Last week, MTV News began the countdown of the Top 25 Songs of 2010 with runs through songs 25-18 and 17-11. Those lists featured heavy-hitters like Lady Gaga ("Alejandro"), Katy Perry ("Teenage Dream"), Rihanna ("Rude Boy"), B.o.B ("Airplanes") and Kanye West ("Monster").
Though all those tunes were vital, they couldn't quite muster the combination of chart success, critical acclaim, fan enthusiasm and cultural impact to break into the top 10. Today, we unveil the first two entries in the top 10, an elite list that reflects the year that was in music.
So what song kicks us off at #10? It's "Telephone," Lady Gaga's epic tag-team collaboration with Beyoncé.
"It was my favorite track from The Fame Monster EP," MTV News' Jim Cantiello said. "It just has so much personality. It's such a good dance pop song and is just so Gaga. It's ridiculous."
"Telephone" came from Gaga's 2009 EP The Fame Monster, an eight song addendum to her mammoth 2008 debut The Fame. The track, which is the only collaboration on The Fame Monster, was formally released as a single back in January and was accompanied by one of the most visually arresting videos of the year (one that won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Collaboration). The track peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and managed to top the charts in the U.K., Ireland, Belgium and Norway.
Produced by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, "Telephone" was originally written by Gaga and Jerkins for Britney Spears (who turned the track down). The song is built around a twitchy, propulsive disco beat and slathered with police-siren keyboards. It's one of the most manic songs in Gaga's back catalog, and the track's breathless desperation matches the tenor of the lyrics, which find Gaga and Beyoncé insisting that outside forces leave them alone (the key line being "Stop calling/ I don't want to think anymore").
Usually, Lady Gaga's presence is so gigantic that there isn't much room for anybody else — let alone a star the size of Beyoncé (indeed, when the two previously collaborated on "Video Phone," Gaga got a bit lost in the mix). But "Telephone" uses Beyoncé perfectly, tapping into B's "Sasha Fierce" alter-ego for a tough and edgy guest appearance that adds a bit of humanity to Gaga's otherworldliness.
"Beyoncé's guest verse is so out of the box," noted Cantiello. "But it's still Beyoncé in a weird way."
The song's impact was also buoyed by the video. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund, the nine-minute epic tells the story of Gaga's escape from prison with the help of Beyoncé. The pair then go on a rampage that is part "Natural Born Killers," part "Thelma & Louise" that ends with the pair driving off a cliff (in the "P---y Wagon" from Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" movies, of all things). The clip was greeted like a big movie premiere, and the result was a colorful, sexy and violent trip through the outer reaches of Gaga's imagination.
And consider this: Despite her sold-out-everywhere Monster Ball Tour, a boatload of MTV Video Music Awards and a number of social-action projects, this was probably considered a bit of a quiet year for Gaga. "2010 wasn't even that big a year for Lady Gaga compared to 2009," notes MTV News pop writer Jocelyn Vena. "But this album was so big on radio and so big in clubs that she maintained a presence that very few pop stars can so early in her career. She's poised to have an even bigger 2011."
Where would you place Lady Gaga's "Telephone" among the top songs of 2010? Let us know in the comments!
MTV News' Top 25 Songs of 2010 countdown continues. Make sure to keep checking back to see what song we've named #1, and don't forget to share your picks with us in the comments below!