The Top 10 Songs of 2011 – In Review (10-1)

3 Jan

Happy New Year

 
Go ahead and type 2012 into google images and click search. Destruction of the Earth, perpetual darkness, that awful movie 2012 – yes everyone Happy New Year to you too. If it was up to Google images we will not make it through the year. But let’s remove ourselves from unfounded apocalyptic prophesizing and talk about something we can control – music released in 2011.
 
To all of the readers that have helped us eclipse the 500,000 view mark, thank you. I started writing this blog during my Junior year at Binghamton University and it has followed me into the “real world.” This blog truly means a lot to me and I appreciate everyone who reads it (even if we disagree and argue in the comments section!) I hope that I can continue to bring you fresh, interesting content in 2012 (until we all die in some fiery Earth-wide explosion of some kind).
 
So…moving right along for the first time in 2012, the top 10 songs of 2011 countdown went by incredibly quickly. It is always such a pleasure counting down some of the best songs of the year and I hope everyone enjoyed reading about great songs. In the vein of past countdowns, I will list the top 10 (in case you missed the countdown or want a quick reference guide) with the song and a small blurb from the article about the particular song. With that, let’s begin.
 
 

10.) “Summer Song” by Matt Duncan

 
 
What I Said: “In a way this song is a microcosm of a summer day at the beach. You ride in on the low groan of a car’s engine, are welcomed by the bright sun and sea breeze, play in the steamy orange sand and salty seawater, and then, just like that, it’s gone. But boy, it was one hell of a day – and song.”
 
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9.) “Breaking Down” by Florence and the Machine

 
 
 
What I Said: “This is a perfect example of vocal precision, passion, and productivity. The three P’s to a good vocal performance. She has a message, displays it well, and does so with such force and delivery that the listener is left in awe. A vocal masterstroke. I’d love to hear more like this!”
 
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#8: “High Hawk Season” by the Mountain Goats

 
 
What I Said: “The song itself is also memorable. It features barbershop quartet/monk-like background singers that provide this religiously lachrymose backdrop. Darnielle sings the verse in a very observational tone, as if he is simply explaining what is going on. The call-and-response chorus is a treat. I feel as if I can imagine Darnielle singing this in some tenebrous dystopia where, I don’t know, “the heat’s about it break.” The song remains entertaining but somewhat complacent until after the two minute mark where a light shines on Darnielle and he belts out the chorus like a call to action.”
 
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#7: “Battery Kinzie” by Fleet Foxes

 
 
What I Said: “The song rises like a man getting out of bed with a sharp sun puncturing and reflecting off the glass. But it does take a bit of a dark turn that strays away from the happy melody. This dark turn remains for the rest of depressing song. The instrumentation serves as a bit of a contradiction to the lyric. But, when looking into this some more, I actually feel that it’s apt. The music is constant and pretty static. It is wonderfully crafted, but it does not change much. There remains the pounding percussion, same three chords, and similar harmony. I think the song represents a moment in time so well because of this constancy. And that is at least lyrically what the song was supposed to convey.”
 
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#6: “MoneyGrabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums

 
 
What I Said: “Fitz and the Tantrum’s musical styling may come off as a direct homage to the sweet Motown soul and gritty Stax soul of the 1960s. The band makes use of the Motown organ, an airy, bubbly, and inviting organ that was popularized by bands like Motown’s Four Tops. But there is something else there. I believe it can best be described as 60′s R&B/soul a la Indie flavoring with drippings of 80s new wave. A tasty harmonious concoction.”
 
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#5: “Midnight City” by M83

 
 
 
What I Said: “The first 40 seconds of the song deserve a breakdown. The very beginning of the song features a lone synth over a strung-out note. The synth in trademark M83 fashion (i.e. “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun” off of 2005′s Before the Dawn Heals Us”) tells a story. It speaks to the listener like a passionate lyric. A low bass is added into the mixture and supports this delicate combination until the song explodes with some more heavy synth, electric drums, and a female vocalists high hum. The resulting combination is flat-out magical. There is no other way to describe it. This combination will persist in the song, both haunting and inviting.”
 
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#4: “Someone Like You” by Adele

 

 
What I Said: “In “Someone Like You” Adele sings of a lost love and lyrically envisions this ex happy in the future with a wife that is not her and children that are not hers. The relationship with this ex lasted 18 months and Adele thought it would end in marriage – which it clearly did not. Worst of all, the ex got engaged not long after. She is clearly bothered by these thoughts and her vexation shows through her vocal performance, which can best be described as sincere with hints of consternation, preoccupation, fearfulness, and sadness. She is able to tug on these emotions effortlessly”
 
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#3: “The Rip Tide” by Beirut

 
 
What I Said: “The song is carried by this creative melody and Zach Condon’s distinctive drawn-out voice that is supported by some back-up vocals in this piece. The horns are simply magical and they totally carry the song, though. That is my point of focus. And at the very end when a lone trumpet can be heard holding onto its last breath over the piano that began the song the listener is shocked to find a somewhat religious aspect to the song – a heavenly togetherness.”
 
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#2: “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster and the People

 

What I Said: “They sing this lyric over and over again, implanting it in the listener’s head. This does two things. First, it hopefully helps achieve the main message that Foster wanted people to take from the song. The song, in his eyes, is an attempt to quell such events by encouraging families and friends to provide love, support, and friendship to children who may seem isolated or violent. The song is also witty and clever. You see, the first few times I found myself listening to the song I couldn’t quite make out the chorus. Then, one day as I was driving and listening, I found myself singing “you better run, run, run, outrun my gun” and I stopped. What did I just say? The song is a giant f*ck you to hipsters because it is a true hipster song (whatever the hell that is). It is adorned with vocal effects, strung-out keys, constant rhythm, an excellent bass, and that whistle finale. And it is utterly catchy and infectious. So you dance to the song and sing the lyric and then feel terrible for singing it. In a way this also adds to the song’s overall effect. If Foster wanted to make people even more aware to the potential dangers of lovelessness and youthful alienation, then he did a pretty good job with this song.”

Read the Full Article

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#1: “The Afterlife” by Paul Simon

What I Said:

“And , when Simon’s climbs the ladder and meets the Lord he can only muster up this:
 
Lord, is it Be Bop a Lula? Or ooh Papa Doo?
Lord, Be Bop a Lula? Or ooh Papa Doo?
Be Bop a Lula.
 
When I first heard this I laughed hysterically. There is something so wonderfully funny and truthful about this lyric. Finally, in Simon’s world, man is given the chance to talk to the creator – the being who has apparently sponsored humanity and has all of the answers one seeks. Yet the only thing the character can muster up is gibberish. A mistaken song lyric. And perhaps that’s all there is. Well at least in the realm of this song. And how refreshing the song’s melody is as well. It features a fun rhythm backed by Simon’s 12-string acoustic guitar, a neat guitar riff, some hip percussion, a sax, keys, and even an accordion. The rhythm is proficient and quite fitting. It is a pleasure to continue listening to Simon’s effortless voice over create, transforming rhythms. He is a master at what he does and his musical themes will never get old.”
 
 
 
 
 

There You Have it. Hope you enjoyed the countdown. Happy 2012.

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2 Responses to “The Top 10 Songs of 2011 – In Review (10-1)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Top 10 Songs of 2013 – Preview | The Music Court - December 5, 2013

    […] out the full-song in-review of The Top 10 Songs of 2010 and The Top 10 Songs of 2011 by clicking on those links, or click on the subcategories on the right-hand side of this page to […]

  2. Top 10 Songs of 2013: #10 – “Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend | The Music Court - December 9, 2013

    […] Top 10 Songs countdowns? Check out the full-song in-review of The Top 10 Songs of 2010 and The Top 10 Songs of 2011. Tune in Wednesday for song […]

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