Going To ’11: Songs of the Year

Which Adele song makes the list?

Last year, my “Best Of” music post didn’t come out until January 27th. Well, I wasn’t about to let that happen again. Hopefully, you’re not sick of reviews of 2011 music yet.

Here are the best songs of 2011 (with a limit of one song per artist):

25) “The Merry Barracks” – Deerhoof – Deerhoof vs. Evil

I love the way this song moves from simple to complex.

24) “Talking At The Same Time” – Tom Waits – Bad As Me

This song should be the anthem of the 99%.

23) “The Edge of Glory” – Lady Gaga – Born This Way

When I first heard “The Edge of Glory,” I loved it—despite my wariness of all things Gaga. Two days later I was completely sick of it. For those two days, though, it makes the list at #23.

22) “Come See About Me” – Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator

The musical marriage of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi looks really good on paper, but only really reaches its potential on a few tracks, like “Come See About Me.”

21) “Last Night at the Jetty” – Panda Bear – Tomboy 

Overall, I wanted to like this album more than I did, but this track was certainly a standout.

20) “Circuital” – My Morning Jacket – Circuital 

It always strikes me as unoriginal to pick the title track as your favorite, but it’s hard to argue with “Circuital.”

19) “The Words That Maketh Murder” – PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

This whole song is great, but I particularly love the last minute.

18) “I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight” – Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer

The upbeat melody of this song contrasts wonderfully with the vulnerability Friedberger brings.

17) “Helena Beat” – Foster The People – Torches

“Pumped Up Kicks” suffered from an absurd amount of radio play; luckily, “Helena Beat” did not meet the same fate.

16) “I Might” – Wilco – The Whole Love

Always great when Wilco rocks the chimes…

15) “What the Water Gave Me” – Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

I’m slightly embarrassed to like this song as much as I do.

14) “OK Pal” – M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

It’s tough choosing between this and “Midnight City,” but “OK Pal” seems slightly more dynamic.

13) “I’m So Happy I found You” – Lucinda Williams – The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams

Nobody else on the album quite capture Hank Williams’ sense of heartbreak like Lucinda does here.

12) “Civilization” – Justice – Audio, Video, Disco

The pounding percussion on “Civilization” makes it ominously exciting.

11) “Someone Like You” – Adele – 21

I’m slightly surprised how universally people seem to prefer “Rolling in the Deep,” but I prefer the shameless sadness of “Someone Like You.”

10) “Codex” – Radiohead – The King of Limbs

“Codex” is the best example of the subtle mastery the whole album is aiming for.

9) “Need You Now” – Cut Copy – Zonoscope

Originally this was further down on the list, but every time I listened to it I moved it higher.

8) “Bay of Pigs (Detail)” – Destroyer – Kaputt 

I really like long songs, but this wasn’t the best year for songs over ten minutes long—with this very notable exception.

7) “Helplessness Blues” – Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues 

Like most of the best Fleet Foxes songs, “Helplessness Blues” sounds like multiple great songs in one.

6) “The Wilhelm Scream” – James Blake – James Blake 

I don’t often make it through this whole album, but with tracks like this one (and a few others) I can see what all the fuss is about.

5) “Million Years” – Alex Ebert – Alexander

The best mellow melody of the year.

4) “You” – TV On The Radio – Nine Types of Light

“You” is more relaxed than most great TVotR songs, but no less impressive.

3) “Calamity Song” – The Decembrists – The King is Dead

Even aside from the awesome video, this song is excellent.

2) “Lonely Boy” – The Black Keys – El Camino

Just like #3, this song benefits from an awesome video, but it great whether you consider that or not.

1) “Holocene” – Bon Iver – Bon Iver

It feels somewhat trite to put this one at #1, but its blend of subtle poignancy and elegant craftsmanship create the most beautiful song of 2011.

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