The Best Songs in Dallas Music, 2010: Sarah Jaffe Reaches Her Potential, and "Clementine" Is The Best Song of the Year.

[Over these last few weeks of 2010, we've presented our favorite local songs of the year, counting down from No. 25 to No. 1, one track a day. Today, we end our countdown by revealing the top song of the year. Click after the jump to watch the song's official video. There, you'll also find our entire list of the regions 50 best songs released this year -- a particularly strong one in North Texas music.]

From an outsider's perspective, Sarah Jaffe's success in 2010 would seem like a pretty surprising, rather overnight thing.

Some local girl with a guitar releases her debut album? She gets attention from NPR and USA Today? She tours as an opener for Midlake and -- wow, really? -- Norah Jones? And now she's selling out the Granada Theater?

It's crazy things like that happen!

Well, except that those paying attention know another story. They see the girl who released her debut EP, Even Born Again, back in 2008. The one who won three awards in our reader-voted Dallas Observer Music Awards that year. And who won another three in 2009, bringing her to six total awards (and no defeats) heading into this year, when, at age 24, Kirtland Records released her full-length debut, Suburban Nature, and Jaffe again swept the DOMAs, this time bringing home six awards, and making her one of the most-decorated winners our awards have ever seen, but also the sole nominee to have never lost an award to another artist. People clearly see something special in her music.

Jaffe, however, sometimes does not.

During a recent performance for KKXT-91.7 FM KXT's one-year anniversary, Jaffe addressed her audience from the stage and shared the fact that the song of hers that they so adored, "Clementine," wasn't one that Jaffe initially cared for. In fact, to hear Jaffe tell it, it was only written as a throwaway song -- something as filler to expand out a gig her previous band, Tomahawk Molly, had been asked to perform. Jaffe didn't think much of it.

But her mother heard it, and she liked it, so Jaffe kept playing it. And she recorded it with her murderer's row of a backing band. And Kirtland released it as Suburban Nature's lead single. And KXT played the everloving crap out of it. And Kirtland shot a beautiful video for it. And it became the big singalong song at her shows. And it made more of a fingerprint in the local music scene than any other song released this year. And now the Dallas Observer is calling it the best song of 2010.

Huh. It's crazy when things like that happen.

It's a beautiful song, for starters, intricately arranged by Jaffe and her bandmates, Robert Gomez, Becki Howard and Jeff Ryan (other phenomenal area players Jaffe boasts in her backing band include Bosque Brown guitarist Jeremy Bueller and Centro-matic keyboard player Scott Danbom) and deftly produced, with a surprisingly delicate touch, by The Paper Chase's John Congleton (whose other work includes celebrated efforts from St. Vincent and The Walkmen, among others).

Simultaneously tender and driving, the music tugs at your heart strings as it demands your toes to tap along -- a rare feat, to be sure -- as it blurs the line between folk-rock and pop and endears itself to listeners of both.

And then there's the lyrical content -- vague and revealing, intimate and relatable -- behind Jaffe's own stark vocals, which themselves sound so refreshingly bare.

It's something of a perfect storm, really -- as so many of Jaffe's songs are. "Clementine" isn't a song you listen to, but one that demands your attention.

It's a complete song.

And Jaffe's just gonna have to live with playing it the rest of her life.

There are far worse fates.

The Top 50 Local Songs of 2010 (Links to music videos and free song downloads available where applicable; links to streams where neither a download nor video exists.)
50. Dear Human - "Waiting"
49. Nervous Curtains - "All Yesterday's Parties"
48. Spector 45 - "Try Try Try"
47. Smile Smile - "Beg You To Stay"
46. Robert Gomez - "A Natural State"
45. Florene - "Parc Bitch"
44. Mount Righteous - "Eat Your Wife and Kiss The Barbecue"
43. The Strange Boys - "Be Brave"
42. Soft Environmental Collapse - "A Horse & Buggy Complex"
41. Deepspace5 - "Killing With Kindness"
40. Sextape -- "Lubricated Intimacy"
39. Museum Creatures - "Song ABC"
38. Ocelot - "Beating Hears"
37. Sir Silky - "The Squeeze (The Answer)"
36. Bone - "Homegurl"
35. Ishi - "Come Closer"
34. Hoyotoho - "Born Black"
33. Dorrough - "Get Big"
32. Katie Carroll - "Paper Girl"
31. Final Club - "Ruded"
30. Treal Lee & Prince Rick - "Throwed Off (Fuck Errbody)"
29. South San Gabriel - "All Night Long"
28. The Rocket Summer - "Walls"
27. Darktown Strutters - "Lucifer Rising"
26. School of Seven Bells - "Windstorm"
24. The Burning Hotels - "Austin's Birthday"
23. Doug Burr - "At The Public Dance"
22. The Flowers of God 

feat. Sarah Jaffe
feat. Sarah Jaffe

21. Dondria -- "You're The One"
20. Sundress - "Locust"
19. Blixaboy - "Lion Eyes (featuring Emil Rapstine)"
18. A.Dd+ feat. Brown of Sore Losers - "Likeamug"
17. The Secret Handshake - "Every Single Time"
16. Lalagray - "The Hard Part"
15. Sore Losers - "Free Loaders"
14. Leg Sweeper - "Sexy Weekend"
13. Midlake - "Rulers, Ruling All Things"
12. Ryan Thomas Becker - "So Speak"
11. Analog Rebellion - "You've Been Had (Machine)"
10. Mind Spiders - "Worlds Destroyed"
9. Kimberly - "Sociopath"
8. Old 97's - "The Magician"
7. The Beaten Sea - "Doctor's Not Gonna Cure Our Ills"
6. The Orbans - "Like a Liar"
5. Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights - "Devil's Basement"
4. Erykah Badu - "Window Seat"
3. Neon Indian - "Sleep Paralysist"
2. Spooky Folk - "Bible Belt"
1. Sarah Jaffe - "Clementine"

Thanks for a great year in North Texas music. We'll see ya in 2011.

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