Kanye West Wins One For the Douchebags

Our poll winner and his runner-up James Murphy turn their private flaws into public triumphs

But he can't, really—hence "Runaway," "Hell of a Life," "Blame Game," and "Lost in the World," the second half of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the sound of a man looking in the mirror, hating what he sees, and recording it for posterity anyway. Put that stretch of music up against This Is Happening's own "All I Want," "I Can Change," and "You Wanted a Hit," and decide which is more abject—or better yet, don't, unless you want to start wondering if Murphy fucks with the lights on, too.

It's an odd thing to say about a millionaire and a much-loved globetrotting DJ, but these artists sacrificed in 2010, pointing up their flaws and vanities in full view of anyone who cared to look. And we cared, of course. Murphy and West's elaborate celebrity lives may have seemed more vivid than ours at times, but as artists, they held up their end of the deal: What they lived, they made work about; what adoration and income they received from us, they used to make still more. They weren't perfect, no. But in 2010, they made listening worth it.


James Murphy, kissing his band goodbye
Ruvan Wijesooriya
James Murphy, kissing his band goodbye


Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
(#1 album, #4-6 singles)

LCD Soundsystem
This Is Happening
(#2 album)

Pazz and Jop 2010
Never Forget
Cee Lo Green sums up 2010 in two little words
By Rob Harvilla

Little Pink Polos for You and Me
Wallowing and/or reveling in social anxiety with Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend
By Eric Harvey

The Wayward Crucifixion of M.I.A.
On the dodgy, opportunistic, truffle-fry-fueled campaign against both Maya and Maya
By Charles Aaron

Leave Chillwave Alone
In defense of the nostalgia-steeped genre Ariel Pink both invented and abandoned
By Simon Reynolds

Attack of the Singing Rappers
On Drake, Nicki Minaj, B.o.B., and the art of the debut-as-pop-crossover
By Clover Hope

The Great Gay-Pander-Off of 2010
Katy, Nicki, Ke$ha, P!nk, and Gaga taste the rainbow
By Rich Juzwiak

The Internet-Rap Atomization
Odd Future, Lil B, Wiz Khalifa, et al. build tiny kingdoms, and rule them
By Tom Breihan

Justin Bieber, Twitter Casanova
The Most Popular Boy in the World rules the only voting bloc that matters: pre-teen girls
By Camille Dodero

The Top Ten
From Kanye West to The Suburbs

Stuff We Like
Rick Ross Lies, the Rolling Stones Plunder, And Taylor Swift Triumphs

The Personals
Industry Woes, Cultural Theories, Polite Suggestions, and Calls of Bullshit

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