Hipster music authority Pitchfork recently unveiled their list of the top 500 tracks of the last decade. Naturally, I’d never heard 400 of the songs. So I figured instead of crying about it, I’d get a few of the most fanatical music lovers I know to do their own Top Tens of the decade that still is. Every day this week you get a new list (with 5 honorable mentions). The list is in no specific order; the best ten songs out of ten years of recorded music is enough of an honor (and enough new stuff for you, dear reader, to devour).
Now it’s my turn. I’m Mike Anton. Onto the list….
Wilco – I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (iTunes)
It’s a quirky, dark, mysterious, and rambling monologue from a heartbroken drunk who may or may not actually be talking to their former lover, not that it matters. This song is just so broken and beautiful, and features one of the best song titles ever (even though it’s pretty ironic).
Kanye West ft. Cam’Ron and Consequence – Gone (iTunes)
One day, I’m going to write about how Kanye ran through every rap song convention out there on Late Registration and put this song at the end as a hint to the future. No chorus, evocative strings that change for every verse, and some of Kanye’s strongest rhyme work in his career up to that moment (save for the Jennifer Aniston line that, while good, is shoe-horned). This is when he stopped making hip-hop and just made Kanye, and we all benefit.
Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia (iTunes)
A ten-minute encapsulation of teenage angst, done by a group who was fueled by it way past its expiration date. I never saw this “A Quick One While She’s Away” relative coming from anyone, let alone Green Day.
Jay-Z – 99 Problems (iTunes)
You know every word to this song, so do all your friends, and so will your children. Behold the power of Jay-z. Also: it’s a lot of fun to scream out “half a mil for bail cause I’m African” when you’re a giant, pale caucasian.
Radiohead – The National Anthem (iTunes)
It really should have been the official American National Anthem from Sept. 12th, 2001 forward. Haunting, driving, and dangerous, and when the sax comes in, you get the feeling that this is just them being playful, making it all the more unsettling. This band has no limits.
Gnarls Barkley – Just A Thought (iTunes)
You’ll never hear a more catchy song about putting a bullet through your brain. Honest.
Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline) (iTunes)
A friend of mine once said that if you don’t like this song, you can’t possibly like music. That pretty much sums it up.
Talib Kweli – Get By (iTunes)
Kweli doesn’t slouch on the track, but most of the credit has to go to Kanye West, who went above and beyond to create this hopeful ode to struggling (and the church chorus sing-a-longs certainly don’t hurt). In all the times I’ve heard it, it’s never once failed to put a smile on my face. It’s simply joyful, and that kind of warts-and-all optimism is hard to come by these days, especially in hip-hop.
The White Stripes – The Air Near My Fingers (iTunes)
Jack White somehow puts about 5 catchy, memorable songs into one, throws it on Elephant, and never releases it as a single. His worst song idea is so far beyond my best idea for anything it’s just terrifying. The decade belongs to three people: Jay-Z, Jack White, and Kanye West. End of.
Arcade Fire – Wake Up (iTunes)
It sounds like the church service I’ve always wanted to stumble upon. The song discusses everything: life, death, love, mourning, sadness, joy, trepidation, so on and so forth, but it never drags, or hangs over your head. It just hits me in a place I can’t really describe, no matter when I listen to it.
If this song got a proper major-label release, it would be #1 on this list, even though the rest wouldn’t be in numerical order. It’s just a stunner. This is what loneliness sounds like.
Arctic Monkeys – A Certain Romance (iTunes)
The first song I ever heard from this great band that told me everything I needed to know about them and how far they could go. Not bad for 5 minutes.
Common – Be (iTunes)
This is the track that crystalizes everything that Common is, and he doesn’t even need full verses. Again, kudos to Kanye who is all over this list (as he damn well should be).
Queens Of The Stone Age – No One Knows (iTunes)
I wanted to put down Song For The Deaf, but man, I just can’t get over this song. Don’t know if I ever will.
Raconteurs – Level (iTunes)
A rarity – a straight-ahead rock song.