Let me guess, you’re checking to see if I’ve slotted Sugababes‘ ‘Freedom’ or Natalie Bassingthwaighte‘s ‘All We Have’ in the Top 20 Songs of 2011.
So sorry to disappoint but this isn’t the It’s Not Right But It’s Okay list. This is the premium VIP lounge, y’guys. That velvet rope don’t go up for any basic bitch peddling a half decent tune sung with fuck all conviction.
I am looking for songs that have not only connected with me on an emotional level but also earned snaps for interesting musical execution. These ten tracks have all reached out and broken me down with either a killer melody and fierce production, or soul-touching lyrics.
The sonic soundscape represented in the #20 – #11 list varies from Brunswick-style indie to ferocious K-pop and even a touch of gospel. Variety is the spice of life, children. And I’m here for quality pop of all musical persuasions.
Check out Feed Limmy’s Songs of 2011: #20 – #11:
#20 ‘Believe’ by Jennifer Hudson
Can we get a ‘Halleloo!’ for Jennifer Hudson bringing some Sunday morning gospel realness into our lives? This is by far the most significant moment in the vocal prima donna’s I Remember Me album.
The ‘Believe’ you hear here is actually a soulful interpretation of Brooks & Dunn‘s 2005 country single. It’s probably the best example of a country song epically upgraded by a soul diva since Whitney covered Dolly Parton‘s ‘I Will Always Love You’.
The folky storytelling style is everything to ‘Believe’ and it’s so refreshing to hear Jennifer pull back a little on the vocal theatrics she’s famed for to preserve the essence of the song. The rousing tale of “Old Man Wrigley” losing his wife and child, and his firm belief that he’ll be reunited with them in heaven, is enough to send anyone to tears. Gurl, trust me, I wept a little after hearing it one afternoon while folding the laundry.
Throw me a line: “They tell me that there’s more to life than just what I can see, and I believe…”
#19 ‘Cameo Lover’ by Kimbra
This song is pure joy on the ears but the truly amazing thing about ‘Cameo Lover’ is actually what goes on beyond the merry melodies.
The Kiwi indie pop siren certainly knows how to build a mystery with intriguing layers of music, harmonies and cryptic lyrics. I know that description kinda depicts ‘Cameo Lover’ as maybe a little “inaccessible” but in reality, it’s actually completely inviting and instantly lovable.
Kimbra and urban producer M-Phazes have somehow concocted this brilliant marriage of hip hop beats with Brunswick-stype hipster pop. There’s also beauty in the way ‘Cameo Lover’ grows on you too. This track will consume you like Berocca in a glass of water. Within seconds of impact, you’re instantly hit with this joyous wall of sound that just expands with more layers of vocals and harmonies as you go. Totally life-giving.
Throw me a line: “Sometimes, baby, the hardest part of breaking is leaving pieces behind you…”
#18 ‘Come Back You Bad Person’ by Kahi
There is no rational explanation for my obsession with Kahi. All I know is that – in my eyes – she’s quite possibly the Cheryl Cole of K-pop and I’m just lapping it all up. The bitch hails from a girl band (After School) and just like Chezza, Kahi is totally gorgeous and has managed to serve up a single that’s actually more interesting than her own vocal abilities care to inform.
You can give me a stink eye all you like but ‘Come Back You Bad Person’ really is to Kahi what ‘Promise This’ was to Cheryl. What’s really marvelous about the production is this Jekyll and Hyde-style clash of hard electronica beats and spoken word rap with a soft, piano-based sung chorus.
It’s like creating a mash up within your own song. The result is utterly bonkers.
#17 ‘Free’ by Natalia Kills
“Window shopping’s overrated. If I see it, I’mma take it! Gotta stretch that dollar bill. Stretch that dollar!” - Story of my life, anyone?
The mainstream’s disgusting snub of ‘Free’ will forever go down as one of the most frustrating moments in 2011. See, I’m not even one of those heavy-stanning bloggers who absolutely worships the sweat dripping off her taint but I know when Natalia Kills deserves a hit – and she deserved to reign with this bad bitch.
‘Free’ is an instant pop classic that touches on a very critical first world problem: money and materialism. I love that the song’s an unabashed celebration of our generation’s loose relationship with finances and not a wanky preach [please refer: Jessie J's 'Price Tag']. Broke ass bitches need their anthem too and I ain’t too proud to rub my thumb and index finger in the air when Natalia hollers, “Get your fives! Get your tens! Get your twenties out!”
Throw me a line: “Wanna be like Midas when my bank account is minus! Gotta stretch that dollar bill. Stretch that dollar!”
#16 ‘Bloodstained Heart’ by Darren Hayes
Was there ever a more perfect single to usher Darren Hayes back into the mainstream? Didn’t think so. ‘Bloodstained Heart’ has all the makings of a classic Savage Garden ballad that should be instantly identifiable to anyone who lost touch with him after the 90s.
It’s a life affirming and sentimental track with this universal message of friendship and hope for the underdog. How can anyone not want this? Production wise, it feels like Darren Hayes colliding with Snow Patrol and/or Coldplay – especially at the climax.
Y’know, there are essentially two groups of Darren Hayes fans – the stans that go hard for The Tension & The Spark and the appreciators of his classic SG-style – and sometimes it’s hard to pick sides. ’Bloodstained Heart’ is actually the one single that amazingly unites these two tribes under one big banner of love. Such is its immensity.
Throw me a line: “We can dream each other to a new day where the good guys always win and heaven still means something.”
#15 ‘All Fired Up’ by The Saturdays
I had nothing but eye rolls for The Saturdays when I first heard ‘All Fired Up’. The uninspired, repetitive lyrics and overused alcopop dance beats felt really underwhelming for a Xenomania production. But, of course, in true trash pop excellence – the fucking thing worked its way into my brain and I’ve not stopped playing it ever since.
There are a couple of A-grade moments here that absolutely turned ‘All Fired Up’ around for me. Think: “We’re so close to the edge of desire, feels so hot-hot! Got that fiyah!” (repeat etc.) But on the whole, this infatuation has taught me a very important lesson in pop appreciation – and that’s, you can’t take it all too seriously.
Pop music consumption for me is just as much about fun and the dancing of melodies as it is about emotional connectivity and artistic originality. Sometimes you just gotta under think and just go with what your rump is grooving to.
Throw me a line: “I put my head against the speakers, singing blowing my mind! DJ blow my mind!”
#14 ‘Big’ by Sneaky Sound System
I know some of y’all were clutching your chests in shock when you read that Sneaky Sound System‘s From Here to Anywhere missed my Top 20 Albums of 2011 cut. Truth is, even though I now deeply adore the album, there was a time where I was reluctant to immerse myself in it purely because nothing else on the album was ‘Big’.
‘Big’ is possibly the best single the Aussie dance/pop band has ever released. The bittersweet, dance ballad style is positively right up my street, especially if you consider past Songs of The Year candidates (Robyn‘s ‘Dancing On My Own’ and Kylie‘s ‘All The Lovers’).
Throw me a line: “I won’t forget the time when you told me, we could be something. The memory, it is mine.”
#13 ‘Video Games’ by Lana Del Rey
The name on everybody’s lips next year is gonna be Lana Del Rey. The stunningly mysterious American recording artiste is definitely one of the most exciting new female figures in the industry – making waves with her brand of vintage Nancy Sinatra-style blues.
‘Video Games’ will do doubt be on countless tastemakers’ lists for song of 2011. The haunting and lushly orchestrated track provides such a consistent cinematic feel from start to finish, complementing Del Rey‘s wilting vocals to a tee.
I think, although she is a rather unique vocalist, the whole charm with Lana Del Rey is this vintage 60s pin up character she’s pitched as. It’s about the package – her melancholy old school Americana music and appropriate styling. She pulls up to the curb as almost this antithesis to all the plastic, couture-clad vixens we’re seeing in the industry right now. It’s time to make space for a new figure.
Throw me a line: “I heard that you like the bad girls, honey. Is that true?”
#12 ‘Who You Are’ by Jessie J
I have a tendency to get a little choked up every time I hear this song. I think I’ll always look back on 2011 and the difficult growing pains I’ve had to overcome, and reflect on how ‘Who You Are’ soundtracked the darker months.
The song’s universal message of being true to yourself and following your heart sounds a little cheesy, but there’s really no denying its power especially when it’s administered with such conviction in Jessie J‘s vocals.
The stripped back and largely acoustic production removes all possible distractions from Jessie’s soulful performance, leaving you feeling a little raw by the time she gets to the final chorus. And believe me, you’d have to be dead to not feel anything.
Throw me a line: “Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing. It’s OK not to be OK.”
#11 ‘The Edge of Glory’ by Lady Gaga
“Oh bitch, I see you trying to be controversial by not putting Gaga in the Top 10.” - Is that how you feel about this placement? Well don’t get too pressed because you haven’t seen the last of this ho. There’s still the Albums of 2011 countdown, remember?
‘The Edge of Glory’ is without question the most important Gaga song since ‘Bad Romance’. There’s just something so extravagant yet sincere and emotional about this power ballad that just breaks down these walls I’ve put up to counter her occasional bullshit.
I can’t even front. The themes surrounding one’s final moments on earth coupled with a soulful saxophone solo by the late Clarence Clemons is flawless as it is, but then you consider the song’s commitment to dance music with those sledgehammering techno rock beats and it just blows your brains. You really can have it all on ‘The Edge of Glory’.
Throw me a line: “I’m on the edge of something final we call life tonight…”
Feed Limmy’s Albums of 2011 (#20 – #11) will be revealed on Christmas Eve. Then finally, we’ll bringing in the heavyweight champs Top 10 songs of 2011 on 28 December.