10. M83- Midnight City
I heard the song played on KROQ the other day, and now I’m watching its chart performance like a hawk. French based “laptronica” band M83 has been making the rounds for years, but it looks like they might have their first major success on the rock charts with “Midnight City”, the lead single from the acclaimed “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”. It’s the perfect example of what M83 does best- taking the basic song structures of electro and 80’s pop music and adding a My Bloody Valentine-esque shoegazing element. The result is an air-drum worthy chorus with all the nostalgia of a John Hughes movie.
9. Adele- Rolling in the Deep
It’s hard for me to retroactively give props to songs that I’m (everyone) completely tired of, but in 2011- no one could escape this damn song. To say that 2011 was Adele’s year is an understatement- it’s like she took the year 2011 and gave it the best sex of its life. We always wonder what songs will be played 20, 50, 100 years from now- “Rolling in the Deep” is certainly one for the time capsule. Everything that needs to be said about the blues/rock/soul smash has already been said- and with the current house/electro/dubstep/hip-hop craze that radio is currently welcoming, Adele’s sound was a surprising welcome. “Deep” is not only the biggest song of 2011, but will also be the most fondly remembered.
8. Tyler, the Creator- Yonkers
While Adele was the biggest story of 2011, the rise of Odd Future might be the most interesting. I’ve written quite a bit about the blogosphere phenomenon on this blog, as lead member Tyler, the Creator’s sound has given me something very few artists have this year- something completely new under the sun. We are now experiencing the direct influence of the early 2000’s rise of Eminem and the sound of The Neptunes, as the rap collectives’ average age of 20 makes them the first generation to truly be raised on those aforementioned influences. Take a Neptunes beat and place them in hell with Satan, and you might get a sound half as gloomy and introspective as that found on Tyler’s first major release, “Goblin”. With lead single “Yonkers”, a dark and menacing yet minimal beat glides while Tyler spits insane wordplay, offensive introspection on religion, and some rather interesting things he’d like to do to B.o.B and Bruno Mars. Also- my vote for video of the year. Disgusting, provocative, and interesting- just like Tyler himself.
7. Lil B- I Seen That Light
It’s hard to say if Lil B is a mad genius or makes absolutely no sense at all- and it has critics and blogs cut straight down the middle. It’s hard to find middle ground, as it’s difficult to rummage through his 1500+ songs posted online- but I invested quite a bit of time this summer into B’s first charting album, ‘I’m Gay.” (tongue in cheek purposes) B possesses both the naivety and cockiness of a 20 year old new to fame- but from an instrumental standpoint- it’s one of the most gorgeous rap albums I’ve heard. I mean, shit straight out of a Disney movie. Most of the tracks are laced with strings, horns, the works- and “I Seen That Light” demonstrates what the album does best. After a good 30 listens, I can still only recite the first few lines from each verse from memory- but who cares when the beat fills you with this much joy?
6. Cults- Go Outside
New York indie duo Cults rose to indie prominence this year on the back of a sweet Columbia record deal. The sound is about half reverb-heavy indie pop, half Shangri La’s inspired girl-group pop. The nostalgic, hook-heavy melodies with standard indie reverb made groups like Cults along with Wild Flag and Dum Dum Girls their own trendy subgenre this year. “Go Outside”, their debut single that launched them to their present deal, is quite simple. In fact, the song rarely strays from the hook presented within the first second. In fact, I can’t think of too many songs that are so reliant on a single hook, but I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be humming the tune after it finishes.