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The 100 Best Tracks of 2010

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  • We count down our favourite 100 tracks of the year.
  • published
    6 Feb 2011
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This week, we’ll be counting down our 100 favourite tracks released (or in some cases, not released) this year.

We’ll be listing them in groups of 20, so today it’s entries 100 to 81, on Tuesday it’s 80-61, Wednesday 60-41, Thursday 40-21, and finally 20-1 on Friday.

If you’re still yet to read our rundowns of the best record labels, breakthrough artists and albums of the year, then they’re collected in the bottom left of the FACT homepage, along with the rest of our end of 2010 features so far.


100: CASSIE
‘SKYDIVER’
(UNRELEASED)

A fitting #100 on our list, seeing as ‘Skydiver’ hasn’t come out and possibly never will. This longing leak from Cassie’s long-delayed second album – along with ‘Thirsty’, ‘Summer Charm’ and the rest of the cult Cassie leaks that have emerged thus far – proved that if her career does take the commercial nosedive that it’s been threatening to, then we’re in danger of losing a truly special vocalist; one whose voice echoes the vulnerability and fragility of being an R’n’B star better than most who’ve come before her, and most who’ll come after.


 

99: THE SOFT MOON
‘CIRCLES’
(taken from THE SOFT MOON, CAPTURED TRACKS)

‘Circles’ is darkwave simplicity itself: a chugging, bass-heavy motorik groove augmented by screeching synths, guitar distortion and high-speed snapclaps. It’s taken from The Soft Moon’s self-titled debut album, recently released on Blank Dogs’ Captured Tracks label. It’s wonderful. It also sounds a bit like an early Kasabian instrumental, but let’s try not to think about that.


 

98: MADVILLAIN
‘PAPERMILL’
(ADULT SWIM)

Madlib’s recent obsession with European rock music from the ’60s and ’70s spilled over into this Madvillain freebie, MF Doom trying out his pigeon German over chopped up euro-pop. Not much more than a fun appetiser for the next Madvillain album, but we’ll take what we can get at this stage.


 

97: GUNNAR WENDEL
’578′ (OMAR S. BERLIN MIX)
(FXHE RECORDS)

Originally released as a B-side on German label Mikrodisko in 2008, Omar-S took this signature production by Gunnar Wendel – better known by his nom de guerre, Kassem Mosse – and remixed it not once, but twice, for a fresh release through his FXHE imprint. On account of its name, we’d like to say the chugging ‘Omar S Rude Boy Warm Mix’ is our favourite of the pair, but the truth is that the pacier ‘Berlin Mix’ on the A-side hits hardest, all wah-wahed chords and half-formed breakbeats peeling off a sticky 4/4 groove.


 

96: HOT CHIP
‘I FEEL BETTER’
(EMI)

Say what you will about Hot Chip, they’ve got soaring, festival-friendly melodies nailed. They honestly can’t stop pumping the blighters out. Alexis Taylor’s warble is awarded the perfect foil here – blithely UK funky-referencing drums and strings that sound like grime gone philharmonic. Proper pop music.


 

95: MAD ONE
‘HOUSE GIRLS PT. 1′
(DEVINE RECORDINGS)

Stream sample here

‘House Girls’, first and foremost, is in this list because it’s a prime piece of militant UK Funky. But it’s also in this list because of what it’s come to represent. An anthem in the underbelly of UK house that circulates the Deja Vu and Live FM radio stations (both full of raw vitality, and healthy competition to the increasingly clinical Rinse FM), for the majority of the year the only way you could get an mp3 of this track was by paying Mad One an extortionate amount of money. Which we guess people did. They were then presumably a bit naffed off when it appeared on iTunes and Amazon this December.


 

94: JOY ORBISON
‘THE SHREW WOULD HAVE CUSHIONED THE BLOW’
(AUS MUSIC)

Compared to ‘Hyph Mngo’ this was pretty subtle, but Joy Orbison’s still well aware here that the quickest way to your heart is by tearing out its strings with a lovesick vocal sample. Props to Actress for a remix on the B-side that really brought out the boogie in his slow house sound.


 

93: QNS
‘QNS 2/6′
(QNS)

A newly formed white label wing of Felix K’s Hidden Hawaii stable dedicated to fleet-footed drum ‘n bass minimalism, QNS (Quantity Not Sufficient) provided some of the year’s most irresistible displays of stripped-down, cyclical beat science. ’2/6′ was particularly effective, an agreeably compressed and Berlin-flavoured response to the UK’s Autonomic sound.


 

92: JAMES PANTS
‘I LIVE INSIDE AN EGG’
(STONES THROW)

This marvellous track – an angry, impatient compact of minimal wave, no wave and psychedelia influences – was first aired on Pants’ Seven Seals album, which came out in the no man’s land that is December 2009 and so missed out on a deservedly high place in both that year’s best albums list and this one’s. As he moves away from the sun-soaked boogie with which he made his name, Pants is emerging as an artist of rare wit, ambition and ability; the kind of artist you can get behind. Check this and then go grab the LP, you won’t regret it.


 

91: R1 RYDERS
‘HYDRAULIC’
(from FULL THROTTLE EP, R1 RYDERS)


EP samples

Where some tracks drop, this body-armoured take on UK Funky lifts off.

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