Every time we pause to look at the last however many years of music, things seem stranger and harder to pin down. Not the music itself, necessarily, but rather how it reaches us and finds its way into our lives. In 2010, Pitchfork had been regularly using Twitter for just over a year. Streaming music was around but was a minor concern. Smart phones weren't something you took for granted. All of these changes and many more have altered how we experience music, but one thing is certain: great songs never stop coming. Five years on, to mark the half-decade, here are 200 of our staff's favorites.
Daft Punk mainstays Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo hung back so their collaborators can shine: Pharrell projects the barely-contained composure of a guy hosting a kegger while his parents are out of town, and Nile Rodgers' rhythm guitar rebukes the idea that the best guitarists only play solos. If dance music has become the sound of the 2010s, then Daft Punk sought to locate the roots of contemporary pop music in the popularly maligned genre of disco. Conceptually, that elevates “Get Lucky” to the status of monumental triumph for poptimists (and makes Pharrell the Obama to the rockist Tea Party). And yet, this smash hit is more than simply a history lesson or a pick-up anthem. In the crackle of Rodgers’ guitar, in the easy lope of the rhythm section, in the human-after-all groove lies something truly life-affirming: “what keeps the planets spinning, the force from the beginning.” —Stephen M. Deusner
Hearing "Zebra" for the first time is its own small journey. It's not the kind with winding roads and endless peaks and valleys, though; this is a slow, steady path that rises with the patience of a band only getting better. Beach House's Teen Dream opener charms you with its utter simplicity—at the song's core is one beautiful, relaxed guitar melody, around which Victoria Legrand sighs breathlessly and wonders, "Don't I know you better than the rest?" In a way, "Zebra" was our introduction to the band Beach House is today: a pair of peerless artists harnessing stadium-sized emotions and sweeping rock gestures into a modest bedroom-pop aesthetic. —Patric Fallon