A Few Words About The Year In Pop & My 40 Favorite Tracks of 2011
So before you dive into my favorite pop songs of 2011 (and go straight to my number one track, which I'm sure you'll be curious to find out), I'd like to point out a few things out about this countdown that will put some of my picks into perspective.
First of all, I'm not trying to make some sort of statement with this list. I'm not trying to favor one track over the other for any particular release other than how much I appreciated the song. End of year lists can be build to be cool or edgy or whatever, but my list is, quite frankly, just a list of songs I really enjoyed this year. I write this blog first and foremost as a pop music fan and this list reflects just that. Twenty years from now, when we listen to music from the past I'd want this list to pop up and bring back all the memories of 2011.
Another important thing to note about this countdown is that tastes vary and moods change. Even though, I decided to do a countdown list, it really doesn't mean that one track is better than the other. Today's number one may be tomorrow's number two. In the end, music fits a mood and the countdown fits what I feel right now. But if my heart gets broken tomorrow, who knows what the list will look like. Anyhow, you get my point. The list is not a judgement of 2011's pop, it is a celebration of all the great pop music that was released this year.
In more generic terms, the state of pop in 2011 was strong. In fact, as I noted in my blog on GRAMMY.com a few weeks ago, pop continues to evolve and be the ultimate innovator in music. This year's pop morphed into a dance-loving and hip hop-appreciating genre with acts like LMFAO, Rihanna and David Guetta taking dance-edged pop to the top of the charts. And that's only the beginning.
Like previous years, 2011 was also the year of the ladies. The gents are mostly left out when it comes to superstar success, leaving the door wide open for a new male superstar to emerge in the future. Looking ahead, I believe we will see a changing of the guard in 2012 when it comes to pop artists. A new generation of pop artists who have been A&R-ed for years and have finetuned their craft to create a distinct new sound is about to come on strong in a big way. I predict they will change the landscape dramatically, making 2012 a year in pop to watch, enjoy and support. Hail to 2011! Hail to pop!
Britney Spears "Till The World Ends"
This is not your run of the mill Britney Spears pop track. What I particularly like about this song is that it has an edge to it plus a darker undertone that makes it stand out.
Marina & The Diamonds "Radioactive"
Possibly one of the biggest and best surprises of the year. Marina & The Diamonds threw the pop world a curve ball by teaming with Stargate to create a high-grade pop confection.
Rizzle Kicks "Down With The Trumpets"
After first alerting you about Rizzle Kicks on this blog early January, the Brighton duo's charismatic brand of DYI pop finally caught fire with "Down With The Trumpets."
Professor Green featuring Emeli Sandé "Read All About It"
Professor Green pours his heart out on this powerful tune about his childhood. Emeli Sandé amplifies the emotional nature of the song with her larger than life vocal hook.
Frank Ocean "Swim Good"
Frank Ocean is not an artist who relies on hype to make his point. The singer truly is a remarkable songwriter who delivers gut-wrenching stories that are instantly relateable.
Rye Rye feat. Robyn "Never Will Be Mine"
It took me a moment to warm up to this new version of Robyn's classic. But the video sealed the deal. Rye Rye's tale perfectly matches Robyn's original sentiment.
Avicii "Fade Into Darkness"
This was supposed to be Avicii's crossover pop hit until Leona Lewis ill-timed "Collide" spoiled that. "Fade Into Darkness" is far superior though and will surely resurface soon.
Deadmau5 "Raise Your Weapon" (Madeon Remix)
While most salivate over Skrillix's remix of this track, I much prefer the pop focus of Madeon's revamp that is not only an ode to the original's quality, but also Madeon's talent.
Florrie "I Took A Little Something"
The Dolce & Gabanna supported "I Took A Little Something" is a happy pop pill that is paced by a shimmering disco groove and a sparkly synth riff that Kylie Minogue would salivate over.
Yasmin "Finish Line" (Freemasons Radio Edit)
Freemasons turned Yasmin's Labrinth-produced breakout single "Finish Line" into a massively lush and entirely delicious dance remix that hits all the right notes.
Bright Light Bright Light "Disco Moment"
In many ways, Rod Thomas' "Disco Moment" continues where "Dancing On My Own" left off. It's a slice of bittersweet dance pop that showcases Thomas' knack for writing hopeful pop.
Adele "Turning Tables"
Honestly, any track from Adele's "21" would work on this list. I selected "Turning Table" to represent the album. The song's melody is everything and stops me in my tracks everytime.
Emeli Sandé "Heaven"
As soon as Sandé hits her first note, I feel nothing but love for "Heaven." Her vocals are instantly touching, and the fusion with drum 'n bass creates a compelling melange of pop.
Labrinth "Earthquake" (featuring Tinie Tempah)
Instead of relying on dubstep or hip hop grooves to satisfy the taste of the moment, Labrinth puts out a progressive pop sound that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Darren Hayes "Bloodstained Heart"
Darren Hayes delivers one of his best songwriting efforts to date with "Bloodstained Heart." It's a powerful pop ballad that features a timeless melody and Hayes' heartfelt vocals.
Ellie Goulding "Lights"
Even though this song has been out for a while and certainly wasn't new in 2011, it sure was new to audiences in the U.S who finally got a taste of Goulding's exquisite folktronica.
Frankmusik "Struck By Lightning"
"Struck By Lightning" showcases some of Frankmusik's best work in 2011. The song echoes the melodic sentiment of his brilliant debut album that remains a favorite among fans.
Robyn "Call Your Girlfriend"
I made up my mind about Robyn's position for my 2011 list when I saw her Saturday Night Love appearance earlier this month. There was something so pure about that performance that truly touched me. The studio recording of "Call Your Girlfriend" is an extension of that. The song is perfect for so many reasons, but mostly for the way Robyn captures such a compelling and relatable human emotion with such care. She's poignant, yet gentle. She speaks a universal truth without hurting you. She delivers a tear and a smile while providing comfort with a warming pop melody. That's the power of Robyn and this song demonstrates that so well. I have no doubt that "Call Your Girlfriend" will easily stand the test of time and will still be enjoyed many years from now.
December 28, 2011 | Permalink