Top 100 Singles of 2011


Dez 23 2011, 21h54

100. Aroused - Tom Vek
99. E.T. - E.T.
98. Sunday - Hurts
97. Rumour Has It - Adele
96. What About My Dreams? - Kati Wolf
95. Let Me Go - Maverick Sabre
94. Live Those Days Tonight - Friendly Fires
93. Midnight City - M83
92. Heaven - Emeli Sandé
91. Fighting Fire (feat. Jess Mills) - Breakage
90. Climbing Walls - Strange Talk
89. Easy Please Me - Katy B
88. Black Video - SX
87. Dirty Talk - Wynter Gordon
86. I'm in Love - Sanna Nielsen
85. Sophia - Laura Marling
84. Eyes Be Closed - Washed Out
83. Experimenting with Rugs - Florrie
82. Wonderman (feat. Ellie Goulding) - Tinie Tempah
81. Flesh - Simon Curtis
80. City With No Children - Arcade Fire
79. Fallout - Neon Indian
78. Hitz (feat. Tinie Tempah) - Chase & Status
77. Time (feat. Delilah) - Chase & Status
76. Live For What I'd Die For - Jess Mills
75. Better Off Without You - Summer Camp
74. Devil's Work - Miike Snow
73. Every Little Part of Me (feat. Jay Sean) - Alesha Dixon
72. Kidz - Take That
71. Glad You Came - The Wanted
70. The A Team - Ed Sheeran
69. Mr. Saxobeat - Alexandra Stan
68. What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction
67. What the Water Gave Me - Florence + the Machine
66. Amor Fati - Washed Out
65. Brightside - The Knocks
64. All of the Lights - Kanye West
63. Don't Move - Phantogram
62. Vultures - Jess Mills
61. Paradise - Coldplay
60. Someone Like You - Adele
59. Judas - Lady Gaga
58. Video Games - Lana Del Rey
57. Popular - Eric Saade
56. Heart Skips a Beat (feat. Rizzle Kicks) - Olly Murs
55. Guilt - Nero
54. Rolling in the Deep - Adele
53. Blink and You'll Miss a Revolution - Cut Copy
52. Radioactive - Marina & the Diamonds
51. No Romance - Hands
50. Neon Black - Candy Coated Killahz
49. Laura Palmer - Bastille
48. Nuclear Seasons - Charli XCX
47. Disco Moment - Bright Light Bright Light
46. Beautiful People (feat. Benny Benassi) - Chris Brown
45. Set Fire to the Rain - Adele
44. Pharaohs - SBTRKT
43. Sober - Loreen
42. Something in Your Eyes - Jenny Silver
41. Call My Name - Tove Styrke
40. You'll Never Love Me - Elisabeth Carew
39. Lady Luck - Jamie Woon
38. Kicking and Screaming - Oh My!
37. Jealousy - Will Young
36. Put Your Hands Up - Nerina Pallot
35. The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga
34. Lonely Heart - Radio Killer
33. Love U More - Sunday Girl
32. Far Nearer - Jamie xx
31. Love You Like a Love Song - Selena Gomez & the Scene
30. Titanium (feat. Sia) - David Guetta
29. Hello - Martin Solveig & Dragonette
28. On the Floor (feat. Pitbull) - Jennifer Lopez
27. Moves Like Jagger (feat. Christina Aguilera) - Maroon 5
26. The Bay - Metronomy
25. Called Out in the Dark - Snow Patrol
24. Someone Loves You - Tom Vek
23. The Birds Part 1 - The Weeknd
22. Don't Know Why - SoundGirl
21. All My Life - Chart Music

20. Doubt - Amanda Mair
"I wanna become what people become / But I know I'll stay here."

Amanda Mair's debut begins with the softest stir of a synth, a single note that reverberates beneath the rolling kickdrum beat that repeats, emotionlessly, under the stretch of the entire song. Doubt is a delicate, ghostly question of a song, ringing with the fear and nervousness of its sixteen-year-old writer and performer as she tries to launch herself into adulthood and success. The production astounds - gorgeous piano lines, echoing drum beats, gentle touches of swooping synths - but it's Mair's smooth, lamenting vocals and her searching, honest lyrics that make this so memorable.

19. Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
"You say your hair's on fire / Must have lost your wits, yeah"

You know this one. Pumped Up Kicks never really translated over to the UK as the hipster anthem it was in the US (despite what could be read as decidedly anti-hipster lyrics), but the riffled groove of it is perhaps too flagrantly American. The bubbling background of the lacksadaiscal chorus unsettles just as much as the hollow, distorted vocal effect on the verses, so that by the time you get to the mimicking whistle of the middle-8, it's as perturbing as it is enjoyable. Ultimately, though, the success of this was a plain victory for a rather good tune.

18. Polish Girl - Neon Indian
"But you fail to remember"

I do. I fail to remember the lyrics. But the shimmering magic of Polish Girl isn't about the words, it's about the distorted, spacial wonder of the sounds, less '80s than wildly futuristic, swirling and diverting all over the top of the echoing, detached vocals. It's as if receiving a message from space, only space isn't a distance but a maze of sounds. Propulsive, glittery, incomprehensible, Polish Girl makes about as much sense as the Polish sequences in David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE.. That is, absolutely none.

17. All Over the World - Ola
"You don't know me yet / But I don't care"

The most stomping piece of scandipop likely ever made by anyone, All Over The World whacks you over the head with the most aggressive violin crashes and it hasn't even started yet. The ferocity of the verses seems to be a challenge to the chorus, which it's all down to Ola to deliver because, if you listen closely, there really isn't much difference in the instrumentation after the dramatic pause that acts as a bridge. Luckily, the most vocally adaptable of those Scandiboys punches a glorious chorus with carefree abandon, wailing and piercing the vocals with pleading emotion to whoever the song is about. (Me.)

16. Broken Record - Katy B
"And I know that we make our mistakes / But you're holding every breath I take"

Diving down a bouncing round of synths, it immediately feels as if Broken Record has reached its depths, but just thirty seconds later the pace quickens, the clatter darkens, and the vocals heighten. It seems to be a song written in a split moment, between love given and not yet received, the frozen panic of raw emotion. Katy's vocals pitch as she strains for levels her voice can't reach, but the real kicker is the repetition at the song's climax - a pained recognition of her own desperation for an answer to a question we can't really be sure she's even really asked.

15. Shuffle - Bombay Bicycle Club
"Now it gets ethereal / Feet ain't on the floor"

Shuffle bursts straight into its discordant piano rhythm, a mash of notes that contradicts itself as it repeats perfectly across the track. The track lives up to its name in the melee of sounds it clashes together, but it also runs against it, particularly in the smooth vocal that crows over the instrumentation, creating a glorious chorus and a elongated, ghostly middle-8. This is a song about finding comfort in the unfamiliar, grooving to the feeling in the oddball rhythm; so that clash of noises, as it peaks, finally thrills.

14. Lights - Ellie Goulding
"And so I tell myself that I'll be strong / And dreaming when they're gone"

Rejigged for the re-release, and thrown out as a single onto an audience who weren't paying attention, it almost feels fradulent including Lights on a 2011 list, because by now you feel as if we should be in the next passage of Ellie's career. But Lights is a magical paean to the comforts of the past, and it seems right as a suggestion that her move forward won't forget from whence she came. Lyrically, it's the manifestation of her album covers - the frozen twinkling of lights, glowing around a figure in motion, the home "calling, calling, calling" merely the one in her head.

13. I Wrote the Book - Beth Ditto
"I wrote the book on it / Don't test me"

Usually heard screaming with her band The Gossip, Beth Ditto's EP saw her head further down the disco direction hinting at by the band's last album Music for Men and go all out with some soulful dance epics. I Wrote the Book is punctuated by some twisting, wounded synths, which gradually take over the background soundscape, but it's Ditto's softened vocals that bring alive the lyrical story of a woman whose past romantic woes have put her guard defiantly up.

12. Shake It Out - Florence + the Machine
"Every demon wants his pound of flesh"

Mournful organ notes slowly get higher. Tambourines jingle their way in. A woman starts bellowing like someone's pedalling on her right lung. Yes, the return proper of one Florence Welch was unrecognisably her, a whirligig concuction of chanting, wailing and medieval percussion. Sometimes the thing she seems to need shaking it out of is the ghostly hole the production has stuck her in, but, for this song at least, that dilemma speaks of the trap Florence is enconsed in with the devil, her hopeless wailing trapping her in the tribal dance of cymbals, drums, bells and so on. "It's always darkest before the dawn," she cries, and perhaps that shimmer at the end is indeed the sun rising.

11. Earthquake (feat. Tinie Tempah) - Labrinth
"Yo Labrinth / This one's feeling like a straight ten on the Richter scale"

Boasting the best production of any track released this year, you can't really disagree with Labrinth's early assertation that "this is something they call a groundbreaker". Rather than sounding like the future, Earthquake sounds like the peak of now - the apex of what all other pretenders attempt to create, but only Labrinth has made more than mere "illusion". The grinding, smashing, whirring clatter is still fiercely melodic, the chorus a vibrant stomp, Labrinth's louche vocal delivery pulling off wild Simon Cowell references. And so, it gets away with being all about being a groundbreaking tune because it feels like the earthquake we'll all be seeing the aftershock from come 2012.

10. Dirty Dancer (feat. Scrufizzer) - Oh My!
"I got a new pair of shoes / They'll be ruined in the morning"

Dirty Dancer kicks down the door to a new pop generation by turning up the volume on a rolling drum beat. The verses, delivered with scornful, lazy sing-talk style, are a derisory kiss-off to an unseen charmer, cutting him down to size with short, sharp lyrics before rising into the chanting chorus where they demand he show them his best moves. References to Patrick Swayze aren't only inevitable, they're necessary - Example's new protegees spin a new thread from old pop styles, in this case coming fully loaded with aggressive synth-lines and exclamatory synth lines. They're critical, but not cynical - the end game here is nothing more than a good night out. And if the world's going to end next year, what more do you need than a fantastic accompaniment to your weekly crack at performing the robot?

09. Shoulda - Jamie Woon
"The line under what's been / The line for what'll never be"

The lightness of the beat that runs throughout Shoulda should not be underestimated for the eerie feeling it adds to this desolate soundscape. The heavier beats seem to echo it, plodding deafeatedly through the chorus as Woon's softly tragic vocals reach their lowest, and deepest, point. The devastating simplicity of the song's central conceit - "I walked when I shoulda run / And I ran when I shoulda walked" - physicalises a doomed mentality, but as much as I've enjoyed wallowing in this song as I walked home in the summer darkness, what you picture instead is someone slumped in abject despair. Finally, the synths shimmer into a spinning horror, and a heartbreaking, lingering end.

08. 212 - Azealia Banks
"Imma ruin you, c**t"

Slick, sly and steadfast, Azealia Banks announces her arrival with an opening rap so quick you barely notice as it escalates into the foul-mouthed break into the main verse. The stunning propulsion of the song itself is such that it's almost halfway through before it feels like it's even begun. Then it stutters to an impasse with a echoing passage that rings as a soft denouncement, before it changes again, that vocal distortion crying as an angry, anguished disappointment. And then she's quickfire again, louche and dismissive and the swearing barely seems consequential because she unleashes it with such careless disregard. And I've not even mentioned the rhythmic bass of the production, punctuating the rap with sharp, hollow beats, pulling the disparate sections together into the disinterested statement of intent. Azealia's here, and ready for the end.

07. The Look - Metronomy
"This town's the oldest friend of mine"

The accordion stirs, and you're hooked. Helpfully, that fits the track's lyrical meaning - the memory of a flourishing attraction, embedded in the kind of airy, sunlit beachside town suggested by the cover of the song's parent album. The doubled lyrics give the song the same kind of shaking rhythm as the accordion's looping beat. When the heavier synths strike up, we've reached a darker point, an even stronger hint that the couple are in deep, alone, and perhaps adrift. Beautiful, but quaking with cautious darkness, The Look is a poignant, stirring pop song that drifts off again into echoing space.

06. Super Bass - Nicki Minaj
"And yes you'll get slapped if you're lookin', hoe"

This isn't what I expected from Nicki. This isn't what I wanted from Nicki. But this is what we got from Nicki, even if it was at swift insistence, and I'm bloody glad we got it. Super Bass is as pure a pop song as ever has been recorded; a joyful, shimmering blitz of a song, twinning Minaj's quickfire rapping with a smooth, bouncing chorus and even popping in a middle-8 of starry wonder to retain her badass pink edge. Super Bass is a love song to a man with rhythm, and we're all gonna sing it right back.

05. We Found Love - Rihanna
"We found love in a hopeless place"

I've resented giving Calvin a credit on this from the very beginning, as he contributes no vocals, but as I consider what to write here, I realised that his contribution might as well be vocal, because the euphoric beats Rihanna used to demonstrate her carefree, careering persona for this particular single (shown in both the superb video and her divisive X Factor performances) are entirely of his creation and are more emotional than any words he could speak. They're the ecstatic release that matches the vibrant squalor depicted in the video, both joyfully liberating and hopelessly impersonal, a place of loss both positive and disastrous. And it's Rihanna's vocal, reaching a crystalline peak of painful vulnerability on this track, that gives haunting life to the story behind the club masterpiece.

04. Together - Patrick Wolf
"And I can't do this alone / But we can do this so much better / Together"

Together spins you into its ethereal uplift straight away, the surprised strike of a harp suggesting this is Patrick Wolf as you know and love him. But then the electronic stomping begins, only underpinned by the distant strumming of some strings. This is next-level Wolf, a transcendent piece of musical glory that reads and feels a communal anthem, soldiers standing on a hill looking to the future with glistening hope. Wolf's arch, flying vocals bely as much past tragedy as winning victory, but the encompassing of darkness only bolsters the power of the filling orchestration as it peaks higher and higher, choral cries and spinning strings reverberating upwards and dissipating in a quiet note of quivering triumph.

03. My Heart Is Refusing Me - Loreen
"Although I've made up my mind / My heart is refusing me"

Like Florence, sort of, if she hunched over, restricted her vocal range and went a bit disco. But those all might be reasons to like Loreen more. Instead of flying off into the distance, Loreen's vocals fall and bounce off the floor around her, echoing around her and trapping her in her own desolate solace, someone emotionally reeling admist clueless revellers. It's the sort of song perfect for a silent disco, the kind of thing you could feel the pain from merely by seeing the singer emote. The vocal effects wind her increasingly pained cries into the pounding synths, wounds unseen and untended as pathetic loneliness turns in on her.

02. Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra) - Gotye
"Told myself that you were right for me / But felt so lonely in your company"

The simple, rhythmic structure of Gotye's breakthrough hit is what makes it magical. It gently creeps, seeming an unassuming beat to underpin the tune, but as it continues, steady under the increasingly anguished vocals of Gotye and the bitter interjection of Kimbra, it reveals its menace, the ticking clock of continued life to counteract the characters' self-absorption. From it, too, spring those darker, heavier sounds, finally doubling up in the chorus to pack that devastated punch. It's the double-tracking of Gotye's vocals in the end, too, that gets me - so wounded by this break-up that he can only split into two to effectively convey his emotion. Add all these technically ingenious elements to a set of lyrics that so simply lay out the tragic hindsight and the keen anger of a spurned lover with soft realisations like the one quoted above, and you, somehow, have a #1 hit.

01. I Took a Little Something - Florrie
"I'm looking right behind me / And it's you I've found"

I Took A Little Something is pure, effervescent pop joy from the moment it begins, as that doubled synth beat strikes up and makes you do some sort of incredibly cheesy dance move where you roll your fists in the air. This is a song that moves, and its every step is alive with bounce, vitality, energy - all the things that hair products are supposed to give beautiful ladies, only they'd get there sooner if they soundtracked their lives with this. Even when it goes low, squashing its synths for the middle-8, it's only so they can spring back and renew their beauty. And why is all so beautiful? Well, it's another disco classic with sadness at its centre, as Florrie asks to stride purposefully away in time with the beat, "paper over the cracks". In the end, it might all be in her head, but that's where the best of us spend our time. Maybe we should all take a little lead from Florrie.


  • Salvador2009

    You have Jamie Woon's Shoulda at #39 and #9 simultaneously! Other than that EXCELLENT list! There are some songs I refrained from including on my list, a lot of songs I unexpectadly find here as well on mine and some songs I haven't heard yet so this will be my guide to 2011! Happy New Year!

    Jan 1 2012, 17h12
  • dwupton1

    Oh yes, someone else pointed that out and I forgot to fix it! #39 is 'Lady Luck'. Thank you very much! I shall check out your list. Happy New Year!

    Jan 1 2012, 17h18
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