In 2010, we fell in love with guys named Alejandro and Gurls from California. We learned how to Dougie and Blow Money Fast, shouted F— You and Oh My God, wished on Airplanes in the night sky, Loved the Way You Lie and got Fancy. We marveled at the Power one man possessed and pined openly for the Only Girl (In the World). In short, we lived vicariously through music — and 2010 was a heck of a year to do so.
But in a year with so many genuinely great songs, what was the greatest? It’s a tough question to answer, but we decided to give it a try. Over the past month, we asked the MTV News staff to come up with their own list of their 25 favorite songs of 2010; they didn’t have to be singles and, really, they didn’t even have to be released in 2010. We were looking for any song that made an impact this year, be it commercially, culturally or critically. When we finally received all the lists, we had proof of just what a year it was: Our staffers ended up picking more than 300 different songs from some 200 artists, and it was up to a select few to tabulate the results and create a top 25.
Using a point system — the #1 song on each list received 25 points, the #25 song received 1 point — we spent the next few weeks whittling down the lists. Finally, after some frantic addition (math was never our strong suit) and some rather spirited debate, we had our list — and we feel it’s a great one, full of songs by artists both big and small, yet all impactful in some way. It wasn’t easy, but we got it done.
This week, we’ll roll out numbers 25-11, and then on Monday, we’ll begin to unveil our top 10. Oh, and we’re interested in seeing your lists too. Feel free to add them in the comments below. But now, without further ado, let’s look back on the year that was, by kicking off our countdown of the Top 25 Songs of 2010.
25. Rick Ross (featuring Ne-Yo), “Super High”
Total Points: 48
The debut single from Ross’ Teflon Don album, “Super High” dropped in May and dazzled everyone with its mix of style (check Ne-Yo’s glossy, flossy chorus) and swagger (Ross boasts about besting foes “by margins larger than Fran Tarkenton” and insists that “only fly bitches ride with the Boss”). Produced by DJ Clark Kent, it glides by swatches of both N.W.A and silky ’70s R&B act Enchantment, which sort of makes it a pretty apt metaphor for Ross himself, when you think about it.
24. Swedish House Mafia, “One (Your Name)”
Total Points: 50 (named on two ballots)
It recalls, alternately, a blender, a rubber band, a Simon, a motorcycle and something from the “Mortal Kombat” soundtrack (and that’s just in the crowd-uniting intro). But, really, “One” is the year’s best club anthem, a seamless mixture of stray sounds, house stomp and monster rave hooks that packed dance floors from Iowa to Ibiza (and the Jersey Shore too). Throw in hints of acoustic guitar, piano and, uh, Pharrell Williams, and you’ve got a track that’s practically bursting its britches, but it’s a credit to the trio of Swedish stars that produced it that “One” remains slipstream-tight. Chances are, when Rihanna, Usher and Chris Brown made their respective forays into dance music, this was the track that inspired them to do so.
23. LCD Soundsystem, “I Can Change”
Total Points: 50 (named on three ballots)
A woozy mixture of bloopy electronics and, well, naked insecurity, “I Can Change” is, on the surface, just a come-down track from a night of excess and elation. But what makes it great is what makes all of James Murphy’s songs so great: the fact that, beneath it all, there beats a very human heart, a desperate, pleading one that needs love no matter what. Lie to him, build him up and then tear him down, Murphy doesn’t care, so long as he’s coming home with you tonight. “It’s good in the dark,” he sings, but he’s also smart enough to cover what happens in the light too. The end result may not be pretty, but, hey, at least he’s honest.
22. Yeasayer, “O.N.E.”
Total Points: 52
What happens when one of Brooklyn’s brightest bands decides: “Screw this, let’s make a pop record?” “O.N.E.,” of course. A sumptuous, supple and sublimely silly tune — on an album, Odd Blood, that’s full of them — “O.N.E.” worms along on undulating synth lines, funky fretwork and a downright sexxxy falsetto yelp, and somewhere along the way, it also manages to transform itself into the picture-perfect pop song, for the 22nd century and beyond. All of which is a rather bookish way of saying Britney, Katy and Gaga wish they could pull something like this off.
21. Robyn, “Hang With Me”
Total Points: 54
Robyn’s best songs are always her most bittersweet, and “Hang With Me” is no exception. A rather fragile, heartbreaking exploration of those first tentative steps into (or out of) love, it’s also a starry, synthy super-ballad, an electro-pop wonder that just keeps chiming along until the chorus hits, the joy overloads and everything is right with the world. Robyn cautions us not to fall “recklessly, headlessly” in love with her, but when she makes songs as good as “Hang With Me,” it’s sort of difficult not to.
20. The National, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
Total Points: 59
White-collar angst from blue-collar barflies, “Bloodbuzz” is the sound of all that is terrifying and unyielding in adulthood, a weary warbler practically bowed under with the unspoken regrets of anyone who’s ever been up against the wall or in too deep. Matt Berninger is at his boozy, woozy best, mumbling the year’s most perfectly crushing line — “I still owe money to the money I owe” — while the guitars fret beneath him and the water continues to rise. There’s no stopping the inevitable, after all.
19. Alicia Keys, “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)”
Total Points: 60
A simmering, downright serpentine track that pulses on little more than a barebones back track, noirish piano chords and — above all else — Keys’ breathless, deft vocals, “Un-Thinkable” is the rare example of a megastar stripping it all away and just being brave. And it packs the kind of wallop no amount of studio trickery could muster as a result. Keys is laying it all on the line here, and she’s doing it because she deserves it. Or at least she thinks she does. And that caveat is the key: She’s the rare talent who’s also willing to admit that she has doubts, which makes her — and this song — all the more impactful.
18. Chris Brown, “Deuces”
Total Points: 64
Unapologetic, brash and, sure, even cocky, “Deuces” is Chris Brown’s “FU” to the world, and truth be told, he’s at his absolute best when he’s angry. In theory, the song is little more than a supremely swaggering kiss-off to a nagging ex, but when he sings, “I’m movin’ on to something better,” you can’t help but think that’s also addressing everyone who’s vilified him over the past 18 months — and that’s probably the point. He knows you’re mad, but so what?
MTV News’ Top 25 Songs of 2010 countdown continues Friday, when we reveal 17 through 11 on our list. The top 10 begins rolling out Monday, so make sure to keep checking back to see what song we’ve named #1. And don’t forget to share your picks in the comments below!