21) Florence & The Machine - What The Water Gave Me [Video Link]
Taking the title from a surrealist painting by Frida Kahlo and lyrical inspiration from the suicide of Virginia Woolf (‘pockets full of stones’), Florence Welch delivers ethereal vocals and the ghost of British folk-rock with such soulful power. Her chosen collaborators are Eg White on songwriting (Chasing Pavements) and Paul Epworth on production (Rolling In The Deep).
22) Bruno Mars - It Will Rain [Video Link]
Bruno Mars plaintively requests, "If you ever leave me baby, leave some morphine at my door..." Clearly, he is talking about true romantic pain here. He touches on the concept that it will rain every single day if a treasured relationship comes to an end. This may not be his most emotional piece (Grenade), but should be a huge pop single from the Twilight OST.
23) David Guetta - Without You (feat. Usher) [Video Link]
Usher has the flair of selling both romantic balladry and uptempo dance music in one, and he does it best on this track. Other than this track and ‘Titanium’ however, the songs from Guetta’s sophomore album ‘Nothing But The Beat’ are starting to feel more like production numbers from a star-studded TV special instead of like someone was concentrating on creating a truly memorable, durable pop record.
24) Lady Gaga - Judas [Video Link]
It takes a lot to be offended by a song before you've even heard it, but such was the case among Christian extremists when Lady Gaga released the lyrics to 'Judas' a couple of months ago. Proclaiming her love for a man who betrayed one of the world's most iconic religious figures was undoubtedly risky, but rather than gasping in dismay, what was produced was a RedOne-helmed, 'Bad Romance'-style sledge hammering beat with a sick bassline.
Naturally the track has undergone some minor sprucing in the studio, but the sentiment behind it remains as clear as ever. "You taste like whiskey when you kiss me, ooh/ I'll give up anything again to be your baby doll," she confesses about her on-off lover Luc Carl over a hi-gloss country-meets-'80s rawk melody. This track is truly a torchy, retro-classic, all-American power ballad built for the masses.
26) Rihanna - California King Bed [Video Link]
Opening with gentle acoustic strumming, ‘California King Bed’ tells the heart-wrenching story of the demise of a once-great relationship. Though ‘California King Bed’ follows a routine pop ballad arrangement, the song is a nice change of pace for the Barbadian hitmaker. As much as we love Rihanna’s dance club hits, it’s refreshing to hear a song built around her impressive voice.
27) Beyonce - Best Thing I Never Had [Video Link]
This is the Beyonce millions of fans the world over loved when they made "Irreplaceable" and "Halo" into mega-hits. She is the powerful woman assertive in words but with a softer, distinctively feminine side represented by the beautiful piano accompaniment. Babyface lends his songwriting talents here, while Symbolyc One, producer behind Kanye West’s ‘Power’, works on production.
28) Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song [Video Link]
Bruno Mars is clearly a man of many musical moods. His first hit "Just the Way You Are" was a sweet, almost fawning, love tribute. He followed that with "Grenade," one of the most direct and cutting break-up songs in recent memory. Now he backs away from any relationship concerns to relax with friends and celebrate a day of leisure.
29) Katy Perry - Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) [Video Link]
The unmistakable musical stamps of producers Dr. Luke and Max Martin are all over this song. Musically, it is relentlessly perky and upbeat, and there is a dose of cheerleader rock in the bridge that leads into a saxophone solo and a reprise of the chorus. She has some clever lyrics in this too, whether it is mentioning Ke$ha's ever-present glitter or detailing just what a mess the Friday night was, if only it could really be remembered.
30) Bad Meets Evil - Lighters (feat. Bruno Mars) [Video Link]
"Lighters" kicks off with the warm, pleasing vocals of Bruno Mars celebrating living out one's life dreams with validation from a sea of admirers represented by the concert tradition of lighters in the air. It is followed by a confident and amusing Eminem rap in which he asks us to forgive his cockiness while he dismisses any haters that would argue with his status as the world's top rapper. Indeed, Eminem can remain powerfully engaging to pop audiences while losing none of the visceral impact of his best raps.
31) Britney Spears - Hold It Against Me [Video Link]
The current fashionable trend among top female solo pop singers is the uplifting self-esteem anthem. Katy Perry's "Firework," Pink's "Raise Your Glass," and even Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" all fall firmly in that category. However, Britney stays true to herself and doesn’t jump on the bandwagon, for "Hold It Against Me" is purely about lust and seduction on the dance floor. There is also a thrilling dub step breakdown that takes us all straight into a contemporary, progressive dance club.
32) Demi Lovato - Skyscraper [Video Link]
"Skyscraper" is a complete change of pace from the current dominance of upbeat party tunes on the pop music landscape. This is a song of survival in the face of events that amount to efforts to "tear me down." However, the audio pictures painted by words like "You can break everything I am / Like I'm made of glass," coupled with Demi Lovato's bravura vocal performance, turn this into something truly special.
33) Florence & The Machine - No Light, No Light [Video Link]
On "No Light, No Light," Florence + the Machine exudes strength through pulsating tribal drums, a choir-led chorus, and a brash bridge of electronica. A dramatic opening note on the single ushers in a drum crescendo, followed by a "Like A Prayer"-style interlude. Lyrically, Florence Welch is on her knees, begging her lover not to go and poignantly declaring, "It's so easy to say it to a crowd, but it's so hard, my love, to say it to you out loud."
34) Adele - Set Fire To The Rain [Video Link]
"It was dark and I was over/ Until you kissed my lips and saved me," Adele admits over a gloomy piano riff, before launching into a hands-in-the-air chorus. "I set fire to the rain/ and I threw us into the flames," she belts with growly vocals against cinematic strings. Rounding out with a suitably breathtaking blast from her impressive pipes and the result is classic.
35) Robyn - Call Your Girlfriend [Video Link]
"Call Your Girlfriend" is deceptively simple, a buzzing rhythm, a few of banks of synths, a killer chord change, and Robyn sagely dishing out breakup advice to her new boyfriend. Unlike on other breakup tracks, nothing is truly ending on "Call Your Girlfriend", it's only changing, and with Robyn as the observer gently guiding each party into a hopeful tomorrow.
36) Olly Murs - Heart Skips A Beat (feat. Rizzle Kicks) [Video Link]
"I don't wanna go home/ Cause when you hold me like this/ You know my heart skips, skips a beat," Murs confesses over a ska-flecked melody, reggae beats and the cheeky vocal twang that grabbed Simon Cowell's attention first time out - while a skit from street-rapping duo Rizzle Kicks ensures the whole thing remains child and chart-friendly.
37) Will Young - Jealousy [Video Link]
"It feels like jealousy/ And it feels like I can't breathe," he confesses over a sad-pop disco beat and rousing piano chords helmed by electro-pop connoisseur Richard X. The tale of lusting for an otherwise engaged man, things steadily crescendo by the final chorus with a stirring, growly vocal as he laments: "I'm tired of waiting/ I'm tired of thinking".
38) Jessie J - Who You Are [Video Link]
Jessie J has an amazing voice, but unfortunately she suffers from the Aguilera Syndrome - she is an over singer. However, it worked for her in ‘Who You Are’. The ballad is very inspirational as she sings “Don’t lose who you are/In the blur of the stars/Seeing is deceiving/Dreaming is believing/It’s ok not to be okay” and she begs for the person she is singing to not to lose who they are and just be true to who you are.
39) Christina Perri - Jar Of Hearts [Video Link]
"Jar of Hearts" is an autobiographical song for Christina Perri, recalling an ex-boyfriend who wanted to reconnect after a tough breakup, and the pain of that struggle comes across loud and clear from the opening line, "No I can't take one more step towards you / cause all that's waiting is regret." There have been countless "you did me wrong" songs through the history of pop music, but identifying a serial dater as a collector of broken hearts is one of the more unique ways of displaying both hurt and frustration.
40) Adele - Rumour Has It [Video Link]
This is the vengeful, pounding flip side of "Rolling in the Deep": Adele steals her man back from the other woman, then dumps him just for laughs, over the perfect number of funky hand claps.
41) Katy Perry - The One That Got Away
42) Britney Spears - I Wanna Go
43) Drake - Take Care (feat. Rihanna)
44) David Guetta - Titanium (feat. Sia)
45) Ed Sheeran - Lego House
46) Avril Lavigne - What The Hell
47) Nicki Minaj & Rihanna - Fly
48) Cobra Starship - You Make Me Feel… (feat. Sabi)
49) Coldplay - Every Teardrop is a Waterfall
50) Red Hot Chilli Peppers - The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
51) Example - Changed The Way You Kissed Me
52) Lana Del Rey - Video Games
53) Rihanna - S & M
54) Enrique Iglesias - I Like How It Feels (feat. Pitbull)
55) Birdy - Skinny Love
56) Snow Patrol - Called Out In The Dark
57) The Strokes - Under Cover Of Darkness
58) Foster The People - Helena Beat
59) Nicola Roberts - Beat Of My Drum
60) Adele - Turning Tables
61) LMFAO - Sexy And I Know It
62) Rihanna - Cheers (Drink To That)
63) Gym Class Heroes (feat. Adam Levine) - Stereo Hearts
64) Cher Lloyd & Mike Posner - With Ur Love
65) Professor Green - Read All About It (feat. Emeli Sande)
66) The Wanted - Glad You Came
67) Avicii - Levels
68) Beyonce - Countdown
69) The Band Perry - If I Die Young
70) Rebecca Ferguson - Nothing's Real But Love
71) James Morrison feat. Jessie J - Up
72) The Black Keys - Lonely Boy
73) Kelly Clarkson - What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)
74) M83 - Midnight City
75) Rye Rye - Never Will Be Mine (feat. Robyn)
76) Two Door Cinema Club - What You Know
77) Marina & The Diamonds - Radioactive
78) Lykke Li - Get Some
79) Death Cab For Cutie - You Are A Tourist
80) Rachel Yamagata - Starlight
81) Pitbull - Give Me Everything (feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer)
82) Diddy Dirty Money - Coming Home (feat. Skylar Grey)
83) Black Eyed Peas - Just Can't Get Enough
84) Kanye West & Jay-Z - Otis
85) Kelly Rowland - Down For Whatever
86) Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga - The Lady Is A Tramp
87) Leona Lewis - Collide
88) Radiohead - Lotus Flower
89) Britney Spears - Criminal
90) James Morisson - I Won't Let You Go
91) Calvin Harris - Feel So Close
92) Example - Stay Awake
93) The Saturdays - My Heart Takes Over
94) Snow Patrol - This Isn't Everything You Are
95) Feist - How Come You Never Go There
96) Kasabian - Days Are Forgotten
97) Birdy - People Help The People
98) Matt Cardle - Starlight
99) Arctic Monkeys - Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair
100) Bjork - Crystalline
Labels: Best Of Music 2011