Monday, December 12, 2011


2011  wasn't necessarily a great year for music, and this is usually the hardest list for me to compile every year anyway.  I always have too much to choose from and trying to rank things is hard, or I'm not sure what came out when and have to do a lot of Googling to make sure I get it right.  

This time I had a hard time even thinking of 10 albums that I enjoyed all the way through.  I usually just do a top five, but there were about seven that were contenders so I decided to make it a nice round ten and include some that I didn't necessarily love, or have a chance to fall in love with yet, but still admired enough to recommend.  So, here it is (more or less in order) my  Top 10 Albums of 2011 and Top 20 Singles.  The singles were SUPER hard since I hate most music on the radio and most of what I listen to came out before the year 2000 so there is a lot of repetition.  Enjoy, comment, and PLEASE if you have suggestions of some other good music, give them!!

21_ Adele (An artistic leap forward from her promising debut.  Producer Rick Rubin helped her find her voice in more ways than one.  She dug deeper with her songwriting and pushed herself vocally and the results are remarkable.  Easily the album of the year.  Key Tracks: Someone Like You/Turning Tables/Set Fire to the Rain)


Betty Wright: The Movie _ Betty Wright & The Roots (A welcome return from the R&B legend!  The Roots are the perfect match for the diva to pay tribute to the past and bring real soul music to the new generation.  A class act.  Key Tracks: Surrender/In The Middle of the Game/You and Me, Leroy)

Betty Wright: The Movie

Torches _ Foster The People (A sublime debut from the funky California Alt-Rockers.  The songs are so catchy you can easily miss how sobering the topics are.  Teen mass murder anyone? Key Tracks: 'Helena Beat'/ 'Life on the Nickel'/ 'Call It What You Want')


Born This Way_ Lady Gaga (Gaga lets out her inner rock Grrrl and continues to intrigue.  Say what you will about the Madonna sound-alike title track and even the not quite right, but danceable follow up 'Judas', but you can't deny the pop-rock euphoria of 'You and I' and 'Edge of Glory'.  Some of the best cuts on here so far haven't been released as singles and there are a plenty.  Key Tracks: Schiebe/Americano/Marry the Night)

Born This Way [+Digital Booklet]

Katla_ Ida Maria (Before the election got too ridiculous for me and I stopped listening to NPR non-stop I was introduced to Ida Maria being interviewed when her album was being released.  The sassy, fun personality she displayed in the interview is evident on Katla which bubbles with wit and manages to be sexy and catchy without feeling false.  Key Tracks: Cherry Red/ I Eat Boys Like You For Breakfast/ Bad Karma)

Katla [+Digital Booklet]

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two_ The Beastie Boys (This is classic Beasties and just the way I like them.  Rapping about random stuff to hard hip-hop beats and just being cool ass white boys.  It doesn't hurt having Nas and Santigold dropping by either.  Key Track: Don't Play No Game That I Can Win/Make Some Noise)

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two [Explicit]

Angles_ The Strokes (A return to form from my favorite scraggly New Yorkers.  After their last album that started with a bang and then whimped out, I was glad to have my Strokes back. Key Tracks: Call Me Back/Under the Cover of Darkness/Gratisfaction)


El Camino_ The Black Keys (This album kinda just came out and I'm still learning it and falling in love with it, but it's The Black Keys so I'm sure I won't regret including it on this list. Key Tracks: Money Maker /Run Right Back/Lonely Boy)

El Camino [+Digital Booklet]

Watch The Throne_ Jay-Z & Kanye West (This was one of the most anticipated albums of the year and, though it's not perfect, Jay and Kanye are at their lyrical best.  I don't always enjoy Kanye and it says something that I can get through this whole album without cringing, excessive use of the "N" word notwithstanding.  Key Tracks: Otis/Lift Off/No Church in the Wild)

Watch The Throne (Deluxe Edition) [Explicit]

Camp_ Childish Gambino (For someone who could be described as a cross between Drake and Kanye, two rappers I don't always enjoy, I manage to like this fresh debut from Childish Gambino.   The renaissance artist A.K.A. Donald Glover, a writer and also one of the stars of NBC's Community, keeps it real in a different way than most rappers; he raps about how not being a street hustler made him a hip-hop outsider.  Hopefully on his next album he'll drop the chip on his shoulder that's keeping his freak flag from flying as high as it could.  Key Tracks: All The Shine/Hold You Down)

Camp [Explicit]


Lioness: Hidden Treasures (International Version) [Explicit]          Love After War

Lioness: Hidden Treasures_ Amy Winehouse (Amy, Amy, Amy, gone too soon and this album is a reminder of what might've been with it's mis-mash of demos, early recordings and unreleased tracks, it's not really a new album so I didn't include it, but it is one of my favorites from this year.)

Love After War _ Robin Thicke (I was actually listening to this while I was writing this blog and enjoyed it all the way through, but it missed the deadline to be on the list.)

Top Singles  (In no particular order)

1. Rolling in the Deep_ Adele
2. Run the World_ Beyonce
3. Otis_ Jay-Z & Kanye West
4. Barbara Streisand _ Duck Sauce
5. Pumped Up Kicks_ Foster The People
6. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie_ Red Hot Chilipeppers
7. Superbass_ Nicki Minaj
8. Shake It Out_ Florence + The Machine
9. Paradise_ Coldplay
10. Promises_ Incubus
11. Helena Beat_ Foster the People
12. Someone Like You_ Adele
13. Six Foot, Seven Foot_ Lil' Wayne
14. You and I_ Lady Gaga
15. Make Some Noise_ The Beastie Boys
16. Lonely Boy_ The Black Keys
17. Under the Cover of Darkness_ The Strokes
18. Surrender_ Betty Wright & The Roots
19. Two Against One_ Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi feat. Jack White
20. 25/8_ Mary J. Blige