The summer of 2010 was Drake’s moment. Then fall rolled around and everyone forgot Thank Me Later ever existed, but I can’t stop coming back to it. It might not be the smartest or coolest album of the year, but it’s the best for being in your early 20s and knowing you’re better than everyone else but still feeling cripplingly insecure. It’s a great soundtrack for whining about how hard your life is and an even better soundtrack for drinking away the guilt about that whining because, whether you’re getting high with Lil Wayne and banging Nicki Minaj or just going to happy hour with your friends, life is pretty sweet right now.
Sure, Ted Leo is getting old, and okay, there isn’t too much on here that sounds really brand-new or different. But sounding like an old Ted Leo album still means sounding awesome, so. If you can listen to the soaring, earnest choruses on “Bartomelo” or “Ativan Eyes” without wanting to jump up and down and you don’t feel at all tempted to scream along with the oh-oh-oh vocals on “Even Heroes Have to Die,” then you’re probably beyond help.
By now everyone knows all the arguments against VW: Ivy League privilege, smarmy twee preppiness, Autotune, cultural appropriation, blah blah blah. But the strongest argument for them is that, even more so than on their first album, the melodies and the lyrics on Contra have just the right balance of witty melancholy sly post-college peppy angst and it’s all just too good to ignore.
“What rhymes with asshole? Asshole” is unquestionably my favorite line of 2010, and that alone would be enough to justify Love King’s place on this list. But luckily the rest of the album is pretty great too.
The-Dream may have won the best one-liner of the year award, but if we’re talking about whole albums, Big Boi definitely clinches it for consistently delivering the slickest wordplay, all over these cool sneaky beats that aren’t exactly club songs but aren’t quite chill songs either.
Everyone’s top 10 list this year has MBDTF on it somewhere, and most of them have some weird caveat about having not wanted to like it that much. But why not? Because Kanye seems like a pompous megalomaniac? Fair enough, but so what? If the music is this good, one man should have all that power.
I’ve had a complicated relationship with Taylor Swift this year. I went from obsessively listening to “You Belong With Me” but refusing to think of TS as anything more than a one-hit wonder, to non-stop back-to-back listens of Fearless and Speak Now, to a little bit of way-behind-the-ball angry blog-girl feminist indignation about “Better Than Revenge” to appreciating Speak Now for what it is, which is a delightful, if not particularly nuanced, collection of shiny pretty teen-pop anthems. Good stuff!
Na na na na COME ON. (I rest my case.)
This probably looks like a blatant last-ditch attempt to make it seem like I maybe kind of tried to keep up with indie pop this year and/or a lifetime achievement award for Kevin Barnes. Neither of those things is entirely untrue, but this is my favorite OM album since Sunlandic Twins, so there’s that.
Admittedly, this album as a whole is hit or miss. But the hits (“I’m the Best,” “Moment 4 Life”) hit so hard that I couldn’t leave Nicki out entirely. “Everything I try to teach they gonna see it in time / tell them bitches get a stick I’m done leading the blind” still makes me laugh out loud, and the chorus of “Moment 4 Life” gets me every time.