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A Few Words About The Year In Pop & My 40 Favorite Tracks of 2011

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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!

RdioPL-100You can stream most of the tracks on this list for free on Rdio right here. (Some tracks have not been released in the States and are not available for streaming, but you can find them on YouTube.)

40bBritney Spears "Till The World Ends"   Till-the-world-ends-britney-spear
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.

 

39bMarina & The Diamonds "Radioactive" Marinaradioactive
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. 


38b RizzleRizzle 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."

 

37bIcona Pop "Nights Like This" Nightslikethis
Icona Pop's "Nights Like This" features forward production textures that blend seamlessly with a pop-rich melody that only Swedes know how to make.  


36bProfessor Green featuring Emeli Sandé "Read All About It" Professor-Green-featuring-Emeli-Sande-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.


35bSunday Girl "Love U More" Sunday girl
"Love U More" is a sleek and mighty infectious pop tune that clearly demonstrates that Sunday Girl is a massive pop star waiting to happen.

 

34bGotye "Somebody That I Used To Know" (feat. Kimbra)  Gotye
The timeless "Somebody That I Used To Know" virtually came out of nowhere and became a massive hit without a whole lotta firepower across Europe.  


33bFrank Ocean "Swim Good" Franko
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.

 

32bRebecca & Fiona "Bullets" Rf
"Bullets" is splash of Swedish pop of the finest kind. With the help of producer Adrian Lux, these Stockholm hipsters put out a unique brand of dance pop.

 

31bM83 "Midnight City" M83-Midnight-City
"Midnight City" is one of M83's poppiest and most accessible tracks to date. It's a battle cry that is masterfully produced by the Frenchman.

 

30bMiike Snow "Devil's Work" Miike-Snow-Devils-Work-608x608
Innovatively combining live instrumentation with unorthodox production stylings, "Devil's Work" is completely accessible with its pop-savvy undertones.

 

29bYuna "Decorate" Yuna
Yuna's music has a serene and delicate quality that calms the soul and warms the ear.  The more you hear it, the more you will appreciate it.

 

28b

Katy Perry "Last Friday Night" Katy-perry-last-friday-night-tgif-official-single-cover-450x450
Perry impressed with her string of number one hits. This track is fun, flirty and completely cheeky, which is what Perry Inc. is all about.


 

27b

Rye Rye feat. Robyn "Never Will Be Mine" Rr
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.

 

26bAvicii "Fade Into Darkness" AviciiFadeIntoDarknessArtwork
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.

 

25bDeadmau5 "Raise Your Weapon" (Madeon Remix) Deadmau5-Raise-Your-Weapon
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.

 

24bKay "My Name Is Kay" Kay
Funky and fun, "My Name Is Kay" perfectly introduces fans to the wild, colorful world of emerging Canadian pop superstar Kay.

 

23bStrange Talk "Climbing Walls" St
Strange Talk gives Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club a run for their money with "Climbing Walls," a pop alternative gem from downunder

 

22bFlorrie "I Took A Little Something" Florrie_ep
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.

 

21bBenny Benassi feat. Gary Go "Cinema" Benny Benassi Cinema
This year was filled with powerful DJ/vocalist collaborations and "Cinema" was one of 2011's best.

 


20bThe Good Natured "Skeleton"
Gn
The Good Natured's "Skeleton" packs raw passion with its frenetic rhythm section and glossy chorus that is nothing less than sheer brilliance.

 

19bYasmin "Finish Line" (Freemasons Radio Edit) 220px-YasminFinishLine
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.

 

18b

The Sound Of Arrows "Magic" TSOA-M
The Sound of Arrows' "Magic" is exactly that. Pure synth pop goodness with celestial strings, subtle grooves and sweet melodies. It's pop that will light up your day.

 

17bBright Light Bright Light "Disco Moment" 3118389-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.

 

16bDev "In The Dark" Dev
The Cataracs helped design Dev's breakout hit with its sleek stylings that Dev tastefully sexes up with her vocals.

 

15b

Adele "Turning Tables" Adele-21
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.

 

14bCalvin Harris feat. Kelis "Bounce" Calv
Harris forward production skills and savvy dance beats combined with Kelis pop-punk vocals on "Bounce" led to one of the finest tunes of 2011.

 

13bNeon Hitch "Bad Dog" Neon
The tightly produced "Bad Dog" serves up just right amount of flirty fun and pop shtick to be noticed, creating more proof that Neon is a new female force in pop to reckon with.

12bNatalia Kills "Wonderland" Nkills
Both lyrically and musically "Wonderland" is classic Kills. In many ways, the song lays out the artistic foundation and sonic aesthetic that ruled her debut LP.

 

11bEmeli Sandé "Heaven" Emeli Sande - Heaven Lyrics
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.

 

10bLabrinth "Earthquake" 618_music_artwork_labrinth(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.

 

9bDarren Hayes "Bloodstained Heart" Dh
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.

8bWynter Gordon "Still Getting Younger" Wynter
Combining a bright melody with sweet synth flourishes, Wynter Gordon's "Still Getting Younger" packs an inescapable melancholia that is gripping.


7bEllie Goulding "Lights" Eg
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.


 

6bFrankmusik "Struck By Lightning"Frankm
"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. 

 
5bRihanna feat. Calvin Harris "We Found Love"
Riri
Set to a soaring dance beat, Rihanna keeps things simple and straight-forward lyrically to give way to Harris who truly shines on this track.


4bLana Del Rey "Video Games" Lana
Much has been said about Lana Del Rey's image, but whether it is all fake or not she has the music to justify her quick rise to fame.


3bMartin Solveig feat. Dragonette "Hello" Solveig
Quirky and fun, "Hello" is an instantly catchy pop gem that comes along with a fantastic video to top it all off.

 

2b

David Guetta feat. Sia "Titanium" Guetta
The unlikely pairing of Guetta and Sia led to one of the most thrilling pop ballads of the year that is nothing less than a career highlight for both of them.


1dRobyn "Call Your Girlfriend" Robyn
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