by Bill Forman
The year may not officially end until tomorrow night, but today’s the day that the Indy’s Top Ten issue hits newsstands — or would, if newsstands still existed — which means it’s time for the final online installment of the songs that made 2010 great.
Meanwhile, here's a recap of ten through four:
9. Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, “Tiny Light”
8. Plan B, “Stay Too Long”
7. Pigeon John, “Dude, It’s On”
6. Dessa, “Dixon’s Girl”
5. Everything Everything, “MY KZ, YR BF”
4. Cee Lo Green, “Fuck You”
And now that you've got an actual use for your Xmas iTunes cards, here's more:
3. Die Antwoord, “Enter the Ninja”
Early this year, long before “Fuck You” and “Bed Intruder” were even glimmers in the all-seeing eye of YouTube, South African hip-hop surrealists Die Antwoord went viral in a big WTF-kinda way with “Enter the Ninja.” At the time, there was much debate about whether the heavily accented, hilariously weird, undeniably original and surprisingly skillful Afrikaners were “authentic,” as though that were the point. Fetchingly bowl-coiffed chanteuse Yo-Landi Vi$$er and her insufficiently clothed cohort Ninja (aka Watkin Tudor Jones) have unleashed a bizarrely endearing hybrid of District 9 aesthetics, hip-hop theatrics, blank parody and art-school excess, that’s no less fake than Eminem or the Beastie Boys. The group released its debut album on Interscope in October, but “Enter the Ninja” is where it all began.
2. Fitz & the Tantrums, “Breakin’ the Chains of Love”
L.A.’s Fitz & the Tantrums specialized in the sharp-dressed soul in the tradition of Otis Redding, Martin Fry and Mayer Hawthorne. Uneven as the band’s debut album may be, “Breakin’ the Chains of Love” is a flawless three minutes of funk-pop pleasures.
1. Janelle Monae, “Cold War”
Read our Janelle Monae interview here.
“This is a Cold War / You better know what you’re fighting for,” sings Janelle Monae in the chorus to the year’s best single, which was also the year’s best video, starring the year’s most promising artist. Monae’s lyrical call to arms — "If you want to be free / Being underground's the only place to be" — is driven home by her breathtaking vocals and airtight instrumental arrangements that add up to a remarkable work by a soulful pop diva whose artistic and vocal range is only matched by her kinetic energy, impeccable taste and unstoppable talent.
Best Music Streaming Service: MOG
Best Critical Response to a Live Performance: Pigeon at Kings of Leon show
Best Lyric: “I got two white Russians but we also need some drinks,” Nicki Minaj featuring Kanye West, “Blazin”
Best Cover of a Vintage Artist by Another Vintage Artist (Tie): Mavis Staples performing Allen Toussaint’s “Last Train,” Bryan Ferry performing Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren”