The Top 200 Songs of 2011 – 100-51

100. The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

When the band sticks to what they know, they sound great. Angles is a hot-and-cold album, but this is the first of two tracks that showcases the former.

99. Born Gold – Wrinklecarver

Originally released as former project Gobble Gobble, nothing has been done to this track in terms or re-mixing or mastering, but it just sounds better in context within the new album Bodysongs.

98. St. Vincent – Cheerleader

Another highlight from Strange Mercy – here Annie Clark shows off her knack for start-stop surprises around what sounds conventional at first, then grows to be beautifully unusual.

97. Drake – Lord Knows (featuring Rick Ross)

The snare hits, the booming bass, the background vocals, that “Just Blaze!” intro, the use of the phrase “Murdercedez Benz.” What’s not to love here?

96. Wiz Khalifa – The Race

One of the more down-tempo tracks on the fun Rolling Papers, Wiz drops a chill-out anthem for the end of the night when you just wanna light one up and take it easy.

95. The Weeknd – House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls

This two-parter properly introduced us to the eerie mystique of the then-faceless Weeknd, a guy who croons about partying too much, too hard, and too intensely.

94. tUnE-yArDs – Bizness

Merrill Garbus took her anti-pop DIY project to the next level, gaining an entire new legion of fans with this leading single from her impressive effort w h o k i l l.

93. Jay Z and Kanye West – Otis

Dropping swag on “Try a Little Tenderness.” At this point you’re a jaded fogey who thinks Redding is rolling in his grave, or you’re rapping along. Count me in the latter category.

92. The Rapture – How Deep Is Your Love?

Don’t call it a comeback – our favorite dance crew hustled back onto the scene with this lead single, a slow-building, but ultimately rewarding, instant classic.

91. Purity Ring – Lofticries

Featuring one of the most haunting videos of the year, Purity Ring strikes again with this creepy, beautiful Web release.

90. The Joy Formidable – Cradle

This one’s for all the kids that love to stomp and clap at loud-ass rock shows. Believe me, that was exactly the scene at Fun Fun Fun this year.

89. Black Lips – Raw Meat

Here, Black Lips channel a whistling hook and the Ramones for some garage punk-ish fun, all done in that signature Lips style.

88. The Lonely Island – I Just Had Sex (feat. Akon)

A virtual high five goes to you if you’ve played this song this year shortly after participating in a session of conjugal copulation. “I think she might have been a racist!”

87. The Go! Team – Buy Nothing Day

The Go! Team are awesome at two distinct sounds – the first is the rap-heavy cheerleader-chanting vibe found on their previously listed “T.O.R.N.A.D.O.” The second is the quirky, catchy pop found here.

86. Ringo Deathstarr – So High

Still incorporating shoegaze, Deathstarr add a bit of lazy summer pop to the formula for a rewarding change-up within their excellent Colour Trip.

85. Jeff the Brotherhood – Ripper

I’ve previously said Jeff the Brotherhood tried new things on their latest album, and they did, but this one is more what we’ve come to expect. Grow your hair out long and bang your head for “Ripper;” the title says it all.

84. FIDLAR – Oh

I know absolutely nothing about this band, where they’re from, if they have an album, nothing. All I know is I rocked out to this song about a million times in 2011.

83. The Civil Wars – I’ve Got This Friend

Another great example of the tender alt-country/pop matching from this Nashville duo; this one picks up where Nickel Creek left off. Great stuff.

82. Dominique Young Unique – Gangsta Whips

Another fine track from Unique’s other mixtape released this year, Stupid Pretty. Ignore the dumb chorus; this one’s all about the flow, and the breakdown near the end.

81. Kendrick Lamar – A.D.H.D.

“You know why we’re crack babies, because we born in the 80’s, the ADHD crazy.” Got a high tolerance when you’re age don’t exist.

80. I Break Horses – Winter Beats

The epic opening track from this band’s ignored debut disc is a gentle crescendo into experimental shoegaze and enveloping melody.

79. Gauntlet Hair – Mop It Up

One of the hookiest tracks from Gauntlet Hair to date, featuring a slew of “oh-ohs” and an oft-repeated refrain of “Say Goodbye!”

78. Gross Magic – Yesterdays

You know that last track from Gross Magic I posted? Remember I said it was loud and abrasive? This one blows that one out of the water. Meant to blow out your speakers.

77. Kate Jackson – Wonder Feeling

Former Long Blondes leader Jackson continues her long trek of infectious melodies and engaging vocals. This is part of a split single released this year through The Vinyl Factory.

76. Fleet Foxes – Battery Kinzie

Short, sweet, beautiful. Fleet Foxes, in my opinion, play to their inherent strengths when they pen tracks like these – folk-pop brilliance second-rate acts like Mumford and Sons could never touch.

75. James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

The slow build from soulful minimalism to outright chaotic distortion is Blake’s finest track to date.

74. Foo Fighters – White Limo

I’ve mentioned Wasting Light is one of the loudest Foo records ever, and “White Limo” is probably the best, most Queens of the Stone Age, example of that.

73. M83 – Steve McQueen

A track that highlights just how littered this double album is with near-perfect songcraft – this A+ song is criminally buried near the end.

72. The Black Keys – Lonely Boy

This lead single, featuring an old dude dancing to the whole thing in the video, is another great example of a band not changing their style much, because absolutely everyone loves them.

71. Youth Lagoon – Afternoon

Just try not to whistle along and tap your foot to this, the best track on the oh-so-quiet pretty Year of Hibernation album.

70. Shugo Tokumaru – Lahaha

If you’ve never heard Shugo before, I recommend starting here – probably the best, catchiest endeavor he’s ever done.

69. The Decemberists – Down By the Water

Meloy and the gang utilize a heaping helping of harmonica for this new live staple, featuring a chorus so singalong you won’t be able to resist.

68. EMA – Milkman

Everyone is listing “California” as the best track from this album, but I prefer “Milkman,” containing a slightly more accessible, but just as powerful, vocal arrangement.

67. Ford & Lopatin – Emergency Room

That bass synth line just lures you into this Miami Vice world; probably the best song to soundtrack driving around Sunset Strip with vintage Ray-Bans on….at least in 2011.

66. Neon Indian – Future Sick

Hidden within Era Extrana is this great example of Alan Palomo’s sheer talent of using repetition around production oddities to create something worthy of repeated listens.

65. Dawes – Time Spent In Los Angeles

2011: The Year of Dawes. And this track led them to more acclaim than ever before. Listen and you’ll hear why. I particularly love the lyrics – commentary on how time in Los Angeles damages a person to the point of needing physical comfort.

64. Cold Cave – The Great Pan Is Dead

A far cry from “Life Magazine” or “Love Comes Close,” the booming bass beat has been traded in here for some raging Ministry-esque guitar work.

63. Azealia Banks – 212

In the vein of Nicki Minaj, Banks is the latest rapper to incorporate different voices and characters into her rhymes to an enjoyable effect. My favorite: the white Valley girl voice.

62. Rihanna – We Found Love

Everyone in pop radio has embraced the Calvin Harris Eurodance instrumental break, but like most things, Rihanna is able to pull it off better than anyone preceding her.

61. Dum Dum Girls – Bedroom Eyes

This desperate plea is set to an undeniable girl-group cadence and leader Dee Dee’s underrated vocal work.

60. Cass McCombs – The Lonely Doll

Probably the most repetitious track McCombs has ever penned, but like the entirety of his tracks, there’s more under the surface, a story likely too sad to fully describe.

59. Skream – Anticipate

UK producer Skream utilizes dubstep from time to time, but here it’s pushed to the background for soaring vocals from Sam Harris and a killer club beat.

58. Cut Copy – Need You Now

Like the majority of Zonoscope, we can never be sure of where we’re going when we begin listening, but “Need You Now” is yet another example of how we’ll love the ending result. All the more reason to just turn it up and shake your ass.

57. The Dodos – Going Under

The Dodos are great at changing the tempo abruptly, without warning, and it nearly always works. “Going Under” is the new album’s best track, probably for that very reason.

56. Terius Nash – Wedding Crasher

What an unbearably sad song. Plain spoken and likely drunk, Nash expresses his anguish over watching the one that got away officially become unavailable forever.

55. Star Slinger – Dumbin’ (feat. Reggie B)

The ambitious Manchester producer cut down on remixes this year because he’s working on some original material. This is the first leaked track, a banger featuring vocals from Reggie B.

54. Big Black Delta – Huggin’ and Kissin’

Let’s hope Mellowdrone continues their break, because with tracks like this, implementing electronic effects to the band’s subdued pop, who needs them?

53. LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem

You’re probably tired of hearing it. That’s radio’s fault (and yours). Truth be told, this is the best party jam of the year, and if you hate it, you’re probably a bad dancer anyway.

52. Das Racist – Michael Jackson

How are you gonna deny the absurdity of the chorus (Michael Jackson….a million dollars…you feel me?!….Holla) alongside hilarious quips like “I’m fucking great at RAPPIIIIING!” You can’t. You just can’t.

51. Primus – HOINFODAMAN

Claypool’s touched on selling out to advertising many times before, but never with such mockery and flat-out disdain. A sure treat for those of us who crave Les’ descriptive, witty tirades. He may be unusual the way he says it, but you can hardly disagree with it.

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