By no means are we claiming this list is complete, but here are some of the musical highs from the past year.
Vampire Weekend: Releasing their sophomore album, “Contra,” in the wasteland that is January was a great move for the indie sweater wearers in Vampire Weekend. It went straight to number one on the Billboard 200 and grabbed listeners’ attention until at least February.
Ebony Bones: This U.K. artist is still only available on import, but Ebony Bones wowed the in-the-know crowds at Mercury Lounge, Southpaw and Hudson Hotel last winter in a trio of rare NYC performances. Her vibrant, freaky live show, which whips up grimey, paranoid punk pop into a danceable lather made her one of the best acts of the year.
Lady Gaga/Beyonce, "Telephone": Lady Gaga has attracted a ton of attention for those outrageous getups she wears (meat dress, anyone?) but she and her team seem at least as focused on making the music an experience as well. This collaboration with Beyonce, no slouch herself in the image department, featured an outrageous woman’s prison-themed video that was almost a short film. Whatever she’s doing, Gaga can sure get people talking.
Sleigh Bells: Despite their wintry name, Brooklyn’s Sleigh Bells put out one of the most celebrated summer albums this year. “Treats” was a loud, energetic blast of lo-fi electro that shook up the local scene.
Eminem: The cranky, foul-mouthed rapper showed a more mature side on “Recovery,” released in June, and fans rejoiced. In September, he and Jay-Z brought down the house with a pair of concerts at the new Yankee Stadium.
Gorillaz: Somehow Damon Albarn makes universal appeal look effortless. His cartoon band captivated us all once again with “Plastic Beach” and an ambitious fall tour that combined first-rate animation with a rotating roster of impressive guest stars from Lou Reed to De La Soul. And then, to finish out the year, they released a new album on Christmas Day.
Beatles on iTunes: It was hardly a surprise by the time Apple announced on Nov. 16 that the Beatles catalogue would be available on iTunes, but it’s still nice to finally be able to download their hits for 99 cents a pop.
Girl Talk: In a surprise move on Nov. 15 Girl Talk, aka Greg Gillis released his fifth album as a free download. The mad DJ, who takes the mash-up to the next level by combining dozens of samples on one track, was the talk of the blogosphere for at least a week — which is a long time on the Internet.
Kanye West: Yes, he’s loud and obnoxious and says crazy things on Twitter, but just listen to “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” The man is the best in the game.
LCD Soundsystem: After releasing the sublime “This is Happening” in May (an album that’s included in many best of 2010 lists), James Murphy announced LCD Soundsystem would likely be calling it quits. The band will be touring Australia this winter, however, so it remains to be seen if they’ll go away any time soon.
Cee Lo: We can’t print the name of Cee Lo’s wildly successful single, suffice it to say that singing along to it is super cathartic after a bad day. The rest of “The Lady Killer,” released in early November, is equally entertaining, and proves that the funky soul singer can hold his own even without Danger Mouse.