#5 – Hot Chip – Hand Me Down Your Love [mp3]
An early 2010 release, as soon as I heard the deep enveloping beats of this song, I knew it would  be a contender for one of the best songs of the year.  The melody is catchy and the beats are relentless.  The result?  My limbs inevitably become restless as I find it more and more impossible to not frantically move to the super-danceable electro-pop that Hot Chip is known for.  Fun.

#4 – Yeasayer – Madder Red [mp3]
Given how amorphous and fluid Yeasayer’s music typically is, “Madder Red” is surprisingly melodic and memorable.  From the opening  tribal drumming and falsetto melody sequence, this song is a beautiful amalgam of different instruments and textures that combine to make something truly memorable and hypnotic.

#3 – The National – England [mp3]
While there were a number of standouts on The National’s “High Violet” album, “England” takes the honours as my favourite for the absolutely awesome build-up in tempo and emotion throughout.  It starts slowly and simply before an unexpected blast from the brass section ushers in some texture and urgency.  The brass returns again just before the 4-minute mark, starting-off a build that relentlessly continues until suddenly, like a dying star, it collapses unto itself, leaving the listener with a chilling sensation of nothingness and wanting more.

#2 – LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean [mp3]
The lead track off of the “This Is Happening” album, “Dance Yrself Clean” is one of the few tracks that cemented their place in my list on the basis of a few seconds of awesomeness.  The beauty of the song is not in its complexity or layering of instruments – in fact, it’s exactly the opposite.  The song is remarkably simple – so simple that it manages to train the ear and mind to think they know what’s coming, lulling the listener into a state of calm by subtly layering in pleasant rhythms and sounds.  That is, until the ear detects a bit of a change – a repetition at a higher frequency, a change in tempo, an impending sense of urgency, and then… a split-second explosion of dirty, funky, crunchy, danceable grooves that absolutely pull you in.  It is this ability to pull the listener into the rhythm, rather than bombarding them with it, that is the hallmark of James Murphy’s music and is the reason this track is the second-best of the year.

#1 – Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) [mp3]
Anyone who knows me well could probably have guessed that Arcade Fire would top my personal chart this year.  Furthermore, my infatuation with the group means they probably could have reasonably made that conjecture well in advance of “The Suburbs” coming out.  However, what they probably could not have guessed was that the best song off of that album would not be an epic, shout-out-loud indie anthem, but the dark, danceable, disco-esque “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”.  Perhaps the sheer unlikelihood of this song is what makes it so good – but then again, perhaps what appears at its surface to be unlikely is merely the amalgam of their diverse sound and influences over the past eight years.  In a way, Sprawl II is a microcosm of Arcade Fire’s entire catalog, capturing Regine’s raw, passionate vocals on the EP, the epic hopefulness of “Funeral”, and the dark moodiness of “Neon Bible” – all wrapped up in the existential angst of modern life reflected in “The Suburbs”.  But above all, it’s just plain good.  Saturated with tension, dripping with atmosphere, and peppered with dramatic shifts throughout, this song clearly stakes it’s rightful place at #1 for 2010.

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