We gave you our list of the best albums of 2011, but by now, one thing should be perfectly clear: the single rules. Instead of buying full albums, more and more people are picking out their favorite songs, dishing out 99 cents on iTunes, and putting together playlists of all their favorites. In some ways, it’s a sad departure from whatever connection people used to have with albums, but it’s part of who we are—an ADD generation of instant gratification-seeking consumers. And fuck, do we consume.
Nobody here at P&P has ever been in a situation that forced us to choose between our children on some “keep this one, and this one goes,” but we imagine the feeling is pretty similar to making a “Best Songs Of The Year” list. Depending on your mood, a song (for example, “N*ggas In Paris”) can be your go-to jam or the last thing in the world that you want to hear. Oh, and “Rolling In The Deep” should be on the list, but it’s not. It just isn’t. We’re okay with that. Considering that this list is basically declaring “Blunt Blowin'” a better song than “Rolling In The Deep,” we expect a few complaints, so feel free to let us know what you think.
Here’s our list of the 25 best songs of 2011.
We know, we know, you hate this album. But you can’t act like you don’t get into this track when the chorus drops for the first time.
Without the electronic spasticity, it could have been a really bubble gummy pop song or a corny alt-rock track. We’re glad it’s not.
If Justin Timberlake had a British edge and had spent some time with Burial, it might sound something like “Lady Luck.”
The swirling, slow build-up, the crackling guitar solo, the wistful love-lorn lyrics. All these come together to form a six and a half minute mid-album masterpiece.
“Yonkers” was Tyler’s introduction to the mainstream world, and it’s undoubtedly his song with the most mass appeal. It also happens to be his best.
This shit was already crazy when it was just Yukimi Nagano’s vocals, but Drake matched the vibe perfectly and turned this into a party that we quite enjoyed spending a lot of time at.
“Swerve” breaks most standard hip-hop rules, but despite that—or because of it—it was one of our favorite hip-hop songs of the year.
So much wisdom dropped by this unlikely but awesome pairing. It feels like something out of Kill Bill.
Fuck all the hate, Lana Del Rey has a handful of excellent songs. It was a close call, but “Video Games” is our favorite.
“Get Some” was the lead single, but “I Follow Rivers” has the staying power–the power to stay in Confusion’s heart, where Lykke lives for eternity.
Some of tUnE-yArDs unhinged pop was a little too over-the-top. “Bizness” was just crazy enough.
Annie Clark’s quirkiness is the subtle kind, but when combined with her songwriting sensibility and guitar chops, it makes for some great music.
Yeah, Robin Pecknold’s lyrics may be those of a man suffering an existential crisis, but forget all that and just sing along to that beautiful melody.
Brutally personal rags-to-riches talk with a crazy delivery and a hyperactive beat to match. It’s hard to pick a standout from the excellent XXX, but if we had to (we did have to), this would be it.
If your mind can keep up with Kendrick’s street-wise and highly politicized speed rapping you deserve some sort of prize. How the hell does he make this sound so easy?
It’s hard to pick just one song from an albums worth of sleeper hits, but this one has us hitting repeat every time.
“Ungh, goddamn, how real is this?” was a hell of a way to start off a mixtape.
A lot of people didn’t know this track until Drake hi-jacked it, and while his take on it was cool, the original stands stronger without any rap additions.
There are a lot of songs that could have been picked from Take Care, but “Over My Dead Body” captures what we really love about that album.
Keenly relayed observations about getting high at Coachella and doing cocaine for breakfast (yikes) tied together by the eminently listenable voice of a soon-to-be superstar.
If For Emma was wood, Bon Iver is metal. If that doesn’t make sense, listen to “Skinny Love” then press play on “Holocene.”
For a bedroom pop track, this one is really powerful—nostalgic, swelling, and moving enough to make us a lil’ emo.
What other song could you hear 10 times in a row and not get sick of? You know this had to be on here.
When we first heard this, it got stuck in all of our heads. It never got unstuck, and we never minded. Plus, this.
This song paints a picture so vivid. It doesn’t break until over 1:30 in, but when it does, it’s goosebumps, every time. The Weeknd is one of the most exciting new figures in music, and it’s all right here in “The Morning.” Tesfaye is coming with not only a unique sound, but an altered perspective, an impressive set of pipes, and a knack for excellent but not obvious music. “The Morning” is perfect, and it’s our pick for the best song of 2011. Take that, “Rolling In The Deep.”
Adele – “Rolling In The Deep”
Architecture In Helsinki – “Contact High”
The Roots – “Stomp”
Foster The People – “Houdini”
The Decemberists – “Down By The Water”
DJ Khaled – “I’m On One”
Childish Gambino – “Heartbeat”
Wye Oak – “Dogs’ Eyes”
Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire ft. Despot, Das Racist, Danny Brown, EL-P – “The Last Huzzah”
The War On Drugs – “Come to the City”
Common – “Blue Sky”
Katy B – “On A Mission”
Neon Indian – “Polish Girl”
Theophilus London – “I Stand Alone”
Cut Copy – “Take Me Over”
Drake – “Marvin’s Room”
Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Murder To Excellence”
Kendrick Lamar – “HiiiPower”
Azealia Banks – “212”
Jamie xx & Gil Scott-Heron – “I’ll Take Care Of You”
Julio Bashmore – “Battle For Middle You”
James Blake – “I Never Learnt To Share”