2010 was a good year for the art of music. Maybe not for the business of music, but the art suffered little. New artists emerged and people we thought were lost to the past showed up and showed out. Were you a little upset because your favorite artist wasn’t coming with it? Well you had plenty of choices to replace him until he got his act right. Fusion ruled, collaborations took center stage and the weekly series proved attention spans weren’t as short as we thought
Planet Ill hasn’t heard every song released this year, no one has. But we’ve heard many of them and from those thousands of songs we chose 50 that defined the year, the artists and the state of the industry. We could have had more and next year we will look at this list and see songs we missed, but this is what we are feeling right now. So plug in and peruse slowly. You may have missed some of these during the year because in our world, indie killed the major label star and album cuts tend to be better than singles.
So without further adieu, Planet Ill presents the top 50 songs of 2010. Enjoy.
Raekwon feat. Inspectah Deck, GZA and Thea van Seijen – “Rockstars”
When Raekwon released OBFCL2 Gold Edition, he dropped some extra gems that didn’t make the first round and the posse cut, “Rockstars,” was the best and brightest. The RZA-produced track is intoxicated with its own bluesy righteousness and Rae, Inspectah Deck, GZA and Thea van Seijen add enough fire to make this song as smoky as a jazz club near closing time.
Interpol – “Lights”
Interpol’s “Lights” is meticulous construction combined with haunting lyrics and the centerpiece of their self-titled album. There is no chorus or repetition; just 5 minutes of anxious and beautifully inventive forward motion culminating with a huge, churning wall of sound.
Nneka – “Heartbeat”
The anxious build of Nneka’s world music tune, “Heartbeat” is only eclipsed by her pulsing delivery on the hook. Then if you bother to listen to the lyrics, it brings the power and pain full circle. Man’s inhumanity against man is a rough subject, but Nneka captures it with chilling beauty.
yU – “Close”
yU decided to take the new path of free-tail to retail with his wickedly slept on project Before Taxes and one of the tracks that make the album worthy of your pennies was “Close.” The story is uplifting, the slightly jazz infused track is wonderfully simple and the vocal breakdown on the hook is amazing.
The Dead Weather – “Die By The Drop”
Jack White is one of the hardest working men in the music industry, but even spread thin between three bands and his label, he still comes with superb quality. “Die By the Drop” from The Dead Weather’s Sea of Cowards combines a unique complexity with raucous rock noise and the product is killer.
Stalley – “Babblin”
Hip-Hop is been aligned with struggle since its inception but that connection is intended to promote the triumph of struggle more than its anvil weight. Babbling, with its vibrant energy, clean vibraphone work and jazzy piano keys give life to Stalley’s smoky, calm voice. You may not have heard this track yet, but that’s a reflection of myopic media, not merit. Babble on Stalley.
De La Soul – “The Return of DST”
De La Soul represents the best that Hip-Hop has to offer. This track is homage to the classic “Win The G” routine of the Fantastic Romantic 5. De La delivers dense lyricism over a futuristic beat that recalls a bygone era , pausing to shit on ghostwritten raps.
The Clique (Rihanna x Prince) – “Sexxtrovery”
The Clique melds the digital funk of Rihanna’s “Sexuality” with the classic Minneapolis rhythm of Prince’s classic “Controversy” for this sinful mashup. The blend maintains the strengths of both, adding soul to the sex and new age to the controversy.It’s sensual, it’s lively and unabashedly Pop.
Rick Ross feat. Ne-Yo – “Super High”
DJ Clark Kent creates the perfect backdrop for Rick Ross to begin his Teflon Don Journey. Ross drops adult floss and slick imagery over a caramel smooth bass line, high-hat and piano orgy while Ne-Yo weaves through the composition in his best MiJack impression. Beautifully gangster.
Seal – “Secret”
It’s refreshing to hear family sentiment and real love expressed through music and Seal executes it with a genuine eloquence. The backdrop is charmingly acoustic with a touch of digital; emitting feelings of tradition and evolution. Sometimes, a little sugar is good for your soul. Consider this comfort food.
Stay tuned for part 2.
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