Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Listmania: Best Songs Of 2011

As pop culture aficionados, your friends at Culture Blues are not immune to the end-of-year lists currently overwhelming the internet. Welcome to Listmania, where Culture Blues ranks their favorite shit in a handful categories. Today we bring you the final installment of our list based madness, with the Top 50 Songs of 2011.

This is what played CDs before there were MP3s.

50) Ice Cream - Battles (Ft. Matias Aquayo). The truth is, this song kind of irritates me. I like the opening build, but once it gets going, it gives off too much of a Smash Mouth vibe. In the interest of fairness it should be noted that this song is better than anything Smash Mouth ever wrote.

49) 17 - Youth Lagoon

48) Whirring - The Joy Formidable. This track is a killer guilt-free rock track. Hayley Williams totally wants to be Ritzy Bryan when he grows up.

47) How Deep Is Your Love - The Rapture. This song is on the list in spite of the obvious (and shameful) Sisquo call back.

46) Yonkers - Tyler, The Creator

45) Snooze 4 Love - Todd Terje. If you don’t know this track than A) you don’t read Clef Notes diligently enough, and B) you don’t know jack about awesome electronica.

44) The Other Shoe - Fucked Up

43) My Angel Is Broken - Atlas Sound

42) I Don’t Want Love - The Antlers. You should start practicing this song on your acoustic guitar before it gets warm, so it’ll be ready to lure the ladies. Of course there is almost no chance you have the required falsetto.

41) Youlogy - Shabazz Palaces

40) Street Halo - Burial. The father (or at least, the older uncle) of dub-step didn't want the kids to forget about him, so he returned triumphantly to show then how it's done.

39) Winter Beats - I Break Horses. I like to think that I Break Horses exists to keep my obsession with Sweden strong... Oh, and the song is an awesome example of post-shoegaze (yeah, I am also sickened by writing that hyphenated atrocity).

38) The Great Pan Is Dead - Cold Cave

37) Crystalline - Bjork

36) Rolling In The Deep - Adele. Face it, the song is pretty solid, and she sings better than you do anything.

35) Lotus Flower - Radiohead. I had to drug myself in order to keep this song from ending up higher than it deserved.

34) Headlines - Drake. This is the first of my boyfriend's three mentions on this list. More than any other artist (SQUEE!).

33) We Bros - Wu Lyf

32) Otis - Kanye West & Jay - Z. “You ain’t accustomed to customs/ you ain’t been nowhere, hanh?”

31) Prizewinning - Juliana Barwick

30) Ungirthed - Purity Ring. You really need to give this song a try. There is something both bewitching and fascinating about the track’s musical construction, and the way it's juxtaposed against the vocals...  [Be warned this video is NSFW]

29) Looping State Of Mind -  The Field

28) Monopoly - Danny Brown. This track is admittedly not for the easily offended, nor for those with an aversion to scatological hooks.

27) Honey Bunny - Girls

26) Novacane - Frank Ocean

25) Marvin’s Room - Drake. Drake narrowly beat out Frank Ocean according to my algorithm. The deciding factor? Drake’s cutene-, I mean "Canadianess."

24) Queen Of Hearts - Fucked Up

23) Blue Eyes - Destroyer

22) R4 Theme Song - Big K.R.I.T

21) Last Night At The Jetty - Panda Bear. This song features the best utilization of a two word bridge possibly in the history of music.

20) Glass Jar - Gang Gang Dance

19) I’m On One - DJ Khaled (Drake, Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne). This song comes complete with Syrup quality control guidelines. Thanks Drizzy you're the best!

18) The Wall - Yuck

17) Vomit - Girls

16) Replica - Oneohtrix Point Never. This song is not for everyone, just those of you who enjoy ambient music, loneliness, and feeling your soul die.

15) Believer - John Maus. I can’t really explain how, but this song is so much better than it is. Also, you should note that I consider the top fifteen to be essential listening!

14) Cruel - St. Vincent

13) 212 - Azealia Banks (Ft. Lazy Jay). Watch out for this young lady next year, she is going to be bigger than Nicki Minaj, and this song is the proof of my claim.

12) House Of Balloons/Glass Table Girls - The Weeknd

11) Dreamin’ - Big K.R.I.T

10) Abducted - Cults. There is a good chance you heard this song more than any other song on the list this year. There is also a good chance you have a beard, wear glasses, and are older than you tell people you are.

9) Need You Now - Cut Copy

8) Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes

7) Holocene - Bon Iver. AHHHHHH!!!!

6) Califonia - EMA

5) The Wilhelm Scream- James Blake

4) The Words That Maketh Murder - PJ Harvey

3) Gangsta - tUnE-yArDs. If this list reflected my own personal taste, and not the distilled mathematical certainties of countless hours of work, then Gangsta would have been the number one song of the year. Merril Garbus broke the mold with this cut, which features a uniqueness that is missing not just from music, but from life. To say that this song is odd is an understatement. The truth is, it’s gloriously strange. That being said, it’s also catchy as hell, and makes you want to move, which is something that, frankly, we can all do a little more.

2) Video Games - Lana Del Rey. What often gets lost amid all of the hate and conspiracy theories that surround and obscure Lana Del Ray is that this woman really can sing (face it, haters). Video Games is without a doubt the most written-about song of 2011 but, beyond that, it is also exquisitely produced (I know, I know, by Illuminati taste-makers), well written, and features the sleepy, slightly apathetic/slightly wistful, very seductive charms of a woman who will be huge in 2012, whether you like it or not (P.S. I hear she recently signed a modeling contract!).

1) Midnight City - M83. The first time I heard this song I knew it was the best track of the year. As a matter of fact,  I actually featured it as a Clef Notes Track of the Week twice in 2011 (which, as we all know, is basically the musical equivalent of winning a Nobel Prize). Anthony Gonzalez released one hell of a record in 2011 and Midnight City is its neon crown jewel from the future. The main sample that serves as the song’s backbone is actually Gonzalez’s voice, warped and distorted beyond recognition, then spliced and repeated to perfection. I can't explain what an amazing feat of inspiration and ingenuity it is to turn your voice into one of the year's most recognizable samples, so I won't even try (besides you wouldn't get it anyway... JK) Anyway... Midnight City is not only the year’s best song, it even manages to sneak in a saxophone outro while not infuriating me in the process, which to this day I still consider impossible. Bravo, Mr. Gonzalez, bravo.


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6 Responses »

  1. its like wavves, the black lips, and thee oh sees didnt even put out songs in 2011...but they did.

  2. no mention of washed out's Eyes Be Closed?

    Also, I didn't get the subtext to 34) Headlines - Drake. "This is the first of my boyfriend's three mentions on this list. More than any other artist (SQUEE!)." What's that all about?

  3. There is no subtext. Giovanny is dating Drake.

  4. Oh, I thought it was a joke.

  5. I don't joke about love.

  6. It does sound as if it has the same lyrics. I wtechad Phantoms the other night on On Demand (free), and was listening to the song, trying to catch enough of it to see if it matches. Now, I'm sort of curious about it although I don't really like it.I couldn't find any information about the song. It isn't included on the albums I found:I couldn't find a soundtrack for Phantoms , and the Phantoms page of IMBD doesn't have a link to Fall . If it wasn't so late (3:15 a.m.), I'd watch Phantoms again just to listen to the song; I could tape it and try to transcribe it.