Top Ten of 2010 – the Songs!

Lists, lists and more lists!  Everyone publishes year-end lists. Top tens, best of’s, worst of’s, likes, dislikes and so on… I want to play!

Here are my Top Ten songs of 2010.  The criteria is simple – I bought and/or downloaded the song and it was released in 2010 and it found itself in very heavy rotation on my iPod.

1. F*ck You – Cee Lo Green
Maybe the only time the “F-Word” sounds so happy and cheeky.  The Gnarls Barkley vocalist sings an ode to rejection and recovery.  The “clean” version was everywhere this summer and even covered by Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee!  Musically, it wouldn’t be out of place in 1974.

2. How I Got Over – the Roots
The best live band in Hip-Hop and maybe in America, as well as Jimmy Fallon’s house band.  Cool Philly soul, with a Rap breakdown in the bridge propels this contemporary urban protest song.

3. Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) – My Chemical Romance
An ear-worm of the worst kind!  I challenge you to get this chorus out of your head. Bubblegum pop meets alt-rock meets post apocalyptic comic book adventure.  MCR comes roaring back from the Black Parade!

4. Paris (Ooh La La) – Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
My Break Out artist of the year!  Grace Potter and her band the Nocturnals are just starting to get the national exposure they so richly deserve.  Featured on VH1’s latest Diva concert, Grace stole the show and duetted with the Wilson sisters of Heart.

5. What We Do – Devo
Everyone’s favorite De-Evolutionists from Akron Ohio are back.  Unmistakably Devo and catchy as hell!

6. This Too Shall Pass – OK GO!
Maybe the coolest video of the year, and an amazingly well crafted pop nugget.

7. American Slang – The Gaslight Anthem
An E Street band for the 21st century?  The Gaslight Anthem lives up to the hype, if not that tag.  This is the song that the Boss would have recorded if he had fronted the Clash instead of that little combo from Asbury Park.

8. Hold On – All That Remains
Heavy metal continues to make inroads into the mainstream and this song from the Massachusetts metalcore outfit shows why.

9. Say You’ll Haunt Me – Stone Sour
Stone Sour is the side project of Slipknot’s lead singer.  Yeah, Slipknot – that scary, mask wearing band from Iowa.  Who imagined that a singer in a thrash band could have such a well developed pop sensibility and gift for melody?

10. Darling, It’s True – Locksley
I discovered this power pop band from Madison Wisconsin while listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage.  The legacy of the British Invasion lives.

Honorable Mentions;
Zebra – Beach House
Hailing from Baltimore, Beach House’s sound is a shimmering haze of soundscapes.

Let’s Go Surfing – The Drums
You’ve heard this song… now you know who it is.  You’re welcome.


Advent 2003 – revisited

The Mystical Nativity (Botticelli)

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } In 2003 I put together a mixed CD of Christmas music as a gift for friends and family.  In that same spirit, I offer it now as a playlist.  I wrote liner notes and included artwork in the packaging – it was a whole production.  So here it is, mostly without revision.
In America in the 21st century, we celebrate three different Christmases. One is the Christian festival celebrating the birth of the Savior. Another is a popular holiday celebrating gift giving, family and friends. The third is some combination of the other two.

Too often we take an “either/or” approach to celebrating Christmas. I believe that in modern America, the truly Christian Christmas incorporates elements of both.
Our Christmas is truly a uniquely American celebration. Only Americans, it seems, can merge such disparate ideas as the humble birth of the Savior and the sometimes crass commercialization of the Holidays with little or no sense of irony. Such is the American gift, I think.
As Americans we are comfortable mixing the “sacred” and the “secular”, which explains the ease with which we plop Santa and his reindeer down next to the Nativity scene on the front lawn.
With that in mind, I have compiled this collection of Christmas tunes. What is more American than our Christmas, if not Rock n’ Roll, Folk, Jazz, Country, Soul and R&B? Together these elements create a truly American sound of Christmas, don’t they?
Some are sacred and reverent, some are not. Some are traditional, most are not. All are, I believe, great performances that capture the spirit of our American Christmas. So, enjoy and have a Happy Christmas and New Year!
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I heard the Bells on Christmas Day – City on a Hill – It’s Christmas Time
In religious art, the bell is an object that “calls the faithful to worship, is the voice of God” (G.Sill, A Handbook of Symbols in Christian Art, Simon & Schuster (1996). p. 128
Christmas Time is Here – Vince Guaraldi – A Charlie Brown Christmas
Poor Charlie Brown, he can’t even get Christmas right. So here comes Linus to the rescue, with his reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. Without a doubt, the best of the Christmas TV specials. The addition of the jazz score by Vince Guaraldi doesn’t hurt.
Little Saint Nick – the Beach Boys
Santa’s sled is really a Hot Rod, who knew?
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Russ Taff
I just love the feel of this track. You can almost hear the cold wind howl outside as the fire crackles nearby. A nice glass of Gluvine or eggnog and you’re all set.
Blue Christmas – Brian Setzer Orchestra
There’s something bittersweet about Christmas. We all have someone who cannot be with us, that’s why the song strikes a chord with me.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2
Another song of longing for an absent love, except this one is all about the groove, not the lyrics. You can hear/feel Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. Originally recorded by Darlene Love.
I’ll be Home for Christmas – Al Green
The greatest soul singer ever.
All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey
This song sounds like it could have been recorded in 1963. Thirty years later, the Wall of Sound and Motown are still impacting pop music. If your Christmas party has this much energy, you won’t need a New Year’s Eve party.
White Christmas – Last Train Home
Washington D.C. Legends Last Train Home take Irving Berlin to the Honky – Tonk.
Away in a Manger – Buddy & Julie Miller
Buddy & Julie Miller are Nashville’s best kept secret. Christians who move freely in the CCM,
country and rock worlds, give a down home feel to this classic. Buddy is Emmylou Harris’s guitar player.
Fruitcake from Hell – Terry Scott Taylor
Where else would a fruitcake be from? From Terry’s EP, “Songs for the Day After Christmas”.
Merry Christmas, Baby – Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
The Jersey Turnpike is snowed in, but out the boardwalk a solitary storefront is illuminated. The sound of raw rock n’ roll is irresistible – Merry Christmas from Asbury Park!
The Little Drummer Boy – Jars of Clay
Christian rock stalwarts, Jars of Clay bring their trademark sound to this classic. I still think of the old stop motion animation in the original TV special. Loved that camel!
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – the Roches
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,1
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Margaret Becker
This is a somewhat dated arrangement, but a powerful performance nonetheless. This song is one of my favorite Christmas hymns. Heavy on the Old Testament imagery.
O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Christmas hymns rock opera style! TSO rocks!
O Holy Night – Leigh Nash (Sixpence None The Richer); Michael Tait (DC Talk)
My favorite Christmas hymn. You just can’t match it for it’s pure poetry. Leigh Nash’s harmonies are otherworldly.
What Child is This? – Roberta Flack
This is so beautiful, it will make you weep, unless you have a heart of stone. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Silent Night – Emmylou Harris
It is said that there exist over 300 translations of this song in the world. If angels can’t sing like this, I don’t want to hear them.
Holy Emmanuel – Terry Scott Taylor
Terry Scott Taylor is the patriarch of Christian modern rock. This track is featured on the City on a Hill – It’s Christmas Time compilation.
Cry of a Tiny Babe – Bruce Cockburn
The best Christmas song you’ve never heard.


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