Before we continue with the final ten, let’s think about what we’ve learned.
1. If 2011 was an instrument, it would be a saxophone. It was loud, surprising, annoying, and only partially useful.
2. Counting can be educational AND fun!
3. If you’re looking for sexy, soul music while Justin Timberlake is off making horrible movies, Mayer Hawthorne makes a decent substitute.
4. Rihanna – She’s okay! Let’s give her a chance.
5. Open question to rappers: Instead of making a good mixtape and a bad album, why not make both a good album and a good mixtape? Please provide the answer in 2012
We did it, guys! The last ten songs! We’re the best.
10. “Art of Almost” – Wilco
I want nothing else but to see this song performed live. I have no idea how they can do it, but I bet it’s amazing.
9. “Somebody That I Used to Know” – Gotye feat. Kimbra
Breakup duets are weird, right? I love how this song was done. Gotye and Kimbra have two of the best voices that I’ve heard this year.
(Note: Kimbra’s “Good Intent” was so close to making the list. Eventually, it lost out to Jay-Ye. I realized I mainly loved the song because the video is awesome.)
8. “We Found Love” – Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris
Rihanna has the coolest voice in pop music today, so it’s too bad she can’t put a decent album together. But, this song is probably one of my all-time favorite pop songs,ever.
Again, Calvin Harris, get your mess together and put another album out.
7. “Violin” – Amos Lee
I’ll admit that the lyrics are a little weak, but the arrangement on this song is so damn pretty.
6. “No Silver” – Chris Bathgate
This song has my favorite lyrics of the year. Granted, they’re the same 45 seconds of lyrics repeated over and over, but I’m okay with that.
5. “Don’t Carry It All” – The Decemberists
Every time the Decemberists come out with an album, there’s always one song where I think “aw, they made a song for me!” It’s every instrument I love, plus foot stomping, plus (I think) Gillian Welch.
4. “Get Some” – Lykke Li
Always with the Swedes, drawing me in with their catchy music. This would be good music for a ritual burning of Katy Perry music.
3. “The Park” – Secret Cities
I don’t really understand why a lot of people still record in lo-fi. Better recording techniques are easier to come by and less expensive than ever. I get the impression that some people do it so they can sound like Bob Dylan. But for Secret Cities, it totally works. It adds the right echo and layer of nostalgia for the song. It’s lo-fi used perfectly.
2. “Lace Frontin'” – Wale
‘Booty shots, fake eyes, fake bitches, fake broads / And you ask Twitter why you getting fake guys?’
See, that’s the Wale stuff that I love. This was from the very, very good Eleven One Eleven Theory mixtape, and was not included on the not very good Ambition album. Maybe it wasn’t used because of the Aretha sample? Either way, Ambition was really disappointing.
Soapbox alert! There’s this trend of rappers making or contributing to really great mixtapes (Waka Flocka & Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross) and making mediocre to bad albums. I don’t get it. It’s not just that the mixtape is better, it’s that the mixtape is great and the album sucks. Someone explain that to me.
1. “Goshen” – Beirut
Well, this happened to end on a perfect song. I swear I didn’t purposely do that. This was the only song from the my top 50 that I had the pleasure of seeing live. I’ll do better next year.