End of the year best, round two: Songs

Before I actually set out to make this list, I thought it would be a piece of cake, but once I actually sat down with my i Tunes, I realized that many of my favorite tracks of the year technically came out last year. (1)

That said, there were a few tracks that stood out.

“Marathon” by Tennis
I was so tempted to pick “South Carolina” over “Marathon” since it is my home state, but I have to say, I think “Marathon” takes the cake – blame the carefree chorus. I love the contrast between the more understated verses and the exuberantly buoyant chorus. ↓

“Heart in Your Heartache” by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
This single dropped a couple of weeks ago – just in time. After falling in love with this band in 2009, I craved more candy-coated distortion. ↓

“When I’m Small” by Phantogram
Phantogram’s two chief members may have recorded much of the album in a barn in rural New York, but don’t let that fool you. The music is anything but campy. Sarah Barthel’s vocals are positively intoxicating. I’m especially fond of the breakdown in the middle. ↓

*See also: this acoustic version.

– – –

Of course, there’s something to be said for an eye-catching music video to accompany a deserving song. Regretfully, the previous few songs never seemed to officially be turned into music videos, but then you’ve also got these gems:

“Dreamin'” by Allo Darlin’
If you know me, you probably know I have a bit of a weakness for a good male/female duet. I love the stripped down simplicity of this song. It just seems so honest. ↓

“Gnomes” by Sea of Bees
When I figure out what this song reminds me of, you’ll be the first to know. As far as I know, I heard it for the first time just this week (courtesy of Robin Hilton’s best of list on NPR Music). But I feel like I’ve known it for years. I could listen to this song on repeat for days. ↓

“Undertow” by Warpaint
What started out as a cover song of Nirvana’s “Polly,” eventually turned into “Undertow” at the hands of the LA 4-piece. Perhaps due to its origin, the song seemed simultaneously fresh and familiar . Ah, Warpaint, the all-girl band that is so much more than a fem heap of X chromosomes. How I enjoy this song. ↓

“I Want the World to Stop” by Belle & Sebastian
I think most people were disappointed by Write About Love. The stakes were high. It had been five years since the release of their last album, after all. But you know what? I’m defending this infectious little song, and I dare you to hear it and disagree. ↓

“Go Do” by Jónsi
How could I forget this song and it’s beautiful accompanying video? Much of the music I listen to is downtrodden, moody, and/or lo-fi. Enter Jónsi. Enter hope – brilliant, brilliant hope. ↓

“Heaven Can Wait” by Charlotte Gainsbourg
She may have been hugely disappointing live, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was addicted to this song when I first heard it early in the year – of course it doesn’t hurt that Beck produced and sang in it. It’s as catchy as any pop song can be, but it’s also wonderfully understated. Then there’s the beautiful oddball surrealist music video. I especially love the tennis shots with the timing of the bouncing.

One commenter on YouTube stated, “Kanye, I’m gonna let you finish, but Charlotte Gainsbourg had the best music video of 2010!” And I have to say I’m inclined to agree. ↓

*See also: the director’s cut.

Finally, how could I dare to present a list of the best songs of the year without including Sufjan’s expansive manifesto of a song… if you can even use that term for the whopping 25-minute piece. ↓

“Impossible Soul”
On Youtube, it’s split into two parts, but here it is in its entirety – perhaps even more amazing live than on the record.

And I was worried there wouldn’t be enough songs to choose from. Here we have 10, in no particular order. Do you think you know how my album list will turn out? Stay tuned! It’s coming soon.

(1) Namely, DM Stith’s “Pity Dance,” tUnE-yArDs’ “Sunlight,” Twin Sister’s “Nectarine,” and yes – Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” to name a few.


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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