Top 50 Songs of 2010 :: 30-21 [Are you the one I've been waitin' for?]

30. Wolf Parade - "Ghost Pressure"

Wolf Parade released perhaps their last and perhaps their best record, 2010's Expo 86. Lovers of the Apologies-era Wolf Parade found something in this smoother, darker version of the band. On "Ghost Pressure," haunting, frozen synths dance around the ceiling like spectres before a playful, upstroke chorus implies that this paranormal activity might not be all bad, "Little vision come shake me up, shake me up." Dan Boeckner spends the song's final two minutes in a direct conversation with these chilly keyboards, barking about swarms of bees and this imminently altering vision.

29. Tanlines - "Real Life"

Uber-pretentious Brooklyn duo, Tanlines forecast a world in which we are perpetually promising to begin anew. It seemed that this urban-tribal pop was all the rage in 2010 and no one did it better than the two-some with the bad habit of saying about New York, "Um, yeah, we're from here." Despite their weak stage banter, the band proved a winner with "Real Life," and its concurrent assurance, "It was a passed life thing, it was a passed life thing." For New York kids with a ton to work on, it wasn't a flawed promise. For a song with nothing but sweetness in its borders, it wasn't anything at all.

28. Various Cruelties - "If It Wasn't For You"

A slice of throwback pop and a conditional message about love, Various Cruelties delivered one of the catchiest singles of the year with "If It Wasn't For You." The backing swells with some well-intentioned keys playing the role of strings. We can't promise this band will explode in 2011, but with a one-off this good, it would be an absolute shame if they didn't.

27. Mr. Little Jeans - "Rescue Song" [RAC Remix]

In the 2008 version of this list, we listed Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition" in the 20s. There was no clear sense that the song was not only the song of that year, but, in all probability, one of the best rock songs of the last ten years. On Mr. Little Jeans' "Rescue Song," we can't be certain of a similar explosion of this one song, but what is certainly true is that this girl is a comer, destined to invade your 2011 in a bizarre combination of Lykke Li and Feist. Put simply, if you're not ready, be ready.

26. Oberhofer - "I Could Go"

If repetition is the soul of pop music - and those songs we take most seriously to heart, those we hear most serially - then Brad Oberhofer is the dealer of this new brand. On "I Could Go," one of the most unbelievably catchy songs of 2010, Oberhofer utters twinkling keys behind a motivated rock arrangement that finally explodes into a million little pieces. It was the most explosive, true indie rock of the year and for that there are no apologies or explanations.

25. Bad Books - "You Wouldn't Have To Ask"

The mixture of Andy Hull and Kevin Devine didn't result in a fantastic record, but it generated a stunning and erupting single from Bad Books. The initial acoustic underpinnings hide all of the final thrashing aesthetic of the chorus and its singular message about things being either so good or so bad that you, well, shouldn't have to ask. An attention span under two minutes doesn't stop "You Wouldn't Have To Ask" from being one of the best rock songs of 2010.

24. The New Pornographers - "We End Up Together"

In all probability the New Pornographers made 2010's best song to characterize a fracturing and faithful American landscape. We are both certain that we are screwed, and for the damage that will necessarily ensue, and yet we are unavoidably in favor of our own co-dependence. Yes, we are for damage, sweet damage, and yet, in the midst of what might be our favorite but not best song of the year, we will all be in the same boat as we fly over the top of the falls.

23. Twin Sister - "All Around And Away We Go"

It was club music for the kids partying at the bottom of the local swimming pool. Twin Sister was cold medicine techno for kids with down-stroke sensibility and affection for a laissez-faire female vocalist only matched by Victoria Legrand. The bass line was out to lunch and the guitars were only built to shuffle feet. The sea sick vocals and Dramamine synths were what made this unique, one of the few songs to encourage and demand our attention from a New York band with nothing but future in front of them.

22. Lord Huron - "Mighty"

Opening with the persistent rain that colors none of the rest of "Mighty," Lord Huron, LA's answer the Vampire Weekend problem so aptly posed by the band of the same name in 2007, offered nothing but sunshine on their most stunning single of 2010. "Mighty" was to indie rock what the Lion King was to the world of animated movies in the mid-1990s. Certainly it was full to brim, and unapologetically so, but it was the pop swell of the chorus that stuck well beyond the pop of the moment.

21. Stornoway - "I Saw You Blink"

Stornoway produced not only one of the great folk records of 2010, but two of the great singles, "Zorbing" and "I Saw You Blink." After weeks of internal debate and much fuss, we decided that "I Saw You Blink" was the superior of the two, leaving "Zorbing" out in the cold with its artistic integrity and pop-hooks as its only sustenance. Well, we have no such grandiose vision. "I Saw You Blink" is one of the best singles of the year. Beyond that - Lucy, whoever you are - we refuse to provide answers to the band's central question. We assume "the one," is in all of us and out there somewhere for everyone.

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