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The Best Alternative Songs of the Decade

As a music director, I have scoured across the land for alternative music that I find to be a testament to the genre. Some may say I KNOW alternative music. This is why I must create an ultimate list of 2010s alternative that I love and trust. These songs I would let testify for me in court. These songs I would put as emergency contacts. These songs I would marry, divorce, and marry again. These songs will help carry you into the 20s ready to discover the future of alternative.


Cough Syrup – Young the Giant

This one barely makes it coming out in 2011, but I would say it’s well worth being a song to define the 2010s. Even people who don’t know alternative appreciate this song for it’s iconic lyrics and chill vibes. This song was “sad boi hours” before “sad boi hours” existed. Young the Giant has gained much more of a following for their music now, but this song walked so the rest of their songs could run.

Diane Young – Vampire Weekend

I know I should be hyping Vampire Weekend’s latest album from 2019, but this list is about music that has powered through the decade. That gives Modern Vampires of the City an unfair advantage, but here we are.

Trouble – Cage The Elephant

Some will say it’s “Cigarette Daydreams” or “Come a Little Closer” from Melophobia. It’s “Trouble” from Tell Me I’m Pretty… Ok?! This song’s intro is too iconic and brilliantly constructed.

Real Love Baby – Father John Misty

I just listened to it while I was writing this. I don’t even know what to say because the song just makes me feel so many great emotions. It has such a unique folk sound that I don’t even know how to describe it. The best I could say is a feel good song. Father John Misty has many amazing songs that make you feel every emotion at once, so his music is the perfect way to deal with seasonal depression: 2020 edition. 

I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers

If you were living under a rock in the middle of the woods with no contact with the real world, your 2014 went untouched by this song. The amount of radio stations that over played this fantastic song is insane. I am pretty sure I had a Pandora station that would play it every 3 hours. Ah 2014… you wanted to get better so bad.   

Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots

Another song that maybe you missed if you lived under a rock is “Stressed Out.” I almost put “Tear in my Heart” because that song was my introduction to Twenty One Pilots. Yet on further inspection, I believe everyone has had a time where they enjoyed this song. My own mother used to tell me to play that song about being insecure and caring what people think. This song defined a generation of flannel and choker 15 year olds and, to this day, kinda slaps.

Tongue Tied – Grouplove

If you haven’t been belting this song in your car since 2011, you aren’t a real fan of alternative music. If you questioned the lyrics everytime you belted “I peed the bed up in the sky,” then you are fully prepared to enter 2020.

Love It If We Made It – The 1975

The 1975 had many popular songs come out in this decade. Many of their really popular songs had strong political messages. I heard someone call “Love it if We Made It” the Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” of our time. This songs powerful lyrics and unique electronic sound make it a perfect song to describe the kind of music coming out in 2018.

Hopeless Wanderer – Mumford & Sons

This is arguably the best Mumford & Sons song for the pure fact that they have one of the best folk music videos I have seen. They replaced themselves with Will Forte, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Ed Helms. If you are a folk fan and a comedy fan, give this video a go, and it will become your favorite song from Babel.

The Young Blood Chronicles – Fall Out Boy

I realize this is an entire album, but here we are. This is classic Fall Out Boy in a complete short film package. This was also their HUGE comeback after their break up that defined a change in their genre and I would say a change in alternative music in general.

This is Gospel – Panic! At the Disco

Sorry, not sorry. If I am gonna talk about Fall Out Boy first, you had to know that Panic! At The Disco was coming right after. From losing band members to the big changes in genre, Panic! At the Disco went through too many changes this decade, but “This is Gospel” is always going to come out as one of the best of the band and especially the decade.

Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People

This is a song I would use to describe 2010s alternative music. The amount of hype this song received at the Foster The People concert I went to was insane. As soon as it started people were screaming to the point where I couldn’t hear the song AT AN OUTDOOR CONCERT. This song defined a generation for alternative, and I think it will continue to be influential in the coming decade.

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