The list continues with the numbers 15 through 1 below. Click here to return to #30 – 16.
15. Hanson – “Give a Little”
A set of instructions to men on how to dance with women. With blazing brass, a tantalizing guitar riff, hand clapping, and — yes — more cowbell, everyone feels like dancing to this sorta-sequel to “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’.” While “Give a Little” is the #15 song of the year, its music video might be the best of 2011.
14. Panic! at the Disco – “Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)”
Opening with a soft and lurking wind-up, the song quickly erupts with a bang, giving way to hyper-chanting, instrument-filled dance-rock. The lyrics talk about running, but the music is so, so catchy.
13. Arctic Monkeys – “Suck It and See”
With its retro vibe and wave-like tempo, “Suck It and See” could be the soundtrack to a ’60s flight to Hawaii. The lyrics are absolutely phenomenal, with gem lines that include “your love is like a leather-studded headlock” and “that’s not a skirt, girl, that’s a sawn-off shotgun, and I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me.”
12. The Kooks – “Junk of the Heart (Happy)”
“I Wanna Make You Happy,” says the refrain… and it does. “Junk of the Heart” may not sound very romantic, but there’s smile-inducing exuberance in this English indie love song.
11. Delta Rae – “If I Loved You”
Part of the band’s “gRAEt Mondays” free music campaign, “If I Loved You” is a soaring throwback to ’90s adult contemporary pop. A song of nonreciprocal romance, it’s delivered with emotionally wrenched vocal harmonies and the kind of piano/guitar collaboration we don’t hear enough of these days.
10. Arctic Monkeys – “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala”
A difficult song to read, but with wording so artfully crafted that you’ve just got to try. The ever-versatile Monkeys’ stark songwriting continues with well-turned (if ambiguous) lines like “I took the batteries out my mysticism and put ‘em in my thinking cap” and “her steady hands may well have done the devil’s pedicure.”
9. AWOLNATION – “Sail”
“Sail” goes from mysterious to creepy in just over thirty seconds, and then quickly turns into an attention-deficit musical horror house. The product is, like the verse says, “a different breed.”
8. Manchester Orchestra – “Virgin”
Speaking of creepy songs, this one’s downright haunting. A slow-singing children’s choir will do that to any brooding rock song.
7. The Civil Wars – “Barton Hollow”
A swampy folk-rocker with lyrics about a dead man walking, stalked by the devil. It’s like Jars of Clay, if they were both more country and more rock ‘n roll. The Wars’ Williams and White belt from beginning to end, their voices blending in perfect accord.
6. Teitur – “God, I Have So Many Things to Tell You”
While popular in Denmark, Faroese singer/songwriter Teitur is virtually unknown to Americans. He isn’t really a Christian Music artist either. Maybe if he caught the ear of today’s Nashville-based Contemporary Christian Music, though, the latter wouldn’t be so boring. Here is an edgy and truly contemporary expression of faith — and doubt — artfully written and sung.
5. Maroon 5, featuring Christina Aguilera – “Moves Like Jagger”
It took Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera entirely too long to collaborate, even if this isn’t exactly the Levine/Aguilera duet I’d hoped for. The pulsating beat, the uber-sexual lyrics, the high notes… these are things both the band and the songstress are known for individually. Naturally, that’s all on overdrive when they team up for this addictive whistle romp.
4. Delta Rae – “Bottom of the River”
A ghost story of a song with cricket chirping, incantatory wailing, and otherworldly stomping. The low-rolling harmonies and seductive screaming sound like they might actually rouse the dead. When literal chains are among your primary instruments, you know you’re creating atmosphere. This phenomenal track is brimming with it.
3. fun., featuring Janelle Monáe – “We Are Young”
An eminently of-the-moment celebration of youth. Every generation deserves one of these.
2. ADELE – “Someone Like You”
So pure and raw that it actually makes you want to cry. Piano accompaniment hasn’t been this stirring since “Candle on the Water.” Adele’s flawless voice has such presence in the recording, as if she’s standing there beside you, spilling her soul into your ear.
1. ADELE – “Rolling in the Deep”
A really-for-real great song for the entire world to obsess over. We needed this. We still do. And I’m still obsessed… a year later.
- Gym Class Heroes, featuring Adam Levine – “Stereo Hearts”
- Sleeper Agent – “Get It Daddy”
- Foo Fighters – “These Days”
- Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “The Death of You and Me”
- Jennifer Lopez, featuring Pitbull – “On the Floor”
- tUnE-yArDs – “Bizness”
- Glee Cast – “Get It Right”
- Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”
- Maroon 5 – “Never Gonna Leave This Bed”
- Rooney – “Holdin’ On”
- Glee Cast – “We Are Young”
- Radiohead – “The Daily Mail”
- Vince Gill – “Threaten Me with Heaven”
Stay tuned to aaronwallaceonline.com for more information on Aaron’s upcoming book about Walt Disney World… title and release date coming soon!
Also Coming Soon: The Best in Film of 2011