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The best CDs of 2010

Our critics pick their Top 10s

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / December 19, 2010

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When 2010 draws to a close, the best-selling artists will include youthful upstarts Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and Bruno Mars; adult contemporary superstar Susan Boyle; and hip-hop heavyweights Kanye West and Eminem.

But few of the year’s most popular acts appear in this compendium by Globe music critics of their favorite releases. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the creamy urban cool of Mars, the fairy tale pop-country glitter of Swift, or even the bubblegum charms of Bieber. But music that worms its way into your brain — sometimes against your will — isn’t the same as music that possesses your heart.

For us, heart-seizing sounds came from all corners of the globe, involved meetings of the minds, and most importantly made us feel connected both to something bigger and to our own selves in grooves both elegiac and ecstatic.

More artists made the cut than ever before, and faves included everything from West’s soul-baring “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’’ to the breezy lo-fi harmonies of Beach House and the otherworldly funk of “Tightrope’’-walker Janelle Monáe.

Elsewhere, Steve Greenlee reveled in a vibrant tribute to jazz master John Coltrane from the vibraphonist Mike Mainieri. Siddhartha Mitter scoured the world and was beguiled by the sounds of Natacha Atlas and Luisa Maita. And Jeremy Eichler dug into the classical stacks and came back loving releases that were grand and colorful or quietly contemplative — or both, in the case of the legendary pianist Murray Perahia’s Brahms album.

We hope that, like us, you found great music to soothe your soul, rock your world, and get the party started this year.