Each day this week, we will be debuting ten more songs as we count down our favorite songs of 2010.  We couldn’t have possibly listened to every song in 2010, but these are our favorites out of everything we listened to.  Today we present 20-11.  Read below to see our picks!

Previously: Songs 40-31 | Songs 30-21

20. “Pumped Up Kicks”

Foster the People

Newcomers Foster the People present arguably the year’s catchiest (and most unlikely) anthem in the great “Pumped Up Kicks.”  The laidback vibe of the song is accompanied by a surf-like bassline and reverb-drenched vocals all leading up to the most whistleable chorus since Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks.”  A melody that got stuck in your head for days cemented this song as an essential summer jam.  Who would have guessed a song this fun was about a school shooting?

19. “Teenage Dream”

Katy Perry

Youthful nostalgia was a common theme in music this year, and almost no one did it better than pop star Katy Perry and pop experts Dr. Luke and Max Martin. The ode to teenage romance begins as an almost ballad-like song with a jangly bassline before exploding into the shout-along chorus.  California girl Perry is at her most authentic and charismatic with lyrics that capture the essence of adolescent love.  “Teenage Dream” is the best song Dr. Luke and Martin have written since their enormous hit “Since U Been Gone,” and that’s saying a lot.

18. “I Can Change”

LCD Soundsystem

Time after time James Murphy delivers danceable songs lined with emotion and nostalgia, and “I Can Change” is no exception.  Drawing on obvious 80’s synthpop influences, Murphy paints a picture of salvaging a damaged relationship.  Even in the middle of a fight, the optimistic Murphy glimpses the “love in your eyes” before realizing “maybe that’s just your love of fights.”  Nonetheless, he is willing change who he is for this girl, so blinded by infatuation that he never realizes what an impossible task this is.  The song is bubbling with hopeful idealism, irony and everything you could ask for from a LCD Soundsystem track.

17. “Round and Round”

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

“Round and Round” is a song that grows on you.  On first listen the song sounds like a hazy lo-fi song from the 70’s that seems to stretch on forever before finally reaching the chorus.  But once you reach the chorus, you realize how great it truly is.  Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti have crafted one of the most melodic choruses of the year with a refrain of “And we’ll dazzle them all, hold on.”  The celebratory chorus rises above the murky vibe of the track and keeps you coming back to listen again.  It’s a moment of foreshadowing by the band — Ariel Pink truly did dazzle us all.

16. “Sun Hands”

Local Natives

“Sun Hands” was the first single from Local Natives’ debut album, so it’s fitting that the song aims to reach the planetary object mentioned in the title.  Gorgeous harmonies of ah’s seem to rise to the heavens as the song builds momentum.  Singer Taylor Rice’s voice floats over each syllable as he sings, “I’ll endure the night/For the promise of light.”  And right when you are getting comfortable, the song switches up as the band yells the hook and the track breaks into a rollicking guitar solo before returning to the harmonies with which the track began.  The track reaches for the heavens and nearly five minutes later it successfully arrives.

15. “Power”

Kanye West

Kanye West knows how to comeback.  Post-Taylorgate he could have retreated and returned with a humbling apology track promising to keep his ego in check in the future.  Instead, he launched his critically-acclaimed new album with a song pulsing with egotism.  Hand claps, a King Crimson sample, choir-sounding background vocals and a Dwele guest spot come together to give Kanye an outlet to proclaim that “No one man should have all that power.”  But no one describes “Power” better than Kanye himself: “I guess every superhero need his own theme music.”

14. “Good Intentions Paving Company”

Joanna Newsom

Long story short: Joanna Newsom takes on an upbeat piano tune and makes the seven minute epic feel like a casual listen.  Newsom’s vocals are at in top condition on “Good Intentions Paving Company,” with a country-inspired vibrato beautifully gliding over every elongated syllable.  Witty lyrics such as “How I said to you, ‘honey, just open your heart’/When I’ve got trouble even opening a honey jar” are both humorous while revealing her commitment issues in this song chronicling the journey of a relationship.  Besides, when a song has a trombone solo, it’s bound to be magnificent.

13. “Bloodbuzz Ohio”

The National

Many times repetitiveness in songs is a sign of weak songwriting or a pop earworm, but in “Bloodbuzz Ohio” lyrics are repeated to create a warmth in this melancholic song and showcases The National at their absolute best.  A rich palette of piano chords, strings, horns and a constant drumbeat serve as the backdrop for Matt Berninger’s baritone. Berninger sings about returning home to Ohio to escape his problems and worries.  Fittingly, the song sounds like the warm feeling of being around family and realizing their importance: “I never thought about love when I thought about home.”  But in spite of this, he is welcomed by the unconditional love of his family.  It is a relatable sentiment and it makes for a fantastic song.

12. “Cold War”

Janelle Monáe

On The ArchAndroid Janelle Monáe sings from the perspective of cyborg Cindy Mayweather, but on “Cold War” one fact soon becomes evident: this song was not just written for a fictional robot.  “Cold War” is a song of determination inspired by her personal struggles as an artist.  When she sings the line “I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me” in the music video, Monáe is overcome by emotion and begins to cry but she continues singing.  The song is a sum of all the discrimination she has faced for being different and her voice reflects her authentic conviction — all while obliterating the barriers between rock and R&B.

11. “Excuses”

The Morning Benders

The lowering of the needle and the pops and crackles of vinyl fill your ears as the opening strains of “Excuses” begin.  Sure, this song from the Morning Benders is really an MP3, but it is a vintage sound that carries throughout the entire track.  Producer Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear employs a Wall-of-Sound production on the track and imparts some of his own band’s vocal harmonies which contribute to the 1960’s feel of the track.  An orchestra flourishes over the “dum du-dum” of the background vocals, but it’s Chris Chu’s earnest performance of this love song that makes it a standout: “We’ll still be best friends when all turns to dust.”

Next: Songs 10-1