Getty | Getty It's been a great year for music. But what's been even…
- Posted by Joshua Ostroff
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It's impossible to make a pop list without mentioning the Biebz, but while his surging popularity is anthropologically fascinating, his songs made Spinner's youngest intern cry. Sure, he's also my 15-month-old son, but kid got his baby-groove on to the rest of our Top 10 just fine. That said, Emile totes agrees with the rest of the music-loving masses who virally spread Shamantis' brilliantly stretched out ambient-pop remix of 'U Smile.' Also, he suggests listening before nap time.
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The Wonder Tims would be hard-pressed to drop an avant-pop collab that outshone the likes of 'SexyBack' or 'What Goes Around...' but 'Carry Out' has quietly carried on all year long, racking up a surprising 34 million YouTube plays, a couple million downloads, and countless club spins and house party plays. No full-length follow-up is in sight, but it's always nice when JT dips out of Hollywood to dance with the dude who brung him.
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Love or hate her, Billboard's New Artist of the Year was inescapable throughout 2010. While Ke$ha's party-all-the-time singles suffered from diminishing returns, her breakthrough jam transcends hot mess novelty due to its ridiculously tweaked-out synths, thundering drums and that arms-up rave-era breakdown. Ke$ha may joke about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack, but based on her 'Tik Tok' backing track she's probably just washing the taste of crystal meth out of her mouth.
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Drizzy's fetish for Kanye's '808s and Heartbreak' comes full circle as 'Ye doles Drake what could've been an '808' outtake beatscape, and the Toronto kid proceeds to make it even better than the real thing. As piano keys plink and the future-forward drum programming skitters to and fro, a vulnerable Drake eschews rapping altogether to croon his debut album's magnum emo opus. In an ego-driven genre, his heart-on-sleeve argument -- "I'm more than just an option" -- is perhaps the bravest move possible.
The fresh princess came out of nowhere with a Jay-Z co-sign and this precocious pop jam about "just having fun" that immediately went viral. Unlike most kid-made music, 'Whip My Hair' perfectly captures the ebullience of youth but doesn't talk down to its audience -- peep that amazing handclap breakdown and the subtle nods to Devo and Salt-N-Pepa -- which is why Willow Smith's debut single caught on with teens and adults, too. The awesome paint-splattered video didn't hurt, either.
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6. 'Rude Boy,' Rihanna
Amidst the psychodrama that dominated her post-punch album 'Rated R' – and later fueled Rhianna's battered relationship collaboration with Eminem 'Love the Way You Lie' – came the Barbadian babe's Caribbean banger mixing in Jamaican slang, steel drums and self-empowered sex lyrics. Moving from the nightclub to the dancehall finally helped Rihanna get out of her funk and get 'Loud.'
5. 'Bulletproof,' La Roux
British neo-wave duo La Roux -- Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid -- may have technically released their electro-pop mission statement 'Bulletproof' in 2009, but it didn't hit its target in North America until this year. La Roux's Top 10 showing – alongside nearly two million downloads – was not simply because of its insta-classic chorus, but because the song proved an anthem of hope in a year that was too often shrouded in darkness.
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It's not like Gaga didn't dominate 2009, but 'Paparazzi' aside, her songs were the weakest part of her pop art persona. Then she released 'The Fame Monster EP' and in shuffled 'Bad Romance' like a 'Thriller' zombie, jabbering in French and demanding our ugly and our disease. As the song enacted its revenge on radio and iTunes, countless covers from 'Glee' and Lissie to Paramore and college a capella groups helped embed it even deeper into pop culture. Finally, the Lady had an epochal song to match her epic shtick.
Bruno Mars ruled 2010's charts with his songwriting, singing and production work on huge hits from Cee-Lo, B.o.B, K'naan and Travie McCoy, not to mention his own cheeseball firebomb 'Just the Way You Are.' But this second solo single revealed Mars has more to him than the ability to give the audience what it wants. 'Grenade' adds much-needed grit to his trademark lushness, bitterness to his sweet falsetto and a gloriously dark lyricism as his cliche "I'll do anything for you" soon becomes a laundry list of death wishes.
When 2/3 of Miike Snow was known as Swedish production duo Bloodshy & Avant, they had no problem getting 'Toxic' and 'Piece of Me' on pop radio. Replacing Britney with Andrew Wyatt didn't make their music any less accessible, just less sellable. Which is the mainstream's loss, because they missed this gorgeous slab of electro-pop which rises from a piano ballad intro into a post-rave lament. As Wyatt's soaring vocals detail the loss of a lover to drugs, the propulsive drums and sad-eyed synths can't help but make hips shake amidst the heartache.
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We could have picked any number of Robyn bangers from her 'Body Talk' victory lap, but the trilogy's first single was also its most triumphant. Faced with the challenge of surpassing 'With Every Heartbeat,' Robyn went with heartbreak, singing a short story familiar to anyone who has watched the one who got away dance with the one who got them next. And yet despite the song's sadness – the metaphorical stilettos on broken glass – it also pulses with music's potential to put those pieces back together.