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Best Songs of 2010: An Obligatory Collection of Favorites, Part One

If you haven’t already noticed, it’s that time of year again. The time when everyone with an opinion (and a website or a blog) decides to share with you their “Best of 2010″ lists. While I’d love to pretend that Lagmag is different, we aren’t, so our two-part year-end coverage begins NOW.

Today, we kick things off with my “Best Songs of 2010″ list. You can click on the titles below for links to check out each song. Alternately, I set up a playlist on iTunes so you can easily follow, listen and purchase any of the songs that tickle your proverbial fancy.

Best Songs of 2010:

10. Disappears – Gone Completely

“Gone Completely” is the first track off Lux from Chicago’s Disappears, and if you aren’t hooked within the first 30 seconds, this record isn’t for you. It’s a fuzzed-out, scuzzed-up, and reverb-laden gem that perfectly sets the tone for the remaining 27 minutes of the record. Brian Case’s sneering “Do you ever think about / What if we had never met” also happens to be my favorite line to sing along with this year.

9. Best Coast – Boyfriend

There weren’t too many records released this year that melded a Spector-era girl group vibe from the ’50s with the darker minor-key sound of mid-’90s alt-rock, and none did it as successfully as Best Coast’s Crazy for You. “Boyfriend”, the opening track, is that perfect intersection. It’s catchy as hell, but it’s also kind of sad and universally relatable–which is really what great pop songs are all about.

8. Here We Go Magic – Collector

The first incarnation of Luke Temple’s project, Here We Go Magic, was a strictly 4-track affair with its fair share of quiet lo-fi bedroom charm. His second record, Pigeons, doesn’t do away with that charm, but the increased fidelity and fuller sound are a welcome addition. “Collector,” the first single, takes the circular, swirling style utilized on their earlier song, “Tunnelvision,” but makes it a considerably more immediate affair. It’s as driving as it is dizzying.

7. Caribou – Jamelia

“Jamelia” is the final track off this year’s excellent Swim (spoiler alert: it just missed my top 10), and I can’t imagine a better way to end a record. It builds from a relatively simple keyboard line, and begins to stab in shards of strings, expands on the instrumentation, and eventually flares up into the song’s climax. All while Dan Snaith wonders “What more could I do?” and “Did I do enough to save the two of us?” There is a shitload of emotion packed into this 4-minute song, and it makes for a heavy, but ultimately gorgeous, listen.

6. Gayngs – Faded High

The standout track from what I believe is a criminally under-appreciated record (stateside at least, the Brits seem to get it) from mad-genius producer Ryan Olson and friends. A stellar live version, with tour-mate Glasser on vocals, appeared on this very blog a month or so ago, and it’s well worth tracking down (especially when I make it super easy for you).

5. Kanye West – Monster

Kanye actually doesn’t have all that much to do with this track’s inclusion on my Best Songs of 2010 list. In fact, as a whole I like some of the other songs on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy more. However, at 3:38 into this song, Nicki Minaj drops the most mind-blowing verse I’ve heard in years. It literally gives me chills every time I hear it. Granted, there is a lot of clever vocal production happening here so I can’t say Yeezy is totally MIA on the best 1 minute and 20 seconds of his own record, but it does kind of feel that way.

4. Girl Unit – Wut

Excerpts of this track from Girl Unit have been showing up in DJ mixes for months on end, and finally in October we got the full version in all its anthemic glory. Yes, the track is a total jam, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was also a representative pick for all the bangin’ stuff that the Night Slugs label released this year. This is an artist and a label that are doing it right, and both of them are on my watch list for 2011. It’s exciting stuff. Don’t say I didn’t give you a heads-up.

3. Kano (featuring Hot Chip) – All + All Together

I love Hot Chip, and in a year when Hot Chip released a killer album of their own, the fact that this track from Kano made my list over any of the Hot Chip singles should give you an idea of how awesome it is. In fact, the near-falsetto vocals from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor makes such a perfect counterpoint to Kano’s grime-heavy rhyme style, I can’t imagine this will be the last collaboration we see from them.

2. Games – Strawberry Skies

Games is a duo featuring Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) and Tigercity’s Joel Ford, and “Strawberry Skies” is a perfect slice of early ’80s synth-pop homagery (yeah, totally not a word, I know). The EP is a must-have if that sounds like your thing. One can only hope that 2011 brings us a Games full-length (even if they have to release it under a different name).

1. Lower Dens – I Get Nervous

Quite simply, I listened to this song more than any other song in the year 2010. I’ve been a Jana Hunter fan for a while, but for me, this track from her band Lower Dens surpasses any of her solo work. It’s achingly beautiful, atmospheric and warm. It’s also the perfect length. I challenge you to listen to it and not hit play again the second it’s over. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

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