20. Neon Indian – Polish Girl

The influence of Prince on Neon Indian is difficult to ignore, but with laser beams from Neptune ricocheting off of every track in sight, the band manage to wire their own neon bulbs into the techno spotlight. The Brooklyn psychedelic dreamers knew that expectations for their second album would be mind-trippingly high and yet they managed to keep the pleasuring hallucinations going with this premier single.

19. Trent Reznor, Karen O & Atticus Ross – Immigrant Song (cover)

Suddenly it seems that everything the Nine inch Nail master of ceremonies dabbles with is worthy of award-winning praise. The once tortured and twisted soul seems to have discovered the ideal portions of dark poetry and haunting grooves to transport the score of any film to a completely new portal. Reznor and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs first lady dip the Led heavy in the black and manage to do the classic cut justice.

18. Pretty Lights – mash up Nine Inch Nails vs. Radiohead vs. Nirvana

Dup-step was the most polarizing form of music to discover mainstream applause this past year. What sounds like a computer hard drive having a seizure mixed with robots arguing back and forth is either the complete bastardizing of everything music or as Howard Hughes called airplanes, “The wave of the future.” Regardless of how you feel, this particular mash up successfully took three 90s’ gems and distorted them in the sickest way imaginable.

17. Red Hot Chili Peppers – the Adventures of Rain dance Maggie

With every transformation and new band member added or subtracted from the team, The Chili’s are beginning to become a modern-day Rollin Stones. Although Keith Richards nor Mick Jagger dared to bleach their hair swamp-green or rock a sock on their cock for the better part of a decade, both bands have managed to successfully remain relevant with every new album. Rain dance Maggie sounds like a close cousin of Danny California, but she has enough of a distinct groove that she convinces you to dance with her anyway.

16. Blink 182 – After Midnight

The sudden rush of nostalgia that surrounded Blink’s comeback album “Neighbourhoods,” felt as though it would quickly grow stale when they released “Up All night” as the first single. The track sounded like the trio didn’t even bother to record in the same room and just mindlessly slapped together the laziest four minutes of their career and hoped for the best. But then along came “After Midnight,” a song that manages to capture all the talents that made Blink so popular in the first place. Travis’ hip-hop/industrial sound drumming, Mark’s simplistic but undeniably addictive guitar riffs and Tom’s euphoric pleas, all take centre stage in the early hours of the morning. “After Midnight,” reminds every man and woman now in their 20s why they obsessed over this group during their awkward years of puberty.

15. Katie Perry feat. Kanye West – E.T

If one is making a reference to space, aliens or some other futuristic endorsement, the beat better sound like it was produced on a U.F.O from places unknown. Amazingly, Katy Perry and Yeezy not only choose the right sound to capture their vision, but the entire tune sounds as though we are peering into the radio waves of 3030. These two pop geniuses had the insight to give us a hint as to what we can expect in a few light years.

14. Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys

An elementary piano riff usually wouldn’t cut it for a top 20 year-end compilation. But with the addition of charming violins and lead singer Ben Guibbard’s ability to juxtapose pain and beauty all within a few syllables, you have one of the year’s most irresistible songs.
When you unravel this reoccurring theme of “Codes and Keys,” you discover that these emo-kings aren’t just singing about the hassle of finding a reliable locksmith, but are musing aloud about the walls we put up and what one must do to overcome such substantial barriers.

13. Lil Wayne feat. Drake – She Will

The murderous beat immediately sets the theme for Young Money’s most impressive and latest collaboration. Weezy and Drake are beginning to appear as little Kanye and Jay Z’s in training. They are two of the few rappers in the game that force the audience to put their ear to the speaker to ensure they catch every brilliant metaphor and every drip of swagger that is delivered with uncanny consistency.

12. Sam Roberts – I Feel You

Sammy seems to have taken a liking to the heavy Blues sound that catapulted the Black Keys to mainstream success in 2010. “I Feel You” is his crunchiest, juiciest anthem to date and helped ensure that this past summer still offered some good ol’ Canadian rock n’ roll to be proud of.

11. Foster the People – Houdini

Many will demand to know where “Pumped up Kicks,” is on this list, but that song was actually released back in 2010 before it managed to become one of the most twisted yet bubbly jams of the summer. “Houdini” seems more like what fans can expect from Foster the People, as they fuse electro-funk with indie-rock, 90’s Gap commercial fun.

10.  Jay Z & Kanye West – Niggas in Paris

Many would have questioned whether it was scientifically plausible for the egos of Jay Z and Kanye West to co-exist on one album, but as always, The Roc proved all the nay-sayers wrong. HAM is far from the two living legends’ best work, but it still features enough champagne poppin, hangover guilt to keep their positions on the throne firmly intact, with “Niggas in Paris,” serving as a chief example.

9. Cage the Elephant – Shake Me Down

“Shake me Down” is essentially two songs merging as one. There is the “Shake me down,” aspect and then the “Even on a cloudy day,” portion, or more, accurately, awesome part. 1 and wickedly awesome part. 2. This unleashed elephant stomps all over the circus grounds for the entire roaring three minutes and 32 seconds only catching its breath for a Pixie-sounding riff that makes this song the group’s most complete to date.

8. Bon Iver – Calgary

A melodic piece of heaven dedicated to an unlikely city, but a deserving one nonetheless. 2011 was Bon Iver’s coming out party, as the man with the voice of a choir boy finally earned the mighty acclaim that his recent album and especially this track, have come to deserve.

 

7. City and Colour – Fragile Bird

Dallas Green mercifully allows his acoustic guitar to gain some much-needed rest as he dusts off his rusty, under-used amplifier and his electric rock slayer. Green sounds like anything but a “Fragile Bird,” as he finally releases a jam that his former AlexisonFire band mates can listen to without wondering where all his bottled-up whimpering is coming from.

6. The Strokes – Under the Cover of Darkness

Strokes’ fans were left under a cover of darkness as the band took a painfully long hiatus, but thankfully returned with another brilliant, timeless piece of wizardry for the new decade. Casablancas has the gift of plucking ancient proclamations, (I’ll wait for you, will you wait for me?) and manipulating them to sound as though he’s the first to ever make such extravagant statements on love.

5. Coldplay – Charlie Brown

One of our generation’s most successful bands originally discovered the sound that would make them millions back on their second album, “A Rush of Blood to the Head.” They attempted to step away from the undeniable signature for their third and arguably most disappointing album, “X & Y.” Knowing that they had to up the ante if they wanted to ensure Bono passed them the proverbial rock n’ roll torch, Coldplay bear-hugged the piano-pounding, love-crazy, star-gazing themes that made them so damn popular on their fourth and stunning album , “Viva Lad Vida and Death and All his Friends.” Their latest album, “Mylo Xyloto,” is Coldplay desperately trying to re-create themselves, but they just can’t help return to the well for a serving or two. “Charlie Brown,” is a prime example of the unmistakable Coldplay sound, yet it has a bit more mustard on it than the usual Coldplay offering, making it an easy addition to the Top 20 of 2011.

4. Death Cab for Cutie – You are a Tourist
Death Cab captain Ben Gibbard made it no secret that their latest work on the album, Codes and Keys was hands down their most upbeat material by a Pakistani landslide. When asked if he felt his fans would be disappointed by the lack of melon collie material, he replied there is a whole back catalog for them to root through if that turns out to be the case.  The man has clearly changed and arguably for the better, as “You are a Tourist” take Death Cab to heights that probably weren’t possible when they were previously slinging mud at exes and other antagonists. “You are a Tourist” is a fine demonstration of why Gibbard is one of the strongest writers of his genre. Its haunting intro leading into Gibbard’s refrained echo act as a rising action to the perfectly executed blend of “This fire…” and raucous guitar noise. At the time of recording, Gibbard was a married man and proudly training for long distance running competitions.  This invigorated spirit seems to have led to a plethora of new material with smiley faces and lollipops sprinkled all over the once deeply self-conscious Seattle group.  “You are  Tourist,” is a single most bands dream of having their entire careers, yet Death Cab has been writing these sort of intricate, sparkling gems for years.  It appears that the summer of 2011 was finally the time where the mainstream audience was able to pull their wafer sunglasses down for a minute and tour the soul of Death Cab for Cutie.

3. Naked and Famous – Young Blood

It could have easily been dubbed a single from mega-hipsters MGMT or the squeaky-pitched Passion Pit, but it was a group from a country that no one was sure even knew how to produce music worth listening to that conceived this blood-thirsty single.  Of course this group is New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous whose thunderous synthesizers roared on repeat the minute this song was greeted at the door by eager rock n’ roll radio producers praying for something fresh. The video is an Urban Outfitters wet dream, with more “Young Blood” consciously showing off their naive genes and sporting more second-hand clothing decors than a Value Village.

2. Adele – Rollin in the Deep

Note to self; don’t break up with a talented English chick because she might end up writing a song about her misery and leave you explaining to every Tom, Dick, and news outlet why you broke up with such a lovely dame. The gospel backgrounds serve as great company to Adele’s booming, outloud diary entries, as she unleashes all her heartbreak in what would have to be one of the most successful therapy sessions of the year.

1. TV on the Radio – Will Do  

“Am I being practical to seek out a new romance?” bluntly ask TV on their latest classic. It’s this bold honesty that make this band seem less like strangers and more like modern-day wise men injecting new perceptions into our minds on everything that should matter. This is certainly one of TV’s most straight-forward love songs, not even bothering this time to conceal the emotion with intricate, figurative language. The shivering guitar/synthesizer combination along with a message that can be successfully deciphered by every soul is refreshingly endearing and yet unmistakably, hand-crafted for 2011.

Advertisements