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Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 20 Albums of 2011: 12-11

12. Rhydian - Waves

An opera-singing X-Factor runner-up covering obscure 80's tracks? Yes, please. I'm a big proponent of drama in pop music, and Rhydian definitely enhanced the tracks on this album with vocals of epic proportion. The fact that I was only familiar with a couple of the songs in their original format actually helped things.

11. Adele - 21

Yes, this will be appearing on plenty of people's best-of lists. She really took over the world this year. To be honest, it's not exactly my preferred genre of music, but even I can't deny the quality of songs on this album. Looking at the hits alone is enough to convince anyone of its merit.

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Top 50 Singles of 2011: 30-26

30. Short Stack - Heartbreak Made Me A Killer

An album highlight and one of their best singles. It's like all of their best sounds thrown together into one song.

29. Olly Murs - Heart Skips A Beat (ft. Rizzle Kicks)

Represents his shift from X-Factor runner-up to proper popstar. This was inescapable this Summer, and rightfully so.

28. The Sound Of Arrows - Nova

After an extended break, The Sound Of Arrows returned with this taster from their debut album. It got me 1000% more excited.

27. Adele - Someone Like You

The year's most moving ballad. Even after being played to death in every country, it still carries its bite.

26. Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Her anthem, and undeniably a massive part of 2011. This is what happens when a pop song becomes more than a pop song and enters the public consciousness.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top 20 Albums of 2011: 14-13

14. Will Young - Echoes

The 2011 version of a George Michael album. It took awhile for this to stick with me, but once it did, I was really enchanted. I've never completely enjoyed a Will Young album before. His music has always been too... well... boring for me. With Echoes, though, he struck the perfect balance between ballad and uptempo, organic and electronic. The best "grown up" pop album of the year.

13. Mohombi - Movemeant

This album kind of came out of nowhere. With its synthesized Red One production and Afro-Caribbean sound, this was the perfect soundtrack to the Spring and Summer. It borrows many of the tricks of 2011 pop music but gives it a personal, unique edge that makes the album stand out. Plus, it's catchy as hell. Every single track.

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Top 50 Singles of 2011: 35-31

35. The Sounds - Something To Die For

A late-career highlight. Sometimes all it takes is a well written pop song, and this definitely fits the bill.

34. Katy Perry - Last Friday Night (TGIF)

Katy Perry's chart run continued unabated this year, and this track reignited interest in her brand of young, glossy pop.

33. Donkeyboy - City Boy

Foregoing their usual, more wistful sound for something more electronic, this is something of a revelation for the band.

32. Cher Lloyd - With Ur Love (ft. Mike Posner)

The X-Factor finalist's best single, and a perfect representation of what a Cher Lloyd album should sound like.

31. Salem Al Fakir - Split My Personality (Bassflow Remix)

Pair one of the best producers with one of Sweden's quirkiest pop artists and you have a cross-genre masterpiece like this.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top 20 Albums of 2011: 16-15

16. Penguin Prison - Penguin Prison

The first half of this, single after amazing single, is just flawless. The second half is no slouch either, though I wish there was just a little more diversity of sound. This was a quiet 2011 release, even after a lot of internet buzz around the singles. Like Robyn, this is the kind of pop music where you can tell that the artist is really a fan of music in general. It's lovingly crafted, wearing its influences (mostly 80's) on its sleeve.

15. Le Kid - Oh, Alright

A pop album that sounds almost like a greatest hits, Le Kid debuted with an amazing collection of bubblegum pop songs. It won't appeal to everyone, but the sheer amount of energy involved in everything made certain that the band were never boring. There's a remarkable lack of filler here. Coupled with a handful of brilliant, brilliant singles, and this is an album worthy of more attention than it's had this year.

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Top 50 Singles of 2011: 40-36

40. Jedward - Lipstick

Jedward in the top 50? Yep, they finally released a song worthy of their bonkers brilliance. If only it had won Eurovision.

39. Britney Spears - I Wanna Go

When we're talking pop music, there's no denying the little earworms in this song. Honestly, it's less about Britney and more about the brilliant production.

38. Lady Gaga - Marry The Night

A triumphant dance track that brings Gaga's latest album full circle. It's one of her best videos, too.

37. Nero - Promises

Dubstep gone mainstream, with a wonderful La Roux-esque melody. An unexpected, deserved hit this summer.

36. Mika - Elle Me Dit

The first French track ever on one of my countdowns. It doesn't matter what the language is, though, when the melody is so persistent and uplifting.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top 20 Albums of 2011: 18-17

18. Example - Playing In The Shadows

Though it still wasn't perfect, with each album release Example comes closer and closer to the artist that I think he can be. Preceded by amazing singles, Playing In The Shadows includes some unreleased gems, most notably the opening track, which shows how epic Example music is at its best. I still think, even though this is distinctly British, an album like this could make a huge splash in America.

17. Cher Lloyd - Sticks & Stones

If this debut would have totally lived up to the promise Lloyd showed on X-Factor, it would be a lot higher on the list. Even so, it's a pleasant pop album without one skippable track. That's a pretty huge accomplishment in 2011, where most pop albums could really have been cut in half and been all the better for it. The album succeeded in carving out a spot for Lloyd in the charts, and has a ton of potential singles just waiting to be released.

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Top 50 Singles of 2011: 45-41

45. Olly Murs - Dance With Me Tonight

Olly really came into his own this year with a pair of great singles. This could have been a cheesy novelty track but somehow it just worked.

44. Alexandra Stan - Mr. Saxobeat

Now this is a cheesy novelty track. And, more than that, it's the best cheesy novelty track of the year.

43. Lady Gaga - You And I

A rootsy sidestep for Gaga. The Mutt Lange production and weirdo-awesome video totally made it.

42. Sanna Nielsen - I'm In Love

One of this year's Melodifestivalen highlights, it pretty much defines the word "catchy."

41. Ulrik Munther - Boys Don't Cry

The one man Hanson from Sweden broke through with this endearing ballad, released on his own before scoring a record deal.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 20 Albums of 2011: 20-19

20. Take That - Progressed

The "parent album" was one of my favorites of last year, and this continuation kept up the quality. To me, this didn't sound at all like a collection of leftovers. In fact, in some ways this is even more experimental than Progress. It's also more uptempo and, while it's not as consistently brilliant as the group can be, it has its share of blistering highlights.

19. Rogue Traders - Night Of The Living Drums

A long time in the making, this represented the band's first album with their new vocalist. She's really the reason why I love the album and, at times, am annoyed by it. When the music soars, like on Would You Raise Your Hands, Don't Think I Love You and Like It Ends Tonight, it's some of the best stuff of the year. Then there are tracks like If You Wanna Taste It and Sign Language that, unfortunately, prevent this from going higher on my list. Still, it's an overall solid album.

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