So… even by sticking to the usual rules (no tracks by the same artist – apart from guest appearances), and by being fairly ruthless with some overplayed pop hits that I liked a lot but didn’t feel like writing about again, I still couldn’t fit my tracks of the year into a top 50. For the first time ever. Does this mean 2010 is the best year for music in years? I’m not sure. I’ve certainly been fairly obsessively keeping track of things this year, even if I haven’t written as much, which probably helps.
Anyway, some classics in the long journey ahead, but to kick things off, for the first time, here are my tracks of the year, #75-#51. We might get down to the 30s by the end of the week…
75. The Ruby Suns – Cranberry
A later release in the year would probably have seen this higher in the list. Still, it’s a glorious near-five minute journey through fairground synths, joyful tribal chanting, and all sorts of other nonsense.
74. Spark – Revolving
Much later in the year now, and Neon Gold’s latest electro-popstress to add to a stable that also brought you Marina and (ho hum) Ellie Goulding. Apparently she’s “quite literally” called Jess Sparkle Morgan. This is lovely stuff, but you can’t help feeling the time might have passed for this sort of thing. More’s the pity.
73. White Sea – Mountaineer
Terrible quality live take is the best I could find here, but this really is another late favourite of 2010 for me. Morgan Kibby lent her ethereal, beautiful vocal chords to M83′s amazing Saturdays=Youth album, and here she does slightly more organic, but no less dreamy, epics of which this is a clear standout.
72. Allo Darlin’ – Dreaming
First of a couple of pure and simple indiepop tracks sneaking their way into the lower reaches of the list. Pretty and lovely and all those other indiepop staples.
71. MIA – XXXO
OK it’s still a bit ropey really, but as a redeeming feature on an otherwise decidedly average year for MIA, this at least merits a mention.
70. Violens – Acid Reign
Ridiculously OTT New York indie, featuring buzzing guitars, wannabe epic choruses and the kitchen sink. Still somehow quite loveable though.
69. Penguin Prison – Something I’m Not (Krispin Korg Remix)
Wasn’t quite convinced by this guy’s live show, but his 80s-funk-pop indebted tunes formed the centrepiece of some cracking remixes. Starsmith’s take on The Worse It Gets was a stunner, and recent single Golden Train had a stack of great takes. The elusive Krispin Korg’s glamtastic refit of Something I’m Not wins, though.
68. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Say No To Love
Nothing the Pains put out this year quite matched their sublime 2009 output, but for those looking for more of the same, this was a rather nifty little gap-filler.
67. Magic Kids – Summer
More college-y indiepop from over the pond, and for me the clear standout of their debut LP Memphis. The Beach Boys comparisons go without saying, but this laidback ambling journey of a track also made me think of Gorky’s. Never a bad thing.
66. Aeroplane – Superstar
From a pretty good album that nevertheless seemed to baffle lots of folk, Aeroplane proved they could do (weird) pop songs (nearly) as well as remixes with this choice cut. Barking video, too.
65. ceo – Come With Me
Evocative, pretty electropop from Tough Alliance man gone solo Eric Berglund. It’s doesn’t quite take off to the degree you’d hope, but it nevertheless proves, yet again, that Scandinavians and synthesizers rarely combine to produce anything less than beauty.
64. Wild Nothing – Golden Haze
Lots of picks possible from various feedback-drenched Wild Nothing releases this year, but I’m always a sucker for a non-album cut, and this EP lead track did a lovely job of soundtracking autumn.
63. Twin Sister – All Around and Away We Go
…whereas this is doing a good job with winter thus far. Hasn’t fully settled in for me yet, and could well have ended up higher in time (or I might get sick of it, who knows). Anyway, other-worldly loveliness with one of the most gorgeous vocals of the year.
62. Fake Blood – I Think I Like It
Sublime>ridiculous, etc. Hyperactive, silly, and entirely bereft of subtlety, but massively entertaining dance pop.
61. Twin Shadow – Castles in the Snow
And back down again. Lyrics about daydreams, catchy ah-ahs, and a general sense of sleepiness (but in a good way).
60. Mystery Jets – Dreaming of Another World
Wearing its retro heart on its sleeve, and not trying to be anything other than a first-rate sticky-floored indie disco classic. They still don’t do either albums or live shows as well as they do singles, though.
59. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Bittersweet
Another year, another great SE-B track slips kind of under the radar. Not sure what’s going wrong, since the chart needs much more classic pop like this.
58. School of Seven Bells – Windstorm
Great album, obviously heavily Cocteau Twins influenced, and kicked off by this absolute beauty of a single. Head firmly in the clouds… sort of like most things on this list so far. Not sure how that reflects on my 2010.
57. The Magic Theatre – Out There
OK, so this popped up in late 2009, but got a proper (if still very minor) push in 2010. Stark, fairytale-esque charmer from a couple of ex-Oobermen, and essentially a showcase for the impossibly lovely vocals of Sophia.
56. Goldfrapp – Rocket
I absolutely loved this when it came out, but it’s been a case of death by overplay, I think. In a year a bit lacking in glam stompers though, still a welcome breath of fresh air. Nice truck, too.
55. Kano ft. Michelle Breeze – Upside
Apparently this album got panned. Didn’t get around to giving it a proper listen myself, but this single surely ranks alongside some of the better British pop records of the year? Relative unknown Michelle Breeze steals the show, while Kano is, admittedly, sounding somewhat less edgy these days.
54. Marina & the Diamonds – Hollywood
Daft lyrics, but still a cracking tune. Great remix from Fenech-Soler too.
53. Big Boi ft. Janelle Monae – Be Still
Won’t come as much of a surprise that Janelle will show up again later on her own merit, but this understated appearance on Big Boi’s intermittently brilliant Sir Lucious Left Foot album is worthy of inclusion down this end of the list.
52. Lucky Soul – White Russian Doll
Only just sneaking into the start of January 2010, I’m glad I just about remembered this one. Rollicking, cutesy but increasingly classy indiepop from the wonderful Lucky Soul.
51. Of Montreal – Coquet Coquette
A band I can’t ever really properly get into, of Montreal nontheless seem to release one solid gold classic every few years. This tricksy, crunchy cut from 2010′s False Priest album is definitely one of their highlights.