Join us as we celebrate the best music, film, and television of the decade. Today, we celebrate the 100 Best Songs of the 2010s.

    Fuck it. It’s been a good decade.

    I know, I know, we’re not supposed to be positive. Optimism is naivety. The world is run by fools, nothing is good, we’re all going to die before our time, etc. etc.

    However, it recently dawned on me that often the most vocal doomsday preppers and preachers are those who’ve always had it good. Those who’ve had the privilege of being granted permission before they’ve even asked. The decades before this one have always been ruled by the palatable, the approachable, the keepers of the status quo.


    But, in the 2010s, the outcasts and eccentrics reigned supreme. We talked about mental health and scheduled time with our therapist out loud during our daily commute. We coined the term self-care and redefined and realigned with it in a direct reaction to the #hustle culture of the early aughts. We walked in women’s marches, amplified the tenets of Black Lives Matter, and told those who misused their power that their time was up. We bolstered LGBTQ issues and legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country.

    Yes. Much of this was in reaction to power structures that shouldn’t have been and are still in place. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get credit for squaring up and saying enough. We might not be where we need to be, but here’s to leveling the fuck up.

    What you’re about to see is a soundtrack for those moments, songs that captured the essence of the past 10 years. Montage music for the misfits, if you will.


    Through the filter of the 2010s, Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” isn’t just a dance song, but a primer on subdued defiance. Kanye’s “Power” becomes a prophetic warning. Father John Misty’s “Chateau Lobby #4” in all its dysfunction and irony can still call itself a relatable love song. Whether it’s the post-collegiate slump captured in Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young” or the cathartic chorus detailing a triumph return to self in Florence and The Machine’s “Shake It Out”, the songs we chose not only speak to the ethos of those who wrote them, but to those who listened to them … and why.

    In an attempt to collate the undeniable and entangled feelings of the last 3,650 days, we’ve pulled together the songs we leaned into during the heartbreak, political turmoil, celebration, and devastation that was the 2010s. From the hip-hop political to pop sensational, the sultry R&B to the new frontiers of rock, our favorite tracks broke down social norms, colored outside genre lines, and just did whatever the fuck they wanted, then called it art. I’d like to think that in some ways, we all spent the last decade doing that very same thing.

    –Erica Campbell
    Music Editor

    100. Queens of the Stone Age – “My God Is the Sun” (2013)

    Queens of the Stone Age Like Clockwork art

    Queens of the Stone Age returned in 2013 after a six-year hiatus with the brilliant …Like Clockwork LP. “My God Is the Sun” was the lead single, and it brings together nearly everything QOTSA do best, from stoner metal to taut desert rock. The riff is undeniable, the rhythm section pummels with urgency in a way it hadn’t since “Songs for the Deaf”, and Josh Homme’s croon is impossibly charismatic and sexy. On an album full of sonic detours and exploration, “My God Is the Sun” is the monolithic slab of rock that connects the group’s past with their future. –Jim Shahen

    99. BTS – “Fake Love” (2018)

    BTS - Love Yourself

    Think about how many people haven’t heard the biggest band in the world and maybe at first you’ll grimace about the death of the monoculture. Then maybe you’ll have the epiphany that it’s a good thing for complacent, old America to play catch-up. BTS’ anti-gravity dance routines and anything-goes stylistic breadth have resulted in visionary synth-pop,hip-hop, Halsey-pop, hair metal, and double albums. The breathy anthem-ballad “Fake Love” is from the latter and helped set records for the seven-piece K-Pop juggernauts on complacent, old America’s charts. Not bad for a boy band transfixed with Jungian psychology that barely sings in English. –Dan Weiss

    98. Tyler, The Creator – “EARFQUAKE” (2019)

    Tyler the Creator - Igor

    In “EARFQUAKE”, Tyler, the Creator promises he’s “for real this time.” From getting banned from entering the UK to rapping he’ll “stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagus,” Tyler was often viewed as a callous, explosive, and jocular individual. But on IGOR, Tyler isn’t joking. Like its predecessor, Flower Boy,  the album is baked in ornate production, flirting with ideas of uncertainty and a crumbling love. The first glimpse into this uncertainty is found on “EARFQUAKE”. Originally written with Justin Bieber in mind, the catchy standout single balances a mixture of off-kilter harmonies and brazen instrumentals depicting Tyler struggling to maintain his grip on his relationship, begging for some “conformation for how you feel” and trying to literally calm the “storm” by affirming “it’s [his] fault.” Taken in total, “EARFQUAKE” serves as an emblem for Tyler’s mastery and growth as not only a musician, producer and songwriter, but also as a person in general. –Samantha Small


    97. Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” (2010)

    Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks

    Much of Frightened Rabbit’s music is somberly re-contextualized in the wake of frontman Scott Hutchison’s tragic death in 2018. While a song about walking into the sea to drown seems eerily close to the circumstances of his suicide, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” is actually a beautiful analogy about finding courage in the face of uncertainty. Coming from one of the genre’s most complicated songwriters, it’s delivered as a pristine example of unfussy early-2010s indie and one of Hutchinson’s masterpieces. The track remains a stirring note of hope that will continue carrying listeners onward well after Hutchinson departed for shores unknown. –Ben Kaye

    96. Pusha T – “If You Know, You Know” (2018)

    Pusha T - Daytona

    Of the five albums and dozens of songs produced by Kanye West at Jackson Hole last summer, there was no beat as spicy as “If You Know You Know” and no MC as ready to eat it up. Pusha T is the preeminent craftsman of coke rap, making syllabic avalanches sound as natural as a conversation over coffee. The beat is full of bravado and humor, perfect for both punchlines and straight stunting. So much of the time, it’s both: “If you know ‘bout the carport/ The trap door’s supposed to be awkward/ If you know, you know.” The whole song is delivered this way, with half a shrug and a cocky smile. –Wren Graves

    95. Katy Perry – “Firework” (2010)


    Katy Perry had hit her stride by her third album, Teenage Dream. It was pop music escapism at its best, and “Firework” was the ring leader in the getaway. Sweet without being cheesy, positive without being overbearing, motivational without being condescending, it gave a whole generation of sad song lovers something to dance about. Perry did, however, want the track to be more than just something to sing along to. After dedicating the hit to the “It Gets Better” project, Perry shared the meaning of the song, saying, “A lot of times it’s only us that’s standing in the way of reaching our goals, fulfilling our destinies, being the best version of who we possibly can be, so that’s why I wrote it.” — Erica Campbell


    94. Travis Scott – “Sicko Mode” (2018)

    Travis Scott - ASTROWORLD

    It was the track that had us out like a light. As a three-part suite from the seamless opening of Travis Scott’s third album, ASTROWORLD, it doesn’t open with Scott himself, but the uncredited surprise of Drake in a rampant back-and-forth that shook 2018. As Scott’s first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Sicko Mode” also spent 30 weeks at top 10. With a screwed-up bridge featuring Swae Lee and posthumous vocals from Big Hawk, “Sicko Mode” was a captivating hit that wrapped up the two-tier Wish You Were Here tour dates with vomit-filled animation on the show’s projectors. The rage goes on. –Jaelani Turner Williams

    93. Wilco – “Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)” (2011)

    Wilco - The Whole Love

    Never doubt Jeff Tweedy and his need for more paper. When Wilco go long, they earn it, and “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)” is no exception. The closing track to 2011’s The Whole Love finds Tweedy wrestling with themes of mortality, religion, and closure for a good 12 minutes, churning out what feels like an indie drama in the vein of Baumbach or Anderson. Yet, while the song does feel cinematic, it’s also surprisingly sparse for the Chicago outfit, a trick they’ve been exploring all decade. It fits the source material, though, to which Tweedy keeps up an unspoken conversation between a son and his deceased, overbearing father. Devastating and beautiful. –Michael Roffman

    92. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People…” (2016)

    A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It

    Three minutes, two verses, one hook. That’s all it took Tribe to deliver a sprawling (and scathing) synopsis of America just nine days after Trump’s election. Q-Tip, still subscribing to the “Low End Theory”, delivers punishing production (sampling Black Sabbath) liable to punch you in the gut just as hard as their indictment on rising racism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia, gentrification, and gender inequality just to name a few discussion topics. Despite a recording hiatus of 18 years, the track is unforgettably urgent, featuring some of the most laser-precise bars of Tip and the late Phife Dawg’s career. –Christopher Thiessen


    91. Rosalía – “MALEMENTE Cap.1: Augurio” (2018)

    Rosalía - El Mal Querer

    The sensation of hearing Rosalía’s earthquake of a voice for the first time is like discovering a new color. Maybe it’s because hearing the 26-year-old Spanish singer’s signature vibrato over her striking fusion of flamenco and polyrhythmic pop is the closest thing you’ve ever heard to modern-day opera. Or rather, opera that even classical haters (hi) can enjoy when stretched across piles of hand claps that gesture at Timbaland and reggaeton. Or maybe it’s the videos. “Malamente” was merely the opening battering ram that sent 2018’s astonishing El Mar Querer skyrocketing; few artists are so poised to completely revolutionize the 2020s. –Dan Weiss

    90. Father John Misty – “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” (2015)


    The scariest part about falling in love is being vulnerable. And that’s even scarier to someone like Josh Tillman, who consistently finds a way to wrap his most genuine sentiments in a blanket of cynicism. However, “Chateau Lobby #4” is a departure from that. Tillman uses the four-minute track to express his feelings for his wife, Emma, through hidden jokes guised in romantic declarations, most of which are incredibly specific to the development of their relationship. Although full of sharp remarks in usual FJM style, the song gradually becomes more and more intimate, eventually exploding into a bombastic horn section when Tillman realizes just how big falling in love is. –Jennifer Irving

    89. Lizzo – “Juice” (2019)

    Lizzo Cuz I Love You

    The glacial guitars recall The Police. Everything else is the best disco you’ve heard in years, narrated by the world’s greatest Twitter feed: “I’m the pudding in the proof,” “I be dripping so much sauce got a bih looking like Ragu,” “No, I’m not a snack at all, baby, I’m the whole damn meal.” Then there’s the astonishing bridge about someone else’s man trying to sneak into her DMs, which resonates extra for her many plus-size followers who’ve endured being some dude’s (attempted) secret. Lizzo’s heart is the mirrorball but every facet of her is gonna shine. As they say, iconic. –Dan Weiss

    88. FKA twigs – “Two Weeks” (2014)

    FKA twigs - LP1

    If we could know what the sirens of Greek mythology sang to seduce sailors to their deaths, it’d probably sound close to FKA twigs’ “Two Weeks”. It evokes the feeling of a mesmerizingly horny hymn — twigs’ lush, breathy falsetto feels utterly incantatory layered over that silken drone of synth and rumbling drumbeat (courtesy of Arca and co-producer/writer Emile Haynie, respectively). While the song is a pure exaltation of female sexual prowess, the vein of tenderness in the way she makes promises like “I’ll put you first, just close your eyes and dream about it” is what makes it completely spellbinding. –Aline Dolinh


    87. Snail Mail – “Pristine” (2018)

    Snail Mail Lush Album Art Cover Art Red

    Ah, unrequited love; it’s the subject of many a teen rock tune. But not often is it so well-delivered as on Snail Mail’s “Pristine”. Lindsey Jordan wrestles with love, change, and identity, allowing us to be her diary as she scribbles and scratches notes with the solitary crunch of a guitar, her voice restrained so that no one else will overhear her insecurities or confessions of love. It’s cathartically melodramatic, hyperbolically romantic. Yet, every single time Jordan sings, “Who do you change for/ Who’s top of your world” in the crescendoing outro, we’re transported to memories of adolescent love’s hopelessness. –Christopher Thiessen

    86. Ellie Goulding – “Lights” (2011)

    Ellie Goulding Bright lights

    Big, brilliant, and euphoric is singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding’s 2011 hit, “Lights”. The British pop star delivers breathy, comforting vocals atop zesty, melodic undertones. The track feels much like being in an ethereal dream full of color, packed with a potent pounding of synth keys and a simple, yet poignant, chorus (“You show the lights that stop me turn to stone/ You shine them when I’m alone/ And so I tell myself that I’ll be strong/ And dreaming when they’re gone/ ‘Cause they’re calling, calling, calling me home”). The multi-layered tune is much like a well-crafted cocktail — flavorful and balanced. Certainly, a classic pop record to be enjoyed well beyond the first listen. — Gabrielle Pharms

    85. Alabama Shakes – “Don’t Wanna Fight” (2015)

    alabama shakes sound and color

    That muscular guitar riff is a great example of why Brittany Howard is one of the most interesting songwriters in rock, but the strangled scream that kicks off the song shows why she’s among the greatest rock vocalists of her generation. You can hear it in the weariness as she sings “Lying down ain’t easy” and the staccato flourishes she lends to “Why can’t I catch my breath?” It’s a breathtaking performance, full of nuance and power, sadness and anger and loss. Howard doesn’t just have more ideas than most of her peers; she has more talent to pull them off. –Wren Graves


    84. Johnny Jewell – “Windswept” (2017)


    On the titular track to his 2017 solo album, Johnny Jewel seemingly bottles the crushing angst and dread of the past decade. It’s a somber jazz medication that soothes as much as it bruises, losing itself in Michel Rubini synths and a jazz shuffle befit for the Peanuts gang. It was so good, in fact, that David Lynch scooped it up for his Twin Peaks revival that year, pairing the track with his iconic lead Kyle MacLachlan, whose zombified Dale Cooper/Dougie Jones watched aimlessly as uncompromising change casually drifted by him. Two years later, we’re still Dale/Dougie, clutching on to that coffee, staring off into space, and wondering with all our heart, “What year is this?” –Michael Roffman

    83. Kanye West – “Black Skinhead” (2013)

    Kanye West - Yeezus

    Provocative, menacing, distorted, backed by Tarzan-like screams, and punctuated with “Black” spoken authoritatively throughout, Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead” drummed in the era of Yeezus. It calling out a “post-racial” America. More than just a track, it squared up to religious ridicule and scrutiny West had received from middle America, with an unpalatable and compulsive West introducing the world to the lyrics “You see a black man with a white woman/ At the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong” live on Saturday Night. “Black Skinhead” was, and is, West at his best, calling out power dynamics and bravely pushing hip-hop into sonic terrain it had never navigated before. –Erica Campbell

    82. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – “Shallow” (2018)

    A Star is Born soundtrack Gaga Bradley Cooper

    In crafting a list of the best songs of a decade, it’s easy to point to the lyrics we remember nine years later. But when it comes to those tunes still powering through their adolescence, we ask ourselves, “Is this simply of the moment or an enduring force?” “Shallow” incites a gut-feeling of the latter. In an increasingly shallow reality — a culture desperately clinging to the rush of a “like” or “follow,” the modern currency of validation — we all silently ache for depth. “Shallow” belongs on this list because you probably spent a lot of solo nights crying into a slice of pizza over it, sure, but also because it serves as the emotional locus of an entire generation, an anecdotal anthem for the pains of modernity. –Irene Monokandilos


    81. Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass” (2010)

    After a series of ballads (“Your Love”, “Moment 4 Life”, “Right Thru Me”) from her Cinderella-story debut album, Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj hit pop stardom with “Super Bass”. Backed by the melodic rasp of co-songwriter Ester Dean, the flossy track was an ode to men of all types, but especially those who made Minaj’s heart pound (or rather, boom-badoom-boom-bass). As Minaj hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, her mixtape heyday was merged with international notoriety. The fluorescent video for “Super Bass” was filled with male eye candy galore and a tantalizing neon lap dance that still glows nine years later. –Jaelani Turner Williams

    80. Cage the Elephant – “Cigarette Daydreams” (2013)

    The final track of Cage the Elephant’s Melphobia captured the feeling of parting ways with a lover with clarity and sincerity love songs rarely transmute effectively. It wasn’t trite or tired or overworked, but like actual heartbreak, it was real and sad; you could feel the raindrops in the chords, the burn in your chest from a post-breakup cigarette lingering in the chorus. It also threads in that age-old desire to find the answer to something, before realizing there probably won’t be one. When asked about writing the track, lead singer Matt Shultz acknowledged that he struggled to be transparent and speak from naked honesty in the track, but thankfully for us, he did. –Erica Campbell

    79. Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy” (2019)

    billie eilish when we all fall asleep where do we go album art

    Surprised “I like when you get mad” became the rallying cry for a generation of blue-haired TikTok teens? Ok boomer. Brother Finneas’ headphone-exploring production (that subterranean bass, Billie Eilish intoning the title via ceiling fan) and the “Hava Nagila”-meets-Addams Family melody set up the world’s most beloved goth since Robert Smith for a wicked cosplay as a “might seduce your dad type” who’s never not calling the shots and refuses to be sexualized at 17. Throw in the Missy Elliott-worthy video (the bellies!) and her delightful, Invisalign-prompted guffaw intro and you’ve witnessed an instant classic. You should see her in a crown. –Dan Weiss

    78. Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best” (2015)

    Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think Sometimes I Just Sit

    There was a time when Aussie Courtney Barnett might have been in danger of being labeled the artist who writes those songs. It’s a label that almost tries to make a gimmick of Barnett’s penchant and talent for stream-of-consciousness musings and stuffing more syllables in a line than thought humanly possible over loud, distorted guitars. Now, two full-lengths into her career, we just think of those as Courtney Barnett songs. And when Barnett — all wiry arms and lumbering licks when playing the role of guitar god on stage — rips into the roaring “Pedestrian at Best”, an existential crises you can air guitar to, we understand she’s so much more than a gimmick. She’s one of the young voices who will give names to the things we see, the places we visit, and the emotions we feel in the years to come. And that’s hardly pedestrian. –Matt Melis


    77. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk” (2014)

    It took some time for the country’s collective consciousness to accept Bruno Mars as the multi-hyphenate power player he really is, but Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” did its job in solidifying his ascent to pop’s premier feel-good mainstay. The throwback track — a funkified ode to feeling yourself, oozing with goofy sex appeal and charisma — ultimately took on a life of its own, becoming so embedded in our cultural core that it proved inescapable. Imbued with the kind of rare, connective power present only in a handful of Top 40 hits, “Uptown Funk” transcended demographic. All at once, the entirety of the planet was busy collectively celebrating the contained euphoria living inside of every grunt, every trumpet flare, every beat. Not since “Uptown Funk” has the world felt so united. –Ali Szubiak

    76. Tom Waits – “Hell Broke Luce” (2011)

    Tom Waits - Bad As Me

    It’s not that Tom Waits has shied away over the years from reflecting on the pain, despair, and devastation that war brings to soldiers and their families. He’s just always touched upon the topic rather subtly — by picking through a box of old keepsakes, including war medals, at a yard sale (“Soldier’s Things”) or through an epistolary song from the point of view of a soldier getting ready to be discharged and sent home (“Day After Tomorrow”). However, on “Hell Broke Luce”, Waits creates a festering, wretched hellscape, using a collage of disoriented sounds, the cadences of a platoon march, and a mix of soldier biography, eye-witness accounts, and infantry doggerel. It’s what one might imagine a flashback or nightmare might be like for an ex-soldier suffering from shell shock. By creating such a haunting portrayal of war, Waits forces us to rethink what we’re signing up our children for — no matter how proud we might be of their service. –Matt Melis

    75. Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (2017)

    Kendrick Lamar -- DAMN.

    Kendrick Lamar’s prophetic lyricism — and bombastic execution of it — makes him one of the best and most imaginative emcees of our time. The meteor-storm production of “Humble” perfectly compliments his performative prowess; Pluss and Mike WiLL Made-It concocted a torrential and unrelenting beat fitting of K. Dot’s modernism. On “HUMBLE.”, the rapper boasts about his superiority with cinematic specificity, which makes his claims an easy sell. Kendrick is fully aware of both his cultural currency and his sonic fearlessness–traits that made his the first rapper ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. This track is an undaunted reminder that he not only sets trends, he masters them. –Candace McDuffie


    74. CHVRCHES – “Recover” (2013)

    CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe Artwork

    Pop music revitalized an ’80s sound for modern dance floors when it began absorbing synthesizers in the aughts. By the early 2010s, synthpop started shifting as it tried to keep pace with the more subdued indie dominating the blogosphere. Then came CHVRCHES with a way to blend the two on their debut full-length, The Bones of What You Believe. Though not the biggest hit on the album, “Recover” best showcases the band’s layering of singer Lauren Mayberry’s siren-sweet vocals and emotionally forward lyrics over mesmerizing compositions. CHVRCHES’ early success heralded renewed interest in synthpop, and they remain one of the genre’s most beloved purveyors. –Ben Kaye

    73. Radiohead – “True Love Waits” (2016)

    True love does, indeed, wait. In this case. Radiohead fans had been waiting over two decades to hear a studio recording of the beloved track that had often been played live since touring for The Bends in 1995. Although releasing what producer Nigel Godrich deemed “That shitty live version” on 2001’s I Might Be Wrong, the song eventually found its proper home on 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool. Similar to how 2001’s version is barren with an acoustic guitar and Yorke’s dolorously pleading voice, “True Love Waits” closes Pool with only two dueling pianos in a slower, weighted-down ballad with Yorke professing, “I’m not living/ I’m just killing time.” As one of the few true Radiohead love songs, albeit one that’s saturated with abstract lyrics and melancholy arrangements in true Radiohead fashion, the wait was most certainly worth it. –Sam Small

    72. Spoon – “Inside Out” (2014)

    If you’d told most Spoon fans in 2005 that the band would be responsible for one of 2014’s most underrated beach songs, they would’ve snorted, adjusted their trucker hats, and retreated to the nearest High Life tap. However, “Inside Out” exists, and, at least sonically, its beachiness is undeniable. The sweetest fruit of the band’s subtle reinventions under producer Dave Fridmann, “Inside Out” juxtaposes Britt Daniel’s bruised lyricism with waves of synth and fluttering harps that render Spoon’s sound warmer and more contemplative than ever before. If you need a soundtrack for feeling sad in the sunshine, this song’s a top contender. –Tyler Clark


    71. Drake ft. Majid Jordan – “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (2013)

    To listen to this song is to be instantly ensnared. It starts with the drums, as crisp as an apple, and moves on to a snatch of heavenly humming. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” was created with R&B duo Majid Jordan, and it is presumably them we should thank for that melody, simple and pure. It’s a timeless one, the kind that could dress up for anything from doo-wop to disco, that could bounce in the clubs or make love in the tub. Here, Drake prefers a bit of all-of-the-above, as only Drake would. –Wren Graves

    70. David Bowie – “I Can’t Give Everything Away” (2016)

    david bowie blackstar

    It’s no exaggeration to say that 2016 rose and set with David Bowie. The year began, in a sense, with both a birth and a death — the jubilation of welcoming a new album soon blanketed by a sense of profound cosmic loss. The year expired in another heap of accolades and reflections with a burgeoning constellation of blackstars ready to shoulder the galaxy. In between, the gifts he left us helped us negotiate a year that for all it gave seemed to take a lot more. With on the turntable, songs like album closer “I Can’t Give Everything Away” put us within whisper’s reach of an artist who knew his moons were numbered. It’s an extremely personal and intimate last transmission that causes us to examine the relationships between art, artist, and mortality not in terms of ashes to ashes, dust to dust but “Ashes to Ashes”, Stardust to stardust. A final, urgent gift from our eternal starman. –Matt Melis

    69. Perfume Genius – “Queen” (2014)

    To revel in one’s outsider status or to assimilate — a question all queer folx face. Michael Hadreas answers it on “Queen” with a resounding, “No!” Hadreas wields words like “sashay” on the track like they’re a threat. Forget about lewks — this killer queen is serving up your ass. The mix of choral voices and grunts, Hadreas’ vulnerability, and the razor-sharp guitars plays up the duality of its narrator: a harbinger of disease in the eyes of bigots, a divine presence on the make in the eyes of fellow travelers. Beloved and hated by all, heavy is the head that wears the crown. –Ashley Naftule

    68. SZA – “Love Galore” (2017)

    SZA_Album Artwork_CTRL album EXPLICIT

    Before Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer” came the “Angry Girl Summer”, a less-branded but equally impactful phenomena prompted by the June 2017 release of SZA’s Ctrl. “Love Galore” lives on this cataclysmically emotional record, one that, in a tightly packed 14 songs, made a whole generation of women feel seen and heard because its inability to hide the ugly. On “Love Galore”, SZA is painfully spiteful, oozing with confidence and yet remains self-destructive. She’s disastrously in love — but equally regretful. “Love Galore” isn’t a love song: It’s a synopsis of a bitter confrontation, both of her own harmful tendencies and an arduous relationship. –Lucy Shanker


    67. Foo Fighters – “Rope” (2011)

    Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

    In his Grammy acceptance speech for Wasting Light single “Walk”, Dave Grohl reminded us that “the human element of making music is what’s most important.” To that end, Foo Fighters rejected the push for digital precision and returned to the basics of rock and roll on “Rope”. Recording on analog equipment in Grohl’s garage, Foo Fighters and producer Butch Vig recaptured the energy and swaddling production value of the grunge era. From its layered opening guitar riffs to over-the-top drum breaks to rich vocal harmonies, “Rope” is a good, old blast of rock and roll from one of the genre’s most consistent patrons. –Christopher Thiessen

    66. Rae Sremmurd – “Black Beatles” (2016)

    Though “Black Beatles” is inextricably linked to the Mannequin Challenge, the track’s less-viral music video does a far better job of capturing what made the song such a triumph. From the walk across Abbey Road to John and Yoko’s bed-ins, brothers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee relocate The Beatles’ most iconic imagery from England to Atlanta, where they pair a slow-motion trap beat by Mike WiLL Made-It with brags and boasts (Slim Jxmmi’s “me and Paul McCartney related” takes top prize here) sure to ruffle the Boomers in your life. The result is the freshest hit from the duo behind some of the decade’s leanest party rap, one that resurrects the perks of rock stardom without any of their prior pretensions. No wonder Paul himself is a fan. –Tyler Clark

    65. The National – “Terrible Love” (2010)

    The National - High Violet

    A low, steady thrum of reality, the unshakable feelings, the “quiet company.” Then apocalyptic drums — harder and harder to ignore. After fan favorites Alligator and Boxer, whose opening statements are far less earth-shattering, The National kicked off a prolific decade with the knotty High Violet. Of course, The National became the vanguard of the 2010s’ “grown up” rock: emotional intensity in a button-up shirt. “Terrible Love” gestures toward High Violet’s heady production and meditations on sorrow and addiction. It is measured and solemn until the final minute: a crush of drums, a haunting falsetto, the piano just barely audible. –Erin O’Brien


    64. Ariana Grande – “thank u, next” (2018)

    Ariana Grande - Thank U, Next

    Think about when you first realized Beyoncé’s generational meaning was becoming way deeper than “Say My Name” or “Irreplaceable”. The mellifluous Ms. Grande didn’t stop at releasing 2018’s career peak, Sweetener; she realized she was on a roll, so why wait? Months later, she had split with Pete Davidson and regained control of her world with an amazing, off-the-cuff ditty that nipped several tabloid narratives in the bud. Her exes don’t define her, she still has love for them, and she’s moved onto self-care. And with that she achieved unprecedented parity between chart-topping success and social-media virtuosity. We’re so fucking grateful. –Dan Weiss

    63. Paramore – “Ain’t It Fun” (2013)

    Nearly a decade deep into their status as contemporary punk icons, Paramore ditched the genre label and charged full-force into pop territory with 2013’s “Ain’t It Fun”. Hayley Williams & co. were back, with a xylophone and gospel choir for good measure. “Ain’t It Fun” was a sardonic rebuke of the adulthood Paramore, and subsequently swathes of former emo kids, now emo adults masquerading in ties from 9 to 5, found themselves in. “Ain’t it fun/ Living in the real world?/ Ain’t it good/ Being all alone?” Played out within a deceptively bubble-gummy beat, “Ain’t It Fun” set the course for pop-rock’s new, diverse sound in the 2010s. –Irene Monokandilos

    62. Beyoncé – “Partition” (2013)

    The sexiest song from Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled surprise album leaves very little to the imagination. The star has always reveled in the autonomy she has over her body. From the infamous glass menagerie seen in the video for “Naughty Girl” to details of her lascivious escapades alongside hubby Jay-Z on “Drunk in Love”, Bey has made it clear that she celebrates being viewed as a sexual being. But “Partition” takes it a step further as the singer adds an avant-garde flare to sensuality. A slinky and hypnotic beat gives way to verses that combine obscenity and romantic playfulness so well that even Jay couldn’t pass up making a cameo in the single’s video — can you blame him? –Candace McDuffie


    61. The War on Drugs – “Red Eyes” (2014)

    The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

    It took until 2014’s Lost in the Dream, the third album from Pennsylvania indie rockers The War on Drugs, for frontman Adam Granduciel to fully emerge from the smoke-ring shadow of ex-member and frequent collaborator Kurt Vile. in many ways, “Red Eyes” is his coming-out party; while the influence of Vile’s trademark haze is still evident, that “whoo!” around the 1:45 mark should tell you that you’re dealing with music more insistent, more desperate, and more stirring than expected. By adding a touch of Springsteen to the slackerdom, Granduciel found his voice, and the world found a new source of troubled-times rock that leans into the jitters instead of sitting still. –Tyler Clark

    60. Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built” (2012)

    Japandroids - Celebration Rock

    Garage rock was the savior of guitar music for much of the early half of the decade, and Japandroids were the flag-bearers. “The House that Heaven Built” is everything you want in a sweaty rock song: an epic illustration of love and glory so furious in delivery that the scratchy bellows seem to come from your own throat. It’s perfectly constructed to rouse hope in the hopeless, an electrifying example of how powerful two musicians can be when they go for broke together. When you can feel the joyous moshing just listening through your headphones, you know you have a true rock anthem. –Ben Kaye

    59. Miley Cyrus – “Wrecking Ball” (2013)

    You know the shot: It’s a naked Miley Cyrus, swinging from a monstrous steel and chainlink ball. Although the pop sensation had been at the forefront of pop culture since before she turned 14, there was never quite as much public upheaval than after the accompanying video to said scene. Of course, it closely followed her infamous VMAs performance, but “Wrecking Ball” also struck a chord for a much more genuine reason: The song is unadulteratedly intimate, shatteringly beautiful, and shockingly painful. The song lives on Bangerz, a highly controversial record that is beloved by many and traitorous to others, but “Wrecking Ball” is a friendly reminder: Like millions of others have during her decade plus of stardom, you can question her choices, her drug use, her lovers, etc. But you can never question her unequivocal musical ability. –Lucy Shanker

    58. M.I.A. – “Bad Girls” (2013)

    “Life fast, die young, bad girls do it well.” A chant for the ages. M.I.A. didn’t have to go this hard on “Bad Girls,” but she did it for the millions of bad girls all across the globe who exude a rebellious, progressive and iconoclast spirit — who in their towns and neighborhoods and worlds make their own picture of what life should look like. “When I get to where I’m going, gonna have you trembling,” M.I.A. spits over a hypnotic beat. “Bad Girls” is all ferocious, invigorating physicality, perfectly captured in the song’s music video (one of the best of the decade, no question), which features a crew of badass women driving hard through the Moroccan desert. –Kayleigh Hughes


    57. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” (2015)

    The King of Pop cast a long shadow over the 2010s. Even as damning revelations about him continued coming to light, there were still countless pop artists angling to channel that Thriller magic into their songs. Leave it to the reigning champion of performatively sketchy R&B to do Jacko better on tape than anyone else. Leveling up from his mixtape days as a faceless and sinister Lothario, The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye hopped on a blockbuster Max Martin/Payami production with his inner MJ dial cranked to 11. Singing over a bowel-shaking bassline, Tesfaye makes numbness sound good — Off the Wall good. –Ashley Naftule

    56. The 1975 – “Love It if We Made It” (2018)

    the 1975 a brief inquiry into online relationships album cover artwork

    When the decade began, the members of The 1975 had just escaped teenagehood, and for the first part of the 2010s, their songs reflected the experiences of young men freshly in their 20s. However, as they’ve aged, so has the subject matter of their songs. The culmination of their growth as a band peaks on “Love It If We Made It”, a track detailing the failings, both social and political, of the modern world. Vocalist Matty Healy knows the world may be bleak around us, but wouldn’t it be great if we made it? That’s the hope Healy clings to and you can’t help but believe in him. –Jennifer Irving

    55. Against Me! – “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” (2014)

    Against Me - transgender-dysphoria-blues

    If there’s one thing bullies hate above all else, it’s to get a taste of their own medicine. It’s what makes the title track to anarcho-punks Against Me!’s sixth album so bracing: It’s the sound of somebody else’s “fuck you” getting rubbed back in their face. Her voice full of pain and righteous anger, Laura Jane Grace speaks up for every transwomen who’s ever wanted to tell a TERF to go die in a fire. This is no-bullshit anthemic rock at its best: The kind of song where the riffs and the words land as breath stealing gut punches. –Ashley Naftule


    54. SBTRKT – “Wildfire” (2011)

    The 2011 banger “Wildfire”, produced by British DJ-producer SBTRKT and featuring Little Dragon’s leading lady, Yukimi Nagano, is a timeless match made in heaven. From the body-roll-inducing beat to the opening lyric, “I could bet all of the riches that I ever had,” you’re pulled into the tune’s funky world from the outset. As opposed to slapping a vocal over swirling melodies and boisterous beats, SBTRKT seamlessly fuses his clean production with that of Nagano’s harmonious vocals. The gritty bassline and punchy synths of “Wildfire” serve as the highlight of SBTRKT’s eponymous debut album showcasing the art of collab between the electronic and pop worlds in an inimitable way. –Gabrielle Pharms

    53. The Strokes – “Under Cover of Darkness” (2011)

    It had been five long years since their last full-length when The Strokes positioned themselves back on the scene with “Under Cover of Darkness”, the lead single of their fourth studio album, Angles. It gave fans the familiar allure of their glittering guitar and the stumbling lyrical irony from frontman Julian Casablancas, but more than just a return to their sound, it was a confident reintroduction and call to arms from a band who’d been known for where they’re from, ridiculed for being style over substance, and critiqued for their best songs being behind them. When Casablancas sings, “Get dressed, jump out of bed into a vest/ Are you OK?/ I’ve been all around this town /Everybody’s been singing the same song for 10 years,” he means it. –Erica Campbell

    52. Disclosure ft. Sam Smith “Latch” (2013)

    Disclosure and Sam Smith go together like peas and carrots or Michael and Quincy. Wheres the English singer often indulges in titanic balladry by his lonesome, producers Howard and Guy Lawrence know how to get him outta the house. “Latch” was the first example of this, a cruising, kaleidoscopic pop single that still wears the sharpest suit at the club. Like anything Smith puts a pen to, it’s affecting as ever — just listen to how he strips it down on tour — but it’s also sexy in its energy. It’s all in that chorus, the way Smith roars to life, sounding carnivorous even. The three would replicate this success a few years later with “Omen”, proving this was hardly lightning in a bottle. –Michael Roffman


    51. Frank Ocean – “Thinkin Bout You” (2012)

    Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

    In an open Tumblr letter three days before the release of Channel Orange, Frank Ocean detailed the hopelessness and unmatched power of falling in love for the first time. The letter — in which he describes his summer with a man when he was 19 — proved to be the experience that inspired most of his debut album. “Thinkin Bout You” encapsulates everything about Frank’s first love: heartache, longing, and the lack of reciprocity. But more than anything, the song is a testament to the strength in being open. A large part of Ocean’s impact on the past decade has been creating a more inclusive space in hip-hop where young queer artists can express themselves openly, and “Thinkin Bout You” was just the beginning. –Jennifer Irving

    50. Lady Gaga – “The Edge of Glory” (2011)

    The current bleakness of the world has pitched pop into an ever-flatter stasis, but back in 2011, it felt invigorating to embrace a balls-to-the-wall zeal for life, and no song captures it with greater gusto than “Edge of Glory”. Lady Gaga’s penchant for unyielding hyperbole has occasionally overshadowed her knack for writing killer pop songs, but “Edge of Glory” eases up on the melodrama without ever sacrificing its own vigor. A sax solo would seem overwrought on any other pop song, but Gaga’s sheer embrace of cheese lends itself to the anthemic earnestness of the moment, and E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons gives the track a glorious freewheeling boost. Gaga is ready to live and die in this moment, so long as it means living and dying fully and freely with you. Were things ever so simple? –Ali Szubiak

    49. Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin” (2015)

    I’m not saying I need the chaos and bad news of the day sugarcoated or told to me with a smile … but it doesn’t always hurt either. Throw in a dusty beat that feels like it could stretch out forever, and you have Kurt Vile’s “Pretty Pimpin”, a song that understands perfectly well that some days are so fucked up or exhausting or confusing that you’re liable not to recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror. And while that may not be a positive thing, it’s where we are. To think back upon the 2010s, especially since the 2016 election push started, is to remember a lot of mornings where you didn’t recognize the man, the people, or the country right in front of your eyes. Hell, some mornings it’s been more than I can muster to try and sort it all out. But that stranger’s clothes? Pretty pimpin, I must say. –Matt Melis

    48. James Blake – “The Wilhelm Scream” (2011)

    While EDM began infiltrating the mainstream and dubstep became fair game for SNL shorts, James Blake quietly introduced himself as a musician eager to reel that sound in. But he didn’t just test the waters with “The Wilhelm Scream” so much as he calmed it. Unlike that famous, gaudy movie-staple yelp (and the electronic movement’s equivalent: the unilateral and inescapable presence of bass drops), Blake’s world was singular and freeform, like jazz. “The Wilhelm Scream” sounds unhurried and observant. The synth slowly warps into a thump, building just softly enough to make its later gargantuan peak come as a surprise. It unfolds like a silent scream — one that raises goosebumps for all the right reasons. –Nina Corcoran


    47. Bon Iver – “Holocene” (2011)

    Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver


    Holocene is both a bar in Portland, Oregon, but also an “epoch,” or a pivotal time in a person’s life, said Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. For Vernon, the song reckons with a fresh breakup that is both “part and apart” of him. Yet, with one looping guitar lick boiling below crashing drums and subtle horns, Vernon realizes he is “not magnificent,” and that on a grander scale, these momentary pains are simply a blip, or “epoch,” in the cyclical rhythm of life. Followed by this epiphany is a literal clarity — the ability to “see for miles.” With a name that translates to “good winter,” Bon Iver’s delicate falsetto ushers you into a kingdom of warmth in a typically frigid world, subsequently sheltering you from the storm. –Sam Small

    46. Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part of Me” (2014)

    cloud nothings here and nowhere

    Every singer-songwriter has an anthem in them. “I’m Not Part of Me” is something Dylan Baldi had been working up to for years. The closing track off of 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else finds the Cleveland rocker chewing on the universal. Hampered by heartbreak and hamstrung by the past, Baldi is hungry for a new future, trying desperately to contend with what came prior. Who isn’t? In an age of constant reminders and living records, the past has never felt more exhausting, following our every footstep with every haunting move. So, when we hear Baldi snarl, “I’m not, I’m not you/ You’re a part of me, you’re a part of me,” it’s easy to relate: We all want that kind of elation for ourselves. –Michael Roffman

    45. Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs” (2010)


    The third album by Arcade Fire was a breakthrough commercially and exposure-wise for the band, and its title track encompasses what 2010’s The Suburbs had in store for us. It’s “neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs — it’s a letter from the suburbs,” describe Win and Will Butler as they explore their childhood in surban Texas. Like their other work, the record is concerned with growing up and shines light on some of the darkness and hidden fears in a seemingly idyllic childhood and introduces some of the album’s themes, including war, youth, and loss of innocence. The song is about growing up in the suburbs and about becoming an adult in the suburbs — a methodical wasteland of barren strip malls, gaudy advertisement, and chain restaurants — and absorbing all the morals and aesthetic that a suburban life embodies. –Samantha Lopez


    44. Kanye West and Jay-Z – “Niggas in Paris” (2011)

    Kanye West and Jay-Z - Watch theThrone

    Watch The Throne’s most infamous track crystallizes the kind of opulence most aspire to but few experience. The entire album is an ode to the cultural power and influence that Kanye West and Jay-Z wield, but “Niggas in Paris” reveals the self-awareness two of hip-hop’s most prolific auteurs possess. Two black men — one hailing from Brooklyn and the other from Chicago — have defied the odds to achieve massive success and unfathomable amounts of wealth. Rap has always glorified a good flex, but Jay and Ye aren’t just bragging about their riches: they are reminding the world that despite how it castigates blackness, they will rebelliously rise to the top. –Candace McDuffie

    43. Sharon Van Etten – “Seventeen” (2019)

    Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow

    “I see you so uncomfortably alone/ I wish I could show you how much you have grown,” sings Sharon Van Etten on the lead single off this year’s Remind Me Tomorrow, a fitting sentiment to round off the end of the decade: Who were you 10 years ago, and how does it compare to who you are now? The standout “Seventeen” exudes a harmonious mix of despair and nostalgia for the naive teenage feeling of invincibility with the “grown-up” anxiety-ridden feeling of what that younger version of you would make of you now. She taunts, “I know what you’re gonna be,” at a bone-chilling vocal level: “You’ll crumple it up just to see/ Afraid that you’ll be just like me!” Do things really get easier or better? Or are we always that same insecure, head-strong teenager — only with more developed coping mechanisms? –Samantha Lopez

    42. Rihanna – “Work” (2016)

    Rihanna - Anti-

    Rihanna’s eighth studio album, Anti, consists of non-stop anthems with themes that range from unapologetic and confident with an air of irreverence (depending on what side of the lyrics pertain to you) to that of introspection. At the forefront of such a gem is the distinctive dancehall single, “Work”, featuring rapper/crooner Drake. You can never accuse the Barbadian queen of being lackadaisical when it comes to the execution of a proper bop with “Work” being no exception. It’s one of those catchy, rhythmic smashes that will stay active on radio rotation and our own playlists for decades to come. –Gabrielle Pharms


    41. Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me” (2016)


    There is arguably no better sound than a woman, confident in herself and what she wants, directly asking for what she wants, and that sentiment is embodied in absolute perfection on the track “Shut Up Kiss Me” from Angel Olsen’s fourth album, MY WOMAN. It opens with a refusal to stand down as Olsen sings over even strumming, “I ain’t hanging up this time / I ain’t giving up tonight” and climaxes with Olsen’s voice breaking cathartically into the lyrics, “It’s all over, baby, but I’m still yours / I’m still yours”. Built atop the chorus’ consistent demand to “shut up kiss me hold me tight”, Olsen’s directive is a love song for the end of the world, for those acutely aware of time, for those with no moments to waste reading between the lines. –-Erica Campbell

    40. Kendrick Lamar (with SZA) – “All the Stars” (2018)

    Black Panther The Album

    It seems obvious that this song as a whole pales in comparison to SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s solo works, both of which are revolutionary in their own right. But “All the Stars” is more than just a collaboration between two mega-stars: It’s the title track of off Black Panther, a movie whose cultural significance is arguably unmatched. Yes, it is a superhero movie, but it strays from the traditional vapidness usually inherent to its contemporaries. Instead, Black Panther delves deeper, exploring what it means to be black in both America and Africa. Although “All the Stars” only played during the movie’s credits, it simultaneously permeated radio stations and playlists everywhere, asserting its rightful dominance. –Lucy Shanker

    39. Gorillaz ft. Mos Def and Bobby Womack – “Stylo” (2010)

    Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

    “Stylo” was a statement. When Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett resurrected the Gorillaz in 2010, the song was their opening salvo, a way to say, “We’re back … and we’re bigger than ever.” Not hyperbole. Plastic Beach remains the group’s starriest affair — even after the guest-heavy Humanz — and it couldn’t have started at a better place. Bruce Willis starred in the fucking video for Christ’s sake, but really, he was on borrowed swagger. After all, the track speaks for itself: Bobby Womack’s rafter-reaching vocals, Mos Def sounding cooler than ever, Albarn’s dreamy falsetto. It’s a crystallization of what the Gorillaz is about, which has always been an anomaly — an undefined amalgamation. –Michael Roffman

    38. Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off” (2014)


    Where were you when you first heard Taylor Swift’s wannabe-snarky spoken rap in “Shake It Off”? It’s hard to forget that moment, the sound of a pop star embracing her defiantly transformative pivot and doing so with a wink. Like a perfectly produced cross of Avril Lavigne and your high school’s popular cheerleader chant, “Shake It Off” put all its cards on going big and never once had to go home, especially according to the radio stations still playing it. Upon release, it was the sound of Swift shedding her country sweetheart foundation. In hindsight, it was the moment she embraced her pop star status and her right to become whatever music star she wanted to be. –Nina Corcoran


    37. Lucy Dacus – “Night Shift” (2018)


    In an era that will be fondly remembered for its rise in female songwriters, Lucy Dacus stands firmly as one of the most captivating artists to arrive during the 2010s. On “Night Shift”, her tremendous talent for atypical compositions of dazzling quiet-loud dynamics is on full display. Here, she uses it to highlight the dichotomy of emotions stirring in an anguished but resolute heart, at once dejected and defiant. An impassioned declaration of self-worth delivered with Dacus’ graceful honesty, it’s a fitting theme for a culture more concerned than ever with addressing toxic habits. –Ben Kaye

    36. Lana Del Rey – “Video Games” (2012)


    Lana Del Rey once described her sound as “Hollywood Sadcore”, and with her debut single, “Video Games”, she gave that definition its perfect manifestation. The song drips in on church bells and harp strings, a backdrop for Del Rey’s echoing lyrics of what could be a silver screen love story from a bygone era, except this plot has friends falling out of bars, games of pool, wild darts, and where a Marlon Brando-esque character would typically fill the lead role, stands a boy with a propensity towards beer and video games. It’s the daily minutia of a modern relationship shown through a cinematic filter, but without being contrived. When Del Rey sings, “They say that the world was built for two/ Only worth living if somebody is loving you,” it’s easy to be convinced that’s true. –Erica Campbell

    35. HAIM – “Falling” (2013)

    HAIM - Days Are Gone

    Depending on the landing, one can find beauty in failure. “You live, you learn,” as Alanis Morissette once sang back in the ’90s, and that lesson is hardly lost on the HAIM sisters. With “Falling”, the three California daughters find substance in survival, while also tossing in a new motto: “Never look back, never give up.” It’s timeless stuff, sure, and they back those words up with an empowering, if not decadent, tapestry of influences. There’s Miami Sound Machine in there. Phil Collins. Fleetwood Mac. Even Michael Jackson gets some love. It’s emblematic of the outfit’s knack to buck any genre label, but also a poetic parallel to the song’s theme of forging ahead with what you’ve learned. –Michael Roffman


    34. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen” (2015)


    Tame Impala have quietly been setting a tone over the past decade for the trajectory of “rock” music. After 2012’s Lonerism was released to critical acclaim and received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album, Kevin Parker and band had a lot to live up to. “Let It Happen”, the first taste off their following album, Currents, finds them recombining their love of electronics and ’70s guitar grooves to remarkable new levels. The single is the musical embodiment of ease and relaxation, coupled with gorgeously produced bass nods and tight keyboards. During the opening verse, the music begins to fade as Parker effortlessly whimpers, “Just let it happen, let it happen,” and when the chorus picks up, he’s aided by gorgeously honest backing vocals and translucent synths, which add a layer of depth to already expanding horizons. –Samantha Lopez

    33. Kamasi Washington – “Fists of Fury” (2018)

    Kamasi Washington, photo by B+ & Mike Park

    There’s a point, starting around the four-minute mark of “Fists of Fury”, where you’d swear that Kamasi Washington was trying to play the polish clean off his saxophone. This outburst of extended rawness comes in the middle of the album opener, the theme from the 1974 Bruce Lee B-movie of the same name reworked by Washington into an expansive statement of black resilience and his own artistic omnivorousness. Many of Washington’s best songs insist on activity, but “Fists of Fury” requires action — as vocalists Dwight Trimble and Patrice Quinn exhort listeners to harness their powers and reclaim what’s theirs, you’ll find yourself nodding to the rhythm of agreement. –Tyler Clark

    32. Jamie xx ft. Young Thug and Popcaan – “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” (2015)

    The xx - Jamie xx - solo new album

    Jamie xx — the DJ behind the xx’s minimal R&B-inspired production — may have been behind the scenes on their first albums, but his 2015 solo release, In Colour, brought him to the forefront of the electronic music scene. His eclectic samples and widespread influences hit a high point on “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”, a track featuring rapper Young Thug delivering ebullient one-liners and ad-libs from dancehall singer Popcaan laid over samples of The Persuasions. “Good Times” not only showcases the effortlessness with which Jamie xx crafts rave tunes for a diverse audience, but exemplifies the ever-present melting of genres over the past decade. –Jennifer Irving


    31. Solange – “Cranes in the Sky” (2016)

    SoLange - A Seat at the TabLe

    When the going gets tough, sometimes the only option seems to try to escape. In “Cranes in the Sky,” Solange does everything possible: drinking, dancing, writing, sleeping, yet these things are only temporarily distracting, and the “cranes” still linger. Whether it be a symbol for a “mental clouding” of pain in her own life, the borderline gentrification found in the city of Miami, or for an increasingly polarized society, the singer is clearly overwhelmed. With overlapping harmonies she practically sighs, wishing it could all go “away.” But like the song’s album, A Seat at the Table, “Cranes in the Sky” details how these tensions and this unfair period of inequality is unbearably hard to ignore, no matter how hard you try. –Samantha Small

    30. Portugal. The Man – “Feel It Still” (2017)

    portugal the man woodstock

    It’s rare that a band breaks into the mainstream eight albums in, but with the mass appeal of the contagious “Feel It Still”, Portugal. The Man did just that. At first glance, it’s a fun pop jaunt, but the band infused inspiration from political movements, the early hip-hop movement, and being a “rebel just for kicks” into the sound and lyrics of the track. Back in 2017, I asked lead singer and guitarist John Gourley about the crossover success of “Feel It Still” and if there was a foreseeable recipe when conducting such a hit. He responded, “It’s not about the beat. It’s about the lyrics, end of story. Tell your story, be honest, be true. Don’t give me another song that just says exactly what you think you’re supposed to say. There’s no time for it. There’s no point.” –Erica Campbell

    29. Chance the Rapper – “No Problem” (2016)

    Chance the Rapper 3

    It was an epidemic: For a long stretch of 2016 (and frankly most of 2017 and 2018), the number three was inescapable. From hats to bus stops, any and all public surfaces donned “3,” a symbol of the desperately anticipated third mixtape from Chance the Rapper. And while his hometown of Chicago was used to Chance’s invasion, those outside the city limits weren’t quite ready for the explosion that “No Problem” would spark. But after just one listen to the inescapably joyful song, which boasts all-star features from Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, it’s not surprising that Chance took the world by storm. –Lucy Shanker

    28. Childish Gambino – “Redbone” (2017)


    When Donald Glover dropped “Awaken, My Love!”, he pulled off one of the decade’s smoothest pivots — from backpack rapper to messenger-bag Prince. On an album full of compelling soul/funk throwbacks, “Redbone” stands out for its sultry, bipolar Delfonics vibes. A paranoid slow jam, Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” intertwines desire and doubt like they’re limbs tangled underneath satin sheets. Crooning ecstatically over a bed of melted-butter keys and bass, Glover sings an ode to kissing your lover’s shoulder while looking over your own. Who would have thought that the world’s most famous Wu-Tang Clan random name generator user had this in him? –Ashley Naftule


    27. Sia – “Chandelier” (2014)

    sia - 1000 forms of fear
    Sia is the queen of making sumptuous club music for people with crippling social anxiety. What do you do when you’re a party girl who can’t get out of your head? Push it down, throw ‘em back til you lose count, swing from the chandelier, keep your glass full and run from the shame that stalks you every waking moment. The thing that kills me dead about this song, though, even more than Sia’s absolutely soaring vocal performance, is the future tense. Is Sia — am I, are you– ever really going to swing from the chandelier anywhere except the imagination? Maybe one day. It’s the conviction — the desperation — that matters more than anything. –Kayleigh Hughes

    26. Lorde – “Green Light” (2017)

    Lorde - Melodrama

    After a huge breakout in 2013, Lorde kept fans eagerly awaiting four years for a follow-up. When she finally returned with “Green Light”, she appeared even larger than anyone could have anticipated. The song is an undeniable dance anthem, its immense production a signal of Jack Antonoff’s arrival as a true pop heavyweight. Yet, for all the buoyant piano and beating electronics, Lorde’s more gothic tendencies still grip the track’s core. Even as you pulse to the rhythm, melancholy lyrics like, “‘Cause honey I’ll come get my things, but I can’t let go,” clutch at your throat, heartbreak pop at its finest. –Ben Kaye

    25. Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow” (2017)

    Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy

    Before ever hearing a note of Cardi B’s music, I watched her simply receive the mic as a commentator at an MTV awards show where her tidal wave of delivery, enthusiasm, and personality captured my (and the world’s) attention better than 90% of actual 2010s VMA performances. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that this firebrand was about to unleash the best rap debut in years. “Bitch, I’m who they tryin’ to be,” went her calling card, and, as the rap game changes overnight, suddenly it was true. This was tough-talk recast as a sex worker survivalist’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. –Dan Weiss


    24. Sky Ferreira – “Everything Is Embarrassing” (2012)

    Sky Ferreira - Ghost

    Sky Ferreira’s 2012 reflection on a broken relationship is dizzyingly incisive and regretfully underacknowledged. With perfectly chosen assistance from producers Ariel Reichstadt and Blood Orange, Ferreira crafted an addictive anthem for all of us brokenhearted millennials who needed to somberly shake it out to a disco-tinged ode to failure. The greatest part of “Everything Is Embarrassing” is how it knows a collapsing relationship can become an exercise in mutually assured destruction. Ferreira captures the lost hope, the could-have-beens, the maybes: “Maybe if you let me be your lover/ Maybe if you tried, then I would not bother.” And she lands squarely on the reason it hurts so bad: “I’ve been hating everything, everything that could have been/ Could have been my anything, now everything’s embarrassing.” –Kayleigh Hughes

    23. Drake – “Hotline Bling” (2015)


    1-800-HOTLINEBLING was the go-to dial in 2015. The single (and later a surprise bonus track from Drake’s fourth album, Views) launched the rapper back into Grammy territory, snagging Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Rap Song in 2017. “Hotline Bling” also became the template for a multitude of remixes, notably Erykah Badu’s surprise mixtape, But You Caint Use My Phone, which was about — you guessed it — communication. The video for “Hotline Bling” was an instant meme, a cozy, bubble jacket-donning Drake hitting a memorable cha-cha that landed him in a Super Bowl commercial for T-Mobile. Drake’s got a reputation for himself now. –Jaelani Turner-Williams

    22. Florence + the Machine – “Shake It Out” (2011)

    Florence and the Machine - Ceremonials

    Florence Welch of Florence and The Machine has said in multiple interviews that the song “Shake it Out” is about having a hangover, esoteric meanings be damned. And yet, songs, once parlayed into the universe by their creators no longer belong to them. They belong to us, the listeners, the audience, the people who’ve sung “Shake it Off” at the top of their lungs in festival fields, in cars, in their kitchens. The startling beautiful diatribe of a soul battling for its autonomy against the devil while seeking heaven in whatever form it can find is devastatingly human, miserably relatable. We’re damned if we do. We’re damned if we don’t. Regardless of the “true” meaning, the embrace of one’s own darkness captured in the bridge by Welch’s cathartic “Looking for heaven, found the devil in me /Well, what the hell, I’m gonna let it happen to me” is seismic, whether you’re hungover or not. –Erica Campbell


    21. Kendrick Lamar – “Alright” (2015)

    kendrick lamar to pimp a butterfly vinyl release

    We aren’t alright, so we need “Alright”, the rare song that transcended art to become a tool of protest. The plea “We gon’ be alright” is a one-item list of demands from the black population to the police systemically failing them: “Let us live.” It was chanted when Sandra Bland was murdered, and things haven’t improved; rest in peace, Botham Jean. Just as “black lives matter” is interrupted by “all lives matter,” oppressors only hear “We hate po-po” and not “Want to kill us dead in the streets fo’ sho.” Sing the whole damn song until they hear every word. –Dan Weiss

    20. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away with Me” (2012)

    Carly Rae Jepsen EMOTION album

    Anything that comes in on that much saxophone has to be good. While “Call Me Maybe” will forever be Carly Rae Jepsen’s signature jam, tracks like “Run Away with Me” are what make her one of pop’s biggest sleeper hitmakers. Opting for sensual and endearing over explicit, the Canadian singer revels in the pure euphoria of romance, even if it only lasts “over the weekend.” That sort of purity may lack some of the “danger” of typical pop smashes, but its sweetness makes its catchiness even more unassailable. By the time the bridge comes in, any true romantic will want to grab Jepsen’s hand and run. –Ben Kaye

    19. Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers – “Get Lucky” (2013)

    Daft Punk - Random Access Memories Artwork

    “Get Lucky” was extraordinary. “Get Lucky” was big. “Get Lucky” was mega. “Get Lucky” was copious. “Get Lucky” was capacious. “Get Lucky” was cajunga! When Daft Punk returned in 2013, the blogosphere literally stood still. Prior to its release, the rollout was insufferable: countless announcements, torturous teases, and infinite mystery. When the French duo finally dropped the damn thing, it felt like a celebration, and the song more than matched the occasion. We were all Nile Rodgers in that shiny video — beaming with jubilation. It was a contagious feeling and one that continues to spill on to the dance floor whenever the track pops up. Disco never died, it went to outer space. Clearly. –Michael Roffman

    18. Grimes – “Realiti” (2015)

    Grimes Art Angels

    In a decade full of dejected youth plagued by the isolation that comes with touting ill-informed coping mechanisms like social media’s “sad boy” aesthetic, the Earth laughed maniacally as it delivered one of the most human songs of the 2010s by an artist whose music has become synonymous with an inevitable invasion of cyborgs. “REALiTi” sees Grimes steer her futuristic, pop-forward brand of synth song in a new, heavy direction. Mortality? Looming. Claire Bouchard? Unfazed. “I wanna peer over the edge and see in death/ If we are always the same,” she sings. The stakes are higher, sure, but damn if Grimes’ reality doesn’t sound fun. –Irene Monokandilos


    17. Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know?” (2014)

    Arctic Monkeys - AM

    The first time I heard “Do I Wanna Know?” live, Alex Turner looked out into the crowd as if to size each of us up. It felt more like the beginning of a match than the beginning of a song, and I don’t think I’d ever been so elated over the prospect of a fight. But guitar riffs, blues sonics, and daring frontman aside, at its core, “Do I Wanna Know?” is a love song. No amount of leather, bravado, or machismo can deviate from a line like “Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new,” and that’s the true treasure of the song, auditorily confident, lyrically diffident. –Erica Campbell

    16. Janelle Monáe – “Make Me Feel” (2018)

    Janelle Monáe Dirty Computer

    Throughout her career, Janelle Monáe has been living proof that you can both host the party and be the life of the party. But with “Make Me Feel”, Monáe took that to the next level by running the song by music’s eternal party guru, Prince, and getting his blessing — basically destining the song for fame as a loving funk-pop dance. “Make Me Feel” knows that the best parts of budding romance arrive not as detailed prose but rather as emotional exclamations: pent-up tongue clicks, electric yelps, and purring growls. It’s an ode to infatuation brought to life by the very energy it describes. –Nina Corcoran

    15. Car Seat Headrest – “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” (2016)


    Will Toledo’s story will be one of indie rock’s most interesting when the history books on the 2010s are written. Signing to Matador after coming up as a DIY artist with notably knotty lyrics, the Car Seat Headrest mastermind made his songwriting skills evident on “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”. It’s an improbably thoughtful examination of the internal struggle against external expectations, relating that dangerous constraint to both the captivity of orcas at SeaWorld and driving home drunk after a party. Making such a poignant point out of such disparate concepts — all tucked into such a rollicking track — takes some fascinating genius. –Ben Kaye


    14. Kanye West – “Runaway” (2010)

    Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

    Has any single piano note meant more to contemporary pop music than the one that opens “Runaway”? Kanye’s nine-minute entreaty for the person who loves him to run away as fast as they can is the saddest and most beautiful song in modern history, and it kills so many of us to see what the artist who created this masterpiece has turned himself into recently. Wallowing in hedonism and the deepest, most profound sorrow, Kanye and guest vocalist Pusha T count the ways they (or some versions of themselves) destroy the ones around them. These self-eviscerating, gutting admissions come with an infuriating resignation: if you can’t beat your demons, celebrate them, toast to them, and force away every possibility for growth and intimacy. If I had to give one song to aliens to show them what being human is like, it would be “Runaway”. –Kayleigh Hughes

    13. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)” (2014)

    future islands singles

    Yes, this song and this band took off following a particular late night performance that left David Letterman asking for “all of that you got.” But both “Seasons (Waiting on You)” and Future Islands are powerhouses in any context. Frontman Sam Herring could sing a shopping list with passion, his unparalleled intensity ripping apart the song’s woeful lines like, “You know, when people change/ They gain a peace, but they lose one too.” Muscling in with an otherworldly version of synthpop, the band miraculously find a way to match his potency, a case of perfect complements that feels exquisitely rare. –Ben Kaye

    12. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl” (2016)


    Though it wasn’t until the release of her fifth studio album, 2018’s Be the Cowboy, that the spotlight truly found Mitski, the now 29-year-old has been reinforcing her reputation as a master at handling complex narratives and crafting them into clear and dazzling pop songs for nearly a decade now.  It’s on “Your Best American Girl”, the lead single off of 2016’s Puberty 2, where Mitski’s ability to examine universal feelings and tuck them into personal narratives shines the brightest. The singer-songwriter is able to excavate her own anxieties, desires, and mistakes and reach universal conclusions through acoustic strums, twinkling dreamy pop synths, and piercing bursts of feedback. –Samantha Lopez


    11. Frank Ocean – “Pyramids” (2012)

    Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

    “Pyramids” is 9 minutes and 53 seconds of pure glory. It makes sense then that the opening sequence and underlying piano progression is reminiscent of a church choir at the climax of its performance. And while the instrumentals themselves are spiritual, it’s really Ocean’s unparalleled storytelling abilities that give “Pyramids” its crown. What starts as a tale of a fallen Queen in ancient Egypt flawlessly transforms into a telling of a prostitute in LA, a connection that seems entirely improbable but seamlessly flows together because of Ocean’s sheer genius. And while his first album had already proven his lyrical genius (See: “American Wedding”), “Pyramids”, and Channel Orange as a whole, solidified Frank’s death grip on our collective attention span. –Lucy Shanker

    10. St. Vincent – “Cruel” (2011)

    St Vincent Strange Mercy

    “How could they be casually cruel?” A great question that we still can’t answer, and probably never will. St. Vincent knows this. She knew it back in 2011, and she certainly feels it now. These are dark times, indeed, and “Cruel” gets more prescient with each passing day. Looking back, Annie Clark’s pop parable on the trials and tribulations of women is a staggering preamble to the 2010s. “You were the one waving flares in the air/ So they could see you,” she sings, “And they were the zephyr blowing past you/ Blowing fastly so they can’t see you.” Look above, look around, and perhaps look within, these zephyrs are everywhere, and their thick trails of smoke continue to pollute what little sunlight struggles to eek through. Not surprisingly, Clark has since leaned into her vitriol, the kind that comes from making such revelations as these. But this is the singer-songwriter at her most poignant, and her words aren’t just haunting, they’re crushing for all their truths. –Michael Roffman

    09. LCD Soundsystem – “Dance Yrsef Clean” (2010)

    LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening


    There’s great irony laced throughout LCD Soundsystem’s career. So much of their catalog is about band leader James Murphy wrestling with his understanding of the music field at large as well as his place within it. Yet, even as he derides that “It’s the end of an era, it’s true,” he creates unstoppable dance anthems that perpetuate LCD’s status as a beloved force in music. “Dance Yrself Clean” is an exemplar of this modus operandi. Two separate songs presented as one because doing it in parts would be “pretentious,” according to Murphy. It challenges fame, friends, and Marxist industry practices with a simple solution: Dance. With the group’s usual mastery of lengthy jams with builds that release in epic style, “Dance Yrself Clean” is inescapably danceable — a true achievement of the goals laid out in the lyrics themselves. In fact, it’s so successful that there’s an indie pop dance event named after the track. Doesn’t that just make you wanna go and throw your little hands up? –Ben Kaye

    08. Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” (2011)

    adele 21

    At the top of the 2010s, Adele sent a musical kamehaha hurtling through the cosmos to the beat of a thunderous piano and a gritty, gospel-tinged blues growl. In its merciless wake, the heartbroken found themselves empowered, the heartbreakers found themselves gutted, and Adele found herself a global superstar. The lead single off her acclaimed sophomore record, 21, “Rolling in the Deep” set music as we know it on fire. Adele would swiftly become the only artist in history to rank on rock, pop, R&B/hip-hop, dance, and Latin charts in the United States. In just 3 minutes and 48 seconds, the world laid limp at Adele’s feet in resounding emotional catharsis with little more to say than “We could have had it all.” Undeniably, “Rolling in the Deep” is the breakup song to best them all and a top track of every decade to come. –Irene Monokandilos


    07. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young” (2013)

    Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City Artwork

    This song has everything. Saabs, the Kennedys, government mistrust, golf, death, and (of course) arguably the best use of a vocal effect this decade has ever seen. Vampire Weekend’s third album, Modern Vampires of The City, barreled in with “Diane Young”, a homonym titled track that embodied the psyche of an entire generation of post-grads who were learning that unfortunately, their dreams might not pan out as they’d planned. Lead singer and guitarist Ezra Koenig shared in an interview, “We felt like the world didn’t need a song called ‘Dying Song’, so we started to get a vision of a woman named Diane Young and we just took it from there.” That desire to take sinking feelings of doom and gloom, while enlisting guitar pop-punk to make it buoyant, can be felt throughout the track. A testament to the time it was written, Koenig puts our generation’s woes succinctly when he rattles out over the crescendo, “Nobody knows what the future holds/ And it’s bad enough just getting old/ Live my life in self-defense/ You know I love the past, ’cause I hate suspense.” –Erica Campbell

    06. Kanye West – “Power” (2010)

    Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

    On the cover of the single release for “Power”, the king has been deposed; Kanye West’s decapitated head, still wearing a crown and expression of shock, lays on its side on a pedestal, a sword still jutting from its side like a perverted twist on The Sword and the Stone. “Just try,” his eyes seem to say, in spite of it all. If you want it, you’re going to have to come get it.” It’s an image that’s even more apt in 2019, now that he’s fully completed his musical heel turn, than it was in 2010, when the switch was just beginning. Almost nothing’s changed about the song itself, which remains as, well, powerful as it was then. From the building blocks of three key samples (drums from Cold Grits, martial backing vocals from Continent Number 6, chorus hook and thesis from King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”), West delivers a paranoid, braggadocio takedown of the enemies he spent the previous two years making. Old Kanye was dead, New Kanye was here, and the hip-hop world was never going to be quite the same. –Tyler Clark

    05. M83 – “Midnight City” (2011)

    m83 - hurry up, we're dreaming

    If the 2010s taught us anything, it’s that we’re all looking for some kind of hope. Obama successfully campaigned on that notion in the late aughts, and that hunger certainly carried over into the following decade, metastasizing into a spiritual slogan for an entire generation. “Midnight City” fits squarely into those needs, which is why M83‘s blockbuster single so ably whisked away millennials into its synthpop carnival in 2011. It’s cotton candy for dreamers, sweetened by electronic hooks, Twitter-ready sentiments, and a saxophone solo that doubles as a stairway to heaven. By the time Anthony Gonzalez screams, “The city is my church,” you’re checked in and praying you never have to leave. Why would you want to? Anything can happen, tonight is the night, we’re going to save ourselves, we’re going to be free — redemption is near. This is pure pop escapism at its finest, but also why the genre conquered the decade: Because when reality’s a nightmare, one can only hope to dream again. –Michael Roffman


    04. Lorde – “Royals” (2013)

    lorde pure heroine

    It’s sort of ironic that one of the best-selling pop songs of all time is the very antithesis of what the genre stands for — or at least what it used to. Instead of praising the avant-garde lifestyle of celebrities and their lavish accessories and exclusive affairs, 16-year-old Ella Yelich-O’Connor (bka Lorde) reminded the industry that for the rest of the 99 percent: “that kind of luxe just ain’t for us.” Overtaking longstanding pop stars like Katy Perry and Brittany Spears on the Billboard charts, Lorde’s slow tempo, finger snapping, and practically a capella anthem served as an exemplar for other whisper-like, restrained vocalists such as Billie Eilish, BANKS, and Halsey, making the expressive storytelling of austere, everyday life the new mainstream. In 2013, Lorde became the auteur of the contemporary “pop star.” Although no one anticipates a 16-year-old will start a revolution (see: Greta Thunberg), Lorde’s success suggests that perhaps we should. –Samantha Small

    03. Beyoncé – “Formation” (2016)

    Beyonce Lemonade

    Queen Bey stopped the world yet again in 2016 when she released the first single from her sixth studio album, Lemonade. Not only was the video for “Formation” a visual masterpiece that celebrated the richness and beauty of the black experience, but it was also one of Beyoncé’s most controversial moves to date. The singer, known for her undeniable talent and universal appeal, penned an anthem that zeroed in on her heritage, culture, and womanhood. Bey’s bold and unapologetic awakening spurred everything from criticism to protests, but an unforgettable Super Bowl performance and colossal tour that very same year made “twirling on her haters” look like light work. –Candace McDuffie

    02. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.” (2017)


    The ferocity with which Kendrick Lamar delivers his bars on “DNA.” underscores the emcee’s predisposition for lyrical drama. The song, much like the grand poetic gesture that is DAMN., examines and celebrates his black heritage and culture. The care and precision that he places on his verses are particularly accentuated on “DNA.”, his lines combining social urgency with an unrelenting energy that only K. Dot could seamlessly execute. His ability to contort and stretch words amongst the resonant tension that saturates the track is also impressive and makes it clear that Kendrick is an ambitious wordsmith who is entirely in a league of his own. –Candace McDuffie

    01. Robyn – “Dancing on My Own” (2010)

    Robyn - Body Talk

    Pop culture will never fail you: What you love will always be there, ready to comfort you. While some may find that problematic, or even argue against it, the truth is in our own predilections. Because when there’s no shoulder to lean on, we all have our personal crutches, and all too often that’s music. Robyn cuts right to the core of that sentiment on “Dancing on My Own”. Sure, the song dances around themes of heartbreak and independence, but it’s also about, well, dancing. More to the point, it’s about the ways we cope. For her, in that moment, it’s coping through the music of the moment, and Christ is that an affecting notion — especially for the 2010s. For so many of us, we live our day-to-day by what we escape into, be it music, movies, books, whatever strikes your fancy, and we’re living in an era now where that content is infinite. All too often, though, we fail to appreciate that, mostly because it’s so routine. “Dancing on My Own” celebrates that medium by becoming the very thing it’s about, and it’s a shoulder we’ll lean on for decades to come. –Michael Roffman



    Below you can listen to the full list of songs via Spotify.