Monday, 8 December 2014

The Best Of 2011 - part 4

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

By 2011, everyone was used to the concept that a song didn't have to be a single in the traditional sense to make it onto charts around the world. Artists - or rather, record companies - had begun to take that one step further by issuing multiple tracks in the lead-up to an album's release and in some cases, they'd all feature on the singles chart at the same time.

So young and innocent-looking... 1D in 2011

Often, the promotional singles would be offered as "instant gratification" for people pre-ordering the album - and in the UK, chart rules dictate that only one nominated instant gratification track is eligible for the singles chart. But in other countries like the US and Australia, it was a veritable free-for-all, with artists able to clog up singles listings with as many songs as they wanted to let out of the bag early. We'll see at least one performer who made use of the practice in my top 25 for 2011...

Number 25 "Domino" by Jessie J
With a debut single titled "Do It Like A Dude", Jessica Cornish was always going to get attention - but thanks to a seemingly endless stream of singles in 2011, she not only dominated the British pop scene, but broke internationally, reaching the Australian and US top 10 with songs like "Price Tag" and "Nobody's Perfect". For me, it took until Jessie J got the Max Martin and Dr Luke magic touch on "Domino", a new track on the platinum edition of debut album Who You Are, for her music to really connect.

Number 24 "The Other Side" by Bruno Mars featuring Cee Lo Green & B.o.B
Here's someone who released as many singles as Jessie J in 2011 - in fact it seemed like Bruno Mars released just about every song from his debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans... except this track, which was actually my favourite on the record. "The Other Side" wasn't even a promotional single, like "Runaway Baby" (number 69 on this list), but both of them were passed over for full single status in 2011 for the Jason Mraz-lite of "The Lazy Song" and "Count On Me". 

Number 23 "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" by Kelly Clarkson
In 2011, Kelly Clarkson finally achieved what had eluded her for so long: an Australian number 1 single with "Mr Know It All". The chart achievement coincided with yet another promotional tour to these shores, during which I got to interview Kelly for the third time. However, it was follow-up "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" that I preferred - and so, too, did America, with the track becoming her third US chart-topper and the highest selling single of her career to date there.

Number 22 "Lost Without You" by Vanbot
Mentioned below

Number 21 "Jealousy" by Will Young
Mentioned below

Number 20 "Don't Turn Out The Lights" by NKOTBSB
Before there was McBusted, there was NKOTBSB, a supergroup formed by the existing members of New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys (i.e. no Kevin Richardson) for a tour that eventually brought them to Australia (it was awesome!). While most of the concert and the accompanying compilation album was comprised of tracks performed by each boy band separately, the nine members did unite for a couple of songs, including the old school power pop of "Don't Turn Out The Lights".

Number 19 "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction
This segue writes itself, doesn't it? From New Kids On The Block (and Backstreet Boys) to pop's new kids on the boy band block - and a group created by the powers that be on the UK version of The X Factor. One Direction have gone on to amass a huge amount of hits, bad hairstyles and tattoos, but in 2011, they were just five fresh-faced lads with the catchiest bubblegum pop ditty of the year. Naturally, "What Makes You Beautiful" came from Sweden, with, among others, ex-Cheiron writer/producer Rami Yacoub responsible for the song - and facing criticism that it ripped off Grease soundtrack hit "Summer Nights".

Number 18 "Hypnotico" by Jennifer Lopez
Written way back in 2007 when Lady Gaga was working on her debut album, "Hypnotico" never ended up being released by Gaga or any other artist at the time, but in 2011, Jennifer Lopez added the song as a bonus track to her album Love? while recording with producer RedOne (who'd co-written the song in the first place). I can't help but think that "Hypnotico" would have been a more successful follow-up to her 2011 smash, "On The Floor", than either "I'm Into You" or "Papi" turned out to be.

Number 17 "Wherever We Are (Grum mix)" by Human Life
The original version of this single by American synthpop trio Human Life was already quite good - sounding like a cross between La Roux and Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" - but add a remix by Grum (who we saw in my top 100 for 2010), and it became one of my favourites for the year. Unfortunately, the band comprised of vocalist Rachael Starr, and Joshua Collins and Matt Wasley has yet to live up to this potential.

Number 16 "Wonders" by The Sound Of Arrows
Mentioned below

Number 15 "Light Up The World" by Glee Cast
On the show, the New Directions wrote the track themselves for nationals, but in reality, the producers behind the Glee soundtracks teamed up with - who else? - Max Martin (and some other Swedes) for the cast's first original release. "Light Up The World" is everything you'd expect from such a collaboration - joyously uplifting, flawlessly harmonised and catchy as all get out.

Number 14 "Maybe I'm Crazy" by Monarchy
Mentioned below

Number 13 "Heart Skips A Beat" by Olly Murs featuring Rizzle Kicks
Like One Direction, Olly Murs is another non-winner of the UK's version of The X Factor who's gone on to do incredibly well. Runner-up of the sixth season in 2009, Olly's success has eclipsed that of winner Joe McElderry (who we saw in my top 10 for 2010) with three UK number 1 albums and four number 1 singles, including this lead release from second album In Case You Didn't Know. Thanks to the addition of British rap duo Rizzle Kicks (who were replaced with Chiddy Bang for the US release), "Heart Skips A Beat" showed Olly was more than just another Jason Mraz imitator and an artist to watch.

Number 12 "Freedom" by Sugababes
Previously mentioned here

Number 11 "Heaven" by Emeli Sandé
She'd follow in the footsteps of Adele, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding by winning the BRITs Critics' Choice Award in 2012, but in 2011, Emeli Sandé (whose real name is actually Adele) was just another singer trying to get a foot in the door with some well-timed collaborations and this debut single, which was deceptively not that indicative of the massive-selling album, Our Version Of Events, that'd follow.

Number 10 "Don't Hold Your Breath" by Nicole Scherzinger
She did it! After years of trying, Nicole Scherzinger's solo career really got off and running in 2011. This single hit number 1 in the UK, made the ARIA top 20 and even dented the Billboard Hot 100 - and more hits followed, including "Wet" (number 38 on this list). Her debut album, Killer Love, also featured another, er, killer song in the form of its title track (number 62).

Number 9 "Midnight City" by M83
Shoegaze (or nu gaze), dream pop, synthpop... the music of French electronic band M83 had been categorised under a number of genres since they emerged in 2001, but for their first decade releasing music it didn't really matter how they were classified since not many people were listening. That all changed in 2011 with the release of "Midnight City", the lead single from sixth album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, which has been heard in numerous films, ads and TV series since then.

Number 8 "The Edge Of Glory" by Lady Gaga
Barely pausing for breath, Lady Gaga released her second full studio album, Born This Way, in 2011 and was one of the first artists to fully utilise the promotional single strategy I mentioned at the start of this post. Following the album's title track (number 31 on this list), Gaga flooded the market by issuing "Judas" (number 35), "The Edge Of Glory" and "Hair" (number 91) in quick succession. Subsequent official singles "Yoü And I" and "Marry The Night" (number 41) kept her in global charts all year, and by the end of 2011, a sense of Gaga fatigue had set in. My favourite of all her 2011 singles, "The Edge Of Glory" had an '80s power ballad feel (complete with a sax solo by the late Clarence Clemons) - but I can't help thinking it might have been a bigger hit had it not been a bit lost in the whirlwind of releases (and had a better music video).

Number 7 "Safe From Harm" by Will Young
I've always been a fan of Will Young's music, but that was never more the case than when he teamed up with Richard X for his fifth studio album, Echoes, which had a more synthpop sound than anything he'd put his name to before. Two singles were released in 2011 -  "Jealousy" (number 21 on this list) and "Come On" (number 79), a cover of the song by Kish Mauve, who'd also recorded the original of Kylie Minogue's "2 Hearts". But, my favourite track was "Safe From Harm", which continued in the same vein as Will's Groove Armada collaboration, "History" (which featured in my top 100 for 2010), but was never issued as a single.

Number 6 "I Won't Let You Go" by Monarchy
As enigmatic as Daft Punk, British synthpop duo Monarchy is comprised of Andrew Armstrong and Ra Black - and were tipped for very big things in 2010. That didn't end up happening and by 2011, Monarchy had been dropped by major label Mercury Records. Luckily, they found a new home with independent label 100%, and singles like "I Won't Let You Go" and "Maybe I'm Crazy' (number 14 on this list), and album Around The Sun got to see the light of day.

Number 5 "Hold It Against Me" by Britney Spears
You know a musical genre has fully crossed over when it starts popping up on tracks by someone as high profile as Britney Spears, who featured a dubstep breakdown in this lead single from seventh album Femme Fatale. Her best single since 2004's "Toxic", "Hold It Against Me" came from - yep, you guessed it - Max Martin and Dr Luke, who were also behind follow-up "Till The World Ends" (number 57 on this list), while Max co-produced third single "I Wanna Go" (number 33) as well.

Number 4 "Sunday" by Hurts
They dominated my top 10 for 2010, and British synthpop duo Hurts released another gem from their debut album, Happiness, in 2011. Unfortunately, "Sunday" had another less than successful foray onto the UK chart (it reached nunber 57), meaning the number 21 performance of "Wonderful Life" remains their best showing there (without the assistance of Calvin Harris).

Number 3 "Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)" by Panic! At The Disco
Now this was something I wasn't expecting - especially since "The Ballad Of Mona Lisa", the lead single from Panic! At The Disco's third album, Vice & Virtues, had been good but not great. But, not only was the hyper-energised "Ready To Go..." the best track on the album, but it was also the best single Panic! had ever released. Not that you'd be able to tell from how it charted around the world.

Number 2 "Make Me, Break Me" by Vanbot
In Part 2, I mentioned that Swedish star Robyn had a relatively quiet 2011, which was great news for sound-alike singer Vanbot (aka Ester Ideskog), who filled the void with a couple of classic synthpop singles, "Make Me, Break Me" and "Lost Without You" (number 22 on this list). No doubt, she also got sick of all the Robyn comparisons.

Number 1 "Nova" by The Sound Of Arrows
In a year when Scandipop ruled my top 100, it makes sense that my number 1 song for the years comes from a Swedish synthpop duo. Formed by singer Stefan Storm and synth player Oskar Gullstrand, The Sound Of Arrows had made a name for themselves over the previous few years as remixers and through a couple of low-key EPs, and in 2011 released singles "Nova", "Magic" and "Wonders" (number 16 on this list) from their debut album, Voyage. I'm still waiting for a follow-up.

My top 200 for 2011 in full:

1          NOVA The Sound Of Arrows
2          MAKE ME, BREAK ME Vanbot
3          READY TO GO (GET ME OUT OF MY MIND) Panic! At The Disco
4          SUNDAY Hurts
5          HOLD IT AGAINST ME Britney Spears
6          I WON’T LET GO Monarchy
7          SAFE FROM HARM Will Young
8          THE EDGE OF GLORY Lady Gaga
9          MIDNIGHT CITY M83
10        DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH Nicole Scherzinger
11        HEAVEN Emeli Sande
12        FREEDOM Sugababes
13        HEART SKIPS A BEAT Olly Murs featuring Rizzle Kicks
14        MAYBE I’M CRAZY Monarchy
15        LIGHT UP THE WORLD Glee Cast
16        WONDERS The Sound Of Arrows
17        WHEREVER WE ARE / GRUM MIX Human Life
18        HYPNOTICO Jennifer Lopez
19        WHAT MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL One Direction
21        JEALOUSY Will Young
22        LOST WITHOUT YOU Vanbot
23        WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU (STRONGER) Kelly Clarkson
24        THE OTHER SIDE Bruno Mars featuring Cee Lo Green & B.o.B
25        DOMINO Jessie J
27        THAT’S THE TRUTH McFly
28        TALK TALK TALK / OUT OF TALK Darren Hayes
29        WITHOUT YOU David Guetta featuring Usher
30        SKELETON / GRUM MIX The Good Natured
31        BORN THIS WAY Lady Gaga
32        TIL DEATH Wynter Gordon
33        I WANNA GO Britney Spears
34        HUSH HUSH / CAHILL MIX Alexis Jordan
35        JUDAS Lady Gaga
36        PROMISES Nero
38        WET Nicole Scherzinger
39        ALL OVER THE WORLD Ola
40        INESCAPABLE (YOUNGBOYZ MIX) Jessica Dial Moy
41        MARRY THE NIGHT Lady Gaga
42        YOUNG BLOOD The Naked & Famous
43        BEGGING ME Florrie
44        LOUDER DJ Fresh featuring Sian Evans
45        RECORD COLLECTION Mark Ronson
46        SEE NO MORE Joe Jonas
47        BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE Chris Brown featuring Benny Benassi
48        BUY NOTHING DAY The Go! Team
49        LOVE ON TOP Beyonce Knowles
50        DANCING QUEEN Steps
51        LIVE THOSE DAYS TONIGHT Friendly Fires
52        CALL MY NAME Tove Styrke
53        APHRODITE Kylie Minogue
54        NEVER BE THE SAME Little Majorette
55        DOUBT Amanda Mair
56        TITANIUM David Guetta featuring Sia
57        TILL THE WORLD ENDS Britney Spears
58        ON MY OWN Yasmin
59        REALLY WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN Sneaky Sound System
60        ANGEL Darren Hayes
61        S&M / REMIX (featuring Britney Spears) Rihanna
62        KILLER LOVE Nicole Scherzinger
63        LIGHTNING The Wanted
64        CINEMA Benny Benassi featuring Gary Go
65        CITY BOY Donkeyboy
66        SUN OF A GUN Oh Land
67        LOVE YOU LIKE A LOVE SONG Selena Gomez & The Scene
68        DEDICATION TO MY EX (MISS THAT) Lloyd featuring Andre 3000
69        RUNAWAY BABY Bruno Mars
70        HOW WE ROLL Loick Essien featuring Tanya Lacey
71        GIRL PANIC! Duran Duran
72        GENUINE ONLY Ne-Yo
73        AUDIO VIDEO DISCO Justice
75        FREE Natalia Kills featuring
76        WHAT HAPPENED TO US Jessica Mauboy featuring Jay Sean
77        A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT Scritti Politti
78        BLACK OUT THE SUN Darren Hayes
79        COME ON Will Young
80        STARLIGHT Sophie Ellis-Bextor
81        WHAT A FEELING Alex Gaudino featuring Kelly Rowland
82        BELIEVER Freemasons featuring Wynter Gordon
83        GIRLS LIKE YOU The Naked & Famous
84        SEXUAL LIFESTYLE Strange Talk
85        READY 2 GO Martin Solveig featuring Kele
86        DIAL MY NUMBER Sophie Ellis-Bextor
87        GALAXY Jessica Mauboy / Stan Walker
88        BEST THING I NEVER HAD Beyonce Knowles
89        ALL FIRED UP The Saturdays
90        FEEL SO CLOSE Calvin Harris
91        HAIR Lady Gaga
92        GOLD FOREVER The Wanted
93        SUMMERSUN Miami Horror
94        WARZONE The Wanted
95        IT’S TOO LATE JES
96        MIRRORS Natalia Kills
97        LIGHTS Ellie Goulding
98        BETH DITTO EP Beth Ditto
99        JUNK OF THE HEART (HAPPY) The Kooks
100      ROCKETEER Far East Movement featuring Ryan Tedder
101      E.T. Katy Perry featuring Kanye West
102      LOSE IT (IN THE END) Mark Ronson
103      LAST NIGHT Good Charlotte
104      BEHIND THE MASK Michael Jackson
105      1983 Neon Trees
107      NOT OVER Bag Raiders
108      MIRAGE Ladytron
109      THE BALLAD OF MONA LISA Panic! At The Disco
110      STEREO HEARTS Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine
111      LAST FRIDAY NIGHT (T.G.I.F.) Katy Perry
112      PAPI Jennifer Lopez
113      KINDA GIRL YOU ARE Kaiser Chiefs
114      MOVES LIKE JAGGER Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
115      FIGHT FOR YOU Jason Derulo
116      I CAN Blue
117      EYES WIDE SHUT JLS featuring Tinie Tempah
118      BREATHING Jason Derulo
119      OFF & ON Sophie Ellis-Bextor
120      GUILT Nero
121      ACE OF HZ Ladytron
123      LEVELS Avicii
124      PARADISE Coldplay
125      BLACKOUT Breathe Carolina
126      WE FOUND LOVE Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris
127      THIS NIGHT Booty Luv
128      NOT GIVING UP ON LOVE Armin Van Buuren featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor
129      ROLLING IN THE DEEP Adele
131      DO IT IN THE AM FrankMusik featuring Far East Movement
132      PRICE TAG Jessie J featuring B.o.B
133      GOOD GIRL Alexis Jordan
134      BACK TO LOVE Estelle
135      BITE BACK Zowie
136      THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY Katy Perry
137      I FEEL BETTER Gotye
138      SHINE A LIGHT McFly featuring Taio Cruz
139      CALIFORNIA KING BED Rihanna
140      1996 The Wombats
141      GLAD YOU CAME The Wanted
142      MAN ON MARS Kaiser Chiefs
143      EVERYBODY LOVES ME OneRepublic
144      HELLBENT New Order
145      AWAKEN JES
146      SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW Gotye featuring Kimbra
147      I NEED A DOLLAR Aloe Blacc
148      RESUSCITATE ME September
149      BROKEN RECORD Katy B
151      HURTING Friendly Fires
152      DON’T WANNA GO HOME Jason Derulo
153      ACCIDENTS HAPPEN Zoe Badwi
154      DADDY Emeli Sande featuring Naughty Boy
155      NOTORIOUS The Saturdays
156      ROPE Foo Fighters
157      HANGOVER Taio Cruz featuring Flo Rida
158      BIG Sneaky Sound System
159      SOMEWHERE Glee Cast
160      PERSONAL JESUS 2011 Depeche Mode
161      SET FIRE TO THE RAIN Adele   
162      AFTERMATH Adam Lambert
163      LET’S KILL TONIGHT Panic! At The Disco
164      LITTLE SHOCKS Kaiser Chiefs
165      RUMOUR HAS IT Adele
166      JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH The Black Eyed Peas
167      EASY WAY OUT Gotye
168      I’M INTO YOU Jennifer Lopez featuring Lil Wayne
169      JUST IN LOVE Joe Jonas
170      CRIMINAL Britney Spears
171      MR KNOW IT ALL Kelly Clarkson
172      LIFELINE Jamiroquai
173      HOLLYWOOD TONIGHT Michael Jackson
174      PARTY Beyonce Knowles featuring Andre 3000
175      CHEERS (DRINK TO THAT) Rihanna
176      GONE Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland
177      ILLUMINATED Hurts
178      TAKE CARE Drake featuring Rihanna
179      BETTER THAN I KNOW MYSELF Adam Lambert
180      DON’T YOU WANNA STAY Jason Aldean / Kelly Clarkson
181      IS IT ME The Kooks
182      SUMMER RAIN Matthew Morrison
183      UP James Morrison / Jessie J
184      IT WILL RAIN Bruno Mars
185      SOMEONE LIKE YOU Adele
186      I WON’T LET YOU GO James Morrison
187      LOVE IS A DRUG Eskimo Joe
188      READ ALL ABOUT IT Professor Green featuring Emeli Sande
189      DIRTY DANCER Enrique Iglesias with Usher featuring Lil Wayne
190      KIDZ Take That
191      YOU & I Lady Gaga
192      GOOD LIFE OneRepublic
193      BLOODSTAINED HEART Darren Hayes
194      ALL ABOUT TONIGHT Pixie Lott
195      NO I.D. Frankmusik with Colette Carr
197      WHO’S LAUGHING NOW Jessie J
198      LOVE AFTER WAR Robin Thicke
199      WORK OUT J. Cole
200      RIGHT THERE Nicole Scherzinger featuring 50 Cent

That's it! I've counted down every single one of my year-end charts... just in time to start all over again with my favourite songs for 2014 in a few weeks. Thanks for joining me on my musical journey, and if you missed any of my previous posts, you can check them out by following the links below. 

1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016 II 2017 II 2018 II 2019

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