Jazz was working all the angles in 2010. Is there any other genre that has as much range -- from solo instruments to big bands, from instrumental to vocal, from European musicians to both North and South Americans, from truly pretty music to raucously avant-garde "noise"?
The synthesis of the past, present, and future was so much of what country music was about in 2010. Country was still fairly male-dominated in the era, although the changing winds, wherein women would create the most forward-looking music, were already beginning to blow.
2010 was a great year for indie-pop, with an assortment of new bands making an impression by putting a fresh new stamp on old sounds. Meanwhile, bands on their second, third, or fourth albums took their sound and refreshed it.
In 2010, the metal world honored the memory of Ronnie James Dio in the coolest possible way: by making it the best year for new music the genre saw in a very long time.
Punk rock gives voice to the hardest of times. As punk is a wide-ranging umbrella genre saturated with numerous subcultures, styles, aesthetics, and attitudes, making a list is more like trying to super-glue together a ripped and torn fanzine. But try, we must.
Africa dominated the world music scene in 2010 -- or at least, it dominated Western perceptions of what "world music" might be. That said, the new vinyl archeology could be seen at work in all areas and all eras of recorded music.
"Indie rock" is a term as amorphous and hard-to-pin-down as some of its associated lingo. But for our purposes here, we'll go with a line of demarcation strangely omitted from the discussion much of the time: the rock portion of the equation.