VD's Best Singles of 2010:
20. Hurts, "Stay"
I asked myself, when I first listened to his on Happiness, "Are they really trying to make an '80s power ballad right now?" Within a day, it was all I was listening to, and it completely sold me on the duo (even if it's not their best). It's so tender, and beautiful, and fun to sing along with. (And on a completely unrelated and subliminal note, the outro reminds me of parts of Hans Zimmer's score for The Prince of Egypt, which made me love it more.)
19. Selena Gomez & the Scene, "Round & Round"
A truly amazing pop song from what was once an unlikely source. It's sly, sharp, a bit sexy, and even wonderfully thematic. I love that it's essentially a story song; the irritation of the heroine is so palpable and believable. I remember one review said this could usher her in as a mini-Kylie, which I really think is apt and a wonderful thing to say of her.
18. Robyn, "Indestructible"
Was I worried that Åhlund was just going to add some beats to one of the most emotionally glorious songs I'd ever heard, like he did with "Hang with Me"? You bet your ASS I was! But somehow the final electronic product is about 90% as good, softening the emotion without actually taking away the impact. The synths are magically done, and even play very well with the remaining strings. All in all, such a highlight of a banner year for her.
17. Marina & the Diamonds, "Hollywood"
Possibly the only song on The Family Jewels that isn't strictly about her - even if it seems to be about her one true obsession - which kinda gives it a nice diverting edge to its already incredibly amusing indictment of the toxicity of "the mess that's America". It's such a wonderfully produced, pleasurable satire, and a fair testament to her talents as a lyricist.
16. Scissor Sisters, "Invisible Light"
The first thing anyone heard of the Night Work era, and eternally the best. Did anyone expect them to come out with this sort of dark, sprawling electronica, and make it work? WITH A SPOKEN MIDDLE 8 BY IAN McKELLEN? There is not one subpar thing about this (even if it occasionally rips off Cut Copy). Bonus points: THAT VIDEO. Holy shit.
15. Freemasons feat. Wynter Gordon, "Believer"
There is no doubt that, as a rule, the Freemasons create the best dance music on earth, but they've just outdone themselves here. Their trademark use of disco strings is as energizing as ever and they DOMINATE the track. You know what sends this over the edge, though? Wynter. The girl is more or less a holy prodigy, and she needs to take over the world.
14. Cheryl Cole, "Promise This"
Evidently, after her incredibly muddled R&B debut, getting divorced and nearly dying, she realized what she needed to do: a fucking weird, hi-NRG love song that nonsensically uses a French nursery rhyme as its hook! The fact that it's even effective at all makes me believe it validates her non-Aloud career. Girl did well to listen to me and truly embrace what I so gracefully call 'FUCKYEAHDANCEPOP', especially to such a satisfying degree.
13. Florence + the Machine, "Cosmic Love"
Paul Epworth's production, as he is known to do, is BREATHTAKING. Every single instrument is utilized to its most stunning potential, not least which, of course, Florence's voice. These are her most bombastic, most emotive, and possibly best vocals on the whole of Lungs. Its beauty is borderline existential, and then just to make sure we understand how good it is -- it has an extended harp outro. Thank you very much, Flo.
12. Kelis, "Acapella"
Aside from "When Love Takes Over", I have no doubt this will remain the best thing Guetta has ever produced - and it's probably mostly Kelis' doing anyway! It hits every note like a bullseye, both as a praising of adoration for her newborn and as a dance anthem. Each second is a magically tribal, superb thing to behind.
11. Kylie Minogue, "Get Outta My Way"
Delicious, fun, immaculately produced dance-pop, with a biting, slightly whoreish wit. I wish pop music aspired to be like this much more often. It's totally tailor-made for Kylie and her personality as a performer, though, and she sells the hell out of it.
10. Hurts, "Wonderful Life"
They're damn smart songwriters, and they know how to work with what they have in spades. As incredibly depressing as it is, it's never numbing, and it's quite hopeful, frankly. With those stunning synths and basslines, by the end, you can REALLY feel that this is special, and definitely a sign of brilliance.
09. Kelis, "4th of July (Fireworks)"
Like "Acapella" (and literally the rest of Flesh Tone), her lyrical intentions are as tangible as ever, but it's blatantly the song's soul. Its strength, however, is the swirling, ambitious, electro-house epic in which it's contained. Somehow it's never flat, or boring, or familiar, and for that it's pretty much the best song on the album.
08. Lady GaGa feat. Beyoncé, "Telephone"
It gets points for how obsessed I was when The Fame Monster leaked and when the video came out; it gets points for Darkchild doing some of the best production work of his career; it gets points for still being such an 'EVENT' moment in pop music; it gets points for the fact I'm not sick of it. Add them all up, and it's #8. For a song I was primarily interested in two years ago...well, you can see how obsessed I was.
07. Kylie Minogue, "All the Lovers"
There was my life before 2:29, and there is my life after it. Sums that up, don't it? Even beyond that, it's just...euphoria, al the way through. This was the moment I really started to care about her, and it's most assuredly one of her best. KYLIE, YOU ANGEL, I LOVE YOU.
06. Janelle Monáe, "Cold War"
Irvin III/Joseph II/Robinson.
Janelle is one of few active musicians I'd emphatically call a genius, and this is the best proof there is for that. I've tried to describe WHY, but it proves its own brilliance without me having to rationalize it.
05. Armin van Buuren vs. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, "Not Giving Up on Love"
de Goeij/Ellis-Bextor/Nervo/Nervo/van Buuren.
I truly believe one of the smartest moves of Sophie's career has been teaming with Armin for this. She's done disco to death, and some other electronica, so it's not exactly odd that she'd try on this sort of full-on, euphoric trance - and it suits her unbelievably well. As fantastic and anthemic a love song as I've EVER heard, it absolutely reshaped and redefined the end of last summer for me - especially the extended version, which definitely gives more and more credit to van Buuren. It just truly makes me happy to be alive, to feel the euphoria, and the few songs that accomplish that are always closest to my heart.
04. Marina & the Diamonds, "I Am Not a Robot"
Even though it first hit me hard in 2009 on The Crown Jewels EP, I'm so glad it was re-released, because it's only grown more and more beautiful with the passage of time. Marina is a stunning vocalist, and PERFECT lyricist, and this could be her crowing glory in both regards. My favorite part, though, may be the resonant duality of who it's directed at; the listener or the singer herself. I still cry.
03. Marina & the Diamonds, "Oh No!"
For a long time, "I Am Not a Robot" and this were pretty neck-and-neck, and I was almost going to tie them. But one day, I realized it was as perfectly suited to Marina's personality and ambition as anything she might ever create, and it must be even just a tiny bit better. I mean, one of the reasons why I adore The Family Jewels so much is because of how well it works as a statement of who she is, what she wants and how she's gonna get it, and this - a track that had to be added on after the last minute - exemplifies that to the highest degree. And this is before we even consider Greg Kurstin being involved at all.
02. Robyn, "Dancing on My Own"
Melodic, self-destructive torch songs are one of the major things to love about pop music, and no one alive is better at performing them than Robyn. Her formula of sweating (and sobbing) those time-tested feelings on the dance floor has proven especially fruitful: "With Every Heartbeat", "Be Mine!", "The Girl and the Robot", and this, what is, possibly, her crowning achievement. Berger's synths engulf the strobed heartache of the lyrics, creating a rare, almost transcendent convergence of elements into a FUCKING GOOD SONG.
01. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, "Bittersweet"
My dominant favorite wasn't ever going to anything else but my dominant favorite. It's still the most-played song in my iTunes, and the cover is still my Twitter background a year and a half later. Icy, playful, absolutely thumping, even emotionally honest - and oh, sweet lord, how I love her accent. It was instant adoration, and constant adoration at all. This list has existed as a draft for quite a while now, and never once did I feel "Bittersweet" was anything less than my song of the year. Forever and ever. Amen.
Even though no one's actually reading this, and it's all irrelevant anyway, I still like feeling validated. Just so you know. As I'm sure you do.