200 – Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
“Run the World (Girls)” ushered in the beginning of the 4 era. Since this period, Beyonce has been bold and fearless in the sound she’s experimented with and the vision she expresses. The single may not have made a big dent in the charts. But the song has now lasted a decade in dance competitions and drag shows.
199 – The Middle by Zedd and Grey featuring Maren Morris (2018, Year-End Rank: #27)
Maren Morris is a big name in country music. But it was her collaboration with Zedd that introduced her to the world. The last decade has seen the most cross-pollination across genres. Specifically, EDM has been the breeding ground for different artists to cross paths and be seen by the general public.
198 – Sweater Weather by the Neighbourhood (2013, Year-End Rank: #22)
As a kid who grew up in a tropical climate, I will never grasp what sweater weather is all about. Some overseas trips have given me an idea. But the absence of a relationship makes the idea foreign. I am after the warmth and comfort that a romantic partner can provide. If my future lover’s voice has the same heat as Jesse’s vocals, I’m settled.
197 – Perfect Strangers by Jonas Blue featuring JP Cooper (2016, Year-End Rank: 18)
I do miss my days partying at the beach. If “Perfect Strangers” was around earlier, I would’ve had even better memories of my university days. Jonas Blue and JP Cooper took me back to the time I still had the will to spend summer at an island and the age to not be ashamed for hanging around the college crowd.
196 – Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
There are songs that try to start a revolution. Others are poetic and can move my core. But sometimes, life is just about fun and partying. “Sexy and I Know It” is one of the most brainless songs I’ve heard. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find it an earworm. Life’s meant to be enjoyed and I thank LMFAO for creating catchy tunes such as this one.
195 – IDGAF by Dua Lipa (2018, Year-End Rank: #18)
Dua Lipa is not messing around. And given her angsty songs, I would not want to be the man who’d screw her over. There are days when I just want to give an F U to the one who broke my heart. So”IDGAF” works perfectly. But now I’ve moved past my anger, it’s difficult to sing this song with the same passion I once had.
194 – Bright by Echosmith (2015, Year-End Rank: #21)
While I’m far from having a wedding, I’m still a sucker for SDE tunes. They bring out my idealistic and romantic side. “Bright” has the makings to be a staple offering. Sydney Sierota’s vocals are gentle but fragile. The melody is slow but sweet. And the lyrics are cheesy but #goals.
193 – I Will Never Let You Down by Rita Ora (2014, Year-End Rank #26, 2014)
“I Will Never Let You Down” is a happy sentiment created by romance. But the aftermath of Calvin Harris and Rita Ora’s split shows how much bitterness humanity is capable of. For those who cannot recall (and I’m unsure if they’re still in a vengeful place), once they broke up, as the song’s writer, Calvin Harris prevented Rita Ora from performing it live.
192 – Pompeii by Bastille (2013, Year-End Rank: #33)
Great stadium songs are made of chants that crowds can endlessly repeat. “Pompeii” has one of the decade’s best and most iconic. While the band has done EDM with Marshmello, they started out with one of the purest and most untainted indie sounds in the industry.
191 – Too Close by Alex Clare (2012, Year-End Rank: #15)
“Too Close” is the sum of two distinct sounds that do not blend. And yet, the fact that you can isolate the two sections add to the song’s appeal. One part is Alex Clare’s rough tone, largely unaccompanied by instrumentation, relying on his voice to convey his struggle. Once the chorus hits, there’s a Skrillex vibe (a slow and mushy one) that’s pure heroin.
190 – FourFiveSeconds by Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney (2015, Year-End Rank: #7)
Rihanna doesn’t have the widest range. But she arguably possesses the most soulful voice. The acoustic accompaniment helps accentuate this fact. Not to mention, her line “Cause all of my kindness was taken for weakness” has to be one of the decade’s most memorable. Paul McCartney’s a god. But I don’t know how essential he was to this one.
189 – High Hopes by Panic! at the Disco (2018, Year-End Rank: #9)
For all the shit life throws my way, I need my occasional motivational song. “High Hopes” has the story to inspire and uplift. But what worked well was the horns, which for my taste, generally never go wrong. There’s also Brendon Urie’s unique tone and high pitch which give the track some street credibility.
188 – Roll It on Home by John Mayer (2017, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
John Mayer fell out of favor with the general public in the last decade. But he continues to create music perfect for my Sundays and road trips. “Roll It on Home” sounds like a retirement song. And that’s my sentiment for nights when I feel defeated or on a vacation and in need of relaxation.
187 – Give Me Everything by Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
Critics have zero respect for Pitbull. But how many of those who look down on him have created as much joy on the dancefloor as he has? While I generally find Pitbull’s music decent, Ne-Yo added the flavor that made “Give Me Everything” a classic. I remember one of my last college parties. This song was one of the most anticipated.
186 – Royals by Lorde (2013, Year-End Rank: #55)
Lorde is as quirky as they get. And she’s proof that we can embrace that side of ours and thrive. “Royals” is the song that introduced me to Lorde. But it was not the single that made me fall in love with her. Looking back, I wasn’t proud I was part of the same group she sings of in the track. Now, I am at peace and can happily say I will never be royal.
185 – It’s Time by Imagine Dragons (2012, Year-End Rank: #20)
I remember being inspired by “It’s Time”. But I never really lived the song’s essence. Three months in, I can proudly say I embody what the song stands for. There’s hunger and sincerity in artists who are starting out. Having worked seven years in the corporate world, that same craving and fire are just fuelling me now in following my passion.
184 – Symphony by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson (2017, Year-End Rank: #13)
“Symphony” is perfect for dancing. The beat is uplifting. And when Zara Larsson does her vocals in the chorus, I hear a crack. The sound is fragile and human. It makes me want to melt into someone’s arms. After “Rather Be” and “Rockabye”, Clean Bandit is poised to stay and is still dominating the airwaves and the setlist of DJs.
183 – Tongue Tied by Grouplove (2012, Year-End Rank: #8)
For those who know me, this may come as a surprise. But I struggle with being tongue-tied. At least that’s the case when I’m around the friends of the object of my affection. Now revisiting this song, I feel its energy rushing through my veins, fighting the inner voice that holds me back and constrains me from socializing and connecting.
182 – I Want Crazy by Hunter Hayes (2013, Year-End Rank: #49)
I spoke of weddings in an earlier entry. But one song I know will make the playlist of my special day is “I Want Crazy”. My screws are a bit loose. And I cannot suppress that identity of mine. I’m intense, competitive and a little whacko. I need the same. Or at least, a person who gets that.
181 – Stolen Dance by Milky Chance (2014, Year-End Rank: #34)
I remember it took me excessive peer pressure before I had my first taste of alcohol. Yet, I drank first before I danced. That’s how insecure I was. And while I still suck at the sport, and still a bit anxious, I can’t imagine a life without the moves. “Stolen Dance” is the sound of letting your inhibitions go and letting the night take over.
180 – Love on the Brain by Rihanna (2016, Year-End Rank: #44)
Even though I often hear about the conflict between the heart and the mind, Rihanna introduced love on the brain. I know that’s scientifically more accurate. She isn’t just an excellent writer. She speaks more facts than her contemporaries. I can’t help but feel this is the biggest and most widespread disease human brains are plagued with.
179 – Don’t Let Me Down by the Chainsmokers featuring Daya (2016, Year-End Rank: #27)
The Chainsmokers are now considered pariahs. Even among consumers of mainstream pop, liking the duo is uncool. But there was a time their music was inescapable. And that was for good reason. The heavy guitar sound before each chorus, Daya’s vocals, and EDM combined seemed like a gamble. But they took it and the sound paid off.
178 – Party by Beyonce featuring J. Cole (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
“Party” is uncharacteristic of any Beyonce track. Actually, in 2011, the sound was unlike anything by anyone on the radio. And that’s what I admired about Beyonce’s decisions. They’re driven by creative judgments and void of commercial considerations. The classic and classy throwback R&B vibe she created is just delicious and addictive.
177 – We are Young by fun. featuring Janelle Monae (2012, Year-End Rank: #4)
In the early part of the decade, fun. was seen as a successor to Queen. Nate Reuss’s vocals were like Freddie Mercury’s. The tone is unique, the range is wide, and the pitch is high. If I listen to “We are Young”, the song’s crafted for an audience to chant to, similar to many of Queen’s tracks. The prediction was short-lived as fun. disbanded after a brief period.
176 – Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars (2014, Year-End Rank: #79)
In his second album, Bruno Mars started flirting with 70s funk. And when he collaborated with Mark Ronson, he went full blast on the sound. I first resisted “Uptown Funk”. But when I saw Bruno Mars perform it during the Super Bowl and upstaged Coldplay (one of my all-time favorites), I could not deny the song’s magic.
175 – Young, Dumb and Broke by Khalid (2017, Year-End Rank: #14)
Given that I’m in my late 20s, I should not be stanning over Khalid. But his music gives me an opportunity to vicariously live my younger days through him. Nowadays, I’m not young. While I’m not well off, I live comfortably. But none of that has changed the wisdom I possess. I proudly say I’m still dumb.
174 – The Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
“The Edge of Glory” ushered in the start of a new era for Lady Gaga. It gave me a glimpse of her vocal capabilities. Until this point, her range was understated and underappreciated. She started incorporating 80s pop and classical instruments into her arsenal. She went broader than the dancefloor and started attracting all audiences.
173 – Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots (2015, Year-End Rank: #26)
Twenty One Pilots knew our generation was demotivated and cynical. So what did they end up doing? Make music out of the repetitive and dissatisfied rhythm most of us call life. I hope the song inspires us to take action and we don’t get desensitized to all the reminders artists provide us.
172 – Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon (2014, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
“Shut Up and Dance” is the song I imagine would be playing if I had the perfect prom. Except I didn’t. But I presume many people are in the same boat and would agree with my assessment. I’ve attended multiple weddings since the song was released. Most of them had this track playing during their reception ceremonies.
171 – Glad You Came by the Wanted (2012, Year-End Rank: #7)
No one takes boy bands seriously, especially ones that last a single album. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t create magic during their time in the spotlight. “Glad You Came” is the best genuine sentiment that can be expressed to people I meet along the way. And that’s the context to which I listen to and enjoy this song.
170 – I Got U by Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones(2014, Year-End Rank: #28)
Even before Kygo remixed “Higher Love”, Duke Dumont already incorporated Whitney in EDM. He utilized one of my favorite Whitney Houston songs, and one of her most underrated tracks, “My Love is Your Love”. He created an upbeat and uplifting loop. And he utilized the lyrics apt for the times. It worked perfectly as a tribute to the legend.
169 – E.T. by Katy Perry featuring Kanye West (2011, Not Applicable)
Releasing weird songs about alien sex is reserved for albums gaining widespread success. Teenage Dream went on an unprecedented streak and gave Katy Perry an opportunity to release a risky single like “E.T.”. Separately, I don’t care about Kanye’s rap verses. I felt they were released out of commercial necessity instead of artistic merit.
168 – Take Me to Church by Hozier (2013, Year-End Rank: #44)
Often, criticism against religion and its institutions can be divisive and offensive. But Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” subverts the imagery of Catholicism and uses it to convey the message of love across sexual orientations. I find his artform direct and necessary while staying tasteful and classy.
167 – Hands to Myself by Selena Gomez (2016, Year-End Rank: #13)
It’s no secret that Selena Gomez’s vocal range is not as powerful as her contemporaries. But she’s the goddess of whispers and hushes. She uses her voice masterfully to seduce and shroud her sound with mystery. As she ponders about keeping her hands to herself, she offers one of my favorite questions this decade – “I could but why would I want to?”
166 – Touch by Little Mix (2017, Year-End Rank: #17)
The ladies of Little Mix do not get involved in as much drama as the members of other girl groups. And that’s why it’s hard to look back on the decade and see them as one of the top forces to be reckoned with. But the music they have created are some of the catchiest and some of the most imitated in gay bars. “Touch” is classic Little Mix.
165 – Chandelier by Sia (2014, Year-End Rank: #29)
Just when I thought that power ballads were out of trend, Sia releases “Chandelier”. The song showcases one of the strongest and most haunting vocal performances of the decade. By avoiding the public eye and using her hair or a proxy as a stand-in, she also created her own publicity, generating attention to music that clearly doesn’t fit any mold.
164 – Houdini by Foster the People (2012, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
For people who believe Foster the People was a one-hit-wonder, I urge you to reconsider and listen to “Houdini”. Not only is the electro-pop sound in the chorus addictive. But the band’s internal struggles with artistry, compromising, rejection and experimentation are the themes we all struggle with in life.
163 – Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars (2012, Year-End Rank: #43)
I’m not a prude. But I find some artists lack the creativity or the class to discuss sex with grace and more importantly respect. Bruno Mars transcends genres but also subject matters. “Locked Out of Heaven” feels like an endless loop that’s similar to our insatiable cravings. The sound is in perfect sync with the desire and the sentiment.
162 – Want to Want Me by Jason Derulo (2015, Year-End Rank: #13)
Jason Derulo is busy feeding the public’s imagination with his Instagram. It’s too hot even for the platform to handle. When I look at his catalog, the photo should not come as a surprise. What sticks out is “Want to Want Me”. The song gave me hope that I can finally focus on his voice and tone. Unfortunately, he disagrees and took this route only once.
161 – Stay by Zedd and Alessia Cara (2017, Year-End Rank: #34)
When I first heard “Stay”, I figured there was nothing special. But when my friend told me about how much of a jam it was during her spinning, I gave it another listen. Then, I felt a better connection. Not that I spin or I exercise. But I started to appreciate the little nuances – Alessia’s husky voice, the frantic beats, and the desire to prolong moments.