50. Apollo Ghosts “Things You Go Through”
It is a bit of a misnomer that the last number of a countdown whether it be 50 or 100 is a track that is the list editors choice to stick on last minute. Since I received Apollo Ghosts’ mp3 for “Things You Go Through” back in March I knew it would make this list, I just was not sure where. The track is undeniably goofy with lead singer Adrian Teacher stumbling through an R.E.M. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)”-like litany of things one may go through but the jangle pop background and Unicorns-esque energy make the song anything but an appendage to this list.
49. Matt & Kim “Cameras”
It’s a bit odd listening to Matt & Kim’s “Cameras.” Part of you wants to love the song but the other part of you is a little bit mad that it is not a hip hop song. The beat the indie pop duo create is so infectious that it has been turned into a hip hop track by several different artists, but the original is the reason. Matt & Kim despite being known as a high energy indie rock duo get into their beloved Brooklyn’s hip hop history and create a hip hop beat meant for hipsters.
48. Walter Schreifels “Open Letter”
I read a good amount of blogs and I can not recall reading one review of Walter Schreifels debut solo album, An Open Letter To The Scene. The legendary musician has been in bands such as Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, and most recently Rival Schools. Taking his hardcore pedigree, he penned “Open Letter”, a track about the death of hardcore legend Raybeez. The track is a lament of the hardcore scene that Schreifels grew up in, ruled, and ultimately seemed to leave. This very personal track ended up being one of the tracks I listened to the most in 2010.
47. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists “Bottled in Cork”
I have to admit I completely missed Ted Leo and the Pharmacists in 2010. I knew they released an album but it was not until my December blitz of catching up and revisiting music from the year that I got around to listening to The Brutalist Bricks. Smack in the middle of the album resided “Bottled in Cork”, a track that is part tour journal, part stream-of-conscious poetry, and part drinking song. The track showcases Leo’s ability to pen a track that is socially conscious but it seems to be done less heavy-handedly and more with a smirky in this case.
46. Jay Electronica “Exhibit C”
Hip hop heads seemed to be split on Jay Electronica. Some have accused him of plagiarizing rhymes while others have vaunted him as the savior of hip hop. No matter which side of the tree you fall, there was something special about “Exhibit C.” NME called it “the most accomplished piece of ‘conscious rap’ this millennium — perhaps ever” but I call it a damn good flow. Sure the line “eatin wack rappers alive, shittin out the chain” is almost directly lifted from MF Doom but it doesn’t make a five-plus minute flow any less impressive.
45. Minus the Bear “My Time”
Almost any time Minus the Bear releases a new album, it contains at least one song that is “Single of the Year” worthy. “My Time” happens to be that single from Omni. The track has all the trademarks of a good Minus the Bear track: technically impressive guitar work, danceable drum beat, snaky keyboard line, and a sing-along chorus. It may not be Minus the Bear’s best single ever but it is definitely one of the best tracks of the year.
44. Das Racist “hahahaha jk?”
Das Racist prove that hip hop credentials are inconsequential to them in “hahahaha jk?” Sure the track is produced by Boi-1da, the same guy that produced Drake’s “Over”, but Das Racist fill the hip hop credible beat with references to Days of Our Lives and The Office. The best part is the group is getting famous off their ridiculous rhymes proving that they won’t go to the mainstream but maybe the mainstream will come to them.
43. OK Go “White Knuckles”
OK Go began their career making anthematic power pop songs with big hooks. The big hooks have stayed but stylistically the band has changed. “White Knuckles” shows the band at its current best. The track features a distorted rhythm section with fuzzy bass and distorted drums but instead of bold power chords laid over it, the track features fluffy keyboards and funky guitars. Lead singer Damian Kulash finishes the track off with his nonchalant vocals, showing the band in its least desperate state.
42. Ruckus Roboticus “Chicks”
Dance music has the potential to be like refirbisher; producers take something old and make it new again. In that sense, long forgotten songs have the potential to once again become relevant. Ohio DJ, Ruckus Roboticus does exactly that on his single “Chicks.” Taking jazz era vocals, he builds a dance track similar to (but way better than) Lou Bega’s “Mumbo #5,” expressing his affinity for the female sex.
41. J. Cole “Blow Up”
Hip hop is structured in such a way that artists with absolutely no record deal or relative status can make a major impact. One such artist is J Cole who came into prominence this year on the strength of his Friday Night Lights mixtape. The major single from the mixtape was “Blow Up”. The track’s odd yodeling sampling and pop/rock handclaps made for a unique backdrop to J Cole’s boisterous lyrics. Though most of the lyrics are pure braggadocio, Cole still finds time to throw in humorous metaphors like “they say what you fighting for/the game is on life support/and Gary Coleman just passed, life is short.”