Erik Oster’s Top 15 Songs of 2011
Creating this list was incredibly hard, even more so than my top albums list. Some of these artists released a handful of songs that could have made the list, which I had to balance with getting in as many artists as possible – including some that didn’t make my top albums list. I originally wanted to impose a one song per artist rule, but found that impossible in the cases of Bjork and Veronica Falls. I won’t pretend this list represents anything other than 15 of my favorite songs this year; I didn’t consider how “important” or “influential” these songs were when choosing them, because ultimately that boils down to letting other lists dictate my own. So, without further ado, my personal top 15 songs of 2011:
1: When Saints Go Machine; “Kelly”: This is the song released this year that I’ve probably listened to most, the song I flip out about when it comes up on random on my iPod. You can dance to it, bob your head or just lip-sync along to it embarrassingly, like I do.
2: Bjork; “Crystalline”: This highlight from Biophilia is incredible and the unexpected break-beat part near the end may have been the most mind-blowing moment in music this year. Oh, and the Michel Gondry directed music video kicks ass too.
3: Veronica Falls; “Stephen”: The best pure pop song of the year, and perhaps also the catchiest; I find it nearly impossible to listen to this song without skipping back to hear it again once it’s finished.
4: Bjork; “Virus”: Another standout track from Biophilia, and really quite a beautiful song. The first time I heard “Virus” I thought the lyrics were kind of gross, now I think they’re strangely romantic.
5: The Bats; “Free All The Monsters”: The Bats best song since “Western Isles” is a catchy, jangly gem. It’s a bit addictive and repeated spins reveal subtle and lovely production details.
6: Lykke Li; “Jerome”: My favorite track from Lykke Li’s fantastic Wounded Rhymes is wintry, obsessive, depressing and gorgeous. Its’ emotional gravity would make it hard to listen to — if it wasn’t so easy to listen to.
7: Veronica Falls; “Come On Over”: Another highlight from Veronica Falls’ debut, the autumnal closer “Come On Over” lets the group rock out a little bit while simultaneously sticking to their strengths. I have a feeling that in future years this song will remind me of the fall of 2011 more than any other.
8: Craft Spells; “Scandinavian Crush”: It was a close call between this song and “Party Talk,” another gem off of Idle Labor, but ultimately I went with “Scandinavian Crush” because it has the better chorus. The song is structured so that the chorus doesn’t even kick in until the two minute mark, which only makes it that much more infectious.
9: The Luyas; “Moodslayer”: The spastic, energetic drumming and unique timbres created by the band’s unique instrumentation make this one of the most fascinating tracks of the year. The Luyas conjure more original sounds in the space of a song than most bands do over an entire album.
10: Shabazz Palaces; “The King’s New Clothes Were Made by His Own Hands”: It was pretty hard to pick a favorite song from Black Up, but I went with this one because of its incredible production and because it’s a song about the joys of making music.
11: Seapony; “Dreaming”: The opening song on Seapony’s debut is a great, catchy song propelled by pretty vocals and a melodic lead guitar line.
12: Dum Dum Girls; “He Gets Me High”: This song is a lot better than anything on the unfortunately named full-length album Dum Dum Girls released this year, Only in Dreams. A noisy blast of pop bliss.
13: Brilliant Colors; “‘Round Your Way”: Again and Again was a bit of a disappointment, but “‘Round Your Way” is a great song and one that has really grown on me since I first heard it. It’s easy to imagine it being sung by Aggi Wright of The Pastels.
14: The Horrors; “Changing The Rain”: The opener and highlight from The Horrors’ nostalgically Madchester-esque album Skying.
15: Woods; “Any Other Day”: Woods’ new album Sun and Shade was pretty hit-or-miss, but the Guided By Voices-esque “Any Other Day” is a concise, catchy winner.
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