100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #38: “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton

The song at #38 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Can’t Hold Us” by Seattle hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, featuring guest vocals by R&B singer Ray Dalton. On the heels of their worldwide smash hit “Thrift Shop” (which ranks at #89 on this list), the charismatic duo hit the jackpot again with “Can’t Hold Us”, although it took a while for the song to catch hold. The single was actually first released in August 2011, a full year before “Thrift Shop” (which instantly became their first big hit) but didn’t gain much traction or airplay until after the release of “Thrift Shop” and their debut album The Heist more than a year later. The song finally entered the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2013, and reached #1 that May.

“Can’t Hold Us” is a wonderful feel-good anthem of hope and perseverance that’s so joyously upbeat that I can’t help but get swept up in it’s euphoric celebratory vibe, wanting to jump up and down with glee! Macklemore freestyles the lyrics about overcoming naysayers and fighting onward in the pursuit of his dreams with a flow that’s truly impressive: “Chasing dreams since I was fourteen with the four-track, bussing halfway cross that city with the backpack / Fat cat, crushing labels out here, nah, they can’t tell me nothing. / We give that to the people, spread it across the country.” Dalton sings the hook “Can we go back, this is the moment / Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over /So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us / Like the ceiling can’t hold us.”

Musically, the song features an exuberant array of instruments, including a fantastic piano line, horns, strings, tambourine, guitar and drums, all accompanied by bold handclapping, foot stomping, and a soaring gospel-like chorus that make for a truly uplifting and electrifying track. The video produced for the song is a mini saga, filmed in several locations around the globe.

And here’s a terrific live performance in November 2011 of the song at their legendary hometown radio station KEXP. I almost prefer this, as it allows us to more fully appreciate the song’s greatness, as well as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ joyful energy.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #89: “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz

The song at #89 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The first time I heard this song I hated it, but after a couple listens, damn if it didn’t hook me in with it’s irresistible hip hop beat and hilarious lyrics. Now it’s a guilty pleasure! With added vocals by rapper Wanz, Macklemore (born Ben Haggerty) freestyles about saving money by buying cool second hand shit at a thrift shop, rather than overpaying for expensive status symbols like a lot of rappers: “I hit the party and they stop in that motherfucker. They be like, ‘Oh, that Gucci. That’s hella tight.’ I’m like, ‘Yo, that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.’ Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition. Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant bitch. Shit. I call that getting swindled and pimped. Shit. I call that getting tricked by a business.”

As indicated in the preceding lyrics, the song is filled with explicit language as well as a couple of rather obscene inferences: “Probably shoulda washed this, smells like R. Kelly’s sheets – Pissss” or when he sings about buying a ‘skeet blanket’, which is slang for a blanket a man uses to jack off into. I think Macklemore gets away with this because of his strong likeability, humor and charisma.

The fourth single from their debut album The Heist, “Thrift Shop” was a massive worldwide hit, reaching #1 not only in the U.S, but also the UK, Ireland, Canada, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. The song was named by Billboard as the #1 song of 2013. The hilarious video, which has been viewed nearly 1.5 billion times, was filmed at several thrift shops in Macklemore’s home town of Seattle.

Top 50 Songs of 2013

A number of talented alternative, indie rock and hip hop bands and artists emerged on the music scene in 2013, including Lorde, The Neighbourhood, Capital Cities, Bastille, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Lana Del Rey. Other established artists such as P!nk, OneRepublic, Bruno Mars, Muse, Fitz & the Tantrums, Rihanna and Fall Out Boy also produced some memorable songs. My pick for the best song of 2013 is “Sweater Weather,” the achingly beautiful song of young love and lust by The Neighbourhood.

1. SWEATER WEATHER – The Neighbourhood

2. CAN’T HOLD US – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
3. RADIOACTIVE – Imagine Dragons
4. SAFE AND SOUND – Capital Cities
5. OUT OF MY LEAGUE – Fitz & the Tantrums
6. JUST GIVE ME A REASON – P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
8. COUNTING STARS – OneRepublic
9. MADNESS – Muse
10. ROYALS – Lorde
11. THRIFT SHOP – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
12. BLURRED LINES – Robin Thicke + Pharrell + T.I.
13. HO HEY – The Lumineers
14. WAKE ME UP! – Avicii
15. STAY – Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko
16. GET LUCKY -Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
17. LITTLE TALKS – Of Monsters and Men
18. DON’T YOU WORRY CHILD – Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin
19. IT’S TIME – Imagine Dragons
20. ELEPHANT – Tame Impala
21. CARRY ON – fun.
22. WHEN I WAS YOUR MAN – Bruno Mars
23. WAYS TO GO – Grouplove
24. POMPEII – Bastille
25. I WILL WAIT – Mumford & Sons
27. CATCH MY BREATH – Kelly Clarkson
29. DAYLIGHT – Maroon 5
30. MIRRORS – Justin Timberlake
31. DEMONS – Imagine Dragons
32. TROJANS – Atlas Genius
33. ROAR – Katy Perry
34. MISS JACKSON – Panic! At the Disco
35. TREASURE – Bruno Mars
36. CLARITY – Zedd featuring Foxes
38. THE MONSTER – Rihanna + Eminem
39. TAKE BACK THE NIGHT – Justin Timberlake
40. HARLEM – New Politics
43. I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE – Taylor Swift
44. LOVE SOMEBODY – Maroon 5
46. SAME LOVE – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
47. BRAVE – Sara Bareilles
48. SWEET NOTHING – Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch
49. DIAMONDS – Rihanna
50. TRY – P!nk