Some more songs of the decade now – the first batch were “songs I love” not we’re on to “songs I really love”. I’ll cut the preamble and just get to it!
75. Lana Del Rey – hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it (2019)
I’m not the biggest Del Rey fan – I can count the songs of hers I like on one hand – but something about hope is really special. It’s an exercise in voice and piano and it’s chock full of weird but good lyrics: “I’ve been tearing around in my fucking nightgown/24/7 Sylvia Plath” being my personal favourite. It’s ghostly, wanky, and whistful all in one long breath and it’s the longest serving member of my 2019 playlist. Pure aural beauty.
74. Adam Lambert, Nile Rogers + Sam Sparro – Shady (2012)
I have long loved Queen’s new front man, his vocals are unique and impeccable, and whilst he’s not shy to a ballad, his best work are those songs that are his funk-tinged strut bangers, of which Shady is the pinnacle. Nile Rogers and Sam Sparro makeup the talented trio in charge of the number, delivering a full throttle bass-funk song about being, well, shady. It’s camp, funky, a little generic, and immensely satisfying.
73. Panic! at the Disco – High Hopes (2018)
I came a bit late to High Hopes – y’know how a song does the numbers and you never really pay attention to it out of some subconscious defiance? – but the people are right: this is pure pop-punk power. It’s anthemic, euphoric, and was chosen by a noteable number of presidential candidates as their campaign staple tune because, simply put, it goes off.
72. Beyoncé – Daddy Lessons (2016)
I know, there are a lot of Beyoncé songs that are much cooler than this, but I can’t help what I love, ok?! Lemonade was a musical triumph and this, for me, was the standout every single time I spun it. It’s rasp-delivering country from the one of the world’s greatest living vocalist, and the lyrics are so vivid I felt myself transported to the wildest of Wests. Iconic.
71. Alex Cameron + Brandon Flowers – Runnin’ Outta Luck (2017)
Alex Cameron is a weird guy. He adopts a creepy persona summoning lyrics about porn stars and prostitutes, layering in his phlegmy vocals into songs that are unsettlingly cheerful. Runnin Outta Luck was my first exposure to him and I listened to it and nothing else for days on end. Brandon Flowers was not immediatly credited on it, but having learned that it’s incredibly obvious. Runnin Outta Luck is probably the most viscerally repulsive song of my songs of the decade, but it’s just so jaunty and joyful I defy you not to love it a little.
70. Ben Platt – RAIN (2019)
The magician from Pitch Perfect come broadway star come leading man in Netflix’s The Politician, is the breakout star (in my eyes) of 2019. Whilst his whole debut album is an emotive and moving experience, his standalone crown jewel, RAIN, is a modern, uptempo powerballad. The lyrics are cliché in the way that fills you with warmth, the repetition in the broken-hoping-breaking-open refrain is iconic, and the music video is 2019’s answer to Kevin Bacon in Footloose.
69. Rihanna, Kanye West + Paul McCartney – FourFiveSeconds (2015)
A generation being confused who this unknown feature artist Paul McCartney is will never not be funny, and whilst I’m not sure what his actual contribution to the song is other than looking like someone’s grandad who wandered on set by mistake, FourFiveSeconds was an unexpected experimental acoustic triumph. Rihanna sounds perfect and rests easy in balance with Kanye, which the light instrumental gives way to, the layering in the vocals is used sparingly, and the chorus is so simple and so satisfying. It should not have worked, but it really, really does.
68. Emeli Sandé – Next To Me (2012)
Find me a moment more instantly joyful that the opening piano riff in this song and I will give you a crisp ten pound note. Sandé can boast one of the biggest selling albums of the decade, and this is its definitive song: a piece of upbeat modern soul slash gospel music that is undeniably infectious.
67. Alessia Cara – Here (2016)
When I first heard Here I thought it was the coolest song I’d ever heard, and four years later I stand by that. It’s a simple R&B/pop song, with a slick rhythm and lyrics that validated anyone feeling out of place at a party and just wanting to get the hell out of there. Ten out of ten.
66. Justin Bieber – Love Yourself (2015)
The simplicity of Love Yourself is what made it a winner. That easy Ed Sheeran melody, the straightforward lyrics about knowing you made the right choice in breaking up with someone who tried to change you, the lightness of the guitar. Understated pop genius.
65. CeeLo Green – Fuck You (2010)
Fuck You is a song that delivers on the promise of its name. It evokes the joy of someone getting to tell someone without regret that they are a shallow person that can go fuck themselves, but it also reveals that the singer obviously isn’t quite over it and is bitter that even though they know they were a shallow person, they can’t help but feel cut down by being booted for not having enough disposable income. Aspirational lyrics in an upbeat banger and anyone who listens to the Forget You version is a coward.
64. Neon Trees – Everybody Talks (2012)
My lasting memory of this song is me, fresh out of high school, cutting about Porto singing this at any given second because I could not get that opening verse out of my head. From the opening “ah ah ah’s” to the raspy, affected pop vocal from Tyler Glen, to the pop-punk guitar, to the final oomph, it was the perfect summer song.
63. Katy Perry – Roar (2013)
Perry was just coming out of one of the most difficult periods of her life when she unleased Roar: an triumphant anthem about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and getting back in the ring. When it hits that first chorus 45 seconds in, Pery is going at 110 per cent and she doesn’t let up for a single second after that. The bridge is a perfect crescendo, the lyrics are literally inspiring, and Perry is at her vocal best.
62. Little Mix – Move (2013)
Little Mix have a lot of bangers, but none more satisfying than this tongue-popping, feverish dance tune. The whole thing feels like one flirtatious tease: enticing you with some infectious beats, an invitiation to dance that quiets back down, rising and falling until that moment of sweet release in the final chorus. The girls come together in vocal harmonies, in energy, and make you feel like you’ve just completed a hundred metre dash.
61. WALK THE MOON – Shut Up and Dance (2014)
Dumb, loud, obnoxious, iconic. Shut Up and Dance is a timeless, infectious, unavoidable pop tune. It’s joyous, it’s demanding, it’s a bit cute, and it’ll be played at weddings for decade to come, I’m not going to say exactly how many listens this has clocked up in my iTunes, but it’s definitely triple digits.
60. The 1975 – UGH! (2015)
Love em, hate em, or feel complete indifference to them, The 1975 have a song for everyone, and UGH! is their song for me. The wavery opening, the irresistible rhythm, the slick vocal, all of it just grew into me with repeat listening. I think it took a good twenty spins before I had even noticed there was a chorus, and it took me about three years to shake it from being the only thing goin’ on in my mind.
59. Tom Odell – Hold Me (2013)
Opine what you will about Odell, but I have never seen someone play piano with such enthusiasm and gusto and sweat as I did when I caught him at the O2 Academy in 2013. I was a goon in love at that exact moment in time and I thought I would never hear a song that made me feel as warm and loving as Hold Me did. The opening bars of piano in unison with that call of ‘1 2 1 2 3 4’ is glorious, the lyrics are sweet and simple, and Odell sounds exactly like the cheesy posh boy he really is.
58. James Arthur – Suicide (2013)
There was a brief interim when I was in full defence of known homophobe James Arthur, and whilst I struggle to abide his omnipresent voice after his rise from the ashes moment a few years ago, Suicide marked a time in my life I long to remember: the summer I spent working in a sweaty kitchen in upstate New York. It was a literally rose tinted time in my life and I played Suicide, a beautiful post breakup ballad, on a loop. Arthur’s vocal is impeccable, the melody is simple and satisfying, and it’s very singable.
57. Jessie Ware – You & I [Forever] (2015)
When I went to see Jessie Ware in early 2014 – I had bought myself a ticket on a 2am whim a month earlier – it was mostly on the merit of Ed Sheeran co-write Say You Love Me which is an enormoballad. I was expecting, for some reason, a quirky indie pop star, which could not be more off base for the straight talking, no bullshit of Jessie Ware. I felt both awed and intimidated and the best moment from that night came in the form of the dreamy R&B pop song You & I (Forever). The whispered vocals, the backgrounds, the unexpected chorus – even listening to it now I feel like it’s a song that transcends time.
56. NEEDTOBREATHE – Drive All Night (2011)
I will never forgive NeedToBreathe for not playing Drive All Night when I went to go and see them on their Drive All Night Tour. What the hell guys?! They may be a Christian folk rock band, but they have some stomping anthems that are greater than anything Mumford and Sons has done, with Drive All Night being their finest. Lead singer Bear’s gritty vocals are at their peak, the pacey instrumental builds with the fast-delivered lyrics, it breaks into a perfect bridge halfway through the song, and then gives a final 90 seconds of pure musical heroin.
55. Jack Garratt – My House Is Your Home (2016)
A gentle five minute acoustic piano ballad was a left field moment in Jack Garratt’s synth-heavy debut album, which is part of what makes it so perfect. It’s a very gentle song that would literally take your breath away if you were to hear it live so you could experience every single word and strike of key. The crux of it, and the point to which I would always rewind to, is the short piano solo at around the 3 minute mark, followed by a impassioned climactic bridge that is just Jack’s raspy voice and the piano, before settling into his falsetto and back to his soft singing to bring it home.
54. Justin Timberlake – CAN’T STOP THE FEELING (2016)
This is Justin Timberlake’s only song to have passed 1 billion streams on Spotify, the next one doesn’t even come close. I know, it’s cheesy and stupid, was made for a (very good) kids film and it was obviously trying to be the next Uptown Funk – and bobo the commercially tuned clown over here listened to it morning, noon and night. Any time I needed a little pick me up I would throw on Can’t Stop The Feeling and it would turn me right around.
53. Beyoncé – Love On Top (2011)
That music video. Those key changes. The pure joy of it all. This is, hands down, my favourite Beyoncé song of the past ten years.
52. Robyn – Dancing On My Own (2010)
It’s upsetting that, in discussion, my two immediate connotations of this song are that hate crime committed by Calum Scott, and Lena Dunham prancing around her room in that episode of Girls. Fortunately, Dancing on my Own is the ultimate lose yourself to it song. It’s the ultimate cry on the dancefloor song. It’s the ultimate sadpop banger. Put it on any you’re transported. This is a song that saves lives.
51. Normani – Motivation (2019)
Everything about this song is perfect. The dulled out intro, the 90s throwback sound and visual, the impeccable delivery of “fa-a-allin into the bed”, the “ooh think about it”s, the horns (the HORNS!), that cover by MUNA. Not a singe hair out of place.