2010 Songs of the Year

So every December, I humor my inner pop culture critic by taking a stab at the best albums, books, and movies I’ve listened to / read / seen this year. I’ll post the albums list a little later (still ironing out my selections), but as I was listening through some of the music released this year, I decided to post my favorite songs of the past year as a prelude to the album post. Whereas I limit the album list strictly to 2010 releases, the song list is a little more fluid. Most of these were released this year, but some are holdovers from last year that didn’t receive much airplay until this year. Anyway, on to the list:

  1. Change of Time, Josh Ritter. There are worlds and worlds embedded in this four minute vignette. No song has captivated my imagination this year quite like this one. Not only did it provide the perfect companion piece to the LOST finale — with it’s sweetly lilting choral refrain: “Time. Love. Time. Love.” — the song also unfurls a narrative of despair, redemption, resolve, and hope. Sonically arresting and poignant, this is hands down my favorite song of the year.
  2. When My Time Comes, Dawes. I wrote about them here back in March and Dawes remains my favorite musical find of 2010. This is the signature cut from their debut album, with a line that’s been rolling around my head for months now: “If heaven was all that was promised to me / why don’t I pray for death?”
  3. Better Things, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. This soulful song is absolutely irresistible and proof that my musical tastes are changing.
  4. My City of Ruins, Eddie Vedder. Recorded live at Kennedy Center for the Haiti Relief benefit earlier in the year. A rich, mournful recording.
  5. Murder In The City, The Avett Brothers. An updated / live version of “The Gospel According to the Avetts.” This is one of the finest songs from my favorite band.
  6. Modern Man, Arcade Fire.
  7. Heaven’s On Fire, The Radio Dept.
  8. Winter Winds, Mumford & Sons.
  9. Ain’t No Grave, Johnny Cash. Cash’s final set of American Recording songs isn’t as immediately arresting as some of the the earlier albums in this series, but this swan song is one of his best. There’s something absolutely haunting about hearing Cash sing about the grave’s inability to hold him down. This is music for my soul.
  10. The End, Pearl Jam. Another death-tinged song. Pearl Jam has really matured into one of the more relevant voices in rock today. This is one of their finest songs ever.
  11. Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons. A lot of people are high on these guys. The lead singer’s voice sounds a lot like Dave to me, which gets a little old to me. But this is a solid entry nonetheless.
  12. Back Down South, Kings of Leon.
  13. New York City’s Killing Me, Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs.
  14. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), Arcade Fire. As you can see, there are plenty of Arcade Fire songs on the list. Arcade Fire is a throwback band; in the digital-download age, this ensemble band is more interested in producing thematically coherent albums rather than radio-ready singles. I have a feeling The Suburbs will go down as my favorite of their recordings. This song is great. And, believe it or not, it sounds even better live.
  15. See You In The Spring, Court Yard Hounds w/ Jakob Dylan. Court Yard Hounds is a side project from two of the three Dixie Chicks. But if you didn’t know better, you’d swear this was a Sheryl Crow / Jakob Dylan duet. I think it might be Sunny’s favorite song of the year (if she were prone to posting dorky lists like me.)
  16. City of Children, Arcade Fire.
  17. Evening Kitchen, Band of Horses.
  18. Giving Up The Gun, Vampire Weekend. Vampire Weekend continues to grow on me. Their latest album was more of a slow burn for me, but it has emerged as a solid set of tunes that continue to surprise me more and more with each listen.
  19. We Used To Wait, Arcade Fire.
  20. England, The National.
  21. Standing Eight Count, Jakob Dylan. If you’ve ever wondered what a Jakob Dylan country / western album would sound like, look no further than Women and Country. This is the best song on the album.
  22. Belong, Cary Brothers. Piano-laden singer-songwriter ballad. Beautiful.
  23. Swim Until You Can’t See Land, Frightened Rabbit. These guys are like the Scottish Counting Crows. Good stuff.
  24. Thieves, She & Him. She & Him are hit-or-miss for most people. With me, it’s a hit. I dig the vintage sound, especially on this track. Can’t get enough of it.
  25. On My Way Back Home, Band of Horses.
  26. Holiday, Vampire Weekend. I’m warning you, the contagion level on this record is extremely high.
  27. We Did It When We Were Young, The Gaslight Anthem.
  28. Devil’s In The Jukebox, Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs.
  29. It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama), Phosphorescent.
  30. Everybody’s Hurting, Jakob Dylan. Aided by the backing vocals of Neko Case & Kelly Hogan, Dylan sings of darkness and the downtrodden. Depression has never sounded so good.
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6 Responses to 2010 Songs of the Year

  1. lanewidick says:

    Man, I’m so out of it. I only recognize a handful of these artists, and none of these songs. I’m sure they’re great. I really need to stop listening to so much talk radio and get back to the music.

  2. lanewidick says:

    I do, however, really like Ray LaMontagne and Josh Ritter.

    • Jason says:

      I think this latest album is LaMontagne’s best. For a time, it was on sale at the Amazon MP3 store. You can check to see if it’s still one of their specials. If not, I think it’s $8 over at eMusic.

      The Ritter disc is okay; Change of Time is far and away the best cut.

      I think you’d like Arcade Fire, too. It’s $5 at Amazon MP3.

  3. Chris Miller says:

    Good list – Love Arcade Fire though I keep on going back and forth on Vampire Weekend. I remember reading recently that AF is working with Spike Jonez on doing an independant movie of one of their albums – there was a video of Suburbs that was from it.

    I’ll have to listen to some others from your list. Interesting note (ok, it’s one of my only “name dropping” stories so I use it whenever I have a chance) years ago, back in my uke podcasting days, – a unnamed person asked to be be a MySpace friend (went by UkuleleGirl or something like that). I listened to the songs she had posted and liked them. I emailed her back and forth a bit about playing some on the show, but not much came of it. Turns out it was Zooey Deschanel (She & Him, etc) and shortly after her identity got out she cancelled her account.

    • Jason says:

      Was it the video for “We Used to Wait”? That one is awesome.

      Nice name drop. I think she sounds better on this latest She & Him album. I wasn’t as much of a fan of the first one, but truthfully, anything M. Ward does is usually awesome.

      And how did I not know that you were into “uke podcasting”? I missed that one!

      • Chris Miller says:

        Yep ran the ukecast for several years along with a guy from England. Ukecast.com has all the episodes up still (I don’t think the iTunes feed works anymore)

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