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Skyelyfe’s 20 Best Songs of the 2010s, Ranked

December 11, 2019

(via Unsplash)

When it comes to selecting a personal “best” song, there’s so much more that goes into it than how far it charted on the Billboard Top 40. In fact, that doesn’t play a role to me at all.

What matters is how I felt about the song during its prime, if I feel the same way about the song now, if it had a legitimate “moment” in my life and if it brought some kind of unique sound or formula to the table. With each of these factors in mind, I’ve spent literally all of 2019 jotting down all my most monumental songs of the decade in a notebook as I thought of them.

With 10 years to account for, obviously a slew of songs came to mind. And while I’d have to say music basically died after 2014, the earlier years of the decade brought some of the most iconic songs of all time. Keep reading for skyelyfe’s 20 best songs of the 2010s, ranked. *Note: I left out all remixes even though some were absolutely amazing.

20. ‘Wide Awake’ – Katy Perry (2012)

While probably the last single you think of when you look back on Katy Perry’s iconic Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection album, “Wide Awake” was not only a powerful ballad from the characteristically gimmicky singer, but also one that came out during a trying time in my personal life when I felt like the world was crashing down on me and I was trying to recover from a rough patch. I found the song to be therapeutic in many ways, and I highly respect that this is a detour from much of the singer’s other work.

19. ‘Ice Tray’ – Quality Control, Quavo, Lil Yachty (2017)

This is simply the quintessential song you want to hear on a night out. I can’t tell you how many times I danced to this after-hours. The dark, pulsating track even managed to make Joe Budden relevant again for a hot sec. Had the song come out earlier in the decade, it would have made an even bigger impact, but it definitely holds a special place as one of the best of the latter years.

(via YouTube)

18. ‘I Met You’ – Anna Lunoe + Flume (2012)

2012 was such a year for electronic music. The genre expanded in so many ways, and I was absolutely obsessed with this track. I remember playing this and No. 17 interchangeably nonstop all throughout my work days that year. I very much miss this musical moment.

17. ‘All My Life’ – Gigamesh f./ Jana Nyberg (2012)

Much like the aforementioned track, this was on my Spotify rotation nonstop in 2012—so much so that the app listed it as my most listened to song of that year (not shocking!). Still when I hear it to this day, I don’t like it any less.

(via YouTube)

16. ‘The North’ – Summer Heart (2011)

Summer Heart seemingly came out of nowhere, and this song is hands down one of the most beautifully melodic tracks I’ve ever heard. Not to be fooled by the artist’s name, this song had every bit of a solemn fall vibe, accompanying the season swimmingly that year.

15. ‘Dreaming’ – The Knocks (2014)

The Knocks stole my heart in 2014, and I’ve seen them live countless times since. Their infectious energy lights up a stage, and I truly can’t think of a livelier duo. “Dreaming” is every bit the upbeat track that got me on my feet in 2014 (even when the year got me down).

(via YouTube)

14. ‘Nocturne’ – Wild Nothing (2012)

Seriously bless Wild Nothing. They were my most listened to act of 2012 on Spotify, and have truly never let me down since. They encapsulate everything I could possibly want in a band, with their light, dreamy alt. rock melodies. I can seriously listen to “Nocturne” (and its album of the same name) forever. Just thinking about it makes me happy.

13. ‘Silhouettes’ – Avicii (2012)

Avicii’s tragic death last year was by far one of the most impactful and saddening. Not only a legendary trendsetter in electronic music, the Swedish DJ didn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body (at least from what we know). On top of it all, he created some forever memorable tracks, including what I consider his most underrated, “Silhouettes.” This song takes me back to his then-signature sound when he first hit the scene with “Levels” in 2011. RIP, Avicii.

(via YouTube)

12. ‘Operate’ – ASTR (2013)

Short-lived electronic R&B duo ASTR was an act I found from my old-school favorite indie music blog BitCandy, and I instantly fell in love with them. They disbanded after 2015, but in their time together, Zoe Silverman and Adam Pallin released two insanely outstanding EPs that will forever hold a place in my heart. “Operate” was the first single they released, and therefore the most legendary. I got my entire group of friends hooked, and therefore they definitely made a large dent in my musical memories of the decade.

11. ‘L.A. Lights’ – Grum (2010)

There’s no song like this one (or like the album Heartbeats) on this list. In a shocking move, Grum (aka Graeme Shepherd) went from a retro synth sound to joining the Anjunabeats label going full-force trance. Prior to his musical transition, he released “L.A. Lights,” a beautiful melody that felt ever so fitting to my many late nights under the… L.A. lights.

10. ‘I Get the Bag’ – Gucci Mane f./ Migos (2017)

Out of what was one of the most atrocious years in hip-hop (hip-pop?) came “I Get the Bag,” the Metro Boomin-produced track that made me give Migos a fair chance (I wasn’t big on “Bad and Boujee”). As a longtime fan of Gucci, he absolutely delivers here, on what was one of the best rap songs of the latter part of the decade.

9. ‘Your Love Is My Drug’ – Ke$ha (2010)

And this is where we cue the tears! 2010 was such a magical year for music, and Ke$ha (with then-dollar sign) was a huge proponent of that. Her album Animal came out on the very first day of the decade, setting the precedent for what was probably the best year of my life. This song, album, era brings back so many memories. I know the singer’s in a much healthier, better place now, following her horrifying experience with Dr. Luke, but there’s no denying her songs from the early 2010s will never compare to anything present.

(via YouTube)

8. ‘In the Morning’ – ZHU + Kaskade (2016)

This was my No. 1 song of 2016, and there’s no doubt in my mind why. I only knew like one song by ZHU at this point, but the collab with Kaskade was perfectly executed into melodic bliss, setting the tone for not just my Coachella vibe that year, but for the year as a whole.

7. ‘Slow Love’ – MØ (2014)

I found MØ on the brink of her No Mythologies to Follow album release, and it was a game changer. The unique style of songs is solid from head to toe, and Slow Love sounds like nothing else I’ve heard from her (or any other artist for that matter). According to Spotify, it was my most listened to song of 2014, and according to my blog, the song and the album were both my No. 1 picks of that year.

6. ‘Skin’ – Rihanna (2010)

Name a sexier song of this decade—I’ll wait. Rihanna took her provocative nature to new heights with this dark, alluring melody and bold lyrics to match. While definitely one of her most underrated songs of all-time, it’s hands down one of the best (especially if you were around to improvise an accompanying music video with my group of friends).

5. ‘Loyal’ – Chris Brown f./ Lil Wayne + Tyga (2013)

This classic came out at the very end of 2013, but definitely made its mark the following year. Between the video and Nic Nac beats’ music production, this trio of artists nailed it on what became the party anthem of 2014, in an otherwise lackluster year of hip-hop.

(via YouTube)

4. ‘What’s My Name?’ – Rihanna f./ Drake (2010)

Whenever these 2010 songs come up, I get super nostalgic. I literally remember exactly where I was and how I felt at the peak of these tracks. Rihanna’s Loud album was a surefire favorite of that year, and this was without question the best song that came from it. Major fall/winter vibes I will absolutely never forget.

3. ‘Super Bass’ – Nicki Minaj (2011)

Ah, simpler times. “Super Bass” epitomizes the old-school, inspiring, happy-go-lucky vibe Nicki Minaj’s music brought the world when she first stepped on the scene. Her Pink Friday album felt so pure, and to this day, no “love song” in the hip-hop genre has topped “Super Bass.” Every bit upbeat and sweet, even in my crazy year known as 2011, this song helped keep me sane.

(via YouTube)

2. ‘Ayo’ – Chris Brown f./ Tyga (2015)

This song needs no introduction. If you’ve ever been in an Uber with me, at a house party or in my living room, then you’re no stranger to this Nic Nac beats-produced track. As my most-played song of the whole decade, it absolutely deserves this No. 2 ranking.

1. ‘Teenage Dream’ – Katy Perry (2010)

And now, for the ultimate tearjerker… talk about the good ol’ days! “Teenage Dream” epitomizes carefree bliss and everything light that pop represented early in the decade. It’s easy to forget Katy Perry released one of the best pop albums of all-time, and I think I speak for everyone reading this that no pop song (or Katy Perry song, for that matter) will ever compare to this one.

(via YouTube)

Listen to the entire playlist below (and come back next week for my top 20 honorable mentions of the decade):

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Music

The Ups & Downs of Writing a Heartbreak EP, from Someone Who Has Done It

September 1, 2015

josh-stevens-skyelyfeLike many, musician Josh Stevens got out of a relationship that “ended really badly,” and he lived to tell about it.

The Orange County, CA native – who has a long history of working behind the scenes with A-list artists, including Jennifer Lopez, Calvin Harris, Nicki Minaj and his close homie Warren G. – is finally becoming the face of his own music with the release of his debut EP, The Story of Summer, which explores the ups and downs of having a significant other.

The five-song compilation is slated for official release at the end of September, but in the meantime, he just put out its first single “Hill Top” (featuring Capital Cities‘ Spencer Ludwig – scroll to the bottom to hear), an anthemic pop-rock tune that touches on one of the many sides of being in love.

“This song is like the euphoric, everything is great – and then once you get into the rest of the EP, you’ll find there are some lower points and dark points,” Stevens tells skyelyfe. “This was a few years ago, so it was definitely reflective writing of a time period in my life. I didn’t write it while I was going through it because I didn’t even know I was going through it. When you look back, you’re kind of like, wow, that’s what I was going through. I had to learn and grow from my experience.”

Stevens is fine now – in fact, he and his current girlfriend use the “Hill Top” lyrics as their relationship mantra when they are both traveling separately all over the world for work. But he does recall those previously painful times.

When you get out of a relationship, you can do one of two things that people usually do: They either close up and become secluded or they just wild out,” he says. “I did both. I did crazy partying and had one-night stands. Then at some point, you realize, oh, this isn’t all its cracked up to be. [At first] you’re like, this is amazing, I’m free! But then you realize real quick, ooh, there’s some darkness.”

Because this was Stevens’ first time crafting his own music material, there were things he didn’t expect during the process. But also, some things he found enlightening.

Read about the challenges and surprises he experienced while writing these songs about the ups and downs of falling in love:Josh-stevens-cover-art-skyelyfe

1. Writing about the lessons from these failed relationships was sometimes tough

“I’m one of those people who doesn’t reflect very often,” Stevens says. “It’s not in my nature. I’m not like, ‘Oh, I wish that could have been different.’ I’m more like, ‘What can I learn from that?’ When I went back to kind of see what went on during that time period, I kind of wrote it from that perspective. I can’t deny this is what happened, but what can I learn from it? Not really like, let me go live in it again. It wasn’t hard to go back. The hardest thing was to figure out what I learned from it and what I can tell other people from this experience.”

2. He realized he wasn’t alone in his past emotional state

“I think to sum it all up, there’s a sense of loneliness when you go through this,” Stevens says of breakups. “A feeling of, I’m alone and no one else understands. I think what has developed from this EP is people are not alone. You’re not alone in this feeling. There’s someone else who has gone through this. I hope the listener has that mentality.”

3. He realized how much of an impact his songs have on others

“I didn’t expect so many people to be stoked about [the EP], to be honest,” Stevens admits. “I was like, I’m going to do my own thing and see how it comes out. People have been super receptive to it. There’s a song on there called ‘Call Me Crazy,’ which is about my experience going through Hollywood and dealing with dirt being kicked in your face, and naysayers. Somebody came up to me and told me they go through that all the time and that the song spoke to them and it helps them get through the day. In a way, it’s awesome, but at the same time, it’s kind of creepy. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes dude, so I’m not quite used to that response. I’m very appreciative though. Another person came up to me who heard the song ‘Anna,’ and they said the song is helping them heal. Things like that I never would have expected. I make music as purely as possible. If it resonates, it resonates. It’s kind of out of my control.”

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Music

Casper Smart’s Music Video Love Interest Haifa Wehbe Talks ‘Enjoyable’ Experience Working with J.Lo’s Man

July 14, 2015

HaifaLebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe has some interesting ties to Jennifer Lopez. For starters, she had the pleasure of featuring Lopez’s boyfriend Casper Smart as her love interest in her music video for “Breathing You In” (scroll to bottom). Additionally, Wehbe – who is in her early forties – says she’s “often compared to” the American Idol judge, with journalists even referring to her as “the Jennifer Lopez of the Middle East.”

Skyelyfe caught up with the singing sensation, who dished on everything from the Middle East’s pop music scene, to favorite L.A. hotspots when she comes to town. And of course, it was necessary that she shared her “enjoyable” experience teaming up with Smart.

Get to know Wehbe below:

skyelyfe: What is the electronic and pop music scene like in the Middle East? And the music scene in general? What is most popular? Which American artists are big out there?

Haifa Wehbe: The music scene in the Middle East is very diverse. From hip-hop, to pop, to electro, to rock, both local and international artists have big fan bases in the Middle East. The electronic and pop scenes are continuing to grow in the Middle East. I am proud of the accomplishments of other Middle Eastern pop artists, including Ahlam and Wael Kfoury. American artists who are big in the Middle East include Snoop Dogg, Akon, Nicki Minaj and Pitbull.

SL: Who are some American artists you personally enjoy listening to? (It doesn’t matter if they are popular or not)

HW: I really enjoy listening to Rihanna, and my favorite songs of hers are “Diamonds,” “We Found Love” and “Only Girl (In The World).” I also like Britney Spears (“Womanizer,” “Gimme More” and “Till The World Ends”) and Chris Brown (“Run It,” “Look At Me Now” and “Turn Up The Music.”)

SL: How did you end up working with Casper and what was that experience like?

HW: I was actually introduced to Casper through my record label, World Music. The label’s co-CEOs, Tarik Freitekh and Mostafa Sorour were already friends with Casper and they thought it would be a good idea to have him in the music video. When we were introduced we immediately found common ground which made the process of working together on the music video for “Breathing You In” so enjoyable.

SL: What are your thoughts on Los Angeles and what are some of your favorite places to eat/drink/shop in this city?

HW: I love, love, love Los Angeles – what an amazing city. When I visit Los Angeles I stay at my favorite hotel, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. I have been staying at that hotel for so many years and it is centrally located to my two favorite shopping areas: Rodeo Drive and Melrose. When I am in town for longer stays I actually travel to Newport Beach to visit with friends and, of course, shop at Fashion Island. My favorite restaurants in Los Angeles are Mastros and Nobu in Malibu.

SL: Where in the Middle East do you live?

HW: I live in Beruit, Lebanon. It is an exciting cosmopolitan city often referred to as “the Paris of the East.” It is a “high energy” coastal city with amazing restaurants, art galleries, museums and shops – it is actually a very popular tourist destination.

SL: How did you first get into performing?

HW: When I was very young, I knew that when I got older that I wanted to be an entertainer – I had a real passion for singing and acting. I first got started by modeling, which gave me great exposure. From modeling I was able to springboard into singing with the initial release of three singles (I have since released eight albums total). I then branched out into acting having been in four very successful feature length motion pictures including Halawet al-Rooh.

SL: What is the story behind “Breathing You In” and how did the song come to be?

HW: I knew that I wanted to release an English-language song that had meaning – that reflected something deeper about how I live my life. The song is an anthem for how to manage day-to-day challenges. By breathing in and breathing out, you can instantly find peace and create a permanent sense of calm. The lyrics reflect my personal philosophy about dealing with difficult times  – breathing, for me, is about finding my center, my balance.

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Music

Charli XCX, Nicki Minaj, Ghost Loft & More: New Music Monday, 12.22.14

December 22, 2014

SuCharli_XCX_Suckerre, the air is cooling, but Charli XCX‘s “Doing It” off her second album Sucker has me feeling summer-ready! The catchy little tune kicks off this week’s 10-song New Music Monday playlist.

Continuing down the pop road, Nicki Minaj‘s “Buy a Heart” and “The Night Is Still Young” off her latest album The Pinkprint also made the cut.

But, of course, because it is winter, some mellow music is a major must. Ghost Loft‘s “Talk to Me” and TuneDEF‘s “Summer Breeze” (don’t be fooled by the title) are perfect for cuddle weather.

The list also includes Eva & the Heartmaker‘s “Told You” and the Mansions on the Moon remix of my buddies SomeKindaWonderful‘s “Reverse.”

Stay warm, kiddies!

Music

Skyelyfe’s Best & Worst of Music in 2014

November 15, 2014

BreezySome folks may beg to differ, but I’m just going to say it (in my own humble opinion, of course): 2014 was the most unsatisfying year in pop music that I can remember. Ok, Taylor Swift came through in the clutch at the end of the year with an album that took the world by storm. And there’s no denying that Ariana Grande is a cutie who can sing (even though her music doesn’t personally appeal to me). Obviously Sam Smith‘s music has a way with the ladies. And I have nothing but love for Tove Lo and Banks. But aside from that, hardly anything on the radio except for Chris Brown (despite his personal woes) resonated with me this year.

In the past, I could at least depend on a good hook in a commercial rap song to get me by, but even the so-called “hip-hop” this year was beyond laughable. Not only did every song sound the same, but I seriously can’t keep up with who anyone is or what gimmicky nonsense they’re talking about anymore. I mean, even Drake, who usually never lets me down, had me scratching my head in 2014.

That said, this is why I turn more and more to alternative avenues to find good music. From MØ‘s No Mythologies to Follow, to Tensnake‘s Glow, among many others, the year did indeed produce sounds that were rewarding to the ears.

Here is skyelyfe’s favorite and least favorite music in 2014:

10 LEAST FAVORITE SONGS (in order):

1. “Anaconda” – Nicki Minaj

2. “Rude” – Magic!

3. “All About That Bass” – Meghan Trainor

4. “Talk Dirty” – Jason Derulo

5. “Wiggle” – Jason Derulo feat. Snoop Dogg

6. “Don’t Tell ‘Em” – Jeremih feat. YG

7. “Problem” – Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea

8. “Black Widow” – Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora

9. “Show Me” – Kid Ink feat. Chris Brown

10. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams

10 FAVORITE SONGS (in order):

1. “Slow Love” – MØ

2. “Love Sublime” – Tensnake feat. Nile Rodgers & Fiora

3. “Loyal” – Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga

4. “Main Chick” – Chris Brown feat. Kid Ink

5. “Busy Baby” – Tomas Barfod feat. Nina K

6. “All of You” – Betty Who

7. “Diamonds” – Lane 8 feat. Solomon Grey

8. “Bullet Train” – Gardens & Villa

9. “Self Control” – Kate Boy

10. “Dreaming” – The Knocks

15 FAVORITE ALBUMS (in order)

1. No Mythologies to FollowMØ

2. GlowTensnake

3. X (Deluxe Version)Chris Brown

4. BlondeGhost Beach

5. GoddessBanks

6. Queen of the CloudsTove Lo

7. Dunes – Gardens & Villa

8. Awake – Tycho

9. SinglesFuture Islands

10. Noise vs. Beauty Bassnectar

11. Take Me When You GoBetty Who

12. PolyphonyLogistics

13. Strangers, Part IIRAC

14. Nabuma RubberbandLittle Dragon

15. Down to EarthFlight Facilities

5 FAVORITE LIVE SHOWS OR ACTS (in order)

1. Cut Copy @ Lollapalooza in Chicago

2. DWNTWN/ASTR/The Knocks @ The Echo in L.A.

3. RAC/The Knocks (Something Classic Tour) @ The Fonda Theatre in L.A.

4. Robyn & Royksopp (Do It Again Tour) @ The Hollywood Bowl in L.A.

5. Future Islands @ Coachella in Indio, CA

While you anticipate what’s musically in store for 2015, here’s a playlist of my top 50 tracks of the year (in no particular order):

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