10 songs from the last 10 years that will change the next 10 years.
This is a list made up of 10 songs that for better or worse, are likely to have a massive impact on how the next 10 years of music are shaped. Inclusion on this list doesn’t make a song necessarily good or bad, but makes it a song that will define the shape of music over the next decade.
212. Azaelia Banks
The oldest song on the list, 212 is by no means less potent than when it came out. This is the quintessential dancefloor banger of easily the last 15 years. What makes this a stand out influence is the infectious, thumping beat, the unusual variation in the accompaniment, and the unashamedly explicit vocal line. The song oozes sexuality and filth, but also a high degree of production value and catchiness that few songs can match. 212 set a benchmark for “the dancefloor banger” that has barely been equalled since its release.
Lean On. Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MØ
Major Lazer bursting into the popular mainstream with Peace is the Mission in 2015 was always going to have a huge impact on mainstream pop. Whilst Major Lazer had been huge in some circles, Lean On went worldwide, and offered something that hadn’t been seen in the charts before. A stand out dancehall banger in every way, Lean On begins slow-burning, but ramps up to the chorus, and keeps the momentum til the end. The expert production, modern elements and fusion with cultures not often seen in the mainstream set a benchmark for cross-cultural music of every kind.
Hotline Bling. Drake
Drake has emerged as one of the biggest modern popstars of the last few years, and Hotline Bling encapsulates everything modern about him and his style. Hotline Bling puts a modern spin on the age-old break up story, and is one of -if not the- aspirational example of the effective music video, song and modernity combo. In much the same way as Major Lazer, Drake relies on sampling and overproduction, but there is an honest realisation of this, and it makes the whole thing holistically forward-thinking. Unlike anything else on this list, Hotline Bling embraces the social media generation that it is aimed at, and is a very clever exercise in marketing that we will only see more of in the next few years.
Thrift Shop. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz
Even though Eminem did the “white boy rapping” a long time ago, Thrift Shop showed that it could be cool and unabashedly hipster without being heavy and dark. Macklemore brings a cool and irreverence to the whole album, but capitalizes on his modern young audience and ability to keep “on-trend” in much the same way that Hotline Bling does. Behind the jokey lyrics and infectious beat is an ability to create a universally good pop song that always sounds fresh.
Latch. Disclosure Sam Smith
Any Disclosure song would be appropriate for this list. The duo’s heady combination of house and electronic music, with effortless vocals and intricate depth brought house music to the masses on a popular but also critical level. Latch represents everything great about Disclosure, and the melodic writing is exquisite, bringing an emotional level to a genre that generally doesn’t have it.
Uptown Funk. Mark Ronson (chosen over blurred lines)
This nostalgic funk single is inevitably on this list, with the boundary-breaking powerhouse Mark Ronson putting out massive songs on all of his albums. Ronson’s funky production, as well as the soulful, cheeky Bruno Mars lines offer funk the chance for the overproduction that the genre always deserved. Uptown Funk shows the power of nostalgia in pop music, and that while genres may have their time and place in history, (song controversies aside) retromania is always going to be a thing.
i used to. LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem have consistently produced critically acclaimed, forward-thinking music since their first album in 2005. i used to from their most recent album american dream captures everything progressive about their music, and is a dark combination of electronics and rock. This brooding electro-rock hybrid is to my mind the direction that alternative rockers will go over the coming years.
Elephant. Tame Impala
Rock tends to not be a massive influence on the world stage, compared to some of the other genres here, yet Tame Impala are continually progressive and acclaimed at the same time. Elephant from their most recent album Lonerism brings a heavy edge, which alongside the extended harmonies and quirky peculiarities make the song inherently listenable and interesting. Comparable to bands like Muse and Foo Fighters, but with a much more experimental and progressive edge, Elephant is evidence of how multidimensional alternative rock can be.
HUMBLE. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar has released groundbreaking album after album, and is a consistent deliverer of biting yet catchy records. HUMBLE. utilises classic black traits, such as gospel and combines everything into a dizzying mix of cutting political message, funk and rap banger. Lamar’s music has a universal appeal in its unashamed modernity yet artistry, that some of his contemporaries simply do not possess.
Anything by Ed Sheeran.
Sheeran-mania had to appear on this list, despite the unoriginality that often floods his work. To the mainstream pop consumer, there is an appetite for artists like Sheeran and Adele, who perhaps embody something less “polished” than traditional pop artists. This is evident in Sheeran’s most recent work, ÷, which despite not being a critical success went on to break records, and records, and records. For this reason, Sheeran’s work will go on to shape the musical landscape of the 21st Century, without offering anything new.