The close of the 2010s gives us a chance to reflect on the incredible music that was released over the past ten years. Technology played a huge role in not only the exposure of new music but enabled more control than ever for the artists. Streaming technology matured to enable sites like bandcamp, soundcloud and others reach a global audience of both artists and listeners while social media exploded during the decade to allow artists direct access to fans and control their own narrative. The influence of technology allowed for artists from numerous genres to bubble up and for the first time in a long time, enabled the listeners to determine what’s popular. Let’s take a look at the top 15 songs of the 2010s.
15. Billie Eilish- “Bad Guy”
All before turning 18, Billie Eilish dominated the music scene with her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Eilish with her brother Finneas collaborated on the goth-trap pop song “Bad Guy”, which garnered Eilish her first Billboard chart-topper and one of many Grammy-nominations. The earworm may have dominated 2019 but it was a gateway to an evolution in what some label as the “pop-alternative” sound.
14. Wolf Alice- “Don’t Delete The Kisses”
London alt-rock group Wolf Alice released “Don’t Delete The Kisses” off their sophomore album Visions of a Life (2017) and showcases the softer side of a band known to get raucous during their live shows. The song is a synth-heavy shoegaze love song that has a sweet chorus with lead singer Ellie Rowsell speaking the lyrics of a love-lorn protaganist’s inner monologue.
13. Rihanna, Calvin Harris- “We Found Love”
Rihanna + Calvin Harris = 2011 mega-hit collaboration! The song was arguably the breakthrough for Harris as he grew into a Coachella headliner and led the way for the EDM-pop collaborations that were to follow.
12. Arcade Fire- “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Their final synth-pop single “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) from their third album The Suburbs , Arcade Fire made it to #10 on Billboard’s U.S Hot Single Sales and was a prelude for what was to come for the Canadian band, who followed up with the release of their dance-influenced album, ‘Reflektor’.
11. The 1975- “Love It If We Made It”
Every album that The 1975 releases should just be categorized as gold for how brilliant the songwriting, production, and overall craftsmanship goes into their work, especially in the 2018 song “Love It If We Made It”. The song is a plea for modern society to change their destructive ways and find a possible solution over this course of madness while electro-pop synths pulsate.
10. Portugal. The Man- “Feel It Still”
Portugal. The Man have been a band since 2004 and it wasn’t until their 2017 song “Feel It Still” that the band got huge mainstream success in both the alternative and pop space. The funky psychedelic-pop became an instant hit, earned the band a Grammy award and more importantly, exposed these new fans to their brilliance.
9. Disclosure- “Latch”
UK electronic music exploded during the `10s as many artists reached back to the 90s for inspiration. Disclosure put a new spin on the 90s Chicago house sound and were catapulted onto huge festival stages after the release of “Latch”, which features an “at-the-time” unknown, Sam Smith.
8. Tame Impala- “The Less I Know The Better”
Currents (2015) is by far the best Tame Impala record with some amazing tracks showcasing a psych-rock style with a dance-oriented sound. “The Less I Know The Better” came about from Kevin Parker’s love for disco and became the band’s most well-known track. Parker would take these sounds into more recent tracks like “Patience” and may be a prelude for the band’s upcoming 2020 album release.
7. Lorde- “Royals”
This New Zealand singer was just a teen when her song “Royals” off Pure Heroine (2013) became #1 internationally for nine weeks in 2013. Lorde released “Royals” on Soundcloud and her career exploded shortly thereafter. Years after its release, the song has been described as an “Anthem for Millenials”.
6. Frank Ocean- “Thinkin Bout You”
Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” was the lead single from his 2012 album Channel Orange. Released for free on Frank Ocean’s Tumblr, the Grammy-nominated song reflects on a past relationship and wondering if an ex still has the same strong feelings as he does. Something relatable to everyone and why it continues to resonate to this day.
5. Adele- “Rolling In The Deep”
British singer, Adele triumphed the radio airwaves ever since the beginning of 2010. “Chasing Pavements”, “Set Fire To The Rain”, “Someone Like You”, and “Hello” have all been hits, but her single “Rolling In The Deep” with Adele’s vocals just pouring out from her lungs really catapulted her name as a singing sensation.
4. Grimes- “Oblivion”
The third album by Grimes, Visions (2012) under 4AD included her timeless track “Oblivion”, which was on rotation on Triple J and even listed as 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time according to NME. The song about empowerment is deeply personal to Grimes as the basis of the song stemmed from the paranoia she experienced after being attacked.
3. Skrillex- “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”
Sonny John Moore traded his screamo days in the punk band, From First To Last to becoming legendary dubstep and electronic producer, Skrillex! His second EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (2010) named after David Bowie’s 1980 album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) was certified Gold by RIAA but more importantly, opened the flood gates for the dubstep community and helped define what is now coined as ‘Electronic Dance Music’ (EDM).
2. Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”
Compton, CA rapper Kendrick Lamar dropped his award-winning third album To Pimp A Butterfly in 2015 to rave reviews. “Alright” was an immediate success as the lyrics “we gon’ be alright” became part of many Black Lives Matters movements during protests against police brutality.
1. Lana Del Rey- “Video Games”
This baroque-pop song of 2011 off Lana Del Rey’s sophomore album Born To Die has been a mainstay in many a playlist and continues to influence and inspire artists to this day. With its layers of instrumentation of strings & synths plus Lana’s melancholic vocals made this #1 on our list!