Earlier this fall, a friend posted on his Instagram story his responses to Pitchfork’s survey of readers’ favorite songs and albums. It was the first time it even dawned on me the decade was ending. Wow. What a decade it has been!
Then the questions kicked in: Where did I think I would be at the start of the decade and where am I now? How quickly did time pass but how far away somethings seems to be. 10 years. Over. When you try and process it, it gets overwhelming pretty quick.
So instead I redirected and focused on the more important questions–what are MY favorite songs and albums of the 2010s?
Of course, this became an all-consuming project for me. Coming up with my favorite albums was fairly easy. I just stuck to the albums I’ve come back to year after year. I didn’t try to overthink it.
When it came to songs–that got much more difficult. Luckily, I had a starting point. I took all my “favorite songs of the year” lists and put them into one big playlist (which you can check out here) and started listening to them again. Some of the songs I’ve continued to have on repeat, others had fallen off my radar.
But here’s the magic of music–it brings you back to a particular moment in time. As much as I wanted to avoid reflection, there it was. All the memories–some I would relive again and again if I could–but some I’d give anything to forget. Songs that fire up those pangs of regret I’ve worked hard to cool, all the work undone by two notes in an intro. People I don’t talk to anymore. People who I still love despite how they hurt me. People I’ve hurt. Disappointments that still feel fresh. Pain that lingers. Dreams dashed. Things that are over or never began.
What do you do with songs that you loved once but can’t listen to anymore? Get rid of them? Pretend they never existed? If you erase the song, can you erase the memory that’s tied to them?
I wrestled hard. So I did a list of just 50 songs that I could confidently listen to on repeat and feel good about how I spent my last decade. But then a few friends checked out the first draft and said it felt incomplete. It felt like songs were missing. It was the social media representation of my life through music but not the real thing.
And they were right. So I dug deeper. Found the songs that didn’t make my year-end lists for whatever reason and got them counted. I re-listened to music I had actively avoided and looked for ways to make peace with them and appreciate them for all they gave me.
Ten years is a long time. That’s thousands of songs for me. It’s all the people I’ve met and all the moments I’ve made–and I make moments, y’all!–organized into one playlist.
But I did it! Here’s my list of my 200 favorite songs of the 2010s–all the good times and bad times that have made me who I am today and will help me become the person I’m going to be tomorrow.
The rules were simple–the song had to come out 2010-2019. And as hard as it was, I basically limited the list to one song per artist (you can check out my “favorites” playlist to get a sense of how many Drake, Kanye, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, James Blake, Future and Lana del Rey, etc. songs could’ve been included!)
The list starts in order with my favorite songs of the decade up until 50 and then I couldn’t manage it anymore so I went alphabetical. Hahaha!
Which means my favorite song of the decade is Robyn, Dancing on My Own. The song is universally agreed upon perfection–as is Robyn, in general–but it’s the balance of hope and sadness in the chorus’ last line “I keep dancing on my own” that makes it so special.
Thank you, 2010s. You taught me a lot about myself and others. You introduced me to amazing people and experiences. You showed my strength and made me come to terms with my weaknesses. I’m not the person I was when I started this decade and that’s ok.
And to the 2020s–bring it on. Because whatever you’ve got for me, I’m gonna keep dancing.