We live for comfort. Sometimes, that means taking a backseat and watching the world transform before our eyes. At other times, we learn from what we see and transform into something jarring and new. The acts on this countdown are here for a reason: They’ve honed the ability to expand, alter, and create. One of pop’s biggest stars has warped her voice into a boundless black hole. An R&B artist fought with her stunning falsetto against an intimidating electronic force, and the winner is too difficult to determine. A punk outfit attempts to break into nastier ground and makes sharper, more successful turns than expected. As you can tell, these moves have pumped us up, so take a risk and dive in yourself.
10. BadBadNotGood – “Can’t Leave the Night”
“Jazz slash hip-hop” fits Toronto trio BadBadNotGood snug as anything, but “Can’t Leave the Night” isn’t really either of those things. Like their fellow Torontonians Drake and 40, BBNG have found an aesthetic by fusing genres into a cold, moody whole, and “Can’t Leave” is a half-full Hefty bag of sharp snare strikes and palm-muted single-string runs. Only around 3:20 does the stew take the definite form of a rap instrumental. It’s a payoff moment, but the shadowy and sneakily melodic road there is worth the trip itself. BBNG’s third album, III, is due May 6th via Innovative Leisure. –Michael Madden