The song at #68 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the stirring “Nina Cried Power” by Hozier featuring Mavis Staples. Born Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, the strikingly handsome Irish singer-songwriter burst onto the music scene in 2014 with his massive hit “Take Me to Church” (coming up later in this list) and self-titled album Hozier. Exhausted from nearly two years of touring, he took a break in 2017 and then began writing new songs, but it would be four years before he followed up with a surprise release in September 2018 of a four-track EP Nina Cried Power, which featured the title track. The song was also included on his second album Wasteland, Baby!, released in March 2019.
“Nina Cried Power” is a magnificent gospel-infused ode to Hozier’s love of American rock and roll and its roots in R&B and gospel, with tributes paid to iconic artists like Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holliday, James Brown and Mavis Staples, who lives up to her reputation by adding her soulful and raw vocals to the song. In addition, legendary musician Booker T. Jones contributed his organ-playing to the song and other tracks on Wasteland, Baby! It’s a stunning masterpiece in my not-so-humble opinion, yet seemed to fail to connect with very many listeners for reasons I cannot comprehend. It was a hit only on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart, where it reached #1.