Welcome to the first of a series of posts dedicated to my favorite songs of 2011. In past years, I normally would put a link up to downloadable versions of each song. However, my guilt has gotten the better of me. Instead, enjoy some streaming versions (with pictures!), and if you like the song, go buy it!
This is meant to be a way to share my favorite songs of the year, not as a criticism of what other people enjoy. If you want an informative expertly-written rundown of music in 2011, I recommend you check out The AV Club, or Pitchfork, or Stereogum, or the multitude of other sites out there that specialize in telling you what’s good and why you’re wrong in thinking other things are good. Those guys/ladies get paid to be correct and to write well, and they’re very good at it.
That said, I hope you like these songs!
50. “That’s My Bitch” – Jay-Z and Kanye West
Maybe it’s because My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was so amazing, and I’ve been eager for a really good Jay-Z album, but Watch the Throne was a letdown. It’s not a bad album, just not that thrilling when you consider who’s involved. But, Elly Jackson’s hook is great and Jay-Z’s verse reminds me of “Whatta Man,” so I’m a fan.
49. “A Long Time” – Mayer Hawthorne
How Do You Do was one of my favorite albums of 2011. I can appreciate the Michigan love without the blind faith. “A Long Time” is like a Schoolhouse Rock song about Detroit, except without all the bad stuff (race riots, corruption, economic collapse).
48. “Love the Way You Walk Away” – Blitzen Trapper
Perfect summer road trip music. This song makes me long for the days when I would jump from a tire swing into the crick, except I never did any of that. Summer ’12! Butt-nekkid swimmin’!
47. “Codes and Keys” (live version) – Death Cab for Cutie
I have no idea where this was recorded. I just love the piano-only version so much more than the album cut.
46. “Take Care” – Drake feat. Rihanna
A cover of a remix of a cover. The background on this is confusing. Everything on this song just flows so seamlessly, from Drake and Rihanna to the Gil Scott-Heron takes and the Jamie xx piano.
45. “Make My” – The Roots feat. Big K.R.I.T.
I kind of miss the lighter, fun Roots from Phrenology, but I this song. Despite being told repeatedly that I should listen to Big K.R.I.T., I’m just now getting into his mixtapes. He totally outshines Black Thought here.
44. “Sun of a Gun” – Oh Land
I have a thing for Scandinavian pop singers. The simple piano/xylophone is so dreamy.
43. “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” – My Morning Jacket
Maybe the most nostalgic song I’ve listened to repeatedly in 2011. I love the pickup at 2:53.
42. “Escapee” – Architecture in Helsinki
Architecture is always pretty dependable when it comes to energetic synth pop songs. I know eventually it will all blend together, but for now, whatever. It’s fun! “Escapee” was a go-to track for morning runs.
41. “Swim Good” – Frank Ocean
It took a lot for me to get past the OFWGKTA association, but Frank Ocean completely won me over with nostalgia, Ultra. “Swim Good” is good enough as a pop song that the melody worms into my brain, but still a little off-putting in tone.