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Tastemakers Top 20: Our Favorite Songs of 2010

Just in time for the Grammy Awards on February 13, here’s a list of 2010’s best songs. I asked one of my favorite bands (who, by the way, have a great new album out themselves) to help me narrow down the list. Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor were game for the challenge. (Huffington Post didn’t run the piece as promised, so now here it is for you.) Below, our results:

Janelle Monae

John Taylor: An absolute ‘Star is Born’ moment when Janelle performed this song on David Letterman this year. It was the YouTube clip of choice in our studio that week.

Kristi York Wooten: This tiny & mighty singer may have graced the pages of Vogue magazine last April, but Janelle Monae still took time to get down with the locals at an intimate listening party for Archandroid in an Atlanta hotel lounge that same month, dancing the “Tightrope” and professing her love for Salvador Dali while I sat in awe. That was a moment, too.


Janelle Monae dances the “Tightrope” while Kristi York Wooten looks on. Photo courtesy of Metromix Atlanta. Credit: DJBing


Kristi: The simplicity of the lyric had an undeniable everywoman quality to it – and spoke volumes to anyone who’d ever worried about gambling on love. Loved this song.

Vampire Weekend

Simon Le Bon: When I first heard this, I thought it was the Arctic Monkeys, because it’s got the same drive and rawness –– but the Maskanda guitar is a dead giveaway. Very uplifting. Vampire Weekend at their best.

Angelique Kidjo

“Move on Up” feat. Bono and John Legend

Kristi: Folks like Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, and Josh Groban can’t get enough of this Beninese singer’s energy: Kidjo‘s a forcefield of tenacity and positivity. This Curtis Mayfield cover does major justice to the song’s mantra of striving for a better tomorrow.

Cee Lo Green

Simon: It’s all in the title!

Kristi: Another Atlanta peep. Anyone who gets up-in-arms over the profanity in this song obviously has no sense of humor. Don’t we all feel like an Atari every now and then?

Mike Snow

Simon: Mark [Ronson] played me this. I think Andrew Wyatt is a sublime melodist and the Ronson remix is perfect white-boy reggae.

Roger Taylor: Andrew Wyatt has to be one of my favorite singers of the last few years and he doesn’t disappoint on this piece of ska-driven indie/pop from the ‘Swedish Pop mafia.’


Kristi:I was much relieved when “DJ” knocked “OMG” and those lyrics (“Honey got a booty like pow, pow, pow/Honey got some boobies like wow, oh wow” Ew. Really?!) off the charts. Definitely one of the year’s most infectious choruses – from yet another ATL supastar.

I Blame Coco

Simon: I was in the pool on holiday and my daughter put a record on. I said “What’s this?” She said “It’s Coco Sumner. Sting’s daughter.  You’d better like it.”  And I did.  It’s just a really good song.  It’s pure pop.

Roger: This girl really does have it in spades. Despite having some very big shoes to fill, she is really owning her music and delivering some truly unique and interesting records … this being one of them.

Kristi: I’ve been following Coco since her first YouTube appearances a few years ago, and I can’t wait until she breaks in the U.S.; she’ll be major.


Kristi: The Five Ghosts was easily the best album of the year – a thoughtful, complex, and beautifully recorded mash of synths and vocals from this veteran Canadian pop band; “Fixed” was the poppy single that landed Stars on Jimmy Fallon, but dark charmers such as “He Dreams He’s Awake” are just as worthy of a listen.

Scissor Sisters

Roger: Soaring, unforgettable chorus from these New York ‘Discophiles’ who are standing the test of time.

Simon: These guys have a great new album out [Night Work], which really is fabulous. This one may not even be the best song on the album, but once you get it in your head you can’t get it out!


Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic with Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon. Photo credit: Nick Rhodes. Photo courtesy of Ana Matronic appears on Duran Duran’s new album All You Need is Now.


Kristi: I am a sucker for ballads, and Tom Chaplin‘s choirboy tenor gets me every time. I think Keane are underrated songwriters and their day in the sun is yet to come.


John: I was turned on to this song by Richard Blade. So excited to have Kelis on our new album [All You Need is Now].  She is quite extraordinary.

Roger: One of the best dance floor records of the year. Crashing through a number of musical boundaries and landing on most DJ’s decks over the summer … surely [David] Guetta‘s best collaboration to date.

Two Door Cinema Club

Kristi: The little band that could. Tourist History was one of the more exciting albums I heard this year. Teenagers from Northern Ireland who channel TV on the Radio and Big Country? I’m so there.


Simon: One of these hot groups, with a new album [Total Life Forever] out.  This is one I heard on the radio and just had to keep playing.


Kristi: This trio’s chops are undeniable. And the video – a fun homage to the Blues Brothers (and to Weird Al Yankovic, who sits in on tambourine) – proved that these savvy vets don’t take themselves too seriously. Try not to like this song. I dare you.


John: My favorite song from the Rated R album,which I loved and hated in equal measure.  “Rude Boy” is an extraordinarily original piece of R&B pop.

Roger: This song gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘Rude Boy’ and Rihanna shows us a whole new ‘ragamuffin’ side… brilliant!

Tracey Thorn

Kristi: My. Favorite. Female. Singer. Ever. Period.

B.o.B/Bruno Mars

Kristi: Yet another ATL mainstay, this B.o.B hit had a breezy summer feel that made it irresistible. Add Mars’ smooth vocal, and you have one of the biggest smashes of 2010.

Plan B

Simon: South London gangster to new soul star. This is ‘Mod’ at its best.

Surfer Blood

Kristi: A cool guitar riff I couldn’t get out of my head… vaguely reminiscent of The Shins, but with an experimental twist. Plus, they’re from Florida. That’s got to be worth something.

Honorable mention: Fran Healy of Travis, Film School, Angus & Julia Stone, Cyndi Lauper’s Memphis Blues, The Secret Handshake, Corinne Bailey Rae, the return of Sade, Ben Folds, Bryan Ferry, Sufjan Stevens, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

What did you listen to this year? Please comment and tell us your faves.


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