It’s time to live in the past for just one brief moment longer before we fully embrace the future. Time for one last shot of nostalgia as we look at the very best songs of the past ten years. Songs that dominated the airwaves and became anthems for millions, and the ones that formed the backbone of our playlists and became the musical lifeblood of a more personal journey. Songs that have hyped us up ready to take on the world and ones that helped us escape into daydreams, ones that have given us goosebumps and some that have even brought us close to tears. So, assuming you’ve caught up with part one, let’s get to it!
25. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Homesick
It’s a song that knows when to hold back and when to throw everything it’s got at you. It knows how to reel you in with just vocals over a soft and simple riff, or over a throbbing bass line, and when to hit you with a big, brash, anthemic chorus. It was the perfect song to open their debut album, and also the perfect song to ring in part 2 of this list.
24. Titus Andronicus – Dimed Out
Generally speaking I’m not a punk fan. As someone who grew up on Prog it’s basically the complete antithesis of some of my all time favourite music. I will however wholeheartedly make an exception for ‘Dimed Out’. The energy is unrelenting, the lyrics surprisingly eloquent, the vocals so wild and earnest like he’s pushing his body and spirit to the limit to tell you to seize the day. Let me tell you, nothing gets me fired up like this.
23. Evening Darling – Another Long Drive
Our number one song of the year back in 2017. True to its name this is a song made for the open road. For cruising with the top down on a summer afternoon; wind coursing through your hair, golden sunlight streaming down from the heavens, the road winding endlessly before you, stretching on into the unknown. Both on and off the road it’s the kind of song to help you forget about the destination and just enjoy the journey.
22. The Lumineers – Ho Hey
It’s a campfire song through and through in the best possible sense. Just something simple and endearing to bring together anyone with a song in their heart. As “clap your hands, stomp your feet, sing out loud for all to hear” kinda songs go, it just doesn’t get any better than this. It’s so genuinely sweet and wholesome, and something we could all do with a little bit more of in our lives.
21. Rationale – Fuel To The Fire
Such a striking and powerful track from a highly underrated artist. The superb synths, the compelling lyrics, the incredible vocals; it’s the full package. As great as the studio version is however, you’ve not truly experienced ‘Fuel To The Fire’ until you’ve heard it, until you’ve felt it, in a live setting. Everything that makes this song deserving of its place on this list gets dialled up a few notches.
20. Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better
‘The Less I Know The Better’ is basically everything that makes Tame Impala great condensed down into a single song. It’s bright and vibrant, it wears its psychedelic influences on its sleeve but still knows its way around a good pop hook. Really the beating heart of this song though is the bass. Grooves that glorious truly are one in a million.
19. The Black Keys – Lonely Boy
It was a tough call between this and ‘Gold On The Ceiling’. Both are textbook examples of fuzzy blues rock at its finest, both have great hooks, both of them were big hits back in the day, and both put a smile on my face even after all these years. In the end the deciding factor was the video. Every time I hear ‘Lonely Boy’ I remember this fella’s dancing and my smile gets a little wider.
18. Childish Gambino – Redbone
Somehow this song feels like it has been plucked straight out of the seventies, and that it is at the cutting edge of music at the same time. The production is faultless, the groove so slick and seductive, and I still can’t get my head around the fact that Donald Glover can actually sing like that. I can just imagine the legions of people hearing this when it first came out and thinking “what is this, because I need more!”
17. Adele – Rolling In The Deep
In many ways this feels like the biggest pop song of the decade in terms of its reach, its influence, and the way it resonated with people. It was the big breakout hit that made Adele one of the biggest stars on the planet. It’s fierce, it’s powerful, it’s moving. We may take it for granted now but you can’t deny the past ten years would have been a very different place without it.
16. Lord Huron – The Night We Met
While it’s most widely associated with a show that is probably best forgotten, the song itself is one that stays with you. It fills you with the sweetest emptiness, something still and beautiful like a city all lit up with not a single soul to be found. ‘The Night We Met’ is a bittersweet slow-dance at the end of the world, a moment so pure and beautiful that you cling on to it with all you’ve got.
15. Mumford & Sons (feat. Baaba Maal and The Very Best) – There Will Be Time
It may be a bit of a deeper cut for the Mumford lads, but I believe this is the band at their best. This song feels like a celebration of humanity, of the power music has to bring people together regardless of our differences. The joy, passion and comradeship embodied in this song is just so life-affirming. A much needed reminder that there is more that unites us than divides us.
14. Hozier – Take Me To Church
I remember the rush I felt witnessing this song take the world by storm having been a fan from the very beginning. Hearing something with real power and meaning dominating the airwaves for the first time I can really remember. Seeing his astonishing vocals and his erudite and articulate lyricism resonating with people and inspiring them. We all have artists we love that we wish the whole world could hear, and with this song my wish was granted.
13. The Family Crest – Sparks
They say a great ending can make or break a movie. It’s all about bringing the loose ends together and tying them off with a satisfying flourish. With music I find it’s often the opposite; it’s all about the beginning, about bursting out of the gates and throwing everything you’ve got at the listener to pull them in. I can’t think of a song that has done that better in the last ten years than ‘Sparks’. The shuddering drums, the triumphant brass, the soaring strings all building to Liam McCormick’s brilliant vocals. Just magnificent.
12. Local Natives – Mt. Washington
There’s something so sprawling and cinematic about this track, it’s the kind of song that plays in your head as you gaze out of a car window on a rainy day watching the world pass by. It certainly has no shortage of bright melodies, but there’s a sadness lying beneath it all. It’s the kind of sadness however where we find comfort. It’s a place that’s familiar; a reassuring voice, a sound that gently wraps itself around you and tells you it’s gonna be alright.
11. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
From one bittersweet track to one from the most bittersweet band around. In many ways this feels like the quintessential National song. Bryan’s drumwork is on point and Matt’s voice has never sounded so commanding. The melodies just dance across your mind, the lyrics are simple yet striking, cryptic and compelling. It’s no wonder this has become a firm fan favourite since its release.
10. First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining
Surely this has to be one of the most Shazamed songs of all time. It was through countless spots in ads and TV shows that First Aid Kit first really reached the wider world and found their place in the spotlight. In the few short years that have followed in the wake of ‘My Silver Lining’ they have set the standard for gorgeous harmonies. These two could sing the phone book and make it sound glorious.
9. Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?
This was a song that transcended all barriers. I know friends who listen almost solely to country or hip hop or top 40 pop who all adore this song. It’s slick, sexy and utterly badass and just about everyone wants a piece of it. I’m pretty sure folks queued this up on the jukebox every single time I went to the pub for at least 3 years. It’s got to go down in history as one of the all time best riffs of the 21st century, and it features some of Alex Turner’s best lyricism to date.
8. Matthew And The Atlas – On A Midnight Street
I’m not a playlist person. For the most part I’d much rather get stuck in to a full album, or stick my entire library on shuffle and let fate decide. So for a song to land a spot on my go-to playlist is a high honour. ‘On A Midnight Street’ has been the backbone of my playlist for years now. It just ticks all the right boxes: the unique vocals, the driving bass line, the soaring guitar and uplifting synths, the captivating chorus. I doubt I’ll ever get tired of this song.
7. The Howl & The Hum – Godmanchester Chinese Bridge
If you were to put me on the spot and asked me to recommend a band, any band, The Howl & The Hum would likely be the first to come to mind. They’re one of the most exciting new bands in a very long time and ‘Godmanchester Chinese Bridge’ is their crowning glory. Their idiosyncratic approach to lyricism, the low roar of the guitar, and that almighty cathartic climax with its calls of “and if you’re lost, I will be waiting” just gets me every time.
6. The Dear Hunter – The March
This is the culmination of one of the greatest and most ambitious works in all of music. Not only is it the climax of a captivating narrative spanning five full albums, wherein the villain of our tale turns the people against the hero, but it IS also composed of pieces of all the records that came before. I forget how many musical themes and recurring leitmotifs all make an appearance in this track. It’s like a medley of their greatest hits in a single cohesive work. Though best enjoyed in context, it’s still a magnificent track in its own right.
5. Florence + The Machine – Ship To Wreck
This is the song that finally made Florence click for me, that finally made me realise what I’d been missing all these years. I’ll admit I was a little late to the party, but I haven’t looked back since. Equally wild and opulent, ‘Ship To Wreck’ was just the push I needed. I adore the main riff and the rich imagery, and it was the first time I truly felt the power and passion in Florence’s vocals. It’s energy is infectious and I’ve spent many a night dancing round the kitchen to this one, let me tell you.
4. The Paper Kites – Revelator Eyes
Another mainstay of my playlist, and a contender for being one of my favourite songs outright. Even I don’t have the words to do this song justice. It is like the soundtrack to the perfect life you never had. It’s the sound of a carefree night under neon lights, falling in love, and wishing with every breath that the dawn never comes so you can just live in this moment forever. It is absolute bliss.
3. Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks
The greatest marriage of bleak lyricism and uplifting music of the past decade. Despite its dark tale of a love torn apart by tragedy, musically it is one of the most joyous songs I know. It’s the kind of song I will hear in passing and hang around to listen to. Hell, I’ve entered shops I’d never normally go into just because I heard this song playing inside as I was walking by. It carries that magical universal appeal that just makes everyone fall in love with it. Play it to any crowd and you’ll light up the room, mark my words.
2. Glen Hansard – Bird Of Sorrow
Glen lives and breathes music more than any other artist I know. He pours his very heart and soul into every word he sings. He has a lot of fantastic songs worthy of mention, but ‘Bird Of Sorrow’ remains the only song that has brought me to tears when I heard it live. This message to a loved one feeling broken and alone that brighter days will come, and that he’ll stay by their side til that day comes, is one of the most emotional performances ever recorded. You feel all the pain and worry, all the love, hope and resolve so keenly as he pleads from the bottom of his heart.
1. Paolo Nutini – Iron Sky
A slow-burning soul powerhouse that has become more and more relevant with each passing year; it’s Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ for a new generation. It details how we are all contained, misled and divided and urges us to rise above. Doubling down on that message by incorporating a sample of Charlie Chaplin’s legendary speech from The Great Dictator was an absolute masterstroke. The way the arrangement builds into something so grand, and Paolo’s impassioned vocal performance throughout, makes this a real high water mark for music in the 2010s.
Edit: We’ve gone ahead and compiled our entire list into a handy playlist for you to listen to at your convenience!