Willie’s Top 100 Songs of the 2010s

Willie’s Top 100 Songs of the 2010s



Ten years… that’s a lot of songs. Take a look and see if you agree with some of these picks.

100. Kero Kero Bonito -- “Only Acting”

Kero Kero Bonito - Only Acting

This manages to be a pop hit despite descending through several meta-levels on its way to the finish.

99. Women -- “Can’t You See”

Women - "Can't You See"

Truly inventive noise rock that still impresses me with every listen.

98. Colin Stetson -- “Those Who Didn’t Run”

Colin Stetson - Those Who Didn't Run

This track crushes you into a little box, and you get to look out at all the horrible things passing you by but never touching you.

97. Jim O’Rourke -- “Friends with Benefits”

Jim O'Rourke - Friends With Benefits

Simple Songs delivered beyond its name, and this track features that awe-inspiring Jim O’Rourke Build-Up.

96. Aoife O’Donovan -- “Magic Hour”

Aoife O'Donovan - "Magic Hour" [Solo Acoustic]

I listened to In the Magic Hour mostly because of the title, and I’m glad I did.

95. Beach House -- “Myth”


I just realized that the cover of Bloom is not cloth, but an array of lights.

94. Future Islands -- “Seasons (Waiting On You)”

David Letterman - Future Islands: "Seasons (Waiting On You)"

It’s totally and completely out of this era, but because it was released in 2014 and it’s flawless, it’s one of the best songs of the decade. The Letterman performance is still admirable.

93. Omar Souleyman -- “Wenu Wenu”

Omar Souleyman - Wenu Wenu (Official Audio)

To balance out all the sad dancing songs, here is a happy dancing song. We need it, and Omar Souleyman has got it.

92. GFOTY -- “Tongue”

Top this chorus: “I like it when we kiss with the tongue / Muscle of fun inside my mouth.” The last three words are so hilariously unnecessary, and the song itself is catchy as anything else on PC Music.

91. The Drums -- “Best Friend”

The Drums - Best Friend

Don’t forget what 2010 was like. I will defend this song.

90. David Garland -- “Luminous House”

David Garland released what is quite possibly the longest album of the decade with Verdancy, and this cut appears to be entirely composed of wind and water.

89. Deakin -- “Golden Chords”

Deakin - Golden Chords (Official Video)

When you draw out the earthy center of Animal Collective, you get Deakin’s solo work. This track is a perfect mix of soundscape and porch song.

88. Bill Orcutt -- “O Platitides!”

Lovers of guitar music tend to the far outskirts of what the instrument can do, and waiting there for them is Bill Orcutt. His solo pieces that take a million detours are absolutely unique.

87. Animal Collective -- “Today’s Supernatural”

Animal Collective - Today's Supernatural (Official Video)

To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Centipede Hz. The meaning is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics buzzing noises, most of the tracks will go over a typical listener’s head.

86. Dinosaur Jr. -- “Watch the Corners”

Dinosaur Jr. - "Watch The Corners" (Official Video)

This might be one of my most-played songs of the decade because I like putting it on repeat and wallowing. And how about Tim Heidecker’s mad dad character in the music video?

85. LCD Soundsystem -- “Dance Yrself Clean”

Dance Yrself Clean - LCD Soundsystem - Muppets rock out in Brighton !

Definitely a 2000s/2010s cusp song, and I feel like I’ve heard it everywhere. It’s a feel good favorite that does really feel good.

84. Kamasi Washington -- “Street Fighter Mas”

Kamasi Washington - Street Fighter Mas

Somebody is going to have to convince us to get on the spaceship when the time comes. Do not be surprised if Kamasi Washington is standing on that ramp.

83. Coma Cinema -- “Caroline, Please Kill Me”

Coma Cinema - Caroline, Please Kill Me

When bedroom pop doesn’t tear itself out from the inside, it can be actually very good!

82. Caroline Shaw and Attacca Quartet -- “Entr’acte”

This opener from Orange pieces together old and new forms in the deeply pleasing context of a string quartet. One of 2019’s best releases, classical or otherwise.

81. Delroy Edwards -- “Sugar Shack (Original Mix)”

Delroy Edwards - Sugar Shack

Edwards’s club music philosophy seems to be “just enough.”

80. John Maus -- “Touchdown”

John Maus - Touchdown (Official Video)

If I had to choose an alternate theme song for Tecmo Bowl, this would be it.

79. Jessica Pratt -- “Wrong Hand”

Jessica Pratt - Wrong Hand

Evoking the ghosts of the New York singer-songwriters of the 1970s.

78. Kali Uchis -- “After The Storm”

Kali Uchis - After The Storm ft. Tyler, The Creator, Bootsy Collins (Official Video)

Kali Uchis, Tyler, the Creator, and Bootsy Collins are a literal dream team.

77. Yves Tumor -- “Noid”

A wonderful surprise of a track that came out of nowhere.

76. Das Racist -- “All Tan Everything”

All Tan Everything - Das Racist

So I guess it’s joke rap, but why does this song pop into my head like once a month? That sounds pretty serious to me.

75. Mirel Wagner -- “No Death”

Mirel Wagner - No Death

Truly grim folk that draws from the ballad tradition but goes into pure horror. If that’s what it takes to get people to listen to folk music, then so be it. Then again, not all songs are written as well as this one.

74. Ichiko Aoba -- “Mars 2027”

青葉市子 - Mars 2027 @音泉温楽 2012 渋温泉

Ichiko Aoba is one of my favorite active singer-songwriters, and this selection from 0 gives a good sampling of her fearless compositional structures: parts on sections on parts!

73. Glenn Jones -- “Flower Turned Inside-Out”

Glenn Jones - Flower Turned Inside-Out (Official Audio)

I don’t think there has to be an official successor to John Fahey, but when I’m not listening to the original American primitivists, I’m listening to Glenn Jones. His touch is a little wilder, but it’s inviting and dense once you’re inside.

72. Sufjan Stevens -- “Mystery of Love”

“Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens from the Call Me By Your Name Soundtrack

Sufjan spent the latter half of the decade meditating on quiet love, and “Mystery of Love” is the culmination of those efforts.

71. Punch Brothers -- “Movement And Location”

Punch Brothers - "Movement and Location" [Official Video]

Having always admired finesse pitchers, I totally get Chris Thile’s obsession with Greg Maddux. Thile and I are Cubs fans, so I’m waiting on him to also write a song about Kyle Hendricks.

70. Scott Walker -- “’See You Don’t Bump His Head’”

Scott Walker - 'See You Don't Bump His Head'

Just on the edge of unlistenable, even by reemergent Scott Walker standards, this opener from Bish Bosch punishes you for things you didn’t even realize you should be ashamed of. You should be, though.

69. Fatima Al Qadiri -- “Hip Hop Spa”

Fatima Al Qadiri - Hip Hop Spa

Born during the vaporwave moment, this track shows what can be done with an original composition and digital-watch-in-a-hot-tub flavored tones.

68. Ryuichi Sakamoto -- “andata”

Ryuichi Sakamoto - "andata" (from "async")

async is unquestioningly my album of the decade, but I felt bad placing any of its tracks too high on the list for fear of abandoning the others. “andata” introduces the truly otherworldly sounds of the record in a way that keeps traditional composition at hand. If you haven’t heard async, go listen to it in a weeping forest.

67. Babyfather -- “Motivation”

babyfather - shook / motivation

Dean Blunt’s deadpan delivery always works. The unstable narrative setting of this track ratchets up the weirdness.

66. Lorde -- “Green Light”

Lorde - Green Light

At the one and only arena show I ever attended, Lorde ended the night with this song. There was confetti or something raining down from the Xcel Energy Center rafters, and I was completely taken in. You know when the pop star is talking to you? Well, she was.

65. David Bowie -- “Valentine’s Day”

David Bowie - Valentine's Day (Official Music Video)

I could have chosen a more on-brand Bowie song from the 2010s, but “Valentine’s Day” feels like something off Ziggy Stardust without collapsing into that mode too much. Just a solid track.

64. Holly Herndon -- “Frontier”

Holly Herndon - Frontier (Official Audio)

AI shape-note singing feels like a genre made just for me, and I was pleasantly shocked to hear it. Herndon made the most 2019 music of 2019, and she will no doubt make the most 2022 music of 2022.

63. Carly Rae Jepsen -- “Emotion”

Carly Rae Jepsen - E·MO·TION (Audio)

The feeling amongst Carly Rae Jepsen fans that they aren’t “doing enough” for her music is definitely understandable, but pop is fickle. Emotion is a pop masterpiece, and now that everyone realizes it, that legacy will be hard to break.

62. A. G. Cook -- “Beautiful”

A. G. Cook - Beautiful

“Beautiful” is peak PC Music in that you would hesitate to put it on in a group, but every member of that group secretly listens to it on their own. It’s tough to create such a personal song while also using the aesthetics of Dance Dance Revolution.

61. Marisa Anderson -- “Angel’s Rest”

One of the most purely imagistic records I’ve heard in the past ten years. The detuned strings detach these foggy noises from the guitar, an effect Anderson seems to always be after.

60. Nickel Creek -- “Destination”

Nickel Creek - Destination

The Nickel Creek reunion initially seemed too good to be true. But after hearing the album, I quickly remembered all three members are extremely talented. So of course it was stunning. It produced this showcase of Sara Watkins’s voice.

59. Caroline Polachek -- “New Normal”

Mixing slide guitar with bright pop is a gross, genius move. Can you do karaoke while riding a mechanical bull?

58. Mitski -- “Townie”

Mitski - Townie (Official Video)

This song makes me want to punch people despite my own tendencies toward nonviolence. Mitski has the best song titles and the best little digs.

57. Kanye West -- “30 Hours”

This lyric poem disguises itself in a big coat, but it’s all there and it’s beautiful. Side note: I just discovered that the transition from “Diane Young” to this song works too well.

56. Vampire Weekend -- “Diane Young”

Vampire Weekend - Diane Young

Both the silliest and tightest Vampire Weekend track. I’ve always liked to think the name of the song was not meant to resemble the phrase “dying young” and was all a great coincidence. Maybe the real Diane Young was Ezra’s childhood dentist or something, and the lyrics just happened to work out.

55. The Knife -- “A Tooth for an Eye”

The Knife - A Tooth For An Eye - Official video

Is it a tune whistled by a ghost through a long tube, or is it simply the Knife?

54. Arcade Fire -- “Reflektor”

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

A graph: on the x-axis, Arcade Fire’s attempted amount of hugeness; on the y-axis, artistic quality. It resembles an upside-down parabola, and “Reflektor” is right in the middle. Throwing everything at the wall works here in bursts.

53. Mariee Sioux -- “Grief in Exile”

Metaphor never came so easy or made so much sense. This music arrived first in a big storm cloud.

52. Aphex Twin -- “180db_ [130]”

After all the excitement surrounding Richard D. James’s return, this short track turned out to be my favorite on Syro. It’s unusually focused for Aphex Twin, and that’s why it’s so good.

51. James Blake -- “Unluck”

James Blake - Unluck

A legitimately unique sound in the early 2010s, and one that still sounds like the future: like samples dug up from the dirt in late autumn.

50. Danny L Harle -- “Broken Flowers”

Danny L Harle - Broken Flowers

If you love Huge Danny, then you love everything he produces. It’s readymade to be put on repeat, and each phrase starts the next one.

49. Arca -- “Alive”

Some of the most organic electronic music of the decade, sparking urgently and often. While listening and typing this, I find my head pulling back from the screen, bit by bit.

48. Bill Callahan -- “America!”

Bill Callahan "America!"

This is the new national anthem. When I saw Bill perform this live in July, and I had an overload of patriotism and had to go sit down by a flag. What he gets most right is the sheer overload of America to reckon with. Once you try to pin down America, another demon pops up and bops you over the head. In short, America is country music.

47. Kero Kero Bonito -- “Lipslap”

Kero Kero Bonito - Lipslap

Finally, KKB had the courage to admit that they’re just lipslap! It’s too bad that makes them more likeable.

46. Anna & Elizabeth -- “Mother in the Graveyard”

"Mother in the Graveyard" by Anna & Elizabeth [Official Music Video]

Folkways did a great thing in releasing The Invisible Comes to Us because Anna and Elizabeth are true cultural ambassadors. They have such an intimate relationship with old songs that their breath of life reworks the song entirely.

45. Candy Claws -- “Pangea Girls (Magic Feeling)”

Candy Claws - Pangea Girls (Magic Feeling)

This is my “hot car” song. I listen to it in hot cars. Probably because it’s not a bit like a car. It’s so unlike a car it’s prehistoric. Few artists ever go this route, and that conceptual move was a stroke of genius.

44. Mdou Moctar -- “Tahoultine”

TAHOULTINE - Mdou Moctar

I know Moctar excels with his electric guitar, but this acoustic piece from the soundtrack to Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai sweeps by gracefully without disturbing any speck of dust. This groove could last for a thousand years.

43. Richard Dawson -- “Civil Servant”

2020 is the Great British Novel, and “Civil Servant” is its prologue. I would gladly include this on my list of best songs of the decade for its recurring guitar riff alone. But then there’s the spot-on analysis of work and its relation to the human doing the job. Dawson is lucid more often than not, which is a welcome turn for him.

42. Fatima Al Qadiri -- “Shanzhai (for Shanzhai Biennial) feat. Helen Feng”

Shanzhai (For Shanzhai Biennial)

The trail of this song is satisfyingly complex. From Prince to Sinéad O’Connor to Al Qadiri, the original composition takes a sharp detour toward an academic examination of orientalism. For Al Qadiri, it’s an outlier of a track, which makes it all the more noteworthy.

41. My Bloody Valentine -- “Only Tomorrow”

only tomorrow - m b v - my bloody valentine

The biggest difference between Loveless and MBV is the progression of Kevin Shields’s tinnitus, giving the latter a rougher finish. At the top of its thick waveform, “Only Tomorrow” fades into itself and dissolves over and over again.

40. Joanna Newsom -- “Waltz Of The 101st Lightborne”

Joanna Newsom - Waltz Of The 101st Lightborne (2015)

Somewhere across the battlefield of this song, a dancer finally falls down with a gun. And upon looking at that gun, it wasn’t a gun at all, but a long-stemmed flower. Newsom’s best of the decade is on Divers, closely followed by that on Have One On Me.

39. Farrah Abraham -- “Caught in the Act”

Caught in the Act - Farrah Abraham

At the center of this song is the uninterpretable empty language of reality TV. Coming out of the 2000s, there were still so many questions to be answered. Farrah Abraham’s book/album combo has gotten its share of bad press, but it’s the greatest musical analogue for understanding an undeniably huge sector of the entertainment industry for the past two decades. Everything that gets cut from 16 and Pregnant spills out viciously in this retelling. It also deserves commendation for tackling a book-length narrative with only the tools of an amateur pop producer. As a time capsule for 2012 (or 2009, really), it’s unbeatable.

38. Kendrick Lamar -- “Alright”

Kendrick Lamar - Alright

This loudest and most adopted anthem against police brutality earned Lamar a reputation that seemingly couldn’t get any bigger. Stuck between optimism and grim realities, the song successfully bends both ways.

37. Car Seat Headrest -- “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”

Car Seat Headrest - "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales"

Worth it just for Will Toledo shouting “Killer whales!” But you need Drunk Drivers to get there, which is a bit of really satisfying songwriting. It’s rock o’clock, and Will’s on top.

36. Wilco -- “Quiet Amplifier”

Wilco "Quiet Amplifier"

No part of me expected Ode to Joy to blow me away, but it certainly did. After all these years, Wilco still knows how to bring together totally new instrumentation. Beyond the puzzle of the production, “Quiet Amplifier” gives you a tight heart and a pathetic little smile.

35. Janelle Monáe -- “Make Me Feel”

Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel [Official Music Video]

Of all the Prince-influenced artists releasing music, Janelle Monáe has the easiest feel on his vibe. With just enough reference to that home studio, line-in guitar sound, she creates her very own anthem for sexual freedom.

34. SOPHIE -- “Bipp”

SOPHIE - BIPP (Official Stream)

This one is my pick from PRODUCT because of that syncopated pre-chorus (chorus? Verse? It gets muddled up) that kills me. The “bipps” in question have an extravagant, expensive sound, but one that’s less chandelier and more Art Basel.

33. Flying Lotus -- “Do The Astral Plane”

Flying Lotus - Do The Astral Plane

The boots and cats rhythm finally reaches outer space. Flying Lotus adds and adds but never overfills. It’s a homogenous mixture that includes asteroids and satellites and… other space objects. Perfectly celebratory.

32. Grimes -- “California”

Grimes - California

Pop at 200 percent power takes on an airy nothingness that then collapses into happy acceptance. I was told by a number of disappointed fans that Grimes was going corporate, but is there anything more radical than her uncanny take on summer-beach-hot-weather-good-time music?

31. Tyler, The Creator -- “Yonkers”

Tyler The Creator - Yonkers

Tyler’s early masterpiece left a mark. It was definitely a “have you seen this” moment, and while yes, I had seen him eat the cockroach, I wanted to see it again.

30. Death Grips -- “Hacker”

Death Grips - Hacker

The culmination of Death Grips’s off-the-walls sound. It’s light-hearted and it’s ominous, but it’s mostly a head-scratcher. You never follow one thread for too long because you’ll miss another.

29. Kanye West -- “Black Skinhead”

Kanye West - BLKKK SKKKN HEAD (Explicit)

Truly new sounds are hard to come by, and Yeezus was Kanye’s great triumph in popular music. This song abounds in surprises and noisy resonance that just begs you to turn away.

28. QT -- “Hey QT”

One of the first PC Music hits, “Hey QT” is a true earworm. And then you say it back to yourself and become disgusted. “I feel your hands on your body every time you think of me” is a reality I hope we approach just so QT can be proven right. The extra punch in the song is the clipped “baby” right before each chorus that is doomed to be cut off forever.

27. Animal Collective -- “FloriDada”

Animal Collective - FloriDada (Official Video)

Painting With may never get the respect it deserves, but I will always push this hocketing, crazy song. This is peak Animal Collective, working a track from every angle until it is a hundred-armed beast that absolutely should not have been released as a single.

26. Richard Dawson -- “Ogre”

Richard Dawson - Ogre (Official Video)

The ambiguous line “bring the goose my child” (or is it “bring the goose, my child?”) is a good summary of this whole wide, wonderful song. Though it’s absurd in its use of the pastoral past, it still subscribes to a certain brand of village togetherness.

25. DJ Rashad -- “Feelin (feat. Spinn & Taso)”

Dj Rashad - Feelin (feat. Spinn & Taso)

This music pretty much requires the context of the juke/footwork scene. It’s equally stunning with or without, but there’s a lot to explore behind this jerky, chopped sample work.

24. Chuck Person -- “Eccojam A3”

Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol.1 - A3 (Daniel Lopatin)

I’m telling myself I’m not including this just on principle, but I definitely am. It’s two slowed-down pop songs that don’t represent the peak of vaporwave. However, the act of releasing Eccojams into the world let loose a torrent of forward-thinking music.

23. Charli XCX -- “Vroom Vroom”

Charli XCX - Vroom Vroom [Official Video]

This weird cross-over between Pop and pop is endlessly fascinating to me. The bare essentials of the genre carry this track through the perils of empty production.

22. Purple Mountains -- “All My Happiness is Gone”

Purple Mountains "All My Happiness is Gone" (Official Music Video)

David Berman’s final musical venture burst forth just as he left this world, and this track says farewell without any secrecy. We can be glad we have his songs still.

21. Fiona Apple -- “Every Single Night”

Fiona Apple - Every Single Night

After hearing this album for the first time in December 2019, I listened to it back-to-back-to-back. I never do that. This opening track hit me right in the bra-ai-ai-ai-ain, and I can’t get it out of my head when I lose myself in a frustrating cycle of thought. It also leapfrogged 80 great songs to this spot in the list, so it must be good.

20. The National -- “Rylan”

The National - 'Rylan'

According to hardcore fans of The National, this song has been in the works for years and years, but I only heard it first on I Am Easy To Find. It’s the kind of song that makes me admit I like rock music.

19. Thundercat -- “Them Changes”

Thundercat - 'Them Changes' (Official Video)

Dear Thundercat, I apologize for leaving your show at Macalester College Springfest halfway through so I could go see a performance of A German Requiem. I did see you play “Them Changes,” and it was better than Brahms that day.

18. Yaeji -- “raingurl”

You won’t be as cool as Yaeji in this lifetime, but you are allowed to listen to “raingurl.”

17. Big Thief -- “Jenni”

Slowcore from 2019? Yes! Its handful of words crafts a scene capable of destroying you. “Jenni’s in my room” builds and builds, and pretty soon there’s nothing else but that line. Big Thief is one of the most comprehensively good bands that’s active today. I say that with a Big emphasis on “band:” they actually operate like a commune.

16. Macintosh Plus -- “ブート”

Macintosh Plus - ブート

Sorry for not picking the meme song, but this first song on Floral Shoppe is the best representative of vaporwave made personal. Edited just enough to draw out the maddening sameness and desolate soundscape, it eviscerates its sample.

15. Mitski -- “Your Best American Girl”

Mitski - Your Best American Girl (Official Video)

This song eclipses its indie scene target in scope and power. In criticizing White America, Mitski floods the place with pedals, and I bet she knows how to use all of them.

14. Esther Rose -- “Only Loving You”

Esther Rose, "Only Loving You" official music video

Sweet love songs often grow unbearable, but the simple happiness in this is infectious. It makes you want to forget all the unbearably sad music you’ve ever listened to because you could have had wistful songs like this the whole time.

13. Danny Brown -- “When It Rain”

Danny Brown - When It Rain [Official Video]

Delia Derbyshire and Danny Brown form an unstoppable combo. Nothing fits quite right in the early electronic sample of Derbyshire’s, and Brown embraces this admirably by blasting right through it.

12. Weyes Blood -- “Andromeda”


The Venn diagram of Weyes Blood fans and George Harrison fans must be a circle. Titanic Rising uses old, old songwriting styles to reach its peaks. It also happens to be the most convincing evocation of the “underwater” feeling in music.

11. Yung Lean -- “Kyoto”

The godfather of SoundCloud rappers proved hyperniche hip-hop genres a worthwhile venture. This song sounds like if you fell over and just kept falling.

10. M.I.A. -- “Bad Girls”

M.I.A. - "Bad Girls" (Official Video)

M.I.A.’s biggest hit of the decade is another singalong. Just like mild-mannered folks would imitate gunshots when hearing “Paper Planes,” listeners in the 2010s got to yell “Live fast, die young!” And while I appreciate that reading, I prefer M.I.A. as a more singular, threatening figure who makes every man shrink into the dirt just by hearing her words. I honestly don’t know if she’s chasing anthems, but she seems to have a knack for producing bizarre ones.

9. Dean Blunt -- “The Pedigree”

Dean Blunt - The Pedigree

Dean Blunt has a huge body of work from this past decade, but I adore this track the most. In the context of its album, The Redeemer, it’s a magical work. Outside of it, Blunt’s hard-to-place tone is still magical. Nobody samples quite like him, and tracing back his sounds often reveals much less than you’d expect—which is all part of his perpetual performance, I assume.

8. Vampire Weekend -- “This Life”

Vampire Weekend - This Life (Official Video)

I’m a little surprised that 2019 Vampire Weekend is making my top ten, but I honestly don’t think the band has lost much. Beyond being squeaky clean, Ezra Koenig’s delivery feels at its most relaxed and believable. A band with some distance from its youthful debut is a real treat, and “This Life” earns a place as both excellent summer song and a satisfying answer to the frantic question “What is life!?”

7. Laurel Halo -- “Moontalk”

What I love about Laurel Halo’s music is that it doesn’t try too hard to smooth over the edges of overlapping samples. “Moontalk” never lets you forget the distinct lineage of each abrupt sound. The playfulness of the competing vocal samples is the star. I admire this track for its self-consciously weird composition, but falling backward into it without looking might be the better experience.

6. Gillian Welch -- “Hard Times”

Gillian Welch - Hard Times

Welch and David Rawlings are the most unstoppable team in folk and I fawn over anything they do, but this song is among their best. Though it’s looking backward to Classic America, it’s earnest in its endless restraint.

5. Sun Kil Moon -- “Carissa”

Sun Kil Moon - Carissa

Mark Kozelek’s style of confessional lyrics makes most so-called emotionally open music seem dull by comparison. I’ve yet to find a more straightforward, honest confrontation of death than “Carissa.” It’s an incredible piece of songwriting not only for the gripping, awful story, but for the way Kozelek so subtly finds pieces of himself in it. After dozens of listens, I still find a new emotional resonance each time. And yes, Mark, you found some poetry.

4. James Ferraro -- “Linden Dollars”

James Ferraro - Linden Dollars (Music video)

James Ferraro proved himself one of the most exciting artists of the 2010s and reached his public peak with Far Side Virtual. The album was first conceived as a series of ringtones, and it shows. “Linden Dollars” sounds like a sentient financial district starting to grow curious about exploring staircases and elevators. Both hilariously naïve in character and complex enough to sate endless critical interpretations, this is destined to remain an immovable pillar of vaporwave and experimental music.

3. Frank Ocean -- “Nikes”

Frank Ocean - Nikes

After the long run-up to Blonde, the first vocals we heard from Frank Ocean were pitched-up and distorted. The initial shock of that moment as a listener breaks into absolute awe at the floating melody. He never wants to let anything drop, preferring meaning, association, and interpretation to stay way up high in the mind’s mind.

2. Grimes -- “Oblivion”

Early on in the decade, Grimes captured mainstream pop appeal with a bouncy song about assault. Its success owes much to Claire Boucher’s merging of blunt, personal confessionals with the abstract language of its haunting chorus: “See you on a dark night.” It works in reverse, sending the listener back into the labyrinth. The synths start to sound uneven, then jagged, then wholly evil. Its music video is also a strong contender for best of the decade. The imagery of a menacing procession of motorbikes and men is new and utterly terrifying.

1. Bill Callahan -- “Drover”

I hope I never come to a comfortable understanding of this song. It’s convincing both as complete fantasy and as strikingly real Americana. Bill Callahan has likely never driven cattle, but Bill Callahan surely has. This puzzling, postmodern reshuffling of folk music is bound to be the genre’s continuation, and the narrative shares at once so much and also none at all with its influences. It wears costumes and points into the camera, somehow crushing down a century’s worth of nervous American individualism into five minutes. What sound does a drover make? Tss-tss.

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