(Now in convenient Spotify playlist form, too!)
1) Lady Gaga, “The Edge Of Glory”
Born This Way is chock full of good to great songs ruined by horrible production. “The Edge Of Glory,” however, is completely majestic, triumphant and awe-inspiring in a way that none of the other songs on Gaga’s sophomore LP can come close to matching, let alone any other song released by any other artist this year. I’M ON THE EDGE WITH YOU!
2) Kanye West, “All Of The Lights”
The last song of Yeezy’s Lights Trilogy (which also includes Graduation's “Flashing Lights” and 808s And Heartbreak's “Street Lights”) is one of this decade's most musically ambitious epics. WE GOIN' ALL THE WAY THIS TIME!
3) Robyn, “Call Your Girlfriend”
I don’t know a single person in my entire circle of friends who isn’t compelled to start dancing when this song comes on. It’s a lyrically layered song, too, one that Crushable’s Meghan Keane posits is about an imaginary affair. I GIVE YOU SOMETHIN’ THAT YOU NEVER EVEN KNEW YOU MISSED!
4) Frank Ocean, “Thinking About You”
This song was self-released by Ocean on his Tumblr one night back in late July, but then promptly taken down just hours later. Thanks to the Internet, though, the song was captured and uploaded to YouTube, where it has been streamed over 9 million times since. Not bad for a song that was never really meant to be released, eh? ‘CAUSE I BEEN THINKIN’ ‘BOUT FOREVER!
5) Lana del Rey, “Video Games”
LDR is the most polarizing figure in the music industry today despite the fact that she hasn’t even put an album out. Love her (lips) or hate ‘em, her self-described brand of Hollywood sadcore is sweeping, ethereal and emotionally affecting. PLAYIN’ POOL AND WILD DARTS!
6) Rihanna, “We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris)”
RiRi is the hardest working woman in the business these days, globetrotting the world over. Hot on the heels of Loud, the lead single off Talk That Talk might just end up alongside “Umbrella” as the biggest hit of her career. YELLOW DIAMONDS IN THE LIGHT!
7) Jay-Z and Kanye West, “Made In America (feat. Frank Ocean)”
Critics lambasted Watch The Throne as being ostentatious and wealth-obsessed, but they conveniently ignored emotionally resonant tracks like this that documented Hov and Ye’s struggle to make it in America. WHAT’S UP YIA YIA!
8) Pitbull, “Give Me Everything (feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer)”
The most ebuilliant of all the apocalypse-obsessed songs that ruled the airwaves in 2011. GRAB SOMEBODY SEXY!
9) Robin Thicke, “Pretty Lil Heart (feat. Lil Wayne)”
Turn the lights down, pop that bottle of bubbly, throw on this track and babies will practically make themselves. (Also: It’s so refreshing to hear a song that wasn’t produced on a laptop!) TELL ME SOMETHIN’ SWEET, TELL ME SOMETHIN’ NICE!
10) Sara Bareilles, “Uncharted”
One of the best songs I’ve ever heard about the struggles, both internal and external, of an artist trying to live up to past successes. STUCK UNDER THE CEILING I MADE, I CAN’T HELP BUT FEEL LIKE I’M GOING DOWN.
11) M83, “Midnight City” - The city is my church.
12) Death Cab For Cutie, “You Are A Tourist” - My favorite guitar lick of the year, hands down.
13) Britney Spears, “How I Roll”- Bloodshy & Avant’s production work on this song is enjoyably bonkers. Also, I love when Britney enunciates the word “thug” so it sounds like “f*ck.”
14) Pete And The Pirates, “Come To The Bar” - Fans of Parkife era Blur will really enjoy this song.
15) Lady Gaga, “Hair (Live On Howard Stern)” - Remember what I said at the top about the production on Born This Way? I never fail to get chills when I listen to this stripped-down version of the song featuring only Gaga and her piano.
16) Foster The People, “Pumped Up Kicks” - The only song of the year that was possibly too catchy; by the time July rolled around, I had to retire this song from my iPod.
17) Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass” - Wooing a cocaine dealer has never sounded so joyous.
18) Beyonce, “Countdown” - BOOF BOOF!
19) The Prime Ministers, “True Believer” - This New Wave-y song by the Detroit-based power trio features of the slinkiest call-and-responses between a bassline and a guitar lick that I’ve heard in years.
20) Eric Church, “Springsteen” - Nostalgia, ultra (with a side of torch and twang).
21. Two Door Cinema Club, “What You Know”
22. Kenny Chesney, “You And Tequila (feat. Grace Potter)”
23. Dawes, “Time Spent In Los Angeles”
24. Jay-Z and Kanye West, “New Day”
25. My Morning Jacket, “Circuital”
26. Bad Meets Evil, “Lighters (feat. Bruno Mars)”
27. Lana Del Rey, “Blue Jeans”
28. Rihanna, “Cheers (Drink To That)”
29. Frank Ocean, “Novacane”
30. Kavinsky, “Nightcall”
31. College, “A Real Hero (feat. Electric Youth)”
32. David Guetta, “Without You (feat. Usher)”
33. Katy B, “Katy On A Mission”
34. The Strokes, “Two Kinds Of Happiness”
35. Drake, “Take Care (feat. Rihanna)”
36. Britney Spears, “Till The World Ends”
37. Cowboy Junkies, “Wrong Piano”
38. Friendly Fires, “Hawaiian Air”
39. Jay-Z And Kanye West, “Ni**as In Paris”
40. Mike Posner, “Looks Like Sex”