Superlist Sunday

Superlist Sunday: Top 10 Kanye West Songs

I will go on record and say that Kanye West is my favourite artist in the music industry. No one else has the same drive, ego or undeniable genius with music that he does, and across 5 of the best albums of the last 10 years, he’s had some incredible singles. This week’s Superlist Sunday has me picking the best of the best, which may include some tracks you wouldn’t expect me to rate so highly.

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10) Heartless – 808s and Heartbreak

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Heartless is a great way to start off this list, the best single from West’s controversial but incredible 808s. It’s probably the most straightforward single he’s ever released, with Kanye delivering an undeniably catchy melody over production taken straight from the pop/rnb that was roaming the charts back in 2008. It may have only just made it into my top 10, but Heartless is a track that never fails to make me sing along.

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9) The New Workout Plan – The College Dropout

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Probably the most controversial inclusion on this list, Workout Plan is one of the funniest, most club ready and downright enjoyable joints Kanye has ever put his name to. The string based production is fittingly deranged, with the hectic drum patterns in the background making it feel like a true Workout. Throw in testimonies from successful users who were finally able to ‘date outside the family’ and a handclap breakdown near the end that you can’t help but smile through and you have a brilliantly fun record.
 

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8) Touch The Sky (Feat. Lupe Fiasco) – Late Registration

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In a list of Kanye records, surprisingly Touch The Sky at number 8 is the first to feature a sample. What a sample to make a track around though. Taking us to the church yet again, you can’t help but praise West for self referential lyrics like ‘I think I died in the accident, cos this must be heaven’. Lupe Fiasco adds bundles of energy to a song already bursting at the seams with joyous brass production, there’s no wonder why Yeezy always ends his concerts with his most feel-good anthem yet.

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7) Power – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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I wrote extensively about Power in my Best of 2010 article, where it landed at the number 2 spot. Outside of the perfect production, this is probably my second favourite set of Kanye lyrics, the second verse in particular being a standout moment on the best album of his career. Yeezy needed to come back with a bang after the VMAs incident, and Power was his biggest bang yet. Much like the album it appeared on, this accumulates everything that makes his other single so great and serves it in one 5 minute portion.

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6) Gold Digger (Feat. Jamie Foxx) – Late Registration

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If you want a Kanye song played in a club, it has to be Gold Digger. Soulful is probably the best way to describe listening to this, the sample here making for the most infection track of Kanye’s career. Favourite moments? ’18 years, 18 years, and on its 18th birthday he found out it wasn’t his’ is one that sticks out for me.

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5) All Of The Lights – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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A song that features so many people that it credits none of them on iTunes, All of The Lights belongs to Rihanna. That isn’t to say that you can’t tell it’s a Kanye record, the epic production with its thudding drum line ensures you always know who is in charge. Outside of RiRi’s perfect delivery of Kanye’s best chorus since Stronger, Fergie Ferg’s appearance is especially welcome, though she gets somewhat outshined by an Alicia Keys ‘Whoaaah’ mere bars later.

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4) Diamonds From Sierra Leone – Late Registration

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The final track to appear from Kanye’s second album (arguably his strongest singles record) Diamonds will always be a strong contender for my favourite Yeezy song. This is undeniably his best song lyrically, the end of the second verse ‘Take your diamonds and throw em’ up like your bulimic, yeah the beat cold but the flow is enaemic’ being the single greatest section in any song of his. The fact it samples the one and only Shirley Bassey just makes me love it even more!

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3) Jesus Walks – Kanye West

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It’s easy to forget that Jesus Walks appeared on Kanye’s debut album, it being the sort of song you’d expect from someone who’s been charting for a decade or two. The constant chanting that accompanies his most epic production gives it that Gospel feeling throughout. Jesus Walks was the first sign that Kanye wasn’t just another rapper who wanted to sing about Guns and Drugs, he has strong messages in here that are represented effortlessly. The idea of him wanting everyone in the club to start praising Jesus seems ridiculous on paper, but when you hear this song it feels like a reality.

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2) Stronger – Graduation

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The only album not make an appearance so far, Graduation took Kanye’s production into the future, with synth and drum pads replacing the strings and brass of his previous records. Both the sample of Daft Punk and the message of ‘that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger’ makes Stronger one of Kanye’s most universally accessible songs. Unavoidably catchy, and Yeezy’s most danceable hit, Stronger narrowly misses out on the top spot on my list.

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1) Flashing Lights (Feat. Dwele) – Graduation

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Definitely not his most straightforward song, in lyrical terms anyway, Flashing Lights is up for interpretation (as is the incredibly symbolic video). I think it’s the production that places it on top of my list, that sweeping string part with a suddenly thudding synth track makes for an aural experience unmatched elsewhere in his singles. It’s the sort of song that stops me in my tracks, of which there are very few, where I will stop whatever I am doing and just enjoy the incredible beats Kanye has made. Flashing Lights is most definitely my choice for number 1 in my Top 10 Kanye West Songs.
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