Tuesday, December 6, 2011

20 of 2011

It's the end of the year again!  Much as I did last year in December, I've decided to make a year-end list detailing my picks for the twenty best songs of 2011.  A disclaimer before I begin: this list will be biased.  I tried my hardest to be as objective as possible when valuing the music of the year, but to assume that I would omit album tracks from Born This Way would be foolish: to me, it was one of the more defining albums of 2011 so in keeping with my outlook (that is, the fact that I personally have listened to it most this year) I do, in fact, list some of the album fillers as the best of the year because - to me, and I cannot drive that point enough - they are, and if anything to come out of this list, I'd love it for you to at least consider listening to some of the songs you aren't familiar with.  Take my word for it: I objectively made quite an extensive list of songs from 2011, good and bad (you'll find I hated hated hated the most popular songs of the year, but you'll read more about that in my extra special Worst Five Songs of 2011 list), and in knowing that I hope it's evident that the fact that Gaga songs still appear means that they are just that good.  Okay, I got that rant out of my system.  Anyways: yes, Lady Gaga appears most on this list, but she does not dominate it.

As I said, I tried as hard as I could to remain objective, considering not only my personal enjoyment of the songs, but it's no secret that my taste in music is somewhat rather mainstream; I certainly do not think that whether or not a song is played on the radio is indicative of its quality, and the fact of the matter is the ones I like are the ones I'm most exposed to.  For an example of my objectivity, (and this song does not appear on the list) I nearly included Katy Perry's Last Friday Night (TGIF) because even though I don't necessarily enjoy it, I realize that it's a finely made song and has experienced astronomical popularity and success this year.  I constructed my list giving credit where credit's due to particular artists, because even wearing my Gaga tinted glasses on the world (this is an expression.  I do not own Gaga tinted glasses, whatever they may look like) I realize that she is not the only musician on the planet with talent - and no, I'm not saying Katy Perry does, but that's immaterial.  Another point to touch base with is the idea that my list is not the be all end all of definitive lists: I know for a fact you will likely disagree with me at multiple points as you continue down my top twenty, and I'm certain my number one choice is not the best song of 2011 to everyone; once again, it's the best of the year to me, and I only hope you find joy from reading my list as opposed to offended anger at my choices.

My final disclaimer: choosing songs from 2011 was tricky because I encountered the permeability of what it actually means to be released in 2011.  What I mean by that is that you will likely find a song or two that was officially released in 2010: for example, a Katy Perry song (using her as an example once again) appearing on this list first came to be on her 2010 album, but it was officially released as a single in 2011 and therefore I've made it eligible.  By extension of that, I hope I don't screw myself over for next year: if one of the album Gaga songs that I've included becomes a single next year, I'll have to ignore it on my list next year.  (I encountered this with Katy Perry [again] this year: I listed E.T. as one of my top twenty last year, but it became a single this year, meaning I could've used it and would've, if not for already using it)

I've gone on far too much.  Here's hoping you enjoy reading my list, and that you find something new to listen to!  (hit 'read more' to carry on - it's a long one!)

I hope you at least agree with some of the songs, but if not, keep an open mind and give a listen to one or two that're new to you!  Without further ado.. (I really give too much ado)

20   Americano   Lady Gaga
I tried as hard as I could to eliminate this song from my top twenty list, but I couldn't bring myself to do it; as consolation, I've given it the lowest position.  Obnoxiously campy, Americano does everything Alejandro couldn't: it provides a heavy hammering Latin inspired beat coupled with Gaga's best attempt at Spanish.  If the song doesn't make you want to clap along or tap your foot to the beat, you're probably deaf, or soulless.  I'm in generally higher spirits whenever I listen to this one from Born This Way.
19   Roman in Moscow   Nicki Minaj
Admittedly, I first heard this song.. well, yesterday.  I suppose that's indicative of how much I'm loving it - even though it is a bit of a schizophrenic mess - but as I detailed in my preface, Nicki Minaj has had a pretty huge year and is therefore deserving of recognition; her hit Super Bass exploded (though I'm not overly fond of it) and she was just nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy.  Roman in Moscow is Nicki Minaj at her best: heavy hitting rap verses overflowing with profanity, and I can't stop listening to it.

18   Blow   Ke$ha
Ah, good old Ke$ha: she's been out of the game long enough to cause me to forget that Blow was, in fact, one of her 2011 singles.  (and if I'm correct, her only single - but that's okay, because that means the world has been saved from the titular track from Cannibal) Ke$ha is an absolute guilty pleasure of mine.  No, she's not overly talented (though she actually can sing, it's not part of her shtick at all), but her music is fun mindless pop.  Hate her if you must, but I'm certain you're a liar if you have never let yourself sing along to the "blow-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" hook.

17   My Body   Young the Giant
One of my favourite discoveries!  I first heard the song back in February, hearing it appearing in a commercial that repeated so many times before I made the effort to figure who it was by and what it was called.  Despite liking the song so much, I never associated a face to the band - until this year's VMAs, where my friend and I were delighted to see Young the Giant performing.  I wish them success: My Body is a great song, and I'd wager a bet that you've probably heard it before: it's probably oh, that song! much like it was for me.
16   In the Dark   Dev
I was quick to write Dev off as another Ke$ha type, employing the talky-rap method in her featured appearance on Like a G6; I was pleasantly surprised with her freshman effort The Night the Sun Came Up, mixing electronic tracks with her signature vocal style with - surprisingly - lighter ballads.  In the Dark continues the tradition of fusing a saxophone with a pop song (see The Edge of Glory or Mr. Saxobeat), but the sax provides my favourite hook, causing the song to be stuck in my head for hours.
15   Sail   Awolnation
Perhaps the most offbeat selection you'll find on my top twenty - offbeat, that is, when considering the list is dominated by female pop songs.  I'm glad I occurred upon this song having once seen the video on MuchMusic; otherwise, I might've never heard of it, and having been told the rest of Awolnation's album is nothing like the song, my curiosity to hear it is piqued.  With respect to the song, the lyrical content is rather dark, matching the overall haunting and mechanical tone of the song itself.
14   Heavy Metal Lover   Lady Gaga
Truthfully: this song, on the first draft of my list (and many to come)... was my number one choice.  Why'd I knock it down to far?  I stepped back from my obnoxious Gaga bias to realize that, even though it might possibly be my favourite Gaga song ever, it was not the best song of the year.  That doesn't mean it isn't great; it's incredible.  Masterfully produced with cool vocals, a shockingly profane first line, the absolutely intoxicating chorus - all combine to make Heavy Metal Lover, as I have said, my favourite Gaga song ever.
13   Houdini   Foster the People
You might've thought the obvious choice to include would've been Pumped Up Kicks, but upon listening to their full debut album, Torches, Houdini is an obvious standout to me.  The electronic beat is fun (I'm really not well versed in music lingo, and it's painfully obvious, isn't it..), and I particularly enjoy the gradual build leading toward the conclusion of the song.
12   Hold it Against Me   Britney Spears
Britney's back again, bitch!  (I think I just mixed together Britney and Backstreet Boys there..) The debut single from Femme Fatale still remains its strongest - it's my opinion that Hold it Against Me far outshines Till the World Ends and I Wanna Go; the chorus is catchy and the dubstep inspired breakdown as the bridge takes it to a higher level of greatness.  Britney forayed into the realm of "weird music videos" for this single, and I'm still not entirely convinced she pulled it off; regardless, the Britney vs. Britney brawl is fun to watch.
11   H.A.M   Jay-Z & Kanye West
I'm not the biggest fan of rap music anymore - those were the days, back in grade eight.. - but I'd still consider myself to be a big fan of Kanye West, mostly due to his musical genius.  (I'm so appalled [see what I did there?  Ha] that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy wasn't nominated for Album of the Year, because it is literally flawless) Watch the Throne, his effort with Jay-Z, is similarly fantastic: H.A.M is a standout to me, only slightly edging out Why I Love You with Mr. Hudson for a spot on my list.
10   Rumour Has It / Someone Like You   Glee Cast
A cover?  From Glee?  In my top ten, no less!?  Let me say that the show has lost its spark: what was once witty and satirical and at times dark is now laboured, but due to my investment since the beginning I can't quite give it up.  (besides, at least the music is still fresh) That being said, the TroubleTones' mashup of Adele songs is incredible.  It is literally amazing.  The songs flow together seamlessly, and dare I say I prefer them to Adele's originals - but don't shoot me.  Naya Rivera's voice gives me chills.
9   Beat of my Drum   Nicola Roberts
If any artist to discover from my top twenty, I'd love it for you to check out Nicola Roberts.  A member of the British girl group Girls Aloud, I came across glowing reviews of her first solo album Cinderella's Eyes and decided to take a look.  I honestly had a hard time selecting only a few songs to include on my list because every single song is perfection.  (I'd look at Lucky Day, or Yo-Yo, or Sticks + Stones.. or all) Her voice is incredible and unique, and she naturally catches my ear to the electropop nature of her music.  Despite my tough choice, I stuck to the lead single.
8   Call Your Girlfriend   Robyn
Speaking of European electropop women.. I only just downloaded the third part to Robyn's Body Talk album project, a five song EP including incredible songs like Indestructible and Time Machine, but I was bummed to discover it was released at the end of 2010.  (bummed that I can't count either song on this list, but also bummed that I only found it now) Her newest single, Call Your Girlfriend, fits the bill: it, too, is a powerhouse of a song; Robyn muses over a lost love with solid vocals over a unique beat, reminiscent of last year's Dancing On My Own.
7   Scheiße   Lady Gaga
I don't speak German, but I could if you like - Lady Gaga's opening promise at the beginning of her song Scheiße (German for shit), ironic because her German chant is actually just German-sounding gibberish.  Get me drunk enough and I'll try singing it the best I can; I make up words and I sound a bit like a raving lunatic.  The song is the standout from Born This Way, with an absolutely crazy beat and trademark catchy hook.  Chart success aside (I feel like it might flop because of its bilingual nature), I'd love it for Gaga to pick Scheiße as a single.
6   The One That Got Away   Katy Perry
I've been vocal about my general disdain for Katy Perry: I think she's somewhat manufactured and being a jaded Gaga fan it's painful to see songs like Judas and The Edge of Glory fail when Katy Perry is able to get six number ones in a row, songs such as Firework and Last Friday Night (TGIF).  That being said: I really love The One That Got Away, because it isn't over the top obnoxious, and it's catchy in a good way.  It goes to show that whatever Katy Perry's been doing, it's been working.  The video's not bad - aside from the elderly makeup.
5   Perfect   P!nk
Another case of a song being released at the top of the year (you'll notice the majority of the songs on my list are recent) having been forgotten about.  Note: I've included Perfect, not Fucking Perfect, because I feel like the removal of the word 'fuck' and substitution 'you are perfect' has made the song infinitely more powerful and, honestly, better.  I would say that P!nk's Perfect is as perfect (excuse that) one can get when making a self-love song: it isn't cheesy whatsoever unlike Firework or even Born This Way, and the message is strong and clear.
4   Someone Like You   Adele
2011 has been the year of Adele: I'm overjoyed at the astronomical level of success she's experiencing this year, her album 21 exploding and becoming the most beloved of the year - success which is entirely warranted.  Someone Like You is, simply, chilling.  I can remember instantly falling in love with it upon my first listen, and the song has remained haunting, so haunting that it puts me in an instant depressed mood when hearing it.  A signal of Adele's power: an acoustic ballad is a number one and on heavy rotation on mainstream radio.
3   Set Fire to the Rain   Adele
Adele onslaught!  I've ranked Set Fire to the Rain one spot ahead of Someone Like You because.. well, I like it a slight bit more.  The song, much like the previous, is literally incredible: her voice gives me shivers, and I feel that the mounting instruments (which lacked in Someone Like You) add to the gravitational force behind the power of the song.  I'm one hundred percent confident that Set Fire will become another number one for Adele, and for good measure: the song has a phenomenal replay value, and it's my favourite from 21.
2   Shake it Out   Florence + the Machine
The amount of times I interchanged this song with the first place song, I've lost count; in fact, even writing this now, I'm fighting the conflicting thoughts in my mind which are screaming at me to list this at the top.  Florence (of the Machine), much like Adele, has an incredible voice.  After enjoying Dog Days Are Over and much of Lungs, I became excited to hear Ceremonials after hearing rave reviews.  The album is flawless.  This song is incredible.  I can't foresee it becoming stale.  I really can't describe anything about it: listen to it.
1   Judas   Lady Gaga
Judas!  Judas-ah-ah!  Remember my overdone disclaimer reminding you that this list is my opinion and that you, the reader, are likely to disagree?  I added that and reiterated it to hell when I remembered what I decided my number one song to be, because I know right now not a soul is agreeing with me currently - and if you are, let me know.  I truly feel like Judas has been the best song of the year, and hear me out: yes, it bears a heavy resemblance to Bad Romance, but if it isn't broken, don't fix it.  Gaga's vocals are on point.  The beat is immense.  The production is complex and layered and every time I listen to it, I hear something new.  The lyrics are really quite spectacular, once you move past the silliness (but catchiness) of the chanting hook as well as the overall blasphemous nature of the theme; Gaga has absolutely mastered the craft of metaphor, and it's pretty impressive.  The video is among one of the best of her career - only definitely beat out by Bad Romance (classic) and Marry the Night (phenomenal and soon to be classic) - and it only elevates the power of the song.  For me.  (had to throw that in one last time)

There you have it!  2011 was a good year for music!  Quite an extensive read, apologies, but I worked my ass off on this one.  I'm pretty proud.  As I said, I hope you've at least discovered something new, because I'm well aware my music is rather diverse and at times obscure.  Stay tuned for when I publish a fun Worst Five Songs of the year, and I'm fairly certain I'll post about movies like last year, too!


  1. this is a joke right?

  2. Are you illiterate? I said my favourite songs, I never said you had to agree. We all have our different opinions: compliance isn't necessary, but respect is.