OK, we admit it: The biggest thing in music this year was unquestionably Lady Gaga. Her shows Aug. 30-31 at sold-out Xcel Energy Center were the grandest spectacles of the year, and her presence still loomed larger than anybody's in pop music. Fortunately, size doesn't matter when it comes to critics' year-end lists. While we enjoyed Gaga's performance, it did not come close to our favorites of the year. Similarly, you won't find too many blockbuster albums on our best of 2010, which, of course, is about quality, not quantity.



1. Janelle Monae, Varsity Theater (March 31)

2. Muse, Target Center (Oct. 5)

3. Jonsi, Pantages Theatre (April 24)

4. Shelby Lynne, Dakota Jazz Club (May 1)

5. Titus Andronicus, Triple Rock Social Club (Sept. 17)

6. The Dead Weather, First Avenue (July 28)

7. Angelique Kidjo, Dakota Jazz Club (March 2)

8. Devo, Minnesota Zoo (July 3)

9. Willie Nelson, Mystic Lake Casino (Oct. 29)

10. Jimmy Cliff, Minnesota Zoo (Aug. 7)


1. LCD Soundsystem, Roy Wilkins Auditorium (Oct. 23)

2. Black Keys, First Avenue (June 8)

3. Rufus Wainwright, Orchestra Hall (Aug. 11)

4. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Rock the Garden, Walker Art Center (June 19)

5. Arcade Fire, Roy Wilkins Auditorium (Sept. 22)

6. Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dakota Jazz Club (July 20)

7. Titus Andronicus and Free Energy, Triple Rock Social Club (Sept. 17)

8. Dawes, Justin Townes Earle, Retribution Gospel Choir, P.O.S., Atmosphere, Taste of Minnesota (July 2)

9. Janelle Monae and Of Montreal, First Avenue (Sept. 23)

10. Gorillaz, Target Center (Oct. 17)



1. Janelle Monae, "The ArchAndroid"

2. Jamey Johnson, "The Guitar Song"

3. Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs"

4. Shelby Lynne, "Tears, Lies and Alibis"

5. The Dead Weather, "Sea of Cowards"

6. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, "I Learned the Hard Way"

7. Kanye West, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"

8. Taylor Swift, "Speak Now"

9. John Mellencamp, "No Better Than This"

10. Bruce Springsteen, "The Promise"


1. Black Keys, "Brothers"

2. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, "I Learned the Hard Way"

3. Vampire Weekend, "Contra"

4. Willie Nelson, "Country Music"

5. Kanye West, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"

6. Cee Lo Green, "The Ladykiller"

7. Band of Horses, "Infinite Arms"

8. The Sword, "Warp Riders"

9. Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs"

10. Titus Andronicus, "The Monitor"

Jon Bream • 612-673-1719 • Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658

Look for our ninth annual Twin Cities Critics Tally, a year-end assessment of Minnesota-made music.