100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #91: “Superposition” by Young the Giant

The song at #91 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Superposition” by Southern California alt-rock band Young the Giant. Their music has an instantly recognizable sound unlike no other, thanks in large part to their brilliant musicianship and front man Sameer Gadhia’s distinctive and arresting vocals. Their songs are melodic and often stunning rock compositions, with intelligent lyrics and lush instrumentation. Released in August 2018, “Superposition” was the second single from their fourth studio album Mirror Master, and is one of their most beautiful songs. Starting with a deep bass line and a rhythmic toe-tapping drumbeat as a foundation, the band layers moody synths, delicate piano keys and an enchanting ukelele riff to create a gorgeous backdrop for Gadhia’s captivating vocals, which are in turn backed by lovely vocal harmonies.

The term ‘superposition’ is used in physics to describe how things or items in nature overlap or interact. On their Twitter page, Young the Giant stated that the song is generally “about quantum physics that has defied odds.” For the song, they use the term to describe the strong pull or connection we feel to those we love, and how fate and inexplicable events can bring us together: “In any universe you are my dark star / I want you to want me / Why don’t we rely on chemistry / Why don’t we collide the spaces that divide us.

I had the pleasure of seeing them live at The Forum in Los Angeles in August 2019, in a double bill with Fitz & the Tantrums. (You can read my review of that concert here.)

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #92: “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed

The song at #92 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “The Sound of Silence” by heavy metal band Disturbed. It’s hard to believe anyone could do a respectable cover of this iconic Simon & Garfunkel song, but David Draiman and his band Disturbed accomplished the feat and then some. Wow, what a magnificent and emotionally raw interpretation it is! Some people I know hated it for reasons unfathomable to me, but I love it.

After seeing the band perform the song on the late-night talk show Conan, Paul Simon sent Draiman an email praising his performance, writing “Really powerful performance on Conan the other day. First time I’d seen you do it live. Nice. Thanks.” Draiman responded, “Mr. Simon, I am honored beyond words. We only hoped to pay homage and honor to the brilliance of one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Your compliment means the world to me/us and we are eternally grateful.” (Loudwire) That live performance on Conan is the most watched YouTube video ever from the show.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #93: “Riptide” by Vance Joy

The song at #93 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the delightfully upbeat “Riptide” by Australian indie folk-rock singer-songwriter Vance Joy (born James Gabriel Keogh). With his ukelele as the primary instrument, he adds piano, guitar and percussion, and combines them with with a breezy melody and lovely backing harmonies to create an incredibly pleasing track. His heartfelt vocals convey an endearing vulnerability as he sings the lyrics about being besotted with a girl. “I love you when you’re singing that song, and I’ve got a lump in my throat ’cause you’re gonna sing the words wrong.

“Riptide” was first released as a track in 2013 on his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing, and is also featured on his 2014 debut studio album Dream Your Life Away.  The single has sold over 7 million copies (both physical copy and digital download) worldwide, and holds the record for the most weeks in the top 100 of the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Assn.) Singles Chart – 120 consecutive weeks. It also spent several wees at #1 on the Billboard Alternative Chart.

Here’s the official video for the song:

And here’s a nice acoustic performance by Joy:

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #94: “Dreams” by Beck

The song at #94 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Dreams” by Beck. Born Bek David Campbell in Los Angeles in 1970, the eternally youthful singer-songwriter, musician and producer has been making great music ever since the unexpected success of his breakout single “Loser” in 1994. Over his long, innovative and prolific career, he’s recorded and released an astonishing 14 studio albums, continually experimenting with an eclectic myriad of genres including alternative rock, folk, country, hip hop, soul, funk and electronic.

“Dreams” was released in June 2015, a few months after his Album of the Year Grammy win for Morning Phase. Beck stated he wanted to make a record that “would be good to play live“, and did he ever! The song is exhilarating, with a fantastic guitar-driven groove, cool psychedelic synths and the kind of strong thumping drum beat that I adore. The song was ultimately included on his 2017 album Colors.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #95: “My Type” by Saint Motel

The song at #95 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “My Type” by Los Angeles-based Saint Motel. I loved this song the moment it first hit my eardrums back in late 2014, and it turned me into a big fan of the band. Their rousing, sophisticated sound is a nod to the brassy exuberance of the Big Band era, but delivered with a fresh, contemporary indie pop approach. “My Type” is a deliriously catchy song with a powerful driving dance beat and an exuberant horn-driven hook that make for a joyful and fun listen. It also has one of the best tongue-in-cheek lyrics ever: “You’re know you’re just my type. Oh, you’ve got a pulse and you are breathing.”

Band front man A.J. Jackson, who has a terrific singing voice, produced and directed the stylish video for the track, which was filmed in a cool Mid-Century Modern house in L.A.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #96: “Wander” by Vox Eagle feat. Pierre Fontaine

The song at #96 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Wander” by Vox Eagle, featuring rap vocals by Pierre Fontaine. Vox Eagle is the music project of Australian-born and now Colorado-based singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Andy Crosby. One of the tracks from his outstanding 2018 album TriumAvium, “Wander” is an enchanting mashup of melodic dream rock and hip hop, and when those magical keyboard and string synths wash over us like a shower of tiny diamonds, it’s absolute bliss. Eventually, a trip hop beat ensues as Andy freestyles about how communication has broken down in his relationship, his vocals going from sultry to falsetto as he sings: “We don’t talk no more, baby girl, we just wander.” Guest vocalist Pierre Fontaine’s smooth rap vocals take over on the last third of the track, adding another wonderful textural element to this stunning track. I love this song so much I’ve probably listened to it five hundred times.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #97: “Loving You is So Easy” by Wide Eyed Boy

The song at #97 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the gorgeous “Loving You is So Easy” by Liverpool new wave/indie pop band Wide Eyed Boy. The UK has a thriving music scene today, perhaps the best since the late 1970s, and Wide Eyed Boy are among the best acts I’ve come across. I’ve featured them several times on this blog, beginning in March 2017 with my review of their superb debut single “Wolves”. That song is so good that I didn’t think they could top it, but I was wrong, as “Loving You is So Easy” is absolutely magnificent. The swirling guitars, sultry bass line, crashing percussion, and lush, sweeping industrial synths are all breathtaking, creating a stunning backdrop for singer Oliver Nagy’s beautiful and electrifying vocals. And then there’s that xylophone, adding a dash of enchanting magic to the track!

The song lyrics are fairly straightforward – “I don’t care the way you care. I can see it in your stare. But the way that we collide, it’s getting harder every time. Loving you is so easy. Easy when I’m down, down, down” – but Nagy delivers them with a smoldering seductiveness before launching into a soaring falsetto in the chorus that raises goosebumps.

The video produced for the track is visually stunning, with a minimalist set and subdued lighting, accentuated with background fluorescents, creating the perfect mood for this charismatic band’s dramatic performance.

Top 30 Songs for September 27-October 3, 2020

  1. FEEL YOU – My Morning Jacket (1)
  2. MONSTERS – All Time Low featuring blackbear (3)
  3. CARDIGAN – Taylor Swift (2)
  4. MY OWN SOUL’S WARNING – The Killers (5)
  5. HALLUCINOGENICS – Matt Maeson (4)
  6. IT’S YOU – The Frontier (6)
  7. CAN I CALL YOU TONIGHT? – Dayglow (7)
  8. DOWNS – Roadkeeper (8)
  9. WATERMELON SUGAR – Harry Styles (10)
  10. IS IT TRUE – Tame Impala (11)
  11. MY FUTURE – Billie Eilish (13)
  12. BLACK & WHITE LOVE – Beating Hearts Club (9) 21st week on list
  13. BLOODY VALENTINE – Machine Gun Kelly (N)
  14. BACK TO HIM – Soricah (15)
  15. HOODIE UP – MISSIO (16)
  16. SOMEONE ELSE – Rezz & Grabbitz (12)
  17. WHAT YOU GONNA DO??? – Bastille featuring Graham Coxon (20)
  18. GIANTS – Dermot Kennedy (21)
  19. FOR SURE – Future Islands (22)
  20. FAULT LINES – Callum Pitt (23)
  21. FRIDAY NIGHT – Heist At Five featuring Francesca Confortini (25)
  22. HERO – Weezer (27)
  23. ARE YOU BORED YET? – Wallows featuring Clairo (29)
  24. MARIPOSA – Peach Tree Rascals (30)
  25. ZEN – X Ambassadors, K.Flay & grandson (14)
  26. HONEYBEE – The Head and the Heart (17)
  27. PSYCH FILM – Strangely Alright (18)
  28. HEAVEN IS HEART – Jaded Jane (19)
  29. I GOT YOU – Michael Franti & Spearhead (24)
  30. COME & GO – Juice WRLD & Marshmello (N)

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #98: “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna

Rihanna (born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Barbados) is an international music superstar, fashion designer, actress and businesswoman who emerged on the music scene in 2005 at the tender age of 17. Since then, she’s racked up an impressive string of monster hits and earned numerous awards and accolades. I love many of her songs, especially “Only Girl (In the World)”, “Stay”, We Found Love” and her duet “Love the Way You Lie” with Eminem, but my favorite of all is “Love on the Brain”.

The song is from her eighth studio album Anti, and features a sultry doo wop/R&B vibe in the style of many great R&B songs of the late 50s and early 60s that strongly appeals to my mature music sensibilities. It’s a stunning torch song that beautifully showcases her considerable vocal talents. Though it was a sizable hit, “Love on the Brain” peaked at only #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, a relative disappointment considering how many of her singles reached #1.

The song was originally written by Norwegian songwriter and producer Fred Ball and American songwriter Joseph Angel in late 2013. They wanted an old school soul feel with modern lyrics, and did not write it with Rihanna in mind. After hearing the song, however, Ball’s manager Jay Brown loved it and thought it would be a great song for Rihanna. He sent it to her and she loved it too, adding some additional lyrics to make the song her own. The explicit lyrics speak of a romantic obsession with another person who treats her poorly, but her feelings are so intense that she’s willing to endure whatever hurt and pain he doles out so long as he loves her. Some believed the song referred to Rihanna’s tempestuous relationship with Chris Brown, though she’s never confirmed it one way or another.

Oh, and, babe, I’m fist-fighting with fire
Just to get close to you
Can we burn something, babe?
And I run for miles just to get a taste
Must be love on the brain
That’s got me feeling this way (feeling this way)
It beats me black and blue but it fucks me so good
And I can’t get enough
Must be love on the brain, yeah
And it keeps cursing my name (cursing my name)
No matter what I do
I’m no good without you
And I can’t get enough
Must be love on the brain

Baby keep loving me
Just love me, yeah
Just love me
All you need to do is love me yeah
Got me like ah-ah-ah-ow
I’m tired of being played like a violin
What do I gotta do to get in your motherfuckin’ heart?

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #99: “Shine” by Mondo Cozmo

Mondo Cozmo performing at the Outside Lands Music Festival at Golden Gate Park on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in San Francisco, Calif. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

The song at #99 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the beautiful “Shine” by Mondo Cozmo. I’m not a religious person (I grew up Catholic but am now Atheist), so it’s kind of surprising that I would love it as much as I do. I guess it’s because of its stirring melody, the incredible guitar work, the way the instrumentals build into a sweeping gospel-like crescendo, and his raw, soaring vocals that remind me a little of Bob Dylan’s. Also, his lyrics are truly inspirational without sounding one bit mawkish or trite.

Mondo Cozmo is the artistic name of Philadelphia-born and now L.A.-based singer-songwriter Josh Ostrander, who told ABC Radio in an interview that he “wasn’t in the best headspace” when he wrote “Shine”. He added “It’s so cool that something written during that [low] time could be looked at now as being an inspirational thing. I didn’t think about the mixes or the recording, it was just all really loose, and I like to keep it like that. I think some of the charm is the shittiness of the recording.” I think it’s absolutely perfect.