Songs for reminiscing on the 2010s


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By Northern Star Staff

The 2010s were a defining decade for those in our generation — especially when it comes to our tastes in music. Here are some of the songs most important to us.


Nick’s picks 

  1. fun. – “Some Nights”
  2. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
  3. Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”

The music of the 2010s is perfectly encapsulated by the band fun. Starting acoustic and full of vocals but moving quickly into a marching pop anthem, “Some Nights” is one of the biggest singles from the 2010s. The band is made up of vocalist Nate Ruess, multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost and producer-extraordinaire Jack Antonoff. Ruess’s vocals are strong and full of emotion, rising out of the thundering drums. The song turns around during the post-chorus where Ruess’s voice gets slathered in auto-tune, sounding clinically precise yet fun. 

Carly Rae Jepsen is the second-best pop artist of all time. Behind Michael Jackson, the Canadian singer is the queen of pop. “Call Me Maybe” is the epitome of the pop song that stays in your head all day. Its hook of “Hey, I just met you / and this is crazy / But here’s my number / So call me maybe” is perfect at hitting at the pseudo-juvenile love that is key to 2010s pop. 

For a year or so, the number 1738 was everywhere. Phone passwords, random ad-libs from overeager youths and memes galore were full of the number. Now, it’s lost its meaning. Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” brings listeners back to the era when the number meant something. Willie Junior Maxwell II, known professionally as Fetty Wap, was one of the most known rappers for a few years when his hits like “Trap Queen” and “679” took over the pop-rap scene. Maxwell’s unique voice is the standout part of the track. The song is fun and easily danceable. The number 1738 will be stuck in my head for the next few days. 

Sarah’s picks

  1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Wanz – “Thrift Shop (feat. Wanz)”
  2. Maroon 5, Christina Aguilera – “Moves Like Jagger”
  3. Calvin Harris – “Feel So Close”

Released in 2012, “Thrift Shop” is prime 2010s music. On the surface, the song seems like a funky, hip-hop tune, but the song really details why it’s important to thrift clothes, instead of buying new, expensive clothes all the time. As someone who enjoys thrifting on weekends, this song is the perfect anthem to blast in the car. Wanz and Macklemore’s pop-rap styles complement each other, creating a dance song that makes fun of high-end brands. Their message is clear: Buying clothes from name brands doesn’t make you “all that.” You can find your style through second-hand clothing, and save some money while you’re at it. When shuffling through the best 2010s music, this song should be on the list. 

Maroon 5, led by lead vocalist Adam Levine, released a song purely about sex. I had no business belting this out in the car when I was 8 years old in front of my parents, but it’s impossible not to. Levine collabs with Christina Aguilera to create an electric pop song that’s worthy of being played in a club. In the song, Levine tells Aguilera that he has “the moves like Jagger,” and sleeping with him will make both of them feel powerful and in control in a chaotic world. The “moves” Levine sings about in the chorus aren’t dance moves, but rather sexual moves. The video conveys much more innocence than the lyrics. 

Calvin Harris released the perfect song to dance to in August 2011. Harris is more of a DJ than a singer, and this song is one of the few which he’s completely written, sung and produced. It has the vibe of a summer song but can be enjoyed all year long. The song fuses hypnotic siren beats with techno as the song speeds up. Listeners will find it impossible to not put this song on repeat as it’s so short and deserves to be listened to at least three times in a row. 

Daniel’s picks

  1. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers)”
  2. Childish Gambino – “Redbone”
  3. Post Malone & Swae Lee – “Sunflower”

The concept for the song “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk is about “getting lucky,” in regards to meeting and having sex with the right person, and served as the impetus for the creation of this disco-inspired song. Pharrell Williams also makes a romantic allusion to a woman who is “up all night to get some” in the chorus, saying that he is about to “get lucky” himself. The second verse appears to provide further explanation of the story he just told. Before they finally agreed to work together on the project, the song’s writer, Nile Rodgers, had been trying to get in touch with Daft Punk for a number of years. The end result is a catchy revival of that disco sound from the 70s mixed with Daft Punk’s signature electronic sound.

Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” deals with a relationship filled with paranoia and infidelity. The song’s protagonist is convinced that he cannot fulfill this girl’s insatiable appetite for the attention. Many 1970s sounds are also present and work very well in “Redbone.” This song incorporates elements of funk and old-school R&B with today’s hip-hop. The piece’s opening sound, which also serves as its main theme, is generated by a small Mellotron keyboard from the 1960s. This is followed by a Rhodes piano and guitar effects pedals joining a Fender Stratocaster.

“Sunflower” is a piece written and recorded by Post Malone and Swae Lee for the 2018 animated film “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.” The song features Malone and Lee both interested in a girl, whom they refer to as “Sunflower” in the song. Despite the rappers’ cold treatment of her, she sticks by their side. Sunflowers are capable of surviving in conditions that would kill other flowers thanks to its tough, deep root systems and its ability to penetrate hard soils. Since Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” in May 2016, “Sunflower” was one of the first songs from a film soundtrack to top the Hot 100.

Eli’s picks

  1. Destroyer – “Kaputt”
  2. Low – “Try to Sleep”
  3. Sufjan Stevens – “Death with Dignity”

After over a decade of releasing whimsical art-pop albums, Destroyer threw fans a curveball in 2011 with their album “Kaputt.” The album blends influences of yacht rock, synthpop and sophisti-pop to create a cohesive, atmospheric listening experience. The album’s title track features reverb-laden trumpets and saxophones that echo throughout the song’s dream-like trance. This immersive musical landscape serves as the ideal backdrop for frontman Dan Bejar’s abstract, often cryptic lyrics that cover everything from cocaine to music journalism.

While we’re on the subject of established artists throwing curveballs in 2011, Low did the same with their album “C’mon.” The acclaimed indie-rock band, often labeled with the much-loathed term “slowcore,” were known for their bleak, minimalist songs going all the way back to their debut in 1994. But from the very beginning of “Try to Sleep,” the opening track on “C’mon,” it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a typical Low album. Though the song is still slow enough that it’s impossible to dance to, the stark, stripped-down arrangements that Low was known for are replaced with lush, polished orchestral arrangements that are reminiscent of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. “C’mon,” much like Destroyer’s “Kaputt” is a great example of a band changing their sound while still staying true to what made them unique in the first place.

Sufjan Stevens’ 2015 album “Carrie and Lowell,” on the other hand, was widely considered to be a return to form for the artist upon its release. Stevens had spent the 10 years since the release of his beloved album “Illinois” experimenting with electronic music and recording a shocking number of Christmas songs. But with “Death with Dignity,” the opening track on “Carrie and Lowell,” Stevens makes it clear that he hasn’t abandoned his more folk-oriented roots. The song takes a serene look at the process of grief and forgiveness in the wake of his mother’s death. The bleak subject matter and the simple fingerpicked guitar make this an undeniably depressing song, but there is still an overwhelming sense of peacefulness to it, something that is present on the whole album.