Rewind the Decade: The best female songs of the 2010s

Ryan Reichard, Columnist

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The 2010’s have been a rather turbulent decade, not only politically, but musically as well. The emergence of new technologies made it easier for the blending of musical genres that had not been previously available. 

At the forefront of this musical progression has been women. They have been the driving force in the progression of music over the last decade, with many of them dropping the best albums of their respective years and creating some of the best songs this decade had to offer. Here is a list of the best songs female artists released throughout this decade.

 

1. “All Too Well” – Taylor Swift 

Buried in the emotional bombast of Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album, “Red,” lies the singer’s most personal song to date. “All Too Well” is built around Swift’s world-class songwriting, featuring Swift’s ability to find the beauty in being vulnerable. 

Swift’s magnum-opus is a big story packed into five and a half minutes that freezes time and hones-in on the small details that would otherwise be cast aside as mere background noise; the scarf that has spurred a thousand tears and a refrigerator light that gave way to midnight dance parties and doubled as a warning. All of these small and otherwise seemingly unimportant details give Swift the room to build her story as she chronicles her pain. 

As the pain grows, the mild-mannered guitar cannot hold back any longer and rises as a scream in the lonely night before symbols begin to clash and Swift’s vocals soar, as she cannot contain her emotions anymore. Then, as quickly as it builds it is over and Swift is left lamenting in her most vulnerable state. 

It’s the quiet moments on “All Too Well” that haunt the most, making the audience lean in close enough to hear her heartbreak one crack at a time. 

 

2. “Run Away With Me” – Carly Rae Jepson 

Built around a rather simple proposal — let’s run away from reality hand-in-hand — Jepson is able to turn a simple premise into one of the best pop songs of the decade. A large portion of this can be attributed Jepson, who sells the central theme with an outstanding amount of conviction. 

Trapped in the possibility of a future romance, Jepson allows it to take control of her and carry her away completely. She gets lost in a world of 80’s inspired synths and a saxophone riff paired with monumental drums that anchor the song before it gets too carried away. 

Over the weekend, we could turn the world to gold,” Jepson sings softly, before letting the image of two lovers linger in the midnight air. 

 

3. “Three Days In Bed” – Jennifer Nettles 

Most known for her status as a member of the country music duo Sugarland, Jennifer Nettles was able to fully come into her own with the release of her second solo album, “Playing With Fire.” 

While the album remains in obscurity — a true injustice — so does most of the album’s songs. “Stupid Girl,” another song from the same album, almost made the cut for this list, but “Three Days In Bed” edges it out due in part to Nettles’ incredible vocal delivery. The singer pines for a romantic rendezvous with a stranger to allow her to feel an emotion other than the exhaustion stemming from her depression. 

Some days I wanna run/ From the place I call home / Guess I’m just needing some danger / Give me three days in bed / With a stranger,” the singer’s exhaustive vocals sing across the track, allowing Nettles to sell the central theme with incredible conviction. 

“Three Days In Bed” is structured around a gentle accordion, wiry guitars, a pulsating backbeat and flourishes of steel guitar to create the tired atmosphere. A true accomplishment, “Three Days In Bed” is a criminally overlooked song that is as beautiful as the French scenery it describes. 

   

4. “The Louvre” – Lorde 

The New Zealand-born songstress has never been a fan of romance. Often times, she sneers at it, waiting to dissect it down to its very core as if it was an experiment of hers — all the while she manages to let down her defenses and fall in love with the very thing she sought to dissect. 

“The Louvre” is a prime example of this. The song reminisces on a summer romance Lorde had that manages to still bring her happiness on the inside as she rolls her eyes at the very notion on the outside. 

Lorde’s voice ominously hovers above a whisper as she recounts the tale over top of soft, rumbling chords. The singer realizes that the physical connection that she shares with her lover is more than purely physical — she begins to deeply care about them. As she falls deeper into this person, her scorned façade begins to fade and she embraces the cold waters of love. 

The song is not as explosive as other songs on her landmark “Melodrama” album, such as the literally explosive “Homemade Dynamite” and the bombastic “Green Light;” however, it is one that best expresses her natural skills as a songwriter. “The Louvre” belongs in the very building it is named after. 

 

5. “Into You” – Ariana Grande 

Ariana Grande’s journey to musical superstardom has been the story of legends. Her story spans from her very beginnings on the Nickelodeon TV show “Victorious” to releasing one of the most consistent and acclaimed discographies of the last decade. 

While the singer’s last two albums have been more scattershot in terms of overall quality, it was her 2016 album, “Dangerous Woman,” that cemented her place among the best in the game. This is due to the exploration into a more mature and darker pop sound that had only been hinted at in previous Grande releases (“Love Me Harder”). 

Released as the second official single from the album, “Into You” serves as a prime example of Grande’s pure vocal talent as well as her knack for putting together a catchy pop tune. Added by pop producer extraordinaire Max Martin, “Into You” is structured around pulsating 80’s inspired synths that progressively build throughout the song. 

Grande’s gentle coos build as she struggles to hold back her intentions before finally letting them get the best of her (“Tell me what you came here for / ‘Cause I can’t, I can’t wait no more / I’m on the edge with no control”). 

When this happens, the singer’s vocals soar to new heights and the synths race, ramping up the intensity and tension as she gives into temptation resulting in an explosion of euphoria. “Into You” is easily Grande’s best songs and one of the best pop songs of the decade.