Best Musical Artists of the 2010s

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

One more list! One more list!

My Best of the 2010s list-making journey has finally come to a close! (Or has it? … For now, it has at least. The future will come as it may, and it may just surprise you, and me.) All this week, I’ve been posting my rankings of a few categories that I was inspired to put together after submitting them to a Best of the 2010s polls that I’m participating in with some of my fellow cultural aficionados. To wrap it all up, I guide you along to the realm of music and lyrics, as I present the Best Musical Artists of the 2010s.

My criteria was similar to that of my choices for Best Film Directors. I considered a combination of how much I enjoyed their musical output as well as how much – and how well – they influenced the industry at large.

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Best Songs of the 2010s

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

Of all the pieces of art and entertainment that I’m ranking for the decade, songs are probably the most personal. Yet somehow I feel compelled to consider how they affected the world at large moreso than all the other categories. The tunes that I value the most aren’t just the ones that make my own heart sing but also the ones that draw all of us closer together. So as I assembled this list, I asked myself both, “What has made me dance these past 10 years?” and “How would I like to dance with everyone else?” Here’s what that playlist looks like.
(I aimed to stick only to songs that were released as singles, as opening this to deep album cuts would’ve made things so overheated.)

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Best Albums of the 2010s

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One of the big themes about entertainment in the past decade is the incomprehensible explosion of available content in every medium. While this may be a recent development in cinema and television, it’s been the case for music for centuries, or even millennia. Since humans have been banging on rocks and clapping their hands, really. Of course, it was a little more recent than that when recorded music became readily available.

This is all to say, I of course haven’t listened to every album of the past ten years that made its way onto SoundCloud or Spotify, or even all the Billboard chart-toppers. But I did listen to enough of them to be able to assemble a vibrant and varied soundtrack of my life in the 2010s. Here are the musical collections of the era that I just haven’t been able to stop pushing play on.

[4/2/20 2:00 PM UPDATE: This post originally mistakenly included Justice’s , which came out in 2007.]

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 2/14/20

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CREDIT: Chris Johnson, Stuart Collis/Netflix

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Fantasy Island (Theatrically Nationwide) – I must watch every horror movie no matter how ridiculous.
The Photograph (Theatrically Nationwide)
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Streaming February 14 on Netflix) – I loved the last Shaun the Sheep movie!

TV
Duncanville Series Premiere (February 16 on FOX) – Is this the next great animated FOX show?
Good Girls Season 3 Premiere (February 16 on NBC)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Season 7 Premiere (February 16 on HBO)

Music
-Tame Impala, The Slow Rush

 

SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Sandra Oh/Tame Impala

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CREDIT: Megan Krause/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Discover Card – There’s a current ad campaign about people reaching their doubles at customer service, and there’s a current hit horror movie about people being targeted by their doubles. Somebody at SNL made the connection and astutely decided, “Let’s mash ’em up!” And lo and behold, we have this hilarious commercial parody in which it turns out that the you’s of Discover Card are actually the Tethered of Us, and Ego Nwodim finally gets a showcase performance.

It’s good to know that everyone can be so wonderfully, specifically overwrought in the Test Prep sketch.

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The Best Albums of 2015 That I Listened To

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As my best albums list is the “Best Albums I Listened To” as opposed to just the “Best Albums,” it is more pointedly subjective than my other best of lists. I usually do not listen to enough albums each year to really be able to definitively say which are the absolute greatest. Thus, instead of focusing on objective critical analysis, I am concentrating more on my own personal experiences with each of these entries.

Currents

1. Tame Impala, Currents – The Australian psychedelic rockers’ latest gets my top spot because it is one of those vaunted albums in which I wanted to listen to every track over and over, both as a whole and individually. Tame Impala’s previous release, Lonerism, is one of my favorite albums of all-time; I am counting my blessings that its follow-up is now in the same category.

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Best Songs of 2015

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All songs on this list were released as singles in 2015, or late 2014, or earlier in 2014, but didn’t make an impact until 2015.

LetItHappen

1. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen” – Tame Impala are just about singlehandedly keeping psychedelic rock alive, with their good vibe-filled soundscapes keeping minds as open as possible. This 7 minute-plus magnum opus is a crunchy, lovely, hooky, addictive ode to allowing the best possible future to come into existence. Settle in, let it wash over you, and watch the fear slip away.
2. Miguel – “Waves” – Hands down, Miguel is currently making the sexiest music on the planet. This cowbell backbeat-driven paean to lovemaking is the cream of his crop.
3. Wolf Alice – “Moaning Lisa Smile” – Alternative rock can actually call for an end to gloominess, as in this story of a Lisa Simpson-type.
4. Major Lazer ft. MØ & DJ Snake – “Lean On” – An American DJ, a French DJ, and a Danish singer break out the moombahton for Major Lazer’s hottest beat yet.
5. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” – This is what pop music needs to thrive: someone who can write killer hooks and isn’t afraid to grunt alongside his silky falsetto.
6. Beck – “Dreams” – My dream for 2016 is that Beck’s new album will be released as soon as possible. In the meantime, this funky little psychedelic number from Mr. Hansen’s dancy side played on repeat will tide me over.
7. Taylor Swift – “Style” – Tight, tingly composition and hauntingly resonant lyrics about the path of love in an endless night’s journey.
8. The Weeknd – “The Hills” – An intro of pure distortion and an outro sung in Amharic (the language of Ethiopia) makes for the most unusual Number One hit in ages.
9. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away with Me” – That sax intro – and everything else featured in this beautiful pop number – makes it clear that you will be swimming in bliss for four minutes.
10. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta” – Kendrick follows the examples of Edwin Starr and Public Enemy in demonstrating that the best protest music is also a lot of fun.
11. Selena Gomez – “Same Old Love” – With an assist from Charli XCX on the snappy lyrics and a deliciously wonky piano, Selena shot for the cranial stars with this earworm.
12. Disclosure ft. Lorde – “Magnets” – The Lawrence brothers provide the wooshy tropical beat as Lorde gets in too deep with her lover.
13. Florence + the Machine – “What Kind of Man” – Florence Welch has a knack for making 3 ½-minute ditties feel like 8-minute epics.
14. Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding – “Outside” – If Calvin Harris is not singing on his own tracks, then it ought to be Ellie Goulding, as on this nugget of emotionally tense dance music.
15. Tove Lo – “Talking Body” – Tove Lo realizes that part of being healthy is fully and lusciously embracing our physical desires.
16. The Pretty Reckless – “Follow Me Down” – The Sing-Along With Attitude Anthem of 2015.
17. Cold War Kids – “First” – The Cold War Kids have found their niche of tight riffs guiding the way through everyday existential crises.
18. MisterWives – “Reflections” – Mandy Lee’s infectious vocals set the irresistible tone for this burst of indie pop effervescence.
19. Elle King – “Ex’s & Oh’s” – Groovy, bluesy guitars + feisty, funky attitude + snappy, playful wordplay = a no-brainer addition to your rock playlist.
20. Modest Mouse – “Lampshades on Fire” – It sounds like something that was written over the course of the raging party recounted in the lyrics.
21. Adele – “Hello” – Spare, unfussy production just gets out of the way of one of the most powerful instruments on the planet.
22. U2 – “Every Breaking Wave” – The beautiful, heartbreaking lyrics are as bottomless as the ocean from Bono and company.
23. Halsey – “New Americana” – Halsey gets away with brazen bluntness in this anthem for a new generation by making the straightforwardness part of the message.
24. Carly Rae Jepsen – “I Really Like You” – Incessant repetition should be avoided most of the time, except when you really, really, really, really, really, really cannot say it any other way.
25. Joywave – “Somebody New” – It’s a whole new genre: Sleepy Alternative Power Nap Rock.

Watch And/Or Listen to This: Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know the Better”

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I listened to Currents. It’s pretty good. This is my favorite track.