2011 in Review

2011 was the year that indie pop actually became pop music. Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” broke through the previous year, but a lot of the hype almost one-hit wonders like Gotye, Grouplove, Capital Cities, Of Monsters and Men, Passion Pit, and M83 in 2011 stretched into 2012, leading to Fun, Imagine Dragons (they were considered indie once, trust me) and The Lumineers. The trend also caught on with some bigger pop-rock bands like Coldplay, who fully embraced “pop” and synths. 

Pop’s other development, for better or (mostly) for worse, was artists embracing dubstep-influenced  song structures and builds, with pounding electronic beats building up before a beat drops for a chorus sung by a high-pitched, female vocalist. LMFAO, David Guetta, Afrojack, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, led to Calvin Harris, Zedd, Swedish House Mafia, and even established artists like Chris Brown, Rihanna, Flo Rida, Pitbull and Taylor Swift cashing in on the trend. It was great while drunk in a club or at a giant pool party, and terrible in essentially every other setting. And boy, did the movement last way too long (The Chainsmokers were still doing it in 2017).

The artist of the year, though, was Adele. With a lot of loud things on the radio, her personal ballads were inescapable. 

For hip-hop, underground, internet rappers started getting more play. B.O.B got big in 2010, paving the way for Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Wale and J. Cole in 2011. More notable though, were releases by up and coming collectives, led by A$AP Rocky (A$AP Mob), Kendrick Lamar (Black Hippy) – who both put out breakthrough mixtapes – and Tyler, The Creator, whose horror-core influenced Goblin was both intoxicating and controversial. 

For albums, it was a bit of a lackluster year, but there were notable releases. Drake put out Take Care, which will go down as his classic. If anyone was fighting Adele for the 2011 crown, it was Drake. 

The Foo Fighters put out their last good record, and The Strokes returned to form after a brief hiatus. Kanye West and Jay-Z teamed up on Watch the Throne, pushing Kanye West even closer to the top of the hip-hop totem pole and further cementing Jay’s legacy. 

Songs of the year

2011 Albums

House of BalloonsThe Weeknd★★★★½87Hip-HopR&BAlternative R&B
Bon Iver, Bon IverBon Iver★★★★½86RockArt RockIndie Folk
Let England ShakePJ Harvey★★★★82RockAlternative Rock
KaputtDestroyer★★★★82RockElectropopChamber Pop
Friend of the PeopleLupe Fiasco★★★★80Hip-HopHouse
GoblinTyler, The Creator★★★★79Hip-HopAlternative Hip-Hop
Take CareDrake★★★★76Hip-HopR&B
TorchesFoster the People★★★★75RockIndie PopIndietronica
Watch the ThroneKanye West and Jay Z★★★★75Hip-Hop
SBTRKTSBTRKT★★★½74ElectronicR&BElectronic R&B
Live.Love.A$APA$AP Rocky★★★½73Hip-Hop
Wasting LightFoo Fighters★★★½71RockAlternative Rock
AnglesThe Strokes★★★½70RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
Strange MercySt. Vincent★★★½67RockIndie PopArt Rock
We’re New HereJamie XX★★★½67ElectronicHouseIndietronica
James BlakeJames Blake★★★½66ElectronicR&BTrip-Hop
Section.80Kendrick Lamar★★★½65Hip-Hop
Ritual UnionLittle Dragon★★★½65ElectronicIndie PopElectronic R&B
Slave AmbientThe War on Drugs★★★63RockShoegazeIndie Rock
21Adele★★★63PopSinger-SongwriterChamber Pop
Last Smoke Before the SnowstormBenjamin Francis Leftwish★★★62RockIndie PopIndie Folk
The King of LimbsRadiohead★★★62RockAlternative RockElectronic Rock
El CaminoThe Black Keys★★★62RockAlternative RockBlues Rock
NightlifePhantogram★★★62PopAlternative RockTrip-Hop
Hot Sauce Committee Part 2Beastie Boys★★★61Hip-Hop
Cole World: The Sideline StoryJ. Cole★★★60Hip-Hop
Hurry Up, We’re DreamingM83★★★60PopElectropopDream Pop
The English RivieraMetronomy★★★59RockAlternative RockIndietronica
Nine Types of LightTV on the Radio★★★58RockAlternative Rock
Finally FamousBig Sean★★★57Hip-HopPop Hip-Hop
Suck it and SeeArctic Monkeys★★★56RockAlternative Rock
Rolling PapersWiz Khalifa★★★56Hip-HopPop Hip-Hop
XXXDanny Brown★★★56Hip-Hop
IICrystal Castles★★★56ElectronicHouseSynthpop
Helplessness BluesFleet Foxes★★★55RockIndie PopIndie Folk
SmotherWild Beast★★★55PopAlternative RockDeam Pop
Black UpShabazz Palaces★★½54Hip-HopAlternative Hip-Hop
Mylo XylotoColdplay★★½53RockPop Rock
Codes and KeysDeath Cab For Cutie★★½53RockIndie PopIndie Rock
I’m With YouRed Hot Chili Peppers★★½52RockAlternative Rock
Gloss DropBattles★★½49RockAlternative RockMath Rock
CampChildish Gambino★★½49Hip-Hop
TM:103 Hustlerz AmbitionJeezy★★½48Hip-Hop
CeremonialsFlorance + The Machine★★½45RockIndie Pop
DaysReal Estate★★½45RockIndie PopJangle Pop
Talk DirtyJason Derulo★★½45PopPop Hip-Hop
Fear of God II: Let Us PrayPusha T★★½45Hip-Hop
SkyingThe Horrors★★44RockShoegazePost Punk
LasersLupe Fiasco★★44Hip-HopPop Hip-Hop
WhokilltUnE-yArDs★★43PopArt PopExperimental
If Not Now, When?Incubus★★42RockAlternative RockChamber Pop
Hell: The SequelBad Meets Evil★★41Hip-Hop
The Carter IVLil Wayne★★40Hip-Hop
The Dreamer, The BelieverCommon★★38Hip-Hop
Born This WayLady Gaga★★37PopElectropop

50 Best Songs

  1. Holocene – Bon Iver
  2. Kaputt – Destroyer
  3. Midnight City – M83
  4. I’m One One – DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne
  5. Yonkers – Tyler, The Creator
  6. The Look – Metronomy
  7. How Deep Is Your Love – The Rapture
  8. The Party & The Afterparty – The Weeknd
  9. Calgary – Bon Iver
  10. It’s Real – Real Estate
  11. Under Ground Kings – Drake
  12. Gotta Have It – JAY-Z, Kanye West
  13. Cruel – St. Vincent
  14. HiiiPower – Kendrick Lamar
  15. Rolling in the Deep – Adele
  16. Machu Picchu – The Strokes
  17. Peso – A$AP Rocky
  18. Lord Knows – Drake, Rick Ross
  19. Ritual Union – Little Dragon
  20. Ni**as In Paris – JAY-Z, Kanye West
  21. Bloom – Radiohead
  22. Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye, Kimbra
  23. Helena Beat – Foster The People
  24. Brand New Guy – A$AP Rocky, ScHoolboy Q
  25. Rope – Foo Fighters
  26. Hold On – SBTRKT, Sampha
  27. Lotus Flower – Radiohead
  28. I’m New Here – Gil Scott-Heron, Jamie xx
  29. My Machines – Battles
  30. She – Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean
  31. Montezuma – Fleet Foxes
  32. Black and Yellow – Wiz Khalifa
  33. Towers – Bon Iver
  34. Real Human – Electric Youth, College
  35. U.F.O. – Coldplay
  36. Wildfire – SBTRAKT, Little Dragon
  37. Joaquin Phoenix – Lupe Fiasco
  38. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
  39. Look At Me Now – Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes
  40. House of Balloons/Glass Tables – The Weeknd
  41. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
  42. Bizness – Tune-Yards
  43. Tongue Tied – Grouplove
  44. Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
  45. Don’t Move – Phantogram
  46. Motivation – Kelly Rowland, Lil Wayne
  47. Make Me Proud – Drake, Nicki Minaj
  48. The Spiteful Chant – Kendrick Lamar
  49. Lonely Boy – The Black Keys
  50. Ambition – Wale, Meek Mill, Rick Ross

Genre Highlights




%d bloggers like this: