Albums are collections of songs all tied together to make one cohesive piece of art. However, some artists are content to drop singles — the song itself is the art.
Other albums just blow hardcore. But there can be one good song hidden in the muck somewhere. A banger amidst a pile of flaming trash.
Here are some of my favorite songs of the 2010s. Some of them are singles, and some of them I had to wade through hours of auditory garbage to discover.
“Narcissist” by No Rome (feat. the 1975)
“Narcissist” is serotonin in song form. The synth melodies are digital sunlight. The sample of “Solo” by Jay Park is perfectly placed beneath the 1975’s Matt Healy’s chorus. “Narcissist” is the ultimate pop jam.
“Pleaser” by Wallows
On God, we gotta free Dylan Minnette from "13 Reasons Why" contract. Minnette — known for playing Clay Jensen on Netflix’s teen melodrama — should be making music full time, and “Pleaser” is all the proof you need. Minnette and other vocalist and guitarist Braeden Lemasters trade verses until a bombastic bridge shoots you into a harmonized outro of guitars and pounding percussion.
“gb/ol h/nf” by Oso Oso
Oso Oso has put out so many great songs since its 2015 debut record, but “gb/ol h/nf,” which stands for “goodbye old love, hello new friend,” is its strongest song to date. The band's only permanent member Jade Lilitri’s modus operandi is on full display: the bright guitars, the soft interlude and the constantly building bridge threatening to go stratospheric. The opening riff, math-rock influence and breezy guitar solo as the outro cement Lilitri as a guitar god.
“Shoota” by Playboi Carti (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)
“Shoota” is so good. There’s something so satisfying about hearing Carti rap “Woke up with my toolie, what it do?” over mumbled ad-libs. The song is bizarre in the best way. It’s Carti’s song on his album, but Uzi does most of the work. Uzi opens with a strong verse while Carti fills in the space rapping about how much he loves his gun. It’s an odd combination, but it works so well.
“Help” by the Front Bottoms
“Help” is a standout from the Front Bottoms’ 2015 pivot “Back on Top.” The Front Bottoms used to make acoustic, folky-pop characterized by limited production and vocalist Brian Sella’s disconnected, strange voice. “Back On Top” was the first time the band went electric, and while the album is its least inspired work, “Help” continues to sound brand new. Sella’s lyrics are usually at their best when they’re metaphoric and shrouded in mystery. However, “I don’t know anything/I don’t know what I’m gonna do about anything” are his most universal and his best to date.
“Judy French” by White Reaper
“Judy French” is a modern day take on classic rock. The song features brash guitar riffs, understated percussion and dramatic, exaggerated vocal delivery. It’s the kind of song that could be on a modern “Guitar Hero” setlist. The keyboard solo in the outro is a strong artistic choice, highlighting the fact that White Reaper is for the kids while crafting classic rock cuts designed to get old heads dancing.
“Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams” by Camp Cope
I only ever clicked on “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams” because its edgy, referential title. However, the song is so much more than its title. “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams” touches on sexism, gun violence and how society demeans women. It’s a powerful track anchored by frontwoman Georgia Maq’s powerful voice.
“Jesus is the One (I Got Depression)” by Zack Fox and Kenny Beats
I would die for this song. Zack Fox’s freestyling prowess paired with Kenny Beats’ masterful production created the most ridiculous song on the entire planet. This song shouldn’t be a song at all, and that’s why I love it so much. It’s absolute madness, and hearing Zack Fox rap “If you ain’t a Christian I’m gonna stab you in the face” still hits months later.
“No God in New Jersey” by Marietta
Marietta’s sophomore, and final album, “As It Were,” is an emo masterpiece. “No God in New Jersey” is a perfect emo song. The guitar riffs are perfectly constructed and the gang vocals threaten to blow any speaker they pour through. The breakdowns are absolutely ridiculous. The outro riff is legendary, something that only the boys in Marietta could create.
The 2010s offered up some great stuff. Let’s hope the 2020s are just as good.
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