Saturday, December 31, 2011

These are for real the top 11 of '11

These three things all happened in 2011, but only one was good enough to end up on our list
It's New Years Eve and in a few short hours no one will care about 2011 anymore, and instead will be looking ahead to the gloriousness/apocalypse that is sure to come in 2012.  So we'll save you the big into and instead get right to the good stuff.

Here are the best singles from 2011:

11.  Nicola Roberts - Lucky Day
Before everything went off the rails for Nicola, her handlers picked this Dragonette-penned gem for her second single.  Her first release, 'Beat Of My Drum' stalled at #27 on the UK charts, but everyone was all "oh this could be a total fluke for no logical reason other than that we want to believe it is" and figured 'Lucky' could be just the kind of midtempo corker to turn everything around.  But, while it was easy on the ears and had a simple-but-cute New York City-filmed video in tow, 'Day' ended up being just like everything else Nicola Roberts does - critically loved and commercially ignored.  Chart peak: UK - #37

10. Kylie - Put Your Hands Up (Pete Hammond Remix)
K-Mo's 2011 was largely spent on the road, thrilling European and Australian audiences with a concert tour featuring water jets, a "splash zone" in which fans got wet (from the water, not excitement...hopefully), and an entire ancient Greek temple on stage.  It was universally lauded as a triumph, and set the benchmark for "those other" divas, namely Madge and one Miss Gaga.  The Daily Telegraph even noted that "when it comes to the classier brand of arena kitsch, she, not Lady Gaga, remains supreme authority."  But K-Mo didn't stop there.  In 2011 Kylie traveled to the U.S. for her second-ever North American tour, and put out single 'Put Your Hands Up' as a kind of promo track for her trek.  And her fans lapped it up - the song became her fifth number one on the dance chart in a row in America and for good reason - because it is brilliant.  Chart peak: US Dance - #1

9.  Hyuna - Bubble Pop
Hyuna is a Korean pop star who has been no stranger to success.  As a member of the girlgroup Wonder Girls and then as one of different girlgroup 4Minute, she racked up a sizeable number of hits.  But it was when she finally went solo that she really came into her booty-shaking own.  Like a tiny Korean Beyonce she shimmied and shook her ass off and it paid off in spades.  Her video for the genius 'Bubble Pop' was key in the wave of K- and J- pop awareness sweeping the English-speaking world, and the song ruled any half-decent Fire Island iPod dock for the entire summer.  We're also assuming it sparked a run on "BOY" t-shirts, but we don't have the figures for that handy.  Chart peak: Korea - #4

8.  One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
So there's this whole "boyband resurgence" thing happening (particularly in the UK) which means quite a few four-and-fivesomes of hot young gentlemen have been thrown at us over the last 12 months.  The Wanted and JLS each solidified their status as the premiere Euro boybands, and set their sights on America -  The Wanted even look like they might make it, as their track 'Glad You Came' is gaining steam in the US.  But it was the adorably earnest barely-legal boys from One Direction who stole the show with their unpretentious brand of pop perfection.  While JLS and The Wanted tried to prove they were SUPER-LEGIT ARTISTES, the third-place runners up of UK X-Factor decided to cut an album and just have fun with it.  'What Makes You Beautiful' was one of the biggest surprises of the year, with its catchy chorus and its almost rebellious refusal to play into the autotune donkfest that pop has become.  And we are all better for having heard it.  Chart peak:  UK - #1, AUS - #8

7.  Wynter Gordon - Buy My Love
There's something about this track that transcends the sort of C-list status Wynter Gordon holds in the pop world.  She first guested on Flo Rida's 'Sugar' and scored a top 5 hit in the States, but then kind of trailed off into "come see me at Splash nightclub tonight at 1am" mediocrity pretty quickly.  Sure, the gays love her, but they're not a hard group to crack if you have access to glitter and cheap amphetamines.  So when 'Buy My Love' made its debut late in the summer, we were a little blown away.  The song's kitschy without being sappy, ironic enough for the hipsters but not in an annoying way, and comes with a rather inspired video.  Which, of course, means it was totally ignored by just about everyone.  Because that's how these things work.  Sadface, etc.   Chart peak:  AUS - #77, US Dance - #7

6.  Adele - Rolling In The Deep
There's not much we need to say about this track.  Its worldwide dominance is undisputed.  Its singer's genius is unchallenged.  The subtle and quietly intense video is pitch-perfect.  And no matter how many times we hear it, 'Rolling' was and will remain, A JAM.  Chart peak:  US - #1, UK - #2, AUS - #3

5.  Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera - Moves Like Jagger
Ok so if 'Rolling In The Deep' is one song we don't need to justify making this list, 'Moves Like Jagger' might just be the flip side.  It's gimmicky (the whistle, the presence of Xtina for LITERALLY NO REASON), it's pandering, and the video is weird for several reasons, not the least of which being that they actually stretched the footage of Miss Aguilera so she wouldn't look like she ate a dumptruck on the way to the shoot.  But no one can deny that the song was EVERYWHERE this year, and despite that, we somehow didn't get sick of it.  If anything, we warmed to it a bit more with each listen.  And that's the mark of a real hit, ScopiSubjects.  When this track originally debuted we said no one would remember it in a year.  We've never been more delighted to be proven wrong.  Chart peak:  US - #1, UK - #2, AUS - #2

4.  Lady Gaga - Edge Of Glory
We're over Gaga.  A lot of people are over Gaga.  Yes she's brilliant and genius and blah blah, but she's also the reason every gayborhood was full of guys in ridiculous jean cutoffs and black military boots this summer.  She's always essentially been Madonna's shoutier, bitchier, crazier little sister, but 2011 was the year when she all of a sudden decided that everything she does is SUPER IMPORTANT (it's not) and that being a pop star comes with some sort of great responsibility to be douchy and heavy handed (it doesn't).  But 2011 is also the year that, in between spastic bouts of insanity and preachiness, she also gave us some great music.  'Edge Of Glory' is a glittering firework of a song that couldn't even be killed by its shambolic music video (notice we put up a RATHER TREMENDOUS live performance below instead), and for a few precious short-lived months, it gave us back the fun, poppy Gaga we fell in love with so long ago.  Chart peak: US - #3, UK - #6

3.  Will Young - Jealousy
2011 was the year that Will Young reminded everyone why he is amazing.  The "Kelly Clarkson of the UK" (he won the first ever Pop Idol tv show, even before American Idol really Kelly is the US Will Young but whatever) has really been going pretty strong since his first single back in 2002, but to be quite honest it could have gone either way for him after his greatest hits package.  His first few singles were guaranteed success thanks to winning Idol, and then the flurry of press coverage when he came out cemented his status as a bona-fide media darling.  Right about that time he proved he had the songwriting and vocal chops to be the real deal, and then...well, he just got kinda quiet for a while after releasing his retrospective.  Diminishing chart returns on each of his tracks meant 'Jealousy' was released at a time when Young hadn't even appeared in the top 20 of the singles countdown in 3 years (though, to be fair, his albums consistently have been top 10 smashes).  As the lead single of Will's fifth studio record, hopes were high.  But they were all exceeded when this glittering synth gem gave us all a taste of Young's new, electro-chill direction.  The Guardian said it best when it described the track as "stately."  'Jealousy' is a respectable, honorable, mature earworm of a song.  And it's got some killer remixes to boot.  Chart peak:  UK - #5

2.   Selena Gomez and the Scene - Love You Like A Love Song
This song is tremendous.  We really can't overstate that enough.  Had it been given a slightly better production treatment and a bit more promotion (though not through live performances - seriously, it's terrible live, google it) it could have been huge.  Like, Kylie's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' huge.   But instead, whoever was in charge of the whole Selena Gomez thing gave the song to a producer, thought "eh, that's good enough" and chucked it out as a single, and instead of a world-conquering stomper, we got a mid-level hit that sounds a bit like a demo recording that would leak on the internet ahead of a huge superstar's release but is still knock-down, drag-out PHENOMENAL.  So even though it's riding high on our list of tracks of the year, we still can't help but feel this was a bit of a missed opportunity.  And Miss Gomez, we're still waiting for the remixes.  Thanks.  Chart peak:  RUS - #1, CAN - #10, US - #26

1.  Cher Lloyd - Want U Back
So there are a couple things that could get us into trouble with this pick.  First, it's Cher Lloyd. A ton of people hate her.  A ton of people love her too, but they're usually pretty quiet about it and just download her tracks in the dark at night from a Starbucks nowhere near their house out of fear someone they know could see them.  But generally we are comfortable saying that Cher Lloyd is a....divisive figure.  The second issue is that this track isn't OFFICIALLY out as a single yet.  Its release date is pegged for February 12, 2012 and it's only just recently gone out to radio stations.  But, thanks to THE WORLD WE NOW LIVE IN, it's available as a single download from its parent album, so we are including it in this list.  Because it is amazing.  And also since it's like, 8 hours until 2012 and we feel kind of bad our list is coming out so late and giving a tip for what is going to be huge in the new year makes us feel a bit more relevant and on point.  But mostly because it's amazing.  It's fresh, it's got personality, and it is, most importantly, unique.  It sounds nothing like the autotuned Katy Perry/Ke$ha/Britney dreck that is constantly on the radio and which makes every day sound like one long thumping headache of a song, and for that, Cher, we thank you.  Chart peak:  TBR

Happy 2012, ScopiSubjects, and see you on the other side.