2011 Year in Review: Favorite Songs

I made this list back in December, all ready to get it out by New Year’s Day, but alas it has taken me to February to actually compose this blog post.  So let’s get crackin’.

For previous years check out my lists for 2010 and 2009.  Long time readers (all one of you) may remember I started a project of listing my favorite ten songs from every year of my life.  I’m not going to link those here because I hope one day to redo the posts I made and actually finish the project.

TOP 10

The first eight songs in this list came easily.  The final two kind of rose out of a large list of honorable mentions (some of which you can see below).  Other than that, the songs are in no particular order.

  • “Helplessness Blues” by The Fleet Foxes – a beautiful song that appears to be the perfect anthem for The Great Recession.
  • “No Banker Left Behind” by Ry Cooder – many of the songs on this list earned their spot partly due to the enthusiasm of my four-year-old son.  People probably think I taught him this anti-capitalist anthem, but I first heard it from him after he had heard it on the radio.
  • “Bite of My Soul” by The Fleshtones – I have no idea what this song is about but I love the punk/rockabilly vibe.  It’s good to see bands in their fourth decade still churning out good stuff.
  • “Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine – so, this song lifts a lyric straight from Sydney Carter but it has a nice anthemic, cathartic quality.  Not surprisingly this is another of my son’s favorites and he often needs to shake out his excess energy.
  • “Up Up Up” by The Givers – yet another one of Peters picks, this is a nice, cheerful pop song.
  • “Cruel” by St. Vincent – the casual music paired with the dark lyrics makes this song all the creepier.
  • “Santa Fe” by Beirut – a song named after a city by a band named after a city.  Or it could be a song of faith.  Either way it’s pretty and thoughtful.
  • “Romance” by Wild Flag – a punk supergroup rocks out melodically in an ode to music.
  • “Eleven” by Thao & Mirah – I’m familiar with (fellow W&M alum) Thao, but Mirah is new to me.  Their voices sound good together especially set against the percussion of Merrill Garbus who is also responsible for…
  • “Bizness” by tUnE-yArDs – I admit that I really like the rhythms of this song and others on the album w h o k i l l  but I haven’t made up my mind about tUnE-yArDs.  There’s something pretentious about this band, like a junk band that plays at First Night that is convinced it will save the world.


  • “Someone Like You” by Adele – the album 21 includes “Rolling in the Deep”  which since the song was released in 2010 made it on last year’s list.  The whole album is great but this slow and sad one stands out.
  • “Rox in the Box” by The Decemberists – just like Adele, The Decemberists figured out that they should release a song in the year before they release an album they will make it on my list two years in a row (in this case “Down by the Water”).  “Rox in the Box” stands out from another excellent album because I like the way they incorporated “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy.”
  • “Midnight City” by M83 – a song that revives and renews great things of the 80s: danceable electronic pop and the sax solo!
  • “Happy Girl” by Roe Family Singers – just a lovely old-time music song (possibly an original) by a band from Minnesota.
  • “Danger” by Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside – hipster rockabilly from the Northwest with Ford’s unique vocals carrying the song.
  • “Can’t You Tell” by Vetiver – kind of a crazy mix of ballpark organ, psychedelia, and lounge electronica.
  • “Turn It On” by Waines – a friend introduced this to me as an Italian band channeling ZZ Top.  Is this the musical equivalent of the spaghetti western?

What were your favorite songs of 2011?  And since we’re well into the new year, what are you listening to in 2012?

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