The Playlist Of 2010

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A year that brought much sonic delight into our lives, 2010 saw the return of composer favourites like Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer, as well as the emergence of new talent in the shape of one-time Nine Inch Nailer Trent Reznor and A Single Man’s Abel Korzeniowski. Some of our favourite bands and musicians got a play too, with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Twilight: Eclipse calling on the talents of Beck, and Tron Legacy launching Daft Punk’s aural assault. Casting an ear over 2010, here are 18 of the tracks we loved the most.

Audio courtesy of

Artist: Free Blood
From: 127 Hours theatrical trailer

Danny Boyle’s music cues helped make stars of Underworld and raised M.I.A’s profile to the firmament, so Brooklyn four-piece Free Blood should start packing for the world tour now. They’ve kicked around on James Murphy’s DFA roster for a few years but Boyle, the most muso of directors, was listening. A bit clubby, a bit (excuse the pun) rocky, Never Hear Surf Music Again was plucked from their back catalogue for 127 Hour’s soundtrack and trailer. An anthem for the great and not-so-great outdoors.

Artist: Bat For Lashes / Beck
From: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Beck and Bat For Lashes sounded like pretty much the dream pairing for the Eclipse soundtrack – the franchise, for all its naffness, has nabbed some pretty cool artists and tunes to date – and so it proved. Their collaboration, all spacious arrangements, glitchy electronica and hushed desire, was so much better than the film that it made us want to cry. So we did. And we’re not even ashamed. Well, maybe a little.

Artist: Edith Piaf
From: Inception

Marion Cotillard must feel like her career is lock-stepped with Edith Piaf. She’s won an Oscar playing the French chanteuse and Piaf’s dulcet tones also hung over like Inception like a perfumed cloud. Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien was a musical motif and plot device – a conscious irony considering Cobb and Mal were two characters who regretted just about everything – as well as a starting point for Hans Zimmer’s epic score.

Artist: Hans Zimmer
From: Inception

How epic? Well, Zimmer’s brute orchestral piece Mombasa had enough fraught energy and booming gravitas to continue reverberating long after the curtain fell. Consistently terrific, it’s hard to pick a stand-out on the German composer’s Inception soundtrack. After careful consideration, however, this would have to be it though: a symphony set in the architecture of our ears.

Artist: Kevin Renick
From: Up In The Air

Jason Reitman’s gently funny drama had a soundtrack chock full of delights, from Crosby, Stills & Nash to (a not-so-young) Young MC. But the record’s highlight was possibly the most life-affirming story of the year. Out of work and down on his luck, Missouri musician Kevin Renick discovered that the lo-fi song he’d written chimed almost perfectly with the themes of Reitman’s film, right down to the title. So he did what anyone in his shoes would have done: he tracked him down, pressed a demo into his hand and the rest, as they say, is history.

Artist: Kirsten Stewart & Dakota Fanning
From: The Runaways

While ensemble musicals like Nine and Burlesque were pretty patchy affairs, life was good on the gig circuit. Sex And Drugs And Rock & Roll had Andy Serkis hitting us with his rhythm stick in a majestic performance as Ian Dury, and Dominic Cooper made a surprisingly convincing rock star in Tamara Drew – especially considering his singing in Mamma Mia! But The Runaways rocked the hardest. Always full-bore and convincingly musical, Kirsten Stewart and Dakota Fanning took the honours as The Runaways’ Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, their noise-pop anthem a sweaty highpoint.

Skip to Track 8 on the player (left).

Artist: Dan Black
From: Easy A

You might not realise it immediately, but this was more proof that 2010 was the year of Jeff Bridges – both of them. This track from Easy A’s perfect-judged soundtrack had us thinking about another Bridges’ film: Dan Black’s Symphonies samples Jack Neiztche's Starman’s theme. Not that we were too distracted to notice how uplifting Black’s falsetto. And how good the film was. It was great to see Simple Mind’s Don’t You Forget About Me back at high school too.

Artist: The Dickies
From: Kick-Ass

Of all of the year’s many ‘80s comebacks, The Dickies were right up there with ‘Ol Painless and every single mullet in The Expendables as the most deliriously, no, riotously over the top. The Banana Splits didn’t just give Cemetery Junction’s Snork his nickname; it also launched Hit Girl into a feast of ass-kicking in Kick-Ass. The memory of that scene makes an already-energetic song even more triumphantly exhilarating. Altogether now: “Tra-la-la, lalalala…”

Artist: Please Don’t Follow Me
From: Greenberg

In the year that LCD Soundsystem released an album creased with the pains of mid-life crisis, the band’s James Murphy was picked to help soundtrack a film full of the disappointments of Ben Stiller’s fortysomething slacker. You can see where they were coming from there. The DFA label’s finest provided a typically poignant piece of rumpled electro.

Skip to Track 16 on the player (left).

Artist: Marvin Berry & The Starlighters
From: Back To The Future

Okay, technically this was a tune of the year for 1985, or even 1955, but, heck, Back To The Future’s re-release gives us the perfect excuse to include Marvin and his Starlighters here. It’s a killer track, after all, whether you’re nostalgic for an era of prom dresses and duck arse haircuts or a time of red bodywarmers and stonewash jeans. And we’re sure that Marty would want us to.

Artist: Ryan Bingham/T-Bone Burnett
From: Crazy Heart

Discovering that Jeff Bridges had jammed with Gary Busey’s band at Busey’s birthday party was one of the best stories we heard this year, although it’s hard to imagine this tender ode to loneliness and dying dreams got a play while the Buse was blowing out his candles. But what a song! Bridges decanted so much of his heart and soul into it, as well as some serious vocal gifts, that its Best Song Oscar surprised absolutely no-one.

Artist: Daft Punk
From: Tron Legacy

This exhilarating dose of droid rage was the highpoint of the most eagerly anticipated soundtrack of the year. Robot-house icons Daft Punk hadn’t released a new record for coming onto five years, so the hype machine was in overdrive by the time the first thunderous beat dropped in this acid house cut. Tron Legacy took the helmeted house heads full circle. So inspired by Tron the first time round, they were invited to cameo in Legacy and lent their acting talents as well as some serious kudos to Disney’s RAM-raiding sci-fi.

Artist: Metric
From: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

ZONG! So meta it bakes our noodles into some kind of giant noodle pie, Scott Pilgrim writer Bryan Lee O’Malley claims that Metric’s Emily Haines provided the inspiration for this song’s singer, aka Envy Adams, Clash At Demonhead’s femme fetale and Pilgrim ex. But this song was written by Metric. Which means that, if you think about it, in a way Haines was providing the vocals to herself. We’re saying. Anyway, it’s a great song. Great soundtrack too.

Skip to Track 11 on the player (left).

Artist: Scala & Kolacny Brothers
From: The Social Network teaser trailer

We don’t know why David Fincher settled on this Belgian girls choir’s tender take on Radiohead’s anthem to self-loathing for The Social Network teaser, we only know that it was the pick of the year. Lyrically, musically, everything-ly, it just about perfectly captured the essence of Mark Zuckerberg and his battle with the Winklevii, and with himself. Scala & Kolacny Brothers have covered other artists – U2, Nirvana and Rammstein among them – but we’re thinking the German industrial band’s “B**” wouldn’t have captured the mood quite as well.

Artist: AC/DC
From: Iron Man 2

The Aussie/Scots rock monsters were a canny choice to put the metal to the peddle as ‘Ol Shellhead and Whiplash beat seven bells out of each other in Monte Carlo. A classic rock anthem, if it didn’t have you air-guitaring out the cinema, you were probably wedged into your seat somehow or buried under a mound of popcorn, in which case you have our sympathies and we hope you got out OK.

Artist: The Strokes
From: Somewhere trailer / soundtrack

The woozy, rumpled heartache of this Strokes’ B-side – a stripped-down prototype for Room On Fire’s You Only Live Once – meshed perfectly with Phoenix’s moody instrumental in the trailer for Somewhere. If we had to pick between the two, we’d go with Julian Casablancas and co. Their reunion with Sofia Coppola is just about pitch-perfect for the movie.

Artist: Langley Schools Music Project
From: Catfish trailer

The Scala & Kolacny Brothers weren’t the only choir in town this year. Langley’s ‘70s outsider musical kiddiwinkles may be all growed up now, but their beautifully uplifting covers lived on in doc-that-may-or-may-not-be-mock, Catfish. The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations, with added bells and guitars, was an inspired pick to match the film’s upbeat yet unmistakeably wistful mood. It made us wish we’d chucked our recorder away and gone to school in Langley instead.

Head to The Langley Schools Music Project website to find out more about the group and hear other recordings.

Artist: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
From: The Social Network

Trent Reznor was no stranger to lending his vocal chords to Fincher movies (a chop-up of NIN’s Closer gave Se7en’s opening its tundra-bleak sweep). But The Social Network was his first full score, a suitably angular accompaniment to the director’s Facebook origin story that paired Reznor with English musician Atticus Ross. This sparse ambient closer (available to download as a free five-track sampler), a poignant, piano-led soundscape, was a fitting end and perfectly summed up the film’s elegantly sober mood.