Guest lists 2010: Phoenix critics weigh in on the year in music

What consensus?
By PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  December 21, 2010


Daniel Brockman
1. tie: Salem, “Frost” (from King Night) / †‡†, “gOth bb” (from †‡† CD-R) / Crystal Castles & Robert Smith, “Not In Love” (digital single)
2. Ke$ha, “Sleazy” (from Cannibal)
3. tie: Beach House, “Walk In The Park” (from Teen Dream) / Zola Jesus, “Night” (from Stridulum EP)
4. tie: M.I.A., “Born Free” (from /\/\/\Y/\) / Sleigh Bells, “Crown On The Ground” (from Treats)
5. Nachtmystium, “Nightfall” (from Addicts: Black Meddle, Pt. II)
6. Kanye West, “All Of The Lights” (from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy)
7. Die Antwoord, “Evil Boy” (from $O$)
8. MGMT, “Flash Delirium” (from Congratulations)
9. Robyn, “Dancing On My Own” (from Body Talk)
10. Holy Grail, “Immortal Man” (from Crisis In Utopia)

If 2009 was the year that the shine wore off of '08's punch drunk poptimism, twenty-ten is when everyone stared straight into the abyss. And not just financially and politically, but musically, as the tone of even the biggest of hits stared into the ultimate darkness of an unknowable and unkind future. Jokes amongst muso types about genre names like "witchhouse" and "chillwave" miss the musical and cultural changes happening, as sounds that once were considered too capital-G goth are now mainstreamed, whether within the chilly underground dance-dirges of Salem, Crystal Castles, and †‡†, at the top of the charts by mainstream mopes like Kanye, MGMT and Rihanna, or by crit-darlings like Beach House, Robyn and Zola Jesus. Even black metal went Joy Division on us, with the new Nachtmystium shocking all by being the perfect soundtrack to shuffle around a crowded dancefloor in an over-sized cardigan to. Those who chose to dodge the darkness tended to do so with defiance, whether the pugilistic agit-noise of M.I.A. and protegees/co-conspirators Sleigh Bells and Die Antwoord, or the unavoidable class-war-disguised-as-petulance pop kicks of Ke$ha. Whether oh-one-one can get even more bleak is up for spec, but for now let's all paint our nails black and fire off a missive in our diary in celebration of these last twelve months of darkness.

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