Best Songs Of 2011: Playlist

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The great philosopher Missy Elliot once said that, “music should be your escape.” This year we had plenty to pick from to soothe us to sleep, grind to with people we will never speak to again and be the soundtrack to our desperation when finals came rolling in. Here is some of the best of what music was this year.

Midnight City by M83

The first single of off Anthony Gonzalez’s sixth studio album was featured in a Victoria’s Secret commercial, HBO’s “How To Make It In America” and several other commercials, and for good reason. Midnight City gives such a powerful jolt with its synth-layering and beats that propel the song into its saxophone solo climax.

“I used to listen to Midnight City when I was doing my homework, that was until Victoria Secret exploited it,” Sophia Lee a junior art history major at University of California Berkeley said.

Countdown by Beyoncé

Beyoncé is still deep in the throes of domestic bliss and is showing it with her new album. The pounding percussion sounds like a delirious marching band and Beyoncé is the conductor. “Through the good and the bad still got love. Dedicated to the one I love,” she commands over this frantic tempo-changing hit. The feeling is infectious. It is the ideal song to get ready to when the weekend starts.

Novacane by Frank Ocean

The tale of the girl he met at Coachella is filled with tiny almost irrelevant details as Ocean croons over a synth-beat that fades straight into the background. He is trying hard to convince us that he’s ambivalent about her, but the intense scene description says otherwise.

Gucci Gucci (cover) by Neon Hitch

Kreayshawn’s dreadful white-girl mob seemingly crawled out of a cave (not really, she claims she’s from Oakland) and tried desperately to convince us how hard they were with their tattoos and casual racial slurs. Little-known British pop artist Neon Hitch (yes that’s her real name, she was raised by gypsies) took the song and turned it into something melodic and addicting. Her bubble-gum voice effortlessly spits out the words in a way that Kreayshawn could not do without making us laugh.

Blue Jeans by Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey has been a source of controversy. Her record label picked her name. She had plastic surgery to become the bombshell that she is selling today. Music bloggers dubbed her the “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”. The forlorn track sounds like the soundtrack to an old Hollywood film and is the perfect background noise to love gone wrong. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself drunkenly singing along to Blue Jeans at 3 a.m. after a bad breakup.

Yonkers by Tyler, the Creator

“I’m a fucking walking paradox, no I’m not” and suddenly everyone was talking about Odd Future (or if you prefer the full name Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All or the much easier to type OFWGKTA). Kids who listened to Lil Wayne were screaming “Free Earl” and wearing Supreme baseball caps. Yonkers is the song that brought the Los Angeles rap collective from the music blogs into the mainstream. The lyrics almost seem controversial on purpose, like the Lady Gaga of rap, but that lurching beat and macabre imagery is what brings me back to do it every time. They must have done something right.

We Found Love by Rihanna (feat. Calvin Harris)

From the video for We Found Love you can tell that somebody made Rihanna watch the U.K. series Skins. The hedonistic explosion of fireworks, dancing and basically humping all over the place seems like fitting imagery for a song constantly played at frat houses. The music is more house than pop with several breakdowns and a drop that sounds like it would be played in an Ibiza club. It is Rihanna’s catchiest song in a long time and is showing she can hold her own against the larger names in pop. 

“We Found Love is my favorite party song,” Katelyn Manning a freshman sociology major at University of Dayton said.

Bonfire by Childish Gambino

Actor/Comedian/Rapper Donald Glover got the name “Childish Gambino” when he typed his named into a Wu-Tang name generator. Glover who calls himself a “nerd” is the most badass he’s ever been when he’s asking “Man why does every black actor got to rap some. I don’t know but I’m the best one.” Then there is the creepy church gospel howling in the background. Bonfire sounds like early Kanye if he tried to do his own interpretation of Yonkers minus the pretention.

Get Some by Lykke Li

With rattling drums and 60s chain gang vibes Ms. Li is showing off her inner vixen when she declares she’s your “prostitute” and that yes, you are going to get some. But it’s never desperate. Li sounds like a woman in control. The sexy swede howls and chants over a song that finally has the lady taking control. Oh Taylor Swift, can’t you be more like Lykke?

In Your Nature by Zola Jesus

Nika Roza Danilova’s operatic voice vibrates over strings creating a song that sounds like the epic finale of a road movie. Thelma & Louise could have driven off that cliff to this song. It is one of the lesser-known tracks on Conatus, her third studio release, but still deserves some love. It’s about a person’s failure to adapt to change, which will ultimately lead to his or her demise. An eerie theme for those of us still straddling the line between adulthood and adolescence, oh got to love college…. 

Sophomore > Magazine Journalism > Syracuse University

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