Friday, December 24, 2010

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010 (22-20)

22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job (Working This Job)

It would have to be a band like Athens, Georgia's Drive-By Truckers to write and record 2010's ultimate ode to, well, 2010 -- specifically the unrelentingly soul-sucking economic situation which continued to leave millions of Americans either on the precipice of ruin or in full-fledged catastrophe mode. While so many were out of work, so many more were reduced to working far beneath their abilities, and still more followed the well-worn path-of-least-resistance that those who came before them did -- chasing a middle-class American dream in its gruesome death throes -- only to find that it led absolutely nowhere. That's the tragic sentiment that the Truckers captured when they sang, "Sometimes I dream that I had aimed my life in different ways/But there was nothin' to show me a way to get me outta this place/So I just did what my daddy did before me/Only to find the only door I found was closed to me." When all was said and done, This Fucking Job may have wound up being the dead-end anthem for the 2010 leg of the Great Recession.

21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass

At the other end of the spectrum from the honky-tonk nihilism of This Fucking Job there was P!nk -- and she wasn't content to let the little guy wallow in self-pity. Maybe it was a by-product of the inexplicable success of Glee or maybe it was as a response to the highly publicized suicides of a bunch of kids who claimed to be bullied to the point of absolute hopelessness, but somewhere along the line 2010 became the year of the underdog. There were a couple of songs this year that really captured the "hey, you're somebody, loser" zeitgeist: Katy Perry's Firework was one -- and it's admittedly a damn spectacular song -- but it just didn't have the street cred provided by somebody who's spent a good portion of her career confounding the demands and expectations of the machine that creates cookie-cutter pop stars. Raise Your Glass is P!nk using her substantial powers for good -- creating a loud, brash and anthemic paean to the joys of not quite fitting in. And it just fucking ruled.

20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round

Ariel Pink is a bona fide weirdo. He's a recording/performance artist who's been kicking around the Los Angeles area for years, making the kind of music you either worship at the altar of or are utterly repulsed by. In 2010, a lot of bands -- most of them on the 4AD label -- worked over the retro soft rock sound like Ali going at Liston; hell, one of the best albums of the year -- Relayted, by the alt-supergroup Gayngs -- was inspired entirely by 10cc's I'm Not In Love. But only Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti project had the balls to just swipe the 70's sound wholesale. His album, Before Today, is like an honest-to-God time warp; put it on and you may as well be sitting on a shag rug having fondue with Seals and Crofts while Boz Scaggs mixes drinks in the kitchen. And with a little bit of psychedelia and a lot of breezy harmony -- to say nothing of a video shot by the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne entirely on his iPhone -- Round and Round is a perfect representation of the strange and eminently entertaining little feat Ariel Pink accomplished with this record.

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

Tomorrow: 19, 18 & 17

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