Best of the Decade Part Two: Music

So, music was difficult. I don't really listen to albums all that much anymore. I've also seen some incredible concerts over the past ten years. There are also songs that stuck in my head as well- either through influencing my writing or just in general. So, instead of doing one flavor of music-- like 'album' or 'song' I just went ahead and did a big old mish-mash of the best music of the past decade.  Here it is:

Honorable Mentions: Y'all, this list was actually harder than it looked to put together. I had to some real deep contemplation on who rose to the level of being impactful enough to make the list versus music I listened to a lot but not quite that much. So, Lorde and Vampire Weekend score Honorable Mentions for artists while Atmosphere (live at 80/35) and Blake Shelton (live at The Great Jones County Fair) score Honorable Mentions for concerts.

15. "2009", Mac Miller: This is quite literally the only song of Mac Miller's I have ever listened to. I think it showed up on a 'Best of' list last year in the wake of his suicide and I listened to it and was struck by the quiet, melancholic beauty of it. As the decade ends, it seems to be the song most appropriate to sum the past ten years or so up.

14. Sia: "Chandelier" exploded all over the radio in 2014, followed closely by "Elastic Heart." I can't say I've listened to much of Sia beyond those two songs (and honestly, this slot could have easily been held by Lorde) but I couldn't think about the music of this decade without thinking about Sia. So here she is.

13. Future Islands- Seasons (Waiting On You): Had never heard of this band until I saw them perform this song on Letterman. It remains an awesome song and the rest of the album it's on isn't bad either. I don't know if I'd upgrade them to being a full on 'Artists of the Decade' or even put their album up there either- but this song I've played a lot. So it makes the list.

12. Drake: between "Work", "One Dance", "In My Feelings", "Hotline Bling" and of course, "Nice For What" his music has been prominent on my radio dial and Spotify lists for ten years now. Despite that I have yet to listen to an album of his from start to finish.

11. Ed Sheeran: Yes, the ginger guitar God has been a constant presence on my radio dial/Spotify lists and we've got one of his albums kicking around. Naturally, the Missus gravitates to different songs of his than I do, but: "Bibia Be Ye Ye", "Castle On The Hill", "Barcelona", and "Shape of You" would all make my list.

10. Brandi Carlisle: "Late Morning Lullaby", "The Story", "Downpour", "Josephine", "The Joke"-- I can't say we were Brandi Carlisle super fans-- there's a few albums between 'The Story' (2007) and 'By The Way, I Forgive You' (2018) that we missed out on. But it's undeniable that she's made up an important chunk of the soundtrack of the past decade.

9. alt-J/Brockhampton:  two songs each from two wildly different bands at opposite ends of the decade. The contrast between "Tessellate" and "Fitzpleasure" and "Boogie" and "San Marcos" is pretty wide, but both bands sort of represent really cool bands that for whatever reason, I didn't listen to more of.

8. Adele- 21: Honestly, if this album doesn't make every 'Best Albums of the Decade' list in some form or another, the list is invalid, in my opinion- if for no other reason than Billboard 200 has it as the best selling album of the 2010s. Not only is it a solid album from start to finish, but I have to include this one not just for the songs I like ("Rolling In The Deep", "Set Fire To The Rain") but the song I didn't expect to have such an impact on my writing. We were driving up to Austin,MN on the backroads that go up through Osage and St. Ansgar and "Someone Like You" came on and and suddenly a whole scene of the gigantic mountain of words I was writing sprang fully formed into my head. (It hasn't seen the light of day yet, but it's coming.)

7. Garth Brooks (in concert at Target Center): Not a huge fan of country music, but I'll admit that Brooks puts on one hell of a show and I was honestly surprised at how many of his songs that I actually knew- either from the Missus and her love of country music or just through radio osmosis in the 1990s. Definately belongs in the Top 10 of the decade.

6. Macklemore: "Glorious", "Good Old Days", "Can't Hold Us", "Thrift Shop", "Same Love",  I'd say if there was a song that got stuck in my head more this decade than most, "Can't Hold Us" would be right up there  competing for the top spot. If this list was just 'Artists of the Decade' Macklemore would right up there as well.

5. Fun. (in concert at Blue Moose): This was right before Fun. got really insanely big and, as it turns out, they showed up in Iowa City for a reason. Lead singer Nate Reuss had actually lived in the area briefly before moving to Arizona and wanted his grandma to see his band played live- which they announced to the crowd and everyone clapped for her tucked away on some bleachers/risers in the far corner. The intimacy of the venue made the energy in the room electric (everyone clapped along for "Barlights" and it's probably my favorite song of theirs to this day because of this concert). Also, pour one out for Blue Moose which is, alas, no more.

4. Lady Gaga- Born This Way: The thing about music is that it doesn't always just inspire positive emotions. There can be sadness and melancholy there as well.  This album, which dropped shortly after my brother died, contained just about every emotion there was for me, but mainly I listened to it with a sad smile, wishing he was there to hear it as well.

3. Kanye West- My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy: "Dark Fantasy", "Power", "Monster"- but most especially, "All Of The Lights." Kanye is Kanye and will always be a creative force in music, but this album also belongs on any 'Best of the Decade' list out there. "All Of The Lights" remains my favorite Kanye track as well as one of my favorite songs of the decade. 

2. U2 (in concert as Soldier Field/Joshua Tree Tour): In 1987 I remember standing in line at the old school IMU (pre-Student Commons) waiting in line with my Mom so she could get tickets to see U2 on the original Joshua Tree tour. I finally got to fulfill my rock n'roll destiny this decade and watch them perform the entirety of The Joshua Tree at Soldier Field. It going to rank as the best concert I've ever seen for a very long time to come- and that was just on the basis of The Edge melting faces with his guitar solos on "Bullet The Blue Sky."

1. LCD Soundsystem: Hands down my artist of the decade...  even though technically they're more of a 'last decade' kind of artist, they were in heavy rotation on my playlists all throughout the decade and albums like 45:33 and Sound of Silver are going to be on my 'Best Albums of All Time' list-- but really, the reason they belong on this list, at least to me is their movie: Shut Up And Play The Hits, chronicles their last concert at Madison Square Garden before they broke up- though subsequently, their 'break up' really turned out to be more of a hiatus than anything else. It might well be one of the greatest concert movies ever made-- certainly one of the greatest of the century thus far.

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