2010s: Favorite 100 Songs of the Decade

"Psychadelic Passion" by Devante Xiyon

We are celebrating the end of the decade through lists, essays, and mixes. Join us as we explore the music that helped define the decade for us. More from this series


Our floral shop is looking for a new avatar to handle tasks in our virtual OFFICE. You will be taking incoming Skype calls, converting web visitors to users, and redefining our far-side virtual enterprise for the next level of integration and optimization. In order for you to be selected as a candidate, you will need the ability to create deepfakes and vaporware. A pleasing online persona with intuitive keybind skills is also highly valued.

PART 2: “OFFICE” mixed by Rick Weaver

Macintosh Plus

“Floral Shoppe” (花の専門店 Hana no Senmon-ten)


[Beer on the Rug; 2011]

Much of my young professional life I owe to vaporwave, but Macintosh Plus shaped what adolescence meant to me in my maturity. How not to accept reality and pressure my own psyche into planes of existential dimensions that were constantly slipping through my fingertips. “花の専門店” made me believe I was nothing as C Monster, which pushed me further as C Monster. Nobody ever saw me stutter-step like “花の専門店,” repeating content in micro doses. Macintosh Plus convinced me I could always hide in plain sight.


“Climbing the Corporate Ladder”


[AMDISCS; 2014]

Corporate - /ˈkôrp(ə)rət/ – relating to a corporation, especially a large company or group. late 15th century: from Latin corporatus, past participle of corporare “form into a body,” from corpus, corpor-body.”

The corpus callosum is a thick cluster of nerve fibers that divides the brain into left and right hemispheres. Among other things, it helps with tactile localization, which means it plays a crucial role in enabling one to climb, say, a ladder. And it just so happens Nmesh released a song in 2014 that involved both a ladder and a corpus derivative. “Corporation” adapts corpus to refer to a group (or body) of people maneuvering in tandem to maximize profit. Nmesh soundtracked such maneuvering with “Climbing the Corporate Ladder.” The song never deviated from its central sample/beat despite using variegated samples, tones, and rhythms throughout, kinda how days at the office turn into months turn into years that are the same but different. How to break that ennui, you ask? Well, you climb. You shine. You work to understand the supply and demand. You fall in love with the fluorescent lights, the water jug, the staff fridge, and whatever else with Sysiphian zeal. Work hard and be kind; everything will fall into place, and then, yes, you too will climb. What is vaporwave, you ask? To that I say, have you ever watched an episode of How It’s Made? Have you watched the poetry of manufacture, heard the delicate song of automated labor? Look and listen closely, and you will forget that you ever asked about vaporwave. Instead, you might hear Nmesh soundtracking your own climb to the top.


“Thank U 4 Letting Me Be Myself”


[FXHE; 2013]

I don’t know what “Thank U 4 Letting Me Be Myself” was about (nor can I be certain that it was about anything). Omar-S enjoyed the electronic musician’s luxury of allowing highly specific intent to remain private and highly personal interpretation to run wild. Accordingly, my version of the latter is this: “Thank U” celebrated the mere fact that it came to exist; that circumstances conspired, even if only in the past tense, to provide a spark of inspiration. It was a victory simply to have been heard, driven home with every loop of the gloating bassline.

Mark Fell

“Multistability 1-B”


[Raster-Noton; 2010]

Dry, productive. A serene post-human hallucination. One remarkably singular result of all this bumping, rebounding, making, forgetting, and who’s doing the hallucinating. Each of us, so many; what are the chances? After so long, what are the chances? The result of everything in the midst of it: this one sound repeating, rhythm varied but steady, a chord, a kick. A total investigation, yes, of only one thing, not much else. Robotic precision and contingent encounters, new points of interest melding. I thought this was made for me to dance to. I thought this was the dance, all this bumping, forgetting.

Nonlocal Forecast

“Planck Lengths”


[Hausu Mountain; 2019]

The game is about to begin. And in the black black between title screen and adventure mode, Max Planck says, “We have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up to now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future.” And Angel Marcloid, the brilliant scorched noodles in Fire-Toolz and the ambient every of Nonlocal Forecast, suggests You have no right to assume that music exists, or if it has existed up to now, or that it will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future. And so we bubble up, every one, and the game begins.

Ford & Lopatin

“Break Inside”


[Software; 2011]

The Brooklyn-based Software Recording Company functioned memorably, and for an abbreviated amount of time during the 2010s (and not uncommon for labels started with a paucity of resources), its founders saw it fit to get things going with a release of their own programming. “Break Inside” was far from the lead single off Channel Pressure, but despite its relegation at the hands of unnamed PR professionals, listeners were rewarded simultaneously for deep listening and for deep fucking. R&B songs and R&B throwbacks tend to benefit from a coital context. Even better that Ford & Lopatin timed humps with synth ruffles.


“4月20日「P A N I C 」”


[Self-Released; 2013]

The undersung coolmemoryz — a nod to one of the quintessential theorists of the uncanny, the all-too-Real — was responsible for some of the most quietly (and noisily) invigorating vapor tracks of the decade, released in fits, starts, and bursts before simply… vanishing. “4月20日「P A N I C 」” was an exemplary eccojam amongst a bunch of them bearing the coolmemoryz banner, one that brought together a number of readily definable traits — obfuscated and fragmented samples, haphazard cuts and loops, a queasy and impending sense of dread — in a manner that still feels fresh and hard to properly pin down. The gradual, then violent, breakdown of the central loop seemed to remind us that time’s arrow was against us, always — what could be more OFFICE than that?

James Ferraro

“Global Lunch”


[Hippos In Tanks; 2011]

James Ferraro was an early adopter and definer of this decade’s myriad aspirations. While those influenced by him were doing minimal edits over found music, Ferraro made new replicas from scratch, embarrassing the overhyped future past by showing us how quaint it could be just a few years later. It was his adept navigation of shtick and genuine craft that made Far Side Virtual great, and “Global Lunch” was a perfect encapsulation, portraying an alternate history where all promises came true, the dot-com bubble never burst, and those stiff-lipped Microsoft Marys kept their assistant positions. Synced to the inoffensive, saccharine rhythms of this cyber-world, we tacitly accepted whatever the Company told us as gospel. “The maze has an exit. The pipes are in use. A global world is alive, online.” But today, the reverb suggests too small a room, too limited an imagination. Prioritize scalability. Many, many, many people are typing…




[Exo Tapes/Beer on the Rug; 2012]

A strip of forever, rippling enticingly, MediaFired™’s “Pixies” spun a twilight zone out of a four-second snapshot of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” Opening with a fade-in, the track whispered into existence, little more than the acrobatic contours of Bush’s voice slowed to a narcotized, hollow revenant of its original. Similarly, it closed with a fade-out, receding into the aether like a memory on the fringes of forgetting. Somewhere between vaporwave and eccojam — its intentions more ambiguous than the former, more pointed than the latter — “Pixies” communicated grave truths about capitalism while embodying its seductive beauty absolutely. What it said, exactly, is best left to the listener, but the effect was pure Uncanny Valley, muddling the sublime with the obliquely grotesque. For the full effect, don’t skip the video above; it’s a real nightmare of a thing.

PrismCorp Virtual Enterprises

“Beauty Plus”


[Beer On The Rug; 2013]

Don’t you just LOVE home cooking?! The sensation of your face melting into the rice cooker! Add corn starch for that extra meaty texture — that’s right, taste it, so good on your tongue! I simply adore my husband. I can’t bear to be away from him for even ONE SECOND. Sorry, that’s the food compressor going off! Do you ever think about how “Be Our Guest” is just a tribute to the act of being a servant? What a jingle! Oh dear, I left my hand on the stove again…

Click to the next page to hear the “GYM” mix by Alex Brown.

We are celebrating the end of the decade through lists, essays, and mixes. Join us as we explore the music that helped define the decade for us. More from this series

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