2010, by and large represented the comeback of the single as an event instead of merely being a tool to drive album sales. In this third part of my list, the controversial M.I.A makes two appearances with two singles as well as Gaga’s juggernaut. The nuance in the pop music here swings widest as even when paired with other ideas the basic melodic intonation remains. Here goes:
41: Summer Camp
Round the Moon
Every year there’s one new act that is obviously brilliant but not high profile enough for critics to give a damn about. That honour rests with Summer Camp this year which is weird given how stunning this lead-off track is. Round the Moon is some heavy retro, spaced-out dub/soul. And that Elizabeth Sankey hits the spot with her vocal work like every time.
42: Active Child
The Bon Iver comparisons will ring loudest once you hear Pat Rossi open up Wilderness’ first lines but he adds deep synths and a low wattage soul, like a light bulb buzzing on and off. The effect is indescribably pretty and utterly effective.
43: Wolf Parade
Cloud Shadow on the Mountain
It’s Spencer Krug so what more needs to be said…dude fucking rocks this myth-building shit as always.
44: Toro Y Moi
Chaz Bundick’s dreamy sound no doubt is influenced by the juxtaposition of shoe-gaze and pop but his vocal warp incorporates a sexy blues slant that is undeniably groovy.
45: Holly Miranda
A lovely, psychedelic track that absorbs tension even while it unburdens its bleeding heart.
46: Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce
She’s the most talked-about diva since Madonna but, if you’re a serious music critic, then her actual music hasn’t mattered up to now (it’s been all fashion and gender-bender button pushing and you know it). But, here is Telephone, by far, her most thrilling exploration of pop as a tool for statement. Twinning her ubiquity with the only global devise (besides the internet) capable of projecting her career was a thematic masterstroke. It helped that Miss Knowles worked her lines like they were last too.
47: Arcade Fire
Sprawl II (Mountains beyond Mountains)
Regine Chassagne strikes solo gold again, this time as dissatisfaction personified with a ho-hum life and an artist’s clear view of the pessimistic proletariat around her.
48: Panda Bear
To paraphrase a track from his previous album, the search for delicious continues…oh, and this is a ‘mere’ B side track. Can you imagine the rest of this album when he finally releases it?
Guitars! Jazzy textures! A Saxophone!
50: M.I.A feat. Jay-Z
The closest thing she’ll ever come to generic pop and it still totally rocks.
Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do
Unrivalled in dance/pop circles, Robyn hands out yet another bossy LP (Body Talk: Part I) and its opening track lists over fifty everyday issues affecting her over an infectious groove that’ll be the toast in clubs all over the world.
52: Avey Tare
A huge water-logged gem that stands isolated from his work within Animal Collective but still resonates with their themes.
53: Christina Aguilera feat. Nicki Minaj
Xtina is back with this summer’s ode to, um, cunninlingus. Over a funky up groove she teases that, ‘you don’t even need a plate/ just your face/ licky licky yum yum’. It’s not all instructive to guys either; towards the end she reminds women, ‘bitches, keep it clean…’ Ouch.
54: Erykah Badu
Fall in Love (Your Funeral)
Short and sweet-- the perfect lay-over from her previous masterpiece that serves as the foil.
55: Here We Go Magic
Old World United
Luke Temple returns with a fully fleshed out funk concept and, voila, he still has the touch and those yummy electronic flourishes.
Lovealot rides a stunning ruckus bag rhythm while racking up controversial mileage. When she croons, ‘like Obama needs to love up Chen’, the jarring beats can’t drown out the geopolitical statement but damned if it doesn’t try hard to.
57: The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt
Simple ballad yet right on point, just like all the Dylan comparisons we cram upon him.
58: Future Islands
Walking Through that Door
A charming ode to all the under-appreciated 1980s pop songs that we’re all now just getting into.
59: Emma Pollock
I Could Be a Saint
Not a total rejection of love but Pollock constructs a feminist ode here to having a right in whom to love and when to. Within the folds of conformity we all get trapped into, the wrong decisions get made (‘you’re sending roses/ while I’m seeking refuge’). This is a real stop-to-think record.
60: Of Montreal
Girl Named Hello
Behold, Georgie Fruit.