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 10-1. Read below to see our picks!

Previously: Songs 40-31 | Songs 30-21 | Songs 20-1110. “Telephone”

Lady GaGa [ft. Beyoncé]

Two of pop’s biggest and consistently artistic stars collaborate and craft a song of pure escapism (not to mention the year’s most ambitious music video). GaGa commands the track over a harp melody before the Darkchild-produced song explodes into a pounding beat complete with the sounds of ringing telephones and an out of service notice. Beyoncé’s swaggering verse contributes to the immense sound of this dancefloor filler (save for her ridiculous line about living in Grand Central Station). And while lyrically the song deals with ignoring calls from a guy while out dancing, it serves as a metaphor for enjoying yourself as a release from the monotony of everyday life. Over the past two years, GaGa has become a pop sensation who demands your attention with her outlandish fashion choices and her event music videos, but it is on “Telephone” that she offers an amazing slice of dance-pop goodness and the best song to hit Top 40 radio this year.

9. “Zebra”

Beach House

Of all the gorgeous moments on Teen Dream, none is more arresting than “Zebra.” The opening track finds Beach House refraining from the heavy reverb used on previous records and allowing the strength of their songwriting to stand on its own. A woozy organ and bass line accompany Victoria Lesgrand as she asks, “Don’t I know you better than the rest?” Lesgrand’s smoky voice captivates throughout the haunting chorus: “Any way you run, you run before us/Black and white horse arching among us.” As a fantastic cover by PS22 Chorus proved, great songwriting is universal

8. “The Suburbs”

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire’s ambitious third album The Suburbs opens with the rollicking piano chords of the title track that introduce the thematic elements of the record: nostalgia, sprawl, adolescence. But it is more than an introduction — it is an anthem longing for the simpler times of childhood. Win Butler laments on the chorus, “Sometimes I can’t believe it/I’m movin’ past the feeling” as he looks upon a world losing its beauty through urbanization and constant advances in technology. In one of the most heartfelt moments of the song, Butler express his desire to have a daughter so that he can “show her some beauty before this damage is done.” It’s an ode to a simpler time and yet another excellent anthem from Arcade Fire.


7. “O.N.E.”

Yeasayer

Addiction is usually a very personal and serious subject matter, but somehow Brooklyn experimental rock band Yeasayer use the topic to fuel what can only be described as the jam of the year. Tribal drums and Afro-pop guitars blend seamlessly with synths and distorted background vocals on what could be the soundtrack to a futuristic dance party. Vocalist Chris Keating deals bluntly with alcoholism by declaring, “You don’t move me anymore/And I’m glad that you don’t.” “O.N.E.” is a brilliant pop song at its core and a downright fun song all around.

6. “All Delighted People (Original Version)”

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Steven’s original version of “All Delighted People” is a nearly twelve minute epic about the apocalypse with a brooding orchestra, a magnificent choir and allusions to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence.” And as is to be expected, it is nothing short of a masterpiece. Simon & Garfunkel lyrics take on new meaning in the context of the end of the world: “Hello darkness, my old friend, it breaks my heart.” Sufjan ponders morality as a choir wonders, “When the world’s come and gone/Shall we follow our transgressions/Or shall we stand strong?” before the song ends in a massive crescendo of strings reminiscent of “A Day in the Life.” Sufjan shows why is one of the most talented musicians of our era — paying homage to the past all while looking ahead to the future.

5. “Tightrope”

Janelle Monáe [ft. Big Boi]

“Tightrope” finds Janelle Monáe in a balancing act. Monáe effortlessly balances the retro R&B feel of the track with its modern hip-hop tendencies, all while trying to maintain a level head through her struggles in the music industry. A funky bassline and hand clap drum beat are accented by horns and ukulele, but never once sounds cluttered. Big Boi jumps in for a nonsensical verse rhyming “matchbook” with “MacBook” before Monáe one-ups him by rhyming “alligator,” “rattlesnaker” and “terminator.” But through it all, she not only maintains her balance on the tightrope but dances all all over it. She imparts, “You either follow or you lead” and it’s clear she recognizes herself as a leader.

4. “All I Want”

LCD Soundsystem

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So for all the comparisons to David Bowie’s “Heroes,” it is evident “All I Want” is not a rip-off. It is James Murphy’s loving tribute that reaches to the core of human emotion. The repetitive guitar mirrors the unceasing piano of “All My Friends,” but finds Murphy with one request: “All I want is your pity/And all I want are your bitter tears.” It’s the sound of a man in love with a girl out of his league but accepting all the accompanying pain. As synths kick in and Murphy wails, “Take me home!” the warmth of home comes rushing back.

3. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

Arcade Fire

Régine Chassagne has always been underrated. Though she previously sang lead vocals on such Arcade Fire standouts such as “In the Backseat” and “Black Wave,” the best songs always seemed to be given to Win Butler. But on “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” the penultimate track on The Suburbs, Régine is given her moment in the spotlight and she takes advantage of every second of it. The song is somewhat of a departure for the band, drawing on disco and synth-pop influences from both Blondie and The Knife. Chassagne’s voice shines as she desires an escape from the “dead shopping malls [that] rise like mountains beyond mountains.” She perfectly embodies the emotion of the teenager who longs to escape suburbia only to find the city is just as unwelcoming. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” is a triumphant moment for indie’s biggest band and one that every teenager can relate to.

2. “Dancing on My Own”

Robyn

With her ambitious Body Talk series this year, Robyn firmly positioned herself as an artist who consistently brings artistry to the dancefloor. If anything speaks to this fact it’s that “Dancing on My Own,” in all its melancholic electropop glory, already sounds like a classic. The song finds Robyn watching from the outskirts as her man dances with another woman. You can feel her sincerity when she cries, “I’m right over here/Why can’t you see me?” She remarked in an interview with Pitchfork, “Even if I’m sad, dancing is a way to let stuff out.” Her release-your-emotion-on-the-dancefloor approach is an honest and convincing template that every pop star should follow. Robyn may have been dancing on her own, but we were there all year dancing right along with her.

1. “Runaway”

Kanye West [ft. Pusha T]

“Runaway” was the emotional core of Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. When the single, repeated piano key began playing at the beginning of this nine-minute epic in which Kanye is honest with himself (and the listener) in realizing his faults. He is a perfectionist and overly critical (“I’m so gifted at finding what I don’t like the most”). He lacks personal responsibility (“And I just blame everything on you”). He fears commitment (“Never was much of a romantic/I could never take the intimacy”). But for all his flaws, Kanye recognizes in his triumphant chorus of “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags!” that deep down everyone has their own weaknesses. Rather than constantly criticizing the shortcomings of others, we should celebrate our faults. Every artistic decision — from the repeated piano keys to the distorted Auto-Tune solo — only serves to strengthen Kanye as he poignantly bares his soul for the world to hear. “Runaway” creates a level of emotional connection that very few rap songs, or songs of any genre for that matter, ever reach. It’s what makes the song so captivating, and it’s why it is the best song of the year.

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