The Glenny Guide To… The Top Tracks of 2011 : 20 – 11
BAM! It’s the Top 20 Best Songs of the Year. This is where it gets hard people. It’s easy to sass celebs at the lower end of the chart but, once you’ve gotten to this point, the songs are all officially Pretty Fucking Fantastic. I almost included Moves Like Jagger in here solely so I could make fun of Christina Aguilera some more. True Story. Anyway, ENJOY!
20 : Someone Like You – Adele
It was hard to go within twenty seven feet of a radio without hearing Adele slit your wrists-athon Someone Like You this year. And, once we manage to put our building resentment aside, it’s worth noting how just darn nice it is that something like this can rule the radiowaves without the seemingly obligatory ‘feat. Pitbull’ cameo that every other female popstar seemed to coast on this year. Relying on nothing more than a simple melody, straightforward lyric and a heartbreaking vocal that ripped through you like the aural equivalent of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, this little song that could changed the way music was made in 2011 and, for that, we owe Miss Atkins a big THANK YEWW.
19 : Stay Awake – Example
After releasing the official Best Song Of 2010 (at least according to several prestigious music blogs. Like, ummm, THIS ONE, and several others I write for), the English Singer and Rapper really broke through in a big way in 2011 with follow up Playing In The Shadows. It was the trance-influenced lead single Changed The Way You Kissed Me that gave him the first of several chart toppers, but it was this, a dark dance number that became one of his biggest hits to date and our favourite of the latest album. And, lyrically, it’s basically the anthem for this generation, whether you like to admit it or not.
18 : All Fired Up – The Saturdays
Otherwise known as the exact moment the UK Girlband stepped out of Girls Aloud’s critically adored shadow and staked their claim to be the biggest pop group the country had right now. With a deliriously heavy ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ production, All Fired Up less beckoned listeners to the dancefloor than forcibly abducted them, imprisoned them in a circle of handbags and refused to let them leave for three and a half exhilarating minutes. Basically, it’s like a slightly less good version of Sexy! No, No, No.. But that’s like saying someone is a slightly less good version of Jesus – the benchmark in kitchen sink pop has been set pretty high. The “I put my head against the speakers, saying Blow My Mind, DJ Blow My Mind” is one of the best hooks Xenomania has come up with in yonks.
17 : Walk – Foo Fighters
Few bands these days manage to make it to their 17th birthday. Even fewer manage to still be recording music in the same ballpark of quality as their earlier output. So it’s refreshing to hear Dave Grohl & Co release something as lyrically and musically satisfying as this rocking cut from their latest album. Walk managed to be both as catchy and as creatively satisfying as their earliest work. Not bad for a band formed out of necessity in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death. Probably of the most emotionally personal songs for me to make the list, as it really connects to the last few months I’ve gone through, but with a song this good, it’s hardly a self-indulgent choice.
16 : Last Night – Ian Carey feat. Bobby Antony & Snoop Dogg
If Katy Perry and LMFAO duked it out for the best party anthem of 2011, Ian Carey had the market cornered for the morning after. It’s rip-roaring house number coupled with an insanely catchy chorus and lyrics that are hilarious without ever getting in the way of the tune. Like a rap-house hybrid take on Disco Blisters and a Comedown, all that’s missing is the inevitable mash up. One of the best songs to dance to all year, hands down.
15 : Scheiße – Lady Gaga
She doesn’t speak German, but she can bastardize it if you liiiiiiiiike. Apparently. The biggest problem facing Gaga’s Born This Way was not her overexposure, but the fact that every single song contained what seemed like 27 totally different ideas competing for attention. At it’s worst, this could be suffocating, giving the listener an aural epileptic fit, like the musical equivalent of a watching a Pokemon cartoon. When it worked though, it was pop heaven, never more so on this, a missed single opportunity if there ever was one. Featuring a supremely danceable beat and a chorus so big you could land a plane on, it proved that, in todays same-samey musical landscape, too many ideas was still better than none.
14 : The Walk – Mayer Hawthorne
Adele might have gotten all the credit for the neo-soul revival in 2012, but it was Hawthorne who provided the truest modern spin on its musical spirit. Coming across like the motown Justin Timberlake meets Barry White, his sophomore album was filled with such sexy grooves as this, an uptempo old school R&B jam that mixes nostalgia and a few well placed F Bombs to delightful effect. Basically the musical equivalent of Red Wine, Candlelight and Lots of Fucking (but in a classy, artfully lit way). Lyrically it’s his best work yet as well and, along with Lana Del Rey, is one of our biggest Must Watch talents for 2012.
13 : Mean – Taylor Swift
Speak Now saw media darling Swift amp her country pop persona up to stadium sized proportions but it was the little moments, like this, that proved to be it’s most successful. A droll takedown of everyone who’s ever tried to hold her back, it was as much an anthem for marginalized youth as anything Gaga unleashed this year. Bonus points for the adorably simple video, which utilized T-Swizzle at her most winningly winsome to perfect effect. The middle eight is one of the year’s best as well. Also, for the record, The Grammy’s totes snubbed her with this years nominations. There. I said it. If sometime could remind Kanye West of this, it’d be nice to see him point it out on the telecast next year..
12 : Skyscraper – Demi Lovato
Recorded just before she went to rehab earlier this year, few tracks were as poignant as tween pop princess Lovato’s stark ballad. Filled with a quivering, raspy vocal against a simple piano backdrop, Lovato sounded stretched to breaking point, both vocally and emotionally. For someone who’s previous claim to fame was dating a Jonas Brother, it proved quite the introduction and may have well been the most emotionally affecting track that Adele never put her name to.
11 : What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) – Kelly Clarkson
When she wasn’t reincarnating herself as a modern day Bonnie Raitt (don’t worry – this is what we call a Very Good Thing) on her latest album, Clarkson took the time to record the best disco empowerment this side of Cher. Basically Believe for the modern generation (minus the ear-shattering autotune), Stronger – we refuse to call it Was Doesn’t Kill You because that just sounds fucking stupid – managed to do the inconceivable, it basically dethroned Since U Been Gone as the best single of Clarkson’s career. Don’t get us started on the hideous, fan flash mob abortion of a video though – it’s so cheap that it looks like Clarkson must have edited it herself. How this can happen in this day and age, we’ll never know. What did she do – eat the budget?
Will have the final part up tomorrow. Who will win? What will it be? (To be honest, I’ve gone back and forth between two tracks for the last couple of weeks, so it’s a surprise to me too!) In the meantime, you can check the rest out here :-