Friday, December 10, 2010

Top 20 Songs of 2010

Fuck yeah! This year has more significant turns of the phrase "fuck" in my favorite songs than any other. As a long time fan of Green Day and Rage Against the Machine among other harder edge bands over the past 25 years, I’m not unaccustomed to hearing the stray swear word in my favorite songs. The best usage might be in Rage’s anti-establishment anthem Killing in the Name. The entire last minute of the song consists of Zach screaming at the height of passion "Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me" over and over again, until he finally punctuates it with a screamed "motherfucker!" at the end. Definitely fits the song perfectly.

I’m not really a big swearing type of guy. I prefer to keep my butchering of the Queens at a PG level. However, my top 20 in the Year of Fuck not only contains songs with said word in important parts of the song, but three actually have the word in the title of song.


As usual I will give you my favorite lyric of songs along with why I like them and a clip. This year I have added an "F Count". Here’s the list.

1. Fuck You – Cee Lo Green. This is one of those songs that is just a smash the first time you hear it. The melody is awesome. The significant amount of swearing is the charm of the song. Somehow all of the swearing doesn’t seem that dirty. You can totally feel for Cee Lo as he is weaving his story. I think my favorite lyric is how the song starts and continues as the chorus throughout "I see you driving round town with the girl I love and I’m like ‘Fuck you’". I am glad they released cleaner versions so it can have a broader appeal, but really the original version is the best.

F Count – 16 (plus plenty of S’s and N’s) The is one of the best videos of the year as you watch chubby Cee Lo grow through the years and continue to get his heart broken by the same girl.

2. Hurricane J –The Hold Steady. I love The Hold Steady. They put excellent, clever lyrics to rocking beats with passion. That’s typically a home run for me. This song about breaking off a summer fling with a girl because the future isn’t there climaxes with the wonderful line "You’re a beautiful girl and you’re pretty good waitress, but Jessie, I don’t think I’m the guy."

F Count – 0 (Craig Finn keeps his songs about drugs and bars and hook-ups clean!) Hold Steady is a wonderful live band. Watching Craig on stage always makes me happy.

3. Yeah Yeah Yeah – New Politics. This song makes me want to run through a wall. It f’ing rocks! So much energy. So much passion. "Whatchu want from me. That’s just fucking killing me!" This song is an excellent example of proper swearing. Listen to the clean and then the original and tell me which one you feel is more passionate.

F Count - 9 Here’s the edited, more produced version of the video to protect your influential ears.
4. Next Girl – The Black Keys. Dig out the dark glasses... This is a great rocking blues song about a guy who is finally getting out of a bad relationship. He’s promising himself that it’s going to be better next time. Perfect material for a blues song. The Keys bring all I could want for a blues song to this one. Great pounding bass. Soulful lyrics surrounding heartbreak. Driving rhythm. "My next girl will be nothing like my ex-girl. I made mistakes back then. I won’t do it again."
F Count – 0 This video is awesome. I love the partying dinosaur. That Ty Rex can pull. What makes this video is the scrolling words on the bottom. Some of you might have missed the words. Please watch again.

5. No Money – Kings of Leon. My favorite song off an album that is growing and growing on me. This is easily the "rocker" on the album and one of the most passionate. I love the longing of "I’ve got no money but I want you so." But later in the song he talks about having so much he cannot handle it. I dunno. Great song though.

F Count - 1 I couldn’t find a good cut of this song. What’s up internets? Here’s a live cut with OK sound. It is much better to hear the album cut.

6. Anything, Anything – Lucky Boys Confusion I cheated a little bit here. I actively looked for a remake to this 80’s song by Dramarama. That song was my favorite "under heard" song. I couldn’t have been happier with what I found from Lucky Boys Confusion. They did add the profanity of the year, but to pretty good use. I dare say this version is better than the original.

The song is wonderfully passionate and rocking. It boils an arch of a failed relationship down to 2 minutes plus. It takes the listener from the enamored passion of new love to the frustration of tired love to a bridge where it the singer breaks it all down and then takes you into the inevitable breakup and confrontation with the father in-law. I knew someone had to have touched this song again. "I’ll even let you watch the shows you want to see!"

F Count - 1 No video, but I could find the audio.

7. Dr. Feel Good – Travie McCoy. I had a big Gym Class Heroes phase a few years back. I figured that would be the end of them for me. The leader Travis seemed to like being a star and I didn’t think his musical integrity was strong. I assumed he would try to cross over to be a big pop star. I think to an extent he has. I figured I would like his solo album about as well as I liked him changing his name from Travis to Travie. I was wrong. Many of the songs hinted to what I loved about GCH. Clever and quick lyrics from Travis with a good hook. The hook here is sung by Cee Lo Green. This song was my favorite of several good songs off the disc. Why not a dancing Power Ranger?

8. Bang Bang Bang – Mark Ronson. My introduction to producer Mark Ronson was when he took a previously unknown to me Amy Winehouse and ruined an awesome song, Valerie by The Zutons. Ronson is a DJ that takes beats and brings in guest singers. Despite my dislike of Ronson, I was immediately enamored with this kickin’ number. The French girl singer mixed with the English rapper make a great combo. I love the "Un, Deux, Trois" countdown. This song hits my dueling Francophile and Anglophile sides it to one big European mashup.

F Count – 1 that I know of, my French isn’t that good Weird video fits the weird song.

9. Barely Breathing – The Hold Steady. Usually a THS song hits with me because the wonderful lyrics add to the great music. This is one of the lesser songs lyrically. It’s a bit about The Hold Steady’s ascent as opposed to a story about some crazy hoodrat. I do like the name check of "They Almost Killed Me" as Almost Killed Me is the name of their first album. Another live performance from The Hold Steady. The album cut of the song sounds much better, but Craig Finn is one of the all-time best showmen.

10. Stylo – Gorillaz. I love the bass on this song. It took me a bit to like this song as much as I do. In typical Gorillaz fashion, there are guest artists. There’s a rap at the start. Damien Albarn, the main guy behind the Gorillaz actually sings the main part. But the headlining singer is some R & B legend that I should’ve heard of but haven’t. He picks up the song half-way in and does some soulful screaming. Who knows what they are even saying in this song. I do like the "Right now!" But throughout, the bass line repeats and repeats and repeats. The animated Gorillaz come to life (kinda). A visit from Bruce Willis. A surprise ending. I’d love to see a Gorillaz movie.

11. Do Wah Do – Kate Nash. I am a sucker for Kate Nash. I know it is her English accent. I like plenty of English birds that I would never give their American counterpart the time of day. I also like Regina Spector and Lily Allen. They are so spunky. I’m sure if I ever do follow through on my every 4 years threat to move to Europe, I will dismiss English pop females the way I dismiss American ones now. But in 2010, I really like Kate Nash and her girl-left-home-on-a-Saturday night troubles. The best bit is the end when she finally says "I think she’s a bitch" Not sure what I think about the video.

12. This Year – The Mountain Goats The Mountain Goats were my musical "find" of the year. Two of my favoritist bands, The Hold Steady and Art Brut both listed The Mountain Goats as one of their favorite bands. I had never heard of them. Then, they (he?) was on The Colbert Report which rarely has a musical guest and when they do, it is usually someone special to my tastes. The Mountain Goats are really John Darnielle with his acoustic guitar. I’ll mention it more in the albums of year post, but his songs, while musically strong, are really borne of the stories told in the lyrics. This Year is about a 17 year old boy living with an abusive stepfather. It is ultimately a sad song, but it does show the kid’s optimistic spirit. He’s not going to give up, he’s going to make it to when he can finally move out. The song is about a day of rebellion where he forgets his troubles at home. Of course, at the end of the day, he comes home to further abuse, but he knows one day it will be alright. I neither understand nor like the video. The Mountain Goats need to be listened to, not watched. They are actually such vivid stories, the video could show the story, but this doesn’t. Try not looking at the screen.

13. One Clap & Getcha Popcorn Ready – DJ Steve Porter. Having a connection between me and my boys always increasing a song’s standing. I have loved DJ Steve Porter ever since his "Press Hop" video a while ago skewered athlete interviews, especially Allen Iverson "talkin’ bout practice". Porter hit with a pretty good sequel to that earlier this year. I had introduced those clips to my sporty boys, who ate it up. For football season, Porter came out with Popcorn Ready which was a dance beat mixed under interviews from OchoCinco and Terrell Owens. It’s awesome. Porter topped himself when Randy Moss was traded to the Vikings with One Clap. We spent many a drives getting the family’s claps all synchronized while cruising in Olive the Other Highlander. This might be my favorite Steve Porter mix ever. "Straight cash homey!" So many good lines to pick just a couple.

F Count – 0 (But they were thinking it!) "Got to keep rollin’, man!" The video is really the thing on both of these. You can then hear the song and visualize the video.

14. This Fucking Job – The Drive By Truckers. I know part of this inclusion goes all the way back to seeing DBT in concert a couple years ago. The song is a little "Southern" for my typical tastes, but I can see Patterson Hood on the stage, singing this song and grinning like he just won Hillbilly Idol. He has so much fun up there. Bonus points for not swearing in the song despite the song’s title. "I thought this job sucked when I had it, but now that it’s gone I know what bad is". Preach on, brother.

F Count – 1 if you count the title Patterson’s not nearly as smiley here and he’s all dressed up. He must have been nervous. Sounds good though!

15. Move to the City – The Blakes. I love The Blakes’ first album. It came from nowhere to take one my top albums of 2008. I was pumped to see they had a new album out and it stunk. This cut was the only song I really liked. It almost seemed out of place for how much better it was than the rest of the album. I found out that this song is an older song that just didn’t make the previous album that I liked so much. Something happened to this band along the way. Change guitarists? Sobered up? Found Jesus? Whatever it is I wish they could go back. This was the only cut I could find of the song to post here. It is from the legendary Crocodile CafĂ© in Seattle, their hometown. I like the studio version of the song much better. This just gives you an idea of the song, but doesn’t let the back beat haunt the melody as much as it should.

16. WTF? – Ok Go. This was a strong cut from a good album. I can’t understand much of the falsetto of Damian Kulash. But I do like the claps and the crunchy guitar. Ok Go always gives me a positive vibe. I like the cut of their jib. "There’s just this thing about ‘cha"

F Count – 1 (not counting acronym ) They promised to do a video for every song on the album. There have been some really good ones so far. This one isn’t one of the good ones. I love that Ok Go is so video aware.

17. Superfast Jelly Fish – Gorillaz. I don’t love the chorus of the song. It’s a little light for this fun song. I do love the Gorillaz and this was a hit with me and my boys in the spring and summer. "All hail King Neptune and his water-breathers".

F Count – 0 (but there is on "freakin") As an animated group, I usually like to show the videos of the Gorillaz, but it’s cool to see them live. De La Soul spitting out the lyrics in front of a large band including a pair from the Clash.

18. Jesus Stole My Girlfriend – Violent Soho. This song borrows from the 90’s and I love it. Screaming passionately about how the Big Guy moved in on his lady. That’s kinda funny but it certainly sounds like it is tearing up the singer. Religion for the (cock)block! Banging that long hair like its 1992!

19. Too Much Too Soon – Green Day? I loved the American Idiot musical when I saw in Berkeley last year. I haven’t been able to see it on Broadway and I’m more than a little disappointed. Yes… it sounds a bit like Green Day on Glee. I think it rocks more than that. I like the man/woman singing in the songs. It doesn’t sound like a bad cover that way. It is a re-imagining.

F Count - 2 (Come on, it’s a Green Day song) Unfortunately, I cannot find good quality footage of this in the show. Dang copyright law.

20. Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National. High Violet is not a singles album. It is very much something you listen to in its entirety and let the sonic experience rush over you. This was the most likely individual song on an album that I love. The music just touches my soul. I enjoy figuring out what The National’s songs are about. I’m saying this is about a guy who is going back home to live with his parents in Ohio.

The National’s songs are full of poetic imagery. This songs starts with "I stand up straight at the foot of your love. I lift my shirt up." In most rocks songs, you would be thinking, "Dude’s about to get some", but I contend that "standing up straight" is being respectful as your parents nag you to stand up straight and "lifting a shirt up" is a way to show you are vulnerable and not hiding anything. I think he has made mistakes, he’s broke and to an extent he realizes that he never appreciated the love of his family as much before. He’s getting a "buzz" from the love of his family "blood".
Or maybe dude’s about to get laid. Might be the worst video in the history of music videos. The National’s music, much like The Mountain Goats really shouldn’t be set to a video. The music is the thing there, not a whole package. I truly believe Matt did this video as a protest to music videos. I mean, this video absolutely sucks. A good video makes me like the song more. This almost makes me like the song less.

2010 wasn’t the best year in music for me, but it certainly had it’s high points. Stay tuned for the top albums of the year. The song list does not necessarily translate to the album list.

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