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



BED · OFFICE · GYM · BATH · COUPE
ALLEY · BONFIRE · CLIFF · VOID · BEYOND

The GYM mix comes complete with top-of-the-line musical exercises, including intense bubblegum pop cardio, free-weight dancing, and full-body synth-workouts. Let these hyper(-active/-real) pop jams flow through your earbuds, as you sculpt your abs, tone your thighs, and work your pecs. With the GYM mix, you can achieve the body that you want tomorrow today.

PART 3: “GYM” mixed by Alex Brown


Jam City

“How We Relate To The Body”

[00:38]

[Night Slugs; 2012]

…In which we experience velocity and learn to anticipate turns. First: a ride sample to spin your wheels on. I’m ready. START GAME. I can almost hear the announcer: “3… 2… 1… GO!” We’re off. We catch air on the opening ramp. For a second, it all drops out and my heart skips a beat. Then we land, flawlessly. Damn, this thing is a beast. A real machine. Who built this? You’re real calm on these tight corners. Me, I feel like my neck might snap. Do you wear special things on your knees? Faster now. No time to think — the machine transforms, spins smooth. The gears whir and blur. Tunnel lights start to strobe, flashing reliefs of a sleek design. Ethereal green with gold, wrapped around sexy fiberglass contours. It doesn’t matter when or where it ends. I can still feel the rhythm in my body.


A. G. Cook

“Beautiful”

[05:15]

[PC Music; 2014]

In many ways, “Beautiful” was TMT’s song of the decade. Since 2013, we’ve been analyzing, dancing to, and championing nearly everything PC Music and its adjacent contemporaries have done. And in the 2020s, the collective’s influence will likely be more even more apparent than it is now, especially in the Top 40. While “Beautiful” may not be the best PC music track (that title goes to “POBBLES”) or the most memorable (that one’s “Pink and Blue”), it’s easily one of the most recognizable and most lovable, the song we pointed others toward when they wanted to hear A. G. Cook’s vision for pop music. Never mind PC Music’s relationship with late-stage capitalism and mainstream pop. Never mind the many reductive interpretations of its music. In this decade, above all else, A. G. Cook made us feel beautiful.


Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

“きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ” (“PONPONPON”)

[09:15]

[Warner Music Japan; 2011]

I know there are die-hard J-pop fans out there who will drag me for this, but it was “PONPONPON” that first blew my mind wide open, exposing my tightly-knotted grey matter to what was already becoming an especially virulent new strain of bubblegum-bursting sound. It wasn’t just that it was fun — and it was undeniably so — but every kick, every synth-horn stab, every bass slap, every blip and bloop and beep was like a rubber hammer aimed at my eardrums, prompting unusual reflexes like dancing and smiling. Before “PONPONPON,” I didn’t think music could inspire physical joy; I didn’t think good music was supposed to. That it remains one of my favorite songs of these past 10 years, nestled between other decade-defining, genre-eliding tracks by Young Thug and Chief Keef, doesn’t just underscore Kyary’s proclivity at belching out banger after banger; it also spotlights Pamyu Pamyu’s boundless, hungry imagination as it eats my heart out over and over and over, with fruit salad and donuts and Kraft Mac & Cheese and bread slices and eyeballs on top. Mmmmmmmmm.


Azealia Banks

“212” [ft. Lazy Jay]

[13:10]

[Self-Released; 2011]

So many threats in hip-hop feel like empty bluster. Not “212,” Azealia Banks’s house-hop anthem and ad hoc mission statement. In just under three and a half minutes, the Harlem firebrand could bust your balls, end your life, and steal your girl if she really wanted to. This brag-rap viral sensation, which started making the rounds on music blogs in September 2011 and ultimately wound up on the rapper’s astonishing debut LP Broke with Expensive Taste, demonstrated Banks’s exactingly precise flow with intimidating nonchalance. Over the course of the decade, Banks would find herself in the middle of a litany of flame wars (Wikipedia lists more than 50 celebrity beefs under her stultifying “Controversies” tab), which in a way validates the truculence displayed on “212.” It turns out she wasn’t fronting when she promised, “I’ma ruin you, cunt.”


SOPHIE

“BIPP”

[16:30]

[Numbers; 2013]

There’s a door I didn’t notice before, and it’s right there in front of me. Everything has kept me away from this moment for so long. I’m afraid, because the decision to feel good makes me afraid… Once I open it, there’s no going back. I can go past irony, past cynicism, into “futurity smearing into sincerity” (JJDR, 2019). I know the flesh of my dreams is just behind this step. My whole life I’ve been hesitant, but then there is a voice, soft and sweet, telling me a promise. It’s all I need to hear. I can make you feel better. And I know I will.


Le1f

“Wut”

[20:03]

[XL/Terrible; 2014]

Le1f’s gay AF flow was bright as balloons, digging up auntie’s bon mot “light in my loafers” over a taunting horn riff, striking a house mother pose, reading a white boy with “fever in his eyes” who wanna “see what’s in my jungle.” Wut was a bossy-bottom party with Le1f for dessert, demanding his Oreos be double-stuffed, throwing down hip-hop cartoon overconfidence with crazy oral athleticism. He laughed and destroyed with droll assessments of the sexual fetishizing and political rage his cookie cocoa butter presence stirred up, LOLOL’ing at racism, delighted that he “make a Neo-Nazi kamikaze wanna firebomb.”


easyFun

“Laplander”

[22:39]

[PC Music; 2015]

“Baby, if your life’s just a love affair… count me out.” In the past couple years, I’ve soured a bit on PC Music. The lazy, arrogant critic in me — the part that wants to believe it can evaluate things based on some intrinsic criteria of value, without relativism or respect to contingency — justified my criticism of the collective, telling me it was a cynical, superficial pastiche and therefore “bad.” More realistically, I might say that it was so singular in its attitude, so radically independent, and that it so easily oiled the rusty machinery of the music industry that, post-Red Bull Music Academy, I take for granted certified bangers like “Laplander.” Listening fresh, the song transports me to the halcyon days of 2015. It was a happy hardcore epic, a kind of generational statement for a generation drunk on nostalgia and “poptimism,” which is a kind of pessimism. With jaded 2020 ears, it’s easy to dismiss, but all that mattered was that it bangs. “It was only just to keep us together.”


Perfume

“Flash” (album mix)

[26:18]

[Universal Music Japan; 2016]

If the worst moments in our lives can often feel the longest, does that mean the best periods feel the shortest? On their fifth album, eight years after their technopop debut, Perfume chose the cosmos, and it was felt most clearly in the record’s richly harmonic, ingeniously syncopated moon mission, “Flash.” The song was especially momentous because it was about the moment itself, the spark, the flare, the flash: the kind of passing something that feels so abbreviated and transient and spontaneous that you take its impact for granted. While “Flash’s” four-on-the-floor version may have been the single, this album mix was the celebration, and like most good things, it went by just… like… that *finger snap*


Robyn

“Dancing On My Own”

[30:37]

[Konichiwa; 2010]

If 2009 was defined by tense end-of-decade anticipation, 2010 was a year many found their aspirations grounded. But Robyn was always the exception to the rule; and, of the spate of songs spanning her still-brilliant Body Talk cycle, “Dancing On My Own” remains the most eternal. And for obvious reasons: with “Dancing,” Robyn had managed to craft what few would argue is the foremost post-breakup song. The opening salvo itself — “somebody said you’ve got a new friend” — foregrounded a paean of self-acceptance, a vision of closure. Crystallizing an audacious comeback, “Dancing On My Own” permanently assigned Robyn a well-deserved place in pop’s pantheon.


Hannah Diamond

“Pink And Blue”

[34:10]

[PC Music; 2013]

Pink and blue: two stylized avatars on adjacent bathroom doors, a gender reveal detonation responsible for a 47,000-acre wildfire, two stripes on a flag. What if you can’t outwit desire because it wasn’t ever yours in the first place? I think I like you maybe. This isn’t about a metaphysics of choice but a crisis of attachment, gut spur, spontaneous disidentification. I want to fucking sing this song like her, but these thickened vocal cords won’t let me. Which is to ask: What if loving yourself is also loving someone else? Maybe love is an artless dysphoria, but we look good in pink and blue.

Click to the next page to hear the “BATH” mix by Corrigan B.

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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