20 . Rihanna – What’s My Name (ft Drake)
Feels weird to write this up as a 2011 track, it bridged the New Year gap for me, but still sounds pretty awesome now. Even the guest rapping is working well for me, I don’t mind Drake but he’s not the most exciting in the world is he?
I love the subtle electro beat behind all this, gives it a lovely subdued feel doesn’t it? There are so many lyrical hooks in this too, the simple ones like “oh na na”, but I love the “hey boy, I really wanna see if you can go downtown with a gurrrl like me” bits just as much. AMAZING.
19 . Nicola Roberts – Yo-Yo
From Cinderella’s Eyes
Now this album was a real pleasant surprise. I did get caught up in the hype for this solo Girls Aloud release, since Nicola was always an interesting member of my favourite girlband. But when I heard she was working with unusual collaborators like Diplo and Dragonette I was really interested. Debut single Beat of my drum was a lot of fun for a while, but it did pale in comparison to this one.
So some of the lyrics are delivered in a bit of a simplistic style, like a nursery rhyme in places, but that chorus with the synthy soundbed really is lovely isn’t it? Her vocals are a bit shrill but that’s fine.
The REAL magic happens in that middle-8 after the 2-minute mark, with the full vulnerability and slight madness exposed, with a high-pitched stream of consciousness that really knocks me over every time I hear it.
18 . Bruno Mars – Grenade
From Doo Wops & Hooligans
I do love singing along to things in the car, so Bruno Mars’ release roster for the year has been a bit of a godsend, particularly for me who likes to hit the high notes (to a decent level of success if I don’t say so myself). This might have lost a bit of its shine after a solid year worth of heavy rotation, but his vocals are still gorgeous.
It’s quite a simple downbeat affair, but some really laser-guided lyrics in there for maximum effect. I might need to give this song a bit of downtime for a little while, but it’s still a great track.
17 . Sanna Nielsen – I’m in Love
From Melodifestivalen 2011
Let’s get another dose of Melodifestivalen then, it’s so good… so onto this track that came fourth in the Swedish Eurovision selection final, but still really hits my buttons. It’s a pretty simple pop song, but it’s got so much warmth and OOMPH to it that I can’t help but smile when I listen to it.
Admittedly it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but I really love this woman. Her album might not have been amazing, but I am still keen to hear more from her in the future.
16 . Jennifer Lopez – On the Floor (ft Pitbull)
Luck of the devil, this one. Or maybe it’s just a magic formulae. High profile TV slot – CHECK (American Idol), high profile guest rapper – CHECK (Pitbull), hot producer – CHECK (RedOne), catchy sample – CHECK (the Lambada). It couldn’t really fail, but with an artist like J.Lo who looked seriously like her best musical days were behind her, it never seemed like a sure thing until it hit No.1 in countless territories.
She’s looking amazing isn’t she? I’m not sure how long she can capitalise on the success of his massive hit, but I hope she can keep the momentum up for a few more years at least.
15 . Rihanna – We Found Love (with Calvin Harris)
From Talk that talk
Onto a woman who hardly needed a comeback, with her massive smash album Loud not even a year old when this came out. A bit puzzling why they rushed this one out so much, they weren’t in such a hurry to cash in on her success during the lucrative Good Girl Gone Bad era (aside from a special edition re-release), so why sideline an even bigger album by throwing out several of the decent tracks as semi-single releases, and fastforwarding onto a new album?
I don’t think Talk That Talk was worth rushing forward to, but at least it’s gone one bonafide massive hit with this one. After Calvin’s successful but unlistenable string of singles this year, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but it’s turned out pretty brilliantly. I think this might get overplayed a bit, but it’s a great track.
14 . The Wanted – Glad You Came
I can’t have been the only one thinking The Wanted were going to be added to the pile of hopeless failed boybands that have inexplicably kept getting record deals long after the major players in that market were either dropped or turned into Westlife. But apparently there was a gap next to JLS, and they might even threaten their position as the UK’s No.1 boyband in time. Particularly if they wheel out generally well-received tracks like this.
Borrowingly shamelessly from that Stereo Love song a few years ago, it’s a bit of a late-summer dance anthem that makes up in catchy production what it lacks in vocal and lyrical prowess. They are quite an endearingly crappy group, and I hope to see more of them in 2012.
13 . Adele – Someone Like You
There’s little left to be said about this lady and her colossal success in 2011. I won’t spew out any more stats on sales figures, but rest assured she has done an almost unheard of level of business in the UK this year, and made some pretty massive waves in most other countries in the world.
This is a simple piano-led track, but its performance at the Brits set the wheels in motion, and it’s not difficult to see why. I know some people who can’t bear her voice, but when I finally ‘got’ this song, it really was something amazing. It’s the tale of a heartbreakingly doomed love, that one person has given up on, but our Adele is still clinging onto desperately. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Oh maybe just me then … *weeps*
12 . Lady Gaga – The Edge of Glory
From Born this way
Some people think it’s not been a great year for Gaga. Certainly she’s had some mis-steps, pretty much one for every single she’s put out, but having the 2nd biggest selling album of the year (behind Adele’s juggernaut that was practically impossible to catch) and several massive singles, it’s difficult to see why this year could be seen as a bad one.
In the case of this single, the video was the catch, cobbled together after a troubled shoot, it’s notable for having NOTHING GOING ON. For an artist that’s reknowned for her dazzling videos, that’s a bit of an issue, and for such an incredible song as this, it does feel like a real missed opportunity.
The song is an uplifting, energising track that was only held out of the top 10 by severe over-play this year. The whole Born This Way album was marked with some pretty lavish production, and this is no different, so much going on, and most of it amazing.
11 . Jenny Silver – Something In Your Eyes
From Melodifestivalen 2011
Another dose of concentrated pop, with yet another entry from the bountiful selection Sweden came up with for Melodifestivalen this year. I’d only heard one Jenny Silver song prior to this, from a previous year’s selection, but I never really got on board with it. It’s a million miles away from this astonishingly high energy pop love song, brimming with energy and positivity.
Massively singable, it’s one of my favourite of the year (obviously), but that speedy bridge to the incredible choruses really do make my day whenever I hear (and sing along to) them.
Then you’ve got a key change, it’s all TOO MUCH! *dies*