Some of Our Favorite Music From 2010

The two typical outlets for year-end musical taste determinations are Grammy nominees and the deluge of music publications’ year-end rankings that confront equally list-happy readers. December becomes a breathless shuffle, requiring the zealous music fan to judge his favorite blogger’s best-of lists in compared to both other bloggers’ lists as well as the reader’s own. How does Pitchfork’s Top 100 compare to that of, say, Rolling Stone or gorillavsbear? Does a blog’s best-of list reflect its editors’ true tastes as a numbered synopsis of their musical philosophy? Or do considerations about image and audience factor into the list-readying?

I’ve imagined some of my favorite critics saying, as I browse their lists, “If we don’t include this album in our Top 10, it will reflect poorly and repel the continued interest of a coveted sub-demographic.”

I am incredulous when my absolute favorite song of the year has garnered nary a mention in the big publications’ rankings.

Gosh, and my number one album didn’t even make one my favorite music blog’s top twenty—what does that say about my tastes?

It says nothing, of course, but to paraphrase Eminem, I wonder how can kids eat up these year-end lists like Valiums. It’s stressful and fairly ridiculous to attempt to quantify taste and preference this way. What’s more, creating these lists in December makes chronological sense, but this tends to shaft artists who released music in the beginning of the year, the warm critical receptions they received at the time having cooled by late November to anywhere from mild interest to the bottomless pit of obscurity.

I like awards shows because, winners aside, everyone is equal; the losing candidates in a given category can still be honored as nominees, and that’s as far as the hierarchization goes.

Unfortunately, the Grammys insist on recognizing the likes of Justin Bieber as “best new artist” material and the likes of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream as the potential “Album of the Year.” Not that “California Gurls” isn’t a fun summer jam, but come on.

So, I figured it might make more sense to take the best of both worlds as I try to sum up 2010, the way I saw it. Here are hypothetical Grammy categories (including hypothetical winners) that acknowledge artists beyond the laughably limited (and mainstream) perspective that most Grammy voters seem to share. Not like I’m some bloghouse Encyclopedia Brown, but any fan who gets his music news online is likely to be aware of far more deserving artists than the Grammys can accommodate. Winners are in bold.

Also check out American Twang’s list of The Top 10 Country Albums of 2010 and The 10 Worst Country Albums of 2010.

Song of the Year

“Helicopter” by Deerhunter
“Indestructible” by Robyn
“Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells
“10 Mile Stereo” by Beach House
“Marathon” by Tennis
“Glorylight and Christie” by Cotton Jones
“Excuses” by The Morning Benders
“Night” by Zola Jesus
“Devil in a New Dress” by Kanye West feat. Rick Ross

Album of the Year

Hidden Lands by Candy Claws
Movin’ Up In Society by Sean Nicholas Savage
Before Today by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Teen Dream by Beach House
Tall Hours in the Glowstream by Cotton Jones
Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter

Best New Artist

Glasser
Frankie Rose and the Outs
Das Racist
Outer Limits Recordings
James Blake
Sleigh Bells
Blue Hawaii
How To Dress Well
Tennis

Best Experimental/Ambient Album

Sinister Devices by Viernes
Foxy Baby by Outer Limits Recordings
King Felix EP by Laurel Halo
7 AM by Teengirl Fantasy
Inner Gazing by Mickey Mickey Rourke

Best Dance Album

Flesh Tone by Kelis
Body Talk by Robyn
Heartbeats by Grum
Illumination by Miami Horror
Modern Thrills by Tesla Boy
Crystal Castles (2010) by Crystal Castles

Best Pop Album

Clinging to a Scheme by The Radio Dept.
Youth EP by Summer Camp
Odd Blood by Yeasayer
Gemini by Wild Nothing
Settings EP by Tanlines
European by Sambassadeur

Best Rock Album

Treats by Sleigh Bells
Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter
Goodbye Falkenberg by Race Horses
Astro Coast by Surfer Blood
Frankie Rose and the Outs by Frankie Rose and the Outs
Crazy For You by Best Coast

Best Goth/Witch House/Drag/Post-Whatever Album

King Night Salem
Black Earth That Made Me by White Ring
†‡† EP by †‡†
Stridulum II by Zola Jesus
Disaro by Modern Witch
Black and Blue by Terminal Twilight

Best Folk Album

Hunting My Dress by Jesca Hoop
Movin Up In Society by Sean Nicholas Savage
Sucker by Harlan T. Bobo
Tall Hours in the Glowstream by Cotton Jones
Golden Archipelago by Shearwater

Best Hip-Hop Album

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
Sit Down, Man by Das Racist
Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty by Big Boi
Shut Up, Dude by Das Racist
Thank Me Later by Drake