The Top 75 Songs of the 2010s

We counted down the Top 75 Albums of the Decade, now let’s get into the Top 75 Songs…

75. “Don’t” (Bryson Tiller, 2014)

RCA

So, it’s almost 2020. Have you nailed the timing of “don’t” yet? If you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t. “Don’t,” Bryson Tiller’s breakout hit epitomizes his distinct sound (and the title of his debut album). The trap-infused soul track is the sort of lowkey love song that came to dominate the 2010s. Bryson isn’t a powerhouse vocalist by any means, but he definitely knows how to emote, and that’s what drives the track. There’s this raw emotion that pumps through each chord, you can’t help but to sing along like you’re the guy that’s going to love this girl better than anyone else in the world. Songwriters: Bryson Tiller, Mariah Carey, Johntá Austin, Bryan-Michael Cox, Jermaine Dupri, Tavoris Hollins, Jr., Stuart Lowery

74. “idontwannabeyouanymore” (Billie Eilish, 2017)

Darkroom/Interscope

The 2010s have fostered many discussions about identity. From blackfishing to catfishing, it seemed as if no one knew how to be their authentic selves. On this track from her dont smile at me EP, Billie tackles that conversation across jazzy piano chords. Billie usually employs a whispery vocal, but on this one she reminds us that she can sing. Her voice is aching and passionate, but her delivery is smooth and controlled. Songwriters: Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell

73. “Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” (Alicia Keys, 2010)

J

There’s an argument to be made that the best artists are often the most inconsistent. Alicia Keys has had her fair share of stumbles this decade (then again, who hasn’t), but when she taps into what made us fall in love with her, she’s unstoppable. “Unthinkable,” a single from The Element of Freedom (2010), is that kind of quiet storm-esque love song that makes you melt. Keys is a belter at heart, but on this track, she focuses on really performing. The evolution of puppy love into something deeper is the best part of her vocal performance. Songwriters: Alicia Cook, Aubrey Graham, Kerry Brothers, Jr., Noah “40” Shebib

72. “Elastic Heart” (Sia, 2014)

RCA

Let’s get this straight: the solo version is far and away better than the version that features The Weeknd and Diplo. Why? Well, let’s unpack. Sia has helped shape the sound of pop music for most of the decade. Her soaring hooks have opened Beyoncé albums and lifted Rihanna to the top of the Hot 100. But for her own solo material, she reminds us that only she can pull off a Sia song. Her no-holds-barred approach to her vocal performance is effective; you feel her pain and anguish in every crack and stretch of her voice. “Elastic Heart” is tender but strong, she’s vulnerable not because she wants to be but because she has to be in order to survive. Songwriters: Sia Furler, Thomas Wesley Pentz, Andrew Swanson, Greg Kurstin

71. “Stop Trying to Be God” (Travis Scott, 2018)

YouTube

“Stop Trying to Be God,” recruits Kid Cudi’s moans, Stevie Wonder’s harmonica, and James Blake’s croons to dismantle and destroy the concept of the “God complex.” Whether Travis is talking about his fellow rap stars or the contractors who think they can destroy a city landmark in favor of apartment buildings, “Stop Trying to Be God” is damn near flawless. For most of his recording career, Travis’ cinematic trap sound has meandered it’s way through untraditionally long tracks. They wind their way through different genres by way of beat switches and shifts from singing to rapping. “Stop Trying to Be God” is arguably Travis’ crowning achievement in this arena. Songwriters: Jacques Webster, James Litherland, Michael Dean, K. Gomringer, T. Gomringer, Joshua Adams, CuBeatz, J Beatzz

70. “Freak Nasty” (Megan Thee Stallion, 2018)

300

Sure Megan racked up three platinum hits in 2019 with “Hot Girl Summer,” “Big Ole Freak,” and “Cash S**t,” but it’s the rapid fire and witty-as-hell, “Freak Nasty” that truly reigns supreme. “I’m running through your n****a house like a Tomb Raider/You got a pass around n****a, he a hot potato” may just be the best couplet since Shakespeare. Female rappers spitting bars about sex and their sexuality is a tale as old as time. On “Freak Nasty,” however, Megan exudes so much control and power that you’re hypnotized listening her to seamlessly switch flows and blend comedy and bravado with a hint of a mainstream edge. Songwriters: Megan Pete, Terry Sanchez Wallace Jr., LilJuMadeDaBeat

69. “Either Way” (Chris Stapleton, 2017)

Mercury Nashville

Back in 2017, I named this Grammy-winning single the 4th best single of the year. Just one listen will prove why this song received near universal acclaim. Stapleton actually wrote this song a decade ago and LeeAnn Womack released her version of it 2008. Stapleton’s version, however, is not only incredibly powerful, but it is also the best male country vocal performance of the decade. His soulful blues-rock voice rips through the lyrics as he sings about the lethal feeling of indifference in a relationship. The song is a standout moment on From a Room: Volume 1, Stapleton’s career, and 2010s country music in general. Songwriters: Chris Stapleton, Tim James, Kendell Marvel

68. “Love You Like A Love Song” (Selena Gomez & The Scene, 2011)

Hollywood Records

Selena Gomez may never reach the level of excellence that she achieved with this song, but that’s okay. Greatness doesn’t need to be constantly replicated. Very few pop songs so perfectly capture the feeling of love. Often songs that attempt to do so are either too grand and convoluted or they try too hard to feel universal. On “Love You Like A Love Song,” a shamelessly sugary-sweet Disney-pop tune, Selena pulls off an interesting hat trick. She juxtaposes a danceable Europop melody and equally catchy lyrics with an almost robotic vocal performance. It all works because by the time the bridge hits, Selena hits a belt that isn’t as impressive as it expressive. She finally sounds in love. People rarely give this era of Disney pop hits their due, but some of those songs, especially this one, are objectively great pop tracks. Songwriters: Antonina Armato, Tim James, Adam Schmalholz, Devrim Karaoglu

67. “Judas” (Lady Gaga, 2011)

Interscope

“Judas” is arguably the best representation of what was so great about pre-Cheek to Cheek Gaga. On this house-influenced electropop track Gaga sets religious imagery of redemption, retribution, and sin against a soundscape that is simply irresistible. “Judas” is so great because it’s basically Gaga eschewing all expectations of what a female pop star should act and sound like, but it’s still, at its core, a commercial song specifically built to be danced to. Every section of the song is a hook in its own right, and if that’s not a testament to masterful pop songwriting, I don’t know what is. Songwriters: Stefani Germanotta & Nadir Khayat

66. “Man Down” (Rihanna, 2010)

Def Jam

Rihanna’s best music is when she leans into her reggae and dancehall roots. This cannot be debated. “Man Down” was controversial, but in retrospect, there was no reason for any controversy at all. The storytelling songwriting is a trope of reggae music that Rihanna uses to her advantage as she recounts a (fictional) murder she committed. The song came a few years after Chris Brown’s storied assault of Rihanna, and the video depicts Rihanna’s character as a murder who gets revenge on her rapist. Even without the context, musically, the song is undoubtedly Rihanna’s best. She shows impressive range and agility on the track and her cadences in the verses and bridge are some of the most interesting and unexpected of any 2010s pop song. Songwriters: Shama Joseph, Timothy Thomas, Theron Thomas, Shontelle Layne, Kuk Harrell, Bobby Campbell

65. “Sunflower” (Post Malone & Swae Lee, 2018)

YouTube

The minute we saw Post Malone and Swae Lee on the same track, we should have known that this song would be beyond inescapable. Out of the newest generation of hip-hop and pop stars, Post Malone and Swae Lee undoubtedly have the strongest sense of melody. They effortlessly craft the catchiest hooks. In an industry where Swedish producers run a literal factory to produce Top 10 hits, these two just head into the studio and organically make music that melts hearts. The gleeful bounce of “Sunflower” coupled with the stars’ lovestruck harmonies and hooks makes for one of the most heartwarming listens of the decade. Songwriters: Austin Post, Khalif Brown, Scott Lang, Billy Walsh, Louis Bell, Carter Lang

64. “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” (Jamie xx, Young Thug, Popcaan, 2015)

Young Turks/300

Before Drake tapped into the dancehall sound that lifted his career to unimaginable heights, Jamie xx crafted this near-perfect slice of dancehall/electropop with Young Thug and Popcaan. As dance-pop and EDM shifted toward more mellow sounds around 2014-2016, the general scope of lyricism in the genre went from high-life partying to more grimy and emotional numbers. The raw energy of dancehall pairs perfectly with Young Thug’s Auto-Tuned squeals and Popcaan’s laidback delivery. Songwriters: Jamie Smith, Andre Sutherland, Jeffery Williams,
Ted Daryll

63. “Them Changes” (Thundercat, 2015)

Brainfeeder

If there was every a song that was so specific it makes the listening experience almost uncomfortable, it’s Thundercat’s “Them Changes.” The warbling bass line and introspective lyrics transport the listener to the deepest depths of Thundercat’s heart and mind. In a decade where opulence and excessivism ruled, this minimalist look at love and heartbreak was an instant winner. Songwriters: Ernie Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Rudolph Isley, Ronald Isley, Marvin Isley, Chris Jasper, Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus & Thundercat

62. “March Madness” (Future, 2015)

A1/Freebandz/Epic

Future’s best songs are either his emotional ballads or rambling monologues that float in and out of focus. “March Madness” falls into the latter category. This track famously became a instant classic platinum hit with no promotion because the production and Future’s flow were simply irresistible. In between lines about drugs and sex, Future still finds time to rap about police violence against Black Americans. He blends personal and political moments into one towering giant of a track. Songwriters: Nayvadius Wilburn, Chance Youngblood, Tarentino, Fame Sinatra

61. “The Sound of Silence” (Disturbed, 2015)

Reprise

This is arguably the best officially released cover of the decade. The Simon & Garfunkel version is undoubtedly a classic, but this dramatic rock/opera-influenced take by Disturbed, a heavy metal band, is simply incredible. Most of the song is sung nearly an octave lower than the original version, but by the last verse, David Draiman, the band’s lead singer, returns to the original arrangement. This is one of the most powerful vocal performances of the year; the gusto of the instrumentation and vocals are an expert play on the concept of “silence.” Just beautiful. Songwriters: Paul Simon & Kevin Chruko

60. “Body Party” (Ciara, 2013)

Epic

Was there a more flawless or sultrier baby-making jam than “Body Party” this decade? Ciara got less consistent as the decade progressed, but “Body Party” is a shining jewel in her crown. The synth-laden track backed her smooth vocal performance. The production brought a more subdued and matured version of her crunk sound into the 2010s, but it still felt authentically Ciara. Songwriters: Ciara Harris, Jasper Cameron, Nayvadius “Future” Wilburn, Michael L. Williams II, Pierre Ramon Slaughter, Carlton Mahone, Rodney Terry

59. “Bigger” (Beyoncé, 2019)

Parkwood/Columbia

“You’re gonna RIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiIIIIIIiiiiIIIIISSSSEEEEEE” If you don’t feel ten times more empowered after listening to this song, there’s something wrong with you. “Bigger,” the opening track to Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift, is one of the most stunning power ballads of the decade. The rousing drums, haunting background vocals, and immaculate arrangement make for a truly inspirational and fulfilling song. “Bigger” shifts between husky rapping and Baptist Church-reminiscent belts. It’s a true showcase of the power of Beyoncé’s voice. Songwriters: Beyoncé, Derek Dixie, Stacy Barthe, Rachel Keen, Akil King, Ricky Lawson

58. “Something from Nothing” (Foo Fighters, 2014)

RCA

This brash and unrelenting blues-influenced hard rock track is a true sonic experience. Sure, Dave Grohl tends to scream and growl more than he sings, but on a track as ferocious as this, that’s what you want to hear. The guitars in the last minute are absolutely incredible, as well. Rock had a tough decade (and, no, Lorde, most of Imagine Dragons/Coldplay’s 2010s music, and Panic! At the Disco do not count as rock), but songs like these held the genre down. Songwriters: Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Butch Vig & Dave Grohl

57. “Latch (feat. Sam Smith)” (Disclosure, 2012)

Cherrytree/Interscope

Even though it took this song two years to reach its peak Stateside, “Latch” has been and always be a terrific record. Sam Smith’s piercing falsetto over Disclosure’s stuttering deep house production never gets old. Never. There’s a precise nature to the way song builds into a chorus that is bursting at the seams with raw joy. The way this song sounds is exactly how it feels when you’re falling head over heels for someone. Songwriters: Guy Lawrence, Howard Lawrence, James Napier & Sam Smith

56. “Two Black Cadillacs” (Carrie Underwood, 2012)

Arista Nashville

This is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious country-pop tracks of the decade. Over brooding strings, piano, and guitar, Carrie sings a macabre story of a man who is murdered and buried by his wife and mistress. As per usual, her flawless vocals soar on the track and give it the edge of mainstream pop with the heft of traditional country. Rap had plenty of cinematic moments this decade, and this was country’s movie moment, for sure. Songwriters: Carrie Underwood, Hillary Lindsey, Josh Kear & Mark Bright

55. “Liability” (Lorde, 2017)

Lava/Republic

Piano and vocal ballads became an increasingly rare sight in 2010s mainstream pop unless you were Adele, Sam Smith, or John Legend. Truth be told, Lorde was probably one of the last pop stars any of us expected to go down this route. Nevertheless, she absolutely nailed it with “Liability.” At just under three minutes, the emotional track covers Lorde’s struggle with self-love after an excruciating breakup. Lorde isn’t a powerhouse vocalist, but she sure knows how to make you feel something. Songwriters: Ella Yelich-O’Connor & Jack Antonoff

54. “Don’t Hurt Yourself” (Beyoncé, 2016)

Parkwood/Columbia/HBO

There are very few songs where the lyrics are so visceral and the vocal performance is so effective that you feel like the singer is speaking directly to you. “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” a standout track from Beyoncé’s Lemonade, the second-best album of the 2010s, is one of those songs. Assisted by Jack White, Beyoncé rips into her unfaithful lover (or, America, if you want to interpret it that way) over an intense arrangement of drums, strings, and guitar. At the beginning of the decade, few could have predicted that Beyoncé would be sampling Led Zeppelin and co-writing with Jack White, but here we are. This is just an awesome track, and to see an artist at her level reclaiming the black female roots of rock music? Priceless. Songwriters: Jack White, Beyoncé, Diana Gordon, Robert Plant, James Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham & Derek White

53. “Hurt You” (Toni Braxton & Babyface, 2013)

Motown

It’s crazy to think that at the beginning of the decade, Toni Braxton was seriously considering retirement. Thankfully, since then, we’ve gotten two stellar albums from the R&B legend. The first of the two, a collaborative album with Babyface titled, Love, Marriage & Divorce, was introduced by “Hurt You.” The somber R&B ballad showed Toni in topnotch vocal form with Babyface’s lyrics and arrangement as poignant as ever. R&B songs about relationship woes are a dime a dozen, but the chemistry that Babyface and Toni have is once in a generation. Songwriters: Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Daryl Simmons, Toni Braxton, Antonio Dixon

52. “XO Tour Llif3” (Lil Uzi Vert, 2017)

Atlantic

Back in 2017, I named “XO Tour Llif3” the ninth-best single of that year. Uzi’s star-making track blended the gloomiest parts of traditional trap songwriting with a wailing vocal performance that was destined to crossover to the mainstream. The song is manic, dramatic, and dark, but it doesn’t feel heavy, and that’s the key to it’s massive success. Songwriters: Symere Woods, Bryan Simmons & John Lucas

51. “Love On Top” (Beyoncé, 2011)

Columbia

C’mon, I mean, what is there to be said about this song that hasn’t already been said? The otherworldly key changes, the pitch perfect 80s R&B homage, and the simple yet effective production results in a sublime track. Beyoncé has never sounded so ecstatic on a track, you really feel her triumph in love with this song. As the keys get higher and her vocals get more gleeful, it feels like maybe, just maybe, things will be alright. Songwriters: Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash, Shea Taylor

50. “Do I Wanna Know” (Arctic Monkeys, 2012)

Domino

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this was the defining rock song of the decade. The blues and hip-hop-inspired indie rock track covers that feeling of paranoia and anxiety about the state of your relationship. Alex Turner’s falsetto background vocals round out the track, and the chunky guitar riffs anchor the song. This was the kind of rock track that didn’t have to sacrifice any traditional rock elements to score crossover success. Songwriters: Alex Turner & Ross Orton

49. “Screwed (feat. Zoë Kravitz)” (Janelle Monáe, 2018)

Wondaland/Bad Boy/Atlantic

This little slice of disco pop/rock is such a fun listen. Janelle and Zoë approach the track with such a laid back attitude that you almost forget about the gloomy apocalyptic vibe of the lyrics. The metaphor extends itself between sex and the state of America, but, ultimately, Janelle comes to the conclusion that they’re pretty much the same thing. Oh, and we also got this great lyric: “Everything is sex/Except sex, which is power/You know power is just sex/Now ask yourself who’s screwing you.” Songwriters: Janelle Monáe Robinson, Nathaniel Irvin III, Roman GianArthur Irvin, Charles Joseph II, Benjamin Hudson Mcildowie & Chuck Lightning

48. “Where Are Ü Now” (Jack Ü & Justin Bieber, 2015)

Atlantic

This was one of the most unexpected yet rewarding moments in pop music this decade. Here, we saw a new Justin Bieber: emotive, vulnerable, and intelligent. This was the smoothest pivot to dance music that we had seen in a minute. “Where Are Ü Now” is kind of like an EDM ballad; the most exciting part of the track is the drop which is set against a backtrack of overly-pitched up Bieber vocals. Skrillex and Diplo (Jack Ü) are two of the most impactful artists of the decade, and they helped bring Bieber into a new stage in his career with this masterful track. Songwriters: Sonny Moore, Thomas Wesley Pentz, Justin Bieber, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Karl Rubin Brutus, Jordan Ware

47. “Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)” (Gotye, 2011)

Eleve

Did you really think this track wouldn’t make the list? The way this sparse and unassuming track just took over the country for months on end is really a moment in history. The indie-pop ballad borrowed some influence from Sting and Bon Iver, but it’s still one of the most unique tracks the mainstream has seen this century. With plucking strings, terrific and vulnerable vocal performances from both artists, and a Brazilian jazz sample, this is the type of bizarre track where everything just clicks. Songwriters: Wally de Backer

46. “The Joke” (Brandi Carlile, 2017)

Elektra

When this track bagged four nominations at the 2019 Grammy Awards (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best American Roots Song, and Best American Roots Performance), it seemingly happened out of nowhere. One listen to this song, however, should make it clear why it resonated so deeply with Carlile’s peers. Carlile takes one of the most traditional American genres, folk/country-influenced Americana, and uses it as a backdrop to uplift society’s outsiders through her lyrics. As if that isn’t amazing enough, her stellar vocal performance is simply awe-inspiring. Songwriters: Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth & Shooter Jennings

45. “Cranes in the Sky” (Solange, 2016)

Saint Records/Columbia

For a minute it seemed like Lana Del Rey was the queen of perfect songs about dealing with depression, but Solange definitely gave her a run for her money with this track from her A Seat at the Table album. “Cranes,” a soulful midtempo number, features Solange’s delicate voice as she flutters between her powerful falsetto and slightly smoky chest voice. The song is all about failing to distract yourself from your pain. Lyrically, the metaphor of literal cranes in the sky (something you can’t avoid seeing regardless of how hard you try to ignore it), is absolutely perfect. That alone makes this a defining track of the decade and of Solange’s career. Songwriters: Solange Knowles, Raphael Saadiq, Sir Dylan

44. “Mama’s Broken Heart” (Miranda Lambert, 2013)

RCA Nashville

We all love a good melodramatic breakup song, and with “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Miranda Lambert brought the subgenre to new heights. This song throws in another subplot of our scorned protagonist refusing to take her mother’s advice. What is initially a specifc narrative quickly morphs into a larger commentary on the cultural and social divide between generations. Oh, and Miranda sounds like a badass while singing about all of this. Songwriters: Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves, Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf & Chuck Ainlay

43. “All Too Well” (Taylor Swift, 2012)

Big Machine

If any Swifties are scrolling throught this list, they’ll probably be rolling their eyes at this point. I know y’all are tired of hearing and reading this, but “All Too Well” just might be the best song that Taylor has ever written. The song is quintessential Taylor. “All Too Well” slowly builds from folky acoustic pop to lively country and then to a towering peak of stadium pop/rock that is equally devastating and impressive. Taylor’s ability to conjure up specific scenes and make us believe in her narratives is what make her songwriting so impressive. Everyone loves a good ballad, and “All Too Well” is damn near a perfect one. Songwriters: Taylor Swift, Liz Rose & Nathan Chapman

42. “Next to Me” (Emeli Sandé, 2012)

Virgin

If I ever find someone whose morals are airtight and who loves me beyond space and time, I hope to write a song as great as “Next to Me.” Adult contemporaru soul-pop can quickly become tired, but Emeli Sandé breathed new life into the genre with this joyous 2012 track. Luckily, this track came out before it felt like every artist (regardless of genre) put a choir on their tracks. Sandé’s voice is already soulful enough by itself, but with a choir and that tambourine? So great. Songwriters: Emeli Sandé, Hugo Chegwin, Harry Craze & Anup Paul

41. “20 Something” (SZA, 2017)

Top Dawg/Interscope

Truthfully, every track from SZA’s Ctrl album could be on this list. “20 Something,” however, strikes a very special chord. Over a dry acoustic guitar SZA sings out her existential crisis over growing up and handling/entering adulthood. Her vocal performance is anxious and earnest and sincere. If ever there was a track so uncomfortably honest and heartfelt, it’s this tender closer to SZA’s debut album. Songwriters: Solána Rowe, Carter Lang, Scum & Tyran Donaldson

40. “Dancing On My Own” (Robyn, 2010)

Konichiwa

Melancholic disco-influenced electro-pop is never not enjoyable. Robyn proves this theory correct with her instant classic “Dancing On My Own.” The song is equal parts devastating and motivational. Sure, she’s dancing by herself at a club as her ex is getting on with someone else, but she’s also in control of her own life and body, and shouldn’t that be a cause for celebration? Those rolling drums and pulsating synths soundtrack a song that defined a generation of burnt-out partiers searching for something more fulfilling. Songwriters: Robyn & Patrik Berger

39. “Hold Yuh” (Gyptian, 2010)

VP/Columbia

The simple fact is: you will never attend a party or function (at least a good one) and not hear this song. Gyptian’s “Hold Yuh,” arguably the only real reggae song to make it big Stateside this decade, is simply irresistable. Blending elements of traditional reggae and modern dancehall, Gyptian made a love song that’s really a lust song disguised as a love song. The simple slow-burning production and the catchy melody have helped this record stand the test of time. Songwriters: Gyptian & Richardo Johnson

38. “Ultralight Beam” (Kanye West, 2016)

G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam

We all know Kanye has been fond of blending gosepl and rap. He’s done it for years, but “Ultralight Beam” was the last time he really nailed it. While JESUS IS KING was robotic and devoid of any soul, there’s life in this song. Kelly Price’s voice is dripping with passion, Chance’s guest verse is elevated by his hunger to prove himself, and The-Dream’s tender vocals are the perfect complement to the rousing background choir. “Ultralight Beam” is a testament to Kanye’s talent as a producer and arranger; many other artists would crumble under the pressure of trying to make sense out of so many moving parts, but Kanye thrives. Songwriters: Kanye West, Mike Dean, Kelly Price, Terius Nash, Nico Segal, Kirk Franklin, Kasseem Dean, Chancelor Bennett, Noah Goldstein, Jerome Potter, Samuel Griesemer, Cydel Young, Derek Watkins, Rick Rubin, DJDS & Patrick Reynolds

37, “Or Nah (Remix)” (Ty Dolla $ign, 2014)

Atlantic

If nothing, the 2010s gifted us a lot of new slang and a lot R&B/hip-hop posse cuts. On “Or Nah” Ty Dolla $ign, one of the unsung heroes of 2010s music, blended both, This track expands a primarily innocent slang term (“or nah”) into one of the nastiest bedroom tracks of the decade. Of course, on the remix, The Weeknd takes the track to even filthier levels with lyrics that’ll turn even those of us with darker complexions beet red. Crude? Maybe. Excellent? Without a doubt. Songwriters: Tyrone Griffin, Cameron Thomaz, Dijon McFarlane, Mike Free & Abel Tesfaye

36. “Self Control” (Frank Ocean, 2016)

Boys Don’t Cry

Most people gravitated towards “Pink + White” or “Nights” as the standout track from Blonde, the third best album of the decade. It’s “Self Control,” however, that really takes the cake. With one of Frank’s most effective and vulnerable vocal performances yet, he laments about the deterioration of a relationship. The pitched-up vocals that represent his younger self play nicely against the warbling guitars that anchor the track. This is Frank at his most open and honest and relatable. Songwriters: Christopher Breaux, James Ryan Ho, Jon Brion

35. “Fight Night” (Migos, 2014)

Quality Control

What’s always been impressive about Migos, aside from their staccato flow and general chemistry as a group, is their ability to stack as many hooks as possible into a single song. Nearly every section “Fight Night” functions as a hook in some way. Their inimitable energy sets the song up to be another high-stakes trap club banger, but it’s their tight songwriting that allows them to reach out for crossover greatness. And reach they did. Songwriters: Quavious Marshall, Kirsnick Ball, Kiari Cephus & Patrick Thomas

34. “Hello (feat. André 3000)” (Erykah Badu, 2015)

Motown/Contorl Freaq

This closer to Erykah’s But You Caint Use My Phone mixtape is really just terrific. The song finds these famous ex-lovers reflecting on their past and hoping for some sort of reconciliaiton from a place of maturation and growth. André verses were few and far between this decade, and this one definitely did not disappoint. His rapid fire delivery played well with the neo-soul production and Erykah’s smooth interpolation of The Isley Brothers’ “Groove With You.” Songwriters: Erykah Badu, Zach Witness, Todd Rundgren & André Benjamin

33. “Fake Happy” (Paramore, 2017)

Feuled by Ramen

Paramore’s After Laughter standout, “Fake Happy,” perfectly captures the process of masking depression, anxiety, and general sadness so anyone on the outside looking in is unaware of what’s really going on. The funky instrumentation pulls from indie pop and art rock, but it’s Hayley Williams’ effortlessly powerful vocal performance that really sells the song. Paramore has been one of the most conistent bands of the century, and “Fake Happy” is just another addition to their incredible ouevre. Songwriters: Hayley Williams, Taylor York & Justin Meldal-Johnsen

32. “Teenage Dream” (Katy Perry, 2010)

Capitol

Before “Into You,” there was “Teenage Dream.” The title track of Katy’s legendary album is truly the blueprint for euphoric pure pop love songs. The soft and fluttery falsetto-driven vocals juxtaposed against the lionhearted verses and impatient bridge makes for a truly fulfilling listen. Few songs can really capture how blissful being in love truly is, but Katy achieved something really special here. It’s borderline campy how on-the-nose some of the metaphors are, but it works perfectly. Songwriters: Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Benny Blanco & Bonnie McKee

31. “Hot Nigga” (Bobby Shmurda, 2014)

Epic

In terms of meme culture, this may just be the most impactful debut rap single of the decade. With an easygoing flow on the verses, almost manic interjections, and an impeccable hook that somehow functions as a bridge and chorus, “Hot Nigga” is just great. From the DIY video to the griminess of the production, this was one of the purest rap singles we got in a decade where the genre went bigger and glossier than ever before. Songwriters: Ackquille Pollard, Orlando Tucker & Jahil Beats

30. “LE7ELS” (Avicii, 2011)

Interscope

Avici blended country and bluegrass with EDM on “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother,” but it was the iconic “Levels” that really cemented him as a legendary dance producer. Built around a soulful gospel-inspired Etta James sample, Avicii piles on the synths and ups the tempo to create one of the most simltaneously enigmatic and boisterous dance tracks of the decade. It’s one of the most successful dance songs of all time for a reason. Songwriters: Tim Bergling, Arash Pournouri, Leroy Kirkland, Pearl Woods & Etta James

29. “Say Something (ft. Christina Aguilera)” (A Great Big World, 2013)

Epic

This is, without a doubt, Christina’s best collaboration this decade. From the swelling strings and dramatic piano to the emotional vocal performances, “Say Something” is like the song version of a movie. It’s a song about not wanting to give up on your relationship, but still having an uderlying feeling that it will ultimately fail. The trio’s voices blend together incredibly well and the track was a welcome change of pace from the party-rocking EDM sounds of 2013. Songwriters: Ian Axel, Chad King, Mike Campbell & Dan Romer

28. “Wicked Games” (The Weeknd, 2011)

The Weeknd has this unique ability to be unashamedly manipulative but still somehow victimize himself — and that’s why we love him. This song arrived in one of the earliest waves of alternative R&B. Lyrically, the song is quite sleazy; Abel knows this relationship is going nowhere, but he’s going to dive in anyway for a quick confidence boost. Nevertheless, the brash drums and almost choral production make this a classic. Songwriters: Abel Tesfaye, Doc McKinney, Carlo Montagnese, R. Millar Blancheur, C. Ray Garza

27. “Smile (feat. Gloria Carter)” (JAY-Z, 2017)

Roc Nation

That third verse is definitely a Top 15 verse of the decade. The third track on Jay’s remarkble 4:44, one of the best albums of the decade, features a rare and gorgeous sample of Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” On the song, which features a self-penned poem from Jay’s mom, Jay covers his mother’s coming out, his growth from past life experiences, and, of course, TIDAL. It’s a triumphant track from an artist who has seemingly seen and done it all. Songwriters: Shawn Carter, Gloria Carter, Eric Woolfson, Stevie Wonder

26. “Tin Man” (Miranda Lambert, 2016)

RCA Nashville

Back in 2017, when this track was officially released as a single, I named “Tin Man” the best single of the year. Taken from The Weight of These Wings, one of the decade’s best albums, Miranda sings to the iconic Wizard of Oz character about all the downsides of having a heart. Backed by delicate drums and somber guitar line, Miranda’s soft and earnest voice floats across the track like fairy dust. Just gorgeous. Songwriters: Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall, Frank Liddell, Eric Masse & Glenn Worf

25. “Death of a Bachelor” (Panic! At the Disco, 2015)

Feuled by Ramen

If we’re being honest, Brendon Urie was the best male vocalist in mainstream music this decade. “Death of a Bachelor” is a rousing Sinatra-esque ballad backed by finger-snaps, trumpet, bass, synthesizer, guitar, and layers of backing vocals. Urie sings of his new post-marriage self and blends elemnts of jazz, hip-hop, pop, rock, EDM, and trap on this behemoth of a track. Songwriters: Brendon Urie, Lauren Pritchard, Jake Sinclair

24. “thank u, next” (Ariana Grande, 2018)

Republic

The last cultural phenomon in pop music this decade was definitely deserving of that title. The title track to Ariana’s fifth album, one of the best of the decade, was a glorious song that championed growth and lessons learned from past relationships. Probably the most gracious breakup song and history, “thank u, next” is hopeful and optimistic. The sparkly pop-trap produciton and the subdued vocal performance bring this midtempo, and by extension, Ari’s career, to new heights. Songwriters: Ariana Grande, Victoria Monét, Tayla Parx, Njomza Vitia, Kimberly Krysiuk, Tommy Brown, Michael Foster & Charles Anderson

23. “Run Away with Me” (Carly Rae, 2015)

Interscope

Like Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” this one of those songs that knows how to perfectly capture that euphoric feeling of love. From the rapturous saxophone riff to the bombastic production and Carly’s ecstatic vocal performance, “Run Away with Me” is a one sweet sweet bite of pure pop. Where “I Really Like You” was the bridge betwen “Call Me Maybe” and Carly’s later music, “Run Away with Me” is where she turns the dial up up a thousand notches. Songwriters: Carly Rae Jepsen, Robin Fredriksson, Mattias Larsson, Oscar Holter, Jonnali Parmenius & Karl Schuster

22. “High School (feat. Lil Wayne)” (Nicki Minaj, 2013)

Young Money/Republic

“High School” sort of encapsulates almost everything we love about Nicki Minaj. As per usual, her storytelling skills are in top form, and her metaphors and punchlines are as witty and filthy as ever. It’s that absolute earworm of a hook, however, that really elevates the song. The simple production and Wayne’s verse anchor the song in a sort of “classic hip-hop” sound. The best thing about the track? Nicki and Wayne’s chemistry. Songwriters: Onika Maraj, Dwayne Carter, Matthew Samuels & Tyler Williams

21. “Shallow” (Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, 2018)

Interscope

“AHH AH AH AH AH AHHHHH AHHH AHH AHHHHHHHHHHHHH” If you don’t belt out that bridge at the top of your lungs every time this song is on, you’re either souless or the most boring sack of bones in the universe. We all know how powerful this song was in the context of the A Star is Born remake, but even as a standalone songs those guitars, drums, and Gaga’s incredible vocal performance make for a truly awesome listening experience. Songwriters: Lady Gaga, Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando, Mark Ronson & Benjamin Rice

20. “Mirrors” (Justin Timberlake, 2013)

RCA

An eight-minute song can feel excessive and overly indulgent, but somehow “Mirrors” makes it work. This is really two songs in one, a traditional pop ballad and a more futuristic electropop rework of a refrain in the first song. Justin’s falsetto is as pleasant as ever and the lyrics are heartwarming, but not corny, something that gets harder to do as the years go by. Songwriters: Justin Timberlake, Timothy Mosley, Jerome Harmon & James Fauntleroy

19. “Adorn” (Miguel, 2012)

RCA

Miguel can get freaky. Sometimes it’s questionable (“How Many Drinks”) and sometimes it’s downright filthy (“the valley”). On “Adorn,” however, Miguel trades in his lothario image for a softer and more lovable look. The sparsely produced song (really, it’s just bass, synths, some keyboard, and backing vocals), is the perfect backdrop as Miguel declares his love for his significant other. This isn’t puppy love, though. It’s the sort of storied mature love that takes years to foster and grow, and that’s why this song is so impactful. Songwriters: Miguel Pimentel

18. “Dreams and Nightmares” (Meek Mill, 2012)

Warner Bros.

In the 2010s, rap became more concerned with hooks than ever before. Meek Mill decided to put out a hook-less song with “Dreams and Nightmares,” and it became an instant classic. Sure, the guy is hollering and yelling for the majority of the track, but that kind of energy is necessary and vital for a genre that shifted to downbeat midtempos for so much of the decade. This wasn’t even one of the album’s singles, just the opening track, and yet it is still a defining hip-hop song of the decade and of Meek’s career. Songwriters: Robert Williams, Anthony Tucker, Maurice Jordan & Jermaine Preyan

17. “Someone Like You” (Adele, 2011)

XL/Columbia

We all know and love this song. The majestic piano riff in the beginning and the effortlessly gorgeous vocal performance strike every emotional chord in our hearts and souls. “Someone Like You” is a deceptively simple song. There’s not a lot going on on the track, but it takes a special voice and performance to create something so great out of so little. Songwriters: Adele Adkins & Dan Wilson

16. “All That” (Carly Rae Jepsen, 2010)

Interscope

Here she is again! This lush dream-pop ballad is stacked with 80s pop synths and a soft, but passionate, vocal performance. With production from Ariel Rechtshaid and Dev Hynes, Carly moves away from the buoyant and free-spirited pop of her heyday to more controlled and quietly lustful disco-influenced pop on this track. With a song like this, it’s no wonder that Carly’s E•MO•TION is one of the best albums of the decade. Songwriters: Carly Rae Jepsen, Ariel Rechtshaid & Devonté Hynes

15. “Crew (feat. Brent Faiayaz & Shy Glizzy)” (GoldLink, 2015)

RCA

Whether it’s the original version or the Gucci Mane remix, this is undoubtedly an anthem. Brent’s smooth vocals, Shy Glizzy show-stealing verse, and GoldLink’s laidback flow all combine to create one of the catchiest rap songs of the decade. A lot of artists went the avante garde/experimental route this decade, but “Crew” was a reminder that, when done correctly, simple vibe tracks can be great as well. Songwriters: D’Anthony Carlos, Teddy Walton, Christopher Wood & Marquis King

14. “Blood on the Leaves” (Kanye West, 2013)

G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam

“Strange Fruit,” either the Billie Holiday version or the Nina Simone version, is one of the most sampled songs in history. In fact, it can start to feel stale, but if there’s one artist that can elevate this practice, it’s the sample king himself: Kanye West. “Blood on the Leaves” takes the Auto-Tuned emotion of 808s & Heartbreak and twists it into this punk rock rumination on the destructive nature of fame. As the song goes on and the production gets more intense, Kanye’s delivery gets more manic and out of control. This track is heavy, but it’s also fantastic. Songwriters: Kanye West, Ross Birchard, Elon Rutberg, Malik Jones, Tony Williams, Cydel Young, Mike Dean, Lewis Allen, Lunice Fermin Pierre II, Carlos Broady, Charles Misodi Njapa & Alejandra Ghersi

13. “My Shot” (The Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, 2015)

Atlantic

Probably the most well-known and beloved Hamilton track aside from “Alexander Hamilton,” “My Shot” is excellent. For one, the track, and the album as a whole, was a much-needed reminder that original musical theatre content can still sell and compete with the glitziest of pop stars. “My Shot” blends elements of classical music, rap, soul, gospel, and pop to create one of the most impressively arranged and motivational songs of the decade. Sure, Hamilton’s story is very specific, but “My Shot” lifts the most inspiring parts of his story and molds them into one hell of a song. Songwriters: Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers & Lin-Manuel Miranda

12. “get well soon” (Ariana Grande, 2018)

Republic

The true apex of Ariana’s Grammy-winning Sweetener, one of the best albums of the decade, is the gloriously monumental “get well soon.” On this album’s closing track, a cascading choir of layered vocals belt over finger snaps and sparse piano. The song, which is simultaneously an audio treatment for anxiety and a tribute to the beautiful souls lost in Manchester, is easily one of Grande’s defining songs, a perfect ending for her defining album. Songwriters: Ariana Grande & Pharrell Williams

11. “Retrograde” (James Blake, 2013)

Polydor

James Blake is undoubtedly one of the defining and best musical artists of the decade. From Beyoncé to Kendrick Lamar, all of our favorite artists have reached out to work with him. “Retrograde,” the lead single for James’ second album, Overgrown, is all the proof you need to understand why. “Retrograde,” a lyrically intimate song inspired by his girlfriend, ebbs and flows through a soulful blend of electronica and ambient music. James’ falsetto and full-voiced belts ground the song with a subtle strength. It’s damn near perfect. Songwriters: James Blake

10. “when the party’s over” (Billie Eilish, 2018)

Interscope

There’s a very quiet anger to this track. It initially feels like just another sad piano ballad, but Billie’s dark harmonies and Finneas’ lush production make this something so much greater. “When the party’s over” is kind of the epitome of the latter half of the decade. More and more young stars are coming up on a DIY wave and even major stars like Ariana Grande are bypassing the traditional pop machine in favor of working with their friends and creating organic music that just so happens to be incredible and successful. Billie and Finneas are the future, and the proof is in the pudding with this track. Songwriters: Finneas O’Connell

9. “Pyramids” (Frank Ocean, 2012)

Def Jam

Arguably one of the most ambitious mainstream tracks of the century, Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids” is a sprawling journey through conversations about race, sex politics, love, drugs, and introspection. On this epic, Frank find a way to include ambient, quiet storm, electronica, dance music, dream pop, hip-hop, and slow jam R&B. This really challenged what a “song” could be. There’s more lyrical and musical range on this one track than some albums and careers. Songwriters: Christopher Breaux & James Ryan Ho

8. “Merry Go ‘Round” (Kacey Musgraves, 2013)

Mercury Nashville

Country music rarely got political this decade, but Kacey Musgraves sought to change that with her musical releases. “Merry Go ‘Round” is a close look at the grittiness of small-town life. With lyrical themes of marijuana, working paycheck to paycheck, adultery, traditionalism, and religion, it almost seems like Kacey’s delicate voice and guitar might crumble under all that weight. Nevertheless, Kacey persists with one of the most reserved and earnest vocal performances of the decade. Songwriters: Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally & Luke Laird

7. “Movement,” (Hozier, 2018)

Rubyworks/Island

“Take Me To Church” was Hozier’s big smash hit, but “Movement” is otherworldly. Whether you interpret the lyrics to be about dancing, love, or nature (or all three), Hozier’s ethereal vocal performance anchors this raging behemoth of a track. The song slowly crescendos from quiet bells and piano to a swelling orchestra of bass, guitar, synths, and drums. This is rock/pop at its biggest and most luxurious. Songwriters: Andrew Hozier-Byrne & Markus Dravs

6. “Video Games”” (Lana Del Rey, 2012)

Interscope

This is it. This is the song that birthed a generation of Tumblr-pop singers and an audience that was craving for brutal and honest songwriting. Lana’s lounge-esque languid style of singing has been replicated by countless artists, but only she can really pull it off. The cinematic song straddles baroque pop and indie-pop with all of Lana’s tragic Old Hollywood glamour. It’s a melancholic love song about giving up and settling, there’s nothing glittery here, just truths backed by beautiful strings. Songwriters: Elizabeth Grant & Justin Parker

5. “Fever” (Vybz Kartel, 2016)

It’s a bit awkward listening to this when you remember that Vybz was incarcerated for murder, but that beat is simply irresistible. In a decade that saw so much watered-down dancehall and “tropical house” music, it was nice to see authentic dancehall score some notoriety across borders. “Fever” encapsulates everything about dancehall that made the sound and culture so sought after: freedom to dance and lust without worrying about the next day. If you’re at a party and this joint doesn’t play, reevaluate your friend group! Songwriters: Adidja Azim Palmer & Damini Ogulu

4. “Jealous” (Labrinth, 2014)

Syco

From Euphoria and The Lion King to LSD and his latest album, Imagination & the Mistft Kid, Labrinth has helped shape the sound of music this decade. This heart-breaking ballad about one of Labrinth’s parents who abandoned his family is the best ballad of the decade. Back by just a piano, Labrinth’s gritty and soulful voice does half of the heavy lifting. The desperate and painful lyrics do the other half of the heavy lifting. Ballads about breaking up or being in love are classic, but the subject matter here is tougher. Nevertheless, Labrinth handles all of this with grace and precision. Songwriters: Timothy McKenzie, Josh Kear & Natalie Hemby

3. “Alright” (Kendrick Lamar, 2015)

Top Dawg/Interscope

Protest anthems have been a defining part of American music and culture from the very first work songs on slave plantations. Kendrick’s version of the protest song features a refrain you can’t help but to chant and jazz/funk/soul instrumentation that recalls the Civil Rights Era of protest music. Like its parent album, To Pimp a Butterfly, the best album of the decade, “Alright” blends spoken word with modern rap and roots itself in other forms of black-centric art like Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Pharrell’s production and Kendrick’s hook are hopeful, but neither hide the grim reality that Black Americans face every day. This is one true triumph of a song. Songwriters: Kendrick Duckworth, Pharrell Williams & Mark Spears

2. “Climax” (Usher, 2012)

RCA

Arguably the defining R&B track of the decade, with “Climax,” Usher tapped into something really exciting. As R&B began to evolve in the face of the imposing influences of hip-hop and EDM, this blend of quiet storm and electronica is simply sublime. Usher reaches for the peak of his Prince-esque falsetto and smoothly croons through (almost) his entire vocal range. Diplo’s trip-hop-inspired production skips and stutters its way throughout the song providing an ideal background for Usher’s heartbreaking lyrics. At heart, this is a ballad about an impending breakup, but the gloominess is somewhat subdued by the ever-evolving production. Simply masterful. Songwriters: Usher Raymond IV, Thomas Wesley Pentz, Ariel Rechtshaid & Sean “Redd Stylez” Fenton

1. “Formation” (Beyoncé, 2016)

Parkwood/Columbia

C’mon, who else did you expect to see at the top? “Formation” is not only the triumphant end to Beyoncé’s legendary Lemonade, the second-best album of the decade, but it’s also the star’s vibrant manifesto of bravado, strength, and power for Southern Black Women. Her audience is specific, but the empowering sentiment of the song is universal. Over an aggressive bassline accented by cascading drums and celebratory horns, Beyoncé raps and sings about her pride for her culture, her features, her womanhood, and her family. She samples Messy Mya, recruits bounce icon Big Freedia, and calls in Mike Will to tie it all together. The song is almost militant in its commitment to honoring the lives lost at the hands of police violence by moving, marching, and dancing forward. “Formation” is an unforgettable call to arms, the kind of song that only comes around once in a generation. Songwriters: Beyoncé Knowles, Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan & Michael Len Williams II

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