150 Best Albums of 2010

You might not have guessed the Romeo (Michigan) redneck and Tamil tigress had much in common, but both Kid Rock and M.I.A. put out singles called “ Born Free” in 2010. And in retrospect, given eternal disingenuous right-wing lip-service to “liberty”, maybe it should come as no surprise 12 years down the line that they respectively wound up a Biden-baiting Donald Trump sycophant and a vaccine-chip-fearing Alex Jones apologist. M.I.A. also claimed this week she “might be the first cancelled twitter user back in 2010 for saying ‘connected to the google connected to the government’.” Not quite sure what that means, but I also only just learned that M.I.A. once reportedly considered getting married to Kanye West as a route to a green card. And given Kanye’s own white supremacist-dressing, Tucker Carlson-courting, antisemitism-spouting week, suddenly it all makes sense.

Kanye, for his part, made easily the most critically acclaimed album of 2010 — five stars in Rolling Stone, 10.0 on Pitchfork, runaway winner in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll with almost twice the points of runnerup LCD Soundsystem. Ann Powers wrote in Slate that the rapper’s “overstuffed arrangements speak to our most profound anxieties about race, class, and credit card consumerism.” There was a recession going on at the time, see. Among other things. I liked My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy less than his first two at the time (and to be honest those never bowled me over), care about it even less now.

I like M.I.A.’s Maya way more, but it was still a major dropoff after her first two not to mention her 2004 pre-debut promo CD-R, all of which I’d still rank top 10 in their respective years. Kid Rock’s Born Free I reviewed in Spin upon release; hearing it this summer for the first time since, it sounded awful. But it’s worth noting that, as with 2010’s far more palatable Love Letter by another future disgusting arch-villain named R. Kelly, it’s easily the most well-mannered, least obscene album the artist has ever made — heartland Americana to Kelly’s retro-soul. That another future alleged sexual assailant, Dr. Luke a/k/a Lukasz Gottwald, produced most of Ke$ha’s Animal + Cannibal, the year’s most gleefully vulgar album(s), and easily one (or two, or one and a half) of the year’s best, complicates matters even more.

Here’s how I started a piece for Rhapsody that December: “The two best new albums I heard in 2010 came from young women born in 1987 and 1989. They both debuted at #1 in Billboard, though the one that came out in January sold just 152,000 in its first week (but has racked up a couple million since). The one that came out in October finished its first week around the 1,047,000 mark.” I went on to tally all the stuff Ke$ha and Taylor Swift, it seemed to me, had in common (“They both do vicious revenge songs,” “Class war!,” etc.) — a drastic leap of faith at that point that feels far less outlandish now, or really ever since Swift donated a quarter million to assist Ke$ha’s legal case in 2016. (For the rest of that Rhapsody essay, see my fourth book. And by the way, on my own 2010 Pazz & Jop ballot, the actual top slot and maximum 30 points went to an ad-hoc CD-R bootleg comp of early Bob Seger tracks. Four other people also voted for it; it placed #112.)

Writing for Spectrum Pulse in 2017 about the “Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2010” (me wearing my editor’s hat: delete either “Top” or “Best,” redundant), somebody whose byline I can’t seem to locate drew up a dichotomy that might roughly align with where lots of less observant onlookers would have slotted Ke$ha and Swift then, suggesting 2010’s Hot 100 “chart could really be split in two between the wildly hedonistic, wildly stupid party that encompassed pop, hip-hop, and hints of the more dance-leaning rock scene – remember, electronic music wasn’t that big yet in the mainstream – and the rest of mainstream music plugging their fingers in their ears and seemingly making the most sedate music possible, from a neutered adult alternative scene to country at its most placid.” In 2019 on the same website, what I assume was the same person likewise remembered 2010 as “a year knee-deep in the club boom, somewhat evenly (divided) between the songs that believed the party would never end and those who were desperately pretending it wasn’t happening at all.”

Or more succinctly, somebody (maybe still the same writer? hard to tell but they have curiously similar tastes) discussing the “Top 10 Worst Hit Songs of 2010” (not to mention curiously similar redundancies!) on a site called The Social Tune in 2021: “an incredibly rough year for the charts, with an abundance of terrible club music, a bunch of adult-alternative drivel, and a few abortive experiments that still make absolutely NO sense to this very day!” Among their bottom 10 the Social Tune tastemaker lists the Band Perry’s morbid “If I Die Young” and Ke$ha feat. 3OH!3’s obnoxious “Blah Blah Blah,” both of which I like fine; “dishonourable” (are they Canadian?) mentions include Cali Swag District’s instructive “Teach Me How to Dougie” and Far East Movement feat. the Cataracs and Dev’s slizzard “Like a G6,” which both made my P&J singles ballot that year, and still might.

Somebody named Sunny at a website called Spinning Music: Songs and Playlists for Indoor Cycling did salvage “Blah Blah Blah”‘s reputation somewhat by placing it 21st on their list of the “Top 25 Spinning Tunes of 2010,” saying it’s useful for “climbing and jumps.” “Naturally” by Selena Gomez (“a chorus that just makes you want to sprint”) and “We R Who We R” by Ke$ha (“climb”) also made the spinning list off albums ranked among mine below, though sadly “we’re shorter on good sprinting tunes this year, with only five making the cut.” Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” apparently spun (and in particular climbed) better than anything else. Until now I’d never heard of Down With Webster, who apparently came from Toronto and played rap-rock. “Perfect for a grind of a seated climb” rap-rock, no less.

Rock, in general, took a backseat to pop in 2010. “Pop sales had a better year than rock, falling by just 3% compared with rock’s decline of 6.6%,” reported Informa Telecoms & Media’s Music & Copyright newsletter. “However, sales of jazz, classical and other smaller genres fared worse.” Only Linkin Park and Florence & the Machine rocked rather than popped at the MTV Video Music Awards, noted Monica Herrera in Billboard, and the only rock band to hit the pop top 10 was Train with “Hey, Soul Sister,” for which “the band decided to work with outside songwriters – Norwegian team Espen Lind and Amund Bjørklundon, known as Espionage,” who’d previously scored big with hits by Beyoncé and Chris Brown (and who apparently were at least vaguely familiar with the mid ’80s band Mr. Mister, who by the way had three top 10 pop hits of their own even if I still confuse them with Mike and the Mechanics, whose own lone top 10 didn’t emerge until 1989, whew. Train, for their part, also top-tenned with “Drops Of Jupiter” in 2001 and “Drive By” in 2012. In case some stranger asks.)

Meanwhile, though Billboard generally defines pop as music not primarily residing on any of the magazine’s more specific genre charts, “if you expand the definition of pop to include Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, whose mainstream-leaning country hits were embraced at pop radio, and Eminem, whose Recovery featured some of his most unabashedly crossover songs to date, you could argue that nine of [2010’s] top 10 albums speak to pop’s dominance (all but Andrea Bocelli’s My Christmas),” Herrera wrote. “The Twitter and TMZ-driven culture of celebrity oversharing clearly favors pop stars, who are far more willing than their rock counterparts to be photographed frolicking on the beach with Kim Kardashian or changing outfits five times in one awards show, if it furthers their brand.”

Besides, outgoing RCA/Jive CEO/chairman Barry Weiss told Herrara, pop stars didn’t take so much time or expense to germinate in the record company greenhouse: “Bands require a different kind of development — it’s a longer gestation period,” he says. ‘Kings of Leon and Phoenix took four albums to develop, so it’s different from an artist like Ke$ha, who can have a hit almost instantly.” The risk is supposedly that pop careers also might not last long enough — but the biz was solving that puzzle, too. “With Rihanna, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Gaga, we’re seeing pop artists figuring out how to be more well-rounded,” New Kids on the Block manager Jared Paul told Herrara, “because if you can’t figure out how to tour, you’re in trouble.” Given that those 2010 pop acts (and Taylor Swift, if maybe not Ke$ha) all stayed commercially viable at least as long as Kings of Leon and Phoenix (or Train), they presumably justified their initial investment.

And again, the pop that did hit in 2010 was, as often as not, the kind people could dance to. “The new bubble is all the collective clubs around the world,” Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas explained to Herrera. “Radio is just doing its best to keep up.” So “synth-driven, Auto-Tuned, four-on-the-floor-influenced pop dominated the Hot 100,” Herrera concluded, and “if you listen to top 40 radio but aren’t into club music, you’re basically out of luck.” To RCA/Jive’s Weiss, “when you listen to radio now, it’s all so much about tempo.” The Spectrum Pulser I quoted earlier recognized a similar 2010: “At least on the surface the Hot 100 was in the throes of the club boom, an avalanche of electro-pop overflowing with garish personality that really hasn’t been seen since.”

But of course, since not everybody approves of Top 40, not everybody was dancing — or even spinning. To Louis Battaglia, writing a decade later in Popmatters, “2010 was quite possibly the best year to date for the experimental music community,” with “record volumes of weird, indefinable, experimental sounds circulating freely within the population at large”; who knew? “You will not find yourself cringing when listening to a favorite experimental album from three years ago the same way you probably will with a lot of trendy indie records from that time,” Battaglia promised. “Remember chillwave’s predecessor electroclash?” Sure enough, to Simon Reynolds — who like Battaglia recommends Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never — “2010 wasn’t the Year of Chillwave so much as the Year of Chillwave Backlash.”

So wait…What was chillwave again?? I always got it mixed up with witch-house, myself. In his Village Voice essay, Reynolds defined its sound as “’70s radio-rock and ’80s new wave as if heard through a defective transistor radio, glimmers of melody flickering in and out of the fog,” attributing its invention, “of course,” to veteran Animal Collective associate Ariel Pink. Apparently two albums in my 2010 top 150 qualify — by Rangers, whose name sounds like a band even though it’s really just one guy, and Sun Araw, whose album I swear kept tricking me in the background into thinking it was unfathomably deep dub reggae, but maybe that has something to do with his name being easy to confuse with veteran Adrian Sherwood associates Suns of Arqa. Reynolds crowns him one of chillwave’s “key figures.”

Bruce Sterling in Wired: “I totally dig it when Simon informs me of ‘key figures’ that 99.99% of mankind has never heard of.” Also, in reference to “onwardness” and “endlessness”: “When Simon breaks out the scare quotes, I settle down and get the popcorn.” Not to be confused with whoever in The Wire-not-Wired raved that Rangers’ “itchy melodies, portamento synths and flanged guitar-swirl encapsulated the year’s Hypnagogic mood perfectly.” Did I mention that Ariel Pink is considered a “godfather of hypnagogic pop” as well? Well, he is. (Jeff Treppel reminds me too that, in addition to all the sexual abusers and fascist sympathizers red-flagged above, “Ariel Pink and Die Antwoord also turned out to be extremely problematic!,” a notion their Wikipedia pages confirm. And Nate Patrin recalls multiple accusations against Kool A.D. of Das Racist. Hey, it’s hard to keep up! Also worth shaming: the problematic Win Butler‘s inexplicably #3-in-P&J Arcade Fire.)

My onetime Village Voice intern Tom Breihan, chronicling an apparent 2010 “weird rap” boom in the same Voice Pazz & Jop issue as Reynolds, says even young hip-hoppers like Lil B and Tyler, the Creator (whose comma has always bugged me by the way) were dropping Ariel Pink’s name that year; “if this keeps up, Pink could become rap’s least likely white spirit animal since Phil Collins.” I really like Breihan’s social map of the weird rap neighborhood, with Pittsburgh Steelers fan Wiz Khalifa cooing “‘Everything’s better when you’re high’ over and over, sounding like the burnout curled into a fetal ball beneath the high school bleachers. He’s not alone down there. Best bud Curren$y is stretched out on the grass, bragging to an arty girl about his car. On his third mushroom of the day, Lil B is attempting to explain quantum physics, though one sentence doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the next. Yelawolf is insisting that his straw hat and giant belt buckle are some next shit. Off in some corner, the sneering Odd Future kids are burning ants with magnifying glasses and cracking unsettling jokes about staging another Columbine. When football practice and National Honor Society meetings aren’t keeping him too busy, sometimes Drake stops by.”

Jonah Weiner, as part of Slate’s annual Music Club confab, agreed that “one 2010 trend that united pop’s margins and its center was the triumph of the weirdo rapper,” also naming Lil B and Odd Future, adding Kanye and Nicki Minaj from “weirdo rap’s mainstream wing” and Lil Wayne as a “weirdo-mentor,” then shoe-horning in Rick Ross, “perhaps the weirdest weirdo rapper” despite seeming “so resolutely normal upon first inspection.” Um, is anybody not weird? I dunno, I probably never listened close enough to Ross (and some of these other guys), but weren’t there always Rammellzees and Divine Stylers and Baseheads and Sensationals and Clouddeads out there spieling and babbling and blurring out of their minds deep into the wee hours?

All of whom seemed way weirder to me, especially weirder than the insufferable emo rap that Drake inherited from Kanye. But maybe when Breihan claims “rap is a safer place for weirdos than it’s ever been” he just means the 2010 guys could actually make a living at it. Except he follows that by insisting “weirdness isn’t what’s new here. Instead, these new jacks are content to languish in their own self-created worlds rather than chasing crossover status,” which suggests just the opposite. The rappers I named chased crossover even less. I don’t get the idea they even aimed for the hip-hop crowd, much less beyond it.

Weiner also praises “compilations of ecstatic, hyperactive dance music from, respectively, Limpopo and Chicago’s south and west sides” that make my list as well — Shangaan Electro one of two South African house compilations in my top 10, with the style also represented by DJ Clock further down. South Africans Spoek Mathambo and Die Antwoord also place in my top 80, as do Ebo Taylor from Ghana, his Strut labelmate Mulatu Astatke from Ethiopia, and Rachid Taha from Algeria checking in from the rest of the continent.

Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa

The real geographic breakout in my countdown, though, is probably South Korea. Seo Taiji & Boys’ IV placed high on my 1994/’95 list, and Wikipedia suggests “idol culture” was revving up before the 20th Century ended, but not until Frank Kogan snailmailed me a pile of CD burns in the early ’00s did I catch on to K-Pop. In 2010, G-Dragon and Top, two E.via EPs, T-Ara (also an EP), 2NE1 and SNSD/Girls Generation set a benchmark that I don’t anticipate subsequent years matching, especially since I mostly lost interest in what struck me as an increasingly formulaic genre just a few years down the line.

The same might be said for the perpetually thriving regional micro-culture of Southern soul blues, obviously around for decades longer than K-Pop but basically inert from an r&b chart perspective since Z.Z. Hill’s “Cheating in the Next Room” and Betty Wright’s “No Pain No Gain” went top 20 (and Bobby Bland’s “Members Only” got to #54) in the ’80s. In my house, the style — at least in its post-’70s revivalist mode — might well hit its limit with Carl Marshall, Luther Lackey, Gerard Rayborn, Sweet Angel, O.B. Buchana and Mel Waiters in 2010.

I expect this might have more to do with my own personal listening history than any measurable strides Southern soul made that year — like K-Pop at least before its BTS-global-takeover phase, this is music that takes a bit of legwork to track down, and I suspect moving to Texas in 2009 softened me up to it for a spell — but you never know. Either way, Southern soul had coattails, carrying with it a more bountiful than usual harvest of more mainstream r&b and/or neo-soul (Kandi, El DeBarge, Leela James, ick R. Kelly, Corrine Bailey Rae), New Orleans gumbo (Dr. John, Trombone Shorty, Kermit Ruffins) and Washington D.C. go-go (Chuck Brown) into the farmer’s market.

No point in tallying all the metal, country, jazz, technotronica and indie-identified post-post-punk; my 150 has scads of all of those, per usual. I do notice a more-hospitable-than-average habitat for new-wavish woman-fronted bands (Marina & the Diamonds, Club 8, all-female Wetdog, Marrow, Sleigh Bells, Birthday Massacre — four top 20, all top 70) and, much more marginally, no-wavish synth-punk bands (Blessure Grave, EP-length Chrome Dome and Herpes, plus NME favorites Factory Floor if they count, the latter three all bottom 15.)

In her Slate installment linked above, Ann Powers theorized about a Nirvana-reminiscent, now-Katy Perry-exemplified “hard-soft dynamic” that mirrors “what the cruel world of chronic unemployment and weird weather and distant war demands that we be.” Like always with Powers’s most all-encompassing presumptive generalizations I wonder who’s this “we” kemosabe, plus her idea reminds me of Kogan’s “loud pretties” (Dolls, Slade, Clash, Cheap Trick, Nirvana) and all those nasty Ja Rule duets with nice r&b divas I had no use for back at the turn of the millennium or whenever that was. But mostly I’m amused that the album I itemize by Philly-via-NYC “industrial house” DJ duo Designer Drugs is called Hardcore/Softcore.

There’s also something to be said about the tirelessly prolific production ethic of the interweb age, or whatever. “The biggest pop stars delivered a virtually uninterrupted flow of content this year,” Herrera writes in her Billboard piece, inducing cringes with that c-word but nonetheless noting how Gaga, Bieber, Ke$ha and Rihanna never stopped grinding to keep their customers satisfied. “It worked on a smaller scale too, as independent Swedish pop star Robyn proved by releasing three sets of music in 2010 and launching a successful club tour, resulting in a breakthrough year. ‘It used to be enough to release an album every third or fourth year,’ she says.”  

On a much smaller scale than Robyn even, in his chillwave article Reynolds discusses how the ultra-obscure cassette-and-45-spewing do-it-yourself lo-fi bedroom knob-twiddlers boosted by Pitchfork’s newly adjacent Altered Zones MP3 platform churn out “a continuous drip-drip-drip of releases, a dozen or more per year—there’s no reason to edit or hold back, every reason to keep one’s name out there.”

That phenomenon noted, you’d think my list might get bogged down by multiple releases from at least a few acts, but actually nobody lands more than two. And only a few manage even that: Legit rap weirdos Das Racist (top 10 twice, sorry) and Dälek, free jazzers Mary Halvorson and William Parker, aforementioned K-Pop EP imp E.via and, if you insist on counting her that way, Ke$ha, whose Animal and Cannibal I tabulated together because they were sold combined by year’s end.

Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song — a double album on vinyl which also obviously just counts as one release — dominated the Nashville Scene‘s 2010 Country Music Critics’ Poll like Kanye dominating Pazz & Jop, almost doubling the point total of Dierks Bentley’s second-place Up on the Ridge, a tolerable record that seemingly got sympathy votes for being bluegrass and including. a U2 cover. (Again, for my long take on the Johnson album, consult Terminated for Reasons of Taste.)

In his essay accompanying the poll, Geoffrey Himes admitted he’d wondered what might happen to Johnson after topping the poll with his earlier and drearier That Lonesome Song in 2008. “Would he flame out as the once-promising Big & Rich had?,” Himes asked. He didn’t, not yet. So now Himes speculated that “Johnson has the potential to be a complete package like Williams or Haggard, a dominating force in the country music of his era.” Twelve trips around the sun, one Hank Cochran tribute, one Christmas EP, and scattered guest appearances later, we’re still waiting for a genuine followup. Let’s give him another dozen years, and see where he stands — if all the monsters Kanye West, M.I.A., Kid Rock and Ariel Pink admire so much let us get there.

  1. Ayobaness!: The Sound of South African House (Out Here Germany)
  2. Taylor Swift Speak Now (Big Machine)
  3. Das Racist Shut Up, Dude (Mishka/Greedhead Entertainment)
  4. Ke$ha Animal + Cannibal (RCA/Kemosabe)
  5. Už Jsme Doma Jeskyně (Cunieform)
  6. Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa (Honest Jon’s UK)
  7. Das Racist Sit Down, Man (Mishka/Greedhead Entertainment/Mad Decent)
  8. Marina & the Diamonds The Family Jewels (Chop Shop/Atlantic)
  9. G-Dragon & Top GD & Top (YG Entertainment South Korea)
  10. Club 8 The People’s Record (Labrador Sweden)
  11. Carolina Chocolate Drops Genuine Negro Jig (Nonesuch)
  12. Jason Moran Ten (Blue Note)
  13. Wetdog Frauhaus! (Captured Tracks)
  14. Jamey Johnson The Guitar Song (Mercury)
  15. Henry Threadgill This Brings Us to Volume II (Pi)
  16. Art Museums Rough Frame (Woodsit EP)
  17. Steve Lacy November (Intakt)
  18. Marrow Sunshine Enema (Marrowcell)
  19. Slough Feg The Animals Spirits (Profound Lore Canada)
  20. Robyn Body Talk (Konichiwa/Cherrytree/Interscope)
  21. Balkan Beat Box Blue Eyed Black Boy (Nat Geo)
  22. Mary Halvorson Quintet Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12)
  23. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats Vol. 1 (Killer Candy UK)
  24. Hole Nobody’s Daughter (Mercury)
  25. E.via Via Polar (Dline Art Media South Korea EP)
  26. Dessa A Badly Broken Code (Doomtree)
  27. Coati Mundi Dancing for the Cabana Code in the Land of Boo-Hoo (Rong)
  28. Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone Departure of Reason (Thirsty Ear)
  29. DJ Clock The Third Tick (Soul Candy South Africa)
  30. E.via Must Have (Dline Art Media South Korea EP)
  31. Carl Marshall Love Who You Wanna Love (CDS)
  32. Dave Douglas & Keystone Spark of Being (Greenleaf)
  33. Omar Souleyman Jazeera Nights: Folk and Pop Sounds of Syria (Sublime Frequencies)
  34. Steve Coleman & Five Elements Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi)
  35. Chico Man Analog Drift (Wax Poetics)
  36. Mekong Delta Wanderer on the Edge of Time (Aaarrrg Europe)
  37. Gold Panda Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International)
  38. Cauldron Burning Fortune (Earache)
  39. Luther Lackey The Preacher’s Wife (Ecko)
  40. Designer Drugs Hardcore/Softcore (Ultra)
  41. Sleigh Bells Treats (N.E.E.T./Mom & Pop)
  42. Yaron Herman Trio Follow the White Rabbit (ACT)
  43. Heart Red Velvet Car (Legacy)
  44. Reba McEntire All the Women I Am (The Valory Music Co.)
  45. Traband Domasa (Indies Scope Czech Republic)
  46. Uffie Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans (Elektra)
  47. Circle Rautatie (Ektro Finland)
  48. Girl Talk All Day (Ilegal Art)
  49. Danny Brown The Hybrid (Rappers I Know)
  50. Cathedral The Guessing Game (Nuclear Blast)
  51. Dälek Untitled (Latitudes UK)
  52. Kandi Kandi Koated (Asylum)
  53. William Parker I Plan to Stay a Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield (Aum Fidelity)
  54. Spoek Mathambo Mshini Wan (BBE UK)
  55. The Fall Your Future Our Clutter (Domino)
  56. William Parker Organ Quartet Uncle Joe’s Spirit House (Centering)
  57. Chely Wright Lifted Off the Ground (Painted Red)
  58. Stereo Total Baby Ouh! (Kill Rock Stars)
  59. M.I.A. Maya (XL)
  60. Intronaut Valley of Smoke (Century Media)
  61. Jas Live At Jerome’s (Gulcher)
  62. Laura Bell Bundy Achin’ and Shakin’ (Mercury)
  63. Die Antwoord $O$ (Cherrytree/Interscope)
  64. Melechesh The Epigenesis (Nuclear Blast)
  65. Electric Six Zodiac (Metropolis)
  66. Gerard Rayborn Call Before You Come!!! (Ecko)
  67. The Birthday Massacre Pins and Needles (Metropolis)
  68. The Chap Well Done Europe (Lo UK)
  69. Diddy Dirty Money Last Train to Paris (Bad Boy/Interscope)
  70. Ches Smith & These Arches Finally Out of My Hands (Skirl)
  71. Elizabeth Cook Welder (Thirty Tigers)
  72. Wounded Lion Wounded Lion (In The Red)
  73. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club Buried Behind the Barn (Alternative Tentacles EP)
  74. Dr. John and the Lower 911 Tribal (429)
  75. Ebo Taylor Love and Death (Strut)
  76. Ratt Infestation (Roadrunner)
  77. Far East Movement Free Wired (Cherrytree/Interscope)
  78. The Roots How I Got Over (Def Jam)
  79. Rachid Taha Bonjour (Knitting Factory)
  80. Mulatu Astatke Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)
  81. Them Bird Things Wildlike Wonder (Playground Finland)
  82. Flynnville Train Redemption (Next Evolution)
  83. Sarah Buxton Sarah Buxton (Lyric Street)
  84. Legendary Shack Shakers Agri-Dustrial (Colonel Knowledge)
  85. Votum Metafiction (Armoury)
  86. Bizingas Bizingas(NCM East)
  87. Blow Your Head: Diplo Presents Dubstep (Mad Decent)
  88. Kenny Chesney Hemingway’s Whiskey (BNA)
  89. El DeBarge Second Chance (Geffen)
  90. Lee Brice Love Like Crazy (Curb)
  91. Damu the Fudgemunk How It Should Sound Volume 1 & 2 (Redefinition)
  92. Jerrod Niemann Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury (Arista/Segayle)
  93. Selena Gomez & the Scene A Year Without Rain (Hollywood)
  94. T-Ara Temptastic (M-Net Media South Korea EP)
  95. Jon Oliva’s Pain Festival (AFM)
  96. Blessure Grave Judged By Twelve Carried By Six (Alien8)
  97. The Jim Jones Revue Burning Your House Down (Punk Rock Blues)
  98. Vex’d Cloud Seed (Planet Mu UK)
  99. Princesa Más Fuego (Macaca South America)
  100. Jimmy Edgar XXX (!K7 Germany)
  101. 2NE1 To Anyone: The First Album (YG Entertainment South Korea)
  102. Sun Araw On Patrol (Not Not Fun)
  103. Univers Zéro Clivages (Curieform)
  104. Christian Mistress Agony + Opium (30 Buck Spin)
  105. Sweet Angel A Girl Like Me (Ecko)
  106. Trombone Shorty Backatown (Verve Forecast)
  107. Yelawolf Trunk Muzik 0-60 (DMC/Interscope)
  108. Four Tet There is Love in You (Domino)
  109. The Body All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood (Aum War)
  110. Garotas Suecas Escaldante Banda (American Dust)
  111. Bangs & Works Vol. 1: A Chicago Footwork Compilation (Planet Mu UK)
  112. Sigh Scenes From Hell (The End)
  113. Eddy Current Suppression Ring Rush to Relax (Goner)
  114. The Sword Warp Riders (Kemado)
  115. Grand Magus Hammer of the North (Roadrunner Europe)
  116. Orphaned Land The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR (Century Media)
  117. The Young Gods and Dälek Griots and Gods: Les Eurockéennes Festival de Belfort (Two Gentlemen Europe)
  118. Leela James My Soul (Stax)
  119. Casual Victim Pile: Austin 2010 (Matador)
  120. Chromeo Business Casual (Atlantic/Big Beat)
  121. Bot’ox Babylon By Car (I’m A Cliche France)
  122. Crawlspace Ignorance is Bliss (Gulcher)
  123. Elephant9 Walk the Nile (Rune Grammofon Norway)
  124. Killing Joke Absolute Dissent (Spinefarm)
  125. Laurie Anderson Homeland (Nonesuch)
  126. Johnny Flynn Been Listening (Transgressive)
  127. R. Kelly Love Letter (Jive)
  128. The Red Krayola With Art And Language Five American Portraits (Drag City)
  129. The Band Perry The Band Perry (Republic Nashville)
  130. Monster Magnet Mastermind (Napalm Europe)
  131. Tim Woods The Blues Sessions (Earwig)
  132. Little Big Town The Reason Why (Capitol/EMI)
  133. Honey Ride Me A Goat Udders (Lexicon Devil Australia)
  134. Accept Blood of the Nations (Nuclear Blast)
  135. Corrine Bailey Rae The Sea (Capitol)
  136. Chrome Dome Chrome Dome (Lexicon Devil Australia EP)
  137. Rage Strings to a Web (Sonic Unyon)
  138. Herpes Das Kommt Vom Küssen (Tapete Germany EP)
  139. Solace Solace (Small Stone)
  140. SNSD/Girls Generation Run Devil Run/Oh! (SM Entertainment South Korea)
  141. Colt Ford Chicken & Biscuits (Average Joe’s)
  142. Holy Grail Crisis in Utopia (Prosthetic)
  143. O.B. Buchana That Thang Thang (Ecko)
  144. Factory Floor Untitled (Blast First UK)
  145. The Mother Truckers Van Tour (World)
  146. Rangers Suburban Tours (Olde English Spelling Bee)
  147. Merle Haggard I Am What I Am (Vanguard)
  148. Mel Waiters I Ain’t Gone Do It (Waldoxy)
  149. Kermit Ruffins Happy Talk (Basin Street)
  150. Chuck Brown We Got This (Raw Venture)
Blessure Grave Judged By Twelve Carried By Six

1 comment

  1. via facebook:

    Jeff Treppel
    Ariel Pink and John Maus were at J6 and Die Antwoord got in trouble for various forms of sex pesting

    Nate Patrin
    heard some vague rumblings a while back about Das Racist, too, though it was a bit before the Me Too wave and got limited traction. I never followed up too deeply because I didn’t want to be disillusioned yet again, and already felt weird enough in retrospect picking up “get the White Midwestern Jewish college dropout to tackle this extremely NYC PoC student-debt-burdened milieu” duties for Pitchfork.

    Jeff Treppel
    mostly pay attention to who’s shitty in metal so you gotta be a real flagrant POS to come across my radar otherwise
    Chuck is gonna need to just slap a big disclaimer on this entire article

    Chuck Eddy
    Ooof. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone there in the first place. (Also, this shows how little I tend to pay attention to musicians’ personal lives. For good reason, usually. Feel free to tell me which metal bands I like are neo-Nazis.)

    Jeff Treppel
    are they from Scandinavia? then yes

    Anthony Cohan-Miccio
    Part of why I’ll never use the phrase “indie sleaze” to describe the era this hits the tail end of (no matter how many younger folks retroactively assign it) is a) rarely was the music that sleazy and b) the cynical tolerance of sleaze off-record is one of the most shameful aspects of it now.

    Chuck Eddy
    I honestly don’t think I ever even heard that phrase! I am so out of it.

    Anthony Cohan-Miccio
    yeah it’s being used for the strokes-Williamsburg “meet me in the bathroom” era, which will flabbergast anyone who remembers the butthole surfers or gg allin once existed. But I guess every generation has their own nostalgia about an era of “sex, drugs & rocknroll” even if us olds are like “you miss toxic cokeheads & Interpol?!”

    Chuck Eddy
    What’s weird is that, not only was I in NY for that era, I was the music editor of the city’s alternative weekly. Trust me folks, it wasn’t all that special.

    Steve Pick
    I read that whole essay, and I think the only song mentioned that I could remember the hook was “Hey Soul Sister,” which, if you’d asked me yesterday who performed it, I wouldn’t have remembered. In fact, if you’d asked me yesterday what year it came out, I would have said at least 20 years ago, not just 12.

    Chuck Eddy
    Yeah, that song only feels like we’ve had to tolerate it for two decades.

    Steve Pick
    You are doing a great service collecting all these different perspectives and making subtle fun of them while pointing out some interesting things yourself. Heck, who knew there was a ranking of the best spinning class songs for any year? What’s big in those circles nowadays, one barely wants to know.
    As for your actual list, this is a rare moment of connection for us, as Carolina Chocolate Drops, Jason Moran, and Jamey Johnson all put out records I played a bunch that year, and I would have played that Henry Threadgill if I’d actually been able to find it. Only a few albums further down reached my ears – Heart, Elizabeth Cook, M.I.A. (which I thought was disappointing enough I only played it twice), Dr. John, Trombone Shorty (though I never liked his records as much as the idea of his records), The Band Perry (which I played a lot then, but haven’t thought about since), Corrine Bailey Rae, Merle Haggard, and Kermit Ruffins.

    Chuck Eddy
    All three New Orleans guys! And then some. (Actually, there may be other artists on my list — or yours — from NOLA. But those three for sure.)

    Edd Hurt
    Really digging “Suburban Tours” by Rangers, very funny album–repetitive melodies and what sound like Steely Dan? chord changes buried with a lumbering bass. Instrumentals that really do sound like a parking lot somewhere. Guess I’ll cue up Mother Truckers’ “Van Tour” next…hmm.

    Chuck Eddy
    Starting from the bottom of the list, I like that!

    Edd Hurt
    the stuff at the top I (mostly) know pretty good, except for the Shangaan Electro-South Africa comp which I’m going to check out. But yeah the Rangers album is totally great.

    Edd Hurt
    Y’know, Jamey Johnson, I never really thought he had the vocal depth to be a major guy, Simulating Waylon. Dunno. I mean why have Jamey when you can have Sturgill, I guess.

    Chuck Eddy
    I definitely way preferred him to Sturgill then. But I overrated him for sure.

    Edd Hurt
    I’ve sort of come around on Sturgill in recent years.

    Edd Hurt
    For me, Tom Ze’s Studying Bossa is the best record of 2010, unique and great even in Ze’s canon, I guess his best album. I mean in North America you had the Chocolate Drops looking back at these old styles, interesting enough to me but also smacking of folkiedom and all that, so I don’t really enjoy listening to them–it feels like I’m doing Good Work. But Ze actually takes a world-historic style that’s perhaps still opaque to North Americans (the bossa scene itself in Brazil is entirely different from the perception filtered thru Stan Getz and so forth) and taxonomizes it and don’t kill it in the process.

    Chuck Eddy
    Odd — I tried the Zé album and it didn’t hit me at all, and he’s definitely grabbed me on several other instances. It just really struck me as more reserved than his norm or something. Maybe I just don’t get bossa. Chocolate Drops album I avoided listening to for 12 years, assumed it’d bore me, for the exact reasons you name. But when I finally played it I was amazed by their energy and rhythm and humor — I’ve heard all sorts of modern groups try that 1920s hokum country blues hoedown style. Can’t think of anybody in the past few decades who’s come closer to pulling it off.

    Patrick Hould
    Chuck, you really should write something about Uz Jsme Doma – you clearly love their stuff. I’m counting 15.5 Yeas and 5.5 Nays in this one, the Nays being Ke$ha (a half-Nay for Cannibal, Animal being the half-Yea), Hole, Gold Panda, Uffie, Four Tet (I think?) and my homies Chromeo – I like them a fair bit, just not that album, and from what I remember, the Gold Panda and Uffie ones were pretty decent but I had to make room on my shelves. My top 5 for that year goes Das Racist’s Shut Up Dude, M.I.A., Gorillaz, Kanye West and Das Racist’s Sit Down Man, but at this point, the mere idea of even putting on the Kanye album exhausts me, so I’ll list Scissor Sisters in there instead.

    Chuck Eddy
    Gorillaz and Scissor Sisters both always struck me as….trying too hard? More “about” fun than actually fun? I dunno. I should write about them!
    And that Hole album, which I had no idea existed, totally surprised me.

    Clifford Ocheltree
    I would humbly suggest two of my favorites. Bellowhead’s Hedonism and an album titled AfroCubism. Among my best of the decade, not just of 2010.

    Chuck Eddy
    I’m wishing AfroCubism was more Afro. Not to mention more cubist.

    rian O’Neill
    MIA is still Tweeting dumb things.

    Chuck Eddy
    That’s what I was referring to!

    Brian O’Neill
    Okay, I saw you mentioned a Tweet she did previously on the subject.

    Like

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