It’s been a wonderful year for music! My longlist has over 100 tracks, but here’s the Top 40, complete with brief reasons why each track is superb.
The usual rules apply. Should be a single or album track in 2011 and only one track from any one act.
11. When the Thames Froze* Smith & Burrows
An utterly contemporary and lovely Christmas song which makes even more sense when one is living here this year.
12. The Bay * Metronomy
Oh look, he found the tunes! And all the blinking better for it. A completely cohesive album that grows and grows with its understated elegance.
13. Night Air * Jamie Woon
He ‘s probably heartily sick of the James Blake comparisons, but really they have little in common. Night Air is a slick piece of 21st Century Soul. (James Blake is a bit of a moan *gasp*)
14. Judas * Lady Gaga
I’m just going to shrug my shoulders and just go with it. It’s the least earnest, least straightforward, most off Gaga track yet. It seems to have about 6 chorus. Admittedly, i’m down with that.
15. Human Condition * Joan As Police Woman
Three albums in and she still whispering truths into one’s head. Damn, she’s good.
16. The Last Dance * Clare Maguire
Extraordinary voice and an almost-ran in 2011. This track deserves it’s spot not only because her sophisticated delivery and those extraordinary stylings of the ‘oh-ho_hoo_a -whoah_ha!’ kind. Keep going, lass. You have something.
17. Coming Home * Diddy – Dirty Money feat. Skylar Grey
We may as well pretend Diddy isn’t really on this. The whole show has been stolen by Skylar Grey. And good for her.
18. Someone Like You * Adele
What is there to say? It’s a huge, huge song that will exist long after Adele (and us) exist. Yes, it’s that big.
19. Finish Line * Yasmin
Pretty girl, a bit hipster, called Yasmin? It should be forgettable and instead it’s a sharply-observed end of a relationship track.
20. I Wrote The Book * Beth Ditto
This is such a stomper that surprisingly it wasn’t a massive hit in the pop charts. I suspect it’s the ‘Someone Like You’ of some Hoxton parallel universe.
21. Asthma Attack * CocknBullKid
More spikiness tricked out in superb pop hookery.
22. The Best Things In Life * The Silver Seas
‘No champagne, moonlight/ Diamond days, golden nights
I lived in gray and black and white’
Bah, he’ll be fine as long as he remembers he’s a fine purveyor of lovely melodies and not to get too put out about relationship breakdown.
23. Will Do * TV On The Radio
The whole album is wonderful, but this is almost transcendent (and that’s despite the impressive facial hair in the video). And then their year was marred by the death of bass/keyboardist Gerald Smith from cancer.
24. Run the World (Girls) * Beyoncé
Or, the unrepresentative thing that will make everyone sit back and take notice. Alas, it didn’t quite work out. Still it’s pretty freaking out there for a major act to come back with.
25. Higher * Taio Cruz (feat. Kylie Minogue & Travie McCoy)
OR: How to take America with a super-glossy exciting-sounding pop record all the way from London. Cruz went without Minogue for the US version, but had an enormo hit both sides of the Atlantic nonetheless.
26. Ritual Union * Little Dragon
It just oozes class.
27. Sun Of A Gun * Oh Land
It just oozes Scandinavian class.
28. Popular * Eric Saade
This utterly deranged 3 mins did not in fact win the Eurovision. THAT’s how good Eurovision was this year.
29. Fun * Sharam feat. Anousheh Khalili
Despite everything this isn’t fun at all. It’s a total blubfest! THAT YOU CAN DANCE TO. Cruel.
30. Jealousy * Will Young
Being wrapped up in warm Richard X production suits him, and the UK public agreed, giving Will a deservedly massive hit.
31. Need You Now * Cut Copy
Imagine if OMD announced their comeback with this as the lead-off single? *sigh*
32. Bear Hug * The 2 Bears
Do they play this in XXL? They should. More from Man of the Year, Joe Goddard.
33. The Bishop of New Hampshire * Fingersnap feat. London Gay Men’s Chorus)
I had the honour of seeing this performed live. It brought tears to my eyes and tingles to my spine. A beautiful realisation of Gay Davies’ melodic nous and David McAlmont’s increasing emergence as a lyricist of some great skill.
34. Baby Says * The Kills
The Kills aren’t really my bag, but having been coerced into seeing them live TWICE this year, I must acknowledge that a) they have tunes and b) they rock.
35. Hello * Martin Solveig & Dragonette
One of those stupidly catchy tracks will be on every Best of the … 10s? compilation forever.
36. Stay Gold * Camille Jones
The woman behind The Creeps comes back with a largely ignored but delicious slice of urgent-house-pop. It’s a stormer.
37. Take Care * Drake feat Rihanna
OK, this samples the Jamie XX rework of Gil Scott-Heron’s Take Care of You. Therefore, it’s a pretty unexpected mainstream rap hit. It’s quite weird, really.
38. Bright Lights Bigger City * Cee Lo Green feat. Wiz Khalifa
When Green ditches the pastiche soul and goes for a proper 2011 pop track, he pulls it off admirably.
39. On The Floor * Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull
I think it was Popjustice who said it, but the glorious pop moment here is when towards the end, she gives up on lyrics and just surrenders to the la la la’s.
40. Eyes * Kaskade feat. Mindy Gleadhill
More blubsome progressive house. I’m a sucker for this shit.
The Top Ten is imminent…