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Music 2010: Faves and Failures

Year end comes and tons of annual best of lists roll out like so much red carpet. I'm always a bit perplexed by their use of the word "best", because I'm pretty sure the word they actually mean to use is "favorite". For me, the idea of someone deeming something the best of anything raises immediate questions. What is the criteria being used? And what about personal bias? Which is exactly why the term "favorite" and not "best" should be used. Judgments and pronouncements are, by nature, based solely on personal bias. Without personal bias such lists could not exist. Even in cases where such decisions have been reached via consensus, bias is still at play due to the shared values and knowledge of the sampled population. Shared stimuli create shared experience which informs judgment and reason. Given that, I have chosen to compile a list of my favorite albums (Can we still use that term in the age of CDs?) and single tracks from the various music genres that I've enjoyed this year, as well as a short list of musical failures.

In using the term failure, I simply wish to convey that these musical offerings failed, for whatever reason, to resonate with me, personally - for they certainly have been successful in terms of sales. I'd also like to note that I have an almost total disdain for the use of auto tune. I rarely appreciate anything that Jay Z has to contribute to the musical scene, but he got it right this year when he called for the death of auto tune. It is a musical fad that has worn out it's welcome very quickly with me and I blame it, and the industry that continues to profit from it, for the current abysmal state of popular music. However, I have refrained from listing every artist who slides by more on image and PR stunts than actual talent while managing to lodge themselves into our collective consciousness with all the grace of an earwig (myth aside). Granted, there are exceptions to this rule and some have even landed in my list of favorites (usually on the strength of their songwriting). But on the whole, the likes of Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Ke$ha leave me cold and find me reaching for the skip button. Given that, I won't bother including the contributions of those artists here.

So, for better or worse, here’s my list. I really encourage you to seek out those artists on my favorites lists that you are not familiar with, especially the more obscure ones. Your ears will thank you.

Favorite Albums:

Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Kelis – Flesh Tone
Goldfrapp – Head First
Minus the Bear – Omni
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – I Learned the Hard Way
Heart – Red Velvet Car
Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs - Medicine County
Toni Braxton – Pulse
The Apples in Stereo – Travelers in Space and Time
MGMT – Congratulations
Ne-Yo – Libra Scale
Jaheim – Another Round
The Black Keys – Brothers
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Vampire Weekend – Contra
Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
Robyn – Body Talk Pts. 1-3
Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
Jónsi - Go
Trey Songz – Passion, Pain & Pleasure
John Mellencamp – No Better Than This
Crowded House – Intriguer
Hole – Nobody’s Daughter
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Beat the Devil’s Tattoo and The National – High
BT – These Hopeful Machines

Favorite Tracks:

Cee Lo Green – “Fuck You”
Kelis – “Acapella”
Trey Songz - We Can’t Be Friends
Twin Shadow – I Can’t Wait
John Mayer - Heartbreak Warfare
Ne-Yo – “Champagne Life”, “Beautiful Monster”, “One in a Million”
Broken Bells – “The Ghost Inside”, “Mongrel Heart”
Jaheim - Ain’t Leavin’ Without You
Donna Summer - To Paris With Love
Kristine W. – The Power of Music
Goldfrapp – “Rocket”, “Alive”,
Blake Lewis – “Heartbreak on Vinyl”
Katy Perry – “Firework”, “Teenage Dream”, “California Gurls”, “Peacock”
Lady Gaga – “Telephone”, “Alejandro”
Alicia Keys – “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)”, “Empire State of Mind”
Brandon Flowers – “Crossfire”
Keri Hilson -Pretty Girl Rock
Janet Jackson – Make Me
Sade – “Soldier of Love”
Robyn – “Hang With Me”, “Indestructible”, “Dancing on my Own”
Crystal Castles (ft. Robert Smith) – Not In Love
LCD Soundsystem – “All I Want”, “I Can Change”
Keren Ann – My Name is Trouble
Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina - Stereo Love
Erika Jayne – “Pretty Mess”, “One Hot Pleasure”
BT – “Suddenly” , “Emergency”
La Roux – In for the Kill (Scream’s Let’s Get Ravey Mix)
No Age -Fever Dreaming – No Age
God Awful Stuff:
Erykah Badu – New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh
Ludacris – Battle of the Sexes
She & Him – Volume Two
Usher – Raymond V. Raymond, Versus
Chris Brown – “Deuces”, “Yeah 3 X”, “No BS”
Akon – “Angel”
Rick Ross – Teflon Don
Flo Rida – Only One Flo, Pt 1
T.I. – No Mercy, “Get Your Back Up”, “Got Your Back”, “That’s All She Wrote”
Nelly – “Just A Dream”
Nickelback – “This Afternoon”, “Never Gonna Be Alone”
Bruno Mars – “Grenade”
Christina Perri – “Jar of Hearts”
Sick Puppies – “Maybe”
The Black Eyed Peas – The Beginning, “Imma Be”, “Rock That Body”, “The Time (Dirty Bit)”
Soulja Boy – The DeAndre Way
Duck Sauce – “Barbra Streisand”

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