When I mentioned to some of my friends that I was compiling a list of my favorite music from 2010, many couldn't recall a release specific to the past 12 months. I was often met with the reply, "That came out this year?" Though certain record releases had felt momentous and special at the time (Spoon! The National! M.I.A.!), it was as if the anticipation — the pre-release of a single or two, a sneak preview of the artwork — created a more tangible feeling than did the very existence of the album itself. And this sense of transience was not always due to a disappointing album. The music was often just fine, and sometimes it was great, but how many runners can one keep track of in any given race?
So I'll admit that I'm not quite certain how to sum up an entire year in music anymore; not when music has become so temporal, so specific and personal, as if we each have our own weather system and what we listen to is our individual forecast. I've written a lot about music bringing people together, fomenting community, and many albums still did act as bonfires in 2010: Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Kanye West. But many of us are also walking around with a little lighter in hand, singing along to some small glow that's stuck around long enough to make us feel excited to be alive.
Here are some albums and songs I enjoyed this year, not in any particular order: