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 COUPE mix is where performance, style, and the best jams in the world meet. With 10 of the hottest singles of the decade, this mix fills your coupe with a sleek, turbocharged collection of sounds, road-tested to hype you up for a night on the town. Vroom vroom: the party starts now.

PART 5: “COUPE” mixed by Alex Brown


Young Thug

“Constantly Hating” [ft. Birdman]

[00:33]

[Atlantic; 2015]

Nick James Scavo had it right in 2015. “Constantly Hating” was/is a “masterpiece” of a track. All of Thugger’s hovering, egomaniacal bile escaped in syrupy hiccups of perfectly fried, perfunctory flex. That fragile Wheezy beat sat way in the back of debased, lashing sing-song verses, with a music box melody so faint you felt like you were imagining it. Something so simultaneously damaged and resplendent that it forbeared any sober scrutiny. It wobbled and warped us down into its rank baptism and congealed something fierce.


Playboi Carti

“Magnolia”

[04:55]

[Interscope; 2017]

“Magnolia” will likely be the calling card par excellence of the Carti-Bourne hit factory, and why not? Its sound and tenor have proven to be unmoored by time, but it will invariably belong to Summer 2017; a perfect crystallization of the trends and movements that surrounded it, yet the ground zero for a million imitators and “… type beats.” Carti finessed the strictures of an idealized/imagined perfect bar, but it didn’t matter: it didn’t matter that he milly rocked in New York on the hook of a tune named for the Magnolia projects; it didn’t matter about the subsequent string of lyrical non-sequiturs, the zones carved out by gulps, gasps, and “bihs,” or even paying mind to the beat at times. The carefully-honed abandon of “Magnolia” was what mattered to us — then, now, and forevermore.


Valee ft. Jeremih

“Womp Womp”

[07:50]

[Def Jam; 2018]

One of hip-hop’s most imaginative stylists — up there with Thugger, Uzi, Carti, Drakeo The Ruler, and Ski Mask — Valee sauntered into the hottest banger of his career with “Womp Womp,” a collab with fellow Chicagoan and R&B divinity Jeremih that sees both artists nonchalantly conjure trap utopia. The (in)arguable 2018 song of the summer was engineered, above all else, to flood your brain with dopamine. The Cassio-fashioned production, an ice chamber of stair-stepping synths and rattly percussion, coupled with Valee’s and Jeremih’s Brut-dry lyricism and cooly stuttering cadences made it one of the most ruthlessly efficient earworms of the decade — and an imperious wrecker of clubs nationwide.


Charli XCX

“Vroom Vroom”

[11:20]

[Vroom Vroom/Atlantic; 2016]

The kind of forced intimacy I once felt “Vroom Vroom” required should be evident to anyone who’s read my review of its EP. At the time, I thought it sounded like the future. Whether it really foreshadowed anything other than its own release vehicle is debatable. So while I will always share a uniquely personal relationship with this song, I’ll never again pretend a political one. Towering in its own right, the song, perhaps ironically, best existed in the past tense, with all its signatures of youth: as a pre-2016 dream with whom I will always play the hypnic jerk.


Princess Nokia

“Tomboy”

[14:30]

[Rough Trade; 2016]

Add +25 to incredulous swag when you listen to Princess Nokia’s “Tomboy.” Shouts out to Grinder soldier Soe Jherwood, who put “Tomboy” out there in a brand new form too. When it came down to it, Princess Nokia was the much-deserved version of John McClain we’d been waiting for, and “Tomboy” was what Die Hard II: Die Harder could’ve been: subtler, heavier-hitting around the curves, more engine revving-er, and actually located in New York. Welcome to the trap: it’s all around you but inside. Come on out!


Tyler, The Creator

“Yonkers”

[17:22]

[XL; 2011]

“Yonkers” — or, really, the moment Ty puked in its video — was the moment I realized the Creator wasn’t just a meme on his way to obscurity; this was HARD, vibrant boom bap with a menacing heart and a bleak vision. And what a surprise that was after the hijinks of early Odd Future. Yeah, it took him five years to deliver on “Yonkers’s” promise with a solid full-length, but as a standalone piece of art, the track suggested a much darker, much more compelling core than Ty had previously hinted at. Apparently, there was a real person underneath his façade, and here he was, getting puked out into the world. “Damn,” I said at the time. “Is this guy serious?” Well, guess what? HE WAS.


Cardi B

“Bodak Yellow (Zora Jones & Sinjin Hawke Bootleg)”

[21:32]

[Self-Released; 2017]

Zora Jones and Sinjin Hawke began their bootleg of one of the decade’s biggest songs with a fakeout. For 30 seconds, “Bodak Yellow” unfurled slowly, its icy melody filigreed with Jones and Hawke’s unmistakeable choral melodies. And then just as Cardi stepped up to the mic, the song shuddered to a halt. Horns. A pause. The song began again. But this time, it launched into outer space. A truly monumental reworking of a monumental song, “Bodak Yellow (Zora Jones & Sinjin Hawke Bootleg)” was the sound of two of the decade’s undisputed masters at the peak of their powers. Graceful, profound, unfuckwithable.


Beyoncé

“Countdown”

[26:09]

[Columbia; 2011]

I’ll attempt and fail to transmit a tenth of the feeling in the opening word on the fifth single from 4, T-minus three minutes to us screaming midair (“Houston ROCK IT!”), two seconds before the marching band lifts off in homecoming, that one single word, written on azlyrics.com simply as: “Boy!” Instantly, my adrenaline is high and we’re moving with precision; wherever we are is now one of those parties from eight years ago. Beyoncé’s superpower, that you still try to sing with her, “Killing me softly, and I’m still falling—”


ILoveMakonnen

“Club Goin’ Up on a Tuesday”

[29:42]

[Sherantino Motel; 2014]

Imagine “Club Goin’ Up on a Tuesday” as some superconnecting node for this decade’s pop music. The nexus linking Drake and Viper, iLOVEFRiDAY and Byung-Chul Han, 3Pac and the gamechanging DatPiff crowd, Lil B and Biz Markie. But, you know, it was also an all-time banger. In the parlance of millennials circa 2015, it was lit. And that’s a status it will keep for a long time, despite the cringy remixes and all the revisionist hot takes. So hat tip to all those pop anomalies that continue to confound customer-centric marketing, trend-chasing, and all sorts of industry analysis, that connect us with the true joy of complete spontaneity. No fireworks, chemicals, or corporate budget can match this kind of rush.


Rich Gang ft. Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan

“Lifestyle”

[33:10]

[Cash Money; 2014]

People pay thousands of dollars and more to achieve euphoria by, like, going in a zero-gravity jet or buying designer drugs (I think). I don’t really get that when you can achieve the same effect by just listening to Young Thug’s chorus on “Lifestyle.” Someone once described this song as “divisive.” If that’s true, it’s dividing people into two categories: People worth spending any amount of time with during your brief stint here on Earth, and everyone else I guess.

Click to the next page to hear the “ALLEY” mix by Sam Tornow.

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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