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


Sometimes the most pyrrhic ventures prove the most gratifying. Gleaning a decade’s worth of song in 2019 feels like sifting sand with a hula hoop, the enormity of the ever-accumulating archive sluicing through our woefully inadequate tools, its elusive pith elementally, stubbornly incompatible with the implements of capture at hand. Nothing like an egregiously mixed metaphor to communicate an aporia, a kind of category mistake: I get the sense that we should be doing anything else with the incalculable amount of music released this decade than grasping at straws, while the lion’s share slips through our fingers. If only taste didn’t imply abjection or preference a failure to hold.

But curation demands scission, and we can only deposit some faith that its trimmings might help make something of this most recent and most harried time slide into the future. All of which is to say that we at Tiny Mix Tapes are aware of the glorious futility of any enterprise as conceited as this.

Par for our predictably wonky course, TMT’s Favorite 100 Songs of the Decade are not arranged with the airless authority of the list. Less a ranking than a repertory, presented over the course of the next two weeks will be a succession of 10 themed mixes (count ‘em: that’s twice as many as usual). You don’t need to know what the word “phenomenology” means to understand that this decade’s myriad unruly soundings did not lend themselves to the schemes of valuation and accounting at work in the economization of life itself.

Somewhere between choreography and improvisation, we slunk from the BED to the OFFICE (in whatever configuration it took) to the GYM (or, you know, we wish we had), then, spent, to the BATH, and, revived, hopped in the COUPE (literal or figurative), skidded through the ALLEY, convened around the BONFIRE, teetered on the CLIFF, contemplated the VOID, and approached BEYOND. And none of it was soundless. And so we put the cart before the horse in saying that this lilting and braying and bumping and grinding and seething and soothing ensemble of songs did not just soundtrack, post hoc, a readymade ceremony lived in the concretion of stochastic skews and managerial directives and calculated risks.

Not a chance. Like so many granules of wet sand cohering palatial, these songs textured the very grist of our experiential apertures, the hermeneutic hula hoops of our conceptual scaffolds. The broken circle demands a new analytic (way of listening to the music), avows Moten. And then some: I want to listen to what sound does to interpretation. Sounds good. Us too.



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

The BED mix is a new addition to the TMT Mix Collection™. Featuring solo artists with visions of love, maximalist sentimentality, and idiosyncratic songwriting, this early-morning mix offers personal style and endless possibility. Rest easy: from showroom to bedroom, this is how you bring Home™ to the destination of your choosing.

PART 1: “BED” mixed by Adam Devlin


Lily Konigsberg

“Rock and Sin”

[00:27]

[Ramp Local; 2018]

Here was a song about being stuck. Stuck being subject, plastic, always shifting and reforming, losing center. Here was a song about relating to another, tying yourself to them and learning yourself through them. Here was a song about being held, too touching and too scary, close to the edge. Here was a song about voices shuffling, being several. All songs are like this but some are more. Lily’s song was really lovely, deceptively complex, layered, piquing ears; it put us present and gave sweetly. Independent, it worked rightly. Steady walking.


Caroline Polachek

“Door”

[03:49]

[Perpetual Novice; 2019]

To say that Caroline Polachek came on strong would be an understatement. As the frontwoman of Chairlift, the singer conceived of love as a head-on collision, a high-speed, life-or-death chase after the object of her desire. The weight of its impact and the pain of its fallout were subtexts that wrinkled the surface of the band’s sterling production and an ache that Polachek brought to the fore with her gorgeous, operatic voice. “Door,” the first single under her own name, was the sound of the artist changing her mind. Love was no longer a beacon on the horizon but the pursuit itself, a multiverse of possibility unfolding before her that she was poised enough to enter and graceful enough to accept on its own terms. In a feat of songwriting, Polachek demonstrated the boldness of leaving behind one’s old self — and all of its comforts and quiet certainties — to pursue an abstract togetherness with another person. It was a vision of love that was swirling, airy, and brimming with possibility, the closest analog to Kate Bush’s “The Sensual World” this decade. Like Bush’s masterful rendering of “Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy,” the romantic tension that propelled Polachek’s “Door” was her willingness to say “yes” to the unknown within and beyond herself. Polachek did one better, the exaggerated outline of her features merging at the end of the song’s video into the ether, a glowing field of pure white light.


Destroyer

“Kaputt”

[09:08]

[Merge; 2011]

The fading days of the aged libertine. In the haze of a debauched past, “Kaputt” suggested the silhouette of Dan Bejar in a smoking jacket, part Leonard Cohen and part Bryan Ferry, weathering the toll of depravity, standing as the living testament of a God who will keep the promise that it all ends with this. Sure, the trope of the drunk in the midnight choir is as pervasive as that of the teen rebel or the struggling artist, but there are good reasons for that. It represents a lament for freedom of consequences, the demise of the dream of invincibility, and the chance of some measure of glory without compromise. The recent past has seen such sentiment extended to the level of a nation, a generation, and, ultimately, the human species. It is always the same metaphor, just bleaker. At some point, we are all the canary in the coal mine of our own dejection. Girls, cocaine, the nocturne. In terminal retreat, but up for anything. Animals crawl toward death’s embrace. More than this, there is nothing. Bejar wrote a song for America. Who knew.


Jai Paul

“BTSU (Demo)”

[15:01]

[XL; 2011]

“I know I’ve been gone a long time/ I’m back and I want what is mine.” Jai Paul’s falsetto-spun chorus on “BTSU (Demo)” donned Prince-ly airs for a bedroom producer with exactly three tweets to his stage name. We swooned despite the swagger. The pheromone-jacked single from the elusive artist’s official debut album, Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones), still torqued our torsos after its first Myspace sketch in 2007. While street-wise drum pads wooed heat-seeking synths, a woozy bassline cued a charming sax solo. Whether or not he’s back for good, we are reminded that one’s workload is not chained to one’s footwork. More ghost than earthly host, Jai Paul returned without ever really arriving. That’s quite the party trick!


Perfume Genius

“Hood”

[18:29]

[Matador; 2012]

Put Your Back N 2 It was full of songs about quiet desperation that were tinged with hope. None were better than “Hood,” a piano- and drum-driven ballad about feeling unworthy of love. Simply and efficiently constructed, the song’s brevity only strengthened its impact. The intimacy of the vocals, the rawness of the piano, the spry hopefulness when the drums kick in – there was much to cherish in those brief two minutes. I’ve returned to it often over the last decade, sometimes because I needed to hear it, other times because I wanted to spend 120 seconds blanketed by its blissful beauty.


Grimes

“Oblivion”

[20:22]

[4AD; 2012]

Let’s not forget that the #MeToo movement is as much a retrospective on past wrongdoings as an expression of solidarity going forward. Grimes implicitly relayed her own experience with sexual assault on the track “Oblivion,” and the rhythm of the drum machine offered an intriguing tonal contrast with the seriousness of her lyrics. We started with the anxiety induced by the perpetual fear of someone “coming up behind you,” but the narrator at once recognized the need to cope in lieu of a cure. Our respective bedrooms were just a temporary refuge.


John Maus

“Believer”

[24:29]

[Ribbon; 2011]

“Believer” burrowed out brilliantly from a glinting iridescent shaved ice heap-frastructure, its faint succor draining out before it could be properly tasted. This closer was banal Xmas vibes at their most abstractly essential. Like spending all Saturday in a Barnes & Noble just reading and milling around. Didn’t matter if it was “Swear all night on the possum moon” or “Ding Dong Diet, an impossible move,” you were rolling too deep in that driving bassline to care, stricken with an implacable yearning that nonetheless tidily receded like all the wretched transitional pain we continue to coolly contextualize for fun and profit.


Tami T

“Birthday”

[28:32]

[Trannytone; 2019]

It’s hard not to think of them as wasted years, nights ending alone at sunrise, on the floor, outside, in the hospital, at your place, waking up with my contacts left in so I can see clearly how I don’t know how I got there. I kept leaving things behind. This ruins, in the name of fun. Tami T left her window open to let in the sad truth of her sad birthdays, playing her sad keyboard to cheer us up. It didn’t work, but she gave me courage. I entertain the possibility that there’s no climax at dawn, that nothing will save me, and I don’t have to run scared.


Kate NV

“Kata”

[32:40]

[Orange Milk; 2016]

In a decade in which independent music was so dubiously preoccupied with the idea of “chillness” as an aesthetic principle, Kate NV’s “Kata” was authentically laid-back and retro. She delivered the song without avoiding the underlying disharmony inherent in reviving nostalgic signifiers in an era desperate for progress. The torrentially smooth kitsch of its lite-rock colors was like the sweet and silk of honey, while the stammering, nonsensical lyrics and restlessly overlapped lead melodies pushed toward the absurdity of postmodern, maximalist friction. It was a jaunt through both knowing and unknowing, equally blissful and mindful, and a truly independent demonstration of mellow cool in an age of mild hysteria.


Frank Ocean

“Solo”

[38:37]

[Boys Don’t Cry/Def Jam; 2016]

Looming along the edge of the club, or the party, until a break in the vibe reveals how to move. I could slide, but what about my hands, desolate without a message to read. I could spiral until interrupted by the right song, but who will sing it with me. Is it humiliating to want to be the shape of lovers entwined in the stars. Is it more humiliating to be waiting outside in a sequined jacket, resisting the impulse to text: will you come hold me like a shell you might pick up on the beach?

Click to the next page to hear the “OFFICE” mix by Weaver.


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

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)

[00:00]

[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.


Nmesh

“Climbing the Corporate Ladder”

[03:47]

[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.


Omar-S

“Thank U 4 Letting Me Be Myself”

[08:10]

[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”

[15:56]

[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”

[21:08]

[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”

[25:06]

[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.


coolmemoryz

“4月20日「P A N I C 」”

[29:56]

[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”

[31:25]

[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…


MediaFired™

“Pixies”

[33:33]

[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”

[35:35]

[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.


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.


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

The BATH mix brings the sexiness of the spa to your tub. With its throbbing beats and seductive moans, this mix will melt all stress away while arousing you in places you never thought possible. If you’re feeling frisky, pair the mix with your tub’s massaging air bubbles and jet stream — you’ll thank us later.

PART 4: “BATH” mixed by Corrigan B


Ariana Grande

“imagine”

[01:08]

[Republic; 2018]

In October 2018, I broke up with someone. This isn’t an outlier experience in the grand scheme of orchestrated life: for as long as atoms have comprised bodies, collision, ignition, and separation has been a norm. Such separation isn’t sad. Seeking sadness in breaks is seeing sadness in the water washing the sand. Of course, we do this. I did this. And just when I thought, what if I am not OK, “imagine” arrived, tidal and incomplete and urging me to think beyond “thank” or “you” or even “next.” It urged me to imagine what I couldn’t see. It reminded me it was out there. And for that, I’m so thankful.


D’Angelo & The Vanguard

“Sugah Daddy”

[04:37]

[RCA; 2014]

Earthy and nude, “Sugah Daddy” soothed the 14-year ache of D’Angelo’s absence in a way both contemporary and throwback, locked in rhythmic tension with the immutable, timeless groove of dance and sex. Sung from the basement of his voice in a near indecipherable murmur almost exclusively sensual and expressive, D’Angelo reemerged as pure soul in abstract, returning us to a functional ethos of movement. Jazzy instrumental breaks found inhibition released in the syncopation, while the song’s hard-funk minimalism compelled us into motion as a physical manifestation of the music. Stifled by the terrifying potential of social and political stasis, “Sugah Daddy” was the healing appeal to move that we needed.


Teyana Taylor

“Hurry”

[09:30]

[G.O.O.D./Def Jam; 2018]

You want me to talk about this song? Really? Well, just be aware that every word of mine here will make this song a little less sexy. So do yourself a favor: hit play and stop reading right now. Just do it. You need me to explain what she’s talking about? Discuss the song’s politics? Aesthetics? C’mon. You get it. Teyana Taylor wants you to “Hurry.” What could she possibly be referring to? What is she in such a rush for? Duh. It’s 2019, and we’re not subtle anymore. Light some candles. Sex candles. For sex.


Clairo

“Closer to You”

[12:06]

[FADER; 2019]

Over the last 10 years, auto-tuned vocals have made the evolutionary leap from “effect” to “instrument.” Even though vocals were distorted and contorted to suit a range of aesthetic aims way before 2010, so much music of the past decade has been dependent on it. In the case of Clairo, who’s debut album Immunity came at the very end of the decade, the direction of that evolution reached its peak. The Atlanta musician coupled her distinctive take on auto-tuned vocals with “Closer to You,” the most private and unassured diary pop, where auto-tune was incorporated as a “wall” that she spoke through. Immunity permitted a fresh, impeccably tender insight into auto-tune as a means of exploration, and “Closer to You” provided the bass-heavy lowlight that made it all feel worthwhile.


18+

“EXECUTION”

[14:52]

[Self-Released; 2012]

There’s a ding dong, and then there’s a ding dong. Whether it was ringing from a doorbell or sliding into (and out of) an orifice, the kind of sexual experience offered on 18+’s “EXECUTION” was alluringly vacant and musically asphyxiated, “always situational,” a few late-night mouse clicks too deep. Its muted, thumping sample — find it yourself! — was paired with seductive drawls and assertive commands, juicy pussy and power play, resulting in the kind of sexual tension typical of an 18+ release — which is to say no release. Instead, we had buildup, anticipation, paranoia. “Oh, the doorbell…” moaned Sis. “Oh fuck, she’s home!” exclaimed Boy. We fetishistically observed, from afar.


FKA twigs

“Water Me”

[17:02]

[Young Turks; 2013]

FKA twigs has made a career of stylistic instability, but the Arca-produced “Water Me,” released long before either had reached the mainstream, was the apex of structural instability. Anchored and de-anchored by a persistently tempo-changing ticking clock, the song constantly fell in and out of sync with itself, reverb landing on a beat only to miss it a moment later, breaths added and falling short, the longing vocals continuing plaintively throughout, an effect beautifully highlighted in its now-classic music video. It was sensual in the sense that measuring an ever-changing distance between bodies is. It was both a breakup song and a plea for self-growth, the classic archetype. But under their yearning touch, it inhabited a barely-formed futurity — of music, of love, of bodies — shivering to life like tiny hairs under the palm of an outstretched hand. FKA twigs and Arca would spend the rest of the decade mining the same territory, but here it still sounded so delicate, so fragile that it broke our hearts while keeping us yearning.


Erika de Casier

“Little Bit”

[20:05]

[Safe Distribution; 2019]

It took us a decade to get a proper self-care anthem, but goddamn it was worth it. “Little Bit” was a mood & the color scheme was pastel pink & blue: A sexy bubble bath, sweet seductions effervescent in a foam of whispered invitations. Sure, Erika was “a little bit down,” but it was just a passing feeling. The Birth of Venus, but instead of sea froth, Aphrodite emerged from a bath bomb, kicking back with a joint: “I’ll put it aside/ And take a hit.” No devastation, just good vibes: Come to my place & let’s light some scented candles.


Jeremih

“773 Love”

[24:30]

[Def Jam; 2012]

It’s still unclear to me what fresh wrinkle in Jeremih’s ever-present label issues manifested the DJ Drama-hosted Late Nights with Jeremih, but thank God; Jeremih is not associated with Chicago nearly as closely or as often as he should be, instead existing in the stateless kind of universal bedroom to which the modern R&B star is confined. Unburdened by the expectations of a full-album rollout (and most known at the time as the “Birthday Sex” guy), Jeremih dropped an instantly-classic tape with a time, place, and personality of its own. “773 Love” lay at its heart in more ways than one, an ode to unhurried, unqualified love that was the tracklist’s chronological midpoint and musical peak.


Mariah Carey

“GTFO”

[28:05]

[Epic; 2018]

This decade took our love for granted, left us lost and disenchanted, bulldozed our hearts as if it planned it. Through all the devastation, Mariah Carey has been around — she had two stellar albums in I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse and Caution — but she has been sort of marginalized and left behind in poptimism’s enthusiastic and impotent attendance to the new. Still, as an impotent poptimist myself, I like what I like, and I love “GTFO.” I will offer no critical justification. Instead, I’ll point out that while Caution was not the most challenging or inaccessible album of the decade, it was the only one that began by telling you to “get the fuck out.” It’s one of the best album openers in post-internet pop history.


How to Dress Well

“Repeat Pleasure (A. G. Cook Remix)”

[31:48]

[Weird World; 2014]

A. G. Cook’s vast remix catalog is often the source of his most intriguing work. This goes doubly for his contribution to the bonus tracks of How to Dress Well’s What is This Heart?: a deconstruction of “Repeat Pleasure,” a song that already bore the ideological trappings of a PC Music tune. As its title suggests, “Repeat Pleasure” aimed for a contradictory intersection of the ephemeral and the permanent, the cyclical search for satisfaction and the inevitable need for just a little more — something else. Distorting the track’s pitched-up verse and chorus into near incoherence, Cook zeroed in on its thesis statement, tearing through a synth pad stratosphere: “Even when we get what we wanted / Our hearts babe will never stop longing / Pleasure repeats on and on / Even broken my heart will go Broken my heart will go Broken my heart will go Broken my heart will go Broke̛̜n ḿ̗y ̪̌h̝́e̲͡a̒͟rt w̻̋i̪͌ll̪͝ ́͜go B̫͌r͈͑ǒ͎̈͟k̪̋e̦͗n ̛̺m̬̽y̠͞ ̩̂h̼͎̐̿e̲̟̊͡ǎ͉ṟ̔t ̱̼́̐wil͉͡l̙̍ ̬̉gȏ̺̤̎ Br̞͠okĕ͉͑͜n ̺̲̕͘m̞͌ȳ̳͕͡ heā̝rt ̦͗wiļ̀͘͜l ͍̀go B̛̹̹͌rơ̝͙͝ǩͅe͉̗̍͒n my h̞͌earț̰̾͞ ̡̼̒͋w̙͘i͉̽ll go

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


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.


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

You’re in the ALLEY now, under the blinding neon lights, among narcissists and hackers, Babyfathers and bbymuthas. All your friends are here — Inga and Arca, Lanza and Shmurda, Young M.A and JPEGMAFIA. Walk the streets. Taste the city. Taste the night. The city is yours.

PART 6: “ALLEY” mixed by Sam Tornow


copeland

“advice to young girls (w/Actress)”

[00:00]

[Self-Released]

I’m not the person to be determining what advice is suited or not suited for young girls. I don’t understand what’s that like. But Igna Copeland does, and she offered wise words on this collaboration with Actress, a highlight off her 2014 solo debut, BECAUSE I’M WORTH IT. “My advice to young girls would be: Go home after school. Pretend to go to sleep. While your parents argue in the kitchen, put on some makeup and dress up. You sneak out of the window and meet your friends in the corner. Together, you’re strong. You walk the streets. Taste the city. Taste the night. The city is yours.” While I sat back, struck by her portrait of rebellion and the importance it plays in identity formation for young women, Inga continued speaking. And for this song and for the rest of the decade, we continued listening.


Arca

“Desafío”

[03:36]

[XL]

Why not simply try to touch the other, feel the other, discover each other?
– Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Before you can remember, you were touched. And after you can’t remember, you will be touched some more. Which is not to say that all touches are commensurable to one another; some touches solicit relation while others excise its very possibility. Some touches change what it means to feel. “Desafío” was not a history of touches, but an erogenous thrust, its imperative mood a seduction, a suffocation of unconsummated anteriority by strangulation, a dissolution of barricaded interiority by the inexorable intensities of its lilt and lithe and lick. “Desafío” staged the wrenching undoing of a touch so abyssal I still ache from and for its encounter.


Young M.A

“OOOUUUU”

[06:45]

[Self-Released]

“OOOUUU” was like floating in a warm glass of Hennessy, without a fly’s fear of slow death. Your pores absorbed perhaps a bit too much of the alcohol, but there was no hangover. Instead, there was a wire cord through both your arms, someone shaking it at a slow but steady pace. In an interview with Noisey, Young M.A threw a killer spiral 35 meters down a football field to her receiver, recalling her Randy Moss line off “OOOUUU.” But she was the quarterback now. Sure, the video for “OOOUUUU” did numbers, but M.A wasn’t about appearances. She was the just real. “I don’t gotta look fly […] look, I’m driving a fuckin’ Hyundai Sonata, man […] And that’s real shit.”


bbymutha

“BBC”

[10:26]

[SmokeOuts]

bbymutha’s demeanor spoke volumes; 13 seconds into the video for “BBC,” the song’s opening line — a flip of the all-time “I’m a bad bitch, you can’t kill me” Vine — was already redundant. Less a hook than a pedal point around which the verses gave color, it was a shorthand for bbymutha’s entire persona: by her pen, self-determination became musical and self-aggrandizement a matter of fact, all without apology. “BBC” wasn’t bbymutha’s only song, but it was her best; a mission statement that set the tone — and the stakes — for the whole of her discography.


Babyfather

“Skywalker Freestyle”

[13:16]

[Self-Released]

“Skywalker Freestyle” was the spit in the face of every art gallery owner. It was the spliff you lit up in the back of the club because fuck security. It was the gossip you were over-pretending wasn’t true anymore. It was the speaker in your car starting to clip out but you kept turning the dial up anyway. It was the WeTransfer link that didn’t exist anymore, and the YouTube re-uploaded set on repeat. It was the condensed loop of all our collective anger and disillusionment banging against the walls of this prison and still finding something that sounded like freedom. “If this tune bangs, bust it two times.” Why stop at two?


Bobby Shmurda

“Hot N*gga”

[15:47]

[Epic/GS9]

It’s impossible to write about Bobby Shmurda without recognizing that where my eyes find a path, violence follows in step. That’s true as well for the millions of eyes fixed upon this YouTube video in 2014. The legacy of viral rap sensations is a tome of genius and corpus, but of them all, Bobby’s “Hot N*gga” was the most penetrating. The track was his unwavering stare back at us, his moment of invincibility, his infinite jest. With violent eyes looking back to the past, the only thing I can say now is that Bobby was right and honest. It was the rest of us who were wrong.


JPEGMAFIA

“Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot”

[19:28]

[EQT]

“Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot” was religious, but not in the church-going, sermonizing sense. Instead, it was a parable on all the fucked up, unconscionable events that occured in any cultural Good Book. If Sodom and Gomorrah were the Mecca, would JPEGMAFIA constitute Allah? Bust out your good Bethlehem 7’s; it’s mosh pit time. We stayed preaching and baring our souls just to feel that one drop of ecstasy. Let us all be thots in solidarity. In JPEG’s name, amen.


Jessy Lanza

“Oh No”

[21:22]

[Hyperdub]

Wriggled free from the utopian digital veneer that burnished so much of the decade’s musical capital, Jessy Lanza’s “Oh No” stumbled forward into a homespun tangle of pop-noir anxieties and the panicked rush of the urban hustle. Spellbinding and mechanical, the song was like a mystic incantation that brought life to the uneasy synthesizers, the runaway jumble of drums, and Lanza’s own breathless vocals under the buzzing neon lights and fluorescent watchtowers of our metropolitan passageways, ticking at every moment closer to the next hollow peal of midnight. Who had the energy? Who had the time? I’m a worker, baby.


Death Grips

“Hacker”

[25:26]

[Epic]

Closing out one of our favorite albums of the decade, “Hacker” was a wrestler’s entrance theme marked by a promise to take garbage cans and steel chairs up into the stands. Lyrically, a lot of Death Grips tracks are violently turbulent, but on this track, the motivation to “grab your fucking chain and drag you through the bike lane” felt more like a dizzying statement of purpose. Death Grips were officially “in your areaaaaaaa,” regardless of a preceding welcome. And they totally brought their geocoding skills.


Dean Blunt

“The Narcissist (feat. Inga Copeland)”

[29:42]

[Self-Released]

When The Narcissist II first appeared in early 2012, it existed only as an anonymous MediaFire link, passed around by word of mouth. This was back in that magical moment when the alleys of the internet felt rich and endless, like the labyrinth of a Borges story. Now, nearly a decade later, that original download link is long since broken. But this narcissist lives on like a phantom, haunting streaming services thanks to an excellent reissue from the tragically shuttered Hippos in Tanks label. All things end, even if they seem like they’re going to last forever. Some alleys you only get to walk down once before, turning back for one more glance, they’re gone.

Click to the next page to hear the “BONFIRE” mix by Willcoma.


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

The BONFIRE is not where we gather, but why we gather. From epic sing-alongs to social rallying to communal mic-sharing, this mix creates space for celebratory experiences and dramatic intimations of the universal. The fire here is to warm our hearts, not our dinner.

PART 7: “BONFIRE” mixed by Willcoma


Creek Boyz

“With My Team”

[00:00]

[Cross Creek]

It was all about community and feeling. The Creek Boyz’s now-legendary posse-cut yoked the enduring pain of loss to the unalloyed joy of friendship — the feeling that anything’s possible because of the people at your back. Set to honeyed, unobtrusive production by A2rBeatz, the Baltimore quartet sounded at once thrillingly loose and spectacularly practiced. The hand-offs from rapper to rapper were barely-there smooth, every ad lib darting in at just the right angle. Member ETS Breeze’s supple delivery was a whole sensual universe unto itself. But it was the crew’s intoxicating harmonies that elevated “With My Team” from sung storytelling to a felt experience. We were invited to share in their hurt, their communal strength, and their good vibes, which emanated effortlessly from their raps like a life-giving glow. Friends died, mothers cried, and memorial t-shirts were printed, but there was hope to be found in each other, and that proved enough to electrify an entire fucking city, and eventually the world. Yeah, it’s gon’ be fine.


Yung Lean

“Leanworld”

[02:50]

[Self-Released]

Lay me down, concrete love. I blinked through watery eyes that stared bloodshot at an LED screen. I saw myself, and it wasn’t in a reflection. I saw myself in a green haze of light. Then I was floating through a skyline – not actually floating through a skyline, mind you – but I saw the cityscape of Los Angeles in the year 2019. I’ll see you in another life, when we are both cats. And then I saw myself in a garden among the weeds, among the soil. And I was home. Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space.


Kendrick Lamar

“Alright”

[06:35]

[Top Dawg]

The pressures of excellence weighed on Kendrick Lamar like an anvil, both in real life and in the narrative of To Pimp a Butterfly. “Alls my life I has to fight,” he brashly intoned at the top of “Alright,” the centerpiece of this grandiose, intimate jazz rap masterwork. His foes included the police (they want him dead in the street) and his doubters in Compton (Lamar’s own Nazareth). And of course, there was the temptation that had been hounding him since at least good kid, m.A.A.d. city; it beckoned with promises of houses, cars, and reparations. He knew this materialism was dubious, but that was the game, and he had been pimped into it. Prostrated beneath all these millstones, Kendrick heard a reprieve by way of Pharrell: “We gon’ be all right…”


Angel Bat Dawid

“Black Family”

[09:49]

[International Anthem]


If this were Tiny Mix Tapes’s Favorite Basslines of the Decade list, it would consist of Angel Bat Dawid’s “Black Family” and… well, just that would be enough, really. A spiritual jazz number that incidentally alluded to the subgenre’s misnomer, reminding us how all jazz music could be spiritual, all spirituality music. A piece whose intricacies lay hidden in its simplicity. A solo expression of community from a multigenerational one-woman ensemble. A single lyric, its affirmation brilliantly repeated like the revolutions of the sun: “The Black Family is the strongest institution in the world.” And that bass…


Rihanna

“Higher”

[16:06]

[Roc Nation]

Here are some shamelessly cheesy questions concerning Rihanna’s “Higher,” an anthem for those shamelessly and cheesily in love: Do you have someone? Do you want to? Have you ever? Where are they now? Have you stared at a fire sitting next to someone, their gaze fixated on the same glowing ember as yours? Have you ever been a little tipsy and wanted to tell them everything all at once? Do the words escape you? Do you feel you could be more creative, but I love you is the only thing that comes to mind? Do you feel cliché? Awkward? Cheesy? Have you ever opened a space inside someone else that fits you so perfectly that all you have room for is two short verses from a desperately genuine love song? Do you feel sad, nostalgic, high, anything? Has Rihanna ever explained something you felt, something you didn’t even know was there, but always has been? She did that for me with “Higher,” when she had “a little bit too much to say,” so she said it all by saying very little in a short but triumphantly intimate, beautiful love song. And the shamelessly cheesy romantics like myself simply couldn’t get enough of it.


Autre Ne Veut

“Drama Cum Drama”

[17:52]

[Olde English Spelling Bee]


Then-mysterious Autre Ne Veut took their striking, fully-formed shape in the silvery dawn of the 2010s, a pop cloud radiating sugared holograms of flesh in pain and in ecstasy — a speak-and-spelling Al Green, a runny watercolor Francis Bacon. “Drama Cum Drama,” at the halfway mark of their self-titler, was a bed of pretty, decaying electric jolts trimmed with Christmas-in-the-80s candy keyboards. Gooshy, splayed-internal-organ vocals growled and soared through gargled lyrics and a joyful, longing mantra of “gotta be alive,” holding back a late-in-the-game climax: a delirious just-can’t-wait falsetto swoon anticipating an unintelligible something “to be there in my heart tonight.”


Japandroids

“The House That Heaven Built”

[22:07]

[Polyvinyl]

What is the meaning of life? It’s a question that has stumped us since the dawn of rational thought. Is life really that complicated though? Sometimes, sure. Other times, however, the meaning of life really can be as simple as cracking open some cold ones, putting your arms around your favorite people, and scream-singing “The House That Heaven Built” in unison until God themself knocks on the front door and tells you to shut the hell up, this is a family neighborhood. “The House That Heaven Built” was a rock anthem to end all rock anthems, a complete and utter jam that burned the candle at both ends, threw the candle in the air, and then blew it up with a shotgun.


The National

“Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”

[27:03]

[4AD]

“Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” followed me through the decade like an old sweater. One that you never wear, so that when you do, you’re conscious of its age and the maudlin contours of memory that hang from it. If I had an old sweater band in the 2010s, then The National were certainly it, and I mean that endearingly. 2010’s High Violet was a marvel for me during my high school years, and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” was its wistful dénouement, less an anthem than a eulogy for that unique strain of nostalgia that’s at once happy and sad. In its essence, it was an open embrace of the past and the future, both a sunset and a sunrise, depending on your vantage point. And like everyone, I had many vantage points in the 2010s. Life changes, we change with it, but certain artifacts stay with us. For me, one of them was this song, packed away in the closet, not so much gathering dust as absorbing time, waiting to be worn again when the weather was right. I never really understood the lyrics (What, or who, is a Vanderlyle? And who, or what, are the geeks?), and I don’t think anyone ever did — even now, googling them feels like a betrayal of their malleability, words that somehow become specific in their vague appeal to the universal: “All the very best of us/ String ourselves up for love…” Sometimes I listened to this song on repeat for months, sometimes I didn’t listen to it for years only to have it resurface in the most peculiar way. And now, here it is again, waiting for me to press play like so many times before.


Kanye West

“Ultralight Beam”

[30:57]

[Def Jam]

This is my part nobody else speak, this is my part nobody else speak. Pause, gasp, apophasis. To those who could never speak, who were never heard. To those who could speak but got all choked up. To those who could not and still cannot breathe. A chorus gathering to voice a silence so insistent even Kanye gets quiet. For all the latter-day posturing, proselytizing, and profiteering — the convert’s sweaty hands stretching toward a gilded dais — this moment of hush evoked another sort of entity. Illuminated by the ultralight beam: an ensemble looking not for asinine redemption, but a modest clearing in which to sojourn.


Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

“Round and Round”

[36:19]

[4AD]

Sometimes brilliant things are kinda dumb, like a song called “Round and Round” anchored by a bassline that sounds, duh, circular. The words echoed the bass (“We die and we live and we’re born again”) and the chorus summoned an optical illusion (“I’ll back you up/ As your frontman”). The dreamlike synth vamp led nowhere at all. Constant motion blurred into a feeling of total stasis — kinda like bein’ alive, right? Brilliant. Just how many of Ariel Pink’s phone calls were we privy to this decade? Was this all some kind of joke?

Click to the next page to hear the “CLIFF” mix by B. Levinson.


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

You’re finally alone, sitting at your contemplation spot on the CLIFF. Shifting from the complexities of community to the crisis of the individual, your concerns gently move inward, where it feels like everyone has disappeared and everything is embarrassing. “Who am I?” you wonder, expecting no response.

PART 8: “CLIFF” mixed by B. Levinson


Beach House

“Silver Soul”

[00:02]

[Sub Pop]

Everyone has disappeared, because I fucked with the mood when I changed the song. What drew me into another room, what made me collapse into a pile of dresses, heaving like a river, was language moving inside her mouth, close to my clavicle, where it condensed, humid and phenomenal. Syllables round as pearls that I could hold, or winged like thrushes. I gathered what I could and braided my hair, then slid my blouse down my shoulders. In this fantasy, I know how to sing, it is happening again, it is happening again.


Sky Ferreira

“Everything Is Embarrassing”

[04:44]

[Capitol]

While the rest of Ghost struggled through mainstream congestion, “Everything Is Embarrassing” retreated onto its own plot of 1980s dreamland, where lyrics shielded by auto-octave idealism strove for romantic hustle and elbow-grease affirmation. Slap bass bubbled out of tar-pit reverb, glam drums flumped their butts down over the mix, and hi-hat hits slid across the asphalt like skipping stones. Woozy keyboards showed early symptoms of cassette deck lovesickness, contrasted by the evocative simplicity of firm piano chords encapsulated in chorus. Above the viscous mix, Ferreira’s voice blue-skied like a lovelorn eagle.


Angel Olsen

“Stars”

[09:04]

[Jagjaguwar]

Angel Olsen had just picked up stakes and began what has become a career of redefining her musical self. “Stars” was her first freeing moment, car windows down in the stark blackness of a clear night. The beauty of wearing your heart on your sleeve and hanging it out of the car door in a trail of rubber smoke and choking exhaust. While it seems so hard to leave a life lived from a comfortable passenger seat, Olsen grabbed the wheel to steer toward a new destination. But the drive was scenic, and sometimes it’s the journey that matters.


Amen Dunes

“Bedroom Drum”

[13:38]

[Sacred Bones]


Psychedelia as self-help was a relatively new space to inhabit early in the decade. Since then, it’s become fad-as-mantra. Yet “Bedroom Drum” has resonated throughout, largely due to its massive buzz and simple percussion, harnessing the isolation of its titular space. Damon McMahon was a young man here pacing the floor, banging out an incessant melody across a reverberating room to find inner peace in a stuck melody, while also acknowledging a scary truth: this will eventually become his burial plot.


Mitski

“Your Best American Girl”

[17:48]

[Dead Oceans]

While most songs on Mitski’s Puberty 2 explored either the desire to live with abandon or the inevitability of settling, “Your Best American Girl” dwelled somewhere in between: a torch song of a woman who was done contorting herself into an alien shape to please her beloved. “Your mother wouldn’t approve/ Of how my mother raised me/ But I do, I finally do,” she declared, seeming to locate a confidence proportionate to the thunder of her guitar. Yet it was doubt we heard creeping back into the song’s final moments, a yearning for the wholeness wholly deserved, yet still out of reach.


Grouper

“Clearing”

[21:44]

[Kranky]


When I first heard Elizabeth Harris’s voice, I was subleasing a basement apartment for an especially sultry Wisconsin summer. I didn’t have a bed, but it came with a couch that appeared much, much larger than its actual reclining space; I stretched a fitted sheet over it so I could justify sleeping on it for three months. As it happened, bad weed stench permeated everything, and my summer toilet would periodically flush itself and overflow; I didn’t spend much time there, but when I did, I would lie bent sideways on that big brown turd of furniture and blast ambient music recommended by friends who read Tiny Mix Tapes. Replica, Beaches and Canyons, and Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill would envelop every creak and gargle by drawing it all in rather than drowning it all out. Grouper eventually became part of that space, inseparable from its smells and sounds and sights; it transformed that blanket of malaise I was living under into one of comfort. When Grouper released Ruins in 2014, I was inundated, but “Clearing” remains the only Grouper song I can recall melodically without hearing it. Imagine a sound so strong it becomes not just a part of your world, but a part of your body, one you can love without limits.


Mount Eerie

“Soria Moria”

[26:22]

[P.W. Elverum & Sun]

How about a little Turing Test, courtesy of Phil Elverum? Ready?

I saw fireworks many miles away but didn’t hear them
And I felt a longing, a childish melancholy
And then I went to sleep
And the aching was buried, dreaming, aging, reaching for an idea of somewhere other than this place
That could fold me in clouded yearning
For nowhere actually reachable, the distance was the point.

Results:

• If you are really an artificial intelligence, I’m sorry, but you are now broken.

• If you are really a human being, I’m sorry, but you are now defeated.


Sufjan Stevens

“Death with Dignity”

[32:48]

[Asthmatic Kitty]

Trebly fingerpicking conveyed the anticipation of tears, emotion rising to the throat as the death of a “tired old mare” — his mother — drew near; Sufjan Stevens’s vivid landscapes and still lives belied his claim to not know where to begin. Elsewhere on the album, strikingly contemporary subject matter collided with ancient mythology, but “Death with Dignity’s” setting was strictly rural mid-20th century: the “amethysts and flowers on the table” were perfunctory well-wishing; a signal searchlight was a metaphysical guide. Its simple structure — a naked piano bridge linking the anticipation of death to its aftermath — only amplified the crescendo to a final acknowledgement that “you’ll never see us again…”


boygenius

“Me & My Dog”

[37:01]

[Matador]

I dare you to find a taller, sheerer, “cliffier” CLIFF on this mix than Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers’ loosely strummed homage to golden-era, Liz Phair indie folk, in which the only counterfactual that could possibly match the hugeness of the pure human feeling being presented is to find oneself “on a spaceship/ just me and my dog and an impossible view.” In the truest spirit of “friends strumming guitars and singing about all the bittersweet shit they see and feel,” the trio of 20-somethings had never even stepped into the same room all at the same time before meeting to tour and record their eponymous EP (having, naturally, traded riffs and ideas and encouragement via the internet). As usual: the results of not-giving-too-much-of-a-fuck-about-transcending-humanity were transcendentally human.


Julia Holter

“I Shall Love 2”

[40:25]

[Domino]

It could be rising against anything. In a wave, it pushes and resists constriction. Overcoming, it undoes me, this rapturous attention to another. This quickly forgetting being alone and quickly projecting a new foundation. Quickly losing and stretching. Reaching forth for all that’s left when there is nothing else. And, really, there is nothing else, just desire pulling. That is all, that is all. Loving again, unfairly. Economic with words because they just keep losing me. The few changes here are a fertile ground for sowing. Or building. A very gradual build through yearning, the push and pull of it. I am in love, what can I do.

Click to the next page to hear the “VOID” mix by Colin Fitzgerald.


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

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”

[00:00]

[Presto!?]

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”

[02:42]

[XL]

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.


D/P/I

“DEPRESSION SESSION”

[07:40]

[CHANCEIMAG.es]

“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?

Then

— 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.
YOU CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANNA DO.
— Believe in Elliott Hulse.
Now

— 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”

[13:08]

[Rabid]

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.


Prurient

“Dragonflies to Sew You Up”

[22:30]

[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?


EMA

“California”

[28:40]

[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?


BEBETUNE$

“NERO CEA$ER/ANTI CHRIST”

[33:12]

[Self-Released]

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.


QT

“Hey QT”

[38:26]

[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.


Future

“Mask Off”

[40:44]

[A1/Freebandz/Epic]

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.


Klein

“Marks of Worship”

[43:57]

[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.


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

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PART 10: “BEYOND” mixed by Will Neibergall


E+E

“The Totaled Angelica”

[00:00]

[Total Stasis]

On one end of the world, a window cracks. A billionaire unveils an electric truck styled after a 1996 polygon render. A President is removed. A company’s stock rises. On the other end of the world, someone predicts the obsolescence of Human art. After all, machines have been making better choices than humans for a long time. This is just fascist Silicon Valley propaganda, someone replies. You say that all worlds are fake? Well, that is a thought not many can afford. Can you simulate hunger? Oppression? The punishing gaze of the Other? Would you? In the works of Elysia Crampton, worlds ended and spawned. Crystals glistened and found the reflection of beauty. Sparks and blood marked the trail of ascension. Pastures turned gray under the smoke of a machine, then mixed with the clouds. Things emerged transformed. A new time and a new world. A tumult in sound. Lacerating silence. Beyond.


Alex Zhang Hungtai

“Matrimony”

[02:46]

[NON Worldwide]

“Matrimony” is a timeless piece belonging to no decade. The space, the date, and the location are insignificant footnotes swallowed by the dunes of audio that engulf them. But if they did have some relevance, they would be motionless, life-affirming droplets of anti-gravity; a droplet of space, a droplet of time, and a droplet of spatial awareness that have all been excavated from some teeming synergy of voices. And when we listen, we are not alone. There are our hands that clasp at our open palms, as we stumble over rounded pebbles, broken fence panels, and neat piles of soil. There is no light. We feel unnerved, but we don’t want any more company.


Angelo Badalamenti

“Dark Space Low”

[06:15]

[Rhino]

dark space low
noun
    1. a potent dread untetherable to any specific memory.
    2. a violent reminder that you don’t remember whose hand you raised to ring the doorbell.
    3. the weightless whisper the door-opener passes to someone you cannot see.
    4. a pervasive schism: if things aren’t at all right, they are at least all that they are, which is to say neither wholly good nor effectively bad.
    5. a devastating blank stare at the end of time.
    6. a wind that moves across her hair and brings with it a roar of recognition.
    7. the return.
    8. the end.


Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

“Love’s Refrain”

[07:53]

[Geographic North]

A Kodachrome sun beamed throughout Tarentel veteran Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s solo EP In Summer. The lead track “Love’s Refrain” evoked the humid thud of Dead Can Dance through a shoegazing haze: liquid guitars ricocheted off hollow drums, while a ragged bass drifted from pasture to dance floor. And yet we neither withered nor burned in the heatwave. Tangled in fruit trees, mangled tapes lathered more than lulled, streaking our gothic eyeliner across an August sky. Those seeking the postal code to this golden dreamscape will have to wait. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is a sonic nomad impervious to the world’s demands. Wherever it is, he’s summered; he can’t hear us from his side of the shore.


James Blake

“The Wilhelm Scream”

[15:30]

[Atlas/A&M]

This song’s arcane film trope reference may’ve been oddly suitable. But on this side of our brand new decade, Blake’s immaculate rain-streaked tweed sulker was known simply as “Entourage brought me here.” “The Wilhelm Scream” remains the ideal introductory James Blake song, even with the disorienting fever-spike distortion at the end. It masterfully flushed the listener with a numb rush of warmth, too assailing to be just another lament and too chilly to lull. It was a long, buoyed radar blip drift, somehow galvanized in its self-doubt. Not unlike much of what’s brought us here.


Yves Tumor

“Limerence”

[19:54]

[PAN]


One of the only constants in Yves Tumor’s career in the last decade is his mastery of shapeshifting. There’s the noise on Serpent Music, the pitch-shifted new age all over Experiencing the Deposit of Faith, and everything in between on Safe in the Hands of Love. “Limerence,” from PAN’s Mono No Aware compilation, was a different kind of shapeshifting. Here, he slithered between memories, obsession, regret, and nostalgia through an intimate conversation between two people, one who wanted to take videos to chronicle their relationship so they could look back at them in old age, and one who was indifferent. I listened once, and I’m the one being asked to smile; on another listen, I’m the one asking. Sometimes I’m watching the conversation happen; other times I’m watching the older couple, now separated, thinking about those videos that could have been, for entirely different reasons.


Laurel Halo

“Light + Space”

[25:02]

[Hyperdub]


Words are just words that you soon forget. At the end of a decade suffocated by empty forgotten words, these ones can’t be forgotten. On “Light + Space,” the stunning finale to her 2012 masterpiece Quarantine, Laurel Halo’s breath poured out in heavy plumes across the frozen tundra of our digital winter. The result was one of the warmest, saddest, most beautiful, and most human works of electronic music this past decade. It stands as a reminder that, somewhere in the cold night, there is a body, and a mouth, and a voice. And this, at least, will not be forgotten.


Panda Bear

“Tropic of Cancer”

[29:26]

[Domino]

In September 2000, a month after Avey Tare and Panda Bear released their first album, my father died. I was 10 years old. I didn’t discover Animal Collective until six years after that, when some friends recommended Feels. Merriweather Post Pavilion created an insatiable need for more, and I listened to track 5 from Young Prayer every year on my father’s birthday. I had a picture of Noah Lennox, his face covered in paint, that I ripped from a magazine hanging in my dorm room sophomore year. My mother asked if it was a picture of me. “Yes,” I responded, “but not in the way that you mean.”


David Bowie

“I Can’t Give Everything Away”

[35:36]

[Columbia]

Existing under normal circumstances, “I Can’t Give Everything Away” would have been an excellent album closer, a note of serene uplift capping an album that often alternated between haunted and chaotic. Of course, David Bowie died two days after the release of his now final album, and this song has since become something else entirely. It is a farewell that resonates down to your very core. Major Tom’s final transmission from the great beyond. The reveal that, otherworldly as he always seemed, David Bowie was a fragile human being like the rest of us. In a career characterized reinvention, “I Can’t Give Everything Away” pulled off the act one last time as the curtains came down for good.


DJ Rashad

“Love U Found”

[40:53]

[Ghettophiles]

This is the only footwork track that made it onto this list. On one hand, that sucks; nothing is more important to the past 10 years of electronic music than footwork. On the other hand, it’s hard to praise footwork on the basis of individual tracks. That the genre ever left Chicago is thanks to the internet, and it works here for the same reason it works there: it isn’t the province of individual geniuses and their masterworks, but that of performance, the marginal, and the apocryphal. We collect bits and pieces of and tell stories about it; we don’t anthologize. DJ Rashad wasn’t given a lifetime achievement award or greatest hits compilation. His life, like the best footwork tracks, came and went too quickly to process. But at least he left us breadcrumbs like “Love U Found” — the splayed, stuttering Michael Jackson sample; the weird, plastic synth; that snare. Totally flawed and totally perfect.

Click to the next page to view and listen to the entire list.


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


PART 1: “BED” mixed by Adam Devlin

[00:27] Lily Konigsberg - “Rock and Sin”
[03:49] Caroline Polachek - “Door”
[09:08] Destroyer - “Kaputt”
[15:01] Jai Paul - “BTSU (Demo)”
[18:29] Perfume Genius - “Hood”
[20:22] Grimes - “Oblivion”
[24:29] John Maus - “Believer”
[28:32] Tami T - “Birthday”
[32:40] Kate NV - “Kata”
[38:37] Frank Ocean - “Solo”


PART 2: “OFFICE” mixed by Rick Weaver

[00:00] Macintosh Plus - “Floral Shoppe” (花の専門店 Hana no Senmon-ten)
[03:47] Nmesh - “Climbing the Corporate Ladder”
[08:10] Omar-S - “Thank U 4 Letting Me Be Myself”
[15:56] Mark Fell - “Multistability 1-B”
[21:08] Nonlocal Forecast - “Planck Lengths”
[25:06] Ford & Lopatin - “Break Inside”
[29:56] coolmemoryz - “4月20日「P A N I C 」”
[31:25] James Ferraro - “Global Lunch”
[33:33] MediaFired™ - “Pixies”
[35:35] PrismCorp Virtual Enterprises - “Beauty Plus”


PART 3: “GYM” mixed by Alex Brown

[00:38] Jam City - “How We Relate to the Body”
[05:15] A. G. Cook - “Beautiful”
[09:15] Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - “きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ - PONPONPON”
[13:10] Azealia Banks - “212”
[16:30] SOPHIE - “BIPP”
[20:03] Leif - “Wut”
[22:39] easyFun - “Laplander”
[26:18] Perfume - “Flash” (album mix)
[30:37] Robyn - “Dancing On My Own”
[34:10] Hannah Diamond - “Pink And Blue”


PART 4: “BATH” mixed by Corrigan B

[01:08] Ariana Grande - “imagine”
[04:37] D’Angelo & The Vanguard - “Sugah Daddy”
[09:30] Teyana Taylor - “Hurry”
[12:06] Clairo - “Closer to You”
[14:52] 18+ - “EXECUTION”
[17:02] FKA twigs - “Water Me”
[20:05] Erika de Casier - “Little Bit”
[24:30] Jeremih - “773 Love”
[28:05] Mariah Carey - “GTFO”
[31:48] How to Dress Well - “Repeat Pleasure” (A. G. Cook Remix)


PART 5: “COUPE” mixed by Alex Brown

[00:33] Young Thug - “Constantly Hating”
[04:55] Playboi Carti - “Magnolia”
[07:50] Valee ft. Jeremih - “Womp Womp”
[11:20] Charli XCX - “Vroom Vroom”
[14:30] Princess Nokia - “Tomboy”
[17:22] Tyler, The Creator - “Yonkers”
[21:32] Cardi B - “Bodak Yellow (Zora Jones & Sinjin Hawke Bootleg)”
[26:09] Beyoncé - “Countdown”
[29:42] ILoveMakonnen - “Club Goin’ Up on a Tuesday”
[33:10] Rich Gang ft. Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan - “Lifestyle”


PART 6: “ALLEY” mixed by Sam Tornow

[00:00] copeland - “advice to young girls (w/Actress)”
[03:36] Arca - “Desafío”
[06:45] Young M.A - “OOOUUU”
[10:26] bbymutha - “BBC”
[13:16] Babyfather - “Skywalker Freestyle”
[15:47] Bobby Shmurda - “Hot N*gga”
[19:28] JPEGMAFIA - “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot”
[21:22] Jessy Lanza - “Oh No”
[25:26] Death Grips - “Hacker”
[29:42] Dean Blunt - “The Narcissist ft. Inga Copeland”


PART 7: “BONFIRE” mixed by Willcoma

[00:00] Creek Boyz - “With My Team”
[02:50] Yung Lean - “Leanworld”
[06:35] Kendrick Lamar - “Alright”
[09:49] Angel Bat Dawid - “Black Family”
[16:06] Rihanna - “Higher”
[17:52] Autre Ne Veut - “Drama Cum Drama”
[22:07] Japandroids - “The House That Heaven Built”
[27:03] The National - “Vanerlyle Crybaby Geeks”
[30:57] Kanye West - “Ultralight Beam”
[36:19] Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - “Round and Round”


PART 8: “CLIFF” mixed by B. Levinson

[00:02] Beach House - “Silver Soul”
[04:44] Sky Ferreira - “Everything Is Embarrassing”
[09:04] Angel Olsen - “Stars”
[13:38] Amen Dunes - “Bedroom Drum”
[17:48] Mitski - “Your Best American Girl”
[21:44] Grouper - “Clearing”
[26:22] Mount Eerie - “Soria Moria”
[32:48] Sufjan Stevens - “Death With Dignity”
[37:01] boygenius - “Me & My Dog”
[40:25] Julia Holter - “I Shall Love 2”


PART 9: “VOID” mixed by Colin Fitzgerald

[00:00] Triad God - “Chow Bat Por”
[02:42] King Krule - “Dum Surfer”
[07:40] D/P/I - “DEPRESSION SESSION”
[13:08] The Knife - “Full of Fire”
[22:30] Prurient - “Dragonflies to Sew You Up”
[28:40] EMA - “California”
[33:12] BEBETUNE$ - “NERO CEA$AR/ANTI CHRIST”
[38:26] QT - “Hey QT” [remix]
[40:44] Future - “Mask Off”
[43:57] Klein - “Marks of Worship”


PART 10: “BEYOND” mixed by Will Neibergall

[00:00] E+E - “The Totaled Angelica”
[02:46] Alex Zhang Hungtai - “Matrimony”
[06:15] Angelo Badalamenti - “Dark Space Low”
[07:53] Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - “Love’s Refrain”
[15:30] James Blake - “The Wilhelm Scream”
[19:54] Yves Tumor - “Limerence”
[25:02] Laurel Halo - “Light + Space”
[29:26] Panda Bear - “Tropic of Cancer”
[35:36] David Bowie - “I Can’t Give Everything Away”
[40:43] DJ Rashad - “Love U Found”

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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