Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011: A Year in Music

1. ADELE 21
Adele brought a solid album with her debut 19. No one could have imagined her topping that. She did that, and more. Born out of heartbreak, 21 is a magical offering that transcends genres and audiences. In tracks such as Don't You Remember, one can feel the pangs in Adele's vocal performances. The young British talent captivated audiences with her understated performances and elegant styling. Rolling in the Deep's monstrous success and the chart topping piano ballad Someone Like You have solidified Adele's place in music. Evoking the soul of Aretha Franklin and the heart of Patsy Cline, Adele managed to outsell her peers and break through the dance heavy nature of today's popular music. Not too shabby for a twenty-three year old.

Key Tracks: Rolling in the Deep; Someone Like You; Rumour Has It

2. Watch the Throne Jay-Z & Kanye West
3. House of Balloons The Weekend
4. Born This Way Lady Gaga
5. 4 Beyoncé
6. Take Care Drake
7. F.A.M.E. Chris Brown
8. Femme Fatale Britney Spears
9. Bon Iver Bon Iver
10. Late Nights & Early Mornings Marsha Ambrosius

Having an almost folklike quality, Adele's Rolling in the Deep became ubiqitous this year. Spawning severl covers, including a stunning rendition by R&B crooner John Legend, Rolling in the Deep has a backwoods revival storytelling type feeling with its tribal drums submerged beneath Adele's smoky and soulful voice. Easily one of the best pop songs that isn't a pop song, Adele makes heartbreak and bitterness sound so sweet.

1. Rolling in the Deep Adele 21
2. Marvin's Room Drake Take Care
3. Motivation Kelly Rowland Here I Am
4. 1+1 Beyoncé 4
5. You & I Lady Gaga Born This Way
6. Firework Katy Perry Teenage Dream
7. Fool For You Cee-Lo featuring Melanie Fiona The Lady Killer
8. Far Away Marsha Ambrosius Late Nights & Early Mornings
9. So Gone (What My Mind Says) Jill Scott featuring Paul Wall The Light of the Sun
10. Novacane Frank Ocean Nostalgia, Life

Hip-hop heavyweights Kanye West and Jay-Z set radio airwaves afire with their Redding sampled juke joint stomping track Otis. But it was the controversially titled N*ggas in Paris that made the most impact from the Watch the Throne cuts. Armed with a Will Ferrell sound byte and a jagged and non-conventional hook - "I ball so hard muthf-ckas wanna fine me" - the track does what Jay-Z and Kanye do best. It marries grit and aggression with a glossy polished beat. The tune became large enough that it was performed as many as nine times during a Watch the Throne tour stop. Provocative, eh? "That shit cray."

1. N*ggas in Paris Jay-Z & Kanye West Watch the Throne
2. Look At Me Now Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes F.A.M.E.
3. We Found Love Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris Talk That Talk
4. Van a Bailar (On the Floor) Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull Love?
5. Til the World Ends Britney Spears Femme Fatale
6. 6 Foot 7 Foot Lil Wayne featuring Cory Gunz Tha Carter IV
7. Moves Like Jagger Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera Hands All Over
8. Give Me Everything (Tonight) Pitbull featuring Nayer & Ne-Yo Planet Pit
9. Black and Yellow Wiz Khalifa Rolling Papers
10. Party Rock Anthem LMFAO Sorry for Party Rocking

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