4. Mumford & Sons -- Little Lion Man
Every couple of years or so, a band seems to come from out of nowhere and inexplicably strike gold -- their popularity taking everyone by surprise. We must be just about due because in 2010 Mumford & Sons were the little band that could, going from zero-to-supernova around the globe in what felt like a split second. Rising out of the new folk underground bubbling beneath the surface of London's indie scene, the band admittedly had shock value going for them, both in their overall sound -- which once again, since originality is relative, sounded completely fresh as pop music in 2010 -- and the intensity of their live performances. Little Lion Man exploded into a monstrous hit with good reason. It's got raw, unapologetic emotion and it barrels along like a locomotive coming at you -- and then of course there's one of the most memorable choruses of the year: "But it was not your fault but mine/And it was your heart on the line/I really fucked it up this time -- didn't I, my dear?" That's the kind of tragic resignation that hits home with just about everyone.
3. A Silent Film -- You Will Leave a Mark
There's always been a special niche in alt rock for bands that kick detached irony to the curb and throw both arms around the earnest and sincere. A Silent Film sat at the top of that sub-genre this year, and what they did they really did well. Grandiosely cinematic and proudly wearing their hearts on their sleeves, at face value they'd seem a little superfluous in the musical pool these days, what with bands like Coldplay, Civil Twilight, Keane and Snow Patrol already filling the thing to the point of pushing all the water out over the edges. But there's simply no denying one thing: they make good music. You Will Leave a Mark is terrific, no-bullshit power-pop, and from its pounding opening piano progression to its sweeping chorus, it's got the kind of urgency that never feels phony or pompous. These guys play like their lives depend on it, and even if this was the one and only song A Silent Film ever did, it would -- no pun intended -- leave a hell of a mark.
2. Foster the People -- Pumped Up Kicks
If Pumped Up Kicks were lethal, we'd all be dead right now. It's that outrageously infectious. There was buzz about Foster the People -- who got singed out of L.A. at lightning speed just last year -- even before this single was released, which is amusing because to this day not much more than this one song has been made available. Yeah, there's a full album on the way and much of it lives up to the effervescent promise of Pumped Up Kicks. But as with A Silent Film, if these guys never released another song, they'd have had a pretty meaningful career in pop music. Part Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys, part Beck, part MGMT, all carefree indie cool, this is one of those songs that -- the minute you heard it -- you found yourself immediately trying to figure out who it was and how to get your hands on it. They could probably get away with classifying it as a Class A drug.
Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 5. The Black Keys -- Tighten Up, 6. Vampire Weekend -- Giving Up the Gun, 7. Gorillaz -- Stylo
Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 8. Arcade Fire -- Ready To Start, 9. The Heavy -- How You Like Me Now, 10. Tame Impala -- Lucidity
Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 11. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby -- From Above, 12. Kanye West (Featuring Bon Iver and Gil Scott-Heron) -- Lost in the World, 13. M.I.A. -- Born Free
Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 14. Sia -- My Love, 15. Middle Class Rut -- New Low, 16. The xx -- Islands
Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 17. John Legend and the Roots -- I Can't Write Left-Handed, 18. Blonde Redhead -- Not Getting There, 19. The National -- Bloodbuzz Ohio
Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round, 21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass, 22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job
Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents
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