In what is unlikely to be a one-off feature, we’ve asked our writers to spew forth on their favourite tracks, bands, shoes and all points inbetween, of the year and decade.
First up, Matthew Shaw’s top 10 songs of the past decade…
1: Machine Gun – Portishead
If there’s going to be one song that connects with this decade, it’s unlikely that any song other than ‘Machine Gun’ is going to do it better. Cold, distant and eerie, this takes the twisted nature of the likes of ‘Sour Times’ and twists the blade savagely.
The only variant to the insistent and relentless drum machine backing is it being partially fitted through various filters and a brief glimpse of Terminator style synths. The fact that Beth Gibbons sounds almost ill in her delivery makes this a tortured piece of utter genius.
If you need further proof, next time you’re by yourself, stick this on your iPod and make it to the end of the street without wanting to call your mother. Go on, I dare you.
2: Crazy In Love – Beyonce ft. Jay-Z
The sweeping moment that Beyonce not only stepped out of the shadows of Destiny’s Child and became a top pop diva, but also the moment that the poppier end of R&B found its identity again. The fact that there have been so many attempts to imitate this suggests the true status of this song. It’s possibly the most perfect pop song since A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’, from Beyonce’s devastatingly sassy delivery to the big brassy melody in the intro, an earworm of a chorus and one of the few mid-song rap interludes that actually works courtesy of Jay-Z.
There have been other outstanding slices of pop this decade – namely the likes of ‘Umbrella’, ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, ‘Patience’, ‘What You Waiting For’ and so forth but this stands head and shoulders above the rest of them. The fact that Ms. Knowles hasn’t even come close to this standard since makes this record all the more remarkable.
3: Freakin’ Out – Graham Coxon
Not just Blur, y’know! ‘Happiness in Magazines’ proved something of a turning point from Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, after a handful of underwhelming solo albums, this propelled him back into the mainstream. Built on the cornerstones of great traditional rock and roll music, this has the dumb lyrics, killer riffs and incenduary energy to propel this beyond anthemic status. In some ways, it’s very much the ‘Teenage Kicks’ of this decade.
To tell the truth, there are probably bigger songs in Coxon’s most recent work that could easily be in the top ten as well; ‘Gimme Some Love’ from the album ‘Love Travels At Illegal Speeds’ but the sheer impact that this song had upon release after a series of efforts ranging from mildly “above average” to straight “mediocre” means this one takes the prize.
4: Blood Meridian – Hope Of The States
Hope of the States were a band that wouldn’t have worked had they had a career based on longevity. Singer Sam Herlihy never had the greatest voice and this somewhat limited their first album ‘The Lost Riots’ in terms of single songs, though it remains their best work in terms of an album or EP.
This lead single off their sophomore effort ‘Left’ saw the Chichester band rein in their sound a little which remains their most astounding effort. Herlihy’s focused vocal which when met with lyrics that overflow with anger release an absolute beast of a chorus.
Guitarist Michael Hibbert also ups his game with thunderous guitars that act as a catalyst whilst Simon Jones’ percussion is the lynchpin for the entire song.
5: Radiohead – There There
From Radiohead’s weakest album ‘Hail To The Thief’ comes their most hauntingly beautiful moment to date. Opening with slight percussion, classic chiming Radiohead guitars and Thom Yorke crooning “In pitch black I go walking in your landscape”.
One of the more straightforward moments on recent Radiohead releases, this can’t fail to connect every time. A subtle chorus of “Just because you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there” is delivered in the most gorgeous fashion by Thom Yorke.
‘Kid A’ was arguably the bands finest moment yet managed to alienate some of those who’d fallen irreparably in love with ‘OK Computer’. This was not only the song to get them back on board but to appease those who were falling in love with their new electronic direction.
6: 99 Problems – Jay-Z
There are very few people who don’t know the “I got 99 problems” bit from this song. Their loss. Jay-Z’s career has been littered with magical moments, but there are very few that reach the levels of perhaps his most famous song.
Jay-Z is absolutely electric lyrically, highlighting inequalities of policing in America amongst other things. The delivery is razor sharp and strengthens the argument that Jay-Z may well be the best rapper of this current generation. Hip-hop may be a young genre in the grand scheme of things, but as long as it keeps throwing up efforts on the same level as this it could well be the prominent genre in terms of sales and popularity in the future.
7: Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues – McLusky
Here we have a song that deserves to be in this list on title alone. There is no way that a song entitled ‘Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’ is going to be anything other than utterly awesome. It just so happens that this would be a belter of a song, whatever its title.
McLusky are a sorely missed band, but one could tell that they were always a band set for a massive implosion. This is a great example of what they did so well, hugely fiery and energetic with a dark sense of humour behind the frenzy of punk guitar and percussion. The throaty roar of Andy Falkous would be possible to imitate without doing yourself an injury. The entire album it came from, namely ‘McLusky Do Dallas’ is a work of epic proportion, but this was the standout track by a whisker.
8: You Held The World In Your Arms – Idlewild
Let’s get this out of the way – Idlewild don’t really make chart music in its truest form. They’re unlikely to ever take a Razorlightish direction, they’re not going to release controversial/unspeakably awful (delete as applicable) artwork like Hard-Fi and you won’t see Roddy Woomble advertising car insurance or butter in twenty or thirty years time.
However, their album ‘The Remote Part’ offered two chart-bursting efforts in the shape of ‘American English’ and ‘You Held The World In Your Arms’. A more polished effort than previous affairs, this was passionate in a totally different way for the band. It was also the bands only top ten single to date and for the slightest moment looked as if it might have made them superstars. It was a song that managed to sell up the bands attributes without ever losing the true essence of the band.
One wonders what would have become commercially if they had chosen to follow ‘The Remote Part’ with a similar record rather than the heavily folk influenced ‘Warnings/Promises’ (although Warnings/Promises is arguably their finest moment), but this remains an absolute gem in this decade of Scottish alternative music.
9: Over and Over – Hot Chip
Ever since 2004 album ‘Coming On Strong’, Hot Chip had promised a perfect electro-pop moment, but never really got round to writing a breakthrough song. All changed with ‘Over and Over’, a song about repetition that saw them headline the John Peel stage at Glastonbury off the popularity of it.
Its thumping beat and refrain of “Over and over and over, like a monkey with a minature cymbal, the joy of repetition really is in you” was impossible to escape and too irresistable to forget. It managed to be everywhere without ever growing annoying or over-familiar. How the band followed with a series of songs that reached a near-similar level was similarly astounding.
10: Suspicious Character – The Blood Arm
When you get a song with such a memorable chorus like “I like all the girls and all the girls like me” delivered with such a sleazy bombast, a killer melody and all without an inch of fat or filler on it, it’d be far easier to leave this description as “How in hell did this song not make this band absolutely massive?”.
So I shall. Some people don’t know talent if it hit them between the eyes…