The best songs of the decade (as voted by you)
06.12.2019

The best songs of the decade (as voted by you)

Compiled by Caleb Triscari and Kate Streader

It’s been a solid decade of tunes and as the ’10s come to an end, we’re taking a look back at the tracks that defined the past ten years. So here they are, the top 25 bangers of the decade, as voted by you.

#25 Gang of Youths — ‘Let Me Down Easy’

Scraping in at number 25 — and number two on the 2017 triple j Hottest 100 charts — is one of Aussie rock’s most recent success stories. Gang of Youth’s track hits you in the face from the start with its driving bass and rock drum beat and doesn’t let go. Then, frontman Dave Le’aupepe’s deep, gravelly voice comes in and weaves a story of love and loss.

#24 Kendrick Lamar — ‘DNA.’

A rumbling bassline drives ‘DNA.’ and while you could be forgiven for mistaking this as a typical rap that riffs on the perks of being rich and successful, with lines like “I just win again, then win again, like Wimbledon, I serve”, it is much, much more than that. As with lots of Kendrick Lamar’s music, ‘DNA.’ is embedded with politics and a sense of disenfranchisement. Spitting absolute fire, Lamar dissects the attitudes of racism in America, making for a searing sonic one finger salute. 

#23 Tones and I — ‘Dance Monkey’

‘Dance Monkey’ came out of absolutely nowhere. Sung by 26-year-old Toni Watson, the Mornington Peninsula native took out four ARIA Awards after a record-breaking streak at #1 on the charts, not to mention the top slot on charts around the world. The infectious chorus and Tones’ distinct vocals make for a killer dance track that’ll be landing on playlists for years to come.

#22 Violent Soho — ‘Covered in Chrome’

‘Covered in Chrome’ saw Violent Soho explode onto the Aussie music scene; the chorus’ “Hell fuck yeah” (best when screamed) became a staple of any festival mosh pit as the Mansfield rockers frequented stages around the country. The slow intro reels you in before the track quickly spins out into a smattering of gritty riffs and bellowing drums. You can pretty much sum up ‘Covered In Chrome’ in three words: catchy as hell. 

#21 Bon Iver — ‘Holocene’

In Bon Iver’s Grammy-nominated track, the Wisconsin band’s repeated guitar plucking is like a form of hypnosis. Accompanied with a picturesque music video and smooth chorus line, ‘Holocene’ is a tender reflection of one of Vernon’s darkest nights, sitting in a Portland bar with the same name.

#20 Cardi B — ‘Bodak Yellow’

‘Bodak Yellow’ launched US rapper Cardi B directly into the spotlight and she’s held it ever since. Combined with her boisterous personality — and not to mention her recent crossover with US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders — Cardi B is keeping fame in her perfectly manicured hands by any means necessary.

#19 Tame Impala — ‘The Less I Know The Better’

‘The Less I Know The Better’ is like a rambling inner monologue, eloquently led by Kevin Parker’s floating falsetto. Soft washes of synth mingle in a surreal soundscape while Parker’s Dr Seuss-like rhyming pattern offers immeasurable satisfaction. A true treat for the ears, ‘The Less I Know The Better’ is inexplicably cathartic. 

#18 Kendrick Lamar — ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’

I got my drink, I got my music, I would share it but today I’m yelling/Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” – aside from being straight-up relatable, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is all smooth beats and fierce lines. Claps of electronic drums strike in perfect alignment with Lamar as he hits each syllable, showcasing the kind of impeccable detail that has seen him become such a monolithic figure in the rap game.  

#17 Tame Impala — ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’

A kaleidoscopic blur of sound and Kevin Parker’s dreamy vocals, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ is an absolute aural delight. Shimmering melodies and a peppering of drums sit against the repetitive chorus as this ditty floats around your ears. The cyclical style of the tune just begs for multiple back-to-back listens, like a never-ending loop of sheer sonic bliss. Backwards or forwards, this track will have you following Tame Impala wherever they choose to take you. 

#16 Arctic Monkeys — ‘Do I Wanna Know?’

‘Do I Wanna Know?’ is the kind of track you’d imagine was written in a dark corner of a dingy dive bar in a haze of whiskey and smoke. Between the thudding beat, clanging riff and breathy, harmonised chorus, Arctic Monkeys manage to capture the sound of being completely consumed by your feelings while still trying to play it cool. It’s simple yet oh so listenable — a perfect example of Arctic Monkeys’ allure. 

#15 Beyonce — ‘Formation’

‘Formation’ solidified Beyonce’s transformation from pop diva to bona fide bad bitch. For decades, we’ve seen men brag about their riches and bitches through rap and with ‘Formation’, Beyonce snatches that culture and makes it her own. An anthem for women and people of colour, ‘Formation’ isn’t just flaunting clout, it’s an invitation to make your own success.  

#14 Kendrick Lamar — ‘Alright’

Few rappers could back their rhymes with an a capella melody spruiked with trumpets and wind up with a banger, but then again, few rappers are in the same stratosphere as Kendrick Lamar. Between a stuttering beat and a spoken word piece backed by complete silence, this track is hard to pin down. “And we hate po-po/Wanna kill us dead in the street for sure … But we gon’ be alright”; ‘Alright’ is powerful in every sense of the word. 

#13 Pharrell — ‘Happy’

Oh my God, if we had a dollar for every time we’ve heard this song, we’d be sunbathing off the coast of Costa Rica instead of writing this list. 

#12 Frank Ocean – ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’

Following a short intro track, ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ kicks off the otherworldly experience that is Frank Ocean’s debut studio album channel ORANGE. With a simple synth chord progression and looped echoing beat, Ocean flexes his sparse vocal range while introducing us to a tender masculinity that travels through the rest of the record.

#11 LCD Soundsystem — ‘Dance Yrself Clean’

Much like Haydn’s Surprise Symphony (hear us out), you wouldn’t really expect much after listening to the first three minutes of silent killer ‘Dance Yrself Clean’. It’s only when the ‘aaah’s are answered with a beat drop and some fairly frantic synths do we recognise the LCD Soundsystem we all know and adore. 

#10 Billie Eilish — ‘Bad Guy’

As the song that launched a thousand memes this year, it comes as no surprise that ‘Bad Guy’ has made the list. The track completely encapsulates the mumble-ridden, dark pop style that Eilish has claimed as her own. ‘bad guy’ was also crowned Beat’s People’s Choice Song of the Year.

#9 Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers — ‘Get Lucky’

Like the legend of the phoenix, ‘Get Lucky’ reached monumental heights. An ultra-funky bassline, Pharrell’s silky vocals and a repetitive chorus intertwine to create an instant mood booster. It’s no surprise that this collaboration resulted in something so tasty, but this lot certainly raised the bar with ‘Get Lucky’. 

#8 Sia — ‘Chandelier’

The buzzing beat and sweeping chorus of Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ are the makings of an anthem in and of themselves. Paired with lyrics that knock the breath out of you and vocal delivery that punches you in the gut, this track instantly sinks its claws in.

#7 Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars — ‘Uptown Funk’

‘Uptown Funk’ is a textbook example of a banger. There’s slick bass, trumpets, a thumping beat and a tasty breakdown. It’s a dancefloor filler through and through and stands as the collaboration we didn’t know we needed. This is contemporary funk done right. Don’t believe us? Just listen.

#6 Tame Impala — ‘Let It Happen’

Broaching eight minutes, ‘Let It Happen’ isn’t your typical contender for a compulsively listenable track, but then, Tame Impala are hardly ones to go by the book. Swirling ambience and a hypnotic beat merge to create a dreamlike sonic trip that hooks you from its opening moments and never releases its grip.

#5 Adele — ‘Someone Like You’

“Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead.” Talk about a gut punch. Adele’s piano ballad ‘Someone Like You’ is a visceral depiction of heartache and unrequited love. Soaring vocals and repetitive tickles of keys hint towards an impending climax that never comes. Instead, the song fizzles into nothingness, not unlike the relationship it details. Ooft. 

#4 Adele – ‘Hello’

No, it’s not Lionel Richie on the other end of this call, but Adele’s ‘Hello’ is just as deserving of the title ‘modern classic’. It’s moody, dramatic and dark, highlighting Adele’s powerhouse vocal range while a simple melody lingers in the background. If you haven’t screamed the chorus to ‘Hello’ in the shower, you’re lying. 

#3 Gotye ft. Kimbra — ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’

triple j Hottest 100 winner ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ was bound to make the ranks at some point. Featuring a simple rhythm and an appearance by New Zealand pop singer-songwriter Kimbra, the track had people screaming at the top of their vocal ranges when the chorus came along. Plus, that music video was an odd one.

#2 Lorde — ‘Royals’

This is how you make a debut. ‘Royals’ sent Lorde on a skyward trajectory at just 16 and looking back, it’s easy to see why it was such an instant hit. A floor-rumbling bassline shudders beneath the chantable bridge as Lorde’s distinctive vocal guides us through this dark pop dream. A rags to rags anthem, ‘Royals’ is the antithesis to most pop narratives which revel in luxury and elitism.

#1 Childish Gambino — ‘This Is America’

‘This Is America’ marked a new era for Childish Gambino. Juxtaposing summery Afrobeat with stark, bass-heavy verses, the track jolts between two wildly different worlds. Not only is ‘This Is America’ a masterpiece in itself, the film clip is the cherry on top, sparking commentary from the likes of The New Yorker and Time for its artistry and symbolism. 

To check out the rest of the decade’s best music, head to our wrap-up.

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