30 December 2010

Capsule 2010: Music

JUST when you thought Norwegian Morning Wood was going to escape 2010 without a single best-of list I'm laying this down for you readers out there in Electronic Land. Now, I never like really ranking stuff (bullshit) so this isn't really a list, but more of a "bunch of stuff that happened." Firstly we're looking at 2010 in Music. Now, we had a great Summer Jam as well as plenty of kick-ass albums and great new artists. I'll start by chronicling some of the biggest songs of the year, regardless of artistic content:

SONGS OF 2010:

Now we're cutting edge, that came out minutes ago. DJ Earworm has done a sweet job the past few years summing up Years in Pop Music and I could probably stop here. But there are some big things he left out, like showing a fraction of "Love the Way You Lie" and completely ignoring much worse recent tracks such as "Like a G6."

Anyway, we may always remember 2010 fondly with tracks such as: "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha, "Bad Romance" and "Telephone" by GaGa, "BedRock" by Young Money, "Hey Soul Sister" by Train, "OMG" and "DJ Got Us Falling in Love" by Usher, "Break your Heart" and "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz, "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, "Love the Way You Lie" by Enimem and Rihanna, "Rude Boy" and "What's My Name" also by Rihanna, "Forever" by Drake, Em, Weezy and Kanye, "I Like It" by Enrique, "Just the Way you Are" and "Grenade" by Bruno Mars, "Just a Dream" by Nelly, "Bottoms Up" by Trey and Nicki, "Like a G6" by Far East Movement, "Raise Your Glass" by P!nk and of course we can't forget "California Gurls," "Teenage Dream," and "Firework" by Katy.



In the realm of Pop Songs a lot of artists had some huge years including Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha, Rihanna, Eminem and Drake. No one really rose to the occasion like Katy Perry or Usher, though. Back in September I might have given Ursh artist of the year Honours, but no one is slinging them like Katy, thus:

Pop Artist of 2010: Katy Perry.

There were also some great comeback Pop Careers, including Eminem resurging in critical and commercial success with his follow-up to Relapse (2009), Recovery (2010). Nelly bounced back with a nice single after wallowing in irrelevance since playing a ridiculous running back in The Longest Yard (2005), and Rihanna bounced back with a handful of nice singles after her Chris Brown pummeling. This year, though, I'm giving the Comeback Special to:

Pop Comeback Special of 2010: Enrique Iglesias

The boy hasn't lost a step. Also apparently it's easier than ever to latch on to Jersey Shore success. I love how Angelina is no where to be found. Now, I'll diverge a bit here and honour the best in Rock. While Matisyahu had a surprising hit with "One Day," there was another band that made some worthwhile turns to its image and standard noise. Thus in 2010 there was hardly a better track put out by some old dudes than "Just Breathe" by:

Rock Comeback Special of 2010: Pearl Jam

Now there were tons and tons of incredible new acts to hit our ears in 2010. Taio Cruz and Bruno Mars are thoroughly soaking up the Pop Side of things, and my love for Nicki Minaj aside (can you believe she didn't have a career until 2010?), I'm siding with another rapper and his great Freshman album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray:

New Pop Artist of 2010: B.o.B

On the rock side of things there are so many songs that dominated radio mostly by new artists. This brings me hope for the 2010s after a dismal past decade in rock music. Cage the Elephant had some success this year with "Back Against the Wall" (released in 2009, hit #1 in 2010) and "In One Ear." I'll also dish some love to Crash Kings and "Mountain Man" as popular rock hits this year. What I really liked though was "How You Like Me Now" by The Heavy, "The High Road" by Broken Bells, "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys and "Lay Me Down" by The Dirty Heads. If that doesn't become a perennial summer song I will cry, it's got more staying power than "California Gurls." Forgotten single "Stand Tall" and "Check the Level" are also fantasmic tracks. There is one more fantastic new band though, which won almost every demographic I can think of with their simultaneously chill, intense and passionate beats:

New Rock Artist of 2010: Mumford & Sons

"Little Lion Man" is their most popular one, but I'll support "The Cave" as well. These guys are fantastic, a huge hit somehow for the English Folk Band. There are so many more deserving mentions really, but due to space and a limited desire to search YouTube, that's all I can mention for now.


Tons of good videos this year. In addition to these, there has been some return to the longform Music Vid with Kanye and GaGa going nuts. While it may go without saying that Kanye's efforts with "Runaway" were the most extravagant and surely one of the best videos of the last decade, there were a lot other great ones. "Fuck You" by Cee Lo is an awesome vid that combines a possible cute love story with some righteous anger at rejection, Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" still leaves a chilled taste in my brain, and the cuteness of "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys gets me somehow. I also find myself strangely drawn into Dev's "Booty Bounce" whenever it finds itself in my playlist.

However, there are certainly a few efforts that went above and beyond this year. OK Go somehow has had a series of amazing practical one-take videos (if you don't remember them, they're those treadmill dudes. You now immediately now who I'm talking about). "This Too Shall Pass" features an enormous working Rube Goldberg Machine that only completed successfully three times out of sixty attempts over two days (sometimes requiring an hour in-between takes to set up again). I also hardily enjoyed Brandon Flowers inexplicably being captured and tortured by Ninjas then needing Charlize Theron to free him in "Crossfire." Some of the looks of love and embarrassment they give each other towards the end are hilarious. Finally I am a fan of Jack Johnson's epic battle against Andy Samberg in "At or With Me." There wasn't a better video this year that followed the tempo and beats of the song. It's also a very fun direct send-up of Johnson's mellow image. Yet the video of the year by far is:

Music Video of 2010: Vampire Weekend, "Giving Up The Gun"

Now I don't really even like this song. I don't even like Vampire Weekend. This video is incredible though. Tennis in...the Future or something, RZA as Magic Line Judge, a Jonas Brother gets his ass kicked, then Jake Gyllenhaal comes in and is somehow hilarious. Then when you don't think this vid can get any weirder, Lil Jon steps in as the Ginger's (played apparently by the goth girl in this video. I had never seen it either) coach, who encourages her in French Subtitles to beat herself at Tennis. Wow. It's incredible, well edited and full of these subtle broad-spanning cameos. Better than "Runaway?" Probably not, but this is Norwegian Morning Wood, who cares.

ALBUM OF 2010:

Who really cares about Albums anymore? I didn't bother to go through many many artists this year, although I did enjoy a few very much. Two in particular stood out as exceptional. Kanye's My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy is a truly epic piece, a deep, hard look at his own personal life, character flaws, media perception to the tune of some incredible beats. He also broadens towards the displaced cultural plight of Black Americans, including personal and external struggles. Though always heavily sampled, any of these tracks would stand on their own without the lyrical complexity Kanye gives them. Favourite Tracks include: "Monster," "All of the Lights," "Hell of a Life."

However, I'm a Gorillaz man, and Plastic Beach is the Best Album of 2010. Every song has an interconnected theme, the guests are spectacular and the beats are absolutely sick. Not only that but they often match both the tone and subject matter of the lyrics. It's about the corruption of the ocean, our planet and our souls, the material and garbage that sinks into every pore and the destruction it can take on ourselves as well as our personal relationships as well as the world around us. It's also danceable. Favourite Tracks include: "Sweepstakes," "On Melancholy Hill," "Rhinestone Eyes."

Alright. Now I'm sure I left out a good deal of great Musical Happenings in 2010. But you get the just of it. So what was the best song of 2010? That's clearly Jimmy Fallon's Impression of Neil Young singing Willow Smith's "Whip Your Hair." Featuring 70s Springsteen.

Here's to 2011.

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