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On paper, ‘ONE’ still sounds horrific: a plastic pirate calypso with echoes of Culture Club and slick-backed white funk, made using only a fretless bass and a salvo of the naffest preset sounds from a ZX Spectrum computer. Yet Yeasayer’s unwavering dude-like sincerity turned it into something joyous and wonderful.



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How do you follow a concept album about cancer and the creation of the ‘cult’ of Noughties emo? By smashing the whole thing to smithereens with a cartoonish pop-punk sing-along like ‘Na Na Na’, of course. Driven by ridiculous lyrics and a quite deranged delivery, really, what else could we expect but a complete volte-face from some of rock music’s greatest innovators?

 
 
 

On a debut album defined by gawky romance and childlike sweetness, this was the motherlode: a starburst of a song, all about everlasting love and stars and flowers and hearts and bunny wabbits (OK, maybe not the wabbits). Sure, it’s a little sugary, but can you honestly say you’ve never felt like this?



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In a rare display of good taste from the track-buying mainstream, Tinie Tempah became THE breakout act of 2010 when this single rocketed to the Number One spot in March. An infectiously brooding grime anthem complete with reggae breakdown and drum’n’bass outro (wha?), ‘Pass Out’ introduced us to a major star in the making. Scunthorpe’s loss was south London and the world’s gain.


 
 
 

Like a giant adrenaline needle punched through your ribcage, ‘Perfect Stranger’ was a lovesick rush that killed yawnsome arguments about Magnetic Man’s relevance and integrity instantly stone dead. The nagging pulse that jerked your heart into your mouth, that sudden, butterflies-in-your-stomach drop, Katy B’s phenomenal voice crooning “Your energy when you touch me lifted me off the ground”… nothing...

 
 
 

It’s 11 years since Beyoncé made the original stop-calling-me anthem with Destiny’s Child, the seminal ‘Bug A Boo’. Since then advances in phone technology have created a thousand new ways to annoy your girlfriends while they’re out. Yet G and B’s point is the same: they’re having way more fun than you.



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Powered by a frenetic, fretful energy, that cheeky whistle, that booty-shakin’ bass and Jonathan’s neurotic gasps, chirrups and gabbles, this was the best prog-pop-R&B nervous breakdown we heard this year. Plus, bonus points for rhyming “fire hydrant” with “tyrant”.



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EM

 
 
 

Few bands are as polarised as LCD, in the sense that the two things they do very best are ridiculous mind-loss bangers, and also on the flip side, the sort of desperately sad, sweet tracks you want to make a little nest in your heart for. As James Murphy crooned in that broken-Kermit voice “Tell me a line, make it easy for me/Open your arms, dance with me until I feel alright”, we were putty.
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Just as rock star pals MGMT were insisting there were “no singles” on their second album, Yeasayer unleashed a follow-up of wall-to-wall radio-friendly belters, of which ‘Ambling Alp’ was the biggest and boldest. “Stick up for yourself, son/Never mind what anybody else done” went a high-octane chorus more suited to a Karate Kid remake than a Brooklyn art gallery. This was a poptastic left hook to those...

 
 
 

One of those songs that suggests there’s once-in-a-generation genius behind the chords. These five minutes instantly suggested Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg could become the new Neil Young one day – all in the year he turned 20.



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JF

 
 
 
 
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