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The Glenny Guide To… The Top 50 Tracks of the Year : 50 – 41

December 26, 2011

Well, it’s that time of year again, where Glenny goes through his annual list of his favourite tracks of the year that’s past.  Anything that was either came out this year or received a single release is eligible.  There’s a balance between songs that I critically respect the most and just some that struck the biggest personal chord with me, but they’re all amazing in their own way.  ENJOY!

50 : Enemy – Melanie C

Well, an eight and a half minute bombastic piano ballad was hardly the thing anyone wanted from the artist formerly known as Sporty Spice in 2011.  In fact, she’s been creatively on a downward spiral since 2005’s amazing Better Alone.  But something about motherhood seems to agreed with Miss Chisholm who, out of nowhere, seems to have released the best album of her career.  Basically, it’s Ray Of Light-lite, but the sweeping strings and lush orchestral arrangements on show here are really something special.  In fact, right down to the closing note, the track never once outstays it’s welcome.  (Check out also title track and album opener The Sea – it was a toss up which would get this slot, but both are hauntingly amazing).

49 : Friday – Rebecca Black

Sure.  There’s no denying that this is as much a contender for Worst Song Of The Year as much as it is for Best, but there is something so irresistibly infectious about this ode to cereal, school and that paralysing fear that comes over every child when having to choose which seat on the bus they want to take.  Sure, she sounds like Dexter The Love Robot on a meth binge, but that’s just all part of the charm.  By the time her part in the Last Friday Night clip rolled around, Black’s natural charisma made you wonder just how capable she might be if given the right material.  Or at least access to a producer who doesn’t have such an uncomfortable autotune fetish.

48 : Love On Top – Beyonce

Despite a track called Countdown, a new album called 4 and releasing what, at last count, seems like 2700 different singles from it, the only number that seemed to elude Solange’s older sister in 2011 was that elusive number one.  Now, in the spirit of blogging honesty, I HATED this song the first time I heard.  In fact, the next 50 times after that (thanks Spencer Bear), I still felt the same.  But then sometime, about a month ago, it just clicked with me.   A gloriously retro old school soul throwback that shuffles along with all the sunshine of a lost Jackson 5 track it proved that, when she just relaxed and stopped trying so hard, she could still hit pop gold.  Now, if she could just sort out the Curious Case of Her Magically Collapsing Pregnancy Bump..

47 : I Need A Doctor – Dr. Dre feat. Eminem

Modern commercial rap music is filled with a  lot of pretenders but, thankfully, Dr Dre pops his head up every now and then to show them how it’s done.  A haunting, spacey, drum heavy rap track that gets under the listeners skin, with it’s almost uncomfortably personal lyrical detail about friendship, mentors and demons, it showed that the best rap music didn’t need to rely on crude imagery but real emotions.  Eminem’s verses are some of the best he’s ever done and Skylar Grey’s evocative chorus is as chillingly sad as any released this past year.

46 : Call Your Girlfriend – Robyn

The final single from her 2010 three part Body Talk opus proved that there were still few people doing as original pop music as Robyn.  A sweetly insistent instructional manual for her man on how to break up with his current girlfriend, it skirted it’s delicate subject matter with all hooks and songwriting skill we’d come to expect from the Swedish Pop Pixie.  The shag-pile sweatered interpretive dance video was so simple but hypnotically effective that it ranked as one of the years best too, like the blonde fluffy equivalent of Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).

45 : Where Have You Been – Rihanna

Rihanna spent most of 2011 alternating between ruling the airwaves and finding new and inventive ways to all but flash her vagina at every given opportunity.  While most of last year’s Loud’s tracks were caribbean-hued odes to drinking and churlish schoolgirl tales of whips and chains, it was this album track from latest release Talk That Talk that showed Rihanna finally creating music as inventive as it was catchy.  While pretty much every chart topper on the radio post I Gotta Feeling have been unrelenting cookie cutter David Guetta-thons, this pulsating house number alternates from an acoustic beat to a full on trance track and manages to sound as fresh as anything she’s ever done.

44 : Jam (Turn It Up) – Kim Kardashian

In 2011, everyone’s favourite pop culture whipping post decided to add ‘Singer’ to her never-ending list of job titles.  Thankfully, it managed to stiff even bigger than Ray J in their last home movie, so the world was spared a never-ending Kollection of Kardashian Music Klassics.  Sure, she sings like an auto-tuned Barbie Doll (clearly the BritneyBot that recorded most of Blackout and Circus has finally found gainful reemployment) but the track itself is one of the katchiest klub jams released in years.  Even if the tale of Kim Kardashian walking into a klub and hearing her very first debut song ever playing over the speakers is the kind of lyrical Chicken and the Egg koncepts that drives us to (more) drink, it’s still probably our official Guilty Pleasure Pick of the year.

43 : Paradise – Coldplay

When Coldplay hinted they were going in a more electronic direction last year, fans were in uproar.  Turns out, the only thing people found more offensive than Coldplay releasing another album that sounded, you know, EXACTLY THE SAME was the thought of them trying something completely different.  Thankfully, Mr Gwyneth Paltrow knew what he was doing all along, using a soft array of beats and electronic soundscapes to bolster their arena ready indie rock and turning out absolute gems like this.

42 : Blow – Ke$ha

A lot of the time, we want to hate Ke Dollar Sign Ha.  Really, we do.  But then she does something amazing as this – a sleazy electro-pop club anthem and all is forgiven for another year.  Especially with such an a genius video, which manages to shoehorn mobster unicorns that bleed rainbows, laser gun shoot outs and an epic strip off with a never sexier (even when wearing a bra) James Van Der Beek.  If she keeps this up, we might just forgive her for Blah Blah Blah.  But probably not..  The opening non-sequiter about how she became a parliament member for Uzbekistan is probably the most intentional funny moment in any video for all of 2011 too (sorry Kathy Beth Terry, we still love you though..)

41 : Criminal – Britney Spears

After years wandering the pop wilderness in a drug induced, take out fuelled haze, the original Princess of Pop rightfully reclaimed her throne on commercial radio.  Sure, she was a little rounder and battle (cesarian) scarred, but there was no denying that she was finally making music worthy of her notoriety again.  Especially on this mid-tempo jam (which is the closest to a ballad that her record label will let her pipes near) where she sounds less robotic and more human than on the rest of the Femme Fatale album, which basically doubles (however gloriously) as the soundtrack to Alvin and The Chipmunks.  The video was a delightfully over acted treat as well, with the most suspiciously believable sex scenes this side of Don’t Look Now.  Bonus points for redeeming the use of flutes in popular music after Gwen Stefani’s Wind It Up ruined them for pretty much everyone, ever.

STAY TUNED tomorrow for 40 – 31 and feel free to let me know any I’ve missed below!

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