We kick off the latter half of the list with Nothing On You, the song that kicked off two promising careers and showcased what both B.o.B and Bruno Mars were capable of. This song is aimed at the special girl in both of these gentlemen’s lives who they’re ready to settle down with. It can be a bit saccharine for some people, but considering the excesses of the club boom at the time, having this as an alternative is always a nice change of pace, especially with the warmer, breezy production, B.o.B’s sincere bars of affection, and Bruno Mars’ sticky hook. A shame that only one of these guys would stick around while the other faded into obscurity thanks to being an insane moron. But B.o.B’s not the only waste of talent on this list as we move on to the next song.
There was a time where you could openly say you’re a Kanye West fan without embarrassment. Long before he became a Trump-loving evangelical pastor, Kanye released what’s considered to be his best work in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which also helped win the public back a year after the VMAs debacle. There were some bonafide jams on there, including All Of The Lights. This has some of the most epic production in a rap song of the times thanks to the flurry of synths, horns, and a pummeling beat that creates this big sound. Rihanna does the chorus and kills it, but she’s only one of fourteen artists who contributed vocals. Then, we got Kanye, who’s overwhelmed by the celebrity spotlight and trying to hold it all together. It’s no Power, but All Of The Lights still hits hard and it makes me miss the old Kanye.
Next up is Portugal The Man, who scored a hit in 2017 with Feel It Still. It’s a song that’s in love with the 60s and is influenced by that era by both the writing, which captures the essence of a lot of protest songs and contains an interpolation of The Marvelettes’ Please Mr. Postman, and in the instrumentation, which contains a consistently tight groove along with the guitar work that wouldn’t sound out of place on a psychedelic track. Now, John Gourley’s falsetto can be an acquired taste that not everyone will get behind, but it doesn’t bother me that much.
I’m perfectly fine with Sam Smith’s music, but most of their songs don’t really reach that level of greatness where they would make it onto a list like this. That was until they did Dancing With A Stranger, which leans into the atmospheric disco-R&B sound in the production. This is a duet with Normani and they both sound great together. There is some solid interplay with one another as they both clearly haven’t moved on from their exes. I always welcome more of these sleek R&B songs on the charts every now and then because this is great stuff right here.
Well, it’s been a minute since we last talked about Ariana Grande, so let’s change that. Into You is another great pop tune and I was glad that it became a hit. The big EDM synths and post-disco groove along with one of the best bridges of the entire decade make up the production. There’s also the vocal performance from Ariana Grande, who pulls off being playful and sexy for this hookup jam and then she goes loose on the chorus and bridge. She sounded really dope here and this song helped solidify her, in my eyes, as one of the best pop stars of our times. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m so into this song. A lot.
And while we’re talking big dance tracks, here’s Shut Up And Dance, where Walk The Moon captures the feel and vibe of The Killers in its use of new wave guitars, layered synths, big drums, and an explosive chorus. It’s another one of those songs that’s keeping the 80s alive. The writing of the song was inspired by an experience lead vocalist Nicholas Petricca had at an L.A. nightclub where his girlfriend invited him to dance and he drew further inspiration from his high school memories. He was able to sincerely capture the innocent naïveté one would have in such a scenario. Don’t think too much about it, this song is just a ton of fun. And speaking of fun, …
In 2012, fun.’s debut single We Are Young went to number one (with a little help from Glee) and it’s not one of my favorite songs, especially in the way it wastes the talents of Janelle Monae. Their follow-up single Some Nights, though, is a massive step-up. I talked about the Queen influences on Carry On, Some Nights has that, but on steroids. A big chorus and a stomping groove accented by a prominent piano and larger-than-life vocals. Nate Ruess brings in one hell of a performance for a song that’s basically a theatrical millennial existential crisis where sacrifices will be inevitable. This shit right here is a modern day classic that people will remember 20 years later like the majority of songs on this list.
Hey, it’s Dua Lipa. Her music is a great addition to the charts and I welcome it 100%. IDGAF was the follow-up to the more successful New Rules, but I always believe it’s the superior single. It’s the kind of kiss off to a desperate, leeching ex that works thanks to Dua Lipa’s swaggering performance where her saying that she doesn’t give a fuck is believable. It’s all paired with the guitar-driven verses and piano chorus of the production that unashamedly carries the torch for Pink’s best music. With this, plus the other songs from both of her albums, Dua Lipa shows a ton of promise as a pop star and I wish her more success in the 2020s.
When I went back and listened to this song after not hearing it for a long time, I’m amazed by both how great it is and how well it still holds up. Pompeii is the song that put Bastille on the map and it’s not the kind of song that would become a hit. I’m not complaining, though, because it’s great. It’s named after the ancient Roman city that was destroyed and buried by a volcanic eruption and shows a conversation between two dead corpses in the ruins and how everything went to shit. It’s an interesting idea that could be used as a metaphor for a bad relationship. What also helps the song is Dan Smith’s vocal performance and the explosive production. Bastille is another act that should have been bigger here in the U.S. than they are, especially when they have songs like this.
Like most indie songs these days, Trampoline by SHAED became a charting success thanks to commercials. But if the commercials are gonna make songs like this pop up on the charts, then I’m fine with that. Trampoline gives off a weightless sense of joy and euphoria thanks to the airy synths and keys, plus a whistling bridge. This matches the writing, which compares the feeling of jumping on a trampoline to that of a dream. It’s not the deepest song ever, but it does what it needs to do well and that’s enough for me.
Since we’re still on the topic of indie music, Iceland’s Of Monsters And Men broke onto the scene with their debut single Little Talks, which became an international hit. Here in the U.S., it topped the alternative charts and peaked at number 20 on the Hot 100. It being a brilliant song to boot helps a lot. The instrumentation is both upbeat and kinda dark at the same time thanks to a combination of melodic horns and reverbed guitars and accordion. The Scandinavian vibe just jumps out in the song. The male and female vocalist have some solid interplay with one another as they depict a conversation between two people, but one of them is dead, which is something you pick up from by looking into the lyrics. It’s about coming to terms with a death and accepting the inevitability that the Grim Reaper will come for all of us. It is kinda bleak when you look into it, but man, does it hit the mark to make a fantastic song.
Here’s a song that nobody expected from the least likely source of all. Before this, Mike Posner was more known for songs like Cooler Than Me, which lacked a brain for all the wrong reasons. Then, somewhere along the way, he made his best song in I Took A Pill In Ibiza and it’s legitimately great. Instead of the folky acoustic guitar original, I’m looking at the SeeB remix, which gives the song a reverb-heavy tropical house beat with one of the best drops out of the entire subgenre. It matches the more somber nature of the semi-autobiographical writing, which is Mike Posner talking about the progress of his music career and him hitting a low point in his pursuit of fame. It’s delivered in a way where Posner sounds burned out, which makes this work even better. The funny thing about this is that despite the nature of the song, it became Mike Posner’s biggest hit to date. Looking back at his other material, it’s well-deserved.
At the same time he hopped on the club boom train to mixed results, Usher proved that he’s still one of the best R&B stars of our times with songs like There Goes My Baby. It’s an R&B love ballad with production that utilizes sleeker keys with that of the more modern synths and drums of the time in a way that elevates it above other R&B songs of the time. Usher goes into his falsetto a lot, especially on the chorus, and he still sounds great. Add this to the large number of great songs from the guy and great R&B songs of the decade.
Before this point, you’ll notice the absence of a certain Compton emcee who came through and dominated the rap game in the 2010s. Well, here he is at last, the top dog of rap himself Kendrick Lamar. I don’t think I need to say anything else about Kung-Fu Kenny at this point since I’ve sung his praises multiple times on this site. So let’s talk about Love, a rap love song that doesn’t fall into the trap of being all about sex, but is instead focused on the emotional aspect of love and commitment. That right there puts it above most rap “love” songs and it’s helped by the more airy beat and Zacari on the chorus. But we’re not done talking about Kendrick just yet.
good kid, m.A.A.d city is one of the best albums of the 2010s decade, with a level of storytelling and layered West Coast production that signified the start of something special. While m.A.A.d city with MC Eiht is the song that most people remember from the album, Swimming Pools (Drank) was the big hit. On the surface, it seems like a murky club song with its production and big chorus. But when you look into the lyrics, it’s centered on alcoholism and how it affected Kendrick’s life, from his family history of it to peer pressure among his friends to drink. This is another example of a song taking something shallow and adding some real introspection and depth into it, especially in the third verse on the album version. Yeah, it’s no m.A.A.d city or Sing About Me/Dying Of Thirst, but Swimming Pools is still a worthy addition to the Kendrick Lamar discography.
Hozier should have achieved more success in the U.S. Dude is a legit talent. Seriously, go listen to both of his albums, they’re great. His biggest hit is Take Me To Church from his self-titled debut. The gothic piano alongside the guitar riffs and ghoulish vocals make for some haunting production that leans into a dark side of blues and gospel. The writing deals with a relationship that’s being compared to a religion, iconography included. This is made more potent by the music video, which takes shots at Russia’s anti-LGTBQ+ laws. There’s also Hozier’s singing, which has so much soul for an Irish white dude. Again, he deserves more hits in the U.S. because this is talent you do not waste.
There wasn’t a lot of really good sex songs that became hits in the 2010s, either because they don’t capture the right atmosphere or they go way too graphically explicit. Adorn by Miguel is one of those sex songs that gets it right. This song is like a modern-day Sexual Healing with a booming bass-heavy beat and delicate keys setting the right mood. Miguel kills it on the vocals as his voice is like velvet. In terms of sex songs, Adorn gets the job done and it’ll viewed years later as a baby-making classic.
Mark Grondin of Spectrum Pulse named it the best hit song of 2011, I named it the fourth best hit song of 2011. Regardless of positioning, Colder Weather is a goddamn masterpiece from Zac Brown Band and one of the best country hits of the entire decade. The music here is amazing, from the cool piano notes to the gentle acoustic guitars and even some fiddle thrown in. There is a winter feel to this song that’s also warming at the same time, mainly thanks to the vocals. The writing is in the perspective of a truck driver who’s separated from his girl thanks to the extreme weather, but he’s still determined to get to her. It’s a sweet song coming from a great country band who have sadly wasted their talents on their last album.
From a song with a lot of depth to one without much depth. One hell of a transition, am I right? That aside, I’ve always loved Burn the moment I first heard it and my love for it hasn’t changed at all. Like I said, it doesn’t have much depth in the writing department, it’s just vague anthemic statements that doesn’t earn a song like this a spot this high on a list like this. But other elements of the song raise it up to greatness in my eyes: Ellie Goulding, whose performance was perfect for this song, and the production, which is that reverb-heavy synthpop that always packs a punch. Good stuff overall.
It’s the collaboration that makes all the sense in the world due to their love of the 80s. The Weeknd worked with Daft Punk for two hits, Starboy and I Feel It Coming, the latter making this list. The slick disco beat with the atmospheric keys, groovy bassline, funky guitar licks, and Daft Punk’s vocoders make up the production. The Weeknd croons about settling down for a relationship, which he sounds enthusiastic for on this track. In a sea of trap-influenced R&B, having more of these slick retro-R&B tracks pop up every now and then is always a good thing, especially if they’re this great.
I was so happy that this song became a hit. While it wasn’t a monster success like Shape Of You, Castle On The Hill shows Ed Sheeran at his best. This song was written about his hometown of Framlingham and his humble beginnings growing up there with his family and friends. Ed Sheeran succeeds at capturing the small-town wonder that’s shaped who he was and brings in a hell of a performance. Castle On The Hill is one of the few late-2010s hits to actually rock thanks to the frolicking guitars and pumping drums that wouldn’t sound out of place on a U2 song. This type of sound and energy is needed on the Hot 100 and I wish Ed Sheeran would make more songs of this type because this is terrific.
It was the song that took the world by storm and won a shit-ton of awards, including two Grammys and an Oscar. Shallow, from 2018’s A Star Is Born, is a country rock ballad that sets the stage for a duet between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, which shows off the immensely strong chemistry both had in the movie as they’re singing about one another and taking a chance at love. We knew Gaga was gonna kill it vocally, which she does here, especially on the bridge and final chorus, but holy shit, can Bradley Cooper sing and sell the emotional weight. This is going to be one of those songs that people will remember years later in nostalgia.
And while we’re staying on movie soundtracks, Black Panther has one of the best soundtracks out of any comic book movie, especially when it’s curated by Kendrick Lamar. Two songs from that soundtrack, All The Stars and Pray For Me, share the same spot on this list. They both feature some excellent production that lean heavy into African grooves and melodies with a mainstream sound, both have amazing vocal work from SZA on All The Stars and The Weeknd on Pray For Me, both have a verse from Kendrick, and they both work with the themes of the movie that they’re in. They also work as great superhero music. Wakanda Forever.
Now for one of Ellie Goulding’s biggest songs to date. Lights was released in 2011 and became a sleeper hit in the U.S., peaking at number two on the Hot 100 in 2012. It’s another great pop song with ethereal synths, a tight groove, and a sense of atmosphere. Ellie Goulding’s airy vocals are perfect for this type of production. The song was inspired by her fear of the dark as a kid and how she could only sleep with the lights on. You know, relatable stuff. This would be the start of a promising career for Ellie Goulding.
With all of the copycats that came after her and tried to emulate her success to varying results, it’s hard to forget how special Lorde really was when she broke onto the scene. Royals topped the charts in 2013 and it was unlike anything that was out at the time. Over a minimal beat, Lorde pushes back against the materialism that’s being pushed in music and society (and still are). This came out in the same year as Thrift Shop, another number one single that went after rampant materialism. 2013 was something else. Royals made Lorde a star, Team further established that she was a force to be reckoned with. This continues the theme of Royals of criticizing materialism, going for a smaller, more inclusive dream world. I also really like the melodic, more punchy production. Both of these songs show how intelligent and beyond her years Lorde really was. I honestly can’t wait for her next album.
You didn’t think I was gonna do this list without mentioning Lupe Fiasco, did ya? In 2011, Lupe released Lasers, which while I’m much kinder to it than most people, I do recognize that this is not Lupe at his best. It was his compromise with Atlantic Records in giving them something more mainstream-sounding while maintaining his skills as an emcee. Case in point, The Show Goes On. One of the main standouts of this track is the sample of Float On by Modest Mouse for an infectious hook going alongside the grand celebratory production. In this song, Lupe is taking shots at Atlantic Records while delivering inspiring bars at the same time. Again, this isn’t Lupe Fiasco at his peak, but it’s still nice to see a song like this on the charts.
Well, here’s a modern day pop classic. After The Fame put her on the map, The Fame Monster solidified Lady Gaga as a force to be reckoned with in pop music, especially with songs like Bad Romance. The writing is kinda the weakest point of the song since it seems to be framed on a relationship that isn’t the best. But I’m willing to forgive it because Gaga is just singing her ass off here and there’s also the production. RedOne gave the song this big Euro-house production with the gated synths and beating drums that’s guaranteed to get all the clubs turned up. And that chorus is way too catchy not to sing along to because it’s fucking epic. I previously called this song a 21st century pop masterpiece, I stand by that statement till the day I die.
The Only Exception is one of those songs that had to grow on me initially because it was such a drastic departure from the rest of Paramore’s material. And that was the best decision I’ve ever made because this is one of their best songs. It stands out among the band’s discography as an downtempo acoustic guitar ballad with a heartfelt performance from Hayley Williams as she finds love again after being hurt by it so many times, thanks to that special someone who’s an exception. This is a welcome addition to the Paramore discography and showcases their musical diversity. Great song overall.
I’m surprised we didn’t get more R&B/pop songs inspired by the new jack swing sound, especially with our current obsession with nostalgia. Maybe sometime this year or the next, we will. Until then, I’ll settle with Finesse from Bruno Mars and Cardi B. It’s a slice of new jack swing that had the most groove out of any song in 2018 and was just a blast to listen to. While Bruno Mars spends the entirety of the song flexing about the girl he’s with, Cardi B kicks off the song with an old school flow that elevates the song to a new level. I’ll say it again and again until my throat gives out: more songs like this on the charts, please.
Well, it’s been a while since we last talked about Adele, so let’s do that. Adele said that When We Were Young was her favorite song to write and listening to the song, I can feel it. One of the best songs off of 25 and of her entire career, When We Were Young sounds like something that Elton John would make in the 70s, a grand piano ballad that’s perfectly balanced with Adele’s more soulful singing. In this song, she comes across a childhood friend and is catching up on old times. The emotional maturity of the song as while she wishes that they could go back in time and relive those memories, there’s an understanding that the past is the past. It’s Adele doing what she does best, making these universal songs that connects with people emotionally. And this won’t be the last you’ll see of Adele on this list, either.
Honestly, what’s there really to say about Uptown Funk at this point? It was the number one song of 2015 for a good reason. This was one of those songs that brought the funk in the 2010s with its production, which went all the way back to the 80s with its guitar licks, groovy bassline, horns, synths, etc. Bruno Mars is the star of the show as he shows a ton of confidence and energy, all while he’s delivering a lot of corny lines. Hell, this song actually made a line from that awful Trinidad James song work here. I don’t have much else to say about this. Uptown Funk is just a timeless classic that’ll stick around for decades.
From funk to house, the energy isn’t stopping anytime soon. I don’t see a lot of people talk about this song that much these days, which is a shame. Well, let’s change that because Rather Be is awesome. Clean Bandit came through with some excellent production that captures the 90s thanks to the house synths and drums, staccato piano, and the prominent violin to give the song some class. The vocalist of the song is Jess Glynne, who sounds great here. Seriously, y’all. Stop sleeping on this song because it’s great.
Looking back at Born This Way, it was a messy album. A mixture of solid tracks along with half-baked ideas that lacked consistency. It’s not an easy album to go back and listen to. Like I said though, there are some solid tracks from the album like You And I, which while it’s not as big as the titular track, it’s up there with some of Lady Gaga’s best material. Unlike most Gaga’s songs at the time, this shows off Gaga’s love of Queen with its stadium-ready instrumentation that samples We Will Rock You, plus, a guitar solo from Brian May himself. Gaga is bringing the raw fire to this vocally. This wouldn’t be the last time she would wear her love of rock on her sleeves as she would make this same type of music for Joanne and A Star Is Born years later. Anything that brings the rock to the charts and is this good, I’m all for it.
Earlier this month, The Weeknd said in an interview with Vanity Fair that Climax by Usher (and pop music in general) was influenced by his debut mixtape, which sparked a lot of online debate. I don’t care to revisit this debate nor am I gonna add my two cents to it, I’m just gonna say that Climax by Usher is a great song. The production isn’t like a lot of the hits at the time, whether in pop or R&B. Done by Diplo, it balances some sleek quiet storm keys with some electronica synths that pushes the boundaries of the R&B genre. All of this benefits Usher, who’s pushing his vocal talent to their limits and he sounds great as usual on a song where a relationship is at its end. It’s classic Usher that you shouldn’t be sleeping on, especially if you’re a fan of sleek and tight R&B.
It’s the best song off of Sweetener and one of the best songs in Ariana Grande’s entire career. I’m glad that Breathin stuck around long enough to be a hit, it deserves it and more. It shows Ariana Grande open up more about her anxiety and how she copes with it, by breathing. Her performance matches the feel of someone overcoming that anxiety, especially in the final chorus and the production that’s both tense and mellow at the same time. It’s one of the more therapeutic hits of our times and it’s something we ALL desperately need.
Now for another song from The Weeknd because why not have more Weeknd? In The Night is another song from him that goes for that Michael Jackson sound and feel. The production has that big 80s synths and groove that build to an explosive chorus where The Weeknd recaptures that Michael magic that made up some of his best work. There’s also the content, which is pretty bleak compared to the production. It’s about a woman who was an abuse victim from childhood and how she copes with the trauma from that abuse while finding some sort of relief from it. It’s another classic from The Weeknd that continues his winning streak on the charts.
I mean, come on. There’s no way I wasn’t going to put this on the list, is there? Four years after the release of 21, Adele released the first single for her album 25 and it would break so many records and topped the charts worldwide. Hello is a monster of a ballad, with the gothic piano and heavy reverb making for a big, epic sound that matches Adele’s amazing vocal performance. Every time that chorus comes around, I get chills from listening to it. Adele reflect on the past and shows visible regret over an old relationship that she can’t completely let go of. It’s presented with the most universal framing possible as a phone call. Great song that deserves all the praise and accolades it has gotten.
We were way too harsh on Macklemore. He wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but he had a good command on flow and cadence and he had enough wit to make some admittedly corny material work. While Thrift Shop put him and Ryan Lewis on the map, Can’t Hold Us showed that they mean business. This song is just a blast to listen to thanks to Ryan Lewis’ production. The jaunty piano, the stomping percussion and handclaps, the horns, etc. This song is a more energetic banger than most of the so-called bangers of the time and now. Macklemore is just rapping his ass off here and Ray Dalton comes in with an amazingly soulful chorus. While Can’t Hold Us is the fun party track to get the people moving, Same Love goes to a different direction, tackling a more serious social issue. Over a stripped-back piano beat, Macklemore shows his allyship with the LGBTQ+ community by calling out the hypocrisy and rampant homophobia in our society, especially among Religious Right circles and in hip-hop. Mary Lambert’s chorus really hits at the heart, basically saying that she won’t change who she is. This is the first time where a mainstream rap song shows open support for the LGBTQ+ community and it helped our society become more accepting of them. There’s still more to do, but progress is being made. What I’m trying to say is that Same Love is a one-of-a-kind song that’s really powerful. And while we’re speaking on social issues, …
When this song came out along with its music video, the whole world stopped and was hypnotized by what they heard and saw as Childish Gambino captured the essence of the current U.S. climate with This Is America. It’s a look at black America that shows both the pretty and the ugly of our culture. This is exemplified by the juxtaposition of the production, which shifts from gentle acoustics and gospel choirs to harsher, hard-hitting trap grooves scattered ad-libs, plus a haunting outro. Gambino knew exactly how to capture a moment, which he did excellently here. But this isn’t the only song he has on this list.
Songs that got big off of memes are rarely good, but there are notable exceptions to the rule, including this song, which also got a major boost thanks to Jordan Peele featuring it on Get Out. That aside, Redbone is fucking amazing. The production is that old school psychedelic funk that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Parliament-Funkadelic album. The synths, the guitars, the bassline, and Gambino singing in the highest register he could muster up all make for a song that has a dark aura oozing from it, especially relating to paranoia and infidelity. A perfect addition to the soundtrack of a Jordan Peele movie.
We’re now in the Top 10 and we begin with one of those songs that helped me out through rough times in 2016. Twenty One Pilots released one of the most relatable songs of recent times in Stressed Out, which captures the anxiety and insecurity of someone transitioning to adulthood and wanting to go back to a time when things were simpler. It’s the feeling of nostalgia that people of my generation could connect to since we were put into a world without proper preparation. It also helps that the song is well put-together thanks to Tyler Joseph’s clever writing, which includes his own childhood memories, and production that captures a fleeing innocence being replaced with newfound responsibility. This song was a whole mood four years ago and it’s a whole mood now.
One of the great things about the indie music boom is that it gave us unlikely hits that don’t sound like anything on the charts. So imagine how I felt when not only did Somebody That I Used To Know topped the Hot 100, it became the number one song of 2012 period. And I couldn’t think of another hit from the time that deserved it. The lo-fi guitar riffs, the muted bass, the xylophone, etc. all make for some of the more unique production choices for a number one hit. The interplay between Gotye and Kimbra is great as they both portray two individuals who have ended their relationship with one another and offer their side of why things didn’t work out. The way the song is written gives both sides a chance to air out their grievances with one another. Unfortunately, this would be the only U.S. hit for both of these artists. It’s a shame because they have some dope material right here.
Need You Now, it’s the second biggest song of 2010 and arguably one of the best country hits of the entire decade. It was also the song that made Lady Antebellum household names in the country scene. This tells the story of two people having a late-night conversation on the phone wanting to spend some time with one another where it’s implied that there’s some history between them. Hillary Scott and Charles Kelly both sound great as they sell the emotional pain of desperate loneliness. The music helps create that somber atmosphere to go along with the content thanks to the pianos and guitar work. I wish more country hits these days would sound more like this.
A collaboration that I didn’t see coming, which wound up giving both artists one of their career bests. Love Me Harder is a duet between Ariana Grande and The Weeknd and it’s one of the best pop songs of the entire decade. It’s pretty obvious what the song is about looking at the title and the lyrics. But these two manage to make it work thanks to solid chemistry between Grande’s more sultry, sensual delivery and The Weeknd being himself. They make this sex song sexy, which is not always an easy task. There’s also the production, which goes for the big synthwave grooves and heavy reverb. All of this musical alchemy creates another pop classic for our times and another boost for the careers of both Ariana Grande and The Weeknd.
I mean, come on. What’s there really to say about Get Lucky? It’s Daft Punk making a disco song. How could I pass on this? This is one of those songs that’s damn near perfect. The 4×4 beat, the textured synths, bass, and piano, Nile Rogers’ guitar licks, the vocoders, etc., all make for a great throwback. Pharrell handles the vocals and he’s just having a ball while enjoying a night of good fun. You don’t see a lot of Daft Punk on the charts, which is a shame because they have some fire tracks. Yeah, this particular song got overplayed to death, but it still holds up to this day and my love for it hasn’t changed at all. Great stuff.
I always knew that Billie Eilish was gonna be the next superstar, it was only a matter of when she’s gonna make her mark. While bad guy remains her big hit so far, bury a friend is the song that kicked things off and it’s always been one of my favorite songs from her. The dark minimal production with the booming bass, constant screams, and unorthodox mixing make for a song unlike anything the charts are used to, creating a creepy atmosphere where Billie Eilish’s goes up and down in pitch as she depicts a conversation with a monster. She’s really good at making these dark creepy songs that most pop stars would never even touch. This song would be the beginning of a very promising career with a ton of potential. Can’t wait to see where Billie Eilish goes from here.
Now this right here is a modern day classic. Just like how Billie Jean defined the 80s and Smells Like Teen Spirit defined the 90s, Rolling In The Deep is a song that will define the 2010s in the years to come. The two best things about the song is the production and Adele herself. The production leans more into a sound adjacent of that of soul and blues with the jaunty pianos, stomping percussion, guitar stabs, and even a gospel-like choir. This wouldn’t sound out of place on an R&B station and I’ve heard this song get played on R&B stations. Then there’s Adele, who’s able to match the intensity and firepower of the music with her own vocals as she tells an ex to basically piss off. This was the first song I’ve heard from Adele and it made me an instant fan from the first listen. Overall, great song that deserves all the accolades and success it’s gotten. But we’re not done with Adele just yet.
It’s one of the most covered songs in recent times, but none of them will ever match up to the original. With Rolling In The Deep becoming a mega-success, Adele opted to strip things back for the next single Someone Like You, which is another modern classic. A piano ballad that perfected the formula better than every piano ballad that came afterwards thanks to Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, this song leaves a lot of room for Adele to flex those pipes and flex, she certainly did. She captures the emotional rollercoaster of someone coming to terms with a relationship that came to an end and at certain points, it sounds like she’s close to breaking down. I have nothing else to say about this song that pretty much everyone else have said about it by now. The song’s a fucking classic.
Well, that last song was kind of a downer. Let’s talk about something that kicks all sorts of ass. In 2014, South African band KONGOS charted on the Hot 100 with Come With Me Now, a song from their 2011 album Lunatic. And IT. IS. AWESOME. The rough guitar riffs, stomping drums, a solo that shreds, a friggin’ accordion? This instrumentation is just bursting with energy inspired by South African grooves and it’s enhanced by the shouting vocals from the brothers of KONGOS that make up the band. Looking at the lyrics, it appears to be a song about losing control, which goes perfect for this type of music music, but it also shows that this comes at a price when you go further and further down that rabbit hole that even the devil wouldn’t want his soul. Hard-hitting rock like this is severely missing on the charts these days and they need to make a comeback. As hype as this song is, there’s only one that hits harder this decade enough to top this list. So let’s get right into it.
Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by this pick. I made up my mind that this was going to be the best hit of the entire decade before the decade was even over and I stand by it to this day. There is no other hit song in the 2010s that hits as hard or harder than DNA. Here, Kendrick Lamar metaphorically transformed into a dragon and let loose nonstop fire bars about his blackness and he does not let up. There’s no chorus or singing, it’s just bars on top of bars on top of bars over some of Mike Will Made-It’s best production to date that contains a guitar melody and trap beat. And just when you thought it was over, right after a sample of Fox News’ moronically brain-dead take on his BET Awards performance, the hardest beat switch-up happens and explodes with the force of a million supernovas devastating everything in its path and Kendrick does not let up on the bars. And the way he’s flowing? The dude is just leaving charred bodies all over the floor. This is why I’m such a fan of Kendrick, his skills as a lyricist raises the bar in hip-hop and he doesn’t sacrifice any of that while giving us a banger that would leave other bangers in the dust. All of this is why DNA is the best hit song of the 2010s. Seriously, Kendrick. I cannot wait for that new album. Release something, damn it.
And that was my long list of the best hits songs that the 2010s had to offer. What were some of your favorites from the past ten years? Comment below and let me know. Next month, I’ll be doing a list of some of my favorite albums of the past decade.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Blinding Lights-The Weeknd