MUSIC

Pitchfork's Top 200 Songs of the 2010s Actually Gave Me Hope

Kendrick Lamar tops Pitchfork's pleasantly surprising list of the top 200 songs of the 2010s.

I dipped into Pitchfork's list of the top songs of the 2010s tentatively, not knowing what to expect.

Considering the sheer amount of music released in the past decade, there's simply no way one could ever hope to listen to it all, let alone compare it. Also, music rankings are inherently subjective, entirely reliant on the opinions of those curating the list and their respective definitions of what makes "great" art.

Don't get me wrong—the Pitchfork list has issues. First off, it essentially consists of popular American music. You won't find too many deep cuts here, nor many country, K-pop, classical, or non-English-language tracks. If you're someone who "dislikes pop," you might as well leave. Also, some of the blurbs are very odd. "Hotline Bling" is described as a "human centipede of modern music," which is a unique metaphor—I'll give them that—and apparently Lorde "[dissects] love like it's a frog in science class." Justin Bieber's "Sorry" is somehow painted as a track that asks for redemption in an era of #BlackLivesMatter protests. A lot of the writing is beautiful, though, and we get phrases like, "Pop songs, trends, and life itself are a constant cycle of death and rebirth" (in reference to Ariel Pink) to balance out the other stuff.

In terms of the song choices, I like and respect Grimes, but I'm not sure "Oblivion" deserves its number two slot. There are countless glaring omissions, with innovators like Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Donald Glover, and Sufjan Stevens notably absent (though Gaga and Stevens appeared on Pitchfork's equally solid best albums of the 2010s list). Also, "The Louvre" is objectively not the best song on Melodrama.

Even so, scrolling through the list made me remember that a lot of fantastic music has been released this decade, and a lot of creative visionaries have come out of the woodwork, selectively utilizing new technologies to create ambitious works of art. Plus, in contrast to the vast majority of best-songs-of-all-time lists, a lot of these songs are by women and people of color. Yes, there's still inequality in the music industry, but music has never been more diverse, both sonically and demographically.

The list is evidence that the concept of listening to one genre or disliking music just because it's pop has been steadily dying over the past decade. In today's world, pop hits like Carly Rae Jepsen's "Run Away With Me" and Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" exist comfortably next to indie powerhouse ballads like Mitski's "Your Best American Girl" and ANOHNI's "Drone Bomb Me," and rap and ambient and metal all appear on the same playlists. The kind of pretentiousness that discredited pop music in the past is largely disappearing, and in its own respect, pop is getting more daring, more willing to experiment and pull from other genres.

Carly Rae Jepsen - Run Away With Me www.youtube.com

Mitski - Your Best American Girl (Official Video) www.youtube.com

You could analyze the list forever on this kind of macroscopic level, but music is never only collective or political; it always has a microscopic, personal dimension. Personally, as I scrolled through the list from the bottom to the top, I began to feel something that I don't usually feel while on the Internet. The list was strangely heartwarming. It brought back good memories. Many of the songs on it are extremely special to me, intertwined with specific places, people, and emotions.

For example, Sampha's breathtaking ballad "No One Knows Me (Like the Piano)" took me right back to a time I got lost on a bus in Queens and ended up listening to that song as a woman delivered a sermon from the seat across me while rain poured down around us. The Kanye selections are particularly wrenching; "Runaway" is eternally powerful, "Ultralight Beam" sparks several memories immediately—driving over a bridge under a purple sunset, or another time, astronomically high in the woods, blasting the song from speakers and clinging to every note. "Queen" by Perfume Genius made my jaw drop the first time I heard it. Listening to "Mary" by Big Thief is always a religious experience. SZA, Tyler the Creator, the National, Vampire Weekend, Chance the Rapper—they've all held special places in my heart and life over the years. They're as real and significant to me as any friend, and I doubt I'm alone in that.

Perfume Genius - 'Queen' (Official Video) www.youtube.com

Reading through the list made me remember that while the world may be incredibly chaotic and painful to exist in, there's so much good music to soundtrack our journey through this brief and absurd life. The 2010's gave us revolutionary opuses like Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. and "Pa'lante" by Hurray for the Riff Raff. It gave us Frank Ocean's mystical, effervescent Blond, which I must give thanks for roughly once per week. It gave us Katy Perry's early exquisite pop and Courtney Barnett's dry ramblings and the soft electricity of Yaeji, whose "Drink I'm Sippin On" soundtracked so many of my night walks around the city.

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Pa'lante (Official Video) www.youtube.com

It gave us ample drama and good stories, too—there was the gleeful spite of "thank u, next," and the thrill of watching Cardi B rise with "Bodak Yellow," Miley's chaotic metamorphosis and Solange's ascendance. The 2010s took David Bowie and Lil Peep. It gave us unforgettable images, Bon Iver and his mythological cabin and FKA Twigs' surrealist masterpiece "Cellophane," images that connected to us on personal levels and bind us together across space and time.

FKA twigs - Cellophane www.youtube.com

I think that the best kind of music is taps into something much bigger than us, like a collective unconscious, something that extends way beyond the reach of one person. In order to make it, and to make any kind of art that can reach others on a profound level, you have to let go of the limitations of your singular self. That's what so many of these songs do—they tell individual stories, but they also channel something greater, and bring us together on a higher plane.

In many ways, I suspect that the 2020s will be even more full of change and tumult than the 2010s were. But I have complete faith that, when 2029 rolls around, there will be another Pitchfork list of songs that tap into the deepest emotions and most powerful connections we have. And maybe sometimes, the songs that help us personally are what give us the strength to engage with the world on a larger scale and speak truth to power. Maybe our greatest songs are the ones that, like Kendrick Lamar's "Alright," give us the strength to go on.

Kendrick Lamar - Alright www.youtube.com


With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.

Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.

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Rising Star

PREMIERE | Johnny Burgos Funks Through the Hood in "Picture Perfect" Video

The R&B Newcomer Takes to the City Streets to Groove his Way to Superstardom.

Burgos oozes sweet swagger with his new clip.

The New York City streets sparkle underneath the twinkle of street lamps with delicate pools that spin and create a force amidst so much concrete. In the late midnight hours, while the hustle and bustle subsided in whispers and gentle heaves, Johnny Burgos took a stroll to capture the mood and dance floor aesthetic of a new single called "Picture Perfect" (grab it on iTunes; stream on Apple Music). The air hangs with magical orbs, his confidence bleeding out onto the screen. The visual, filmed by Max Skaff and Jermaine Clark, is predominantly splashed with a warm gold, serving to invite the listener into his sphere and a love-strewn story about uncertainty.

"I started the production on this [song] way before I had any lyrics and wrote to the beat in my headphones, while walking through the hood," Burgos tells Popdust, premiering the clip today (July 17). "The groove always made me wanna dance." The music video is a spectacular display of atmosphere, and as the sequence progressive, cooler colors of muted blues and greens peek through the song's unshakable rave-like detonations. He might be the only one in the club, as it were, but Burgos takes the viewer on a glitzy, grungy, and perfectly merry time, framing the "City That Never Sleeps" as a slumbering beast ready to pounce unexpectedly.

"I know life ain't fair / And I won't be spared / So, I must ride the way," he warbles and coos just before the hook drops. The meaty and weighty lyrics stand in remarkable contrast to the song's silkiness, allowing the listener to get lost in a world and let their worries slide off their backs.

Watch the video below:

"So, what we got here ain't picture perfect," he considers on the syrupy and addicting chorus line, a mingling of classic soul, late-'90s R&B and stinging funk. "So much is not clear," he mutters. "Love is certain." It's a an enchanting dreamscape, and it's no wonder Burgos, whose uncle is distinguished percussionist Andrew Martinez, has begun to create a name for himself. His creamy vocal ability glides across his melodies with precision, but it's effortless. His talent speaks loud and clear. Through drawing upon such icons as Michael Jackson and Erykah Badu and an early attraction to the percussion of soul and salsa music, he has cut his teeth on his way to the top.

"Picture Perfect," produced by Ben Lindell, known for his work with 50 Cent, J Cole, MGMT and many others, is the second official single from Burgos' forthcoming debut extended play, titled Love Through It All. It's expected to drop later this fall on Roc Nation. His previous single "Set Yourself Free" was produced by Burgos and powerhouse Frans Mernick, who has worked with everyone from Foster the People and A$AP Rocky to Miguel and A$AP Ferg.

Follow Johnny Burgos on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Jason Scott is a freelance music journalist with bylines in B-Sides & Badlands, Billboard, PopCrush, Ladygunn, Greatist, AXS, Uproxx, Paste and many others. Follow him on Twitter.


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