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CoS Year-End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

on December 13, 2010, 9:00am
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30. Local Natives – “Sun Hands”

local natives sun hands CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

“Sun Hands” exemplifies everything that was wonderful about Local Natives‘ debut. Snappy at times and downright rocking at others, every band member shines through. Dissonant tones and plucks chug along under shimmering layers of vocals, giving you the perfect embodiment of the breed of indie rock these L.A. boys serve up. What’s more, the lyrics are just as strong as the music. Poetic without neglecting crowd-pleasing chants, the words are imbued with creativity both in design and implication. Is it about a quest for some ideal, natural beauty, or about watching a perfect woman walk away, wondering if you’ll ever hold her again? Either way, it’s as stunning as it is chill, chill as it is rocking. -Ben Kaye

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29. Deerhunter – “Desire Lines”

deerhunter desire lines CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

On the whole, Halcyon Digest is a blissfully atmospheric re-examination of drugged out 60’s psychedelic-rock that breezes between ethereal dream-pop textures and hard-hitting rock. But perhaps it is guitarist Lockett Pundt’s “Desire Lines” that best encapsulates the record’s greatest strengths. Structurally exhilarating, it rides in slowly on spacious, pounding drums before turning into a steadily shuffling rocker. Steeped in lyrical nostalgia, Pundt’s pseudo-lackadaisical delivery solidifies over the rest of the song’s ghostly haze, bellowing about the merits of youth-bound naiveté. Regular frontman Bradford Cox wordlessly wails away behind a veil of reverb alongside bright, echoed fingerpicking and snare-heavy hallway drums. Then the song wanders into a dreamy shoegaze soundscape of glowing whirs and bright guitar tones before ultimately fading out. -Drew Litowitz

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28. Hot Chip – “I Feel Better”

i feel better CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

Hot Chip has never been a one-trick pony. Ever. Looking at their back catalog, they touch down just about everywhere: the guitar-pop of “One Pure Thought”, the balladry of “Made In The Dark”, and the club-heaviness of “And I Was A Boy From School”, to name a few. Hot Chip can roughly be defined as electropop, but to box them in like that is criminal. The musical capabilities of the English five-piece are far-reaching and flirting with being limitless. So, it should come as no surprise that “I Feel Better” was dissimilar to every Hot Chip song that came before it. Filled to the brim with frantic strings, a whole lot of Auto-Tune, and Alexis Taylor’s signature tenor, this was the most memorable track from One Life Stand. Oh, and staying true to form, it was accompanied by a very innovative/hilarious video. -Winston Robbins

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27. Jónsi – “Grow till Tall”

Jónsi – Grow till Tall CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

Go, Jónsi‘s debut solo album, is cinematic and epic in the most fanciful sense, breaking away from the oft-somber ruminations of his main gig, Sigur Ros. “Grow till Tall”, the album’s penultimate track, is an exception to that rule of immediacy. It would have fit perfectly on either of Sigur Ros’ last two releases, working its way around a precious, instantly recognizable Jónsi vocal melody, swirling in a light bath of electronic twinkles and reverb. It serves as a much-needed comedown on Go, balancing the sweetest of the album’s many sugar highs, proving that it’s nice to branch out and all, but you shouldn’t forget about your bread and butter. -Ryan Reed

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26. Against Me! – “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”

teenage anti CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

Is it punk? Is it an example of Against Me! watering down their sound for the mainstream? Let’s be honest: Who cares? “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” will get your pulse racing with its simple but aggressive guitar riff. The moment everyone will remember most of all is the chorus that slams into your body and rattles your ribcage. “Do you remember when you were young/And you wanted to set the world on fire?” Tom Gabel screams out, making you want to return to days of teenage rebellion where it’s you against the world, the days when a song could lead to a revolution. -Joe Marvilli

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25. Sufjan Stevens – “All Delighted People”

all delighted people CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

“All delighted people, raise their hands,” the enigmatic Sufjan Stevens cheers over a massive heap of instrumentation. Lushly honking horns, screeching electronic swells, melancholic strings, and, of course, a gorgeous chorus of female voices all build together under Stevens’ direction. The Suf’s delicate vocals are more precise than ever, more full-bodied and wavering. Stevens returns with a sprawling epic that works as a simultaneous ode to “The Sounds of Silence” and a contemplation of human nature’s dark desire for external validation. At nearly 12 minutes, it breezes in atop deeply warm and ominous choral vocals, crashes with heavy guitar and regal brass, burns into chaos, smooths out again, and gets lost in a sea of entangled strings. It’s the sort of song you can’t really criticize for being anything but over-ambitious. This guy has an intense sonic vision and seemingly effortlessly brings it into fruition without an ounce of fear. All delighted people, raise your hands. -Drew Litowitz

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24. Joanna Newsom – “Baby Birch”

Joanna Newsom – “Baby Birch” CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

Of all the depth on Have One On Me, Joanna Newsom remains at her best through her labyrinthine compositions that can infinitely unfold into a detailed and surrealist canvas full of mysterious parables, wounded love, and of course, her impeccable harp-work. Fragility is an emotion curiously absent from many artists’ work these days, but Newsom traffics in it with powerful results on “Baby Birch”. The song marries the simplistic structure of her earlier work to the dense and prolific lyricism of her Ys material and adds to both a masterful, instrumental arrangement full of delicate crescendos and diminuendos. In the final verse – the climax – her vocal melody finally falls in sync with the harp’s off-beat time-keeping in a whirl of lyrical gymnastics that could easily serve Newsom’s bid as the foremost singer-songwriter of this generation. –Jeremy Larson

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23. Arcade Fire – “We Used to Wait”

arcade fire the suburbs CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

After decades of apprehension, the “future” has arrived. It’s 2010. It’s not what we expected, but it’s here, and the world has dramatically changed. With “We Used to Wait”, Arcade Fire channels the loss of the world as we understood it, reminding us of the human tradition of waiting for letters and the romance and tragedy in that act. It’s a simple but profound observation that perfectly characterizes this transitory space we now exist in – right as humanity steps into a new age. It’s 2010, and many of us will keep on marching into the world of tomorrow, but some of us can’t bear to forget the analogue age. “We Used to Wait” is a fitting elegy for that simpler time and a beautiful way to remember the year that we looked out across the valley to see one day end and another begin. -Cap Blackard

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22. LCD Soundsystem – “Home”

lcdthisishappening CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

It’s nearly 2011, but looking back, James Murphy and his band – you know, LCD Soundsystem - just finished what could arguably be their career peak. With great shows and a fantastic record, the group entertained millions with an equally impressive arsenal of new songs, one of them being the closer to this year’s remarkable, This Is Happening. More recently, “Home” has become a live staple, and it’s easy to see why. With one of the most pleasant and upbeat hooks, accompanied by unique choices in percussion, Murphy’s singing and instrumentation tickle the heart and the mind with a dazzling gallery of images, all stemming from some whiskey-embraced nostalgia to a newfound respect for commonality. Chilling, but in the best way possible.  -Ted Maider

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21. Janelle Monae – “Tightrope”

tightrope CoS Year End Report: The Top 50 Songs of 2010

For a genre that largely prides itself on recreating the traditions of the past, Janelle Monáe goes against that truth, reinventing R&B to fit her own unique thematic vision. While “Tightrope” remains nestled in the middle of The ArchAndroid’s futuristic statement, the song showcases Monáe’s versatility as she busts out this irresistible number. While this budding star shines at the front and center of this funky five-minute strut, it’s her supporting cast that takes her to the top. Between arguably the best bass line of year and an equally dynamic drumbeat, Monáe’s rhythm section provides her with the tightrope that she balances upon. Add in a verse by Sir Lucious Left Foot (Big Boi) himself and some classy brass, and “Tightrope” is a no-brainer. -Max Blau

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