For the next few weeks, Amherst Wire entertainment is bringing the best of the decade right to you. We’ve taken the best and most memorable songs of the decade to give you the ultimate nostalgia trip. Check out the first installment of our decades playlist below to take a trip back to the start of the decade.
“Hard in the Paint” – Waka Flocka Flame
Jonathan Kermah, editor
Feelings of raw aggression follow Lex Lugar’s haunting horns from the jump of Waka Flocka’s “Hard in the Paint.”
Waka Flocka doesn’t waste any time getting to the point with his first words on the track being “I go hard in the mother f*cking paint n****.” Flocka doesn’t hide his message in some type of punchline. He doesn’t need autotune; his voice and energy is menacing enough.
This is not the song to sit around and listen to. If you feel the urge to either hoop or punch somebody in the face 40 seconds in, I don’t blame you.
Other Picks: “Bottoms Up” – Trey Songz ft. Nicki Minaj, “Right Above It” – Lil Wayne ft. Drake
“Runaway” – Kanye West ft. Pusha T
Trevor Wilson, editor
There’s not much to say about “Runaway” that hasn’t been said already. Few song intros are as recognizable as this one; the ambient piano keys play so delicately to set an atmosphere few artists can match. In what his undoubtedly one of his best albums, Kanye mesmerizes with masterclass production, including everything from his distorted voice to the echoing “Look at ya'” echoing into the void. Kanye West weaves in bars about relationship and personal troubles in tandem with Pusha T’s braggadocious yet iconic verse to create a truly special moment in music. From beginning to end, “Runaway” is a ballad that echoed through this decade.
Other Picks: “All I Do is Win” – DJ Khaled, “DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again” – Usher ft. Pitbull
“Baby” – Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris
Nasya Blackshear, writer
Whether you love him or hate him, Justin Bieber solidified his career and following when he dropped the song “Baby.” While it isn’t the most meaningful song, “Baby” skyrocketed to the top of the charts due to Justin’s name alone. It’s music video has 2.1 billion views, over 12 million likes and at some point everyone has known the words. “Baby” was a song that showed what can happen when you have such a cult following.
Other Picks: “Airplanes” – B.O.B ft. Hayley Williams, “Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster the People
“Forget You” – CeeLo Green
Brianna Silva, writer
It’s hard to believe that CeeLo Green’s breakout hit “Forget You” only came out in 2010. With a soulful melody and catchy lyrics like, “I see you driving ‘round town / With the girl I love and I’m like, / Forget you! / Oo, oo, oo,” the iconic single was quickly immortalized through various advertisements, television shows and films. While CeeLo Green continued to be successful long after “Forget You,” many people fondly remember this song as a classic throwback.
Other Picks: “Replay” – Iyaz, “I Like It” – Enrique Iglesias ft. Pitbull
“GHOST!” – Kid Cudi
Astghik Dion, editor
“It’s about having a good time,” is how Kid Cudi described his second studio album, “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” to MTV.com prior to its release. While the music may be brighter with various uptempo alt-rock choruses and jittery beats, Cudi’s lyrics tell a different story. “GHOST!” is one of Scott Mescudi’s most honest songs to date, speaking openly on his lifelong battle with depression. The instrumental itself is infectious with woozy synths, somber strings, distorted guitars and an eerie sample of “My Rainbow Life” by the Freak Scene, all contributing to saturate the track with supernatural energy. Mescudi closes the song with a repetition of the lines, “I hope they understand that I really understand /That they don’t understand,” radiating his solipsistic outlook, wanting those around him to know he is aware that he is misunderstood.
Other Picks: “California King Bed” – Rihanna, “Save Me” – Nicki Minaj
“Howlin’ for You” – The Black Keys
Adam Buckley, writer
The indisputable breakthrough for the Black Keys, the most fearsome-two-some of bluesy dirty garage rock and roll since the White Stripes. Comparisons between the two are hard to ignore, but the Keys found their own success with “Brothers.” “Howlin’ for You” had widespread cultural appeal, gracing “CSI Miami,” “Deadpool” and “NHL 11,” where it is forever burnt into my subconscious as “that “da-da da-da-da” song.” The song represents the first shot of the garage rock re-revolution that made gritty tones and bluesy fuzz fashionable again.
Other Picks: “Some Kind of Nature” – Gorillaz, “Nightmare” – Avenged Sevenfold
“TiK ToK” – Ke$ha
Chloe Lindahl, writer
It may be full of questionable lyrics for the 11-year-old I was, but “Tik Tok” was the absolute jam of 2010. It helps too when you have no idea what she’s talking about for the most part, all you know is that Ke$ha is angsty, empowered and fun and all of us prepubescents wanted to be just like her. When “Tik Tok” came on at your local roller palace birthday party, everyone would come out to dance, it just had that effect on people. Ke$ha won over the hearts of fans with her party girl, no cares given attitude. However, I don’t think any song had the effect that “Tik Tok” had on fans. Suddenly, we were all looking for guys who looked like Mick Jagger (not that I had any idea who that was and would most definitely reconsider that thought) and wondering what tipsy meant. “Tik Tok” hit #1 on the Billboard hot 100 that year and made me a Kesha fan for life through all the up-and-downs of her career so far.
Other Picks: “Hey Soul Sister” – Train, “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga
“Whatcha Say” – Jason Derulo
Julia Donohue, editor
Technically coming out in 2009, “Whatcha Say” by Jason Derulo topped the Billboard Top 100 in 2010. The song marks a debut for Jason Derulo, who would rise to legitimate and ironic prominence throughout the decade. “Whatcha Say” samples “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap which further entangles Derulo in meme culture. While Derulo is often mocked for his signature of singing his own name, “Whatcha Say” adds another layer to his infamy. “Hide and Seek” is featured in the O.C’s season 2 finale and parodied in the infamous SNL digital short “Dear Sister,” which amassed 25 million hits on YouTube. Although these events transpired in 2007, Derulo’s debut and name is more permanently attached to this millennial phenomenon, making it a song of the decade.
Other Picks: “Bulletproof” – La Roux, “Empire State of Mind” – Jay Z ft. Alicia Keys
“Devil In A New Dress” – Kanye West
Shane Guilfoyle, writer
Put your hands to the consolations. Kanye West’s legacy has cemented the multi-hyphenate as a musical pioneer, regardless of current standings in hip-hop and media culture. “Devil in a New Dress” was one of many critically-raved tracks off of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and for good reason. It features a soulful delivery that resonated with many fans of Ye’s earlier releases, such as “College Dropout” and “Graduation,” through its tactful sampling of Smokey Robinson’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.”
This track would have done numbers off of this sampling alone, but Ye aimed to break the ground surrounding listeners and through the introduction of an unexpected Rick Ross verse and a legendary guitar solo from producer Mike Dean, birthed himself a masterpiece through an insightful blend of typically non-interacting-mediums. Throughout this almost six minute track, synth-heavy riffs and hard-hitting drums evoke powerful and inspirational emotions as Ye and Ross spit lyrics about lust, desire and power, before coming to an abrupt stop as the tracklist transitions seamlessly to “Runaway.” “Devil in a New Dress” was also featured in “Runaway,” a short film that released alongside the album, which pushed the envelope for what could be expected from traditional album-releases through it’s breathtaking visual imagery.
Other Picks: “Ridin’ Round Town” – Casey Veggies, “Fancy” – Drake ft. T.I. & Swizz Beatz
“Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
Kacey Connolly, editor
Country music seems to have made more of an impact on pop culture than it once did back in 2010, but for those of us who have been listening even before Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw wrote a song together, it’s clear that Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” was a staple in the industry. Still their second most downloaded song on Spotify, this track that would become their second album title brought Lady A from known to most known. The perfect break up without really wanting to break up song for all the heartbroken, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood delivered a heart wrenching track and music video that continues to prove relatable to everyone going through a tough time missing their former love. Aside from “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna, this was also a middle school jam for me that I definitely did not understand at the time.