Thursday, December 22, 2011

End of Year Mix Tapes Special Edition: My Top 20 Tracks of 2011

Are you guys as excited about this as I am? I mean, suure, you can go check out Pitchfork's staff picks of the top 100 tracks of 2011, but that doesn't answer the pressing question:

What was Alison(composes) listening to all year?

So finally, rightnow, I have your answer! These are the tunes that got me through a year of riding the blue line to and from work, the tracks that inspired white girl dances in the kitchen, made me pound the steering wheel of my Ford Focus in glee as I scurried around Logan Square, and even the ones that made my sad bastard heart overflow with a bittersweet happiness as I hit replay again and again.

I was gonna wait until NYE to post this, but chances are I'm not going to fall in love with 20 new tracks in the next nine days. So, without further ado...

20. The Roots (featuring Phonte & Dice Raw) — "One Time"
Partly because I'm always late for the bus, partly because I love Phonte, and largely because: "Stick to the script, fuck your improv."

19. tUnE-yArDs — "Bizness"
Because I really needed a song in my life that gave me a valid excuse to paint my face and run around wailing, "WHAT'S THE BIZNESS, YEAH?" I made it to Pitchfork just in time to see Merrill Garbus delight a crowd of teeny-boppers covered in bright paint and dirt, and I loved every minute of it.

18. Kanye West & Jay-Z — "Otis"
"Sounds so soulful, don't you agree?" At first listen, I sorta hated what they were doing to one of my all-time favorite songs—that would be "Try a little tenderness" kids—but then I just couldn't help it. It was so gotdam catchy! "Guess I got my swagger back!" Etc! Etc! Otis!

17. Dum Dum Girls — "Coming Down"
It's the type of song I wish I'd had when I was an angsty teen. But whatever, I had Fiona, Poe, and Mazzy Star back then. (Dare I mention the obvious Mazzy Star comparisons?) I just love hearing Dee Dee moan, "I think I'm coming down..." repeatedly. Yeah.

16. Fleet Foxes — "Helplessness Blues"
"I was raised up believing I was somehow unique..." and from then on, you actually feel the helplessness blues, but at the same time, you're so damn happy that it doesn't really matter. At least, that's how this song makes me feel. You tell me:

15. Frank Ocean — "Novacane"
The man says it himself: "This is some visionary shit."

14. Beyoncé — "Countdown"
Look, I tried to fight it. When I first heard "4" I thought it was good, but a little bleh. I was bored with the arguments about whether Bey Bey singing about girls running the world was an empowerment anthem or actually the opposite, and I didn't really like that song much anyway. Whatever. But I just can't lie: I fucking love this song. And the way she curls up her lip right as she sings, "if you leave me you're outta your mind." Believe that!

13. The Rapture — "How Deep Is Your Love?"
Just try not to immediately start bouncing around to this. And then scream: "HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE?" It's deep, guys, it's deep.

12. St. Vincent — "Champagne Year"
I just love when Annie sings, "I make a living telling people what they want to hear/it's not a killing, but it's enough to keep the cobwebs clear." I may or may not have written a poem about this album. "It's not a perfect plan, but it's the one we got."

11. Adele — "Don't You Remember"
As you'll see, Miss Adele makes it on this list twice. I know, I know, but it's accurate. I would be scared to know how many times I listened to this song this year. I'd be even more scared to know if the upstairs neighbors heard me belting out off-key in the shower, "I know I have a fickle heart, and a bitterness, and a wandering eye and a heaviness in my head" — but I really don't care. What I do wanna know is, why don't you remember?

10. Feist — "How Come You Never Go There"
I love Leslie, and I knew she wouldn't disappoint with her new album this year. Particularly when her first single had her sweetly singing about how "you carry on as though I don't love you" — I would never, Leslie! (Whoa, whoa, whoa)

9. Little Dragon — "Ritual Union"
What an opening track to an album. I loved it immediately. (Which of course you already know all about, since I blogged about my obsession back in August.) This song doesn't just make you wanna dance, it makes you wanna full out wiggle your body like a madwoman. Or is that only me?

8. Alabama Shakes — "Hold On"
So what if two weeks ago I had never heard of the Alabama Shakes? So. What. I know them now, and holy shit:

7. The Black Keys — "Lonely Boy"
I almost hate to knock this all the way back to the #7 slot, BECAUSE OF ITS AWESOMENESS, but alas, El Camino came out quite late in the year, and I had many months of listening to other 2011 tracks repeatedly. However, late in the year or no, this might be my favorite music video since, um, EVER. The happiness! It's almost too much to bear:

6. The National — "Think You Can Wait"
Obviously. There were a few weeks where I listened to this song at least twice a day. It was getting sick, me sitting at my cubicle with Matt Berninger pleading with me, "I'm out of my mind...think you can wait?" Fuuuuck. And surprise! I blogged about this one too, back in May, right at the peak of my obsession and realizing that I likely was, in fact, out of my mind right along with Matt.

"I'll try, but I couldn't be better..." It kills me. It just kills me.

5. James Blake — "Limit to Your Love"
Out of my devout loyalty to Leslie Feist's original, I tried my damnedest not to fall in love with this version. That lasted about 10 minutes. At Pitchfork, as the bass shook the entire park, I leaned against a tree as this played, and had it not been for the wasted, chubby hipster in tight jean shorts slow dancing in front of me, or the fact that I was at an outdoor music festival, I might have wept.

4. Lykke Li — "Get Some"
Duh. My Lykke love is more than well-documented. But this! "I'm your prostitute. You gon get some." Well, shit, Lykke.

3. Lana Del Rey — "Video Games"
Do I have to preface this one with anything? I mean, I wrote a poem inspired by this track, for chrissakes. "Born to Die" might have beat out this one for my favorite track of hers, cause "I like my girls insane," but I have to stay true to why I first fell in love. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, Lana Del Rey is pretty.

2. Adele - "Rolling in the Deep"
My GOD, Adele. "21" has proven to be one of my favorite albums, like, ever. You know, me and the rest of the world. This is why:

1. TV on the Radio — "Will Do"
Is it because I love Tunde Adebimpe so dearly? Is it because deep down, I'm secretly a romantic? I don't know. All I know is, Tunde crooning about unrequited love makes my heart fucking hurt, and considering I listened to this track, and this album, even more than Adele this year (if you can believe it) it has more than earned the coveted spot at the top of my 2011 list. There's more I could say, but I won't, other than: "Oh my reddest rose! Caldera! Set it off!"

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