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06.05.20 Top 10 RtJ 05.27.20 Your oldest 5?
05.22.20 Doof's Top 100 Paradise Lost Songs04.26.20 '90s Best Songs/Song Writers
04.23.20 Furlough and Behold04.23.20 Doof's Pick of 100 Albums Feat. Artists
02.17.20 Doof's Top 100 Albums: Update12.29.19 Doof's New Year Music Resolutions
12.19.19 Doof's Albums of the Decade 12.16.19 Doof's Top Albums/Songs 2019
11.21.19 Doof's Top 100 Tindersticks Songs11.07.19 Doof's Unheralded 90s Singles
10.16.19 Doof's Top 100 Songs of the Decade COMP09.22.19 Doof 100,000 scrobble jamboree
06.23.19 Doof's Top 100 Bill Callahan Songs06.10.19 Doof's Top 50 'Rock Songs' of the 00s
06.09.19 Doof's Top 50 'Rock Songs' of the 90s06.06.19 Doof's Top 50 'Rock Songs' of the 10s
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Doof's Top 100 Songs of the Decade COMPLETE

Posting one a day for now, might speed up later. Rules: only one entry per release (EP/album/single)

'Body & Blood'

Some of the bottom ten of this top 100 will go dangerously close to 'guilty pleasure' territory and I guess this is the prime candidate. Lyrics like 'she don't need you for shit but your dick and your veins...every man say she thicc and they wish they could bang' might provoke a snigger, and sometimes yes, I feel close to laughing...but then I realise that laugh would be the same laugh of 'sweet virgin boy' me being shown pornography for the first time in primary school. No, long ago I decided this song is a serious business.


I always picture Girls Aloud from 2005 parachuting into the Russian tundra wearing only boots and fur bikinis, armed with kalashnikovs. The ginger one (Nicole?) is also carrying a big knife. Grrrrrr. 'Winter's cold and so are you'. Yes Annie does possess a somewhat kinky voice, at least in this song - the track is an outlier in her work and retro in all the right ways.
98Daughn Gibson
Me Moan

'The Sound of Law'

Gibson's vocal style is so OTT he makes Presley, Danzig, Sturgill Simpson, Pete Steele (you name 'em)...well he's capable of making anyone else sound like a shrinking violet in comparison. His cartooon'ish hyper masculine gothic country drawl has never worked better than it does on 'The Sound of Law' where he wraps it around larger than life storytelling lyrics like 'with secrets dying to tell, he laid a kiss in my little hand...and blew that fucker off to Hell'. An acquired taste? You bet, but if you only learn to love one of his toons make it this one.
Terminal Redux

'Pillars of Sand'

Sometimes a band release a song that goes in a more experimental direction and you find yourself wishing they'd do it more often. Conversely, sometimes a band simplify their approach, write a Metallica song, and sound all the better for it. This second scenario is what we have with Vektor on the whip snap sharp 'Pillars of Sand', a tune that surely anyone can connect with - the pained cries of "TIME is a clock on the wall we command...left bereft by the passage of...tiiiiiIIIME" (sounding not unlike someone has just inserted a red hot poker up a goblin's jacksie) will surely resonate. Time's a bitch and it hurts = relatable.
96Sleaford Mods
Divide and Exit

‘Liveable Shit’

A song that sums up the last decade of life on the British Isles like no other, encapsulating; battery chicken office working (smelling the same ‘colleague’s stinky shits every morning), an explosion in the numbers of name dropping phoney hipsters, the spirit-sapping Tory government (‘the Prime Minister’s face hanging in the clouds like Gary Oldman’s Dracula’), misplaced patriotism/Brexit (‘St. George’s flag twat’) and ultimately the disenfranchisement/apathy that follows (‘now I don’t dream of anything I just wait for it to turn up - it’s the atmosphere round here’). Still, I (we?) would take another decade of all this ‘liveable shit’ as more and more are becoming convinced the next shit we’ll face (so much plastic in our food and water our testicles will resemble kinder eggs, conflict as we approach peak resources of one type or another, and of course, ‘climate change’) will be far less ‘liveable’. Positively unliveable
even, so uh, long live ‘liveable shit’.
95The Young Gods
Data Mirage Tangram

'All My Skin Standing'

Yes, the first 2019 entrant on the list - and what will probably be the only pick from any of the late '80s/early '90s industrial rock old guard. That's right, no Nine Inch Nails or Ministry tracks will make the cut - for the simple reason that both those acts are now producing relatively uninspiring work that never transcends the level of studio doodling. Not so the appropriately titled 'All My Skin Standing' - an epic sounding creation that paints an image of a giant metal eagle breaking through the recording studio walls and then climbing up up up... until it's circling above the earth, gliding at some great altitude, letting out the occasional metallic cry that echoes for miles in every direction.

'Perish Song'

On what is a pretty blissful album this track still stands out as particularly 'heaven-like' - the tinkling keys and soothing vocals, describing the ‘heat of the sun', will have you feeling like you're waiting to transition to a more peaceful afterlife. The perfect middle ground between house and ambient for background listening - but where the level of detail is such that attentive listening's still rewarded.

'Mess on a Mission'

One of the songs that I feel taps in best to modern culture and just the general feel of the last decade or so. 'Cast out culture, compound impatience, without regard, trash the book the film's half based on'. Everyone's in a rush to make an often ill-judged choice, in a mad scramble to share an often ill-informed opinion, and ultimately in a rush to regret. All this anxiety, it all gets squeezed into your head...yes, I'm pretty sure most users feel like a mess on a mission from time to time.
92The Unthanks
Mount the Air


After listening to music for so long I have a few deeply ingrained (yes probably irrational but stfu) 'canon artist' dislikes that I've now carried in my heart for what seems like forever. The Smiths are one, and whenever I find an artist who sound an awful lot like The Smiths without Morrissey on vocals I chalk up a small victory, another reason I'll not have to listen to that band as much. Every little helps. Another example, as most people here will no doubt know, is Bjork - yes, she had some good songs and a couple of pleasant overall albums, but for me that's it. So when I find a song that's 'Bjork-ish' (only without the stuff that turns me off from everyone's favourite Icelander) then immediate mental high five, I'm loving life. This is only a teeny bit Bjork-ish I guess but I like it a lot and I'm putting it down as an anti-Bjork winner all the same.
91The Antlers


For a band who in 2009 were all about the emotion on 'Hospice', by their latest (last?) album 'Familiars' I felt distanced by them - listening to their new (still good) music I felt very little. The only time this changed was with the closing track, very much a case of 'right song, right time'. Some people will reach their thirties and have only called maybe five rooms their bedroom, somewhere they considered their home for at least a few months. Not so for me, by the time this album was released I'd guess it would have added up to nearer thirty bedrooms. So the concept of 'home' has always been an odd one for me - but after meeting my wife to be less than twelve months before this albums was released and moving in together I had a feeling I'd found a person who gave me a sense of home. When you are sure of this, 100% certain, well then 50% of all the bullshit you carry with you will evaporate instantly - this song sounds like the realisation that process has just happened.
90Real Lies
Real Life

'North Circular'

Mike Skinner made a whole career from the knowledge that a certain demographic whose teen years fell within the '90s would always be drawn to 'rave nostalgia'. Real Lies are similar but manage to outdo the Streets for both urban grittiness AND poetic wistfulness, at least they do on this song. The lyrics continuously surprise, especially when they drop in a simple bitter truth like 'these days I say sorry a lot more' in among the swell of this fast flowing stream of consciousness. A song where you can taste the pollution, smell the pub carpet, feel the cold rain running down your face - This is England.
89Everything Everything
Get to Heaven

'Fortune 500'

By 2015 terrorism really was the topic du jour so no one was surprised a glut of films and songs started making reference to it. Still, some went more hell for leather on dissecting this uncomfortable reality than others, and near the front of this charge were Mancunian art popsters Everything Everything. Their breakout album 'Get to Heaven' was a grim portrait painted in fluorescent colours, an album about something awful happening...and that awful thing finally takes place on 'Fortune 500'. Trying to get inside the head of a brainwashed assassin and then describe the lines of logic at play within that weaponised mind is a risky business, but hats off to EE they have a real go here and hold nothing back. 'They sing in my ears and make me feel like I'm lost, I don't want this, I never spoke up enough, think of the people that I'm doing it for...I've won, they told me that I've won'. The end result is disturbing sure, but also ends up somewhere close to fascinating.
88The Tiger Lillies
Either Or


The song that started the obsession, after reading a review of their new album 'Cold Night in Soho' I went straight to Spotify but it wasn't up I tried 'Either Or'. It was 'Boredom', the second song of the set, that clinched my interest - the vocal delivery was often actorly and glib but just underneath was a tone of pure misery and disgust that rang true. The lyrics are straightforward, the concept that everything bad in this world emanates from human boredom is hardly a new idea (the devil makes work for idle hands etc) but it had never before been delivered by a sad clown promising 'I'll rape, I'll rob, I'll fuck your son'. Charming.
87The Knife
Shaking the Habitual

'Full of Fire'

The Knife recorded possibly my favourite intro of the '00s in the form of the opening two minutes of 'Like a Pen' and they repeat the trick here with a stunning opening three and a half minutes of slow build. After that marker the track dissolves into a formless, nightmarish soundscape that yes, sounds like a call to arms against traditional gender-bound power. The message is sometimes delivered by a freakish strangled robotic voice that hammers home the strangeness of how those outside of societal norms are viewed - if that wasn't enough the track wraps up with a parody of the wholesome chorus of 'Let's Talk About Sex' by Salt-N-Pepa. This is as close to a punk anthem (in the truest sense) as the decade delivered.
Green to Blue

'I Want You to Realise'

Shoegaze is a genre where you can tell vocals are often a bit of an afterthought, and certainly attention grabbing singers are thin on the ground. Dominic Appleton of Breathless is one of the few exceptions who more often than not becomes the star turn in much of his band's output; it's not just the hint of a lisp, there's something weird and wounded that makes him come across as a more pleasant sounding Robert Smith. This subtly heartbreaking ballad is all about Appleton who delivers desperately sad lines like 'They told me I'd say this: I'm disappointed in you...nearly all of us paint a halo around ourselves, but I painted one around you.' Bittersweet sentiment has rarely sounded better.
85Craig finn
I Need A New War

‘A Bathtub in the Kitchen’

As you get older you’ll find friendships and relationships where what once worked no longer does, where maybe one person has moved forward and the other seems frozen in a particular moment. Think of the main friendship in ‘On the Road’ where by the end of the novel, however much history those two people share, whatever fond wishes or memories they still hold, the nature of how they relate to each other has irrevocably altered. It’s a similar tale with ‘Bathtub’; often I interpret Finn’s lyrics as chapters of unwritten novels and this is a prime example.
Join the Dots

'Left Myself Behind"

The most recent discovery on the list, this one is a straightforward ripper - think something along the same lines of Deerhunter of the Horrors. Psychedelic tinged noisy indie rock for guitar lovers - nothing too unique, this one just happens to be best in class.
83Strand of Oaks


Timothy Showalter's tribute to the late Jason Molina - tender verses give way to emotive blasts of lead guitar. 'I was an Indiana kid, gettin no one in my bed...I had your sweet tunes to play'. He does the great man proud.
82Mac DeMarco
Salad Days

'Chamber of Reflection'

'Mr Slacker '10s Edition' actually, to my mind, sounds better without the trademark bendy hula surf guitar sound. Not sure a whole album of this approach would work but as a one off on 'Salad Days' it's a career highlight.


The first time I heard this song it stopped me dead - it really sounds like a world of chaos that occasionally breaks to reveal an underlying sadness which is in turn punctuated by primal howls of anguished saxophone. One of the most emotionally resonant instrumentals of the decade.
80Death Grips
Bottomless Pit

'Bottomless Pit'

If I had to sum up my feelings about this decade in five simple words then I'd go with 'I fucked you in half'.
Facial Tissue


Another 2019 pick and this one sounds like Daughters having a messy roll around with Sonic Youth.

'Don't Know Why'

Possibly a controversial choice as I'm sure a lot of people have another song they rate higher from the comeback album - for me this track is, on the surface, the most typically Slowdive toon...only it atypically bursts out of the traps and sort of tumbles over itself in a breathless orgy where the vocals and music nearly lose their connection with each other, and I like that. It's also very very pretty.
77Kurt Vile
b'lieve i'm goin' down...

'Pretty Pimpin'

At once it's both the humorous slacker anthem J Mascis wishes he wrote this decade and also the last catchy slack jawed drawl the late Tom Petty would have wanted to sign off with. Mr Vile should get down to writing more 'near-hits' because this attempt is pretty pimpin.
76Ariel Pink
Pom Pom

'Dayzed Inn Daydreams'

Of all the Ariel Pink solo songs why did I land on this one being my favourite of the decade? I guess I always read this one as auto biographical, a little love song to his own courage and where he ended up - it's both bittersweet and singalong triumphant, sentimental without being sappy. 'I used to dream, dream awake, hide in the dark, fade into gray, I used to pray but now I scream, Lord help me, no more daydreams'. The retro stylings are some of his most entertaining and really fit the melodies he's come up with here like a glove. Yeah, I'd have a hard time with anyone arguing this isn't one of his greatest and most affecting efforts and more than that it is in with a shout of being crowned my 'most effective album closer' of the decade too.
75Tropical Fuck Storm
A Laughing Death in Meatspace

'You Let My Tyres Down'

One of the most incendiary album openers of the decade - this sounded like a fresh start for all the musicians involved and a riposte to anyone asking 'can you still do surprising things with a guitar in rock music these days?'.
74Sebastian Field
Picture Stone

'Liberty Bell'

Obscure 2019 pick - a man in possession of an expressive Thom Yorke-ish voice pens an album of subtle, hypnotic art rock ballads, of which 'Liberty Bell' is the most perfectly formed example. Echoed vocals and rippling piano will transport you to the same dream world environs that 'Pyramid Song' took you to all those many years ago.


For the first time I was a pallbearer this year - three times we had to carry the coffin and it was raining sheets each time. That experience confirmed it....this song would make the ultimate funeral music; if you press play, listen to the opening 30 seconds of this track and the clouds don't instantly burst into heavy downpour in your imagination then I'm saying you're not correctly wired for sound, you might want someone to take a look at those ears.
72Fontaines D.C.


One of the great attention grabbing 'album career' openers of all time - short and sweet as you like. That Oirish brogue, the discordant guitar sound and the continuous clatter of the drums, 'Dublin in the rain is mine''re instantly won over.
71RY X


I guess this placing so high means this claims the coveted 'favourite guilty pleasure of the 10s' - if Justin Vernon had no aspirations to produce anything other than pretty n' breathy ballads he'd start knocking out stuff like 'Only'. I'm pleased someone else is doing it for him as he's now locked himself into producing chipmunk vocal/electronic peppered 'soundscapes'.
70Clarence Clarity
No Now

'Will to Believe'

Now this song is a balancing act and a half - even a tiny topple further towards trad Prince funk or a lurch deeper into chipmunk over production territory and I'd no doubt hate it. As it is this song is one of a healthy handful of tunes where CC gets it dead on - every time the chaos and clutter part to reveal that technicolor chorus, well, it's an event. He sort of outdoes M83's 'Midnight City' on this one, at least he does for me.
Does It Look Like I'm Here?

'Double Helix'

This album mixes electronics with guitar work like no other for me, the effect is so hypnotic the music can send me to sleep at the optimal volume - if that reads like a criticism it really isn't. Like taking a Durutti Column album and playing it at the same time as the most perfect slice of new age'ish ambient you could find, a wonderful thing in prospect no?

'Song for Zula'

With some discographies there's an obvious crown jewel, a song that stands apart as quite clearly the pinnacle of the artist's approach. 'Zula' is a case in point, this track just sounds more expansive, it has a weight to it, it's crying out for someone to have some sort of religious epiphany and remove all their clothes to it. Very nice stuff, it features a posh string section and everything.
67Julia Holter
Loud City Song

'Hello Stranger'

A very (cliche alert) Lynch-ian cover version, atmosphere is the focus with distant bird cries and all manner of underlying ambience. The vocals are powerful without ever overstepping into the realms of the distracting or overbearing, and the approach is more sensitive than if you'd asked, say, The Chromatics to take a swing at it. Everything slowly and 'mildly discordantly' swells to a meaningful conclusion...basically the whole enterprise has that all important touch of class about it.
66Hayden Thorpe


My favourite 'straightforward ditty' of 2019, just piano and voice for the most part - you get the feeling that throughout his career, Thorpe's continuously striving to learn how to better deploy that plummy voice of his to maximum understated effect. When you go solo you want to show there's a positive to you going solo, and here he does.

'The Hit'

Oh cruel irony...'The Hit' has now long established itself the most effective and consistently rewarding song by Daughters. At least for me. "Huh!" epic lead guitar squall.
64Elvis Depressedly
New Alhambra


Probably the only album released this decade that I can clearly remember playing three times in a row because it's such an easy and addictive listen...and I guess the album is shorter than it needs to be. 'Ease' is the catchiest moment on an album full of earworms and is the perfect summation of the hazy, medicated vibe or 'New Alhambra' - slacker-tastic lyrics like 'I have failed at everything that I ever tried' the depression cherry on top.
63Joanna Newsom
Have One on Me

'Does Not Suffice'

Some prime sad squeak from the most precious of precious darling luvvy song writers - a conventional piano ballad (ok, the vocals are still squeaky in places) but what sets this one apart is that the subject matter is relatable to all, plus Newsom's delivery betrays some genuine pain/emotional fatigue. It's an album closer in the Nick Drake 'Saturday Sun' mould - understated, classic.
62Neil Halstead
Palindrome Hunches

'Full Moon Rising'

What's this? A Neil Halstead song featuring higher than any Slowdive song? Afraid so. As much as this song does give a whiff of 'closing credits of generic teen drama' there's no getting around the fact the song is a gently stirring, string laden lovely. Where so many would fall in the trap of going full on melodrama, Neil's vocals sidestep the door marked 'cheesy' and underplay the emotion.
Sun Coming Down

'Beautiful Blue Sky'

The 'Once in a Lifetime' of the '10s? I'd say so. Tim Darcy definitely channels some 'and you may find yourself...behind the wheel of a large automobile!' - his rambling 'How's the church? How's the job? How's the church? How's the job? How's the family? How's the family? How's the family? How's the family?' is pure Byrne in mantra mode. The musical backing for both tracks, whilst very different in every other regard, shares a certain melodic brightness
60Sun Kil Moon
Among the Leaves

'Among the Leaves'

This t/t was a bit of an outlier on its parent album - this short and sweet, prettily melodic track tells a straightforward story with clear emotional cues for the listener. This is a rare example of the wilfully aggravating/borderline confrontational Kozelek being friendly towards his audience and throwing them a bone.
59Flying Lotus

'Do the Astral Plane'

No doubt the most bitch basic selection for a FlyLo track to include on this countdown but there we go. 'Cosmogramma' was my introduction to the man's 'method behind the madness' chaotic/maximalist approach to jazz/funk referencing IDM and 'Astral Plane' was the tune that served as the perfect summation of the album's major charms.
58Foreign Fields
What I Kept In Hiding

'I Have Your Weapons'

A very '10s take on indie folk complete with gurgling electronics and glitchy drums - the song manages its peaks and falls to perfection, the sound periodically dropping to a low whisper...this is delicately and sympathetically arranged stuff. 'Don't you cry you're not the only one' - heavy handed lyrics maybe, and tbh the song translates all the necessary emotion without the need for them, but they don't detract.
Nothing Was the Same

'Hold On We're Going Home'

This one could be a surprise but in no way am I claiming 'Hold On...' should be classed a guilty pleasure - this is as close to a timeless pop/soul tune as the decade delivered (yeah, half hearted apologies to Frank Ocean). I really can't claim to being a fan of either Drake the artist or Drake the man...and despite rummaging through his albums for more of the same, to my infinite disappointment, this remains just about the only song I have any time for. This tune positively smoulders.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost


If there's one thing the doof dude can't abide it's lazy gospel sections in otherwise standard rawk or pop tunes. So many times with gospel vocals and melodies the minute they spark up you. know. exactly. where. they. are . headed. Straight down the well trod path, that one you're bored to death with. So where do Girls succeed where most every other rock act have failed? Well, quite simply they incorporate the gospel element both imaginatively and appropriately - it helps that much of the rest of the song is a subtle bittersweet tearjerker, so that by the time it comes in the gospel epiphany seems fully set up and well earned. Think something Floyd-ian rather than Sister Act.
55Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp a Butterfly

'How Much a Dollar Cost'

Don't kill me this will be the only Kendrick on the list...and I wasted the selection on a non-banger too. Here a 'Pyramid Song' style piano lament is reappropriated to serve as the funeral march backing to a 'feel the spit spraying' intensely delivered fable.
54Future Islands
The Far Field

'Time On Her Side'

An easy song to underestimate, the delicious layering and increasingly impassioned vocals are the key to this one - cock an ear for the moment Sam Herring exaggerates the 'ooooooooh' at the two minute mark, and listen out for the final chorus where the strings go all Pet Shop Boys at 2:32. These little touches add up to this track being the best example of propulsive pop Future Islands have yet recorded.
53The Drones
Feelin Kinda Free

'Taman Shud'

A brittle, skeletal sound houses some of the most hilariously venomous lyrics penned in recent memory - it's soundbite central with bile piling upon bile. 'Don't hate me for not caring 'bout you losing your job, I think you're gonna suit being a welfare slob' immediately setting out that Gareth Liddard isn't going to pussyfoot around his audience before summing up the politically volatile, 24/7 universal soapbox nature of the age we live in with:

'Why you think the whole world's gotta be like you?...Everybody mouths off while they’re chewing cud'

52Tame Impala

'Let it Happen'

A song so good it rendered a further 43 minutes of subsequent album totally unnecessary - in fact listening to the latest song released from the upcoming Impala album you could get meaner still and say it's made Kevin Parker's entire song writing model irrelevant. As far as deadpan downbeat/musically uplifting psychedelic pop goes I can't imagine anyone could top this - certainly the Flaming Lips don't have a song in their armoury that could quite take this one at the same game, nor the Chemical Brothers who have attempted many a psychedelic reel in their time but never managed to bottle this much lightning.
51Glen Hansard
This Wild Willing

'Race to the Bottom'

Genre mash! One of the strangest mixes of instrumentation of 2019 with a typical blues/folk framework finding itself embellished by both Middle Eastern AND Mariachi flavours - what could and maybe should have proved to be a negatively intoxicating concoction ends up quite the opposite, pretty darn delicious. Hansard puts on his most serious Cohen speak-sing tone and we have the final perfect ingredient.
50Everything Everything
Man Alive

'Photoshop Handsome'

Another classic example of OCD sounding indie pop of the 2010s - I can forgive anyone for finding this teeth grindingly aggravating but this tune has a momentum that's impossible to deny. At first I thought this sounded like 'Talking Heads meets Vampire Weekend' but with hindsight, knowing where they'd end up, this was actually weirder than that description would suggest.
49John Grant
Queen Of Denmark


Pretty music box piano melody ballad with big ol' John's honeyed croon - rather than 'sing the phonebook' here Grant sings the diner menu of his youth in a desperate attempt to escape to a nostalgia drenched hinterland.


Still of the night, Floyd-ian instrumental from this Nicolas Jaar collab project - this slow motion closer was the highlight of the darkly atmospheric 'Psychic'.
47Lightning Bolt
Sonic Citadel

'Air Conditioning'

This sprightly effort from the irrepressible Lightning Bolt just sounds happy to be alive in this world - like it sprung fully formed from the womb of some monster truck/rhinoceros hybrid parent and never stops sprinting for its entire lifespan (4:13 seconds). Meep Meep.
46Wild Beasts

'Loop the Loop'

More Hayden Thorpe warble on this Talk Talk'ish slice of delicate art pop - the song steadily builds before reaching the emotional crux 'I've made enough enemies'. This is a very 'old soul' way of looking at the world of relationships - to have relationships is to risk making enemies of those you once cared for after all.

'Forget now,
How many must I forget now?
As many as I remember,
I must forget,
Regret now,
How many do I regret now?
How many do I regret now?
How many do I regret?'

The baggage of loving.
45John Maus
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

'Hey Moon'

This vaguely goth'y number from Maus is the sort of retro fluff that'd have slotted perfectly in the Donnie Darko soundtrack - 'Hey moon, it's just you and me tonight'...this might just be the closest JM has got to a perfect synthesis of lyrics/theme and sound/atmosphere.
44Thom Yorke


The ultimate Thom Yorke ballad of the decade didn't appear on any Radiohead album this time - no, finally his solo work caught up and, arguably, overtook the work of his main band on a number of occasions. 'Unmade' is one example, a perfectly judged effort backed by the most tasteful of arrangements - all choir vocals, simple piano and elegant synth washes.

'The Fall'

Rhye were one of my most played bands of the decade, and yes, I'm surprised too in a way - they totally mastered the appeal of '80s Sade and the sort of 'chill' feel of Zero 7 and the like...and on the debut at least, the songs really were there to back all that up. The gimmick was that on first exposure you said 'that's a pretty voice she's got' but the gender bending novelty was quickly dismissed once you'd listened to the effortlessly smooth and aching 'The Fall'.
Alpe Lusia


Not an awful lot of electronic on this list but the supremely organic and warm sounding 'Prepare' has to feature - people made a huge fuss of Four Tet's 'Rounds' when that was released back in 2003 but I'd plump for this ahead of any track from that album. The piano melodies are to die for and really lift the song to another emotional level - the worst thing about this tune is it makes me wish every Stimming effort was equally strong and that really would be asking too much.
Animal Joy

'You As You Were'

When Shearwater drop their subtle tendencies they don't hold anything back, it's a full on charge towards stadium rock dramatics - this galloping, piano led mini-epic sounds like it wants to soundtrack a movie showing the journey back to a more primitive life where all you have to aid your survival are your animal senses, an axe, a bow...and maybe a pistol? This song is the faint taste of blood in your mouth partnered with a chest thumping adrenaline surge.
40Alex Cameron
Forced Witness

'Country Figs'

Cameron has sparked a bit of a debate over whether ironic music is a good idea/could ever equate to excellence. Well, a song like 'Country Figs' makes as strong an argument as I've yet heard - the music IS '80s soft rock/yacht rock pastiche but the writing is top notch, the sax solo alone being infinitely addictive. The lyrics are little slices of comic genius:

'Got a cap full of temporary hair
I got a chest with a vacant heart
Got a skin full of piss and one last dart
And the memory of my woman
Passing by to call my name
Don't test me girl I've got torso pain'

These strangely affectionate but no less biting humorous character assassinations are Cameron's trademark - and when they mix with his best song writing they win me over every time.
39The National
Sleep Well Beast

'The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness'

'Sleep Well Beast' saw most of the anticipated experimentation taking place within the sleepy end of The National's spectrum of sound, but this tune was the welcome exception. This rocker ushered in a whole new approach to Dessner’s guitar playing with robotic stabs and even a widescreen guitar solo. The catchiest song they released this decade, so an essential.
38Paul Buchanan
Mid Air

'Mid Air'

The humble piano ballad can still be something special when you're the lead singer of the Blue Nile - pure fragile beauty.
Halcyon Digest

'He Would Have Laughed'

One of the great meditations on 'the passage of time/how your outlook adjusts with age' in popular music, 'He Would Have Laughed' is that rare perfect album closer that seems to add weight to, and recontextualize, all the songs that came before it in the tracklist. This song might drive you crazy...or it could be the making of you.
36Anna von Hausswolff
Dead Magic

'The Mysterious Vanishing Of Electra'

Now this one is powerful. It has a physicality. It's Anna Von Hausswolff but 'scaled up' - like going from 'The Fellowship of the Ring' straight to the final battle in 'The Return of the King'. Hausswolff has never let rip with her whooping scary mary vocals (that get close to throat singing in places) quite like this before - Kate Bush would approve.
35Paddy Hanna
Frankly, I Mutate

'All I Can Say is I Love You'

The drunken barroom slowdance of the decade replete with Paddy's brilliant 'almost-slurring-club-singer' delivery. The Elvis lip curlin' 'Oh shugah, oh shugaahh!" is the ultimate singalong chorus moment of recent the alternative fantasy world I reside in anyway.
34The War on Drugs
Lost in the Dream

'Red Eyes'

This band has been accused of being little more than Springsteen plagiarists on many occasions but in this case not such a damning critique - the War on Drugs have always had their thing, that underlying wash of ambience that blends perfectly with all those reappropriated arena rock tropes, and here it works better than ever. When they up the tempo there's something undeniable about their music, this song positively bounces.
33Big Thief


Sometimes the best song on an album isn't the most perfectly written or the most impactful - it can be the one that embodies the entire spirit of the album, that one that you think of first when you recall the album, or the one tune that seems to follow you around wherever you turn. This year on three separate occasions this song has appeared at key moments out of the blue in the most unexpected of places - always welcome, always mixing with the mood rather than muddling it. 'U.F.O.F' was an album that in the context of Big Thief's previous output, as well as the huge swell of similar indie-ish releases, was refreshing - no song on the album moreso than 'Cattails'.
32Mark Eitzel
Hey Mr Ferryman

'In My Role As Professional Singer And Ham'

An Eitzel top twenty classic song in the '10s was unexpected but here it is in all its epic grandeur - it boasts a perfect chorus lyric too:
'When you look at me...
I look away'
When Mark suffered his heart attack I feared the worst - that he'd retreat further still from the limelight, and possibly away from music for good. That instead he delivered a song of this calibre is a good news story and a half, one of the great song writers of his generation confirmed.
31Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Before Today

'Round and Round'

A super obvious pick for favourite Ariel Pink tune but I'm beyond apologising for it, this track is one of those that packs in about three great songs worth of ideas into the single 5 minute 9 seconds of tape - to squeeze all these parts together without falling foul of the dreaded 'random cut and paste' feel is where Pink smashes it out of the park. Also about as close to 'anthemic' as the silly dollop's music has ever got.
30David Bowie

'Dollar Days'

Something about how slowly this song starts, with the incidental noises, like Bowie's still there shuffling in the studio - it gets to me. Then of course there's the feel of the whole song that's a throwback to his glory days, coupled with those slightly more strained vocals that betray his age...
'If I'll never see the English evergreens I'm running to...
It's nothing to me'
It's poignant without being calculated...that morning I woke up to the news of his death made me think instantly of my mum saying the day he'd die would be the passing of her greatest hero and I realised that he wasn't just 'her favourite', that over the years I'd grown to feel much the same. This song soundtracked that realisation.
29Purple Mountains
Purple Mountains

'Nights That won't Happen'

Of course Bowie wasn't the only passing that weighed heavy, Berman's death earlier this year was like the awful unfolding of a slow motion disaster - this album like a cryptic suicide note everyone deciphered an instant too late to stop him. You listen to this album now, a set of songs we all initially labelled as 'slightly morbid but still humorous and harmless', now recast as truly tragic and deeply disturbing. You still can't help but be anything other than impressed by these lyrics, and it's hard not to warm to the man who delivers them with such humanity and wit - but then you need to remember that he really lived these dark thoughts and in the end we're left in little doubt he wanted to leave. 'Nights That Won't Happen' is the song that stops flirting and finally sidles up to death - it's calm, it's philosophical, it's reflective, it's almost's moving on from this place.
A Moon Shaped Pool

'Present Tense'

Often the best Radiohead song on any given album is the one with the strongest vocal performance from Thom - and that is definitely true of 'Moon Shaped Pool's 'Present Tense'. In many ways a strange outing musically for Radiohead - a light and airy samba shuffle with balearic vibes and a constantly shifting array of percussion. The star is definitely Yorke who shows off a little bit of everything he can give you vocally - low register, high register, up close and personal, distant and alien, soothing backing vocals, show stealing held notes, wordless soft scat weirdness. He's still the boss.


The album itself was a big fat, overly indulgent blancmange - totally unappetising. The closer though, a totally different proposal. If the entire album had been as restrained and, uh, 'Radiohead-y' as this track then an album of the year would have been on the cards. The first section of the song is a traditional, but top grade, Sufjan tune - full of the usual echo'd vocals he frequently favours and falsetto flourishes, so good it's almost worth attempting to punch yourself in the testicles to try and sing along. From the half way point we go instrumental and look upwards towards the stars again...only this time instead of over egged orchestration we get mesmeric beauty.
26Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat
Everything's Getting Older

'The Copper Top'

There's something about that thick Scottish brogue - I think everyone thought it effortlessly 'had it' even before Irvine Welsh made it 'mainstream cool' in the '90s. Aidan Moffat has the ultimate indie spoken word Scottish delivery, and he certainly has a style that just gets more authentic and grizzled sounding as the years pile on top of each other. 'I buy a pint and sit down' - the way he speak sings this line encapsulates the whole song. Sad and true, wistful/nostalgic but not sappy/manipulative, this is just great storytelling in song.
25Ben Howard
Noonday Dream

'Someone in the Doorway'

'Noonday Dream' was a slow burning triumph, a study in upping the subtlety of your style and refining your song writing down to its fundamental core elements. The layers add up little by little, what starts as bare brittle percussion and voice eventually transformed at the 3:10 mark to reveal arguably the decade's most emotionally affecting use of strings.
24Beach House


One of the great identifiable intros of the decade, 'Myth' was perhaps one of those unfortunate cases of an opening song giving you the best of an entire album all in the one 4:19 composition. Victoria Legrand has never come up with a more perfect set of vocal melodies and phrasings and she holds nothing back in this performance - the verse starting at 2:47 with the line 'if you built yourself a myth...', building through '....oh let the ashes fly' and ending in the eargasm trilling guitar section is the closest to perfection Beach House has come - the ultimate microcosm of the appeal of the band.
23Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex


Controversial this featuring one higher than 'Myth' considering how much this band come across as the equally androgynous role-reverse of Beach House. It could be a case of recency bias...or it might just be that as a truly catchy, repeat plays joy this song slightly trumps its rival. An aquired taste perhaps, but strangely a little like Dan Bejar I find Greg Gonzalez has the happy knack of making near enough every carefully enunciated lyric that comes out of his mouth sound delicious. 'Got the music in you baby, tell me why' was the chorus cry of 2017.
22Sun Kil Moon


For my money Kozelek crammed three of the most emotionally devastating stories to feature on 'Benji' all within the very same song, which is a bit of a strange quirk. Poor mentally 'different from the others' Micheline being taken advantage of by the neighbourhood thug ('she had dreams just like anyone else'); Brett who suffered the aneurysm playing guitar that transformed him totally and shortened his life ('he had a wife and a son') and the touching ode to his grandma (...grandma, grandma) blend together into a single, disarmingly pure outpouring of love that's near impossible to find a suitable comparison for. Mark Kozelek haters? It's fuck the Mark Kozelek haters in my household mateyroo.
21Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree

'Girl in Amber'

There's funereal songs and then there's 'Girl in Amber' - lordy this thing positively REEKS of grief. 'The phone it rings no more' matched to that trembling vocal, well, Nick had hold of you by both hands and there was no turning away.
20Craig Finn
We All Want the Same Things

'God in Chicago'

Masterful storytelling from the Hold Steady frontman - it seems the more you strip down his music and put emphasis on the words, the better a writer he becomes...and the more emotive his songs get. To squeeze in so many 'little details' in this bittersweet borderline tragic relationship, to the point that when you reach 'St. Paul and she was sobbing', well you the listener have been given a right working over.
19Eleanor Friedberger

'My Jesus Phase'

This song is an elliptic enigma wrapped up in a tail-chasing melody with cryptic cut and paste lyrics to throw you yet further off the scent. It flows and blends with dream logic - Friedberger your sometime coolly robotic/sometime warm blooded empath tour guide. Fleetwood Macbook? 'Take it slow, for peace of mind, don't lust and cheat' - still don't know if that's her warning me...or wanting me?
18Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels 2

'Oh My Darling Don't Cry'

Just an exercise in perfection from the classic choice of song title all the way through their best ever soundbites ('my business card says you're in luck, I do two things, I rap and fuck (switch)...I fuck and rap' and yes, 'You can all run naked backwards through a field of dicks'). It has to be the greatest RtJ track simply for having the most 'fucboi' references out of any of their tunes before you even get to anything other consideration. Gloriously uncool in the spirit of Eminem at the peak of his appeal, but irresistible anyway.
17Bill Callahan

'Riding for the Feeling'

No one this decade could match Callahan for the conversational ease of his vocal delivery - the warmth, the ache, the increasingly impassioned 'riding for the feeling!'s. 'It's never easy to say goodbye...all this leaving is never ending' - I'm not sure anyone had claim to being this generation's Leonard Cohen OR Nick Drake ahead of him. In the field of folk, the ultimate compliment surely? 'Riding' is one of his ten most essential songs and if you haven't listened to it you probably should.
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming


How to describe my relationship with the music of M83? 'Let's not go there lolz' 'it's complicated' etc. Also: 'when they're hot they're hot'...and not just hot, sizzling cinematic grandeur piping hot. When they're not hot they're absolute fucking dross but we don't have to go there now. Another time. 'No time, no time' exactly exactly, no time for that. The orchestral (or-kestrel?) climax of this song with the vocals starting to resemble bird cries is one for the ages.
Weather Systems

'Untouchable Pt. 1'

A definite case of right song/right time as this is one of the decade's best (and most unlikely?) breakup songs (ok, that's me admitting an even better example of a breakup song features higher on this very list). Best enjoyed, unsurprisingly (yup) with Part 2 - incredible insight I'm providing here! It's not all about the emotion of the themes however, this song builds up the intensity so naturally and measuredly you can forget just how pounding it really is - as a test just listen to the section in the back straight where the vocals cut away at FULL VOLUME. A lot of music gets described as powerful - the end of this song truly is.
14Oneohtrix Point Never
Garden of Delete

'Sticky Drama'

No album took me more listens to bond with than 'Garden of Delete' - after ten listens I was still none the closer to making a breakthrough with 90% of the album. 'Sticky Drama' was important because it was my entry point, the track that most kept me revisiting to satisfy my strange intrigue. Allegedly Lopatin spent a while listening to predominantly rock music before hiring a windowless studio to record the album and that makes sense listening to 'Sticky Drama' - the track sounds a little like unleashing a horde of nanobots at a Nine Inch Nails concert. Mischievous, borderline anarchic freak-fucker'y in the Aphex Twin tradition.
13Cloud Nothings
Here and Nowhere Else

'Pattern Walks'

This song from 4:30 is what I'd play if the little green men arrived and asked 'what is rock? why is rock?' This tune has the very essence you see. The first half of the song, for all intents and purposes, is not that different than someone like Foo Fighters in 'combat mode', just a smidgen more raw - it's all about that deconstruction first to that drone-y squall, then to the caveman simplicity of the ferocious drums, and finally the collapse into spacey psychedelic guitar abandon. So yes, the second half of this track gives in to the base impulses a hundred Sonic Youth songs swerve in favour of something more artful...but sometimes rock is all.
12Bill Callahan
Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest

'What Comes After Certainty'

'Shepherd...' may very well be a near faultless folk rambler, but for it to be considered a classic it needed one moment of such sublime resonance that it caught the listener off guard; that moment arrives like divine intervention half way through ‘What Comes After Certainty’. The song builds a beautiful image of Callahan's wife videoing him in the sea while on honeymoon, only we listeners are privy to hearing how at this same moment he believes he sees the face of God reflected in the water. The way this line is delivered, so unabashed and open hearted, you can’t help but share in his revelation - that he then describes the face as plain to see but ‘hard to read’ is not unexpected, but in reality this later assertion changes little. We both just saw it Bill, we really did.
11The National
Trouble Will Find Me


I guess I've just come to realise that my favourite type of National song is very identifiable - yes, this is from the same slow motion sad sacks lineage as Sorrow, Lemonworld and the ilk. So 'Slipped' has slowly become one of my favourite 'stepping off the train, heading into the city' songs, an artfully dejected shadow companion for such moments. As ever the verses are particularly killer in that brow beaten manner and Berninger's strange approach to wordless singing comes up trumps yet again - this time with the 'ahhhh ahhhhh-ahhh-aahhhh-aaah's instead of Lemonworld's 'do do do do doos'.
10Sufjan Stevens
Carrie and Lowell

'Fourth of July'

The key moment on the unflinching, morbid 'Carrie and Lowell' where Death himself enters the room and puts his hand on your unsuspecting shoulder, stealing away your breath and freezing your heart - for sure, you could say this song is the equivalent of someone 'walking over your grave', if of course you believe in such guff. A child talking about death with a parent remains one of society's last taboos...and Sufjan enjoys making us all squirm at his boyhood memories of his young heart being torn asunder.
9Bon Iver
Bon Iver, Bon Iver


The only song to make me think Sowing might have everything right and it's actually everyone else who is wrong. Maybe.
8Aimee Mann
Mental Illness

'Goose Snow Cone'

This gentle song seems harmless enough at first, some simple melodies and the inclusion of a few sleigh bells - you could call it 'cute'. Only later do you start recognising the sadness, oh the resigned sweet sadness. At times the approach to the orchestration, those little sympathetic swells, remind me of the Eels at their most heart tugging - and the lyrics match the mood in their effortlessly bittersweet tone; 'Thought I saw at my feet an origami crow, it was only the street hidden under the snow, always snatching defeat, it's the devil I know'.
The Waiting Room

'How He Entered'

The first time I road tested this song out on the way to pick up lunch in the middle of my work day I had to stifle a massive lump in my throat, there's just something so nostalgic, tragic and beautiful about this simple spoken word lament. I see this as a sort of exaggerated self effacing auto biographical tale from Staples - 'He sang of it, but knew nothing of it'. Watching the band perform this with old grainy black and white footage of a wedding playing in the background and Staples holding the lyric sheet in his hand but never even once looking at it was a perfect musical moment of the decade for me.
6Beach House
Teen Dream

'Walk in the Park'

Here it is, the other classic breakup song on the list - and also the greatest ever Beach House song of course. With 90% of this band's songs it's all about that long coda - they give the best loooooooong coda in the business. Here Legrand's increasingly firm assertion that 'you want more - only time can run you' taps into something primal and contrasts perfectly with the pining 'ghost' figure waiting for their painful memories to be erased by Old Father Time who occupies the remainder of the song.

'The Hustle'

A mighty strange tip of the hat to the famous Van McCoy disco instrumental of the same name ('Do the hustle!'), this album closer was 18 minutes of pure cinematic elegance. 'The Hustle' ended up a strange world of its own, one housed within the larger strange world of 'FLOTUS', but one that remained self contained nonetheless. It was almost a mirror image of the rest of the album; where the majority of the remaining songs were marked by filtered vox with predominantly organic instrumentation this flipped over to clean singing and the album's most electronic influenced backdrop.

The band would make the connection with its 1974 namesake even more explicit on a revamped version labelled 'The Hustle Unlimited' that frames it in Tony Crow’s string arrangements (another juicy 5 out of 5 rating) but this expansive atmospheric effort wins out, claiming that first top 5 spot.
4Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle
Perils from the Sea


The biggest decision I had to make in this top 10 was whether to include the original collaboration version of this song or the outstanding live version that opens the essential acoustic set 'Live at Biko'. What I didn't have any trouble deciding was that this should be my top ranked Kozelek song of the decade, even though it might seem perverse not to select something from the game changing 'Benji'. There are some great examples of storytelling song writing already to feature on the list but this is the pinnacle; Mark grappling with his dreams of carving out a little sanctuary in this world, framed through the rise and fall of the illegal Mexican who starts working on doing up his decrepit house - only to be deported after one too many wild nights in town. Of course he wants to help him...but then freezes at the realisation he's wiring money to a near-stranger who may or may not be able to use it effectively. It's too much to be asked of course, but he still feels uneasy.
3Cass McCombs
Wit's End

'County Line'

There are those songs that you want, one magic day, to hear start up the minute you walk into a strange rural bar you've never been to before. 'County Line' is the ultimate example, the woozy nocturnal plod and antiquated organ fills instantly conjure a vibe of a smoke filled bar, a single jukebox and slowly shuffling drinkers sinking into the haze of alcohol intoxication. I guess I'm saying this one's for the romantics. Cheers.
2The National
High Violet


Not 'officially' my favourite National song (that's 'first dance' soundtracking 'Slow Show') but 'unofficially' this is number one. That soft shuffle of an intro, those opening lines 'sorrow found me when I was young -
sorrow waited, sorrow won', the faint female backing vocals, Matt's sublime understated delivery, 'I live in a city sorrow built - it's in my honey, it's in my milk'...everything about this song is total perfection, it encompasses all you could ever want from a National song. Criticise the band all you want but they can't be all that stupid - this is the one song from their catalogue they played on repeat for 6 hours straight. Among all their material, it was the only acceptable choice.


I rarely find the right songs for the most perfect moment. By 2009 I'd spent 4 years close to broke, eating cereal at work and soup with a side of raw vegetables in the evening to try and save to afford the occasional night out or to pay to go on a date. In 4 years I'd had two holidays; a family holiday to Lanzarote my parents paid for and a cheap trip to Minorca with friends - beyond that I'd been UK bound. In 2010 I met a girl on New Years and had a whirlwind romance, sold up the flat, pocketed £75,000 and first thing we did was head to Thailand for three weeks. The feeling of escape, of being somewhere new and alien with someone I hardly new, it was disorientating and addictive - plus there was nostalgia from staying in Hong Kong as a ten year old boy. I realised I'd let the walls close in those previous four years and although I didn't listen to 'Chinatown' at the time, when I eventually did it seemed to put that feeling of adventure tinged with memories into music.
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