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It may still be 2020, but there are only three months left in this neverending year. As we all could use some escapism right now, here’s some nostalgia straight from the simpler time of 2010 — ten songs that turn ten years old this year.
1. “Monster” by Kanye West
This six-minute long, star-studded rap epic is undoubtedly some of Kanye’s best work. The melodic, haunting, and disturbing production combine with appearances from Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and Bon Iver to create this groundbreaking track. And of course, you can’t listen to this song without being absolutely floored by Nicki Minaj’s iconic verse — which the Village Voice referred to as the verse “that announced [her] manic brilliance to so many.”
2. “Moment 4 Life” by Nicki Minaj feat. Drake
Speaking of Nicki Minaj, her much-anticipated debut album “Pink Friday” (2010) brought with it “Moment 4 Life” featuring Drake. The lyrically poignant song deviates from Minaj’s typical subject matter to shout out the people who helped her get to where she is and to express the realization that she has begun to achieve her wildest dreams — but that this moment will, like all, eventually pass her by.
3. “Whip My Hair” by Willow Smith
When listening to Willow Smith’s unapologetic, explosive “Whip My Hair,” one must remember that Smith was only nine years old when she released her debut single. The song was insanely successful, reaching Platinum status and eventually climbing to number 11 on US Billboard Hot 100. Despite her youth, Smith’s vocal ability was so powerful that it garnered comparisons to Rihanna’s.
4. “S&M” by Rihanna
Speaking of Rihanna, I would be remiss if I failed to mention her iconic song “S&M.” The suggestive lyrics combined with its sultry, smooth production instantly made the song a hit. Rihanna resists subjugation and oppression in the song, presenting herself as a powerful and unapologetic woman with the ability to dominate both inside and outside of the bedroom.
5. “Telephone” by Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé
Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” is a song of techno-liberation (a theme she employs way ahead of its time) and resistance of patriarchal desires — Gaga denies a man’s calls, immersing herself in dance and music rather than succumbing to him as he pesters her through her telephone. Gaga originally wrote “Telephone” for Britney Spears, but listening to how her light yet forceful voice pairs well with Beyonce’s distinct timbre, it seems apt that these two icons were the ones to bring this song to the world.
6. “Wavin’ Flag (Coca-Cola Celebration Mix)” by K’Naan
Re-released when Coca-Cola chose the reggae-fusion track as their promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, this song resonated with countless fans due to its poignancy and beautiful simplicity. The inspirational track conveys K'naan's passion in an unrivaled manner, and the anthem spread beyond soccer fans to reach the top of the charts in many countries.
7. “TiK ToK” by Ke$ha
This Billboard Hot 100 #1 track was the anthem 13-year-olds would blast while preparing for the middle school dance. Kesha’s Auto-Tuned energy was contagious and immensely freeing. Time may “tik tok” away, but Kesha reminded us to enjoy our youth, put on some tops from Aeropostale, and dance the night away before our parents had to pick us up at 9:30 p.m.
8. “Last Of The American Girls” by Green Day
Green Day has been pumping out angsty, powerful rock music since 1987, and in 2010, they released “Last of the American Girls.” The song perfectly captures what it felt like for a young generation to live in the 21st century, and the band praised those who refused to “cooperate” with the “establishment corporation” in the years following the Great Recession.
9. “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem feat. Rihanna
Eminem and Rihanna’s raw single “Love the Way You Lie” was simultaneously lauded and criticized by reviewers for the way it tackled themes of domestic abuse from the perspective of the two artists. The song received five Grammy nominations and became Eminem’s best-selling single, cementing its place in the 2010s musical canon.
10. “Where’d All The Time Go?” by Dr. Dog
I can still hear many of the songs that came out in 2010 in my mind as vividly as I did the first time I heard them, raising the question: “Where’d all the time go?” In their song of the same name, rock band Dr. Dog explores this question with a plaintive, melancholic tune that sums up the feeling of suddenly moving into yet another new decade. The result is a track that never loses its emotional relevance.
—Staff Writer Ajibabi O. Oloko can be reached at email@example.com.
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