Best of 2011: Songs of the Year

A few observations before we get to the annual list of my favorite songs of the year:

  • This is probably the most gender equal list I’ve had in several years – 10 women and 6 men.
  • This is the first year in many years that there is no Madonna to be found.  None of the demos made the cut, although I will admit that the “Run” demo very nearly did.
  • Judging from this list, I wasn’t much in the mood for ballads this year.
  • There are 16 songs this year and it clocks in at a tidy 62 minutes.  One less song and one more minute than last year’s bunch of songs.

And with that, here we go.  No particular order, as usual.  Links are to YouTube videos where you can watch/listen.

1. Clare Maguire / I Surrender

I played the hell out of this song in January of this year and prematurely declared it my “song of the year.”  Maguire’s album underwhelmed and then she stopped promoting it, but the sweet “yooooooo-ooh-ooh, made me surrender” rendered it an instant classic for me.

2. Darren Hayes / Talk Talk Talk

“Talk Talk Talk” is very Savage Garden-y, no?  While that’s certainly not a bad thing, it took me a while to warm up to this song.  Once I did, thanks in no small part to the Hall and Oates remix/mash-up with “Out of Touch”, I couldn’t stop playing it.

3.  Kathryn Calder / Turn A Light On

Every year, I’m always on the lookout for the quintessential “fall song.”  This was it.  It was perfect for those crisp late October nights.  I remember driving to Wal-Mart on the Sunday night in October with this on repeat, bathing in the layered vocals.  Pure bliss.

4.  Beth Ditto / I Wrote The Book

Another track from early in the year that I had all but forgotten about when it came time to compile this list.  It’s a fun and quirky little song with a “Justify My Love” inspired video.

5.  Adele / Rolling In The Deep (Meridian Remix)

Dear God, we couldn’t escape this song in 2011.  As my friend Caryle said, Adele was on the radio so much, she felt like she was being stalked by her.  I grew a bit weary of this song by year’s end, but this funky remix really made me sit up and listen again.  It does what a good remix should do – respect the original and, at the same time, make it brand new.

6.  Lady Gaga / You and I (Mark Taylor Remix)

Gaga had such an up down year, but this was a highlight for me.  I refer to this remix of “You and I” as the “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” remix because it is the closest thing to 90s Shania Twain that we’re going to get now.   It took the original (which was, admittedly, a bit of a dirge) and breathed new life into it.  I couldn’t get enough of it although I’m ready for Gaga to take a break.

7.  Stevie Nicks / Secret Love

My friend Steve referred to Stevie’s new album – her first in a decade – as  “a shawl of meh” (brilliance!)  I am of the opinion that if she had kept the first 6 songs on the album + one from the end, she’d have had a perfect EP.  “Secret Love” which comes from Stevie’s very extensive vault of unrecorded demos, was the first single and I loved it.  Wish I could say the same about the album.

8.  Florrie / Experimenting With Rugs

Florrie produced an EP’s worth of some of the most effortless pop music this summer.  This was my favorite track off of it.  The guitars are vaguely New Order-ish and it has some pretty great lyrics, but most of all, it was the pop sensibility from this person that we hadn’t even heard of that was like a breath of fresh air during the dog days of summer.

9.  Dolly Parton / Country Is As Country Does

I thought Dolly’s Better Day album was a more solid affair than Backwoods Barbie, although it lacked the bluegrass cover of a pop or rock song that has become a requirement on her albums.  “Country Is As Country Does” had me with the lyric “I’m quite content with who I am/And if you ain’t, well kiss my ham!”  CORNPONE.  But you know I love it.

10.  Mayer Hawthorne / Finally Falling

Mayer Hawthorne caught my attention in an ad on eMusic for his new album How Do You Do and I thought, what the hell, I’ll listen because I don’t listen to nearly enough male artists.  And I’ll be damned, but I really liked it.  I feel like his songs are all from a different time – they sound like soul songs from the 70s.  “Finally Falling” really exemplifies that feel and was my choice track from the album.

11.  Blondie / What I Heard

Blondie shocked the hell out of me and, after releasing albums with only a handful of good songs for years (not to mention Debbie’s uneven solo work), they released an excellent album top to bottom.  They are at the top of their game nearly 35 years after Parallel Lines made them a household name.  Although the rhymes in “What I Heard” are a bit suspect, you can’t deny that Panic of Girls is a top notch Blondie album and one I am still not tired of listening to.

12.  Will Young / The Way I See

Will Young had what is probably the best album of his career this year.  How this track was relegated to B-side status, I’ll never know.  I think that because this song was so solid and uptempo, I was ultimately a bit disappointed with the album in that it was a decidedly slower burn.  Nonetheless, this is the kind of music that Will Young was born to sing.

13.  Hunter Hayes / Storm Warning

Counting the Lady Gaga remix, there are 2 and a half country songs on the list this year.  I wrote a post about “Storm Warning” in November and I think I’ll let that speak for the song in this entry as I don’t have much more to say about it other than it’s the most unexpected entry on the list this year.

14.  Penguin Prison / Don’t Fuck With My Money

Penguin Prison aka Chris Glover crafted one of the most perfectly pop records of the year.  He was first described to me as a combination of the Doobie Brothers and Hall & Oates, yet somehow cool.  While that’s a bit harsh on both the Doobie Brothers and Hall & Oates, I couldn’t agree more.  “Don’t Fuck With My Money” is a standout and actually, quite a perfect song for these uncertain economic times.

15.  Bright Light Bright Light / Disco Moment

In a perfect world, everyone would know who Bright Light Bright Light is.  “Disco Moment” follows in the footsteps of last year’s outstanding “Cry At Films.”  I’m still waiting for him to release a full length album, but for now, we’ll settle for these outstanding one-off tracks.

16.  Kylie Minogue / Put Your Hands Up [Pete Hammond Remix Edit]

The Kylie concert in Dallas back in May was the gayest, most fabulous show on Earth.  Honestly, it was probably one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen and that includes her Madgesty’s concerts and she certainly doesn’t skimp on theatrics either.  It speaks to the awesomeness of the Aphrodite album that we are still listening to it like it came out last week a year and a half after its release.  For the last single, Kylie gave “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” a retro remix by Pete Hammond, making it sound like a song that she recorded in her Stock-Aitken-Waterman days.  A perfect cap to a perfect album.  Can’t wait to see what she does next.

This entry was posted in 2011 best of, darren hayes, Deborah Harry, Dolly Parton, Kylie, Lady Gaga, lists, Music, playlists, Stevie Nicks, will young. Bookmark the permalink.

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