Adele dominated this year, and rightfully so. The British songstress murdered the charts with 21, her breakthrough sophomore effort on a relationship breaking. The deeply personal album spawned massive singles like “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You” and made the singer the reigning queen of music. But, 2011 was more than Adele for me. There was so much to like about music this year that it’s hard to represent everyone I liked. For example, I so enjoyed Jane’s Addiction’s comeback album The Great Escape Artist, but it’s nowhere to be found here.
In any event, since it’s the end of the year (almost) here are my top songs and albums of the year. In an effort to stand out, which is really impossible this time of the year, I’m posting my top 20 songs of the year, and top 11 albums, as in… 2011. Get it? Clever, or, um, not quite. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase and get to the lists with brief explanations on why I chose them.
By all means, please suggest other music. I tend to enjoy indie rock most these days so I’m sure I omitted a lot. But, I’m always open to hearing new (or old) artists, so pitch away.
Top 20 Songs of 2011
(Sorry Cobra Starship, but you don’t “make me feel so” nah nah nah nah nah… and apologizes to LMFAO, but your song was played out before it was played out in my book.)
1. Bon Iver — “Minnesota, WI”: Any song off this album can make a top ten list and “Holocene” for sure deserves this spot, but this one stays with me more… even hours after I listen to it.
2.The Kooks — “Junk of the Heart”: Such a simple song, but so well done. Try not to sing along with the chorus.
3.Radiohead — “Lotus Flower”: An uneven album by the music masters delivered one of their best songs ever and a music video that was amaze-balls.
4.AWOLNation –“Sail:” This in-your-face, electro anthem’s hooks and lyrics floored me.
5. Lana Del Rey — “Video Games”: Everyone is buzzing about her for a reason.
6.Kanye West & Jay-Z — “Otis”: Full of so much joy — it’s infectious.
7.M83 — “Midnight City”: So glad to see this French act get its due. Effecting music — literally.
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers — “The Adventures of Raindance Maggie:” My favorite song last summer. So glad these guys are back.
9.The Airborne Toxic Event — “Welcome to Your Wedding Day”: This band fly under the radar for no reason. They’re badass, and this song is amazing.
10. The Joy Formidable — “Whirring”: So catchy and evokes the 1990s alt-rock feel.
11.Adele — “Set Fire to the Rain”: I like a lot of her songs, but you can really hear her heart on this one.
12. Two Door Cinema Club — “What You Know”: Couldn’t get this song out of my head in July or now.
13. Foster the People — “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”: Forget “Pumped Up Kicks,” this is the best song these guys have done.
14. Rihanna — “We Found Love”: You’ve got to give it to this prolific artist. She’s clearly in the zone now.
15. Coldplay — “Paradise”: I’m on the fence with their latest album. I like it a bunch, but I’m still waiting for Chris Martin and the boys to make their Achtung Baby.
16. Young the Giant — “Cough Syrup”: If you saw them on MTV’s VMAs you know this California act is about to become orca big.
17. Neon Indian — “Polish Girl”: I can listen to this song multiple times a day, and even attempt to dance to it and still feel OK about myself.
18.Jack White — “Love is Blindness”: This Patti Smith-ish take on U2’s original cut off Achtung Baby is better than the real thing, and that’s saying so much.
19.Lady Gaga — “Highway Unicorn”: I liked a lot of songs off Born This Way, but this song made me wish it was the 1980s and I was dating a girl with frosted hair and Madonna rubber bracelets.
20. Edward Maya w/Vika Jigulina — “Stereo Love”: Driving down sunny Laguna Beach I had this blasting last spring. Present day, I still do and it’s chilly out today.
Bonus Jonas: Yes, I know I said 20 but I need to mention Wolf Gang’s “Lions in Cages” which is a pretty spectacular 1980s-inspired track. Beastie Boys’ “Make Some Noise” also deserves some props.
Top 11 Albums of 2011
1. Bon Iver — Bon Iver: Like The Suburbs last year, this album has been played weekly, sometimes daily, ever since it came out.
2. The Horrible Crowes — Elsie: Out of nowhere, this Gaslight Anthem (don’t call it a) side project resonated with me so strongly. There’s not a bad song on this.
3. Kanye West & Jay-Z — Watch the Throne: Believe the hype.
4. Adele — 21: If I had the hips and the attitude, I’d say “you go girl” to her and then snap my fingers.
5. Portugal. The Man — In the Mountain In The Cloud: Whether it’s “So American,” a sort-of anti-anthem for the OWS crowd, or other standouts like “Senseless” and “Sleep Forever,” it’s a masterwork.
6. The Beastie Boys — The Hot Sauce Committee Part 2: Their best album in a buttload of years.
7.Florence & The Machine — Ceremonials: Picks up right where they left off with Lungs. Hauntingly beautiful stuff.
8. Arctic Monkeys — Suck it and See: I wanted to love their last album, but couldn’t. This was so easy to love. Their best since their first.
9. TV on the Radio — Nine Types of Light: Not as good as their previous efforts, but this band deserves more mainstream love. Choice tracks: “Will Do” and “Repetition.”
10.Lady Gaga — Born this Way: This was an uneven album, but I really appreciate her talent and attempt at making the best album ever. It wasn’t but had some great songs.
11.Nicki Minaj — Pink Friday: Not everything works, but when it does, it does so well.