Adventures In 2010: Top 30 Songs [#10-1]

Friday, December 31, 2010

And it's a wrap....

A big thank you to you all, the readers, for reading the blog this year and for taking yet another adventure into the land of music with me! Can't wait to see what roads the new year will take us on :) 

10. Corinne Bailey Rae - Closer 

The Sea is a meditative affair throughout, but nestled in there was the cheeky "Closer" that gave the impression that Rae isn't all sob stories. Trying on the feathers, lame, and sass that Diana Ross owned in the 70's, Corinne tried her hand at a real slinky quasi-funk number with the results being a greatly arranged and melodic cut. It's a side of Corinne that we usually don't see, but a side that may get embellished in later years---unless, maybe I'm just jumping the gun.

9. Invisible Light - Scissor Sisters
When I first heard "Invisible Light", my first immediate thought was: "This is EPIC". Then my second though was: "This is so Frankie Goes To Hollywood". Elements of "Relax" and "Two Tribes" just oozed on out of this one. Not that it was a blatant copy that needs to be reprimanded, no, I applaud this because finally we have a well-constructed pop anthem that feels smutty and sophisticated in one grandiose sum. The song borrows the building blocks of Trevor Horn's best productions, and then goes into a driving electronic vortex. The dollop on top is Ian McKellen doing his Vincent Price moment with an eerie monologue to add to the foreboding climb. It's wildly ostentatious in Scissor Sisters terms, but that the whole thrill of the song.

8. Lost In The World - Kanye West (ft. Bon Iver)
Snagging the meaty portion of Bon Iver's "Woods", "Lost In The World" begins tenderly and then surges into a schizo collapse of tribal percussion (sort of where "Power" left off) and marches on in with assurance and spirit. This song concludes the overall basis of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy quite boldly, and with repeated listens, it became my favorite moment on the album because it finalizes things so poignantly. I even think it's more majestic sounding than "Runaway" with it's layering effects. Blending to close with Gil-Scott Heron's "Who Will Survive In America" just took the song to another level, but West's attention to production detail is evident in a song like this.

7. Shampain - Marina & The Diamonds 
Songs about getting smashed and accepting your hellish life (see P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" and Kanye West's "Runaway") seem to be my forte this year. Maybe I wanted to be more drunk than I actually was this year because there were moments this whole year where I wanted a bottle and just had to settle for...ugh, Crystal Light. Thus, I lived vicariously through songs like this one. The shimmering shower of synths opens up the wound and it possesses such great lines like "drinking champagne to forget yesterday", and "drinking the taste of fabricated wealth". There is also the woozy excellence of the "but I feel celestial" cadence that really makes this song vibrant, fun, and one of the best pop songs that didn't get it's due this year.

6. Rocket - Goldfrapp
Goldfrapp give us a hybrid of Van Halen's "Jump" and those keyboard riffs Prince laid down on Stevie Nicks' "Stand Back" to produce this surging pop product. It's a real delight and kicked off the Head First product with such eager promise. As usual Goldfrapp marry perkiness with cynicism and bite. As if the video didn't explain the content of the material, this song is all about getting even with a lover, with a crazy Glenn Close/Fatal Attraction smile plastered on your face.

5. Stylo - Gorillaz (ft. Mos Def and Bobby Womack) 
I wore this song out when I first played it, so I apologize to those who were around me at the time who got sick of the song due to my overplay. I just couldn't shake that steady squish of the synths and the frigid electronic shockwave of funk that the song emitted. Slave to the rhythm, I am. The Gorillaz's usually have strong opening singles to new projects (see "Feel Good Inc." and "Clint Eastwood" for examples) and this was just another one to add to the table. When Bobby Womack's voice sprouts up as if was unearthed from a long lost time capsule from the 70's, it was just dazzling. Adding Mos Def into the equation made the impossible blend of genres and generations become a seamless good idea.

4. Unthinkable (I'm Ready) - Alicia Keys (ft. Drake)
Alicia Keys has gone through a car wash of insults this year from jabs at her personal life to her musical content. Yet, all that talk didn't get in my way of enjoying some of the material off of last year's The Element Of Freedom. Albeit the album was released last year, she had a moment that boiled over into this year that really gave a recall at why we should laud Keys' talent. Because when she sparks, she ignites. "Unthinkable" is that spark. Co-written and devised by hip-hop's golden boy, Drake (who also offers background vocals), "Unthinkable (I'm Ready)" shows Keys at her introverted and heart-on-sleeve best. She always excels at doing moody pieces (see "Diary"), and those are the moments where I favor her the most.

3. Dance Or Die - Janelle Monae (ft. Saul Williams)
Choosing a favorite song off of The ArchAndroid is like asking me which hand I like the best. The album as a whole is magnificently derived that singling out a moment will always make me backtrack. Still, I had to include a song on this list from ArchAndroid, or it would be shame on me. "Dance Or Die" is my choice because even though I had been familiar with Monae from her Metropolis EP and bootleg The Audition album, I felt like I met her for the first time when "Dance Or Die" kicks off in all of it's skittish frenzy. Loved how she spits out a tongue twisting lyrical spill about keeping strong even when things are in disarray. The words blending in with a funky horn drenched chorus was just icing on the cake. It was a first impression that gave assurance that Monae was onto something quite big.

2. Bright Lights, Bigger City - Cee-Lo
"F**k You" is great and all, but when William Shatner and Gwenyth Paltrow took to covering it, and every Tom, Dick and Harry put their version on YouTube, the song lost it's gleam for me. Now "Bright Lights" is more my speed and it hasn't succumbed to being a song even my grandmother knows about. It's a hell of an opener on The Lady Killer, with it's sweeping arrival of synths, slapping guitar, and strings, and Cee-Lo sounding like he will wine, dine and make you his starship all in one night. He's just too suave on this that the infectiousness just won't let go.

1. Window Seat - Erykah Badu 
Okay, I'm going to sound like I'm lapping up Badu's 'jamba juice', but this song was just brilliant. If there was one song to fully sum up all my feelings about my 2010, it's Erykah Badu's introverted lullaby, "Window Seat". Longing, unsettled, vulnerable, angry, isolated, and spiteful are just some of the feelings that are wrapped up in the beautiful glow of the dreamy keyboards and ?uestlove's drum play. Cee-Lo's "F**k You" seemed be the song that was everyone's frustration anthem, but "Window Seat" was mine in a reversal sense because instead of verbally shouting it, I just wanted to be left alone to gather my thoughts. As the fantastic music video showcased feminism and put our society under a magnifying glass, it didn't really match my feelings towards the song, no nevermind to the horse pill swallow of a message that it contained. It was more tender than that, well, for me at least.

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