This half is (not purposely) more Australian than 26-50.
Oh, and after this, I’ll be away until the end of January. Thanks to everyone who has read anything that I’ve written in the past month.
25: Where I’m Going by Cut Copy
Being the first Cut Copy song I ever heard, and the song that encouraged me to buy their album In Ghost Colours, one of my favourite birthday presents acquired this year, this track holds special significance to me. For this reason, I feel almost obliged to listen to it, so thankfully it’s an excellent tune. Where I’m Going marks something of a departure from the gleaming, synth-based sound that brought them fame, focusing more on the conventional interplay of guitar, bass and drums while still maintaining the trademark Cut Copy sound.
24: Rabbit Song by Boy and Bear
Crashing drums and electric guitars don’t usually go hand-in-hand with flawless harmonies, do they? But then, there’s nothing usual about Boy and Bear. With every single band member boasting experience as a lead vocalist in a previous band, they really have mastered vocal interplay, and every song on their debut EP attests to this. Rabbit Song is probably the highlight, boasting an unconventional structure, crashing drums, and reciprocity between both acoustic and electric guitars. This band is going places.
23: Way Back Home by Bag Raiders
After seemingly releasing the ridiculously-catchy song Shooting Stars an age ago, Bag Raiders lay low for a while. Then, suddenly, Way Back Home was released to the world in August. With a slightly brooding, melancholic beginning, it erupts into a glittering cascade of dance perfection. Well worth the wait.
22: Yellow Brick Road by Angus and Julia Stone
Angus and Julia Stone are a fine example of a band becoming mainstream (in Australia anyway) while still retaining their skill and charm, both of which they possess in bucketloads. The pallette with which they adorn their aural tapestry is on full show in Yellow Brick Road, as its slow-burning progression, soft-as-velvet chorus, and pair of solos ensure that this song is, without a doubt, the 22nd best song of the year.
21: Runway, Houses, City, Clouds by Tame Impala
A sonic masterpiece.
20: Peter Pan by Jinja Safari
Digging away in the goldmine that is the Triple J Unearthed website a few months ago, I stumbled upon this song, and instantly knew I was on to something special. Lush African-influenced sounds and bouncing percussion are trademark characteristics of Jinja Safari, and both are prevalent in this joyous song that, in accordance with its title, really does you back to a time when it seemed like youth would last forever.
19: The Rolling Stone by Cloud Control
On an album full of highlights, The Rolling Stone is the track that sounds least like the others. Surely that would mean it’s the weakest track, then?
On the contrary.
Blending psychedelia with pop, the climax undoubtedly occurs when a resounding ‘Whoop’ fuses together the repetitions of the saltating chorus, which contrasts perfectly with the droning verses.
18: Enchanting Ghost by Sufjan Stevens
Enchanting Ghost encompasses all the elements of Sufjan Stevens that have endeared him to so many, such as the entrancing acoustic guitar, understated piano, highly-metaphorical and interpretive lyrics, and benign yet assured vocalwork.
17: Flash Delirium by MGMT
“When we first wrote that song, we were laughing so hard, Andrew [VanWyngarden] just reminded me of that — that we thought it was the funniest thing we’d ever heard. And then we got used to it, it started to sound more normal. It’s not a single, but we thought it was a good way to entice people to listen to the whole record. I’m sure there are plenty of people who think it’s completely weird and not what they were expecting. I’m sorry.”
–MGMT‘s Ben Goldwasser
It is completely weird.
It’s not what I was expecting.
Don’t apologise, it’s an excellent song.
‘Sue the spiders / Sink the Welsh / Stab your Facebook / Sell sell sell.’
15 & 16: Ambling Alp and O.N.E. by Yeasayer
It’d be difficult to try and think of a song with a catchier melody than these two tunes.
It’d also be difficult to try and split these two stellar tracks, so I paired them together and only put Ambling Alp first in the title because it’s alphabetically inaugural.
Without a doubt, brilliant songs.
14: Magic Fountain by Art vs Science
In the beginning there was a fountain. But it wasn’t just any fountain. It was a fountain of light. It was a fountain of truth. It was a fountain of dreams. It was a fountain of youth. It was a magic fountain.
Some songs aren’t appreciated for their lyrical depth. But you won’t find a track that’s more fun to listen, sing, and dance to.
O.N.E. by Yeasayer(mp3)
13: What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way) by Wolf Parade
As someone who, out of Wolf Parade‘s collection of works, had only ever listened to I’ll Believe In Anything, when they released What Did My Lover Say and Ghost Pressure in May, the two new songs didn’t really jump out at me. Sure, they were good, but they’d never beat IBIA.
It took me buying the album to realise that they didn’t have to be better than one of my favourite songs of all time, but eventually I recognised the brilliance in this standout track, which proves that, as long as songwriters of the calibre of Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug remain, there will always be a place in music for conventional guitar/bass/keys/drums bands.
12: Deep Blue by Arcade Fire
Firstly, this song is much more easily appreciated in its song order on the album, following the slow, almost-monotone Wasted Hours (which is excellent in its own right.)
Secondly, Deep Blue is fantastic.
Exploring the significance of humanity in this modern world through the subject matter of IBM’s Deep Blue program beating chess master Kasparov in 1996, it’s as masterfully crafted as anything Arcade Fire have done.
The highlight of the song for me is the eerie ‘Oooh’ that comes after the ‘La la la’s’ in the chorus.
Man, that was a lame sentence, but listen to the song and you’ll know what I mean.
Everything, save perhaps the lyrical topic, in this song is simple. The soft opening, the gradual buildup, the melody, the structure. Yet there is something about The Middle East that endows them with the ability to construct a song in a manner which no other band can imitate. They possess an innate skill to make a tune unforgettable, which is a very good talent to have.
Their album, to be released next year, will be astonishing.
10: Rock It by Little Red
If you don’t immediately like this song, then clearly you and I are incompatible musically. It has that bass riff, that piano lick, that chorus.
Catchiest song of the year by a huge margin.
9: Zebra by Beach House
This one took a little time to grow on me. But I don’t think there’ll be a single ‘Top songs of the year’ blog list that doesn’t have it. It would have to be an excellent song to beat John Butler Trio’s Zebra, but Beach House‘s song about a ‘black and white horse’ is nothing short of a masterpiece. Sounding epic without straining themselves, dreamy without seeming woozy, and ethereal without sounding unnatural, there’s a reason why there’s so much hype surrounding this band at the moment.
Zebra by Beach House(mp3)
8: Who Knows Who Cares by Local Natives
Their album, Gorilla Manor, came out early 2010 in most of the world, as opposed to the UK release of November last year. Therefore it is eligible for this year’s list.
Who Knows Who Cares includes the soaring harmonies and barn-storming percussion that make Local Natives so awe-inspiring. The violins give it a classical feel, which is fitting, because this track is definitely a classic.
7: And The Boys by Angus and Julia Stone
A year ago, if you’d suggested I listen to a female singer, I would’ve said ‘Thanks but no thanks.’ It’s testament to how much my musical interests have changed in 2010 that a song with female vocals reach the lofty heights of seventh in my list.
I didn’t, however, include this song to substantiate my departure from a misogynistic mindset. And The Boys is laced with a beauty that almost matches that of Miss Julia Stone herself. I’ll include the video clip instead of the Soundcloud clip so you can agree with that statement.
6: Boy Lilikoi by Jónsi
You may or may not have noticed that my willingness to actually deconstruct the song about which I am writing has waned as my desire to finish this gargantuan list increases. But it’s also because, as I get closer to my top songs, I’m struggling to find the words to articulate how I feel about the tracks that have most impacted my year.
And I really don’t think words can do this song justice.
Boy Lilikoi by Jónsi(mp3)
5: Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People
A Facebook post from a friend of mine that’s far more musically-aware than me tipped me off about this track. And what a track.
Despite the lyrical topic of homicide, it sounds remarkably upbeat with the jaunty bassline and that essential element of a hit song: whistling. Pumped Up Kicks immediately had people claiming that this was the Summer song of the year, and while I’m not sure it quite reached that level of fame, it was clearly big enough to encourage Foster The People to tour Australia after releasing just the one song. It’ll be interesting to see if they ever create anything that comes close to matching this fantastic track.
4: Solitude Is Bliss by Tame Impala
After months of waiting for something new from Tame Impala, desperately scouring the internet for any scrap of information on them or crap ten second clip of music my favourite band may or may not have had a hand in, they released Solitude Is Bliss.
It more than lived up to my ridiculously-high hopes.
The riff is beautiful, seemingly drifting through multiple dimensions as it leads into the drum fill. Then the verse kicks in, seemingly trotting its way to the spine-chilling chorus when Kevin Parker insists over and over ‘You will never come close to how I feel.’ And you never do doubt him.
3: We Used To Wait by Arcade Fire
When my mum, the musical maverick that she is, says ‘That’s a good song,’ you know you’re onto a winner. And two nights ago, when I pumped The Suburbs album as I washed up on Christmas Eve, that’s exactly what she said.
Exploring the viewpoint of an elderly man, looking back at the time before technology took over, We Used To Wait has a sense of nostalgia that the majority of the Western world’s population could still identify with, as most people these days can still remember the joyous feeling one attains through correspondence via mail. The way Win Butler makes us ‘wait’ in the slow build towards the chorus after the second verse is astonishing, but then who would expect anything less than astonishing from Arcade Fire?
2: Young Blood by The Naked And Famous
For some reason Australia has a tendency to adopt celebrities from New Zealand and try to pass them off as one of their own. It’s testament to how huge The Naked And Famous suddenly became that there was absolutely no time for Australia to attempt to hijack their heritage. Comparisons to Passion Pit were justified, yet the only real resemblances to MGMT were the way with which TNAF released a song that just about anyone could appreciate and love, a la Electric Feel or Kids.
The clattering synth riff opens the song, leading to lyrics dripping with nostalgia, almost shouting with joy about good times living as a young adult. Any person who has experienced life as an adolescent can strongly identify with them, while those whose blood is still a little too young can still look forward to this crazy time when your ‘mood it changes like the wind / Hard to control when it begins.’
The opening line ‘We’re only young and naive still’ begs the question, ‘How good can this band get?’ Pure pop gold.
1: Spanish Sahara by Foals
Like a deranged carpenter, it just builds and builds and builds. Foals‘ mortal epic, Spanish Sahara, is the song of the year.
1. Yes there are a couple of artist repeats. Not many, but a few. I just think that if an artist has made more than one brilliant song this year, then they ought to be recognised.
2. Yes the title is a blatant rip-off of Triple J’s Hottest 100, the largest music poll in the world. Join in and vote at this link.
3. Next year’s music is going to be amazing.
4. This took an incredibly long time. Thankyou for reading.