To make up for the negativity and poor taste of the past two days (no matter how justified it was), I thought I’d look at what I think are the best 10 hits songs of 2010. Oh, and I should have put this one the “Worst” list, but here is the list of songs I’m choosing from. Those are the official biggest songs of the year; no one else sold more or was played more than those. So let’s take a look-see.
10. Flo Rida – Club Can’t Handle Me
Similarities to one of last year’s biggest hits aside, this chorus is great. Flo Rida has never been on my list of favorites, but on “Club Can’t Handle Me”, his verses come across more as fun than anything else. But mostly it’s David Guetta’s production that saves “Club Can’t Handle Me”; the song synthesizes some non-traditional club instruments (guitar intro, strings) into a club hit that’s more than a little danceable. The club can handle more songs like this.
9. Eminem – Not Afraid
Em’s comeback single. As he says in the song itself, “That last Relapse cd was ‘ehhh'”; an album that showed Slim trying to be himself while forgetting what that meant. But with “Not Afraid”, Em reminds us that when he wants to be taken seriously, you better shut up and pay attention. Standing at the top of his technical game and backed by a simple but quality beat, “Not Afraid” cut the cynics deep and made us all put a little faith in Eminem once again.
8. Adam Lambert – Whataya Want From Me?
Unless your last name is “Clarkson” or “Underwood”, you ever notice how winning American Idol isn’t as good as placing second? I forget who he lost against, but Lambert was able to walk away with a record deal and none of the side effects of winning American Idol; commercial deals, no creative control, and the standard godawful singles that the winner has to do.
Instead, Lambert got to release this. “Whataya Want From Me?” wasn’t written to be a runaway pop hit (although it ended up getting close), but as a smart pop rocker, it’s really good. Catchy guitar riff, a good blend of rock and pop instrumentation, a neat breakdown towards the end…but Lambert’s really the clincher here. He’s got great stage presence, builds in intensity through the whole song, and on the final chorus he gets to make his case for being one of AI’s better contestants flat. Definitely a keeper.
7. Rihanna – Only Girl (In the World)
2010 was a good year for Rihanna. With “Loud” released in late 2009, she had all of this year to ride out that album’s singles (particularly “Rude Boy”), most of which were pretty successful. And then out of nowhere came the announcement that there was another new album due, and “Only Girl (In the World)” appeared on the pop charts.
I know a few weeks ago I gave this song kind of a so-so review, but it’s really grown on me since then (obviously). “Only Girl (In the World)” is draped in the club pop that was pop’s Flavor of the Year for 2010, but it truly shines on the chorus. After the music backs down, Rihanna belts it out while the song builds beneath her, and when the music kicks back in, two great things get back together. Lyrically a little shakey at first, but the chorus has a kinda nice message behind it, and I can’t knock that. Especially with something this great.
6. Sara Bareilles – King of Anything
Sara Bareills (how the hell do you say that? Anyone know?) was one of the leftfield stars of 2008 with “Love Song”, a song I was outwardly indifferent to, but was probably my number 1 guilty pleasure for the year. Bareills doesn’t do anything that any piano-totting singer-songwriter hasn’t done before, but her singles have the right pop bend that makes them work.
And that’s the story with “King of Anything”. It’s bouncy, driven by a tasteful piano hook, and the chorus is a total singalong affair. One of the fun things about Bareilles is that she doesn’t get to sit at the Cool Table in the cafeteria of Pop High, and she’s well aware of it. Her songs carry a quirk and charm that more typical pop stars wouldn’t be able to manage. “King of Anything” takes some weird turns instrumentally (brass and strings show up), but who cares?
So that’s my late-night bottom half of the Top 10 hits of 2010. Tune in tomorrow for the rest of my “What the hell, man?” list.