The 200 Best Songs Of The 2010s

When this decade began, MP3s still reigned supreme. Now, at the end of it, a song is no longer even a file — it’s ephemera, on every streaming service and available to hear in myriad ways. For better and worse, the song (and the single) have become the norm for the general public’s music consumption. As culture continues to flatten out, songs can become iconic and inescapable overnight; it’s also become more difficult to get heard amidst all the noise. But the best way a song exists is still with the memories you make along with it: riding around in your car or heading out to a party with friends or sitting in your room alone, letting the music become part of the fabric of your life.

It’s been a long 10 years, and to pretend that only 200 songs could capture every facet of the music that was released during the decade would be foolish. But we’ve selected tracks that we feel are representative of the decade as a whole, songs that have stayed with us throughout these last 10 years and songs that we think will stick with us long after the decade is over. Dig into our list of the 200 best songs of the 2010s below and, as always, head down to the comments to share your own. —James Rettig


200 Diarrhea Planet – “Separations”

The dearly departed and ridiculously named Diarrhea Planet left behind a small but memorable catalog, with surprisingly poignant tracks like “Kids” and “Let It Out.” But it’s the ragers like “Separations” that provide the most direct euphoric recall of their unbridled, implausibly life-affirming live shows, the stuff that made them local legends in one tiny corner of this decade’s rock scenes. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


199 Le1f – “Wut”

Le1f never quite broke out into stardom. But the queer New York rapper still gave us an entertaining star turn with “Wut,” an ingeniously constructed banger of horn-honks and hand-claps centered around a wonderfully nonsensical chorus: “Wut it is wut is up wut is wut/ Wut it do wut it don’t.” —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


198 Frankie Cosmos – “Birthday Song”

“Just because I am a certain age/ Doesn’t mean that I am any older/ Than I was yesterday.” Greta Kline is the poet laureate of New York DIY, churning out songs at a non-stop pace that all contain little nuggets of absolute genius, like that opening line from “Birthday Song.” It’s only a minute long, but it feels like an entire world, her ideas so simple yet so incredibly dense and rewarding. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


197 Wavves – “Green Eyes”

On his third album as Wavves, King Of The Beach, Nathan Williams channeled the California nihilism that popularized pop-punk in the mid ’80s and early ’90s. It’s a wildly fun exercise in aimless rebellion and sun-soaked self-loathing. “Green Eyes” is its climax, a misanthropic love song. Twinkling glockenspiels and chugging guitars accompany his disposition, fluctuating between “Green eyes, I’d run away with you” and “My own friends hate my guts.” Even when things are good, they’re still bad. Life is a beach and the beach sucks. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


196 Katie Dey – “fear o the dark”

Katie Dey’s music often sounds like it’s being ripped apart from both ends, and “fear o the dark” is a great example of that. Dey’s voice is stretched like taffy, placed against some guitar strums that sound utterly alien. It’s impossible to figure out exactly how Dey puts together her songs, but the finished product is never less than thrilling and entirely unique. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


195 TNGHT – “R U Ready”

Hudson Mohawke and Lunice were early to the party for maximalist pop. The handful of tracks they made together as TNGHT have the power to shake buildings out of their foundations. “R U Ready” is one of their most skillful, fully-realized compositions. It famously served as the bed for Kanye West’s “Blood On The Leaves,” but on its own it’s just as invigorating: an instrumental with boundless energy, an undeniable attitude and swagger. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


194 All Dogs – “That Kind Of Girl”

“That Kind Of Girl” is All Dogs at their best: bright, narrative pop-punk that combines vulnerability with catharsis. “If you’re wanting something else, then that’s all you have to say,” sings Maryn Jones, voicing the hurt that comes from finding out you’ve been labeled defective, before returning to a focal point of rage: “Stay away from me/ What’s that mean?” —NM Mashurov [HEAR IT]


193 Downtown Boys – “Monstro”

“Why is it that we never have enough with just what’s inside of us?” Victoria Ruiz asks at the start of “Monstro,” asserting herself as the Providence band’s invigorating punk preacher. Downtown Boys whip themselves into a fury, rapid-fire drumming and brassy sax and Ruiz’s incantations of “She’s brown! She’s smart!” churning into a glorious cacophony, the fiery continuation of a revolution. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


192 The Hotelier – “An Introduction To The Album”

The Hotelier’s Home, Like Noplace Is There punches you in the gut, nurses you back to health, and then hits you again. Christian Holden nearly drowns in isolation and trauma, but a sense of communal despair keeps them afloat and treading water. On the opening track, appropriately titled “An Introduction To The Album,” Holden begins to trace their existential angst before the Hotelier break into a moment of unbounded release. “And the pills that you gave didn’t do anything, I just slept for years on end,” Holden shouts at the boiling point. “Fuck!” Fuck indeed. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


191 Girl Band – “Lawman”

Before they helped influence a new wave of experimental-leaning Irish and English guitar bands, and before two albums worth of increasingly complex and sound-melting compositions, Dublin’s Girl Band released a handful of singles that represented a complete realization of their intense, punchline-laden, noisy assault. “Lawman” remains the best of them, both corroded and infectious, with Dara Kiely’s drawled-then-screamed remembrance “I used to be good looking beside her!” still one of the band’s most affecting moments. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


190 Best Coast – “Boyfriend”

On the opener of her debut album, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino doesn’t mince words: “I wish he was my boyfriend,” she sighs over washed-out surf-rock chords. Unrequited love delivered in song might be about as original as florals in spring, but Cosentino’s painfully relatable lyrics (who among us hasn’t pined?), combined with that yearning minor-chord melody, made “Boyfriend” one of the first instant classics of the ’10s. —Rachel Brodsky [HEAR IT]


189 Speedy Ortiz – “No Below”

Boston was filled with some truly great bands at the start of the decade, and all of them were looking at Speedy Ortiz to figure out what to do next. The group, led by Sadie Dupuis, perfected the knotted, emotional catharsis that would come to define the city’s music scene. While “No Below” is one of their slower songs, it’s also perfect, a chill-inducing paean to youth and lost opportunities. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


188 Polo G – “Pop Out” (Feat. Lil Tjay)

It hits like a drug: a deep and mesmerizing singsong about how Polo G is going to rob everyone at your party. Over a florid piano and a backfiring 808, Polo G and Lil Tjay improvise tiny, bloodthirsty melodies, delivering them with guttural and bluesy verve, using them to describe violence and desperation: “Made some choices in my life I wish I’d never had to make.” —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


187 The Weather Station – “Thirty”

The best song on Tamara Lindeman’s best album yet as the Weather Station, “Thirty” is a matter-of-fact but resounding meditation on age. Snapshots both weighty and banal rush by, from mental health and strained relationships to the price of gasoline. Lindeman narrates with a wisdom beyond the titular age, acknowledging just another year has passed without losing a sense of vital, furious attention to living — feeling the years blur while still noticing “fucking everything.” —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


186 Yaeji – “Raingurl”

Yaeji crafted a dancefloor vocabulary with tacit rave touchstones on her introvert-out-of-hiding breakout hit. “Mother Russia in my cup,” she deadpanned amidst concentrated electro glitz and past-curfew thumps. Family planning, and all inhibitions, are best left outside the club when “Raingurl” makes its torrential, exhilarating landfall. —Connor Duffey [HEAR IT]


185 Pure Bathing Culture – “Pendulum”

Over three albums, Pure Bathing Culture have mastered a blend of woozy soft rock and lachrymose dream-pop. Though their work would get punchier over time, early highlights like “Pendulum” have a washed-out and hazy beauty to them, like calming rituals unfolding on some astral plane. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


184 Zedd – “Clarity” (Feat. Foxes)

Zedd’s 2012 single “Clarity” was instrumental in the EDM-pop crossover, following songs like Avicii’s “Levels” and Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” in proving the genre’s mainstream potential. Foxes’ rousing pleas soaring above Zedd’s prog-house explosions is enough to inspire a singalong or, just as easily, facilitate an out-of-body experience. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


183 Girlpool – “Before The World Was Big”

Girlpool have a remarkable way of exposing your inner child. Their debut album’s title track, “Before The World Was Big,” paints a nostalgic childhood photo. The duo describes its old neighborhood in youthful high-pitched hyperbole, “wearing matching dresses” and circling the streets “one hundred one million billion trillion times.” Like the album, it’s filled with wide-eyed wonder and hope in hindsight, but shaded by the innate fear and confusion that we carry throughout our lives. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


182 Colleen Green – “TV”

“TV is my friend,” Colleen Green sings. “And it has been/ Always there for me/ In times of need.” Her noise-pop ode to prioritizing television over actual human connection, “TV” is both tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious, a painfully relatable modern sentiment for loners and pop-culture addicts alike. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


181 Mac DeMarco – “Chamber Of Reflection”

Mac DeMarco has cooked up some great songs on guitar, but his greatest achievement may be a synth hallucination that demarcates the blurry line between chillwave and avant-garde hip-hop instrumentals. The further you retreat from consciousness, the better it sounds. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


180 Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

There are more quintessential FlyLo songs than “Never Catch Me,” but none of them marry his sensibilities with a flow so worthy of his exquisitely layered and textured soundscapes. FlyLo’s quirky electro jazz fusion is matched perfectly by Lamar’s machine-like cadence. We need that FlyLo-produced Kendrick album, like, yesterday. —Collin Robinson [HEAR IT]


179 Cloud Nothings – “Wasted Days”

Dylan Baldi has written lots of great songs at the intersection of pop, punk, and indie rock, but his crowning achievement remains these nine minutes of body-clenching tension, carried along by a mantra that will resonate with anyone who’s ever disappointed themselves: “I thought I would be more than this!” —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


178 Paramore – “Hard Times”

After trickling into full-fledged pop territory on bouncy 2013 singles like “Ain’t It Fun” and “Still Into You,” punk/emo idols Paramore broke new ground in 2017 on the distinctly new wave “Hard Times,” a bubblegummy meditation on depression bolstered by Hayley Williams’ signature wail. With its ultra-transparent lyrics and dance-till-you-cry ethos, “Hard Times” reminds us that every “little rain cloud” contains a silver lining. —Rachel Brodsky [HEAR IT]


177 Young M.A. – “Ooouuu”

“Ooouuu” is a vintage Brooklyn banger, the kind of hardhead bluster-anthem that Funkmaster Flex would’ve bombed all over the Tunnel. And it’s delivered, with an unshakably confident snarl, by a young woman enthusiastic about displaying both her gun and her dildo. The queerness of “Ooouuu” is a feature, not a bug. New York rap never died; it just came out. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


176 Lucy Dacus – “Night Shift”

One of the decade’s most epic kiss-offs to an ex-lover reaches its climax when the band drops out and Lucy Dacus declares: “You got a 9 to 5, so I’ll take the night shift/ And I’ll never see you again if I can help it.” The ensuing finale will give you chills, be it in the privacy of your headphones or a room full of people howling along. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


175 Jason Isbell – “Cover Me Up”

Newly sober and dizzy in love, a former Drive-By Trucker wrote a song for the woman who’d helped him make it out to the other side of his self-inflicted annihilation, owning up to his own sins and politely requesting some quality time: “We ain’t leaving this room till someone needs medical help, or the magnolias bloom.” If Jason Isbell ever had a star-making moment — and let’s be clear, he’s a star — it was this, a country-rock standard for a time when country-rock standards are so often thought obsolete. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


174 Tirzah – “Gladly”

Tirzah’s debut album Devotion, which she made alongside Mica Levi, plays out like love ossified in amber. “Gladly” is a lesson in beautiful simplicity, the beat lapping at the shores and Tirzah approaching this love with a hymnal reverence: “All I want is you/ I love you/ Gladly, gladly, gladly,” her voice melting into a warm balm.  —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


173 Denzel Curry – “RICKY”

Denzel Curry has been hailed as the father of the dark, experimental, often ugly subgenre known as SoundCloud rap, but this assertion of loyalty to his friends and family proves he’s just as good at contagiously fun windows-down summertime bangers. Best line: “My daddy said, ‘Treat young girls like your mother’/ My momma said, ‘Trust no ho, use a rubber.'” —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


172 Strand Of Oaks – “JM”

“JM” — the volcanic centerpiece of Heal, the album on which Tim Showalter truly came into his own — is a tribute to the late Jason Molina. Moving with the heaviness of grief, it still manages to hold on to what artists leave behind. Showalter sang about music that was there for him when he was at his most desperate, and in turn wrote a song that would be there for others at their most desperate, too. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


171 Death Grips – “I’ve Seen Footage”

When they were swallowed up by major label machine Epic, Death Grips stayed down like a bottle of ipecac, but “I’ve Seen Footage” remains the group’s intoxicating stroke of pop genius. Hijacking the beat to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It,” MC Ride leers like a voyeuristic deep web demon, painting a nightmarish picture of desensitization in the internet age with their best hook and a catchphrase truly worthy of our anxious era. Fuck “YOLO” — stay noided. —Miles Bowe [HEAR IT]


170 Brockhampton – “Gummy”

Brockhampton boast a sizable crew, each member with his own idiosyncrasies and strengths, but the alt-rap “boy band” has made its singular vision clear from the start. “Gummy,” from 2017’s SATURATION II, is like a re-introduction to the group’s diverse cast of characters. Everyone has a turn to showcase his style. Stacked atop one another, the verses highlight their collective vibe, hard and surreal. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


169 Jenny Lewis – “She’s Not Me”

We demand female songwriters be attractive, sympathetic, and relatable in heartbreak — flattering mirrors for our own. No one’s ever refused this paradigm as wholesale as Jenny Lewis does on “She’s Not Me.” She holds nothing back, owning bitterness, jealousy, infidelity, naiveté, lust, and misery. Her excruciating confessions are perfectly accentuated by the ironically breezy ’70s California-rock hooks. Her transgression carves out just a little more space for human messiness. —Jael Goldfine [HEAR IT]


168 Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Deadly Valentine”

Not to play into stereotypes, but there is something so incredibly French about “Deadly Valentine” and its ability to be sexy, cool, and heartbroken all at once. A swirling synth-pop song from the matured perspective of a middle-aged Gainsbourg, it fights back against the world-weariness of age and all its accumulative struggles by seizing onto a dream newly lush and newly invigorated, abandoning mourning for the thump of a nightclub’s never-ending pulse. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


167 Blood Orange – “Best To You” (Feat. Empress Of)

This stellar Dev Hynes and Empress Of collaboration depicts a one-sided relationship and the process of losing your identity in that dedication. The way Empress Of delivers the chorus line “I can’t be the only one,” especially the fluttering accentuation on “one,” has become one of the decade’s most memorable vocal runs to make the rounds in the indie sphere. —Keely Quinlan [HEAR IT]


166 YG & Nipsey Hussle – “FDT”

With a chant, YG and Nipsey Hussle draw a line and galvanize it into something righteous. There’s a way Nipsey asks “Nigga am I trippin’? Let me know” — like he’s dapping up his boy after seeing five minutes of CNN on the way out of the crib — that speaks directly to the apathy felt during the lead-up to the 2016 election. What makes the Compton duo’s blunt “FDT” one of the most important artifacts of its time is how its stars don’t present themselves virtuously enough to pretend to understand how it all went wrong. —Brian Josephs [HEAR IT]


165 Soccer Mommy – “Scorpio Rising”

To astrology amateurs, “Scorpio Rising” might conjure revenge. But those with the notorious sign as their rising (rather than their sun) are rumored to have a unique capacity for herculean personal growth. As such, Sophie Allison’s quietly knotted song is about a heartbreaking surrender. She plunges you into infatuation, then unravels it before your eyes, accepting a love’s cosmic ill-fatedness without ever minimizing how badly it hurts. Regardless of your thoughts on astrology, it’s a lesson in grace. —Jael Goldfine [HEAR IT]


164 Purple Mountains – “All My Happiness Is Gone”

How can a song so relentlessly bleak feel so triumphant? Such is the heartbreaking genius of David Berman. Like many of his final songs, “All My Happiness Is Gone” is perversely beautiful: In articulating his own feelings of hopeless isolation, Berman forged a connection with more listeners than he could have known. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


163 Waka Flocka Flame – “Hard In Da Paint”

The Lex Luger beat creeps along like a fucking Halloween jaunt; Waka Flocka Flame is still fresh and boundlessly energetic. “Hard In Da Paint” is a banger of epic proportions, a barrel-roll of a flex, but it still has heart and a sense of place. When the beat drops out and Flocka says, “When my little brother died, I said ‘Fuck school!'” there’s a sense of stakes, a feeling of hanging onto where you’re from and not letting it go no matter what. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


162 Ella Mai – “Boo’d Up”

UK R&B singer Ella Mai’s incandescent hymn “Boo’d Up” was out in the world for more than a year before it finally caught fire; maybe it just took all of us too long to admit our feelings. “Feelings” are the great subject of “Boo’d Up,” from its deliriously crushed-out lyrics to producer Mustard’s Prince-on-ecstasy synth-washes. And they’re all over Mai’s delivery, an intimate heartstring-yanking plea of devotion that turns a relationship status into glorious onomatopoeia. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


161 Gotye – “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Feat. Kimbra)

A Belgian-Australian songwriter coos post-breakup bitterness over a sample from an old Brazilian instrumental from the ’60s. A New Zealand singer howls them right back at him. In the video, the two of them paint themselves up in abstract time-lapse. The result: a global smash that Prince copped to loving when he handed Gotye the Record Of The Year Grammy. These days, Gotye is just somebody that we used to know. But his one hit established how, in an internet economy, a catchy viral jam could conquer the world. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


160 Jidenna – “Classic Man” (Feat. Roman GianArthur)

It was pure silliness, this grinning “street, elegant old-fashioned man” justifying his decision to carry a cane and rock a bowtie over bleep-clap Mustard-wave. And yet Jidenna saves “Classic Man” through melodic canny and sheer dorked-out charm, transforming it from a goof into an anthem — or, at the very least, an anthemic goof. Every line in “Classic Man” hits like a hook, and every one feels eternal. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


159 EMA – “California”

“Fuck California. You made me boring.” That’s a hell of a way to introduce yourself to the world. Erika M. Anderson, former howler for the great and unheralded blues-drone trio Gowns, made a dizzy leap into the unknown with “California,” her solo statement of intent. It’s a bruised, confused, half-rapped statement of rootless, reduced personal darkness, an itinerant millennial’s unmoored plea, a Bo Diddley quotation transformed into a damaged noise-folk lament. It’s really something. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


158 Camila Cabello – “Havana” (Feat. Young Thug)

On “Havana,” Camila Cabello updates the age-old trope of singers leaving their hearts in less sexy locations with the perspective of one who is clearly having fun going it solo, from her high-concept telenovela music video to Young Thug’s Auto-Tuned drop-in and the hangdog, lovesick trumpet flares. —Harley Brown [HEAR IT]


157 Kavinsky – “Nightcall” (Feat. Lovefoxxx)

Every dark, ’80s-inspired synth-pop song this decade was compared to the Drive soundtrack upon arrival, but few equalled the original artifact’s creeping neon glory. With help from Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Brazilian dance-punk party-starter Lovefoxxx, the French producer Kavinsky supplied the ideal sonic complement for Nicolas Winding Refn’s ultraviolent arthouse noir. But divorced from context, “Nightcall” is a masterful nostalgic fantasy in its own right. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


156 Jenny Hval – “Conceptual Romance”

Jenny Hval’s music is complex, but all those complexities seem so simple on “Conceptual Romance” — a flickering love song that is both deeply in love and firmly out of it, operating at both extremes in a liminal middle ground that feels otherworldly. “I’m working on it,” Hval chants, a constant struggle for transcendence. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


155 Waxahatchee – “Never Been Wrong”

Out In The Storm is a tremendous breakup album, detailing pain, resentment, and, ultimately, growth. “Never Been Wrong” is its moment of interim murk — bitterness, unresolved conflict, being aware that you’re acting out and only doubling down. Katie Crutchfield is biting amidst major-chord rock, finding triumph in the unraveling. —NM Mashurov [HEAR IT]


154 Alvvays – “Archie, Marry Me”

Depending on your mood, “Archie, Marry Me” is a love song that sounds either humbly romantic or heartbreakingly unresolved. The couple that confronts the possibility of alimony and cheating is the couple that stays together, right? With a quiet, lifelong pact and a bittersweet vocal slide into the titular plea, Alvvays captured the modern-day complexities of yearning — and made Archies everywhere feel special for once. —Nina Corcoran [HEAR IT]


153 (Sandy) Alex G – “Harvey”

Looking back on Alex G’s 2014 album DSU is like sifting through an artist’s early sketches. His ideas are in their purest forms, laid bare against homespun guitar-led indie rock. “Harvey” distills his poignant musing and introduces his signature sound, a melancholic snapshot of the past set to dusty acoustics and wobbly keys. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


152 QT – “Hey QT”

It’s easy to forget that SOPHIE isn’t technically a part of A. G. Cook’s PC Music label. But “Hey QT” showed the magic that can happen when two kindred spirits come together, SOPHIE and Cook uniting Wonder Twins-style to produce a starry-eyed synthetic jam that deconstructs the glossy perfection of pop music while still working perfectly as a pop song. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


151 Todd Terje – “Inspector Norse”

Play “Inspector Norse” at a party and just watch what happens. Norwegian DJ Todd Terje is a master of straddling the line between transcendently silly and just plain transcendent, and “Inspector Norse” is his masterpiece of both, a seven-minute party song of synth-burbles and spaceship noises that’s virtually all build while feeling like one big drop. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


150 Angel Olsen – “All Mirrors”

“All Mirrors” is a song rooted in the cycles of our lives repeating, wondering if we’re ever really going to change. But it’s also a song that answers that with transformation, personally and artistically. Early in her career, it would’ve been hard to imagine Angel Olsen writing a lush, gothic synth epic like this one. Fittingly, it presents her well-known powers with a new sense of resolve, a new sense of self. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


149 Fontaines D.C. – “Too Real”

Fontaines D.C. are beginning as the decade is ending, with one of the more implausible rock success stories in recent memory. “Too Real” represents why. Brainy but brawny, arty yet raw, the band’s best moments are like this, barely-controlled engines of chaos that force you to pay attention. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


148 Jay Electronica – “Exhibit C”

Even if this time next decade we’re still waiting for the long delayed, perhaps fabled Act II, Jay Electronica will have justified his preemptive coronation with “Exhibit C,” an undeniable piece of evidence in which Timothy Elpadaro Thedford’s storytelling holds the spotlight against an all-time Just Blaze production. —Pranav Trewn [HEAR IT]


147 Shamir – “On The Regular”

After peeling off one too many nametags, Shamir decided to introduce himself his way: through song. “On The Regular” sees the singer-songwriter recount his life story while voguing in electro-pop dance. The song’s ADD music video and cheeky cowbell-led beat separated it from the rest of pop at that moment, but it was Shamir’s commanding presence that earned fame — even when the best lines were deadpanned. —Nina Corcoran [HEAR IT]


146 Westerman – “Confirmation”

Born in a moment of near-defeat, “Confirmation” was a poetic turn for an artist who had been struggling for years, a new identity greeted by a surge of acclaim and fascination. Westerman deserved every bit of it, too: “Confirmation” is a timeless song, crystalline and elusive, initially mournful and ultimately a celestial transmission of self-belief. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


145 My Bloody Valentine – “New You”

When MBV finally, implausibly followed up the landmark Loveless 22 years later, there were several songs that captured and forwarded the magic of their past work, particularly the frayed squalls of “In Another Way” and “Wonder 2.” But it was the shimmering ’90s swoon of “New You” that stood out, a song that in its very name suggested a long awaited rebirth but also functioned as a gorgeous, cooing salve nobody could’ve seen coming. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


144 Phoebe Bridgers – “Motion Sickness”

Phoebe Bridgers renders the nauseating mindfuck of humiliation and heartache that follows a toxic relationship using details both morbidly funny (fake orgasms, a fake British accent) and deeply unsettling (“You said when you met me you were bored”). As the song’s sinister edge has become clearer, it plays less like a “breakup anthem” and more like a survivor’s testimony. But revelations about her inspiration only prove how effective Bridgers is at turning emotional paradoxes into stunning music. —Jael Goldfine [HEAR IT]


143 Black Midi – “953”

What could easily be mistaken for a machine going haywire and melting down is actually four warm-blooded human beings achieving superhuman levels of bizarro synchronicity. Nonetheless, you should probably still wear protective gear while listening. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


142 Burial – “Rival Dealer”

The three tracks on Burial’s ghostly Rival Dealer EP could just as easily be broken into a dozen or condensed into one. The titular opener alone moves through William Bevan’s most high energy passages before dropping to some of his heaviest and finally reaching a tender emotional coda that sets up the cathartic finale in “Come Down To Us.” Burial may never release a full-fledged LP after the legendary Untrue, but this sensitively crafted epic is the moment he made that distinction irrelevant. —Miles Bowe [HEAR IT]


141 Mount Eerie – “Real Death”

“Death is real/ Someone’s there and then they’re not/ And it’s not for singing about/ It’s not for making into art.” Those words, the first lines of Phil Elverum’s 2017 LP A Crow Looked At Me, serve as the album’s thesis statement and its central contradiction. Written and recorded after the passing of Elverum’s wife Geneviève Castrée, “Real Death” is a gut-wrenching, plainspoken, and honest attempt at expressing the kind of pain that’s ultimately inexpressible. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


140 Chromatics – “Cherry”

Chromatics, and Italians Do It Better at large, are architects of a particular ’10s sub-trend: a hazy echo of an ’80s that never quite existed, a cinematic and strung-out romanticism. “Cherry” was the perfect distillation of this, that “Drive soundtrack sound,” all yearning night drives through cityscapes drenched in lush, imagined neon glow. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


139 Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

Like many Frightened Rabbit songs, it’s possible to hear glimpses of Scott Hutchison’s eventual suicide in “Swim Until You Can’t See Land.” The song’s titular hook implies venturing out into the ocean, never to be seen again. But one lyric in the second verse recasts it as a song of renewal: “Let’s call me a baptist, call this a drowning of the past.” This is a hearty indie-rock anthem about being cleansed, a salve Hutchison left behind for us, enduring even in the wake of tragedy. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


138 Earl Sweatshirt – “Earl”

He’s moved onward and upward in the past decade, becoming a thoughtful and fascinating full-grown artist. But Earl Sweatshirt has never been more vivid or surprising than when he first popped up, MF DOOM reborn as a sociopathic skate-kid edgelord. The rape jokes and homophobia have aged terribly, but the words stacked on top of words — “Earl puts the ‘ass’ in ‘assassin’/ Puts the pieces of decomposing bodies in plastic” — are like nothing else, before or since. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


137 Car Seat Headrest – “The Ballad Of Costa Concordia”

The bookish bombast of Car Seat Headrest is a thing to behold. Who else could craft an 11.5-minute multi-part epic cataloguing millennial ennui within a distant metaphor of a real-life luxury cruiseliner shipwreck? “The Ballad Of Costa Concordia” is, ahem, titanic — one of the most wholly absorbing and affecting documents of a generation’s listless drift towards figuring out the fucking mess of their lives. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


136 Caribou – “Odessa”

That bassline, though. Dan Snaith has managed to successfully reinvent himself with every new album, shifting from IDM to krautrock to neo-psychedelic pop. But in terms of pure bangers, he’s never done better than “Odessa,” the off-kilter nocturnal dance song that kicked off the Swim era with verve and style to burn. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


135 Deerhunter – “Helicopter”

Inspired by the death of sex trafficking victim Dmitry Makarov, “Helicopter” is the steadily beating heart of Halcyon Digest‘s sweep of fading childhood, queerness, and faith. In the most beautiful and gripping performance of his career, Bradford Cox reckons with the utter hopelessness of a possibly indifferent god (“We know he loves you the best”), and in the crashing chorus, a simple prayer. And like a prayer, it’s a song you could come back to throughout this decade to find a moment of peace and a glimmer of light. —Miles Bowe [HEAR IT]


134 Janelle Monaé – “Make Me Feel”

Before Prince died in 2016, one of the last things he helped create was Janelle Monaé’s album Dirty Computer. You can hear his influence throughout, but most prominently on the absolute stunner “Make Me Feel.” The bouncy, intoxicating funk feels both retro and futuristic, a final confirmation that the Purple One’s onetime collaborator could be a worthy successor. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


133 Big Thief – “Cattails”

Big Thief can find the magnetic and beautiful world of a speck of dust and hide it in a song. “Cattails” captures Adrianne Lenker’s natural mysticism as she remembers the beauty of her Minnesota home. Big Thief conjure the easy sway of the wetland plants with fingerpicking fuzz and sunlight trickling in as piano keys sputter at the track’s closing. It’s as gentle and mindful as a deep breath. —Margaret Farrell [HEAR IT]


132 Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin”

Kurt Vile is a modern-day troubadour who soundtracks his yarns of the troubled — himself included — with such beguilingly breezy guitars you almost forget to ask: “You okay, man?” Dissociation is the theme on “Pretty Pimpin,” and losing your sense of self has never sounded so easy. —Harley Brown [HEAR IT]


131 Leonard Cohen – “You Want It Darker”

By the end of his career, Leonard Cohen’s ever-wizened voice sounded beyond our reach — an aged poet who had seemingly gained the ability to see through the fabric of time. On You Want It Darker, he was writing his goodbye, and as funereal as its title track might be, it’s also a strikingly beautiful final message. The song sounds ancient, pulled from the ether; the singer, like he’s trying to grasp a lost wisdom one last time. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


130 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Jubilee Street”

Nick Cave has built one of the truly rare late-career passages in pop music. Already a cult icon 10 years ago, he ascended to a new level this decade with three albums that rank amongst his very best. Amidst it all is “Jubilee Street,” a career peak that also functioned like a mission statement for his elder-statesman years — a surreal, haunted myth, eventually shaking loose the gravity of time to roar into the night, “I’m transforming! Look at me now!” —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


129 Julien Baker – “Turn Out The Lights”

Every sound we hear on “Turn Out The Lights” belongs entirely to Julien Baker — the heart-wracked howl of a voice, the cavernous echo of the acoustic guitar, the empty space. Baker produced the song herself, taking those few sparse elements and turning them into an emo symphony of depression and isolation. The song’s climactic internal rage-out moment — “There’s noooo oooonnne ellllllse” — is the kind of thing that causes goosebumps and watery eyes at the same damn time. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


128 Drake – “Know Yourself”

Drake has always been proud of his Toronto hometown, and with “Know Yourself” he crafted a song worthy of his love for the city. “I was running through the 6 with my woes/ You know how that shit go” is your classic Drake hook, both a little stupid and impossible not to shout along to. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


127 Young Thug – “Stoner”

“Stoner” is a pedestrian word. But on the song that launched him out of Atlanta cult-weirdo obscurity, Young Thug treats the word as something to be prodded and warped and immolated. He sings it from the back of his throat, practically gargling it, draining it of all meaning. And then he gibber-creaks all over the sticky Dun Deal beat with pure cartoonish glee. When did Young Thug ever treat language as anything other than a loose suggestion? —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


126 Thundercat – “Them Changes”

At first you hear that whomping bass line and think Bootsy Collins’ “I’d Rather Be With You.” Then you settle into the lyrics and the infectious funk quickly descends into the deepest depths of heartache, creating the tension between irresistible groove and complex mood that Stephen Bruner is known for. Thundercat had already proven himself to be a virtuosic bassist, but with “Them Changes,” he also proved he could write a hell of a song. —Collin Robinson [HEAR IT]


125 Spoon – “Inside Out”

Imagine making some of the most forward-thinking, peerless indie rock for over a decade and having your reputation reduced to being reliable. In one of their career’s most inspired creative moments, Spoon were no longer leaving any room for misinterpretation: They are among history’s definitive studio bands, dependable only for an ever-expanding definition of what they can do. —Pranav Trewn [HEAR IT]


124 Vampire Weekend – “Harmony Hall”

That indelible guitar riff, looped into infinity, is the first thing we ever heard from Vampire Weekend’s fourth album. It would turn out to be one of the best. Rostam’s departure kicked off a new era for Vampire Weekend, but although bandmates may be temporary, Ezra Koenig’s hyper-literary lyrics and impeccable melodic sensibilities are forever. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


123 Slowdive – “Star Roving”

A standout from the British shoegazers’ first new album in 22 years, “Star Roving” is a perfect title for a song that feels like racing across the stratosphere toward some unknown horizon, full of power and grace. If more band reunions yielded songs this enthralling, fans wouldn’t be so anxious to hear the old stuff. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


122 Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”

Patrick Stickles’ “Born To Run” and “Thunder Road” in one, “A More Perfect Union” has a scope and widescreen ambition rarely attempted by young, scrappy rock bands this decade. A surging epic both precisely crafted and unhinged, it joins a long history of American songs built for kids lost on the highway looking for some ragged transcendence. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


121 Lil Uzi Vert – “XO Tour Llif3”

Druggy, narcotic music has become the norm in rap over the decade, and Lil Uzi Vert plays into that hand. But he pokes holes in the facade with the chorus of his best song. “Push me to the edge/ All my friends are dead” is a dark hook for something that would go on to become a mainstream pop hit, but it strikes a chord among a generation that has lost so many friends to substance abuse, to the same vices that this music often glamorizes. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


120 The Knife – “Full Of Fire”

On the Knife’s fourth and final album, 2013’s Shaking The Habitual, the Swedish duo amplifies the alien dance genre it built by burning it to the ground. Their nine-minute industrial epic “Full Of Fire” mutates from robotic to demonic. The beat picks up grit as it throbs and spirals, carrying you deeper into a twisted trance. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


119 Miguel – “Adorn”

When you’re in its thrall, love can make you glow. Miguel had that effect in mind when he offered to let his love adorn the object of his affection “the same way that the stars adorn the skies.” In doing so, he created an R&B instant classic that might make you beam, too. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


118 PUP – “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will”

What better way to unleash the rage you feel against your bandmates than writing a barn-burner about wanting to brutally murder them, and then forcing them to play it every single night? That’s what PUP do here, with a song that’s as deliciously wicked as it is empathetic to the plight of being stuck in a sweaty, stinky van for months on end. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


117 Icona Pop – “I Love It” (Feat. Charli XCX)

The pantheon of great breakup anthems include a bevy of songs that focus on surveilling and re-piecing the post-breakup emotional wreckage. Icona Pop and Charli XCX galavanted within it. Riding on a barrage of candied synths, the superteam converted millennial anxiety triggers into the decade in music’s most urgent quotables. Car insurance raises and Generation X were damned (“You’re from the ’70s, but I’m a ’90s bitch!”) in favor of strobe lights, going-out shirts, and fist bumps. Icona Pop wouldn’t capture this palpable of a rush again — and neither would 99% of the rest of pop. —Brian Josephs [HEAR IT]


116 Beyoncé – “Countdown”

Beyoncé’s oft-overlooked 2011 album 4 is filled with stunning ballads and pop brilliance, but “Countdown” is in a league of its own. It’s more than a love song; it’s a sublime ode to love itself. She expresses the intangible with the grandest sounds she can find, borrowing from hip-hop, funk, and Afrobeat. Staccato horns and marching-band drums palpitate like her racing heart. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


115 Ought – “Beautiful Blue Sky”

The rare post-punk epic, wracked by the rote, deadening rhythms of our lives — “How’s the church? How’s the job? How’s the family? Beautiful weather today” — but refusing to accept suffocation under our late-capitalism lives. Instead, Ought earnestly relocate some sense of wonder, some sense of peace. What begins in anxiety blooms into a catharsis that arcs, well, skyward. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


114 Dua Lipa – “New Rules”

Most pop music is about giving in, but Dua Lipa’s biggest hit is about learning to say no to your own self-destructive desires. Set to some of history’s most energetic tropical house production and delivered in Lipa’s authoritative alto, practicing self-discipline even starts to seem like fun. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


113 Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”

With Mattel-ready bubblegum pop and a sugar-doused hook, “Super Bass” was primed for radio success. Looking back, though, its biggest achievement was teaching Nicki Minaj that the best way to emphasize her beloved, formidable “spitter shit” is to contrast it with hyper-feminine production. The result was a self-aware pump-up that blissfully merged hubris with kitsch and sent her ego glamping. —Nina Corcoran [HEAR IT]


112 DRAM – “Broccoli” (Feat. Lil Yachty)

In which two of rap’s foremost lovable goofballs come together to goof around, lovably. Lil Yachty may not know the difference between a flute, a cello, and a clarinet — or which one Squidward plays — but the tootling flute that forms the backbone of “Broccoli” is irrepressible sonic sunshine par excellence, the auditory equivalent of DRAM’s big toothy grin. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


111 Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”

Fucked Up have so many good songs from so many good albums, and yet “Queen Of Hearts” is the one they play at almost every gig. It’s become the climax of their live show, the part of the set where the whole crowd shouts along in unison. “Hello, my name is David, your name is Veronica,” Damian Abraham growled, and an undying moment of human connection was born. — Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


110 Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”

2015’s clear song of the summer was an unexpected ode to partnership, cooking drugs, and getting rich. Through this blissful serotonin bomb of a bop (as well as one of the greatest love songs of our generation), Jersey rapper Fetty Wap introduced a nation to the difference between bands and a bando. —NM Mashurov [HEAR IT]


109 Ace Hood – “Bugatti” (Feat. Future & Rick Ross)

The name on the left side of the hyphen belongs to Ace Hood, the perfectly solid Floridian DJ Khaled protege who never did anything else half this good. But the song itself belongs to Future, whose slithery and cinematic hook guides the operatic J-Bo beat to a moment of glorious catharsis. It can’t be pleasant or comfortable to wake up in a car, no matter how expensive that car might be. But Future makes it sound like swallowing the world. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


108 Lana Del Rey – “Venice Bitch”

When you’re a pop star operating at the top of her game, and when you’re fresh out of fucks forever, you write a luxuriant and pillowy 10-minute psychedelic elegy for peace, love, truth, justice, the American way, and human life on planet Earth. Nothing gold can stay. Signing off — bang bang, kiss kiss. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


107 Run The Jewels – “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” (Feat. Zack De La Rocha)

Zack De La Rocha’s verse is just the cherry on top of this delightfully profane Run The Jewels sundae. From the iconic eponymous beat to the never-better chemistry between El-P and Killer Mike, “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” is three legends operating at the peak of their powers. Run them jewels fast, fuck the slo-mo. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


106 Rae Sremmurd – “Black Beatles” (Feat. Gucci Mane)

Do you remember where you were when the #MannequinChallenge took over the internet? It seemed as though everyone, including Sir Paul McCartney, participated in the crowd-pleasing viral sensation, in which frozen fans held their oft-hilarious poses as “Black Beatles” played in the background. It propelled Rae Sremmurd all the way to #1, but the challenge wouldn’t have caught on if not for a Swae Lee hook and Mike Will Made-It beat that turned trap into hypnotic pop. —Keely Quinlan [HEAR IT]


105 Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

Japandroids have come to represent a certain ideal, and “The House That Heaven Built” is the perfection of that ideal. It is the sound of adrenalized romance, of personal drama blown out to mythic proportions, of love and fury and exhilaration finding voice in rock ‘n’ roll, of two men and their instruments whipping up such distorted euphoria that you can’t help but howl along. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


104 A Tribe Called Quest – “We The People…”

A Tribe Called Quest came with the illest update in We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service. “We The People…” is the song that showed everyone they were listening and watching intently during their lengthy hiatus. In a year full of reactionary Trump songs, this one stood out, letting it be known ATCQ indeed has it from the here and now. —Collin Robinson [HEAR IT]


103 Calvin Harris – “Slide” (Feat. Frank Ocean & Migos)

Do you slide on all your nights like this? If you’re listening to “Slide” every night, you might. Calvin Harris invited Frank Ocean and two-thirds of Migos to join his infectious disco-funk party, and the result was the summer jam of our dreams and one of the finest pop songs from a notoriously pop-averse pop star. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


102 Jai Paul – “Jasmine (Demo)”

Jai Paul came out of nowhere with one perfect song. And then, a couple of years after “BTSTU,” he came back with an even more perfect song. In a slim but unimpeachable discography, “Jasmine” stands out as the highlight, the platonic ideal of a Jai Paul song. There’s the squelchy, underwater Prince-funk guitar, the cavernous negative-space production, the sensually whispered vocals, the ineffable alchemy that holds it all together. In the years since, Paul has given us a few more perfect songs, but we’re still waiting for another “Jasmine.” —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


101 Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – “Sunday Candy”

“Sunday Candy” is a feast that lives up to its name. On the menu: Jamila Woods’ heavenly coo, the jazz-funk-gospel sunshine of Nico Segal and his Social Experiment, and Chance The Rapper’s ever-sumptuous wordplay (“My grandma… handmade, pan-fried, sun-dried, Southside”). Any more decadent and it might have been a goofy Christmas song, but Chance delivers his sermon on the black matriarch and redemptive familial love with delicacy. —Jael Goldfine [HEAR IT]


100 Daft Punk – “Doin’ It Right” (Feat. Panda Bear)

Daft Punk make robot takeover sound like a good idea. The penultimate track on 2013’s Random Access Memories, “Doin’ It Right” is a dance party for the end of the world, a joyful apocalyptic disco. Panda Bear is the guiding voice, an echo that rings like a nursery rhyme from another planet. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


99 Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me”

Angel Olsen will not be ignored. She sang revelations at a foggy arm’s length distance for 2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness. But for 2016 follow-up My Woman, she strapped on some roller skates and a silver wig and belted passionately in your face. “Shut Up Kiss Me” is a grocery list of commands — imbued with seduction, aggression, and nostalgia — highlighted by unrelenting early rock ‘n’ roll electric guitar swirls. —Margaret Farrell [HEAR IT]


98 Travis Scott – “Sicko Mode” (Feat. Drake)

Travis Scott’s love of maximalism and mission to look cool appeared to have paid off by getting a three-part song to the top of the Hot 100. Anybody who says “Sicko Mode” doesn’t live for the Drake third is kidding themselves, though. Exposed but unbroken, he threw on Scott’s gothic garb over a twinkling 155 BPM production and approximated what a Vetements-branded moonwalk would feel like. “Out like a light” has been an idiom for centuries; “Sicko Mode” is Drake’s trademark claim. —Brian Josephs [HEAR IT]


97 Usher – “Climax”

Flanked by Diplo, Ariel Rechtshaid, and Redd Stylez, Usher delivered an R&B power ballad for the EDM era. “Climax” perfectly mirrored the sensation of one last endorphin rush before falling apart for good, its steady synth pulse and Usher’s lithe falsetto surging upward to ecstasy. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


96 The Weeknd – “House Of Balloons / Glass Table Girls”

The highlight across his era-defining trilogy of mixtapes, “House Of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” is an epic that employed Abel Tesfaye’s full range: as a lurid, chilling rapper, a twisted balladeer, and a high-stakes melodicist who willed himself heir to pop’s throne before bending it into his image. Never before had music about being dead inside sounded more full of life. —Pranav Trewn [HEAR IT]



SOPHIE landed on this planet with the cartoon splat that opens her flawless debut single. Skipping drums altogether in favor of processed synths as sweet and hard-hitting as candy in a supercollider, she rewired 2010s club music with confetti-pops that could double as the sound of EDM’s bubble bursting in real time. Bouncing through were those iconic vocals — elastic but emphatically heartfelt — shooting straight for the heart with the irresistible offer: “I could make you feel better.” “BIPP” did, and SOPHIE has kept her promise ever since. —Miles Bowe [HEAR IT]


94 DJ Khaled – “I’m On One” (Feat. Drake, Rick Ross, & Lil Wayne)

Let’s be real: “I’m On One” is a Drake song, not a DJ Khaled one. More to the point, it might be the moment where Drake’s whole aesthetic — the darkly glimmering synths, the passive-aggressive intensity, the floating tenor — fully matured. Here, Drake invites two of his favorite rap elders to his glassy sunset Miami playground and insinuates his airy hook into our lives. Meanwhile, Drake’s mentor Lil Wayne supplies what might be his last iconic verse-opening line: “I walk around the club. Fuck everybody.” —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


93 Courtney Barnett – “Avant Gardener”

Courtney Barnett is a winded wordsmith, a playful poet, and “Avant Gardener” is ceaselessly clever. Her deadened delivery hammers the song home, approaching the end of the world with a sardonic casualness. It’s about trying to sink into the pleasure of something methodical, like gardening, making new life in a world that feels like it’s dying every day. But the apocalypse is a constant reminder, a shadow that makes those tomatoes on the front steps wither and die. Seems like enough of a reason to have trouble breathing in. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


92 Solange – “Cranes In The Sky”

Chances are if you’re a member of a marginalized community, like Solange and countless other black women, cranes aren’t going to do anything for you. Walking through huge cities with cranes hanging ominously overhead can be a constant reminder of a world being built that you will never have access to. Or maybe they will erect some projects that will be run down in a few years. They’re the perfect metaphor for the ineluctable sadness and helplessness Solange evokes, and this song is a perfect talisman for the subtlety that makes A Seat At The Table a seminal album. —Collin Robinson [HEAR IT]


91 Sharon Van Etten – “Every Time The Sun Comes Up”

Sharon Van Etten has built a career out of mining commonplace failures. “I washed your dishes/ But I shit in your bathroom,” she sings on “Every Time The Sun Comes Up,” elongating the vowels like she’s at least trying to dodge the blows. After the song’s fadeout, you hear her headphones fall off. It’s an endearing trip-up, the kind that results in a dorky laugh. Sharon Van Etten is flawed, but she’s still fighting, and that’s more than most of us fuck-ups can say. —Nina Corcoran [HEAR IT]


90 Skepta – “Shutdown”

In the months after Skepta’s splattering grime klaxon “Shutdown” hit the internet in the spring of 2015, it became impossible to go anywhere without at least thinking the song’s hook: “Coffeeshop and it’s shut! Down! Kroger produce aisle and it’s shut! Down!” Such was the power of this big, rude shout-along. Truss mi, daddi. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


89 Parquet Courts – “Stoned And Starving”

“Stoned And Starving” is the signature song from Parquet Courts’ 2012 sophomore album Light Up Gold, the track that laid the framework for the New York band’s brand of brainy post-punk catharsis. It’s loose, but fidgety and restless — bothered, but ultimately apathetic. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


88 Lady Gaga – “Telephone” (Feat. Beyoncé)

The “Telephone” video is a true art-pop powerhouse: Gaga and Beyoncé team up for a critique of telecom hyper-availability while driving a yellow truck dubbed the Pussywagon out of a leather-and-studs women’s prison fantasy and into a Tarantino-inspired desert crime caper. Ten years later, it’s an evergreen reminder that a good club banger is worth leaving anyone on read. —NM Mashurov [HEAR IT]


87 Snail Mail – “Pristine”

Lindsey Jordan loves to trail off, leave a thought hanging out in open air. She does this a lot on “Pristine,” a song about the perfection and imperfection of youth. “Anyways,” she sighs; “Who’s your type of girl?” she asks, desperate and exhausted by the routine of finding and losing love, a million connections burnt out like the setting sun. She digs her heels in: “I’ll never love anyone else,” she insists, even as she’s already bracing herself to get hurt all over again. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


86 Sleigh Bells – “Crown On The Ground”

Fiery guitars abound on Sleigh Bells’ 2010 debut album Treats. For “Crown On The Ground,” they’re chopped up and transformed into a thundering beat. That signature sound, layered atop muffled moans and fuzzy falsetto, put noise-pop in the left-of-center mainstream and sparked Sleigh Bells’ lasting influence. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


85 St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy”

Amidst all of St. Vincent’s self-conscious performance-art posturing, it can be hard to get a handle on Annie Clark the human being. But the title track of her 2011 album Strange Mercy is St. Vincent at her best and her most personal, an emotional, perspective-shifting response to her father’s imprisonment for financial crimes. It’s strange and merciful, yes, and powerful. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


84 Migos – “Bad And Boujee” (Feat. Lil Uzi Vert)

“Bad And Boujee” is performed with enough cool to make you forget this is a freedom song: Migos had spent over a year trying to split with 300 Entertainment, a legal battle that left them unable to profit on the indelible “Look At My Dab.” It’s debatable whether “Bad And Boujee” is the best cut from Culture, an album that also includes “T-Shirt” and “Deadz,” but it’s the most important. For one, obviously, it’s their first and only #1 hit. Secondly, it’s a lean synopsis of why Migos had become pop music’s central force: that triplet flow, the lingo, the ad-libs (that’s five “woo”s; don’t get caught doing six). —Brian Josephs [HEAR IT]


83 Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting On You)”

Future Islands were already an established name when they went on the Late Show to perform “Seasons” in 2014. But frontman Sam Herring’s gravel-voiced intensity and loose-limbed dance moves instantly converted David Letterman and introduced them to a whole new level of fame. Dave will take all of that you got, and so would the rest of us. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


82 David Bowie – “I Can’t Give Everything Away”

The final song on David Bowie’s final album, “I Can’t Give Everything Away” is one more winking, wistful transmission from one of the most iconic and important songwriters we’ve ever known. Spacious and somehow at peace, quoting the classic Low instrumental “A New Career In A New Town,” it was a goodbye that nodded to history and what Bowie had left us while also alluding to the new adventurous future that could have been. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


81 Kesha – “Die Young”

Things are happening on “Die Young” that no song should be able to overcome. For instance: Two of the five co-writers are Kesha and Dr. Luke, the man who Kesha later accused of abuse. And the song came out just a few months before the Sandy Hook massacre, whereupon nobody wanted to hear a party song with that title. And yet “Die Young” endures as an expertly assembled fizz-pop track — an assembly line working at peak efficiency. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


80 Kacey Musgraves – “Slow Burn”

With endless notifications to swipe and emails to send, most of us could stand to chill the heck out. Kacey Musgraves’ echoing Golden Hour opener does exactly that, implicitly inviting you to do the same. Against soft banjo and swelling strings, the country-pop singer celebrates the Ferris Bueller-approved notion of pacing yourself. Let the resulting grace and beauty serve as a gentle reminder to be Extremely Offline once in a while. —Rachel Brodsky [HEAR IT]


79 Danny Brown – “Really Doe” (Feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, & Earl Sweatshirt)

Danny Brown exhibited all of his eccentric, energetic, and even introspective versatility on Atrocity Exhibition. On “Really Doe,” he stripped it all away to enter raw lyrical destroyer mode. But then factor in that neither he nor even King Kendrick have the best verse on this song, and you’ve got a posse banger for the ages. No one will put their couch on Earl Sweatshirt’s Chucks again. —Collin Robinson [HEAR IT]


78 Radiohead – “True Love Waits”

Once a giddy romantic paean from Radiohead’s 2001 live album, “True Love Waits” emerged on a studio release 15 years later, its warm acoustic strums replaced by frigid piano chasms. In the interim, Thom Yorke split from his longtime partner, who later died of cancer. All this completely recontextualized Yorke’s central plea: “Don’t leave.” Even without details, it’s devastating — the sound of first a romance and then a life dissolving into nothingness. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


77 Beach House – “Myth”

Beach House excel at putting a melody to incomprehensible feelings. They paint the atmosphere with cascading guitar riffs that overlap into a blur of twilight. Being conscious, being human, lends itself to a sometimes paralyzing temporality and life’s unknowable meaning. “What comes after this momentary bliss?” Victoria Legrand asks, her voice glowing. —Margaret Farrell [HEAR IT]


76 A$AP Rocky – “Peso”

In 2011, the world met a Harlem-based “pretty motherfucker” named A$AP Rocky. He declared himself as such within the first 10 seconds of “Peso,” the lead single from his breakout mixtape Live.Love.A$AP. Rocky’s charisma shone through a twinkly haze, the nonchalant cockiness and mellow swag that would come to define his style and persona. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


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

“Round And Round” is the moment fantasy and reality meet in Ariel Pink’s rollercoaster career this decade, from cult oddity to genuine rock star. When he offers to front “your air guitar band” and promises in that perfect chorus “we’ll dazzle them all,” it feels like Pink is singing to every past outsider musician he was compared to and the future ones he’d surely influence. —Miles Bowe [HEAR IT]


74 FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks”

With “Two Weeks,” FKA Twigs made a monumental impression. Above pulsating synths and skittering rhythms she levitated, asserting indisputable dominance. “High motherfucker, get your mouth open, you know you’re mine,” Twigs demanded. Submit to her command and know unbridled pleasures. —Connor Duffey [HEAR IT]


73 Sufjan Stevens – “Death With Dignity”

A multidimensional treatment of the residuals of love and grief and their interlocking frayed edges, framed within a series of immaculately-realized arrangements that still strike with the raw immediacy of peak Elliott Smith, Carrie & Lowell is the clear classic in a career strewn with masterpieces. The album’s stirring overture tracks Sufjan Stevens’ journey from fear to acceptance of what follows immutable loss. —Pranav Trewn [HEAR IT]


72 Lil Nas X – “Old Town Road (Remix)” (Feat. Billy Ray Cyrus)

You know “Old Town Road.” Your kid knows “Old Town Road.” Your dog knows “Old Town Road.” They know it because it’s a historic chart-smashing success, a #1 hit that the biggest pop stars in music couldn’t dethrone. And they know it because of Lil Nas X, an irrepressible underdog figure that represents all of the hopeful possibility of the newly democratized streaming economy. He got the horses in the back, and he got your heart while he was at it. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


71 Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Via one of her characteristically brilliant breakup songs, Taylor Swift declared she was going steady with Top 40 radio. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is catchy, hilarious, sly, indelible. Swift’s first Max Martin collaboration, her first #1 hit, errs on the cartoonish side of her discography, yet it’s also the sound of a prodigy growing up fast, knowing full well she had chops and gravitas to equal “some indie record that’s much cooler than mine.” The result is one of the most fun pop crossover moves — like, ever. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


70 The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”

The National’s post-recession anthem nails their signature balance between stately grandeur and raw vulnerability. Bryan Devendorf’s drums pound steadily, a brass section wafts upward into a swirl of melancholy guitar, and Matt Berninger toggles between surreal personal reflections and a more dispiritingly universal refrain: “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe/ The floors are falling out from everybody I know.” —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


69 Deafheaven – “Dream House”

In nine sprawling minutes, “Dream House” showcases Deafheaven’s capacity for lush, massive metal that’s as emotionally grandiose as it is technically furious. Featuring extreme vocals, driving blastbeats, and soaring guitar at the lead, “Dream House” channels post-rock and shoegaze to be as haunting as it is formidable. —NM Mashurov [HEAR IT]


68 Drake – “0 To 100 / The Catch Up”

Months after Nothing Was The Same, the ubiquitous Canadian decided to continue his streak of at least one inescapable motto per year with the hook of “0 To 100.” There was a more epic feel this time around, though: The song is a look at Drake’s career delivered with the same to-be-watched gravity of the “Last time on…” recap before the series finale (which obviously hasn’t come yet for Aubrey Graham). We also get an affecting glimpse at Drake minus the posturing. “Fuck that, I’ve been ready/ Since my dad used to tell me he was comin’ to the house to get me… He ain’t show up,” he recalls. He pauses for a bit: “Valuable lesson, man, I had to grow up.” It’s a vulnerable moment perpetually lovelorn Drake rarely reaches. —Brian Josephs [HEAR IT]


67 James Blake – “Retrograde”

Some songs have the power to change everything around them, to imbue the very air with a tingling sense of magic and import. “Retrograde” is one of those songs. Although he’s always been a producer first and a singer second, James Blake’s inimitable croon is one of his greatest strengths, and on “Retrograde,” he loops it to the heavens before blasting off with a wall of siren synths. Suddenly, you’re hit. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


66 Joanna Newsom – “Good Intentions Paving Company”

Joanna Newsom introduced her two-hour-long magnum opus first with a whispery “81,” then with a full-blown parade. “Good Intentions Paving Company” marches to piano and banjo as Newsom leads, swinging fists at the fog as she’s blinded by love. “For the time being, all is well,” she sings, as if the relationship left her in a daze. Rare is the track where Newsom reveals her heart, and even rarer does it set aside researched historical figures to center on herself in the moment instead. If you’re on the road to hell, you may as well find someone to join you. —Nina Corcoran [HEAR IT]


65 Jamie xx – “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” (Feat. Young Thug & Popcaan)

With the xx and on his own, Jamie xx specializes in an architectural form of beauty — comforting and nostalgic sounds stacked on top of each other with angular precision, making for a soothing glassiness that hints at deep emotions. And yet to date, Jamie xx’s greatest moment has been when Young Thug promised to ride in the pussy like a stroller while a dancehall star croons along with a 50-year-old soul sample. Turns out Jamie xx wears chaos well. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


64 Bon Iver – “Beth/Rest”

With a single bleary-eyed soft-rock power ballad, Justin Vernon and his electric piano upended entire taste hierarchies, welcoming the likes of Bruce Hornsby into indie rock’s big tent of influences. It wouldn’t have gone over so well if “Beth/Rest” wasn’t every bit as astonishing as Bon Iver’s forays into folk, post-rock, and everything else. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


63 Future – “Mask Off”

“Percocet, Molly, Percocet.” On paper, it looks like a recipe for a total nightmare of a night out. But Future mutters those three words like a koan, or a prayer. Metro Boomin’s lost, wandering flute loop — a sample from Tommy Butler’s 1978 musical Selma — flutters and keens, soothing and ominous in equal measure. From that loop, and from Future’s disconsolately spacey grumble, Metro builds a heady fantasia, a psychedelic rocker for a dystopian era. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


62 Jack Ü (Skrillex & Diplo) – “Where Are Ü Now” (Feat. Justin Bieber)

Despite its overexposure, it’s incredibly difficult to hate on “Where Are Ü Now.” It’s just too catchy, too perfectly constructed. And according to an interactive New York Times story (which was the catalyst for some serious 2015 EDM beef), the central flute-like melody is actually an ingeniously warped and distorted Bieber vocal. —Keely Quinlan [HEAR IT]


61 Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”

Kevin Parker reforged psych rock into a contemporary frontier, then set his sights on fashioning EDM as high art. “Let It Happen” is the intersection of acid house raves, Sgt. Pepper’s, and Diplo — a bold prototype for what the monogenre might have looked like if anyone else knew how to make music like this. —Pranav Trewn [HEAR IT]


60 Charli XCX – “Boom Clap”

You probably know this by now: Charli XCX writes really good pop songs. She can write them for futuristic femmebots, liquifying her vocals for you to swim in on the dancefloor. Or she can write them for the soundtrack to a teen film starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. When “Boom Clap” was deemed not cool enough for Hilary Duff (yeah, remember that?), Charli kept it for herself, imbuing it with her signature swagger en route to her only top 10 hit as a lead artist. Even at her catchiest and most mainstream, she morbidly hints at how our love is as temporary as it is thrilling. —Margaret Farrell [HEAR IT]


59 Arcade Fire – “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

Existentialism and ennui never sounded so good. “Cut these pretentious things and just punch the clock,” Regine Chassagne sings in her breathy, piercing register, transforming suburbia into a dreamscape of shuttered shopping malls as purple mountain majesties, all backed by the band’s hypnotic tapestry of soaring synth motifs. —Harley Brown [HEAR IT]


58 The War On Drugs – “Red Eyes”

In 2011, with Slave Ambient, the War On Drugs had already located an entrancing strain of classicism equally cosmic and world-weary. Back then, nobody could’ve imagined they’d become one of the biggest rock breakouts of the decade. But a couple years later, “Red Eyes” arrived — the band now barreling down the highway of generations of classic rock tropes, lighting the past up with new psychedelic colors born from our bottomless, hazy digital-era memory. And as soon as Adam Granduciel let loose that raucous, sublime “Woo!” you knew this band had found something else. You knew they were going to be way bigger than anyone thought. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


57 Disclosure – “Latch” (Feat. Sam Smith)

With “Latch,” wunderkind brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence constructed a Trojan horse for the club, a lovesick and slinky gambit that catapulted dub-inflected house into the mainstream. Paired with the pitch of a then-unknown Sam Smith, soundtracks for bottle service got a little more tasteful. —Connor Duffey [HEAR IT]


56 Tyler, The Creator – “Yonkers”

Without “Yonkers,” Odd Future never become a national sensation, meaning the sounds that came to define the freshman class of this decade never materialize. And it all started with a joke beat Tyler made in “literally eight minutes” to poke fun at New York hip-hop, a defiance of authority that went on to transform everyone in its orbit into institutions of their own. —Pranav Trewn [HEAR IT]


55 Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”

As acclaimed as good kid, m.A.A.d. city was, To Pimp A Butterfly was the album that completed Kendrick Lamar’s ascent to superstardom and established him as a generational auteur. Though “King Kunta” wasn’t the first or even second single from the album, it felt like Simba returning to Pride Rock more than ready to claim the throne. It’s perhaps the one song that marks Lamar’s rise more than any other. —Collin Robinson [HEAR IT]


54 Rosalía – “Malamente (Cap. 1: Augurio)”

The first single off El Mal Querer was accompanied by a transfixing video that includes bullfighting imagery and motorcycles. “Malamente” introduced listeners to Rosalía’s thrilling combination of flamenco, electronic pop, and R&B. She chuckles as she sings of bad omens: This is not a warm invitation, but a truly irresistible one. —NM Mashurov [HEAR IT]


53 Kanye West – “Mercy” (Feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz)

Built on a mind-altering beat from a peak-powers Kanye West, “Mercy” is also an exemplary posse cut. West, Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz’s unfettered styles and spirits unfold over a minimal, menacing rhythm. The verses are so emblematic of each rapper, it’s almost like they’re spitting elevator pitches. We hear West’s aggression and suicide door appreciation, Pusha T’s fierce energy and luxury spoils, Big Sean’s ass-related puns, and 2 Chainz’s lighthearted toughness. They thrive in their lanes, and the song is a testament to all of their unique charms. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


52 Vince Staples – “Norf Norf”

“Norf Norf” is still Vince Staples’ calling card. More concisely than any other song in his catalog, it sums him up as the uncannily intelligent crip who is so much more than his gang affiliations and bona fides. It’s rare you get a rap song this dense and efficient nowadays — with three full 16s — and it’s just as rare to find an artist of the gangster tradition with the skill and dimension to pull it off. Vince Staples for mayor of Long Beach, Summertime ’06 and beyond. —Collin Robinson [HEAR IT]


51 Vampire Weekend – “Step”

“Step” is timeless. Literally. It’s a song that feels temporally unfixed. Ezra Koenig is soft and unhurried, letting his words wander and taking time to reflect and impart wisdom. He takes a line from an old Souls Of Mischief song — “Every time I see you in the world, you always step to my girl” — and builds stream-of-consciousness social critique. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


50 Pusha T – “If You Know You Know”

One of the highest highs from Kanye West’s uneven Wyoming extravaganza, and one of Pusha T’s finest moments. “If You Know You Know” finds the pair at their respective bests, working in perfect sync — it’s the kind of West beat that’s both beautiful and hard, giving Pusha the exact kind of ruthless banger over which he excels. As soon as that drop hits, the song goes right to the stratosphere and stays there, Pusha’s trademark sneer and swagger sounding more triumphant than ever. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


49 Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Few pop stars practice self-awareness to the extent Taylor Swift does on this 1989 bop that will be forever remembered as an accidental ode to Starbucks. Skewering the media’s two-dimensional perception that she must be a crazy-eyed man-eater (a young woman who dates? Call the authorities!), Swift offers tongue-in-cheek caution to future paramours (“Got a long list of ex-lovers/ They’ll tell you I’m insane”), and in doing so, regains control over the narrative. —Rachel Brodsky [HEAR IT]


48 Boygenius – “Me & My Dog”

There are Boygenius songs that better display the talents of all three musicians involved, but none of them hit as hard as Phoebe Bridgers does on “Me & My Dog.” It’s a love song that’s highly specific, one that’s embarrassingly pure, one that makes you redden up with the sheer weight of it. “I wanna be emaciated/ I wanna hear one song without thinking of you,” Bridgers sings, wishing that love didn’t have to be so total, so immense, so devastating and yet something that we constantly crave, a connection we cannot live without. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


47 Solange – “Losing You”

Solange Knowles and Dev Hynes would go on to do amazing things on their own, but before either of them did, they teamed up for a luminous love song built from bird-calls and handclaps and drum-ripples and ’80s synth cheese. “Losing You” is a beautiful roller-skating jam about stress and uncertainty, and yet it hits like the sun coming up on the first day of spring. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


46 Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – “Shallow”

“AHHHHAHHHAHAHHHHAHHHH.” With one titanic wail, a few seconds in the A Star Is Born trailer, and a couple of dank memes, Lady Gaga had a new iconic hit on her hands. The palpable chemistry between Gaga and Bradley Cooper launched a thousand tabloid headlines, and “Shallow” became the emotional centerpiece of Gaga’s first blockbuster film. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


45 Kanye West – “Ultralight Beam” (Feat. Chance The Rapper, The-Dream, Kelly Price, & Kirk Franklin)

“Ultralight Beam” might end up being the last time that Kanye West was truly, unabashedly great (Chance The Rapper, too). The Life Of Pablo opener is an amalgamation of a group of musicians, samples, perhaps even heavenly guidance that has a lineage, a sense of history. West’s best songs have always been an act of expert curation, and he gathered the exact right group of people to proclaim their faith and love in God in a song as bright, still, and beautiful as dust motes sparkling through a stained-glass window. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


44 Fiona Apple – “Every Single Night”

After six years of silence, Fiona Apple answered the question looming over her with her lead single: Yes, she’s still stuck in her head, and she’s loving it. “Every Single Night” laces its fingers through self-doubt and paranoia, then throws its hands in the air as Apple hollers the chorus freely. Immediately after, she sings barely above a whisper: “I just want to feel everything.” It appears she already is. —Nina Corcoran [HEAR IT]


43 Grimes – “Flesh Without Blood”

In which Grimes, once symbiotic with her synthesizers, jettisoned her circuitry only to somehow sound poppier than ever. How unthinkable that this guitar-centric track — the first single from Claire Boucher’s impervious Art Angels — was her first full-throated attempt at accessibility. A song with hooks too lush to deny, “Flesh Without Blood” found Grimes finally, deservedly, twisting the mainstream’s dial to her liking. —Connor Duffey [HEAR IT]


42 Father John Misty – “Pure Comedy”

Gifted with a natural instinct for classic songwriting but an eye and mind born for modern times, Josh Tillman was already running circles around many of his peers in the indie world. Then, on Pure Comedy, he really tried to say it all. Its title track might not encapsulate the full spectrum of FJM — it’s all big-picture mode, with none of the self-reflexive examinations that make his narrative so rich — but it’s the quintessential FJM song. In just a few minutes, Tillman grapples with the grand farce of our existence, and injects profundity back into a time-worn hope — in the end, we can only find meaning by showing each other a little bit of kindness. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


41 Ariana Grande – “Into You”

The secret weapon on “Into You” isn’t Ariana Grande’s nuclear vocal acrobatics — it’s the guttural bass stabs that suck all the air out of the room after her opening line and swell to full-throttle fever pitch during the chorus, lending the skyscraping song staying power long after the affair has fizzled out. —Harley Brown [HEAR IT]


40 Cardi B – “I Like It” (Feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin)

Cardi B isn’t just flexing her newfound wealth as she gleefully lists off her favorite things (dollars, diamonds, stuntin’, shinin’). She’s asserting her ability to write the rules of her own reality — and basking in how deliriously good it feels. Cardi’s world is both relatable and aspirational (“Eating halal/ Driving the Lam”), buoyantly intersecting with the panoply of Latin music stars and sounds that were breaking through to a wider audience at the same moment. —Jael Goldfine [HEAR IT]


39 Adele – “Someone Like You”

Around the time “Someone Like You” hit #1, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch where the song caused a massive, cathartic ugly-cry session in a group of otherwise-nondescript office workers. “Someone Like You” is like that — a bite-size piece of instantly accessible gut-scorching sadness, one that pretty much everyone can share immediately. Adele co-wrote the song with Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, and she sings it expertly, desperately, over nothing but his piano, inviting the world into her all-encompassing regret. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


38 Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend”

Only Robyn could make a romantic and empathetic club hit that doles out advice on how to break up a relationship. She just stole your man, but she’s going to make sure he bubble-wraps your heart when he returns it to you. One of her iconic bangers, pulsing with holographic synths and a deceptively simple bridge, it has her singing as a woman who’s been on the other side. When it comes to the heart, Robyn never misses one throbbing, entrancing beat. —Margaret Farrell [HEAR IT]


37 Kendrick Lamar – “Backseat Freestyle”

Within the Proustian narrative of good kid, m.A.A.d. city, there is a reason for “Backseat Freestyle” to exist: a young Kendrick Lamar trying to prove himself, big-talking in a car with his teenage-idiot friends. In practice, though, “Backseat Freestyle” is simply an excuse for the greatest pure rapper of his generation to cut loose over a hard-knocking beat for three and a half minutes. Whatever it takes! —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


36 Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”

Carly Rae Jepsen isn’t a one-hit wonder. With the masterfully crafted lovelorn pop songs of E•MO•TION, she became an unlikely indie darling and the alleged queen of just about everything. But it was all possible because of “Call Me Maybe,” an early out-of-nowhere smash that captured the euphoric feeling of falling into a hopeless crush. The world had just met Jepsen, and this was crazy, but we crushed on her right back. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


35 HAIM – “The Wire”

This 2013 track was the mainstream’s introduction to the Laurel Canyon sister trio, and what a ripper it continues to be. The quick-paced verses feel timewarped as Danielle croons in the chorus, “Always keep your heart locked tight/ Don’t let your mind retire.” Vampish scorching swagger on par with ’70s glam rockers only fortified the band’s identity as one of the West Coast’s most valuable exports this decade. —Keely Quinlan [HEAR IT]


34 Drake – “Marvins Room”

Drake did more than anyone to dissolve the binary between tough-guy rappers and loverman R&B singers. “Marvins Room” eschewed those archetypes entirely, presenting him as a deeply flawed protagonist drunk-dialing an ex in search of relief that is not forthcoming. Against vaporous production resembling a post-midnight emotional haze, he put his least flattering insecurities on display. The result was a vivid character sketch with an unflinching messiness that extends all the way to the title’s lack of an apostrophe. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


33 Azealia Banks – “212” (Feat. Lazy Jay)

“212” might just be the best introduction to an artist that we’ve gotten this decade, and it’s only made bittersweet by how much of a zig-zag Azealia Banks’ career has been ever since. But “212” still remains at the top of its world, an unstoppable force in which Banks is firing on all cylinders. It’s an impressively dirty Jenga tower of wordplay, and its central refrain (“I’m gonna ruin you, cunt”) is a twisted and satisfying payoff. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


32 Katy Perry – “Teenage Dream”

Though it’s ostensibly about being young and in love, Katy Perry’s 2010 pop gem tells a much broader story. With its shout-along chorus (“You! Make! Me!”) and ever-so-slightly provocative verbiage (“I’mma get your heart racing in my skin-tight jeans”), Perry captures the universality of romantic discovery, and indulges the fantasy that someone out there really gets us — no matter your age. —Rachel Brodsky [HEAR IT]


31 Sky Ferreira – “I Blame Myself”

Fed up with people telling her who she is, Sky Ferreira matched self-deprecation with pride and vulnerability with angst. “I Blame Myself,” the centerpiece of Ferreira’s debut LP Night Time, My Time, finds her taking control, giving herself a voice when she feels silenced. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


30 Miley Cyrus – “Wrecking Ball”

“Wrecking Ball” is inextricable from its music video, Miley Cyrus naked and vulnerable and swinging around on a giant wrecking ball, an absolutely immense force coming to fuck all your shit up. It’s a glimmering torch song that contains one of the best vocal performances of the decade, a transcendent pop moment that embraces its own self-destructive tendencies. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


29 Frank Ocean – “Pyramids”

Cleopatra, strip clubs, John Mayer guitar solos: “Pyramids” has it all. But above all else, it has Frank Ocean himself, ascending to his current status as one of the most influential and mercurial stars of the decade. The harbinger of Channel Orange and its show-stopping centerpiece, “Pyramids” was a monumental statement of intent. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


28 Kanye West – “Monster” (Feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, & Bon Iver)

In Nicki Minaj’s star-making verbal torrent, “Monster” boasts the most acclaimed rap verse of the decade. It also has a phenomenal beat, an absurdly catchy hook, “sarcophagus” rhymed with “esophagus,” Rick Ross and Justin Vernon on the same track, and Jay-Z bars that have become a delightful annual Halloween meme. Truly a blessed recording. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


27 Billie Eilish – “bad guy”

The signature hit from 17-year-old Billie Eilish is goth yet carnivalesque, goofy and despondent all at once. Reinforced with a wickedly weird video, the youthful 808-laced mope’s power was such that back in August it finally hit #1 after nine weeks dominating the #2 spot, dethroning the infamous “Old Town Road.” By then the ascent of “Bad Guy” (and “Old Town Road” for that matter) had already suggested a broader changing of the guard, a new kind of hit from a new kind of a pop star. —Keely Quinlan [HEAR IT]


26 Lana Del Rey – “Video Games”

Though the work of Lana Del Rey has grown richer and more expansive over time, the project was already fully-formed when Lizzy Grant first made her proper introduction under the persona. Her doomed recontextualization of Americana tropes, her ability to communicate contemporary isolation in classical language — it was all right there from the start in “Video Games.” It’s a tragic song that sounded as if it could’ve been released 50 years earlier, and yet it spoke to the eternal aspects of the human condition in such a way that LDR immediately won a lot of people’s fervent devotion. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


25 Beyoncé – “Drunk In Love” (Feat. Jay-Z)

On Beyoncé’s biggest (sans Sheeran) hit of the decade, she delivered a tour de force vocal performance. She redefined the word “surfboard.” And she conjured an aura of glamorous matrimonial bliss so powerful it could not be punctured no matter how hard Jay-Z tried, first by rapping “your breasteses is my breakfast” and then by having someone else’s breasteses for breakfast. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


24 Taylor Swift – “All Too Well”

“All Too Well” is a testament to Swift’s knack for perfectly pointed observations that make the pop star impossible to ignore. There are rumors of 10-minute, 20-minute versions of this song, but “All Too Well” as it stands is the perfect distillation of a love found and lost. It’s six minutes of gradually building stakes: She was owned, and then she was alone. That feeling, of the rug being ripped out from under you, feels exactly like this song does, a seemingly impossible feat that Swift pulls off heartbreakingly all too well. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


23 Lorde – “Royals”

The observer effect is the idea that the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes it. In 2012, we watched it in action. On “Royals,” a New Zealand teenager named Ella Yelich-O’Connor observed the lavish cars-and-jewelry lifestyle porn she heard on Top 40 radio and changed the face of modern pop music in the process, ushering in a new strain of slinky dark-pop minimalism and paving the way for future stars like Billie Eilish. Some of us might just be royals after all. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


22 The 1975 – “Love It If We Made It”

The term “generational anthem” gets thrown around loosely, but rarely would it be as applicable in the ’10s as it was to the 1975’s “Love It If We Made It.” A full-throated flurry of recent headlines, the song captured a sense of the world falling apart and a desperate desire that life might continue on in some recognizable form. Curating a series of soundbites in a cathartic synth-rock arrangement, it was the perfect encapsulation of a generation’s experience living with the constant expectation of the floor falling out from under them. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


21 Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)”

Once upon a time, Cardi B’s entire rap career looked like pure TMZ noise, the result of a reality-show deluded enough to think that she could make it as a star in the music world, too. And then Cardi jumped on a sinister, minimal crawl of a beat to tell us that we couldn’t fuck with her if we wanted to, and a star was truly born. Cardi said every word on “Bodak Yellow” with her chest, flexing haughty disdain and pure charisma, building a defiant hit out of nothing. The world responded. Cardi wasn’t deluded; we were. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


20 M83 – “Midnight City”

“Midnight City” is a glorious distillation of M83’s 2011 breakthrough album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. The song awakens our nostalgia, our yearning for a vague vision of the past, and paints it in brilliant colors. Eight years after its release, “Midnight City” bears a more precise, multilayered nostalgia. The millennial indie landmark now conjures the genre’s pop culture moment and a bygone milieu. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


19 Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk” (Feat. Bruno Mars)

Whether you believe Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars ripped off the ‘70s or paid homage to them doesn’t really matter. “Uptown Funk” was a monstrously successful, inescapable single, the soundtrack for 2014 and well into 2015. It was such a big hit that Ronson never thought he would come back from it, personally or commercially. It was the hit that solidified Mars’ kingly pop stature. Those infectious guitar riffs and Michelle Pfeiffer quips will live on forever through countless weddings and family gatherings. —Margaret Farrell [HEAR IT]


18 Perfume Genius – “Queen”

“Don’t you know your queen?” Mike Hadreas crooned, a coronation worthy of a god. Up until “Queen,” Hadreas had been making affecting and beautifully still piano ballads, but this was a definitive level-up and Hadreas knew it. He was swooning straight into being one of our best experimental underground pop stars, with a statement of purpose bent on world domination: “No family is safe when I sashay.” —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


17 Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”

“HUMBLE.” is what happens when one of the most virtuosic rappers we’ve ever seen is at the height of his powers, knows it, and delivers a monolithic flex proclaiming it. Pivoting from the thematic and sonic density of To Pimp A Butterfly, “HUMBLE.” found Kendrick Lamar rapping, going all out over a hardened beat as if to say, plainer than ever before, that he was ready to conquer the world. Filled with instantly memorable lines — and accompanied by an instant-classic video loaded with indelible images — “HUMBLE.” was a power-move introduction to DAMN. A Pulitzer would follow, but it almost didn’t matter — Lamar had already taken the crown for himself. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


16 Frank Ocean – “Nights”

Frank Ocean isn’t afraid of the night. Nights are when everything happens: sex and intimacy, those quiet moments when you look over at the other person and feel in love, adventures that can only happen under cover of darkness. Ocean is gooey and sentimental, his thoughts spew out at 100mph like those fancy cars he loves to drive. “All night, been ready for you all my night,” he sings, but night is an easy substitute for life, and “Nights” is an ode to life, in all of its ups and downs. It’s an epic song that only Ocean could construct, perfectly capturing the magic that happens in those few hours between dusk and dawn that feel filled with possibility. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


15 Kanye West – “Runaway” (Feat. Pusha T)

Is Kanye West self-aware? With every ridiculous stunt he pulls and every stupid thing he says, the debate rages on. But “Runaway,” his toast for the douchebags and the assholes and the scumbags and the jerkoffs, makes the case that he at least knows that he is all of these things. And set to its unforgettable plinking piano motif and slow-building maximalist grandeur, West’s characteristically self-obsessed examination of fame and failed relationships sounds nothing short of sublime. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


14 LCD Soundsystem – “Dance Yrself Clean”

“Dance Yrself Clean” is an all-time classic album opener largely thanks to two of James Murphy’s areas of expertise: masterful buildups that infuse dance-floor catharsis into rock music and wry social commentary a la “talking like a jerk except you are an actual jerk.” Let your body lose control when it’s on and purification really might ensue. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


13 Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away With Me”

Carly Rae Jepsen isn’t interested in a slow build. Her third album E•MO•TION opens with horns blaring, introducing four minutes of sheer bliss. “Run Away With Me” encapsulates her exaggerated, honest-to-god pop and sets the tone for the larger-than-life album that follows. She shouts her dreams skyward, surrounded by stabbing synths. Her galloping exhilaration is palpable, a revelation that feels like breathing for the first time. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


12 Sky Ferreira – “Everything Is Embarrassing”

After languishing for years as a teenaged cog in the major label machine, Sky Ferreira finally broke out with a signature hit that gave a listless generation a new mantra. “Everything Is Embarrassing” is a breakup song, an ’80s-tinged dance-pop jam, and ground zero for the collapsing of the indie and pop music spheres, an endlessly listenable ode to the endless indignities of life and love. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


11 Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Niggas In Paris”

Jay-Z is so rich that he doesn’t even remember how much $50,000 is worth to him. Kanye West is so good at rapping that the medical establishment can’t properly diagnose it; doctors say he’s the illest because he’s suffering from realness. For the glorious four minutes of “Paris” — or at least the three minutes before the dubstep drop — Jay and Kanye’s superstar chemistry conquers all. Every single line from both of them hits as a hook, or as a catchphrase, or both. But there’s pathos underlying the splendor: If you’d escaped what they escaped, you’d be in Paris getting fucked up, too. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


10 Lorde – “Green Light”

Beat switches, lyrics that refuse to rhyme: At first “Green Light” seems to make no sense. But neither do breakups, and soon those disjointed elements start to evoke the confusion that sets in when a passionate romance goes sour. The Broadway-worthy dance-pop euphoria that follows is the sound of forging bravely into the future even when you don’t feel ready to move on. —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


9 Ariana Grande – “No Tears Left To Cry”

Ariana Grande recorded Sweetener in the aftermath of trauma, but at the dawn of new love and promise. Its standout single “No Tears Left To Cry” is glittering and triumphant, grand and unapologetic. The song exudes the magic of moving forward and marked a new era of Grande. She graduates from the glitzy trend-pop that dominated her earlier work, transforming her grief and recovery into a soaring dance ballad. It has all the elements of a first-rate Ariana Grande song — her iconic vocal range is stretched for all its worth, backed by a contagious shuffling beat — and adds a new strength to her resume: vulnerability. —Julia Gray [HEAR IT]


8 Beyoncé – “Formation”

A week after the “Formation” video showed up online, and six days after Beyoncé showed up at the Super Bowl Halftime Show as some kind of cross between Huey P. Newton and Rhythm Nation-era Janet Jackson, Saturday Night Live aired a horror-movie parody sketch called “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black.” “Formation” is inextricable from its visuals, especially from the sight of Beyoncé reclining on a police car as it sinks into New Orleans floodwater. But the song itself is so hard and nasty and self-assured that it catalyzed one of the greatest star turns we saw this decade. Plenty of people snarled hard this decade. But nobody snarled harder, on a larger stage, than Beyoncé. —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


7 Kanye West – “Black Skinhead”

For years, we were waiting for Kanye West to fail. Each album seemed more absurd in its ambition and rollout, and eventually things did buckle under it all. Yeezus was the last time he undeniably proved us wrong. A caustic noise-rap reinvention and ego dissection, it’s the nasty core of the era in which West could do no wrong (musically) and seemed to be three steps ahead of everyone else. With heart palpitation drums and a visceral rap, “Black Skinhead” instantly became one of the most shocking, addicting, and straight-up best songs in an often visionary career. All these years later, including the mess of West’s career recently, it’s a reminder of how vital and untouchable he seemed for a time. All these years later, it will still rearrange you on a molecular level every time. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


6 Mitski – “Your Best American Girl”

Mitski Miyawaki’s “Your Best American Girl” operates at the perfect halfway point between Bury Me At Makeout Creek‘s fuzzed-out catharsis and Be The Cowboy‘s baroque pop, and it feels like all of Puberty 2 pared down to a searing three-and-a-half minutes, embracing the album’s tonal whiplash and crawling desperation to understand what it is to be loved, how it feels to love. This is the pinnacle of Mitski’s writing about trying to be something you’re not. It’s an extremely personal song meant to be sung to the rafters, a song about social alienation that becomes universal. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]


5 Rihanna – “We Found Love” (Feat. Calvin Harris)

There is an art to the peak-of-the-night anthem, the song that changes a fun night out into a religious experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. Calvin Harris is not a master of this art. But with “We Found Love,” he (however briefly) cracked the code and established his big font size on festival posters for years to come. “We Found Love” juices the sonics of classic early-’90s house music, whipping them up into a dizzy frenzy, building climax after climax. Meanwhile, Rihanna takes what could be a meaningless lyric and gives it a grand, icily vulnerable reading, transforming it into something that will stick in your soul forever. In the hopeless days to come, we would still have “We Found Love.” —Tom Breihan [HEAR IT]


4 M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”

Last decade might’ve featured M.I.A.’s game-changing, dizzying rise, but it was in this one when she realized the single greatest apotheosis of her globalized, genreless pop. Boasting god-level songwriting acumen and arrangement, “Bad Girls” came with an iconic video and a lovable synth riff that did what she always did best — refer to a specific place and subculture rarely heard in Western media, but also collide things so we arrived somewhere exhilarating, somewhere broader, somewhere new. It was the rare pop song that sounded like nothing we had heard before and nothing we have heard since. —Ryan Leas [HEAR IT]


3 Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

If “Alright” had only been a pillar of one of the best rap albums ever, that alone would qualify it as one of this decade’s finest songs — Pharrell and Sounwave’s thunderous soul-jazz beat as wide open as the sky over Compton, Kendrick Lamar’s rallying cry offering a glimpse of hope amidst the bottomless turmoil of To Pimp A Butterfly. But a few months after its release, when activists protesting police violence against black people began chanting it at demonstrations, “Alright” took on larger resonance. It now stands as a modern spiritual of sorts, a beacon and a balm for those looking at the world wondering, “Where do we go?” —Chris DeVille [HEAR IT]


2 Grimes – “Oblivion”

A weirdo from Vancouver, making music for other weirdos, suddenly became a household name. Visions is how it happened. “Oblivion” is how it happened. Grimes is too restlessly creative to stay in one aesthetic place for long, but it’s easy to see why some fans wanted her to keep making songs like “Oblivion” forever. Even so, reducing “Oblivion” to its gauzy synth-pop perfection is to elide the very real trauma at its center. Its pain and its idiosyncratic pop accessibility are the inseparable ventricles of its beating heart, a reclamation of the shadows that steps unabashedly into the light. See you on a dark night. —Peter Helman [HEAR IT]


1 Robyn – “Dancing On My Own”

Yes, Robyn released the best song of the decade all the way back in 2010. Ten years have gone by since “Dancing On My Own” came out, and it feels just as potent today as it did when it was released. It’s a pop anthem in the classical vein, a universal scream into the void. It’s about doing something by yourself that was once communal. It’s about watching everything happen from a distance, on the dancefloor maybe scrolling through Instagram (which did not exist when Robyn wrote the song) and seeing your ex cuddling up to someone new, creating a life where your old one was supposed to be.

“I keep dancing on my own,” Robyn sings, “keep” being the operative word here. There’s power in reclaiming a moment for yourself. In a decade that has been characterized by increasing disconnection and fracture, “Dancing On My Own” stands as both a breakup song and a reminder of how powerful it can be to stand by yourself, resilient, after the lights go on and the music dies and it’s only you. Lit up by the glow of our screens, we’re more alone than we ever were, but that can be okay, too, if you approach it with the right mindset. —James Rettig [HEAR IT]

Listen to a playlist of all the songs (that are available on Spotify) here. Check out our list of the 100 Best Albums Of The 2010s here.

more from 2010s In Review

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