The music industry has changed plenty lately. With music downloading and mp3 players taking over and fewer and fewer CDs are being sold. People have been bemoaning the death of the music industry for a while now. I argue that the only people who think that are the record labels as if you were to ask the fans or musicians themselves the answer would be that plenty of great music is still being written and recorded.
2010 was a strong year for pop music. The biggest pop acts kept a steady stream of hits coming. Large scale like Lady Gaga or Rihanna or small scale like Swedish pop act Robyn, it didn’t matter pop music was king on the charts all year long.
Here are my top singles from the year 2010 in no particular order:
1) Nothin’ On You – B.O.B feat. Bruno Mars: Love has been the dominant subject of music from the beginning and this is the latest in that long line. It is a simple declaration of love backed by a great but uncomplicated beat. B.O.B. and Bruno Mars were pretty much unknowns when this song was released but are now on everyone’s radars. Mars’ voice and the chorus he contributes has that timeless sound to it and the raps of B.O.B. are light and fun.
2) OMG – Usher: Will.i.am came onto the scene and helped R&B singer Usher when he needed it most. A huge star previously who had gone rather silent lately. This song changed all that. A song that is hard to resist. Was the number one song on the Billboard charts for four weeks. Featuring bass-heavy Europop, a huge hook and Usher’s smooth vocals.
3) Raise Your Glass – Pink: The rebel princess of pop music keeps churning out hit after hit with nary a misstep. This one features a message to people on the fringes of society to stick together. She is confrontational and at the same time inspiring. A song that reflects the lady herself.
4) The Only Exception – Paramore: This is a band that has made a name for itself due to its pop punk songs. Funny then that their biggest song to date is a ballad. Singer Hayley Williams sings about a cynic who has fallen in love. Listen closely to the guitar on the song and it will remind you of that Coldplay sound.
5) Grenade – Bruno Mars: His voice is perfect and rather raw on this song. It is filled with emotion which is a switch from the usual light-hearted pop songs he records. This man knows how to write great pop hooks.
6) Stylo – Gorillaz: Cartoon band recorded this dance song on their latest album and it was the signal that they were back on the scene in a big way. Released in January 2010 it features guest appearances by Mos Def and Bobby Womack.
7) Whip My Hair – Willow Smith: A song by a 9-year-old? Really? She is not your average girl of that age as she is the offspring of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith. A song filled with good, old-fashioned fun. A crazy energetic video with millions of hits on YouTube. A crazy catchy hook that you won’t forget from the first time that you hear it. Her vocals sound a lot like Rihanna. Keeps things age appropriate without talking down to kids.
8) Teenage Dream – Katy Perry: It was hard to pick one song from this young lady’s sophomore album. Both “California Gurls” and “Firework” were huge hits but this one was the best of the lot. The verses are nothing special but like on most Perry songs the chorus really amps it up. We tolerate the verses so we can return to that catchy chorus. Song is filled with optimism and nostalgia. It has a kind of 80s vibe about it that is kitschy and wonderful.
9) Soldier of Love – Sade: A comeback single (first in 10 years) for this Brit female singer who oozes soul and sensuality with every note she hits. A song that is damn near perfect. The layoff hasn’t hurt Sade as the sound of the song is very modern. Voice is deep and sultry. Vocals and music blend well together. Its lyrics are quite mysterious allowing each listener to have their own interpretation.
10) Little Lion Man – Mumford + Sons: Lead single from this London folk quartet. Nominated for Best Rock Song at this year’s Grammy Awards. Featuring an old school sound that might remind some of Crosby, Stills & Nash married with a more modern sound akin to a band like Kings of Leon. The incredible energy of the track draws you in immediately.