The 10 Best Songs of the 2010s

The 2010s will probable be known for how music consumption was transformed—bye bye, ailing tagged MP3s, hello streaming-service exclusives. But that change was accompanied by boundary-breaking crop up music from big-name stars and up-from-SoundCloud aspirant alike. here, presented chronologically, are TIME ’ randomness picks for the best songs of the 2010s, singles that helped define the ten ’ s melodious landscape. besides read TIME ’ south list of the best television receiver shows, miniseries, movies, movie performances, nonfiction books and fiction books of the decade.

Adele, “Rolling In the Deep” (2010)

Songs about love gone incorrect remained a pop staple in the 2010s : All the decade ’ s technological advances didn ’ thymine do much for love affair, when all was said and done. The precede single from Adele ’ s blockbuster second base album 21 was a four-minute cardinal belly laugh shaped into a rolling-thunder epic, with the british belter ’ randomness formidable alto making every charge against her ex—abandonment, handling, just being a generally bad guy—add up until they were equally high as a funeral pyre. It ’ s an exercise in pop catharsis that doubles as an exorcism for the demons that lurk after an affair flames out.

Robyn, “Dancing on My Own” (2010)

Since her days as a adolescent toss off protégé of Max Martin, Robyn has been one of pop ’ mho curious figures, veering in her own direction in ways that the masses would finally follow. 2010 ’ randomness heartbroken “ Dancing on My Own ” is part mini-movie, part might ballad, and all feel. Her to-the-bone descriptions of watching her sleep together concern kiss another are searing even glum, with the energy they conjure channeled into punching-bag drum programming that shrouds her pain in a cleanse fire.

Sky Ferreira, “Everything Is Embarrassing” (2012)

A slow burner with the glistening synths of late- ’ 80s sophistipop and the furtively hurt vocals of late- ’ 90s alt-rock, Sky Ferreira ’ s sulky 2012 one “ Everything Is Embarrassing ” was a atavistic that represented pop ’ sulfur next wave. Artists like Ferreira, Charli XCX, and Haim all operated in a direction that was analogue to the charts, exploring how they could take the verse-chorus-verse ideal to 21st-century realms. “ Everything Is Embarrassing ” evokes the full-body fawn that ’ south often felt when taking an emotional risk, its lavish arrangement providing the comfort for any agonies that might follow.

Luke James, “I Want You” (2012)

New Orleans-born singer-songwriter Luke James ’ spell and chops helped his act forays, including his become as Johnny Gill in BET ’ s The New Edition Story and his comedic cameo in 2019 ’ s Little, a mention with audiences. His soulful, bursting-with-energy voice established him as one of R & B ’ south leading vocalists, and this 2012 mash note is a shining example of why. A heart-eyed emoji set to music, “ I Want You ” takes the love song to church—and thanks to James ’ skyscraping falsetto and talk gusto, he makes romance seem like the most holy place request.

Taylor Swift, “All Too Well” (2012)

Taylor Swift ’ s 2010s were filled with stadium-sized spectacles that cemented her condition as one of the universe ’ mho biggest pop stars. This track off 2012 ’ sulfur Red is proof that she became one of music ’ south grande dames because of her ability to crystallize emotional details. A midtempo guitar ballad with quietly devastating lyrics, “ All Too Well ” nods to her country-prodigy past, but with the sort of maturity that transforms evening the most dramatic moments of one ’ south life fade into shades of gray.

Hospitality, “I Miss Your Bones” (2013)

The open of this 2013 single by Brooklyn trio Hospitality is all about brittleness. Its piston-precision guitar riffs and the nip delivery of singer Amber Papini turn her requests to a long-gone lover— ” Take me on a flat tonight, ” “ Tell me not to leave and cry ” —into desperate commands. As her sense of longing reaches a fever slope, the band leans on an incipient groove and a full-on indie-psych finale breaks out, dispatch with sputtering guitar solo—so when the song ultimately whirls to a crippled, it evokes the tail end of a crying jag that can lone be stopped by a sudden, deep sleep .

Paramore, “Ain’t It Fun” (2013)

Tennessee emo-pop band Paramore rebooted itself with its 2013 self-titled album, bringing programmed drums and glossy strings into its high-octane guitar-bass-drums mix. It worked like a charm, with singer Hayley Williams sounding newly energized by the possibilities of her band ’ randomness bigger sound. On “ Ain ’ t It Fun, ” she uses that expanded palette—and a huffy gospel choir—to hack and holler her manner through the gnarlier bits of growing up.

Dierks Bentley, “Drunk On a Plane” (2014)

The claim of “ Drunk On A Plane ” hints at a admonitory narrative about the dangers of open-bar fly, but country wanderer Dierks Bentley ’ s songwriting skill turns this 2014 singalong into an affect fib about being stuck with the side effect from a love gone wrong. Bentley ’ sulfur narrator has nonrefundable tickets to his now-canceled Cancún honeymoon, so he decides to take the fledge ; along the way, he reflects on how he arrived in seat 7A. It ’ s a amiable update of Nashville ’ s drinking-song template, and Bentley ’ second skilled songwriting makes plain the commiseration behind every whiskey-and-Coke order.

Khalid, “Young Dumb & Broke” (2017)

Flipping the “ millennials are killing [ x ] ” trend-piece construct on its head with a smirk and some desert-heat synths, this 2017 single by Houston-based pop prodigy Khalid is an anti-anthem for “ young, dumb, broke high school kids. ” Its sing-song topline eases it into even the most overstimulated listeners ’ minds, but its simmer anxiety about life ’ s big questions helps it resonate beyond its fade-out.

Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road” (2019)

2019 ’ s biggest pop sense didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate catch there because of TikTok, or the yeehaw movement, or controversies over chart placements. Lil Nas X ’ south sparse smash—based off a Nine Inch Nails throw sourced from YouTube—gained momentum steadily, then unstoppably, because it ’ south so much fun to consume, whether in its master barely-two-minutes human body, as one of its star-studded remixes, or merely mimicking the hook while around friends. It ’ s a impertinently minted build blockage for pop, allowing listeners to hear the likely in nation, trap, country-trap, and any early hybrid genre that might come to biography in the streaming old age. Contact us at letters @ partake THIS STORY

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