.

Rob Sheffield's Top 10 Albums of 2010

POSTED:

1. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Look, life is unfair. Nietzsche died alone and forgotten in an insane asylum. Khloe Kardashian is still on television. I get why you wish the gods had given Kanye's talent to somebody smarter than Kanye, humbler than Kanye, or maybe even just somebody who doesn't get his feelings bruised every time he sees a DON'T WALK sign. He probably wishes the same thing. Kanye's struggle with his own douchebaggery, a struggle he loses most of the time, is part of his artistry. (Just part. Less than half. Fifteen per cent? Twelve?) But note that even in "Monster," where he exorcises his supposedly monstrous ego, he's at his most generous, giving Nicki Minaj the cameo of the year, not to mention giving the world a pretty incredible song. You'll meet bigger douchebags than Kanye every day of your life. Only one of them is going to make this album.

Rob Sheffield's Top Singles of 2010

2. LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening

When the going gets weird, the weird turn Eighties. Like John Cusack in Hot Tub Time Machine, James Murphy goes back in time to the rhythms of his youth, so he can figure out where it all went wrong. But Murphy and crew put up a heroic resistance to listen-once-and-move-on fan culture by making a punk-funk anthology that’s impossible to consume quickly -- it takes months to start absorbing all the twists in these songs, even the ones you love the first time you hear them. I’ve been listening to “I Can Change,” “All I Want” and “Dance Yourself Clean” constantly all year, without using them up. If you’ll excuse an Elton John comparison, this was like Rock of the Westies to Kanye’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Late-breaking favorite: “You Wanted a Hit.”

Critic's Picks: David Fricke's Top Albums and Under-the-Radar Reissues of the Year

 3. Ke$ha, Cannibal

There's a Neil Young live album where somebody heckles, "They all sound the same." Neil replies, "It's all one song." I'm pretty sure that's the only reason I will ever find to compare Ke$ha to Neil Young. She put out two albums in 2010, and I'm picking this one because it's newer, but it really is all one song, full of flash and verve and humor and drum machines and all the usual Ke$ha themes. Making the hipsters fall in love? Check. Hitting on dudes? Hard? Check. Evoking a suburban twilight zone where sugar-crazed freakazoids sneak into the basement to dance until they're dumb and go hardcore and there's glitter on the floor? Checkmate!

4. Sleigh Bells, Treats

Critic's Picks: Will Hermes' Best Albums and Singles of 2010

Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss prove themselves the Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet of bubblegum noise-pop. It's a never-fail formula — a shy boy, a loudmouth girl, heavy-breathing girl-group melodies, and a wall of synapse-butchering guitar fuzz.

5. Robyn, Body Talk

One of the year's great quotes, from the Blow's Khaela Maricich: "You know how every pop star is just a shining point balancing on a pyramid of gay men?" Robyn is where the pyramid meets the eye.

6. Rick Ross, Teflon Don

Talk about a surprise comeback. "BMF (Blowin' Money Fast)" and "MC Hammer" were the gangsta anthems, but the unlikely highlight is the occult Illuminati rap "Free Mason," with Jay-Z. The Rozay Crucian puts his top down like JFK, which means "joining forces with the kings," and blows money fast, which means "blowing money fast."

Critic's Picks: Jody Rosen's Best Albums and Songs of 2010

7. Taylor Swift, Speak Now

It's kind of amazing how much Taylor has in common with the young Morrissey: their fixation on humdrum small towns and the need to escape to the big city, their solipstic delight in one-sided romantic travails, their certainty that eternal adolescence is a point of pride, their taste in mean dudes. "You made a rebel of a careless man's cautious daughter" reminds me of "You are your mother's only son and you are a desperate one" the way "Still drinking and claiming that I can't sing" reminds me of "She said 'I know you and you cannot sing' / I said 'That's nothing, you should hear me play piano.'" But "Long Live" is her "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out," without a double-decker bus in sight. And her faith in love is still devout.

Critic's Picks: Christian Hoard's Best Album and Singles of 2010

8. Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Return of Chico Dusty

How does an album this fully realized, this virtuosic,  spend years gathering dust while the music business decides whether it's worth releasing or not? Yet no matter how long the tracks took to touch down, the lyrical Darth Vader still sounds futuristic.

9. Liars, Sisterworld

Like every Liars album, this sounds extremely different from the others, in unpredictable ways, yet it feels like it was the one they should have made next. Sisterworld is noisier and less immediate than 2007's Liars, their best by a mile, yet still great in that menacingly murky way. I started to count the fatalities on this record but I lost track about halfway through "Scarecrows on a Crooked Slant."

Rolling Stone's Best of 2010: Music, Movies, Videos, Photos and More

10. Grinderman, Grinderman 2

Nick Cave takes a breather from his busy schedule of Bad Seeds albums, film scores and novel-writing to lock himself up in the man-cave with his hairiest rock & roll friends and bash out a few gleefully obscene sex rants. Preach, man, preach: "My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster / Two big humps and then I'm gone."

Prev
Pop Life Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Rob Sheffield

Rob Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes about music, TV and pop culture. He is the author of two books, Talking To Girls About Duran Duran and Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

 
www.expandtheroom.com