Girl Talk, Sasha Frere-Jones, Ani DiFranco, and You Pick the Best Music of 2010

Guilty musical pleasures, tolerable kids’ music, and last-minute gift ideas.


We recently reached out to a bunch of our favorite musical artists, DJs, and critics, to weigh in on the music they listen to themselves. We also asked some of our Facebook fans for their Best of 2010. Click on each artist’s name for the complete Q&A. (The few that aren’t yet posted will be up soon: Check the Riff every Music Monday—and follow Mother Jones on Twitter.)

Q: What’s your favorite release this year?

Tim Nordwind

Tim Nordwind
(of OK Go):

Treats, by Sleigh Bells

It’s as if they put a tape recorder in the brain of a three-year-old kid and then wrote a bunch of songs around the constant bombast of his hyperactive, sugar-blown imagination.

Sasha Frere-Jones

Sasha Frere-Jones
(of The New Yorker):

Body Talk (Pt. 1 & 2), by Robyn

When pop as smart and exuberant and well-rendered as Robyn’s comes into the world, why would you need to escape the mainstream?

Avey Tare

Avey Tare
(of Animal Collective):

7 AM, by Teengirl Fantasy

I’ve been digging the EPs these two dudes have put out online. Home-brewed house.

Ramble John Krohn

Ramble John Krohn
(a.k.a. RJD2):

Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, by Big Boi

It’s somewhere between a weirdo funk record, a hip-hop record, and an electro record. I absolutely love it.

Greil Marcus

Greil Marcus
(author and critic):

Genuine Negro Jig, by Carolina Chocolate Drops

Very educated people who somehow get inside the blackface minstrel music of 150 years ago and come out the other side.

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens
(of Carolina Chocolate Drops):

Calling Me Home, by Alice Gerrard

She’s a great songwriter (the title cut is breathtaking) and a wonderful singer.

Gregg Gillis

Gregg Gillis
(a.k.a Girl Talk):

Teflon Don, by Rick Ross

It’s heavy in many different ways.

Vieux Farka Touré

Vieux Farka Touré

Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté

Of course! My two fathers playing together. It’s my favorite music to listen to.

Rivers Cuomo

Rivers Cuomo:
(of Weezer): Hurley, by Weezer

I don’t really listen to records anymore.


Q: As a parent, what kids’ music do you find most tolerable?

Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco:

Schoolhouse Rock does indeed rock. Other than that, my daughter pretty much listens to the same music we do. She loves the Jackson 5 and squeals along with James Brown. She also loves “the mommy music.”

Boots Riley

Boots Riley
(of The Coup):

The Dino 5, Free to Be…You and Me, and Captain Underpants

Becoming a father made me a lot more sentimental. I never cried at movies before I became a parent. I now feel music more intensely.

Q: Favorite politically themed song or album?

Rhiannon Giddens:

That Was the Year That Was, by Tom Lehrer

Most of the material wouldn’t fly today, but he just had this brilliant way of skewering really disturbing things and making the milk come out of your nose while he was doing it.


Ohio,” by Neil Young

Bradford Cox
(of Deerhunter):

Like a Prayer, by Madonna

Matt Freeman
(of Rancid):

Fortunate Son,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Rivers Cuomo:

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, by Public Enemy

Sasha Frere-Jones:

Everything is political. Or nothing is.

Q: What’s the latest song, good or bad, that super-glued itself in your brain?

Sunny Jain
(of Red Baraat):

The Analog Kid,” by Rush

Mike Stroud
(of Ratatat):

In Dreams,” by Roy Orbison (good);Iris,” by The Goo Goo Dolls (amazing)

Sasha Frere-Jones:

Black Venom,” by The Budos Band

Greil Marcus:

“Bad Romance,” by Lady Gaga

Bradford Cox:

Owner of a Lonely Heart,” by Yes


I couldn’t get DJ Assault’sAss-n-Titties out of my head for half of today.

Q. Any guilty pleasures?

Boots Riley: I don’t feel guilty about anything I like…Okay, yes I do: Bed Intruder Song,” by Auto-Tune the News Avey Tare: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” by Billy Joel

Q: Holiday picks?

Janelle Monáe: Nature Boy,” by Nat King Cole

I listen to him a lot around the holidays. I love A Charlie Brown Christmas (Vince Guaraldi Trio), too. I listen to it over and over.

Vieux Farka Touré: “Wale,” a traditional song from the North of Mali sung by the elder women to honor the grand mosque. It’s on my album Fondo.
Girl Talk: “Wonderful Christmastime,” by Paul McCartney Sasha Frere-Jones: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Boots Riley: You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch  

We also asked some of our staff members and Facebook fans to suggest their top albums, songs, and videos of the year. Be sure and add your own favorites in the comments.

Zack Budryk: The Gaslight Anthem’s American Slang is pretty fantastic.

Jen Phillips: Girl Talk’s All Day! Truly excellent. Also Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” video.

Nick Zinser: Yeasayer’s Odd Blood; Scissor Sisters’ Night Work, Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More.

Michael Mechanic: Johnny Flynn’s Been Listening; and three videos: Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope;” OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass” (a Rube Goldbergian marvel that took them six months to make, according to singer/gutarist Damian Kulash) and for pure in-your-face, unprecedentedly phallic, envelope-pushing weirdness, Die Antwoord’s “Evil Boy” video. (Read the backstory here.)

Tamara Beinlich: The Bob & Tom Show, “Grandma Got Molested at the Airport” and all the other anti-TSA songs by this guy.

Jeremy Redman: Jonsi‘s Go is one truly amazing album.     

Natasha Lahera: Two of my favorite bands, Kings of Leon and Interpol, let me down with their new albums this year so I can’t think of anything. I guess I’ll be cliche and say Lady Gaga.

Joe Babka: Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs, God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise; Alpha Rev, New Morning; Spoon, Transference; Pearl Jam, Backspacer.

Jason Winder: Swan’s Salt March, Grinderman’s Grinderman 2, and Hot Chip’s One Life Stand were the best I heard this year.

Kiera Butler: Crooked Still’s Some Strange Country.

Josef Wittlich: Gogol Bordello’s Trans-Continental Hustle is good. Balkan Beat Box’s Blue Eyed Black Boy was good too. Both of those are a little different than the groups’ default sounds, but I guess we must always move forward.

Jeremy Damsgard: The Throat, Eyedea and Abilities; Kristoff Krane, Hunting For Father; Kristoff Krane, Picking Flowers Next To Roadkill.

Aaran Fazzolari: M.I.A., /\/\/\Y/\ (Maya)

Steven Katz: Herbie Hancock, The Imagine Project; Tin Hat, Foreign Legion; Liam Sillery, Phenomenology.

Kelly McAllister: Trampled by Turtles, Palomino; The Black Keys, Brothers; and Ray Lamontagne and the Parish Dogs, God Willin’

Maddie Oatman: Mountain Man, Made the Harbor; Geographer, Animal Shapes, and Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope” video.

Edd Pritchard: Jakob Dylan, Women and Country

Emily Loftis: Les Twins, “A Pipe Dream and A Promise“; Kartik and Gotam, “Business Class Refugees“; Balkan Beat Box, “Dancing With the Moon“; and Chee Malabar, “Hamas 2.5” 

Suggest your own 2010 favorites in the comments section, and click here for more Music Mondays.



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