Top 100 Songs of the Decade (60 – 41)
From The Weeknd’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ to Rihanna’s ‘Loveeeeeee Song’ and more
60. KAYTRANADA, Syd – “YOU’RE THE ONE”
It felt like Canadian electronic producer KAYTRANADA came out of nowhere midway through the decade and he knew exactly how to mix two of my most favorite genres together, neo-soul and electronic. The soulful alternative R&B feel of “You’re The One” was the clear standout track from his debut album. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when collaborating with some of the most interesting performers out there including AlunaGeorge, Anderson .Paak, Little Dragon and yes, even Craig David! “You’re The One” featuring Syd blended so seamlessly into my playlists, it fit as comfortably with Zero 7 and Telepopmusik as with Angie Stone and Jill Scott.
59. Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers – “Get Lucky”
It definitely feels like by the middle of the decade, stranger and stranger collaborations were happening and pop was no longer a single genre but a genre-busting category again like it had been for many decades prior to the 90’s and 00’s. With streaming and YouTube coming to the forefront, and record labels merging and many artists doing their own thing, it actually legally became easier for collaborations to also happen. Thank God for that because we got one of the funkiest most unexpected gems when Daft Punk and disco legend Chic-God Nile Rodgers came together with Pharrell Williams on vocals for “Get Lucky”. The single was nostalgic and futuristic at the same time and literally managed to not just cross genres but also generations its in adoration.
58. Beyoncé – “Countdown”
I’ve already done my short rant about the overhyped Beyoncé world we’ve inhabited for over 2 decades now but every now and then, and I actually feel this decade, and in particular with this single “Countdown”, we entered phase 2 of Beyoncé where artistry mattered more than just another #1 hit or getting Top 40 airplay. “Countdown” was signature Beyoncé but with an edge, with a nod to the past but an assertion and level of determination her vocals and her music hadn’t yet seen. It makes sense why we got what we did post this but try to find a song earlier in her catalogue that manages to do as much vocally, musically, lyrically and even visually as this banger – it’ll be hard to find!
57. Zedd, Foxes – “Clarity”
The 00’s ended with the successful club anthem “When Love Takes Over” by David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland. In many ways, the song laid the foundation for this decade, we’ve had so many DJ/pop artist collaborations that it’s even hard to remember this wasn’t always the case that the producer got named credit for their contribution. One of the more successful djs/producers of the 10’s was Zedd and without question, his best contribution followed a similar build up that the Guetta/Rowland track had but almost with even more emotional grit (thanks to Foxes spot-on vocals) and an even more incredible crescendo. Listeners and critics felt the track’s anthemic quality with the track even winning the Grammy for Best Dance Recording.
56. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”
We all felt Michael Jackson’s loss this decade in music but I honestly didn’t feel it more than when listening to this track. “Can’t Feel My Face” IS a Michael Jackson song, there’s simply no other way to say it. But while so many R&B stars have tried to have their MJ moment, this one felt natural and not a copycat as much as an evolution of his sound. It proves The Weeknd’s brilliance that you can listen to his fantastic single and know exactly where the gloved one would have added his own riffs and runs and not here him.
55. Troye Sivan – “YOUTH”
Alongside Charli XCX, Troye Sivan probably encapsulated the plight of teens and twentysomethings in the best possible way, by speaking their language. Without many bells or whistles, his songs work because of their sincerity not just vocally but lyrically. “Youth” was one such record that worked because Sivan’s own youth helped to make it feel real. While so many young artists embrace darkness and have used their music to work on mental health issues, “Youth” was an anthem for a generation in the most positive and sincerest of ways.
54. Christina Aguilera – “You Lost Me”
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Aguilera is for sure one of the most underrated known artists of this decade. Just listen to her performance in “You Lost Me” and not tell me it’s brilliant. Co-written by Sia (yes, that Sia before Sia became Sia!), this track is heartbreaking, haunting and beautiful at the same time – I can’t imagine Sia releasing this song today and it not becoming a huge success. For all of Aguilera’s success, sometimes her blessed voice also became its own worst enemy. It’s a shame because this single still carries the same power almost a decade later.
53. Pharrell Williams – “Happy”
I don’t like to say I know a hit when I hear one but I loved this track when I first saw the movie “Despicable Me 2” in June of 2013. Of course, the song itself didn’t really break through in a big way until almost half a year after the movie released. While I’m not sure why the song took so long to be promoted, by the time the song, nominated for Best Song at the Oscars lost, it finally had made its way to the top of the charts where it almost stayed for the entire remainder of 2014. There’s no denying had the single hit #1 much earlier and been as loved just a few months before, Pharrell would have won the Oscar (yup, he’d have even beat “Let It Go” from “Frozen”). I took a break from the song for a couple of years because well, it wasn’t making me happy hearing it for the umpteenth time but there’s still no denying the power of the song as it just get you up and wanting to move with a smile.
52. Tove Lo, Kylie Minogue – “Really don’t like u”
There are duets you want and then those you never expected and then finally those you never expected and wonder why you never wanted it! Tove Lo and Kylie Minogue are as diametrically on opposite ends of the pop sensibility map as possible but then stylistically, artistically and oddly enough even vocally, well, it’s a duet I never thought would sound so right. “Really don’t like u” is understated, it bounces back and forth between both singers in such a chill way, you wonder if both team’s managers were okay with such an ambient-pop collab. It works probably as well as it does because of this, hands down the best no-hype collaboration this decade.
51. Quadron – “LFT”
Danish pop soul duo Quadron recorded one of my top albums of this decade with “Avalanche”. While the album has many killer cuts, for me “LFT” is the standout because it perfectly pays tribute to the 70’s disco era, 80’s soul, 90’s alternative and 00’s indie pop era all in equal parts. Vocally led by the jazzy Coco O, Quadron mastered the hybrid multi-hyphenated genre style in the best of ways. “LFT” can easily fit in any decade end list of the past 4 decades – that’s just saying how timeless the production style for the track is.
50. Kacey Musgraves – “Oh, What A World”
Musgraves was the country artist of the decade for me, from “Merry Go Round” to “High Heels”, her lyrics, her voice, her style just worked. There was something genuine, less manufactured about her sound that just seemed to elevate her beyond just the country genre. This is was modern Americana/folk and Musgraves buttery vocals created an ethereal experience especially in the dreamy “Oh, What A World”. The single with its memorable banjo riff has that timeless quality we heard from the likes of Dolly Parton and Roberta Flack and The Carpenters back in the day. The song never ranked high up for me but somehow has managed to sneak up on the repeat count for me more times than I know. I’m sure that’s not going to stop anytime soon either.
49. Ed Sheeran – “The A Team”
It’s easy to diss Ed Sheeran at the end of this decade as a very calculated artist with a stocked catalogue behind him full of massive global hits. I can say I’ve not really loved any of his singles to the levels others have (as his almost complete absence every year from my yearly Top 30), but that’s not to say I didn’t celebrate his debut. “The A Team” was an unassuming lovely ballad that showcased Sheeran’s voice, his lyrical imagery and yes, his ability to create memorable melodies. He managed to hold onto some of that promise with other singles but nothing came close to the lovely that filled this debut single.
48. Tori Kelly – “Hollow”
Before she went gospel and contemporary Christian, Kelly tried to make it as an R&B/pop star. But while the majority of her debut album felt like a mismatch, “Hollow” offered the most obvious bridge to the sound that made most sense for the artist. If not sense, it was surely the most passionate she ever sounded. A vocally acrobatic song about faith, “Hollow” was a modern ballad that wasn’t about a break-up or about falling in love and that it became the hit that it did was quite shocking. Every once in a while, I love a song probably more than I should simply because it adds diversity to the playlist and sometimes just singing about something other than the normal pop themes helps it to become all the more memorable.
47. Duke Dumont, Jax Jones – “I Got U”
We lost Whitney Houston this decade and while Kygo managed to make waves recently with “Higher Love” featuring the deceased superstar, I actually think the best Whitney record this decade was “I Got U” by Duke Dumont and Jax Jones. Not actually featuring Houston’s voice but rather Brit soul singer Kelli Leigh, the tropical-house number incorporates a large portion of Houston’s hit “My Love Is Your Love”. It was a way of honouring the singer and making her a part of one of the best summer jams this decade. Laced with steel drums, calypso rhythms, sweet pianos, the song just invokes happiness, something when thinking about Houston after all her struggles is how she deserves to be remembered.
46. Lloyd, André 3000, Lil Wayne – “Dedication To My Ex (Miss That)”
What do you get when you get one of the smoothest R&B singers Lloyd with his frequent collaborator in crime Lil Wayne and then add in the genius that is André 3000 from Outkast to the mix? A classic that sadly made little waves in the US but thankfully became a huge hit for the three of them in Europe and beyond. Of course, there’s probably no song that repeats the word “pussy” as frequently as this single but that’s part of the charm. The throwback style, the hysterical verses from both rappers and Lloyd’s own earnestness with how he delivers the ridiculous lyrics is just both incredibly fun and wtf at the same time!
Definitely this decade’s “Hey Ya!”
45. Lorde, Khalid, Post Malone, SZA – “Homemade Dynamite – REMIX”
Lorde’s second album was a revelation and no track better showcased her evolution than “Homemade Dynamite”. But it wasn’t until the remix released featuring three of the hottest up and comers of the time with Khalid, Post Malone and SZA did you realize not only does Lorde know how to up the hype but boy she knows who to pick! Just as she brilliantly curated the “Hunger Games” soundtrack, “Homemade Dynamite Remix” was a celebration of everything Lorde but adding some of her best contemporaries into Lorde’s world. This song is one of the rare tracks that I feel actually has gotten better with age especially because each of the other three artists have also now become bonafide major recording artists in their own right.
44. Alesso, TINI – “Sad Song (Alesso Remix)”
The original “Sad Song” was almost exhausting itself on my playlist when Alesso decided to remix his own single “Sad Song (Alesso Remix)”. The result is that he perfected an already stellar track. While I enjoyed the original for its lyrical content and style, the remix helped to elevate the song to a club anthem like no other. As I’ve previously expressed my affinity for sad dance/pop, very few songs did it better than creating an orchestral stream of tears than “Sad Song” this decade.
43. Gryffin, Sinead Harnett – “Love In Ruins”
Well, that sad dance/pop list has to go to also include this single “Love In Ruins” by Gryffin featuring Brit soul singer Sinead Harnett. “Love In Ruins” builds similarly to “Sad Song” but it’s the emotional punch Harnett brings to this track that elevates the single beyond its contemporaries. A single that resonates because of its sonic crash and meteoric fall just further adds fuel to make the single feel like the musical equivalent to an emotional roller-coaster.
42. Rihanna, Future – “Loveeeeeee Song”
How was this not released as a single? Perhaps ahead of its time, “Loveeeeeee Song” was the ideal Rihanna ballad with a nod to Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”, it’s actually one of the best rock ballad this decade. Rihanna and Future come together in the most unusual of ways with Rihanna, soft yet fierce and Future, somber yet forceful. The single has aged far better than most of Rihanna’s catalogue and sounds as fresh and sensual today.
41. Charlie Puth, Selena Gomez – “We Don’t Talk Anymore”
Before Mendes and Cabello, we had Puth and Gomez. While they allegedly only lasted a hot minute as a couple, their duet “We Don’t Talk Anymore” became arguably the biggest male/female duet of the decade. Catchy and in the style of the growingly popular tropical-pop style, the single became a smash success across the globe with the video close to the 2 billion mark at this point. The song’s easy to sing and even easier to sing along like quality were definitely its usp. Timeless, probably not, but the song absolutely captured a perfect moment in time for the 10’s decade when pop allowed artists to help each succeed not just by promoting them but actually working with them.