from 2004, with 5.28 million copies sold and counting.  Many, including myself, got cynical about this Brit sensation and how big she got, but nobody can deny her talent.  Just listen below to her cover Bob Dylan, and realize the power that is Adele.

 

The “Yonkers” music video, and the arrival of Tyler The Creator and Odd Future.

The first time I saw this music video I didn’t know what to think, but I knew it would get big soon.  Sure enough, Tyler the Creator and the rest of his rap group Odd Future became famous, or infamous depending on the person.  If you’ve never seen this video then you’re in for a treat.

 

The End of R.E.M., The White Stripes, and LCD Soundsystem

Nothing last forever, even great bands have to end eventually.  This year, three major acts called it quits, each leaving a huge void in the music world where they made their impact.  R.E.M. basically invented what we call “Alternative” and “Indie” music (sorry for the bold claim, but it’s hard to dispute it).  The White Stripes were the leaders of the back-to-basics rock revival of the early 2000s, and Jack White is a modern-day guitar hero.  LCD Soundsystem, the creative vehicle of James Murphy, was to me the modern day David Bowie, an artist who combined various genres and creative unique music that refused to compromise commercial success for artistic value.  Each of these acts will be greatly missed.

 

Arcade Fire Wins A Grammy

Back in February Arcade Fire, the biggest band nobody knew, won the Grammy for best album for 2010’s fantastic The Suburbs. The win came as a shock, mainly because most people had never heard of this little big band from Canada.  The win was huge for the indie world, and showed that the Grammys weren’t totally out of touch with the world.  The video below is fun to watch, neither the announcers or the band could believe what had happened.  For the article I posted the day after the Grammys, click here.

 

The King of Limbs: Proof That Radiohead Can Do Anything And Still Be Loved

Radiohead have been known for pulling some big stunts, and this year’s shenanigans ranks up near the top.  Let’s backtrack to pre-King of Limbs.  Radiohead hasn’t released a proper album since 2007’s In Rainbows and have been hush-hush about their plans for an upcoming album.  Then all of a sudden, they tell the world they’ll release an album within the week!  Fans were freaking out, the Internet exploded, and both Radiohead fans and haters were curious.  This was a truly an event, and it just goes to show how popular Radiohead truly are, that they can get the world excited over an album in a time where the value of an album has gone dramatically down.

I remember counting down the days, waiting for what I was hoping to be the album of the year.  Then, in another crazy move, they released the album a day early!  I woke up to the news and within the hour I had the new Radiohead album.  I stopped everything, downloaded the album, began playing it on my iTunes, and I listened.  Thirty-seven quick minutes later the album was over, and a realization came, something I didn’t think I would ever hear myself say.

The new Radiohead album…kinda sucks.

The songs all sounded the same and I felt there was much left to be desired.  I was shocked that, after four years of nothing, this was the best the band who brought us The Bends and OK Computer could give us.  There was no way that Radiohead could have done this, that they put so much hype behind, what I truly thought at the time, a piece of crap.  I thought there had to be more, this was a cruel joke, there would be more music coming out.  More music never came out.  What followed was a huge division among fans and critics – you either loved or hated the album, no middle group.  I was apart of the latter, and I was bothered by how many people were raving about the album.

Much time has passed, and though I still don’t think it’s that great, I have come to appreciate some of The King of Limbs.  It’s art, and Radiohead have always created great art that is challenging.  I thought Kid A sucked when I first heard it, but over time it grew on me and now I love that album.  The  King of Limbs is nowhere near as good as Kid A, but it’s not a piece of crap.  Plus the album gave us my favorite music video of the year.

If anything, this event showed to me that Radiohead could do anything they want and still be loved.  Thom Yorke should released an album of him of just farting, just to see how well it does.  I’ll end this rant with a link to a Spin article released in 2009 about Radiohead.  It’s very interesting, and it might change your perspective about the band.  Read the article here.

 

Spotify: A Game Changer

Spotify finally came to the US, and it caught fire fast.  Spotify’s popularity could very well put an end to the MP3, with strictly all-digital music becoming the way of the future for music.  Good for fans, bad for the artist and labels, but it’s truly an evolution in the music industry.

 

The Death Of Amy Winehouse, And Other Great Losses

No death this year was as shocking as the death of famed British soul singer Amy Winehouse.  She died so young and unexpectedly, and her death at twenty-seven added her to the infamous twenty-seven club.  She was a true talent, a kind of artist with a voice and personality that comes only so often, and a promising career was cut tragically short.  This year we also lost Clarence Clemons, saxophone player and founding member of the E Street Band with Bruce Springsteen, famed musician-poet Gil Scott-Heron, and Steve Jobs, whose iPod technology changed how we listen to music.  All these and more talented people were taken from us in 2011, and they will be greatly missed.

 

And Of Course…Lulu

A bad idea that was even worse when realized.  Lou Reed and Metallica came together and created a piece of crap.  This album had so much buzz behind it, it was already one of the most talked about collaborations in recent time.  The backlash it has received only cements this album more into music history as the greatest WTF moment of 2011.

 

I’m sure I forgot some big events, but these are the events that defined 2011 for me.  It was a crazy year with many ups and down, but some fantastic music was released.  I’m excited to see what 2012 has in store for us.  Enjoy the rest of the holidays and have a fun and safe time bringing in the new year, and make sure to continue keeping up with Headphone Nation for all that is music.

Tune in. Tune out. Live on.

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Playlist: Great Songs Over Seven Minutes

As technology advances at the rapid rate that it does, It seems that our attention spans are getting severely short.  The invention and popularity of the iPod was truly revolutionary, but music took a huge hit.  Listening to albums used to be an event, you would devote time to listen to a whole album in one setting.  Now we have trouble just listening to one song without skipping forward to the next song, and when was the last time you listed to an album from start to finish without stopping?  This is tragic – artist do not create music so that their work can be skipped after the first five seconds if the music does not entice you fast enough.  The following songs make you wait – the best part isn’t in the first ten seconds, twenty seconds, or even the first minute.  They are song that challenge you but soon reward you.

I hope you have some time on your hands, because all these songs are over seven minutes long!  It should be pointed out that I’m not including live tracks.

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

 

Bob Dylan – “Hurricane”

 

Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven”

 

Ryan Adams – “Nobody Girl”

 

Neil Young – “Down By The River”

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird”

 

Green Day – “Jesus Of Suburbia” (Sorry but you’ll have to follow the link.)

 

Kanye West – “Runaway”

 

Eric Clapton – “The Core”

 

Prince – “Purple Rain”

 

The Who – “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

 

Don McLean – “American Pie”

 

Dave Matthews Band – “Crush”

 

The Beatles – “Hey Jude”

 

The Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

 

Oasis – “Champagne Supernova” (Sorry but you’ll have to follow the link.)

 

Derek and the Dominos – “Layla”

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Playlist: (Good) Songs about America

4th of July weekend is upon us!  This is a glorious time of cookouts, fireworks, and great tunes, and I can provide at least one of these. Here are some songs to celebrate (for the most part) our glorious nation that is America.

“American Saturday Night” – Brad Paisley

“American Girl” – Tom Petty

“American Baby” – Dave Matthews Band

“American Pie” – Don McLean

“American Idiot” – Green Day

“North American Scum” – LCD Soundsystem

“Little America” – R.E.M.

“Do Miss America” – Ryan Adams

“America” – Simon & Garfunkel

“Ashes Of American Flags” – Wilco

“Born In The U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

“I’m So Bored With The U.S.A.” – The Clash

“R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.” – John Mellencamp

“Geek U.S.A.” – Smashing Pumpkins

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Playlist: Songs To Celebrate Graduation

Well today I have graduated from high school.  This is such an eventful time and I always try to find the perfect songs to fit the mood.  Here are some of my favorite songs to celebrate the end, and the beginning, of one of the many stages of life.  I tried to find songs that leaned more towards graduation and moving on, but all these songs on this list are about big changes in life and reflecting on it.

Head Automatica – “Graduation Day”

Green Day – “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)”

Alice Cooper – “School’s Out”

Smashing Pumpkins – “Today”

The Beatles – “In My Life”

John Mayer – “No Such Thing”

Eagle Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight”

Eve 6 – “Here’s To The Night”

Foo Fighters – “Times Like These”

Semisonic – “Closing Time”

Steely Dan – “Reelin In The Years”

Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”

Wilco – “What’s The World Got In Store”

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

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Classics In The Making: LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver

A dance record for those who don’t like dance music.

In the 80s we had The Talking Heads and David Byrne, and in the 2000s we had LCD Soundsystem and James Murphy.  Murphy’s band blends together the beats of house music but is very faithful to the rock music he loves.  While rock and dance genres don’t normally go well together, Sound of Silver manages to create a sound that both dancers and rockers can move to.  It’s rock music you can dance to!

The album starts off slow with “Get Innocuous!”, and for about about two minutes it seems like the song is going nowhere.  Casual listeners might struggle to stay in the song, but if you wait long enough the vocals kick in, the drums kick harder, and the groove will enter your body and will not come out.  From there the album jumps around great tracks with lyrics of noticeable depth.  Murphy sings about loosing a dear friend (“Someone Great”), getting older and still trying to be cool (“All My Friends”), the love-hate relationship he has with his favorite city (“New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”), and anything else cool people who live in New York talk about.

The most incredible thing about this album is that it’s meant to be listened to as an album – whole, uninterrupted, and revolving around a concept.  There are no weak tracks here, but listening to them individually out of order won’t sound as good as listening to the album from start to finish, a task that might be too much for the mp3 generation to handle.  The only possible exception is “All My Friends”, Murphy’s most accessible song and one of the best songs of the past decade.

So this is rare, in the age of downloading where the emphasis is on an individual track, that Murphy is putting emphasis on the whole thing, and he’s all the better for it.  This is proof that the album is not dead, not yet anyways.

Follow the link to watch a shortened (but still awesome!) video for “All My Friends.”

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