Year in Review: Top 15 Songs of 2011

By
From the December 22, 2011 edition

15. Wavves feat. Best Coast, “Nodding Off”

The blogosphere’s tabloid couple delivers a violent update on the New Pornographers’ sugar-rush rock.

14. James Blake, “The Wilhelm Scream”

The sound of a soul disintegrating, possibly from exposure to too much American dubstep.

13. Fleet Foxes, “Grown Ocean”

If Robin Pecknold’s dreams sound like this, I want to come along.

12. Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”

This internet sensation doubles as an on-point condemnation of emotionally stunted modern man. “Video Games” makes mundane discontent feel like tragic film noir.

11. Real Estate,It’s Real

“It’s Real” is the crown jewel of “Days,” which just missed my top albums list. No record has better encapsulated the sound of the suburbs — even “The Suburbs” — since the last Real Estate album.

10. Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass”

For a song about throttling low end, melody is really what launched “Super Bass” into the upper reaches of pop’s stratosphere.

9. Bill Callahan, “Riding For the Feeling”

The video, so placid it’s unsettling, depicts a ski-jumper soaring over mountains for what must be the rest of eternity. It amplifies the genius of Callahan’s off-kilter balladry.

8. Katy Perry, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”

If you ever wondered what a Phoenix song sung by a Barbie doll would sound like, here you go.

7. Tyler, The Creator, “Yonkers”

“Goblin” felt like an album of squandered potential in large part because this song and its bonkers video set towering expectations. That was a long time ago, but this window into Tyler’s dark, demented world still feels fresh.

6. ASAP Rocky, “Peso”

In almost every conceivable way, a perfect rap song. If only he had something to say.

5. Frank Ocean, “Songs For Women”

In a meta-triumph of sorts, Ocean’s story about the perils of making music to score women caused numerous women to ask me, “Ooh, who is this?”

4. Drake, “Dreams Money Can Buy”

An ultra-effeminate male falsetto crooning, “Don’t f--- with me”: No sample better sums up Drake’s aura than the Jai Paul snippet that became this dreamlike track’s elastic backbone.

3. The Rapture, “How Deep Is Your Love?”

This is basically a Christian dance song, but, you know, way better than “Christian Side Hug.” The Rapture descended triumphantly to match two of the year’s most unshakeable hooks with stuttering disco piano, gnarly bass and a near-perfect symphony of percussion.

2. Jay-Z & Kanye West, “N----s in Paris”

Hova and Yeezy had already contributed a lifetime’s worth of catchphrases to pop culture, but they’ve never stashed so many quotables into one song. And the beat! It’s at once minimal and gargantuan, brilliant and brainless, history’s most infectious use of static. Their fun is our fun, hah?!

1. DJ Khaled featuring Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, “I’m On One”

Before our No. 2 single dropped, rap radio in 2011 was pretty much these MCs running wild. Sometimes the saturation felt like overkill, but never when “I’m On One” was blaring.