Forget Impossible Soul: This is the real mammoth from the album of the same name. The blaring and machine-like march of the intro and chorus swims right up stream from the gentle confessional of the verses. One of Stevens' most personal offerings to date, set to the sounds of the robot apocalypse.
44. Take Care---Beach House
Filling the air in an almost tangible sense, Take Care is the perfect closer for Teen Dream, its Six minute devotional swelling and releasing over and over, culminating the album’s emotional high with yet another breath-taker.
43. Cave-O-Sapien---Wolf Parade
Spencer Krug's best song on what really was Dan Boeckner's album. The longest and last track on Expo 86 is break-neck rock that begs to be heard live, Krug's ever-strange, silly and cryptic lyrics at full effect.
42. Cousins---Vampire Weekend*
Almost half as long as its album's average song, Cousins is engineered to squeeze every last drop of blissful drum-rolling, bell-ringing mania out of its tiny frame. The second its over, you'll want to hit replay
41. King of Spain---The Tallest Man on Earth
Facing his Dylan comparisons head-on, The Wild Hunt's lead single features more than one direct allusion to Kristian Matsson's fore-father, but this isn't homage we're talking about; this is his moment. King of Spain is a celebratory affair, almost regal in its jaunty strum, and Matsson's unhinged howl.
40. Slowdance---Matthew Dear*
Slowdance is the most earnest and love-lorn track on Black City, and for the same reason its the most disturbing. His voice sounding distant, twisted, and god-forsaken, Dear sings through every machine in the book, his appeal for affection straddling the line between human and machine in a way that twists stomachs into knots.
39. England---The National
What happens when one of the most musically rich bands out there decides to really just go for it? You get England, High Violet's grandest epic of all. Triumphant horns, ethereal violins, screaming vocals: If it makes for the most rousing of anthems, you can bet that it's within this song.
38. A More Perfect Union---Titus Andronicus*
Like England, AMPU is an indomitable titan of a song, only this time much more rugged and fiery. Patrick Stickles' raspy, full-blast proclamations give way jagged guitar solos that are just as awesome as they are endless. A perfect Seven minute incarnation of a genre that usually likes to keep it smaller, but ambition has always looked good on TA.
37. Tightrope---Janelle Monáe feat. Big Boi
Just when you thought that Andre 3000 was the only human capable of outshining Big Boi on a song, along comes Janelle Monáe. Tightrope is a funky dance groove set to lightning speed; horns, drums, guitar all in support of Monáe's incredible voice, and undeniable swagger.
36. King of the Beach---Wavves*
Title track and opener, King of the Beach sets the tone for Wavves' newest, and that tone is all blissful defiance. A deceptively clean guitar rips and tares, Williams' teenaged lyrics ripe for the shouting at every turn. Dirty, messy fun for those who still remember middle school.
35. Rhinestone Eyes---Gorillaz*
Rhinestone Eyes is by far Plastic Beach's most strange and surreal song. Albarn speaks of some far away and polluted land, all in captivatingly deflated monotone, as if the grime and rust has already gotten to him. Ever-changing synths surround his tale, the tune picking one unconventional path to walk down after another, somehow fully-realized in every odd turn.
34. Crown on the Ground---Sleigh Bells
Several times more distorted than most sensible songs would ever be, CotG requires full volume for its blaring-guitar ass-kicking to take full effect. The song takes the Sleigh Bells aesthetic to its scattered, messy, and over-blown conclusion, which is generally where you want head-banging music to be in the first place. The perfect soundtrack for trashing the place.
33. Blue Blood---Foals*
One of the things that makes Total Life Forever such a great album is Foals' insistence on creating songs that sound spacious, and ripe with possibilities. Blue Blood is maybe the best example of this, its opening seeming to echo with all of that space that you know they're about to fill up. By the song's finale, it's morphed into something enormous, cashing in on having waited its turn to explode with the best of results.
32. All Delighted People (Original Version)---Sufjan Stevens
Even for someone as unapologetic about his aspirations as Stevens, this one is pretty enormous. Clocking in at Eleven and a half minutes, ADP has innumerable different sections to it, but always sounds like the same song. It's an endless ballad that seems to feature every instrument and voice in the western world, and yet it somehow can suddenly shift into something small, intimate, and beautiful; just don't expect it to stay there for long.
31. Heaven's On Fire---The Radio Dept.*
To be honest, I think of The Radio Dept.'s newest album, Clinging to a Scheme, as kind of a snoozer, but Heaven's On Fire is quite the diamond in the rough. Literally coming as close to cheese as you can without falling in, HOF's golden, jazzy sway is made up of splashy symbols, a playful guitar, and one of the year's best keyboard parts. Bright, glowing, and able to have fun while maintaining good manners.
30. Monster---Kanye West Feat. Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver*
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is so jam-packed with guests that you sometimes come to miss Mr. West; that is, on every song other than Monster. As it turns out, the key to successfully using a slew of guests is having good ones, and here they are: Bon Iver and Rick Ross each provide perfectly eerie prologues before the minimal beat and Kanye's flow take over. From here, it's Jay-Z, and then Nicki Minaj's much-ballyhooed, schizoid freak-out of amazingness. By the time Bon Iver comes back to usher you out, you'll already be sold.
29. White Magic---ceo
It's ironic that a song titled White Magic should contain its album's darkest moment, but ceo is all about surprises. A dark, furious electro-pulse swirls around Berglund's ever-soft voice. Just when you think the thing can't get any more intense, it takes a sudden turn into more lush and forgiving lands that are just as beautiful as the beginning was daunting.
28. Pow Pow---LCD Soundsystem*
It's hard to know just what to make of Pow Pow when you first hear it. The thing is Eight and a half minutes long, almost all of them occupied by James Murphy's speaking voice as opposed to his singing one. Oh, it also has a bunch of people yelling, 'pow pow,' a bunch of times. But making the unthinkable soar is all in a day's work for LCD, the song's top-hat tapping percussion plugging away through Murphy's hilariously cryptic and tossed-off mumblings. The most quotable non-hip hop tune of the year by a mile.
27. The Suburbs---Arcade Fire*
The Suburbs, much like the album of its namesake, is a miracle of tone, leaping into existence with a plinking piano and a symbol crash. It's a jaunty tune, a certain bounce and pep to it that is masterfully underscored with a mysterious uncertainty and dread that's impossible to shake. To this day, I still can't decide if this is the happiest or saddest song on the album, and that's exactly what makes it such a great listen.
26. Dance Yrself Clean---LCD Soundsystem
This is Happening's first three minutes are its most quiet and subdued, but don't get too used to that tinny little Casio or those playfully casual drums. Because it's right at three minutes that the muscular synth kicks in, and Murphy starts wailing, creating one of the greatest single moments of musical surprise of 2010. DYC doesn't build so much as it spikes, and the later two-thirds of blasting electronics might just help you fulfill the beckon of the tune's title. Best played at full blast for friends who don't know what's coming.
Hype Starts Here's Top 50 Albums of 2010:
Hype Starts Here's Top 100 Songs of 2010: