120 – Run Away with Me by Carly Rae Jepsen (2015, Year-End Rank: #29)
I thought Carly would be a one-album wonder. I felt “I Really Like You” was a misstep. The song was intended to recreate the magic of “Call Me Maybe”. But it was an imitation. It wasn’t a step forward for Carly. When “Run Away with Me” came out, my mind changed. She went to a mature yet vulnerable sound that her music is now known for.
119 – Geronimo by Sheppard (2014, Year-End Rank: #24)
Recently, I’ve been taking leaps of faith that I would’ve never done at the start of the decade. “Geronimo” has never been more relevant. But when this came out, I was living through its words, hoping that would be enough to give me a dose of life. Somewhere in the middle, I lost interest in the track. Now, it’s back.
118 – Truth Hurts by Lizzo (2017, Year-End Rank: #7)
I am a firm believer in being yourself. The view extends to all aspects of your identity – sexual orientation, race, physical appearance, etc. Not only is it better for you. But people around you are either similar or they can appreciate the deviations. Lizzo is proof that the gamble is good for yourself and actually pays. It’s time for all to be represented!
117 – Niggas in Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
The last time I heard genius from either Jay-Z or Kanye was in their collaboration “Niggas in Paris”. Jay-Z released a critically acclaimed album since. But that didn’t connect with me. Kanye went crazy. But both developments do not erase one of the biggest club hits. For a change, it spoke about something other than throwing life away.
116 – Break Free by Ariana Grande featuring Zedd (2014, Year-End Rank: #13)
The best life advice I’ve received from Ariana Grande is that “If you want it. Take it.”. Since the song came out, I’ve used this quote in many gatherings to impart the knowledge from one of the brightest philosophers of our time. She put it in simple words. At the same time, she created a club jam with Zedd.
115 – Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson (2015, Year-End Rank: #98)
In my opinion, the single best TV performance to date is Kelly Clarkson singing “Piece by Piece” during the final season of American Idol (first run). Her voice cracked and she cried in the middle of the performance. The tragic beginning to her happy ending is both heartbreaking and inspiring.
114 – Shine by Years & Years (2015, Year-End Rank: #10)
I would die to witness a festival having Years & Years, Sam Smith and Troye Sivan. Finally, members of the LGBT community provided a voice to the stories that are happening but are unheard of. Olly Alexander wrote this for his boyfriend. And if anyone composes a song as sweet as “Shine” to me, I would marry that guy.
113 – Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch (2012, Year-End Rank: #37)
If I could summarize the stories of my friends in two words – the 2000s were about “puppy love” and the 2010s were about a lot of “sweet nothings”. The only catch is how all of these mind games are a matter of perception and willingness to embrace vulnerability. I hope that 2020s create the same beats but better narratives for all my friends (and myself).
112 – Firework by Katy Perry (2010, Year-End Rank: N/A)
I’ve never felt like a plastic bag. And that’s mostly because I don’t know what that means. Many of Katy Perry’s metaphors don’t make sense. But she still created an anthem for self-love and empowerment. And it’s being played even today. She’s also responsible for resurrecting the glory days of bras and the weird things that can be done with them.
111 – On the Floor by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
For around five years, Jennifer Lopez’s star started fading. But in 2011, she collaborated with Pitbull and created one of the year’s top singles. The music video featured her timeless physique and legendary dance skills. How I miss the days when she wasn’t relying on a gimmick. She made a movie comeback in Hustlers. I hope new music is next.
110 – The Nights by Avicii (2015, Year-End Rank: #84)
I associate this with my father who passed away six years ago. I remember the advice he gave me when I was unhappy with work. He said I should find another job if I’m miserable and that he would support my decision. While I never got around to resigning, I’m delighted he wanted me to live a happy life, similar to Avicii’s father in “The Nights”.
109 – Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye featuring Kimbra (2012, Year-End Rank: #5)
I want to be the bigger person capable of forgiveness and co-existence. But I understand, and at one point I was, the kind who treated people from my past as dead. So “Somebody That I Used to Know” is as much everyone’s song as mine. The mindset is helpful. But I want to be a better person. If that means I don’t move on as quick, so be it.
108 – Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran (2014, Year-End Rank: #18)
The only reservation I have about using “Thinking Out Loud” at my own wedding is that it would sound like everyone else’s. But there’s no denying that Ed Sheeran created a masterpiece. All the criticism I’ve heard about the song is that it’s playing everywhere or that he sold out. But do those things make the track lousy?
107 – Pray for Me by Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd (2018, Year-End Rank: #15)
I’m a big fan of Marvel movies. And the best combat songs I’ve come across are Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” in Thor: Ragnarok and “Pray for Me” in The Black Panther. Every second of the latter track oozes of the badass attitudes of Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd.
106 – Some Nights by fun. (2012, Year-End Rank: #16)
The first two singles of fun. had the makings of Queen. In particular, “Some Nights” showcased the vocal gymnastics of Nate Reuss. The choir arrangements gave a grand operatic offering. The mood switches and the vibes change as the track progresses. If this lasted 8 minutes, I would’ve thought this was a “Bohemian Rhapsody” sequel.
105 – Lost in Japan by Shawn Mendes (2018, Year-End Rank: #34)
No one can deny Shawn Mendes’s good looks. But in most tracks, his vibe ranges from overdramatic to immature. Hence, taking him seriously as an adult is challenging. It’s in “Lost in Japan” that he transitions to smooth and sexy. It’s the same confidence and finesse that Justin Timberlake’s music picked up as he progressed with his career.
104 – Brave by Sara Bareilles (2013, Year-End Rank: #15)
Out of nowhere, Sara Bareilles got a nomination in Album of the Year for The Blessed Unrest. While I have no clue how the LP sounded, I noticed the powerful and inspiring anthem she created with “Brave”. The song is a classic build-up of empowering verses leading into an explosive filled-with-high-notes-chorus, and a climactic bridge.
103 – God’s Plan by Drake (2018, Year-End Rank: #7)
Most Draks tracks are filled with angst or partying. But I find his relaxed and easygoing attitude in “God’s Plan” refreshing and infectious. Not to mention, the music video is one of my favorites this decade. If you donate all the funds your label intended for the shoot, that’s badass in the most charitable way.
102 – XO by Beyonce (2013, Year-End Rank: #11)
The godlike thing about Beyonce is she excels at just about anything. She has the best pop and R&B dance music. But she also created two of the most beautiful ballads during my life’s existence – “Halo” and “XO”. I love John Mayer. But the original blows the cover out of the water.
101 – Dancing with a Stranger by Sam Smith and Normani (2019, Year-End Rank: #6)
I don’t think Sam Smith gets enough recognition for their new music. They have the same vulnerability as “In the Lonely Hour”. But they incorporate elements of dance and sex in their sound. That makes them more human and authentic. “Dancing with a Stranger” is the story that most people bring to the clubs. But it’s the one hidden and unspoken.
100 – Make Me Feel by Janelle Monae (2018, Year-End Rank: #4)
If I just guessed how Janelle Monae sounded based on Hidden Figures and the collaboration with fun., I would’ve gone with classic and mellow R&B. I never figured she had so much spunk. “Make Me Feel” is a song of liberation and sexuality. It incorporates signature Prince and gives the much-needed female funk in today’s music.
99 – Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa (2019, Year-End Rank: #5)
Adele was known for heartbreak pop. Kelly Clarkson or Pink can take heartbreak pop/rock. While Dua Lipa is shaping up to be heartbreak disco/dance. “Don’t Start Now” is the warning I give to people from my past when I’m either fully moved on, or insecure to admit I’m not.
98 – That’s What I Like by Bruno Mars (2017, Year-End Rank: #3)
If there’s one artist I feel has not made a mistake in his career, it would be Bruno Mars. In 2017, everyone was doing collaborations to hit the top of the charts. Bruno Mars gave us a solo classic R&B sound and he still managed to reach #1. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post. But he has the groove, style, and funk to make anything sexual classy.
97 – Prayer in C (Robin Schulz Remix) by Lilly Wood and The Prick and Robin Schulz (2014, Year-End Rank: #16)
No matter where you stand on religion, it cannot be denied that prayer is insufficient. Humankind has a bigger role to play in reversing the world’s destruction. “Prayer in C” is a taste of this message that doesn’t sound preachy. The combination of folk and EDM helps create a relaxed, calm and modern vibe that makes the song easy to digest.
96 – Dynamite by Taio Cruz (2010, Year-End Rank: N/A)
I will not blame you if you don’t remember who Taio Cruz is. I don’t know what he’s up to nowadays. But during the early part of the decade, if you party, there’s no way you can escape his music. Whether you prefer the confident but arrogant “Break Your Heart”, or the living life in this club “Dynamite”, there’s no denying his songs are an earworm.
95 – TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME by The 1975 (2018, Year-End Rank: #2)
The 1975 can venture into any musical genre. “TooTimeTooTimeTooTime” is an example of their flexibility to switch sounds and experiment. Matty does this while making dance beats and spreading good vibes. At the same time, he brings out uncomfortable truths about romance, fidelity, and the way social media has penetrated relationships.
94 – Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd (2015, Year-End Rank: #5)
OG fans considered The Weeknd a sellout when “Can’t Feel My Face” came out. The same track made him accessible to a proud consumer of mainstream music like myself. I cannot be bothered by the criticism. All I hear is an addictive 80s beat using a line that should connote a happy sensation. I have no clue how not feeling your face feels like.
93 – Shape of You by Ed Sheeran (2017, Year-End Rank: #10)
When “Shape of You” came out, Ed Sheeran was a hot commodity. The slate of releases during the period was also underwhelming. I thought both factors helped in embedding the track in our consciousness. “Perfect” and “Thinking Out Loud” are bigger earworms. But “Shape of You” is proof that timing also matters in music.
92 – End of Time by Beyonce (2012, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
If I cried justice for Beyonce, no one would take me seriously. After all, she’s regarded highly and is considered the most relevant musician of recent times. But if I may plead my case, “End of Time” deserved more attention than it got. The club potential is higher. The loops are much more addictive. I feel most people just never had a chance to listen.
91 – Hero by Family of the Year (2012, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
I still believe that Boyhood, and not Birdman, deserved Best Picture. But that’s all in the past. Part of the former’s appeal was its clever use of music to contextualize timelines. “Hero”, used as the official soundtrack single of the movie, is the track to make the case for people’s different barometers for happiness. I could not agree with it more.
90 – Work by Rihanna featuring Drake (2016, Year-End Rank: #4)
Rihanna and Drake have collaborated four times. All of them ended up as critical darlings and commercial successes. Even when Rihanna utters words that cannot be easily comprehended by the ears, think “What’s Your Name” or “Work”, people still can’t get enough. “Work” is my “lazy but flirty” jam when on the dancefloor.
89 – Unlonely by Jason Mraz (2018, Year-End Rank: #37)
When a musician invents a word, I know he/she has creative juice. The output is at least interesting. At most, the sound will be considered a classic. I first heard “Unlonely” when Jason Mraz performed it live. Since then, I’ve been spreading the news of his undiscovered song. Among those who I’ve shared it to, no one has been disappointed.
88 – Circles by Post Malone (2019, Year-End Rank: #4)
2019 was Post Malone’s year. And that’s largely due to his chameleon-like capacity to change his musical direction from one single to the next. The acoustic accompaniment to a hip-hop leaning artist is refreshing. He’s giving off a side of his that’s vulnerable. And for a change, there’s not a lot of arrogance displayed.
87 – Believe by Mumford & Sons (2015, Year-End Rank: #11)
I may be stating the obvious. But really acknowledging that not everyone knows what’s on your mind and that you may have to say what you want to get what you desire, are two of the most useful insights I’ve started applying in my life. I know I should’ve realized this sooner. Mumford & Sons already spoke about it in “Believe”
86 – One More Light by Linkin Park (2017, Year-End Rank: #9)
The tragic passing of Chester Bennington is an unfortunate incident that still has fans shocked to this day. But what I find to be saddest is the presence of clear signs of depression and coping in his music. Yet, most of us failed to realize it. He spoke about whether one light going out made a difference. My answer to every single one is yes.
85 – Jubel by Klingande (2014, Year-End Rank: #14)
Sometimes, no words are necessary to convey beautiful music. I rarely feel that in modern compositions. But “Jubel” is one exception. The progression of the instruments and the use of saxophone are just heavenly. The song has never failed to make me smile and turn my mood around.
84 – Another Day of Sun by The La La Land Cast (2016, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
I’m a frustrated talentless artist at heart. I’m frustrated that La La Land didn’t win Best Picture. I was frustrated at work and this helped me get through the tough days. But I am happy I stumbled upon “Another Day of Sun”. It’s the song of my inner dreamer and idealist.
83 – Someone Like You by Adele (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
Even though I joke about the need to have Adele’s go through another heartbreak, I sincerely wish Adele happy romantic days. But when the output is as good as “Someone Like You”, it’s difficult not to be selfish. Adele tapped the inner bitter but classy creature in our hearts. And she did this with her voice and a simple piano arrangement.
82 – Jealous by Nick Jonas (2014, Year-End Rank: #27)
I remember Beyonce in Nick Jonas. Even though both of them have achieved commercial success on their own, they decided to go back to their groups where their careers started. “Jealous” was Nick’s breakout moment. Even though it’s about romance and jealousy, the track oozed of gospel music. That quality tapped into the former Catholic in me.
81 – Born This Way by Lady Gaga (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
My favorite musician of all time is Madonna. Yet, when I listen to “Born This Way”, I cannot find the sound of “Express Yourself”. Does this prove I am not a blind follower? In any case, Lady Gaga should be most proud of this single. Even though the mainstream public cares more about the dance than the impact, I respect her more for the latter.