20 "Thank You For Your Love" - Antony & The Johnsons
Sumptuous melodrama is always to be expected from Antony and his earth shattering, shimmering Nina Simone-esque tenor, but ne'er yet 'til now have we heard him express the emotion that is expressed here: HAPPINESS. Let's look back to Antony's defining moment, obviously the timestoppingly incredible "Hope There's Someone"; This is the voice of a broken man, one battered down by loneliness in a cruel world, one who's dreams are all but dissolved. And there's nothing quite like hearing this same voice, 6 years on, break out into an uncontrollable ear to ear smile and holler "I want to thank you". Whether this is the love of a newly born relationship, or one that has grown through thick and thin, it matters not. During the 4 minute duration of "Thank You For Your Love" nothing else matters but the unconditional and all encompassing adoration Antony has developed for this individual. And as horns parp out in agreement, moments of musical joy this genuine are few and far between.
19 "Coma Cat" - Tensnake
Being Balearic and sun flecked was popular in underground dance music this summer, but there's nothing like a tune that hits the big time with a hook that refuses to become tedious no matter how much you hear it. "Coma Cat" is timeless; jubilant bells ring out over a regal house beat, and the essence of the early 90s is all over the choppy vocal samples and chunky bass. There's not much you can say about a track like "Coma Cat" except that it has to be heard to understand the sheer jolt of lightning felt at the drop. Every time.
18 "Bermuda" - Kisses
The joy of "Bermuda" on first listen is just how cheap and lo fi it sounds, but oh my, that's the joy in it.
Kisses are not here to make a big statement; vocally low key and unguilded, but no one can argue with a melody as innocent and wholesome as the one showcased here. Dippy synths plip and plop here and there as warm pads caress the clumsy drum machine, and the effect is heartwarming and achingly gorgeous. What's so charming about Kisses in general is that the real appeal here is in the songwriting. No pretences or big production, just a wonderful melody, a blissful vibe and a song that never gets tiresome.
17 "Teenage Dream" - Katy Perry
Katy Perry has her own snug place in the US pop world. Somewhere between an American Idol and Ke$ha’s drunken slag persona, and all of a sudden Katy Perry is a cheeky role model who can get away with just about anything. A blink of those gorgeous blue eyes and it doesn’t matter that she kisses girls, squirts whipped cream from her nipples or gets drunk on beaches (if Ke$ha does any of that, she’s just dirty). It’s the songs though. When Ms Perry (slash Mrs Russell I guess) shoots, she scores spectacularly. “Teenage Dream” simply is every pop song you’ve ever heard that warms your heart, that makes you want to bunk off work and go to the beach, to go clubbing when you have work at 8am the next day, to do things that make you feel naughty, irresponsible and YOUNG. Yes it’s a love song, but not necessarily to another person... it’s a love song to itself. This song makes you feel like you’re living a teenage dream. Don’t ever look back.
16 "Hang With Me" - Robyn
Of the 3 big singles this year, "Hang With Me" is the one that expresses the most complicated emotion: the one a person feels whilst they heal. "Hang With Me" displays a woman who's been hurt, and hurt badly, but one who is beginning to believe she can, just maybe, love again. It's as she says in "Call Your Girlfriend": "the only way her heart will mend is when she learns to love again", and after falling in love with "Dancing on My Own" (where is that track by the way?! *wink*) I couldn't have found it easier to fall in love again with the understated and thoughtful dancepop of "Hang With Me".
15 "Come Wander" - Delorean
Delorean's Subiza is without a doubt one of the most uplifting dance records of the year, and "Come Wander" is it's dark horse of a centrepiece, tucked away towards the end of the record, but ensuring that the pace does not relent, and indeed if anything it accelerates. With its shamelessly housey piano hooks and thunderous tribal dance beats, "Come Wander" is the closest to an ibiza club anthem Delorean have thus far created, but the dreamy vocals keep feet from touching the dancefloor, and whilst the track still pulsates, it does so floating giddily in mid air. Oh and the final 30 seconds? Best 30 seconds of instrumental music of 2010. Get ready to go wild.
14 "Counterpoint" - Delphic
Delphic were criticised this year, somewhat unfairly, of lacking originality. Words like "New" and "Order" were thrown around, shit got thrown around. Ok, I exaggerate, but the point is that the sheer scale of the 8 minute "Counterpoint" is one that cannot be argued with. A two chord anthem to end all two chord anthems, the razor sharp beats stumble as they run through streets and empty corridors, hectic synths and hyperventilating guitars speeding to keep up. Singer James Cook tries to convince us that "nothing's wrong" but as he gets increasingly distressed, the track reaches a positively religious climax, and Cook is left screaming "NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING" as the strobe light synths escalate and swallow the track whole before a blissful final chord ends matters abruptly. The most joyous emotional breakdown committed to tape this year.
13 "Wonderful Life" - Hurts
After over a year of this instant classic circulating, Hurts finally got the attention they deserved. "Wonderful Life" is simply the perfect pop song. A haunting, life affirming, yet somehow cryptic main lyric that can be taken at face value or seen as something deeper, with a deliciously gothic shawl cast over the track's tumbling rhythms and polished 80s tapestry of Spandau Ballet nuances and New Order basslines. When bands like Hurts get the recognition they deserve without having to change a thing, it really is a wonderful life.
12 "Not in Love" - Crystal Castles feat. Robert Smith
It's astonishing what the presence of a different vocalist can do for a track. "Not in Love" serves as one of the subtler moments of the band's sophomore self-titled record, with a vocodered Alice Glass muttering the lyrics as if giving some dark, ritualistic sermon. When The Cure's Robert Smith (what a catch guys, god knows how they nailed this down) steps up to the mic, angst and intense yearning trailing in his wake, all of a sudden, the year's most unlikely anti-love anthem is uncovered. Smith's desperate cries of "I'm not in love!" battle with euphoric synths that say otherwise, seemingly beefier and more deafening than before. An emotional battle between despairing razor blade synths and a shivering, fearful vocalist, this is truly one of the best, if not the best, collaborations of 2010, and certainly the most moving.
11 "Norway" - Beach House
The longing to get away. This is the essence of Beach House's Teen Dream record. Previous records by the band would pass by in a daydream, lovely, but unwilling to commit emotionally. And then along comes a track like "Norway" and you could be listening to a band reborn. Singer Victoria Legrand is no longer casually conversing with you from the corner of the room, she's whispering in your ear; this is no longer some daydream. Breathlessly delivered wordless chants and spiralling guitar arpeggios raise the Beach House benchmark to a new, astronomically high level, and when the final chorus hits, Legrand's voice swells up and spirals down, and its clear that she's not in a daydream anymore, she wants to reach the other side of that fence, and 'Norway' represents that place. Heartstoppingly beautiful and a revelation.
TOP 10 tomorrow! How exciting. Although not for me, because I already know my top 10.