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Year-End List 2010: 25 Songs

When we look back on 2010 a few years from now, we might remember it as the year that albums didn't matter as much as songs. Yes, Susan Boyle sold her second album quite impressively even without any help from the radio. Yes, Taylor Swift sold over a million copies of  Speak Now in a single week. Yes, Eminem released the biggest selling album of the year with Recovery, which has sold 5M to date worldwide. But really, once you get past those big stories, most of the acts making waves in music this year did it with songs, not albums. Increasingly, our iPods are stuck in "shuffle" mode - and personally, I like it that way. Ha!

With that in mind - and for two years in a row - I decided to take a look back at 2010 and pick the 25 songs that I think represented the best music the year had to offer, from the top anthems I personally couldn't escape to the hidden gems I hope you'll seek out. Seriously.

Now, I'm absolutely sure I left out a few of your favorites. If I did, tell me about it in the comments section. Enjoy!

25. F*ck You
Cee-Lo Green

This song, to me, is a total earworm. I mean, hitting your head in an attempt to remove it doesn't work. Believe me, I've tried. Yes, the track has that old school Motown feel to it with his vocals and the backing track, but somehow this works as a good modern ditty.

24. King Of Anything
Sara Bareilles

From the lyrics to her smooth warm voice to that charming piano instrumentation, seriously, how can you not love this track? No, it's not groundbreaking by any means but the production on this debut single off her sophomore album is much tighter and, arguably, inventive.

23. Bad Romance
Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is many things but not a one hit wonder. Clearly, this track has just as much bravura as her smash hits Just Dance, Poker Face and Love Game. It's easily engaging and the hook is fabulous. Of course, the lyrics is both serially troubling and wonderful. Ha!

22. Cooler Than Me
Mike Posner

What I really like about Mike Posner is his undeniably unique and raspy voice that sounds nothing like any of the current male pop stars. Then, add the solid production of the song and the lyrics and attitude that's interesting enough to capture a first-time listener's attention. Viola! You've got one amazing tune right there.

21. Baby
Justin Bieber

Kill me now, but I don't like Justin Bieber! There! I said it. That being said, this heavy-synth, if a bit formulaic pop beats, is one of my guilty pleasures this year. It sounds pretty similar to his previous songs but there's obviously a confident, mature, and effortless sound here that goes well beyond some of his earlier materials.

20. Pyramid
Charice (featuring Iyaz)

Infectious. Who knew she's capable of releasing something modern and, yes, outside her usual big belting ballads? True, her mandatory soaring vocals are still present in this track but the presence of Iyaz actually balanced that out and gave the song an urban feel to it. Plus, this is possibly the most radio friendly track on her debut album.

19. Only Girl (In The World)
Rihanna

Rihanna isn't particularly the most technically impressive vocalist out there right now. Arguably though, her voice is one of the most distinctive in the music industry and it melds perfectly with this song. I'd say, dancefloor Rihanna is back! This, to me, is a sure club banger complete with a fast paced thumping beat and euphoric chorus. Stellar.

18. California Gurls
Katy Perry (featuring Snoop Dogg)

Aside from the fact that it's absolutely ridiculous to spell 'gurls' like that, I think this ditty is the ultimate summer song of 2010. It is an insanely catchy pop-dance track! Seriously, it doesn't get a whole lot more fun than this. Lyrically, it's not as edgy as I Kissed A Girl, but this is a light, upbeat, fluffy and happy song that has an effervescent vibe to it.

17. OMG
Usher (featuring Will.I.Am)

I hated this song when I first heard it. The auto-tuning of the vocals, especially of Will.I.Am, were beyond irritating and the instrumentation seemed a little tacky. Then, it got more annoying when Usher performed this live on American Idol at some point. He just didn't sound good with that song. Well, I'm taking it back now. This is a club song and somehow I got to appreciate it after a few more listen. It's one of those mindless fun songs that I can't help myself but to bop my head to it. Just saying.

16. Telephone
Lady Gaga (featuring Beyonce)

Lyrically, the song is a bit silly. But, put Lady Gaga and Beyonce in one track and it's bound to be amazing - no matter what. Ha! The song starts slowly with some tuneful instrumentation but when the dance beats kick in, it never lets up. Now, this track can not be adequately discussed without mention of the epic music video. It's a no-brainer that the video actually elevates this song to the status of pop culture landmark. Enough said.

15. Club Can't Handle Me
Flo Rida (featuring David Guetta)

Indeed, David Guetta is the newest go-to guy of artists when they are in need of an easy smash hit. So, does a Flo Rida-David Guetta team up makes perfect sense? Maybe. I think they are obviously the two kings of the dance club and their collaboration is actually quite refreshing. I admit, I still somehow prefer Right Round than this ditty, but this song actually has a great groove and it's a definite perky party music.

14. Billionaire
Travie McCoy (featuring Bruno Mars)

I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad. Ha! I’ve had this stuck in my head for a couple of weeks. To be honest, I find this a great track with that lilting reggae tune. It's a feel-good song with a Jack Johnson vibe that can transcend to fans of reggae, hip-hop, and mainstream pop alike. Plus, Bruno Mars' vocals are super smooth that complements McCoy's rapping beautifully.

13. Teenage Dream
Katy Perry

Teenage Dream surely didn’t lose the momentum California Gurls established. The track gives yet another treatment in the summer fun as she offers a bit slower but equally engaging single. Summer love? Check. Katy Perry vibe? Check. Serious lyrics with a jolly tune? Check. Yes, she sure offers something that caters to both summer party-goers and laid-back lovers with this song.

12. Hey, Soul Sister
Train

Ukulele riffing! Yay! This is definitely no Drops of Jupiter but the song is immediately catchy, with a surprisingly reggae beat. I think it's the perfect combination of good lyrics, great instruments, and  Pat Monahan's voice, which can practically pull off the vocals necessary to make it work. Somehow, this might not appeal so much to die-hard Train fans as it's quite a departure from the style of their earlier works, but it's a fun and uplifting song. 

11. Tik Tok
Ke$ha

Ke$ha, to me, is everything that's wrong with the music industry today. I don't think she's a decent vocalist - let alone a strong one. I think over-production is most obviously to blame, as her voice is consistently garbled and digitized, thanks to someone with a heavy hand on the auto-tune button. That said, I admit that this is a song that I can bop my head to and I can't help but tap my foot to it. Heck, I'd even give it a good dance if it came on in a club, and I can just imagine it bringing the house down near the end. A definite club filler.

10. Whataya Want From Me
Adam Lambert

At first listen, I seriously can't shake how much it sounds like Pink should be singing it and he is just covering her song. But again, I have to take it back. I think Adam owns this song now and I'm actually digging the hit pop sound of it. The weeping electric guitar riff at the beginning coupled with the heavy drums at the chorus and Adam's rousing vocals make this a stellar track off his debut album. Come to think of it, I actually love the stripped down Adam.

9. Rude Boy
Rihanna

This is a tremendously catchy song. The beat is sick and her vocals are shockingly amazing. Plus, the message of the song is promiscuity at its best. I mean, when I first heard the song, I didn’t really listen to the chorus or lyrics much. But, I was in shock when I actually listened to the words. I thought I was hearing things after listening to the chorus - then she repeats it to emphasize her point. Haha. Epic! Obviously, sex does sell. Unbelievable.

8. Just The Way You Are
Bruno Mars

A song that makes me feel good about myself, for who I am - yes, as cheesy and as clichéd as it sounds. Haha. Bruno Mars is poised for the spotlight and this song is the real deal. A simple but beautiful pop song with a calm and harmonized vocalizations accompanied by a fast yet slick beat. But as great as the melody is, the real standout of the track are Bruno’s vocals. I find it crisp, clear, and absolutely pitch-perfect.

7. DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again
Usher (featuring Pitbull)

I was a bit skeptical because Pitbull is on this track but I think this song is really good! Honestly, I like this way better than OMG. I think this one has more structure and the track takes full advantage of the leverage in the dance-pop arena Usher has gained with his previous single but with a more swirling synths and pulsating beats. Obviously, dance music is on its way back on the main charts in a strong way, so I'm not surprised that Usher is there to get a piece of the action. Good thing, this song actully works for him.

6. Terrified
Katharine McPhee (featuring Zachary Levi)

The underrated Ms. Katharine McPhee. This is a great example of how well her vocals blend on a duet. With a little help from Chuck's lead star Zachary Levi on this Colbie Caillat-esque track, both voices complement each other. The song is freezing, moving and the melody is just impressive. I also glad that she is able to demonstrate her keen sense of inflections in this track.

5. Need You Now
Lady Antebellum

Driven by acoustic and electric guitars accompanied by some pretty piano fills, this is actually a good sounding mid-tempo track, which is not as overproduced as their other hit I Run To You. The groups trademark has always been that slick pop-country sound and this song is right up that ally. But aside from the production, the lyrics are just incredibly real. It has a plot - just like any other country music - the really hits me. That alone makes this a song to remember as part of 2010.

4. Airplanes
B.O.B (featuring Hayley Williams)

Unlike his first single - which I will discuss later - this is a strong shift of emotional mood. Although this time, focusing on a subject with more depth than beautiful girls. Ha! Actually, B.O.B's collaboration with Hayley Williams is pure genius. Both of them has the ability to set the right mood for whatever song they're singing and that worked really well in this track. The chorus has a catchy hook provided by Hayley Williams and the rapped verses has shockingly a good amount of emotion that is palpable, which is pretty rare nowadays. 

3. Empire State Of Mind
Jay-Z (featuring Alicia Keys)

When I first heard this love song to the Big Apple, I thought it had an arresting beat and it actually made me slightly nostalgic for New York City. To me, this team up actually reminds me of last year's American Boy by Kanye West and Estelle - though less of an anthem. The production is a seamless mix of classic and contemporary sound accented by Alicia Keys' vocals that add power to the single that is difficult to resist. This song actually is almost enough to tempt me into booking a trip to the city ASAP. Ha!

2. Nothin' On You
B.O.B (featuring Bruno Mars)

Now, this is the type of music I can listen to over and over again. It has great wordplay, wit and balance between the two vocalists. Truth be told, every time I listen to it, the song dredges up happy memories from that past month and I can guarantee, once you play this song, you’ll not be able to stop yourself from smiling and tapping your foot in time to the beat. Go on, I challenge you to defy me!

1. Love The Way You Lie
Eminem (featuring Rihanna)

Hands down, this is a profoundly powerful song. It being Eminem, this track obviously has a masterful lyrical concept and, yes, an epic chorus provided by Rihanna's strikingly emotional vocal performance. She actually sounds surprisingly mature in this song. Also, it's pretty interesting how perfect Rihanna and Eminem are together for this song. I mean, Rihanna has experienced the inescapable realism of a domestically violent partner, while Eminem has been the domestically violent partner. That fact alone, adds another piece of edgy authenticity to their collaboration.
Year-End List 2010: 25 Songs Reviewed by DAM on 10:59 PM Rating: 5

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