the 101 best songs of the decade

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With 2019 on the verge of wrapping up the decade, it’s time to reflect on the last ten years, and look back on the music we’ve been blessed with since 2010. We’ve seen genre-defining electronica from the likes of Avicii, Bicep and Disclosure, hip-hop masterpieces from Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West, and huge chart success courtesy of Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.

Revisiting and examining a multitude of genres including hip-hop, electronic music, pop, rock and more, here’s the 101 best songs of this decade.

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101. Snakehips – All My Friends (ft Tinashe & Chance The Rapper)
Snakehips burst onto the scene with an electronic sound encompassed by hip-hop influences. All My Friends waded into the charts and remains all parties’ highest chart in the UK at number three.

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100. M.I.A. – Bad Girls
A punchy collision of trap, EDM and hip-hop that only M.I.A. could manage, nodded at and influenced by Eastern sounds. Bad Girls’ video can also stake a claim for one of the decade’s finest.

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99. Migos – Bad and Boujee (ft Lil Uzi Vert)
Breakthrough single for all involved, eventually yet rightfully climbed the charts to number one, with a little help from Childish Gambino.

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98. DJ Seinfeld – U
Dreamy atmospheric electronica, powered by cinematic instrumentation and lonesome percussion.

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97. Goldie – I Adore You (ft Ulterior Motive & Natalie Williams)
Lead single for the first album from Goldie in 20 years. I Adore You encompasses all that he’s contributed to the scene, from dense and gritty production to highflying euphoria.

 

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96. IDLES – Well Done
Despite just a handful of years in the spotlight, alongside slowthai and Sleaford Mods, IDLES are already proving to be the long-awaited voice of reason in popular music.

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95. Radiohead – Present Tense
A Moon Shaped Pool was rightfully raved about as one of Radiohead’s finest, and the sleepy sombre of Present Tense was one of many reasons why.

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94. Underworld – Nylon Strung
Still among the greatest electronic music acts in the world, 2016’s Grammy-nominated Barbara, Barbara solidified Underworld as one of our cherished fine wines.

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93. Hybrid Minds – Touch (ft Tiffani Juno)
One of drum and bass’ modern day success stories, Hybrid Minds continue their astronomical ascendency, with Touch a big reason behind that.

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92. The Roots – Make My (ft Big K.R.I.T. & Dice Raw)
Trademark reflective jazz-influenced hip-hop, from the scene’s most slept-upon act. A masterclass of production and lyricism.

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91. Tyler, The Creator – IFHY (ft Pharrell)
Deeply abstract and one of the defining Tyler, The Creator songs. A feature from his hero Pharrell, and a huge co-sign from Kanye helped take Tyler to even greater heights. Another candidate for video of this decade.

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90. Beyonce – Love On Top
One of the best choreographed music videos of the decade, supposedly done in one take. Beyonce at her best.

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89. Desiigner – Panda
Despite Desiigner’s failure to capitalise on the astronomical success of Panda, there was no getting away this mammoth hip-hop hit.

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88. Thom Yorke – Unmade
You’d be forgiven for missing Unmade amongst the mania of Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 remake of Suspiria. One of many highlights of its soundtrack from the Radiohead frontman.

 

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87. Jorja Smith – Blue Lights
Influenced by the grit of grime, and the glam of R&B and hip-hop, topped off with a magic Dizzee sample.

 

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86. Chance The Rapper – Cocoa Butter Kisses (ft Vic Mensa & Twista)
Chance The Rapper’s breakthrough came courtesy of the incredible second mixtape Acid Rap, with Cocoa Butter Kisses the pick of the bunch.

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85. Four Tet – Daughter
Much like a synth-led lyric-less version of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, found on Four Tet’s celebrated ninth album.

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84. Burial – Hiders
Dark, dreamy and delicate. One of the few occasions in Burial’s career where melody and synths reside over the beats and percussion.

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83. JME – Man Don’t Care (ft Giggs)
Textbook JME with Giggs in support. The beat and bars were abundantly British, and a true representation of all that grime promises.

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82. Young Fathers – In My View
Genre-defying off-kilter electronica meets R&B, from the Mercury Prize-winning Scottish trio.

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81. The 1975 – Sincerity Is Scary
A band that refuses to rest, and refuses to conform to the confines of a sound. This brass-brimmed snooze drifts between intimacy and joy.

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80. Chief Keef – Love Sosa
A polarising figure of the hip-hop community, famous for his unpredictability, Keef still paved the way for an entire generational sound. And Love Sosa was at the forefront.

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79. Shy FX – Roll The Dice (ft Lily Allen & Stamina MC)
While the album fell short, Raggamuffin Soundtape’s singles were something to rave about. Who knew Lily Allen was made for dnb?

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78. Folamour – Devoted To U
France’s hottest DJ export of the last five years, Folamour’s off-kilter disco house remains a firm favourite of the festival circuit.

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77. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble
Ruban Nielson’s UMO continue their psych-rock led ascendency, with So Good At Being Trouble their best moment yet.

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76. Rihanna & Calvin Harris – We Found Love
It’s hard to leave Calvin Harris off an end-of-decade list, with his music simply unescapable, especially with We Found Love.

 

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75. The Black Keys – Weight of Love
The psyche-rock influenced Turn Blue drew heavy influences from Pink Floyd, with Weight of Love’s breathtaking guitar opening proceedings.

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74. Cardi B – I Like It (ft Bad Bunny & J Balvin)
A fusion of latin, hip-hop, trap and salsa, I Like It had hispanic vibes cut with hard-hitting baselines. It was then topped off with two of Latam’s most iconic figures.

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73. Kano – 3 Wheel-ups (ft Wiley & Giggs)
The grime scene’s most under-appreciated artist, finally beginning to receive the rightful acclaim he’s always deserved.

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72. Flume – Never Be Like You (ft Kai)
Flume continues to paint a path very few, if any, can fall into. And with an ever-growing, ever-impressive discography, Never Be Like You remains a firm favourite.

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71. TNGHT – Higher Ground
Trademark trap infused electronica from Lunice and Hudson Mohawke. Continues to be used across TV, film and advertising even into 2020.

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70. Michael Kiwanuka – Cold Little Heart
A four minute intro, sombre percussion and a silky-smooth vocal performance from Kiwanuka, make for a highlight among his second album, Love & Hate.

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69. Drake – KMT (ft Giggs)
One of the few examples of transatlantic success, in bridging the gap between grime and hip-hop. Career-best guest verse from Giggs?

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68. Bicep – Aura
Bicep’s self-titled debut remains among the finest electronic music LPs of this decade, and Aura shines out among its many highlights.

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67. The Chemical Brothers – GO (ft Q-Tip)
The Chems and Q-Tip pack a hip-hop influenced punch with their second collaboration, following 2005’s Galvanize.

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66. Maribou State – Glasshouses
Soft and sombre, riff-riding electronica, with a magical vocal performance from close collaborator Holly Walker.

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65. Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete The Kisses
One of the best rock singles, and music videos of 2017, Wolf Alice later scooped up a Mercury Prize for second album Visions of a Life.

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64. Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?
Soft and chirrupy, gorgeously catchy and squeaky clean, What Do You Mean? was among the many stand-out singles from fourth album, Purpose.

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63. Kiasmos – Held
Minimal techno with orchestral strings, from contemporary composer Olafur Arnalds, and the electronic-minded Janus Rasmussen.

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62. JAY Z & Kanye West – Otis (ft Otis Redding)
After the underwhelming H.A.M., Otis told us more about what to expect from Watch The Throne: the power of hip-hop, decorated in all the glitz, glam and grandeur.

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61. Jamie xx – Loud Places (ft Romy)
Jamie xx’s foray into solo material should have seen him scoop up a Mercury Prize, with Loud Places, Good Times and Stranger In A Room all contributing factors.

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60. King Krule – Easy Easy
Dingy and dark with a hint of delicacy, Easy Easy struck a chord with a multitude of audiences, and remains among Krule’s best-loved tracks.

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59. Janelle Monae – Django Jane
A true visionary, and an artist refusing to be confined to one medium, let alone genre. Boasted ‘black girl magic’ and bars beyond any of her contemporaries.

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58. Disclosure – You & Me (ft Eliza Doolittle) (Flume Remix)
It’s not often that a remix outweighs the original, but Flume took You & Me to higher heights, with a completely new sound and direction.

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57. SBTRKT – Wildfire (ft Little Dragon)
Wild electronica with an even wilder vocal performance, both clatter together to make a sound only these artists could pull off. Peep the Drake remix for more mania.

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56. Blood Orange – You’re Not Good Enough
It’s been a busy decade for Dev Hynes, collaborating with ASAP Rocky and Solange to name a few. Remains most assured through solo efforts like this.

 

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55. French Montana – Unforgettable (ft Swae Lee)
One of the best examples of trap-helmed pop this decade, with an incredible instrumental and video to boot.

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54. Kendrick Lamar – Backseat Freestyle
Any number of Good Kid, maad City cuts could stake a claim for inclusion on this list, but Backseat Freestyle’s venomous lyricism and raw beat stood out.

 

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53. Mount Kimbie – Blue Train Lines (ft King Krule)
The fiercely elusive King Krule popped up for a rare collaboration with the indie/electro duo. Somehow slotted between post-punk and electronica.

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52. The xx – On Hold
After five years in hiding, The xx returned with their best album so far, and On Hold got the ball rolling as lead single.

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51. Bon Iver – 8 (Circle)
Justin Vernon and co’s most challenging-yet-rewarding album to date was stacked full of surprises, including Circle.

 

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50. Skepta – That’s Not Me (ft JME)
One of a few stateside selected grime singles. Catapulted Skepta to superstardom with Shutdown close behind.

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49. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
One of 2014’s best. Future Islands’ impassioned, now-legendary performance on Letterman remains the highest viewed video on the channel’s history. Letterman’s reaction says it all.

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48. Peggy Gou – It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)
One of the 2018 festival circuit’s biggest tracks, from perhaps the biggest female DJ in the world: pop culture and fashion icon, Peggy Gou.

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47. Daft Punk – Get Lucky (ft Pharrell & Nile Rogers)
Trademark Daft Punk/Rogers riff with Pharrell on vocals was destined to be an unescapable chart hit.

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46. Tame Impala – Let It Happen
Opening 8-minute experience from the equally-impressive Currents. Continues on as a live show opener and firm fan favourite.

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45. Frank Ocean – Self Control
Epitomised the non-linear structure and challenging conventions of Blonde. As with the rest of the project, Self Control took an unfamiliar path of R&B that only Ocean could orchestrate.

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44. Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
Hitting the forever-blurred sweet spot between indie and electronic music, Can’t Do Without You introduced Caribou to an all-new breed of fans from both.

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43. Childish Gambino – This is America
Impossible to pin down to a genre, with chirrupy choral hooks packaged next to deep and dark basslines and abstract politics.

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42. FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
Named Crack’s icon of the decade, Twigs has had ten years of near-perfection. Two Weeks remains her only charting single to date.

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41. Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz – Mercy
From 2 Chainz’s show-stealing finale, to Cudi’s crazed dancing in the video, Mercy was a message from G.O.O.D. Music. They had arrived.

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40. DJ Koze – Pick Up
Disco/french house fusion from DJ Koze, complete with Gladys Knight sample shining through the glossy instrumental.

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39. Odd Future – Oldie
One of only two tracks to feature every rapper of the once-untouchable Odd Future. Stand-out verses from Tyler, Frank and Earl would paint a picture of their subsequent solo success.

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38. Tame Impala – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Despite an impressive climb to Coachella headliner, and equally impressive third album Currents, Feels Like still remains among Tame Impala’s best.

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37. Kanye West – Lost In The World (ft Bon Iver)
Much of this list could be made up by Dark Twisted Fantasy favourites, but Kanye’s take on Bon Iver’s Woods remains among the finest.

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36. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – I’ll Take Care Of You
Later finding new life under the guise of Drake and Rihanna, I’ll Take Care Of You was among the highlights of a full-length collaborative LP.

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35. Katy B – Katy On A Mission
Remember dubstep? Katy B was at the forefront of its breakthrough through collabs with Magnetic Man, and this banger with Benga.

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34. Chase & Status – No Problem
Cult-like Chase & Status churned out the hits this decade. Despite never seeing an official single release, No Problem remains among their best-loved.

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33. ASAP Rocky, 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar – Fuckin’ Problems
A quad-pronged collab from all artists at the height of their powers. Impossible to call the stand-out verse, with all at their absolute best.

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32. Rudimental – Feel The Love (ft John Newman)
Breakthrough single for both parties, one of only a few drum and bass tracks in history to reach the UK number one spot.

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31. Kendrick Lamar – Alright
Now anthemic example of Kendrick in full Pimp a Butterfly effect. Later became closely associated with Black Lives Matter with its legacy living on.

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30. Eric Pyrdz – Opus (Four Tet Remix)
Opus is much more than a song, and more of a ten minute electronic music experience. Best served intoxicated.

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29. Stormzy – Shut Up
Breakthrough freestyle-turned-single, one that launched the career of a future history-making Glastonbury headliner.

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28. Robyn – Dancing On My Own
An illustration of isolation against a backdrop of intense-to-invigorating beats and synths.

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27. Drake – Hotline Bling
Drake at his business-end best, meme-ready with an infectious hook and soft sample.

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26. Kanye West – Monster (ft Rick Ross, JAY Z, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver)
Famously written from scratch with no samples, Nicki Minaj of course stole the show with a career-defining guest verse.

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25. Bicep – Opal (Four Tet Remix)
Two of electronic music’s most cherished contemporary contributors, both capitalised on a huge 2018 with this elegant meeting of minds.

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24. Avicii – Wake Me Up (ft Aloe Blacc)
With prominent country influences and soaring R&B vocals, with Wake Me Up Avicii helped dictate EDM’s direction once again.

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23. Lil Nas X –  Old Town Road (ft Billy Rae Cyrus)
The longest running US number one of all time. Like it or hate it, one of the most important singles in modern music history.

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22. Massive Attack – The Spoils (ft Hope Sandoval)
Slept upon slow burner from the legendary trip-hop duo. Welcomed return to form, with a mesmerising vocal performance from Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval.

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21. Wilkinson – Afterglow (ft Becky Hill)
A beginner’s guide to drum and bass, and success story of the genre, one that still remains a scene favourite.

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20. Disclosure – Latch (ft Sam Smith)
Sounding like a cut from both cloths, pop and dance music rightfully embraced Latch as one of its own.

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19. Ariana Grande – thank u, next
Arguably the biggest pop star of the last decade, whose unstoppable wave of hits was topped off with this smart and sultry single.

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18. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse
An often forgotten example of electronica, one that chirrups, beeps and whistles its way through funk, disco and house.

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17. Kanye West – Ultralight Beam (ft Chance The Rapper & The Dream)
The undoubted highlight of the up-and-down Life of Pablo, still remains Kanye’s best attempt at gospel-gunned hip-hop. Chance The Rapper’s best bars so far.

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16. Paulo Nutini – Iron Sky
Dark and dramatic, primed with protest and unrest, Iron Sky also boasts one of the decade’s best music videos.

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15. Frank Ocean – Pyramids
Pyramids challenged the structure of a typical R&B/pop song, with three distinctive chapters all contributors to a varied, yet somehow cohesive 10 minutes.

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14. Hot Natured – Benediction
An epitome of all that sun-kissed Mediterranean music holidays promise. A true Ibiza gem from the guys that know it best.

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13. Kanye West – Devil In A New Dress (ft Pusha T)
A career-highlight feature from Rick Ross and guitar solo in tow, one of the many musical masterpieces of Kanye’s Dark Twisted Fantasy.

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12. Lapsley – Operator (DJ Koze’s 12″ Extended Disco Version)
DJ Koze’s Operator remix was subtle, yet inherited all that made the original so great, hitting the sweet spot between R&B, disco, pop, ambient and soul.

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11. Frank Ocean – Nikes
Our first flavour of the long-awaited, much-teased sophomore album from Frank Ocean. Nikes proved that Blonde would indeed be worth the wait.

 

10Fatima Yamaha – What’s A Girl To Do?
With a headline live show at Junction 2 in June, it appears Fatima Yamaha has finally returned to the spotlight after many years hidden away. 2017 was the last we heard from the Dutch DJ and producer, with the equally-impressive Araya.

Despite being originally released back in 2004, What’s a Girl To Do? took on a new, ‘this-decade’ form after heavy influence from house label, Dekmantel. A true encapsulation of the label’s rich, vibrant, synth-heavy sound, What’s a Girl To Do? set a precedent for following years, as the artist and label’s big breakthrough.

 

9Drake – Hold On, We’re Going Home (ft Majid Jordan)
Love him or hate him, in reality you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Drake in this decade. Serial hitmaker, the king of relevancy, and a man simply incapable of taking a day off, Drake can unarguably be considered the artist of this decade, and has the catalogue of hits to back it.

The perfect example of contemporary R&B and pop, Hold On, We’re Going Home drew influences from 80s synth-pop, with nostalgic drum machines and dreamy synths. It’s Drake at his very finest – charming and crooning, recalling and reflecting, making a hit for the club, just as much as the couch. The track solidified Drake’s versatility as a musician, ability as songwriter, prowess as a businessman, and stature as a pop culture icon. He’s refused to vacate any of these positions since.

 

8Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?
AM can widely be regarded as one of Arctic Monkeys’ best-loved albums, and perhaps their most ‘commercial’. Celebrated with a deserved headline slot at Glastonbury 2013, AM resonated with a landscape of fans new and old, and flirted with ideas and influences from spoken word, garage rock, hip-hop and more.

Besides the massive hits elsewhere on the album, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? and R U Mine? to name a few, Do I Wanna Know? opened proceedings with its sinister guitar, hypnotic vocals, and echoing chill. It was a hit that promoted Alex Turner and co. to one of the world’s most important bands.

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7Adele – Someone Like You
A decade list without Adele simply wouldn’t be right. A star, a musician, a vocalist and a personality that exists purely within her own self-dictated category and classification, Adele’s talents and stature is beyond the realms of pop music.

Awards, records, acclaim and all else aside, Someone Like You is the undoubted Adele anthem, one that’s subtle in its instrumentation, piano-powered and primed for one of the voices of this generation. We should all be thankful that we’ve existed within a decade of her at the height of her powers.

 

6Bicep – Glue
It’s simply impossible to ignore all that Glue has become. Despite being only two years old, it’s already become an all-out anthem, as a constant fixture of DJ sets, adverts, promos, festivals and of course, Bicep’s celebrated live show at Printworks. So whether it’s dipped in sunshine at a festival, or driven through subwoofers, piercing the bleak winters at clubs, Glue has evolved into the very glue that cements the electronic music scene.

With its genre-jumping sound, flirting with glitchy IDM and euphoric electronica, househeads, dance devotees and ravers of the rave the scene over, continue to celebrate and champion the defining Bicep track. Relatively overnight, Glue has become one of the most important songs in recent years, and one of the best of this decade.

 

5Tyler, The Creator – Yonkers
It’s been a huge ten years for Tyler, The Creator. He started the decade as a ‘Preme-clad, obscenity hurling problem child, and finishes it as a multi-faceted, medium-crossing visionary. And that journey began with Yonkers, the breakthrough single from 2011’s Goblin.

The self-directed video was stylised and sickening, recalling the likes of Lynch and Terry Richardson in the process. The image was in-your-face, the lyrics were vulgar, the beat was abrasive. It was a jarring piece of media that shook fans the same way Eminem once had with the Marshall Mathers LP. It propelled Tyler and the rest of his Odd Future posse to new heights, proving that these were not just kids messing about with mics. These were creatives with a vision and a direction, and dare you doubt them.

 

4Chase & Status – Blind Faith (ft Liam Bailey)
Whether you’re a dnb devotee or squirm at the thought of it, odds are you still like Chase & Status. The odds are even greater with Blind Faith. From the euphoric ‘sweet sensation’ sample that continues to raise hairs across the scene, through to Bailey’s somehow delicate, yet strangely powerful vocals.

Besides its impact, influence and unbudging celebration across electronic music, what makes Blind Faith a song of the decade, is its encapsulation of an artist’s sound, an artist that continues its stranglehold of the last ten years. Infused with trademark C&S guitars, powered by collaboration, and refusing to be confined to either drum and bass or pop music.

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3Kanye West & JAY Z – N**gas in Paris
Watch The Throne promised to be a landmark piece of hip-hop when it was first teased before the beginning of the decade. It arrived in 2011, and well and truly hit its expected heights, hitting number one in the UK and US, earning seven Grammy nominations, and resulting in the highest grossing hip-hop tour of all time.

It perhaps didn’t match the musical cohesion and technical prowess as much as Kanye’s predecessor Dark Twisted Fantasy, but it did solidify the might, the power and the influence of two of hip-hop’s biggest contributors. WTT’s grandeur and decadence was best encapsulated with N**gas in Paris, a song which collided a hard-hitting electronic style, with the glam of rap, and authority of superstardom.

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2Avicii – Levels
Avicii‘s breakthrough moment came back in 2011, with what will go down as one of the most influential pieces of EDM in history – the Etta James-sampling Levels. The track was the ultimate fusion of genres, crossing elements of house and EDM with huge pop hooks and soaring soul vocals.

This perfected amalgamation of sounds would go on to become a blueprint for EDM anthems for years to come, and helped pave the way for future hitmakers David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia to name a few. As the decades draw on, more and all will come to realise that we lost a true visionary and pioneer of contemporary music. RIP Avicii. 

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1Kanye West – Runaway (ft Pusha T)
What can be said about a song like Runaway? Undoubtedly the best hip-hop song of this decade, found on what is of course, the best hip-hop album of the decade. The opening piano notes promise lonesome delicacy, the manic drums and samples boast unpredictability and unrest, and the vocals fall between choral grandeur and crushing heartbreak. It’s everything that Kanye’s Dark Twisted Fantasy masterpiece stands for.

Pusha T’s verse still stands as one of, if not the, greatest guest verse of all time, with egotistical brags and reflective frustration, sat alongside each other in just 16 bars of genius. And when you think that Runaway has dealt all that it can with its hypnotism and symbolism, it’s still not done. The outro ‘guitar solo’ is perhaps the encapsulating moment from the album, and all this can only point to Runaway as the best song of this decade.

 

Like this list? Catch all 101 tracks of the decade in one handy playlist below.

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