► Part 1: #100 – #76
100. Jamie xx & Gill Scott-Heron ‘ I’ll Take Care of U’ (2011)
When The xx mastermind Jamie Smith was asked to rework the final studio album by iconic spoken words pioneer Gill Scott-Heron it was a surprising match made in heaven, mixing the past with the present. Backed by his bandmate Romy Madley Croft it combines the youthful rave energy with the wisdom of the man’s unique voice.
99. Esben And The Witch – ‘Dig Your Fingers In’ (2014)
The British three-piece has always been known and loved for their monumental approach towards their alternative goth rock. This tune combines the two extremes – the loudness and the tender moments – in a perfect way with lead singer Rachel Davies being the perfect guide through darkness.
98. The War On Drugs – ‘Thinking Of A Place’ (2017)
Eleven minutes to shut the world outside, forget the madness and join Adam Granduciel and his gang on a psychedelic trip to a better place. It’s a song that forces you to actually take your time and allows you to sink deeper and deeper into its meditative character. If you do that, ultimate bliss might reward you in the end.
97. Alvvays – ‘Archie Marry Me’ (2014)
As charming as it was irresistible. We still don’t know how you can refuse an offer like this one from Molly Rankin but we surely hope that Archie will regret his ‘no’.
96. Tame Impala – ‘Let It Happen’ (2015)
Kevin Parker’s turn towards pop wasn’t surprising at all, his ability to write catchy hooks was there right from the beginning. Switching from psychedelic guitars to also quite trippy analogue synthesizers just gave its music the tempting funky twist it needed.
95. Nicolas Jaar – ‘Space Is Only Noise If You Can See’ (2011)
Far from being noisy Nicolas Jaar’s jazzy electronic epos was a hazy invitation to take a deep dive into the meditative power of this music.
94. Foals – ‘Inhaler’ (2013)
The moment the indie darlings took a huge turn towards harder alternative rock was a surprising yet quite fulfilling shock that introduced us to a new dimension of their powerful rock. From here on there was not much space for compromises anymore.
93. Run The Jewels – ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)’ (2014)
Your angry anthem about police brutality against minorities isn’t fully completed until you got Zack De La Rocha from Rage Against The Machine on board. Along with Killer Mike and El-P the maestro takes the rebellious energy of his musical legacy to the hear and now, unleashing one of the most on-point protest songs of the decade.
92. El Guincho – ‘Bombay’ (2010)
Spanish musician Pablo Díaz-Reixa delivers an outburst of tropical sunshine bliss und this rhythmic indie-pop treasure from the decade’s early days. It popped out of nothing, it saved more than one summer and than quickly vanished again.
91. The Drums – ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ (2010)
Far too long Jonny Pierce’s project has been mistake for a joyful and mindless indie music project and this song is the reason for that. A timeless, easy going summer tune that makes you forget that The Drums have actually way more to offer. Thank god, they proved that over the past ten years.
90. David Bowie – ‘Lazarus’ (2016)
It was the message we didn’t get at the first place. “Look up here, I’m in heaven” sings the icon as the light slowly fades. A gloomy lullaby, a brief reflection before moving to the next chapter. It was in the words, it was in the video but we were as blind as the protagonist. A few days after the song’s release, Bowie left planet earth.
89. SBTRKT – ‘Hold On’ (2011)
Besides giving us his gentle post-dubstep sounds you also have to think Aaron Jerome for introducing us to the genius of Sampha, a voice filled with emotion and destined to melt your heart. This voice made “Hold On” the most tender club tune of the past years.
88. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – ‘Garden’ (2011)
As I’m writing these lines we’re still waiting for a proper follow-up album by Orlando Higginbottom and his mighty alter ego. It feels as if he still suffers from the omni-presence of the early 2010s which saw TEED delivering one hit single after the other. Garden, carried by vocalist Luisa Gerstein was the most fantastic one.
87. Lorde – ‘Royals’ (2013)
This decade the lines between mainstream and indie culture fully blurred and Lorde played a crucial part in this. Strong, confident and smart while still being able to deliver catchy contemporary pop that spoke a different language. ‘Royals’ was an anthem for the misfits, delivered by a stubborn artist whose career just begun.
86. Hurts – ‘Wonderful Life’ (2010)
Their was a magic of 80s nostalgia shining through everything the Manchester-based duo delivered in their early days. “Wonderful Life” is a as retro as a song could possibly be but it takes plenty of talent and musical craft to recreate that vibe. Unfortunately they creatively peaked on their debut single which is the tragic part of it all.
85. Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Never Catch Me’ (2014)
How to transport the idea of jazz into the 21st century? These two played a crucial part in this project and when they join forces it gets even better. Steven Ellison’s floating production feels like a whirlwind of ideas while Kendrick does what he does best – rapping over the chaos like it’s the easiest thing on earth, creating an unstoppable musical hurricane.
84. Jon Hopkins – ‘Open Eye Signal’ (2013)
It took Jon Hopkins over ten years to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. His music has always been profound, majestic and simply beautiful but in the end it needed a turn towards techno to introduce his electronic soundscapes to a bigger audience. Even with a smashing four-to-the-floor beat as a foundation the musicality still shines through, making sure that Hopkins remains one of electronic music’s most important figures out our time.
83. FKA Twigs – ‘Water Me’ (2013)
FKA Twigs what has her best before she became a global alternative pop phenomenon, when her image was still quite vague and her sound hard to define. That was the time when each of her releases was a spectacular adventure that invited the listener to dive deeper into it. This is a prime example for that.
82. The National – ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ (2010)
Do The National have actually hit singles? Well, somehow yeah but they remain unusual and unpredictable. This one turned to a big fan favourite and introduced them to a bigger audience but refuses to fulfil traditional ‘hit expectations’. You don’t know what it is but that makes the whole thing even more exciting.
81. Gorillaz – ‘On Melancholy Hill’ (2010)
With all the countless guest stars, musical experiments and audiovisual approach it’s easy to forget that Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn remains one of music’s finest composers and best songwriters and when these moments shine through all the conceptual they shine even brighter. His trip to Melancholy Hill is a wonderful example here.
80. Frank Ocean – ‘Pyramids’ (2012)
With a length of almost ten minutes Frank Ocean’s epos of a pimp falling in love with one of his clients got ideas enough for multiple songs. The two-parts perfectly blend into each other, telling the story with a furious mixture of club-music-driven pop and soulful R&B. If you need to understand why Frank Ocean is such an important musical figure, this is the song that explains it best.
79. Vampire Weekend – ‘Giving Up The Gun’ (2010)
Ezra Koenig and his band delivered multiple solid tunes over the past ten years so this one is more like a substitute for all the other good ones. The harmonies, the hooks, the melody – this is the stuff a great Vampire Weekend track is made of
78. The Weeknd – ‘Wicked Games’ (2012)
Before “Can’t Feel My Face” and becoming the motherf*ckin’ “Starboy” Abel Makkonen Tesfaye was a hidden treasure of the blogosphere, a mysterious mixture between alternative and R&B. What now appeared to be the reality was a fascinating new listening experience in the early days. And this song is a reminder for this.
77. James Blake – ‘Limit To Your Love’ (2010)
By now the majority of people might have forgotten that this track was originally recorded and released by Feist. Blake actually didn’t change it that much but he added another, even more fragile level to the performance, letting the electronic elements battle with the human aspect, making it a futuristic ballad for the here and now and a timeless modern classic.
76. Haim – ‘Don’t Save Me’ (2013)
The Haim sisters came out of nowhere and it only took them one summer to win our hearts by storm, thanks to a pretty impressive hit explosion on their debut album. We could have picked any single from it but the irresistible 80s radio hit groove of ‘Don’t Save Me’ simply deserves a bit more credit here.
Find a few (but not all) songs from this list in our special 2010s indie playlist on Spotify.