dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 10 Best Pop Singles Of 2011

At the onset of 2011, the pop landscape might have seemed like a bleak, barren hooker den. And, yes — there were more than enough culprits for trusty Chart Rigger sidekick Moogaboo and I to work up our 10 Worst Singles Of 2011 list last week. But there were also several shining musical moments throughout the past 12 months — yellow diamonds in the light, if you will.

Below you'll find what we consider to be the 10 Best Pop Singles of 2011, along with fairly colorful descriptions on just why these jams got our attention. As usual, the singles listed need only have reached their peak chart position within 2011, even if they were technically released the year prior.

10. Foster The People, "Pumped Up Kicks"
D'luv says: "I haven't gotten into a new band in years, but Foster The People proved to be worthy candidates. Yes, there are far better songs on Torches than this, but let's give 'Pumped Up Kicks' props for finding its place despite not sounding like anything else on radio this year. Plus, I'd totally bang Cubbie Fink."
Moogaboo says: "I first heard this song on SNL (because I’m 50), and the initial thing I noticed was… CUTE keyboard player. When the song was still in my head three days later, and peripherally reminded me of the theme from Petticoat Junction, I knew it was my 2011 jam."
Charts: US #3, CAN #1, AUS #7
9. Lady Gaga, "The Edge Of Glory"
D'luv says: "Born This Way seemed like a big, overblown mess at first. But now, as the dust settles all these months after its release, I'm finally revisiting it (on vinyl!) and picking out the gems. 'The Edge Of Glory,' like 'Poker Face' and 'Bad Romance,' is simply quality pop. Too bad the video's a drag."
Moogaboo says: "I do like this number, in all of its overwrought, god-this-is-an-important-statement ridiculousness. It finally delivers on all the disco anthemry she’s constantly promising. I only wish Laura Branigan had lived to record a dodgy cover of it for the ZYX label!"
Charts: US #3, AUS #2, UK #6

8. Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
D'luv says: "Annoyingly, this song was overplayed to the point where I had to stop listening to it. But there's no denying that this was Adele's year, and, when all is said and done, 'Rolling In The Deep' is a classic jam."
Moogaboo says: "This song didn’t really hit my spot until I heard it at Goodfellas, one of the scarier bars in New Castle, PA. It really seemed to fit how I was feeling at the time: a little down, a little up, a little scared of being knifed. Adele is that rare animal, someone who gets a LOT of airplay that I actually like."
Charts: US #1, CAN #1, GER #1, UK #2

7. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, "Starlight" 
D'luv says: "Poor Sophie. "Starlight" charted nowhere, and that is indeed a crime. (But at least the album went Gold…in Russia!) The lyrics are perfect, the Richard X production is spectacular and the mood the song creates — love at first sight fueld by ecstasy and chilly desperation — is everything you want from pop."
Moogaboo says: "You summed it up perfectly, and I’d add a certain melancholy, early-'80s-sparkleness to the that description. Russia lucked out this year."
Charts: Sigh. Didn't chart anywhere.

6. Penguin Prison, "Don't Fuck With My Money"
D'luv says: "I'm glad to see this guy, Chris Glover, finally getting some recognition, because 'Don't Fuck With My Money' is a great song that does retro-'80s the right way — it's like he extracted the best sensibilities of Wham!, Michael Jackson and Thomas Dolby and put them to good use. Plus, he has a really nice mouth."
Moogaboo says: "I agree. Penguin Prison achieved the hat-trick of being culturally relevant, musically catchy and mouth-boffable."
Charts: Sigh. Didn't chart anywhere.

5. Will Young, "Jealousy"
D'luv says: "The Richard X renaissance continues! And here I thought he had peaked with Foxbase Beta two years ago. Will Young's Echoes is one of the best albums of the year, and "Jealousy" was a hell of an excellent choice for lead single.
Moogaboo says: "Remember when Will Young won that 'Best Butt' contest a few years ago? This is even better than that, further solidifying my opinion that he is the new Annie Lennox."
Charts: UK #5

4. Beth Ditto, "I Wrote the Book"
D'luv says: "I'd almost forgotten about Beth Ditto's Simian Mobile Disco-produced EP from earlier this year until I went on a road trip in the fall and played a mix CD with 'I Wrote The Book' on it. This was so my jam back in late February and March. I wish that, rather than a too-short experimentation, Beth would continue to make music like this. Sigh. But I know she won't."
Moogaboo says: "She’s art noveau, she’s acid house, she’s a big, bounding bassline and Todd Terry synth riffs with a side of meticulously-executed 'Justify My Love' spoof. I want to live inside this record — and for most of the year, I did."
Charts: BEL #14, UK #76

3. Emeli Sande, "Heaven"
D'luv says: "It was a no-brainer that this would end up here on this list. It's just a brilliant debut single. 'Heaven' sounds like early-'90s house/trip hop. And is it just me, or is it musically very similar to Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy'?"
Moogaboo says: "I totally got the Massive Attack vibe from this, not to mention The Family Stand, Caron Wheeler and a ton of other '90s soul records that incorporated a tough beat and ecstatic string sections. Emeli raised the bar this year."
Charts: UK #2, BEL #2

2. Britney Spears, "Hold It Against Me"
D'luv says: "Years from now, when pop historians look back on this broad's career, 'Hold It Against Me' will be singled out as a watershed moment for her. Whether Britney herself was interested in recording a commercial single that would usher dubstep into the mainstream in America or she simply showed up to the studio for 20 minutes and warbled whatever lyrics were handed to her doesn't interest me. 'Hold It Against Me' is a near-four-minute sugar rush that's best heard booming through your car speakers while speeding through the night."
Moogaboo says: "Oh doll, one of the things I d’luv about you is that you’ll always have space in your heart, and our chart, for the Thirsty Weave. And let’s face it, she could sing the the label off a bottle of Lexapro and it would get me dancing in some grimy hipster bar on a Friday night in the middle of July."
Charts: US #1, CAN #1, AUS #4, UK #6

1. Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris, "We Found Love"
D'luv says: "I'm quoted on Wikipedia saying that 'we found love in a hopeless place' is possibly the best lyric in pop music so far in 2011'. And now that it's December, I still maintain that sentiment. Essentially, 'We Found Love' should be billed as Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna. But no matter — Calvin is suddenly (and finally) a name in America. And Rihanna now has one of the most uplifting musical moments of her career in her canon of hits."
Moogaboo says: "This is just everything a modern pop record should be, equal parts drama, excitement, 'choon' and doom. 'Yellow diamonds in the light' is such a pretty pop line, I nearly melted when a friend texted it to me a few weeks ago. Rihanna is the new queen of disco and I couldn’t be happier."
Charts: US #1, CAN #1, UK #1, GER #1, FRANCE #1

Do you agree with D'luv and Moog's picks for the best jams of the year? Or are these pop lunatics completely out of their minds? Give us a shout below and let us know!

* The 10 Worst Singles Of 2011
* The Best Pop Singles Of 2010
* The Best Pop Singles Of 2009
* The Best Pop Singles Of 2008
* The Best Pop Singles Of 2007
* The Best Pop Singles Of 2006
* The Best Pop Singles Of 2005
* The Top 40 Pop Singles Of The '00s

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  • At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When will you report on the artists of Japan (Namie Amuro, Utada Hikaru)? At least Mike has an Ami Suzuki fetish.

  • At 9:40 AM, Blogger wpmsd said…

    Personally, Moves Like Jagger and Last Friday Night were my favorites this year. Love Love by Take That was also high up there, although didn't chart in the US.

    Hard to argue with Rolling In The Deep and We Found Love, both good songs that were monster smashes.

  • At 12:31 PM, Blogger Joshua said…

    Yeah, you closeted Rice Queen! When are you going to start reporting on Namie & Utada!?!??!?

  • At 2:42 PM, Blogger D'luv said…

    Anonymous & Joshua, as soon as Utada and Namie give me a hand job or gargle my schlong like Beth Ditto did, they'll get some recognition.

    wpmsd, "Love Love" was on our longlist for consideration. I think it just barely missed out on the Top 10, too...?

  • At 2:54 PM, Blogger artifact48 said…

    OMG. Laura Branigan singing Edge of Glory! I can so hear it in my head now. Wish it could have been. Now if we can get Lady Gaga to cover Gloria, that would flip a skirt or two!

  • At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Pranav said…

    OK. I cannot rank my top 10 singles, but I know what they are. Here goes:

    1. Love Love - Take That
    2. When we were young - Take That
    3. Hurting - Friendly Fires
    4. Turning tables - Adele
    5. Moves like Jagger - Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera
    6. Starlight - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
    7. Girl Panic - Duran Duran
    8. It's alright - Kim Wilde
    9. Body Moves - Van Go Lion
    10. I won't let you go - James Morrison

    That being said, this year was not even half as good as last year in terms of great singles. Looking forward to new stuff next year by Keane, Johnny Hates Jazz, and the one and only GEORGE MICHAEL!!!!!

  • At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Steve-tastic! said…

    "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster The People is disgusting. So indie gross. What an abortion of a song. I'd rather get my c*nt scraped than listen to this retarded fetus of a song.


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