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


And then we felt loss, negation, nothingness. We are now in the VOID.

PART 9: “VOID” mixed by Colin Fitzgerald

Triad God

“Chow Bat Por”



Desolation. (What do we fear in empty churches past midnight? Is it the weight of abandon in the hollowness of a space ostensibly populated by ethereal guardians — the grace of saints, of gods?) Undoing of con-solation; unraveling of hope. It leaves a nakedness: the hypersensitivity of exposure, which resolves into numbness, a form of self-defense. Baptism requires it: Underwater rebirth is the redemption of drowning; the hands that push you down are the same that hold you afloat. Sometimes you push yourself down. It’s comforting out there sometimes, in the middle of the ocean; you’re not alone — you’re surrounded.

King Krule

“Dum Surfer”



Archy Marshall as King Krule is a mirror hall of contradictions and incongruities. He sings like Joe Strummer but barely looks pubescent. He plays pretty jazz chords, yet writes songs about Motorola-brandishing criminals and human-shark chimeras. His inconsistencies reflect off one another, creating an iridescent if grubby kaleidoscope. On 2017’s THE OOZ, the Londoner found grimy perfection in the drunken “Dum Surfer.” With its car horn saxes, trip-punk drums, and near-incomprehensible vocal trade-off between Marshall and bassist James Wilson, “Surfer” struck a spellbinding balance between no-wave cacophony and smooth-jazz poise. Even as the song’s mantra “don’t suffer” disappeared into the ether during the outro, Marshall’s noxious lounge music had indelibly made its way into your cortex.





“DEPRESSION SESSION” is beyond YouTube rabbit-hole goals. If you put “DEPRESSION SESSION” on your YouTube playlist, the algorithm will get all fucked up, trust. Also, where is this man in this video?


— Is the physical structure a warehouse? This man’s only wearing socks in odd numbers; you know the vibes.
— D/P/I changes lives on the daily.
— Believe in Elliott Hulse.

— Oh, wait no — this dude didn’t age well.
— Please don’t look up what he’s talking about these days.
— Instead, reflect upon a dimension Elliott Hulse could’ve aged well within — thanks!

The Knife

“Full Of Fire”



One morning, early this decade, I woke up and found a tear in my skin. It started small, like a run in a pair of tights. But as the years wore on, I began to pick at it incessantly, peeling myself apart, strand by dying strand. And then one night, I took the loose frayed edges in both hands, pushed my fingers deep underneath, and ripped myself inside out. Bathed in fire, pores dripping with hot black fracking fluid, the face in the mirror looked out with new eyes and winked. Let’s talk about gender, baby.


“Dragonflies to Sew You Up”


[Profound Lore]

Magnetoreceptive, dangerous to crops, and difficult to exterminate, the common grackle is a city bird characterized by its black iridescent plumage and unusually harsh song, like a mirror sliding down your throat. A group of grackles is a plague. They can fill the dead trees in winter so that, in the silhouette of early morning, it looks like summer out. Alone, grackles are beautiful — I saw one riding in the back of a truck, his yellow eyes glossed over. If it had the 24,000-ommatilia eyes of a dragonfly in that moment, it would’ve seen a different street. The grackle thrives in a crowded city, but could it survive as an ice climber? If its wings were sewing needles?




[Souterrain Transmissions]

Although couched as a kiss-off to her adopted home, “California” was a ballad of survivor’s guilt, a reflection on the ambivalence of someone who got clear of a bad situation but couldn’t shake the memories of the friends she’d left behind. Over four-and-a-half minutes, Erika M. Anderson dragged the wreckage of her life in North Dakota, the abuse, the isolation, the illness. A legacy of pain and violence handed down for generations. By the song’s end, Anderson assured us that she’d put down the gun placed into her hands by her ancestors, but what of Stephen, Andrew, and Gracie? What of the ghosts whose martyrdoms haunted her sunny coastal days?





The final sprawl of James Ferraro’s inhale C-4 $$$$$ narrowed into need and nothingness. As a cyber-diminished crooner itched “I’m trying to get my mind off you,” an empire of strings and chanters tuned up in the orchestral birthplace. All aboard the sleeper ship, starlight seared the second half with the afterglow of collapse. Dirge beat crumbled rock walls while soporific synthwork parted waves. Verses of vocal cord tangles and rearrangements square-wheeled toward the split-level lobby of Babel, until an abrupt end disrupted us with silence.


“Hey QT”


[PC Music]

Perfectly manufactured, perfectly curated, perfectly tested: “Hey QT” was lightning in a can by which performance artist Hayden Dunham and PC Music used to fuel their grandiose ambition of dominating the pop world with auditory simulacra. “I feel your hands on my body/ Every time you think of me” was the quintessential internet lyric, framing love as an unphysical experience. It was a marketing executive’s love song, plugged into the endorphins of our collective hivemind. We consumed “Hey QT” unabashedly, just for that sweet nectar of infatuation. Love really is a hell of a drug.


“Mask Off”



This was the eye of the storm, the distant sun around which every planet in Future’s ice cold universe orbited. “Molly, Percocet.” His impressionistic hedonism blurred into a binary of high and low, capturing the Zen feeling of walking through the club on a perfectly balanced cocktail. The ups and downs moved both in slow motion and all at once. Future couldn’t move as he was bustin’ one; he hit the gas as needed, but it was gone before the song was over. He never nodded off, but what if this was already a dream? All the while, the track’s stark production of glistening, skeletal beats wrapped around the instantly iconic flute loop like an ornate cage containing some exotic songbird. Time and space bent around “Mask Off” — it was the high peak of Future’s gift to imply mournful reveries amidst such numb revelry. It felt like the one moment since DS2 promised “Imma choose the dirty over you” that Future took a long look at the destruction in his wake. And both the genius and tragedy was that he was too high to feel anything at all.


“Marks of Worship”


[Self-Released/Howling Owl]

Notwithstanding the deceptive simplicity of its lowercase presentation, “Marks of Worship” was Klein’s masterpiece among what was already some of the most conceptually enthralling music in recent memory. Its wealth of ideas was impossible to sum up; as is, the track summed up Klein’s oeuvre. Included on her breakthrough record ONLY, “Marks of Worship” inaugurated many of the themes that recurred on her subsequent output, particularly the tensions of ambivalence & contradiction — especially between religion & ethics — the fraught intersection between faith & tradition, & the broken promise of hope. Don’t miss the video; it was stunning in its own right.

Click next to hear the final installment, “BEYOND,” mixed by Will Neibergall.

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

Most Read