The Dean's List: Christgau's Best of 2010

To read Robert Christgau's essay on this year's Dean's List picks, click here.




1. The Roots: How I Got Over (Def Jam)

2. Elizabeth Cook: Welder (31 Tigers)

3. M.I.A: Maya (Deluxe Edition) (Interscope)

4. Tom Zé: Estudando a Bossa: Nordeste Plaza (Luaka Bop)

5. Rachid Taha: Bonjour (Knitting Factory)

6. Johnny Cash: American VI: Ain't No Grave (American)

7. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-a-Fella)

8. Tabu Ley Rochereau: The Voice of Lightness Vol. 2: Congo Classics 1977-1993 (Sterns Africa)

9. Peter Stampfel: Dook of the Beatniks (Piety Street Files & Archaic Media '09)

10. Vampire Weekend: Contra (XL)

11. The Corin Tucker Band: 1,000 Years (Kill Rock Stars)

12. Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday (Young Money/Cash Money)

13. Girl Talk: All Day (Illegal Art download)

14. African Pearls: Congo: Pont Sur le Congo (Syllart)

15. No Age: Everything in Between (Sub Pop)

16. Care Bears on Fire: Girls Like It Loud (S-Curve download)

17. Robyn: Body Talk (Konochiwa/Cherrytree/Interscope)

18. Lil Wayne: No Ceilings (free download '09)

19. Allo Darlin': Allo Darlin' (Fortuna Pop!)

20. D.O. Misiani and Shirati Jazz: The King of History (Sterns Africa)

21. Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster (Streamline/Konlive/Cherrytree/Interscope '09)

22. Systema Solar: Systema Solar (Chusma)

23. The Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

24. The Rough Guide to Desert Blues (World Music Network)

25. Macy Gray: The Sellout (Concord)

26. Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)

27. Love Is All: Two Thousand and Ten Injuries (Polyvinyl)

28. Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard: 'Em Are I (Rough Trade '09)

29. Dessa: A Badly Broken Code (Doomtree)

30. Shad: TSOL (Black Box/Decon)

31. Pierre de Gaillande: Bad Reputation (Barbès)

32. Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (Warp)

33. MC Paul Barman: Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud (Househusband download '09)

34. Tokyo Police Club: Champ (Mom + Pop)

35. Titus Andronicus: The Monitor (XL)

36. The Whitefield Brothers: Earthology (Now-Again)

37. Gabriel Johnson: Fra_ctured (Electrofone)

38. Surfer Blood: Astro Coast (Kanine)

39. LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening (DFA/Virgin)

40. Rokia Traoré: Tchamantché (Nonesuch '09)

41. Das Racist: Sit Down, Man (Mad Decent download)

42. Best Coast: Crazy for You (Mexican Summer)

43. Cornershop: Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast (Ample Play)

44. El DeBarge: Second Chance (Geffen)

45. Die Antwoord: $0$ (Cherrytree/Interscope)

46. The Pernice Brothers: Goodbye, Killer (Ashmont)

47. Quasi: American Gong (Kill Rock Stars)

48. The National: High Violet (4AD)

49. Scissor Sisters: Night Work (Downtown/Polydor)

50. David Bazan: Curse Your Branches (Barsuk '09)

51. Now That's What I Call Club Hits 2 (EMI)

52. Nicki Minaj: Beam Me Up Scotty (Trapaholics download '09)

53. Nas & Damian "JR. Gong" Marley: Distant Relatives (Def Jam)

54. Kinito Méndez: Éxitos de Kinito Méndez (J & N '05)

55. Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa (Honest Jons)

56. Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca: Isabela (Mopiato Music '07)

57. Diplo: Diplo Presents Dubstep: Blow Your Head (Downtown/Mad Decent)

58. Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip: The Logic of Chance (Sunday Best)

59. Balkan Beat Box: Blue Eyed Black Boy (Nat Geo Music)

60. Eskmo: Eskmo (Ninja Tune)

61. Sleigh Bells: Treats (Mom + Pop)

62. Das Racist: Shut Up, Dude (Mishka download)

63. Eminem: Recovery (Aftermath/Interscope)

64. Tricky: Mixed Race (Domino)

65. Everybody Was in the French Resistance . . . Now!: "Fixing the Charts": Volume One (Cooking Vinyl)

66. Loretta Lynn and Friends: Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn (Columbia)

67. Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot . . . The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

68. Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love (Nonesuch)

69. Beatles Beginnings: Quarrymen One: Skiffle-Country-Western (Rhythm and Blues '09)

70. Of Montreal: False Priest (Polyvinyl)

71. Taylor Swift: Speak Now (Big Machine)

72. Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca: Retrospectiva (Mopiato Music '09)

73. MC Esoteric: Saving Seamus Ryan (Fly Casual '09)

74. Hole: Nobody's Daughter (Mercury)

75. Les Savy Fav: Root for Ruin (Frenchkiss)

76. Old 97's: The Grand Theatre Volume One (New West)

77. Spoon: Transference (Merge)

78. Standard Fare: The Noyelle Beat (Bar/None)

79. Konono No. 1: Assume Crash Position (Crammed Discs)

80. The Bundles: The Bundles (K)

81. The Mountain Goats: The Life of the World to Come (4AD '09)

82. Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar: Devla: Blown Away to Dancefloor Heaven (Piranha)





1. Robyn: "Don't F***ing Tell Me What to Do" (Konochiwa/Cherrytree/Interscope)

2. Elizabeth Cook: "El Camino" (31 Tigers)

3. Die Antwoord: "Enter the Ninja" (Cherrytree/Interscope)

4. Scissor Sisters: "We're Running Out" (Downtown/Polydor)

5. Jason Derulo: "Ridin' Solo (Ian Nieman Club Mix)" (Warner Bros.)

6. Far East Movement: "Like a G6" (Cherrytree/Interscope)

7. Robyn: "Dancing on My Own" (Konochiwa/Cherrytree/Interscope)

8. Afrikan Boy: "Lidl" (Out Here)

9. LCD Soundsystem: "Drunk Girls" (DFA/Virgin)

10. Lady Gaga: "Bad Romance" (Streamline/Konlive/Cherrytree/Interscope)

11. The Arcade Fire: "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" (Merge)

12. Das Racist: "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" (Mishka download)

13. Katy Perry: "Teenage Dream" (Capitol)

14. Das Racist: "Fake Patois" (Mishka download)

15. Vampire Weekend: "Horchata" (XL)

16. Taio Cruz: "Dynamite" (Mercury)

17. Jerry Lee Lewis: "Mean Old Man" (Verve)

18. Shakira: "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" (Epic)

19. Major Lazer: "Sound of Siren" (Downtown)

20. Ben Folds/Nick Hornby: "Levi Johnson's Blues" (Nonesuch)


To read Robert Christgau's essay on this year's Dean's List picks, click here.

Robert Christgau's reviews of these albums can already be found or soon will be at his website,, or at his Expert Witness blog at MSN Music.


by mflowers ‎01-12-2011 08:44 PM - edited ‎01-12-2011 08:45 PM

I've been telling everyone who would listen (and some who wouldn't) that "El Camino" was the best song of 2010 since at least June - nice to see you (almost) agree.  I guess I'll have to go listen to some Robyn now.

by mirko on ‎01-13-2011 02:22 PM

why,for god's sake, Die Antwoord?tragi-comic relief? :)

by JapanAlex ‎01-13-2011 03:19 PM - edited ‎01-13-2011 03:28 PM

This was my best-of-year list—there are a few ones that are the wrong way round, but I got The Arcade Fire almost exact and most others in order… shame these were the only ones I heard! This year has been a bad year—The Roots number one? If they make the best-of the 10's list it will be pretty low down, at least. I was umming and ahhing about Kanye West—at first, I thought it was brilliant but then it started to wane on me—I thought it wouldn't make the top ten, although, now I wish I hadn't been so over analytic of it (I should have taken my initial viewpoint of it—I still knew it was no number one). I am not suprised my M.I.A.—I wish I had bumped her higher. I think in a better year The Roots would have been around 5th or 6th..? Lol—I first heard that 'Enter the Ninja' song on the radio and I didn't know whether to be disgusted or amused?! I was so intrigued by the flow of it I couldn't pass any unfair judgement on it—even if I wanted to! ;p Oh, and one condescending comment for Xgau—you should use single quotes, and any quotes within quotes should use double quotation marks. I'm an **bleep**! ;p







6. The Roots: How I Got Over

7. Elizabeth Cook: Welder

8. Vampire Weekend: Contra

9. Johnny Cash: American VI: Ain't No Grave

10. M.I.A.: Maya



12. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Fantasy


14. Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday

15. Girl Talk: All Day

22. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs


50~ Die Antwoord: $0$

by bjsroka ‎01-14-2011 12:31 AM - edited ‎01-14-2011 12:32 AM

To the above commenter: for a quote within a quote in an American publication, we place the double quotes on the outside, and the single quotes on the inside. In British publications, they do the opposite. This is an American publication. **Bleep**!

by JapanAlex ‎01-14-2011 03:26 AM - edited ‎01-14-2011 03:27 AM

Interestingly, the way I described applies to either nationality. It's a typographic rule.

by bjsroka on ‎01-14-2011 09:49 AM

In America, we usually use double quotes as our primary quotation marks. Every piece of British musicological scholarship that I've read (that I realized was British) featured single quotes as primary. I don't know what else to tell you. Look in a style guide.

by JapanAlex ‎01-14-2011 10:48 AM - edited ‎01-15-2011 03:28 PM

Do we have to keep going over this..?! While there is a misconception with the use of quotations between the two countries the correct use of quotes (in terms of TYPOGRAPHY—i.e. correct writing) is the way I mentioned above—it's the correct, and only, way. I wish I hadn't brought it up now—it was only a joke—but I didn't know some **bleep** was going to comment on it..?! :p Another example would be the use of - vs—the former being used in hyphenated words the latter used as a clause/sub-clause in sentences. Another example would be your incorrect spelling of realise—but that is a language thing and therefore not incorrect. As a sub-clause, anyone interested in Typography, read this book—

by Shearn on ‎03-01-2011 01:15 AM

Rachid Taha--a warm, harmless album. But no. 5 for the year? I didn't find a keeper on it. Usually a Christgau A- means four or five good tracks; this is 10 fairly ok ones. I welcome the transnationalism but the tracks were a bit repetitive.


About the Columnist
Robert Christgau is a critic at All Things Considered, writes for the National Arts Journalism Program's ARTicles blog, teaches in NYU's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, and has published five books. His highly searchable website is

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