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« In Which We Unveil The 25 Best Singles Of 2011 »

The 25 Best Singles of 2011 (So Far)


The 2011 musical harvest has been bountiful, so much so that I had to whittle this list down to 25 choices from my original list of over 100 songs. If you're interested in hearing the rest of the best I'll probably post them as genric mixes on my SoundCloud at some point.

25. "Hope" - Munchi (mp3)

Moombahton has been garnering a fair amount of buzz this year so it's only right that I give this nanogenre some shine. TBQH this song would be a crescendo classic regardless of the drums you put underneath it, but the reggaeton oompaloompa is definitely present so Moombahton it is. Moooooooombahton.

24. “Slime” - Sleeping Bag (mp3

Believe it or not there was a time and place where indie rock wasn't the default music for everyone from NPR dads to Revlon commercial makers. To listen to Sleeping Bag's charmingly catchy "Slime" is to be instantly transported back to those days when the hipster marketing demographic didn't exist but college kids could nod knowingly about "PoMos."

23. "What The Hell" - Avril Lavigne (mp3)

If our current crop of pop stars is limited to Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Ke$ha, and I were forced to choose my favorite white one, I'm going Team Avril every time.  

Frank Ocean

22. "Breakfast" - EMA (mp3)

A nice drone-y song featuring the endearing refrain "big fat breakfast, big fat bluebird." 

21. "Songs for Women" - Frank Ocean (mp3)

The critical discussion around Odd Future is probably the biggest argument for why reading pop music analysis is mostly pointless and probably even harmful to the reader. Luckily, Odd Future affiliate Frank Ocean's music is almost impossible to demonize so it's pretty hard for writers to make the stories about themselves instead of this talented young singer.  

20. "Be The One" - Brenmar (mp3)

There's at least one American who can hold his own amongst the current crop of killer UK DJ's and producers.

Gang Gang Dance

19. "Mindkilla" - Gang Gang Dance (mp3)

On some zany Japanese video game global-beat ish. 

18. "Really Raw" - Tyga ft. Pharrell, Game, & Snoop Dogg (mp3)

Only about 25% of the things mentioned in this song are actually "really raw" ("porno on the iPad"?), but that Neptunes beat is so raw it's still mooing; a return to form for the production duo.

17. "Still Sound" - Toro y Moi (mp3)

It was a crime for Toro y Moi to have ever been lumped in with the chilldren making "chillwave." With his new album employing a live band and utilizing no samples, Chaz Bundick shows he's a genuine talent with songwriting chops who has many albums ahead of him. Hopefully one of those albums is a proper Les Sins release.

16. "Till The World Ends" - Britney Spears (mp3)

This is about as much of a Britney track as "Friday" is a Rebecca Black song, but Dr. Luke/Ke$ha have done a great job of incorporating brostep aesthetics into the current pop production formula. 

15. "Swerve the Reeping of All That Is Worthwhile" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)

I love rap groups on traditionally "alternative rock" labels (in this case Sub Pop). See also Chicago's All Natural who had a release on Thrill Jockey.

14. "Ego" - Burial, Four Tet, & Thom Yorke (mp3)


13. "Yardman Riddim" - Balistiq Beats (mp3)

You can hear this massive riddim on songs like "Concrete Jungle" but it's pretty incredible on its own too. 

12. "Ten Years" - Shocking Pinks (mp3)

The best pink to come out of New Zealand since The Chills.

Julio Bashmore

11. "Battle for Middle You" - Julio Bashmore (mp3)

How long can UK bass music's domination last and how long will most Americans ignore the most important movement in contemporary music? 

10. "Chrysalis Records" - Egyptrixxx ft. Trust (mp3)

Egyptrixxx's Night Slug brethren took the number one spot on 2010's end of year best music list. However, this song is less of a "banger" and more of a "grower," so much so that it's currently the most played song in my proprietary media player.

9. "Out Getting Ribs" - Zoo Kid (mp3)

Scotland's Zoo Kid is literally a kid (he's 16) making grown up music with the kind of soul only a ginger could muster. John Lennon was wrong, woman is the ginger of the world.

8. "Hey Muma" - Cam'ron & Vado (The U.N) (mp3)

Cam is the funniest rapper alive (followed by Noreaga). He's also had a knack for beat selection and a unique sartorial flair (no homo). In case you were wondering, he's still got it.

7. "Gentle Persuasion" - Doug Hream Blunt (mp3)

It's unclear when this song was actually recorded, Doug Blunt claims the year 2000, but the song hit the Internet in December of 2010. Here's an excerpt from San Francisco record store Aquarius Records' blog describing how Mr. Blunt brought the record in himself:

It's pretty phenomenal that this record went from getting the suspicious side-eye when we first took it in on consignment, to becoming one of our favorite "WTF?" records of the year! When it first appeared, no one seemed to know where it came from (it had been brought in by Blunt himself, one day). And we weren't too sold on the cover, a generic photograph that looked like it was shot in the eighties, of this fellow Blunt, standing with a woman (a close friend of his, in a head to toe orange outfit that looks like it could have been prison garb, and who as it turns out, may no longer be alive) in front of a Mercedes parked in front of the mural on the side of the O'Farrell Theater on Polk street in San Francisco. Also, whenever there's a bunch of "ASCAP" logos plastered all over the front and back cover, our internal "uh-oh" meter goes way off.

So it just sat on our new arrivals shelf for a few weeks. But then a couple of folks (one of whom runs the Gloriette label, who have supplied us with some Ariel Pink and Nite Jewel records) started asking about it, because they had heard about this record, so we gave it a listen and were pretty surprised and rather blown away by what we were hearing. A lo-fi but breezy outsider funk, made with repetitive cheap-sounding keyboards loops and tones (the kind being currently exploited by Dam-Funk, Ariel Pink, and James Pants), strange metallic tropical guitar tones that sound more like steel drums and flute sounds than actual guitar, and sly, laid-back vocals and catchy, infectiously naive grooves that work their way into our heads and never let go. Everybody here ended up really really digging it.

6. "Brave (Dark Sky Remix)" - Kelis (mp3)

Not sure what to say about this, if you like my other electronic/dance music selections then you'll probably like this one too.

5. “I’m On One” - DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne (mp3)

It pains me to put a song featuring Drake on this list. I don't mind the child actor playing R&B crooner on a hook, but when he puts on his tough guy affect based on careful study of what the media has told him black people are like, it makes me cringe far more than anything Kreayshawn has uttered. Having said that, the beat is sick, the hook is crazy catchy, and at least 1/3 of the rapping is enjoyable (Ricky).


4. "The Look" - Metronomy (mp3)

It hasn't been a secret since 2006, I love Metronomy.

3. "The Morning" - The Weeknd (mp3)

This song has been pretty ubiquitous this year and is almost universally appealing. If I ever DJ a wedding in the Midwest, this is what I'll open with. #crowdpleaser

2. "Getting Me Down" - Blawan (mp3)

This is the "Glut" meets "Wut" of 2011. Massive tune with an extended Brandy sample deftly reduced to second fiddle to some pots & pans percussion and grumbling bass 

1. "This Goal" - Darlington Nagbe 

Have you seen this goal? You should probably see this goal. I will take ranking music seriously when someone shows me the top 10 paintings from 1993.

Danish Aziz is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He is the creator of tumbledore. He twitters here.

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Come up for air.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZL

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