2011 in Review: More of the Best Music


• The Lonely Island feat. Michael Bolton – “Jack Sparrow”
Their best video yet. It’s slick, professional and fall-down funny.

• M83 – “Midnight City”
Remember the intro to the ’90s X-Men cartoon? This is like that, only cooler.

• Katy Perry – “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”
Perry’s one of the few singers left that understands that if you’re a big pop artist, every video needs to be an event. She’s also got a pretty good sense of humor. All of this, plus Hanson and Kenny G!

• Radiohead – “Lotus Flower”
This is a once-in-a-lifetime surprise: Thom Yorke dancing!

• Kanye West feat. Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj – “Monster”
A beautiful dark twisted fantasy. Hey, maybe Kanye should call his album that… (It should go without saying this video is very NSFW.)

• Childish Gambino – Camp
The year’s most impressive debut. With Camp, Donald Glover has already staked his claim as one of the best writers in hip-hop.

• Drake – Take Care
Gone are the stand-up comedy lyrics of So Far Gone and Thank Me Later. This is all exposed nerves. It’s a little bloated, but quite impressive and shows he knows what he’s doing better than his protégé the Weeknd.

• Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne
They’re wildly out of touch, and there’s some filler on this legendary team-up. But you’ve still got plenty of indispensable tracks like “No Church in the Wild,” “Made in America” and the most ridiculous top-10 hit of the year: “Niggas in Paris.”

• The Roots – Undun
The Roots with Sufjan Stevens? I think my little hipster heart just grew three sizes.

• Tyler the Creator – Goblin
No rapper had more praise and hatred thrown his way than the de facto face of hip-hop upstarts Odd Future, and for good reason. His lyrics can be pretty reprehensible, but he’s one of the few rappers I actually believe when he says he doesn’t care. He’s on his own wavelength, and only he knows what he really means and what he’s just saying because it’s floating around in his head. It’s messed-up either way, but at least he’s returning a little bit of danger to hip-hop.

• Calhoun – Heavy Sugar
This Fort Worth band sounds A LOT like Wilco, but this isn’t a problem at all. They still forge their own identity and their song writing is absolutely fantastic.

• Fergus & Geronimo – Unlearn
The best anti-Denton album ever to come out of Denton.

• Madison King – Darlin, Here’s to You*
Completely different from the girl I saw at my brother-in-law’s house show a year ago, her new image and perfected sound gives country music a good name again.

• Sarah Jaffe – The Way Sound Leaves a Room
I know bands that would kill to have an EP as good as this odds-n-sods collection. She’s so good even her B-sides and covers are better than most bands entire outputs.

• Seryn – This is Where We Are
I’ve already written pretty endlessly about these guys. There’s simply no band better in the area right now.

Empire Central – “I Wish Christmas Time Was All Year”
Full disclosure: Both these guys are good friends, but they write a dern good Christmas jam. Their full-length should drop later this year.

*not on Spotify (yet)

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