160 – Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding (2012, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
I never understood the appeal of Ellie Goulding’s music until a contestant on The Voice sang an acoustic version of “Anything Could Happen”. I get lost in Ellie Goulding’s voice and the electropop production. But when I strip down the song to its bare words and sentiment, making the most out of an unpredictable today resonates strongly with me.
159 – Without You by Avicii featuring Sandro Cavazza (2017, Year-End Rank: #73)
A friend once asked me for a “moving on” playlist. While I never got around to curating one, I immediately recommended Avicii’s “Without You”. Sandro Cavazza’s vocal delivery is filled with raw heartbreak. The song’s words convey strength and willpower to pull through. And the upbeat and uplifting beat perfectly supported this message.
158 – Rude by MAGIC! (2013, Year-End Rank: #34)
The storytelling in “Rude” is quite interesting and likely what got people’s attention. But I’m more attracted to the laidback vibe and reggae sound that’s rarely heard on the radio and streaming services today. The band reminds me of some of my favorite songs from No Doubt or Sublime.
157 – Summer by Calvin Harris (2014, Year-End Rank: #12)
I’m a big fan of Calvin Harris’s beats. And more so, I find his vocals in “Summer” a welcome change. His sound doesn’t match his looks. It’s hard to explain but I’m sure the comment makes sense. On a sentimental note, I have fond memories of the track playing in every single beach party I went to during one Labor Day Weekend in Boracay.
156 – Waves by Miguel (2016, Year-End Rank: #21)
I remember when Kelly Clarkson won a Grammy. She mentioned that she didn’t know who the hell Miguel was. But that he had the sexiest voice she has ever heard. I tend to agree. Too bad he doesn’t get the same attention as Frank Ocean or The Weeknd. Specific to “waves”, it just gives me breezy vacation vibes that I’m always in need of.
155 – Princess of China by Coldplay featuring Rihanna (2012, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
Chris Martin once described Rihanna’s voice as a “beautifully squeezed tube of toothpaste”. I have no clue how he arrived at that description. But for some reason, it makes sense. The song ushered in the arrival of what I call “Newplay” as opposed to “Oldplay”. The collaboration was divisive. I was on the side that found it beautiful.
154 – Crystals by Of Monsters and Men (2015, Year-End Rank: #9)
I’m not big on nature and wildlife. But I appreciate the sensorial experience of being around life’s wonders and treasures. “Crystals” takes me to that place. The descriptive and detailed lyrics are a treat to my mind’s imagination. And I feel extreme warmth and comfort just listening to Nanna’s vocals.
153 – Love You Like a Love Song by Selena Gomez and the Scene (2011, Year-End Rank: N/A)
I completely forgot that Selena Gomez was in a band. I just assumed everything she did was on her own. I know that’s incorrect and unfair. And before I gush about her solo efforts, the world needs to remember that the collective created one of the catchiest repetitive choruses of the 2010s in “Love You Like a Love Song”
152 – Cranes in the Sky by Solange (2016, Year-End Rank: #33)
I can relate to Solange’s struggle of avoiding painful feelings. Except, I would not sound as composed and collected as she was in “Cranes in the Sky”. When I listen to her voice, it’s the equivalent of having tea on a rainy day. The effect is calming and soothing to my senses.
151 – Hey Look Ma, I Made It by Panic! at the Disco (2019, Year-End Rank: #11)
“Hey Look Ma, I Made It” is my victory and shower song of 2019. Nothing can get you up better than Brandon Urie’s vocals and the horn accompaniment in the song. I would say in the last three months, I’ve made it. At least as far as the things I want to do and accomplish. Not that I would proclaim them to my mom.
150 – We are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift (2012, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
Red depicted the struggle between Taylor’s country roots and her experimentation with pop music. The output is kind of awesome actually. The sound of the guitar in “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” flirts with country. The rest of the track is pure pop. She sang of Romeo and Juliet. But this outdid her immaturity and I love her for it.
149 – If You’re Over Me by Years & Years (2018, Year-End Rank: 39)
I have not watched TV for some time. But I remember networks would share their line-up of new shows for the following year with a bubbly and upbeat tune playing in the background. That’s what “If You’re Over Me” sounds like. Not that everything is going well. But the contrast of the words and the melody help make the situation a bit lighter.
148 – Sweet but Psycho by Ava Max (2018, Year-End Rank: #10)
As someone who turns into an occasional whacko during relationships, I empathize more with the crazy one than the person dealing with the psycho. Not that turning into a nutjob is something to be proud of. But having a soundtrack to the disaster I become feels fantastic.
147 – All the Stars by Kendrick Lamar and SZA (2018, Year-End Rank: #8)
The greatness of Black Panther lies not only in the film. But the soundtrack is well incorporated and masterfully crafted. Everyone knows that Kendrick Lamar is a genius. But my discovery and my favorite part of the track is the chorus with SZA. In her vocal delivery, she brings soul and depth. She takes me with her in the dream and the desire.
146 – Believer by Imagine Dragons (2017, Year-End Rank: #11)
One band that continues to be a hit and miss with the general public is Imagine Dragons. The group resurfaced and reconnected with people with their highly electric and severely intense “Believer”. While I do not work out or exercise, the song’s energy flows through my veins in the form of keyboard efficiency and as a supplement to caffeine.
145 – Unforgettable by French Montana featuring Swae Lee (2017, Year-End Rank: #18)
“Unforgettable” employs a dancehall beat that’s been common in hip-hop in the last few years. It could’ve easily been dismissed as a ripoff or derivative of a Drake track. But Swae Lee’s voice is delicious. He injects a specific flavor and soul that only he is capable of. I bet even Drake would be proud of this composition.
144 – This Is America by Childish Gambino (2018, Year-End Rank: #6)
Childish Gambino achieved what seemed impossible for a hip-hop artist at the Grammy Awards. “This is America” took home Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The song definitely deserved the recognition. It’s literally ticked all the boxes to achieve the victory – chart success, provocative music video, timely and timeless subject, and a catchy beat.
143 – Latch by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith (2012, Year-End Rank: #8)
I completely forgot Sam Smith ventured into EDM much earlier than their collaboration with Calvin Harris on “Promises”. “Latch” was the song that introduced me to their genius. And because the song’s tempo was slow, I felt it was less EDM. The tone is in line with their first album’s pop tunes conveying affection, addiction, and passion.
142 – Meant to Be by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha (2017, Year-End Rank: #16)
I presume Florida Georgia Line is country music’s equivalent of Nickelback and The Chainsmokers. But is the aversion to the duo driven by their constant cross-pollination with artists from other genres? I guess that makes them less pure. But if the output is similar to “Cruise” and “Meant to Be”, maybe the hate is worth all the success.
141 – Wake Me Up by Avicii featuring Aloe Blacc (2013, Year-End Rank: #10)
When “Wake Me Up” was released, the sound was ahead of its time. I never imagined that folk music could be integrated with EDM. But months after hearing the song endlessly, I got sick of hearing it. Six years have passed since. I can listen to it again and remember my admiration for Avicii’s innovation.
140 – In My Blood by Shawn Mendes (2018, Year-End Rank: #13)
I found it surprising that a person as successful, talented and attractive as Shawn Mendes dealt with anxiety and loneliness. I found the act of using his music to give the world a glimpse of his mind helpful. It removes notions of who suffers from mental health issues, how common the problem is and how people deal with it.
139 – Mirrors by Justin Timberlake (2013, Year-End Rank: #21)
In recent years, Justin Timberlake has faced backlash on his new music, the Super Bowl fiasco with Janet Jackson, and the PDA caught on camera with his movie co-star. But there was a time he was ascending to the throne for the King of Pop. Ironically, one of his best then was a song written for his wife, “Mirrors”.
138 – Dark Horse by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J (2014, Year-End Rank: #17)
I have no clue what “Dark Horse” is about. And that’s how enchanted I was with Katy Perry’s during the earlier part of the decade. Anything she released turned into gold. All of what she made sounded like hymns from the gods. “Dark Horse” is unconventional. A superstar utilized trap to create pop music. But as with everything she did, it worked.
137 – Wild Things by Alessia Cara (2016, Year-End Rank: #12)
As I mature alongside my financial obligations, my inner youth continues to die and the rebel in me retreats. Hence, most of my outlet for expression (and action) comes from music. “Wild Things” represents everything I want to be. And I’m still traversing the journey as we speak.
136 – i’m so tired… by Lauv and Troye Sivan (2019, Year-End Rank: #9)
There are days (or should I say most days) when I just feel tired and all I want to do is go home and leave all my worries behind. For something as universal and as common as exhaustion, it took 29 years of my life before I heard someone say the exact thoughts in my head without the need for euphemism or beating around the bush.
135 – In My Feelings by Drake (2018, Year-End Rank: #19)
I remember when Ciara started a dance challenge on Twitter to generate buzz for her single. You haven’t heard about it as there was no traction. And I realize that meme culture tends to be organic, and require a catchy tune to pull off. Those special moments are reserved for the likes of “Harlem Shake” or “In My Feelings”, the latter I like better.
134 – Just Give Me a Reason by Pink and Nate Reuss (2013, Year-End Rank: #4)
Pink was more than a decade into her career when “Just Give Me a Reason” came out. That’s notable because she’s been around for a long time. Yet, she continues to release one hit single after the other. She pulled it off while collaborating with Nate Reuss, her partner in a vocal contest of who can express the most pain through their voice.
133 – Redbone by Childish Gambino (2016, Year-End Rank: #15)
Even before “This is America”, Childish Gambino already encouraged people to stay woke. But the genius in “Redbone” is the vocal stylings of Donald Glover, which after research, apparently had little effects built into it, except the artist singing differently. The combination of R&B and psychedelic funk is also a treat that’s quite captivating.
132 – Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen (2012, Year-End Rank: #10)
Carly Rae Jepsen is now much bigger than her debut single. But nothing beats her first in demonstrating her ability to flirt, and at the same time, be casual and unsure about it. “Call Me Maybe” is all of our anxieties and insecurities about asking people out and first time dating made into an anthem.
131 – #Beautiful by Mariah Carey and Miguel (2013, Year-End Rank: #24)
The only thing cringeworthy in “#Beautiful” is the inclusion of the hashtag in the title. But the rest of the song is amazing. I can’t find a good reason why the single never took off. The conclusion I’m tempted to make is that the industry is ageist. It has a long way to go before accepting that veterans can compete with the best of the young artists today.
130 – Anaconda by Nicki Minaj (2014, Year-End Rank: #54)
Nicki’s biggest hits tend to be sexual, over the top and mundane for the highbrow. But “Super Bass”, “Anaconda” and “Starships” are some of the most difficult and best rap verses delivered by any rapper, regardless of any gender, in the past decade. Not to mention, “Anaconda” in particular is extremely naughty and exaggeratingly catchy.
129 – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson (2012, Year-End Rank: #3)
Nowadays, Kelly Clarkson is in a completely different life stage. But until the start of the decade, she was the poster girl for angsty heartbreak pop-rock songs. “Stronger” had the guitar riffs that make your blood rush faster and the vocal cords required to express rage and dissatisfaction.
128 – My My My by Troye Sivan (2018, Year-End Rank: #10)
Troye Sivan operates in the pop sphere. He’s current and trendy. But I’d describe his sound as retro. I can almost fit it in the soundtrack of any 80s movie. But what I admire most about his music is the normalization of gay romance. He’s casual and subtle about it. At the same time, he’s confident and free, most evident in “My My My”.
127 – Adorn by Miguel (2012, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
I didn’t even know what the word “adorn” meant. But I still gravitated towards this track. “Adorn” is as sexy and as classy as an R&B track can get. While Miguel would not dare make love with this song playing in the background, I wouldn’t mind. Miguel’s voice is heavenly and so seductive that it should be a crime.
126 – Wild Thoughts by DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller (2017, Year-End Rank: #12)
I never got the appeal of Santana’s “Maria Maria”. It was only when DJ Khaled sampled the guitar riffs from the song that I felt the original’s full potential was realized. An equally important ingredient in the song is Rihanna’s vocals. Her voice and tone added flavor to make the production sensual and luscious.
125 – Charlie Brown by Coldplay (2012, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
I guess “Charlie Brown” came out at a time when people started to find Coldplay uncool. This didn’t break out. But it’s easily one of their top stadium songs. I find the song delightful because of how much color and spirit radiates from its production. The same is true during concerts. Wristbands light up in the line “We’ll be glowing in the dark”.
124 – Motivation by Normani (2019, Year-End Rank: #8)
Before “Motivation”, all of Normani’s successes were tied to Fifth Harmony or a collaborator. I hope this settles any doubt about her capacity to do quality solo singles. While this hasn’t created the chart impact that Camila Cabello managed to do with her releases, the track has an underground following that will make this last the test of time.
123 – Paradise by George Ezra (2018, Year-End Rank: #12)
George Ezra has the tone of an old soul but is in fact 26 years young. “Paradise” is about going crazy in love. And this rollercoaster is best complemented by the upbeat and playful vibe of the production. His voice is also marked with eagerness and euphoria. The energy is infectious and hard not to catch.
122 – HUMBLE. by Kendrick Lamar (2017, Year-End Rank: #8)
No one can contest the fact that Kendrick Lamar created some of the best raps of the decade. But it was in “HUMBLE.” that he started delivering top-notch verses, while at the same time, utilizing sick beats. This reminds me of the era Kanye West released “Gold Digger”. The moment marked their breakout into both the commercial and critical.
121 – On Hold by The XX (2016, Year-End Rank: Unranked)
If you like peace and quiet, The XX is for your tastebuds. They’re calm and collected. But at the same time, they spice things up with elements of EDM. I presume the experimentation is from Jamie XX. “On Hold” is what I’d expect if I went to heaven and there was a wholesome disco club that lovers can enjoy and stare at each other’s eyes.