Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Top Fifty Songs of the Decade ft. Hurray for the Riff Raff, Janelle Monáe, Arcade Fire, Beyoncé & more

As 2020 dawns this is our look at what we think are the fifty best songs of the decade.

With entries from artists like Beyoncé, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Chance the Rapper, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Hozier, Janelle Monáe, Alabama Shakes, Childish Gambino, Miguel, Lana Del Rey, John Prine, Bon Iver and many others here is our salute to the music of the 2010s.

(See also: The 20 Best Songs of 2019 ft. Brittany Howard, Kesha, William Prince, The Highwomen & more!)

Staring with:

A painfully honest, raw, wonderful song.

#50) Pristine - Snail Mail

Moving, with a near perfect interplay between the two singers.

#49) May I Have This Dance - Francis and the Lights f. Chance the Rapper

From one of the very best albums of the decade, Lemonade.

#48) All Night - Beyonce

Great song with a terrific video.

#47) Make You Better - The Decemberists 

An unflinching song about loss, aging and death, If We Were Vampires is beautifully written and profoundly haunting and sad.

"If we were vampires and death was a joke
We'd go out on the sidewalk and smoke
And laugh at all the lovers and their plans
I wouldn't feel the need to hold your hand

Maybe time running out is a gift"

#46) If We Were Vampires - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

A song that ages very well. It gets better with time and repeated playing.

#45) Simple Song - The Shins

Timberlake's masterpiece. Truly moving song and video.

#44) Mirrors - Justin Timberlake

Any number of Lana Del Rey songs could have made this list (and this is not the last). An artist who has grown to be one of the most consistently original and interesting out there.

#43) West Coast - Lana Del Rey

A marvelous celebration of lust and sexuality.

#42) Coffee - Miguel 

A deeply humanistic song that also improves with age.

#41) Call it Dreaming - Iron & Wine

A stunning song by an artist who is going to go great places.

#40) Great One - Jessie Reyez 

Intense. Almost like a musical anxiety attack.

#39) Pedestrian At Best - Courtney Barnett

Haunting and ethereal.

#38) Strange Weather - Anna Calvi & David Byrne 

Deeply philosophical and poetic.

#37) 33 "God" - Bon Iver

An absolutely brilliant, feminist re-imagining of an iconic country song.

"We are The Highwomen
Singing stories still untold
We carry the sons you can only hold
We are the daughters of the silent generations
You sent our hearts to die alone in foreign nations
It may return to us as tiny drops of rain
But we will still remain

And we'll come back again and again and again
And again and again
We'll come back again and again and again
And again and again"

#36) Highwomen - The Highwomen

Marvelously romantic, an incredible love song with great depth and feeling.

#35) The Spark - William Prince

Wonderful celebration of diversity and humanity.

#34) Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins) - Shad

Lady Gaga's great triumph.

#33) You and I - Lady Gaga

Powerful, powerful song that features the exceptional gospel vocals of the iconic Mavis Staples. Packs a hell of an emotional and lyrical punch in under 3 minutes.

#32) Witness - Benjamin Booker

A great song off of what was possibly the greatest album the decade, Modern Vampires Of The City.

#31) Diane Young - Vampire Weekend

Middle fingers up.

#30) Sorry - Beyonce


#29) Like a Dream - Francis and the Lights

Terrific song and collaboration.

#28) Woman - Cat Power (feat. Lana Del Rey)

Phenomenal song that celebrates both change and tradition.

#27) Seasons (Waiting On You) - Future Islands

One of the decade's finest straight ahead rock songs.

#26) Here Comes My Man - Gaslight Anthem


#25) Take Me to Church - Hozier

An anthem of rage and a call for justice. A "Three Penny" Opera style rejection that is so richly deserved to a social order and patriarchy that has to end.

#24) Rich, White, Straight, Men - Kesha 

A truly wonderful, wonderful song. Uplifting, full of heart and a deep embrace of humanity and life, Howard of Alabama Shakes fame gives us a feel good masterpiece.

#23) Stay High - Brittany Howard

Strikingly original. Lana Del Rey's finest moment to date.

#22) National Anthem - Lana Del Rey

Incredibly powerful, beautifully written and performed.

#21) Glory - Common & John Legend

Raw, beautifully produced and realized.

#20) 4:44 - Jay Z

Based on the intense and magnificent "Stadium Pow Wow", this collaboration is a home run on every level. Will make you heart beat just a little too fast.

#19)  R.E.D. Ft. Yasiin Bey, Narcy & Black Bear - A Tribe Called Red

A love song to a certain New York.

#18) Step - Vampire Weekend

From the marvelous Glen Hansard...tremendous vocals, wonderfully written.

#17) Her Mercy - Glen Hansard

Just wonderful. Romantic, soaring vocals, touching, heartfelt.

About as good a love song as you will ever hear.

#16) Beyond - Leon Bridges

Visceral, challenging, intense and breathtaking...a stunning song that is both a throwback and an announcement while also a devastating piece of social commentary.

#15) Creature Comfort - Arcade Fire

This is a searing, incisive and really amazing political and musical statement.

They confront the racist brutality of their own society head on in a way that does not attempt to whitewash or make excuses.

Lyrically stunning, musically perfect.

#14) What it Means - Drive By Truckers


#13) From Eden - Hozier 

The legendary John Prine. Back again with this emotionally devastating song about the opioid crisis, love, longing and loss.

#12) Summer's End - John Prine

With Prince influences, clever lyrical twists, amazing hooks...Monáe strikes in ways both new and familiar.

#11) Make Me Feel - Janelle Monáe

A strikingly powerful and moving meditation on death.

#10)  Brendan's Death Song - Red Hot Chili Peppers

I love everything about this song and its stunning video. Guaranteed to make you feel better about the world for a few minutes at least!

#9) Sunday Candy - Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment w. Chance the Rapper

The song and video are a body blow. An expression of fightback and resistance.

The interpretative dance about the police murder is one of the most powerful things I have ever seen.

#8) 16 Shots - Vic Mensa

This song just kicks ass...from the great folks of Alabama Shakes...

#7) Hold On - Alabama Shakes

A devastating, disturbing and exceptionally powerful song.

#6) The Body Electric - Hurray for the Riff Raff

Disturbing, intense, irreverent, angry, comic...a song for our time.

#5) This Is America - Childish Gambino 

This song is a masterpiece on basically every level. A stunning, confrontational, angry, reverential, historic, amazing piece of art.

It has led to both praise and criticism and sometimes both had equal merit. It is self-contradictory and yet anthemic. It is a song that stresses individualism and that yet came to symbolize resistance.

Mesmerizing, beautiful, magnificent.... All Hail Beyonce.

"You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation"

#4) Formation - Beyonce

A song of great power, reflection and sadness.

#3) Afterlife - Arcade Fire

What can you say about this one? It is like 3 songs in 1, it is intense and wild, a genuine work of art.

Absolutely love everything about it. Just amazing.

#2 - Q.U.E.E.N. - Janelle Monáe feat. Erykah Badu

Comrades and friends...THIS is the song we have been waiting for and, especially now in this time of great challenges, needed.

A beacon of hope and revolt in the face of darkness.

Anthemic, rousing, revolutionary, sad, despairing yet uplifting, it even features a sample of Pedro Pietri’s poem “Puerto Rican Obituary”.

Profoundly moving it is sure to become a leftist anthem:

"From el barrio to el assyeo, ¡Pa’lante!
From Marble Hill to the ghost of Emmett Till, ¡Pa’lante!
To Juan, Miguel, Miradros, Manuel, ¡Pa’lante!
To all who came before, we say, ¡Pa’lante!
To my mother and my father, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To Julia, and Sylvia, ¡Pa’lante!
To all who had to hide, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To all who lost their pride, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To all who had to survive, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To my brothers, and my sisters, I say, ¡Pa’lante!
To all came before, we say, ¡Pa’lante!"

Power to the People!

#1) Pa'lante - Hurray for the Riff Raff

Happy New Year and New Decade.

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