Masochist
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Masochist's Overly-detailed Top 20 Songs Of 2011

I probably spent too much time on these descriptions, especially since I don't think that many people will read it. But here it is, my opinion of the top 20 songs released in 2011. No artists repeated.
20Raekwon
Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang


"MASTERS OF OUR FATE" - Rae delivers yet another stellar Wu-Revival
album, and the song I latched onto this time is grounded a bit more in
reality, and a bit more inspirational. The Winston Churchill speech fits so
well with this song, both with the lyrics and the beat, that the first time I
heard it I had to restart the song just to make sure I actually heard what I
thought I heard. It's intense in its message, and very classically Wu.
19Love Axe
Phenomenomenons


"RIGHT AWAY" - To tell the truth, this song probably isn't the best song on
the album by any means (that honor should probably go to the opening
track). But it's an earworm, to be sure, and I've listened to it three times
as much as the opening track. I even learned it on guitar (it took me five
minutes, but I still took the time to get it down). It's also been in my head
since the beginning of the year. So in retrospect, maybe it IS the best song
on the album...for me, anyways.
18Pharoahe Monch
W.A.R.


"STILL STANDING" - I'm in the minority with my love for Pharoahe Monch's
third solo album, but it was a great record to enjoy and explore. The
gospel influence that permeates the album only helps it, and this song is
the penultimate of that influence. The inspirational lyrics lend themselves
for inclusion on any feel-good playlist, which is exactly where I put it. It's
uplifiting almost (ALMOST) to the point of cheese, but that never stopped
me from giving it good rotation this year.
17Tom Waits
Bad As Me


"KISS ME" - I remembered, when I first got to this song after hearing the
whole album for the first time, that my friend Taxidermist had posted this on
his Facebook so many months ago and pre-emptively proclaimed it Song of
the Year. I remembered that I had forgotten about it. And as I listened to
it again, I remembered those beautiful moments in Tom Waits' discography
that made him a legend. That ragged voice, like every alcohol-drowned
musician, imperfect yet so damn real like the out-of-tune piano he plays on,
spread its intoxication through my ears, and I remembered the very first
time I listened to the song. And I remembered why, all those months ago, I
agreed with Taxi wholeheartedly. Perhaps if I hadn't forgotten about the
song until a week ago, I still would.
16The Dear Hunter
The Color Spectrum (Complete Collection)


"NEVER FORGIVE, NEVER FORGET" - There are seven first-track songs on
this list, which goes to show what an impression the first track of an album
can have on me. This is no exception...especially in the case of the
Complete Collection of The Color Spectrum, because I STILL haven't
listened to every song on it. This song works, though, because that chorus
comes out of nowhere. Dear goodness, how do you go from that relatively
flat verse to that absolutely lung-bursting high note!? That amazing
juxtaposition is what made this song the most memorable of all the ones I
listened to on that album.
15The Black Keys
El Camino


"LONELY BOY" - It's a bit too late in the year for this song to make it very
high up the list, but it's just catchy enough to make the list nonetheless. I
won't forget that black-guy-in-a-pink-shirt dancing it up in front of the motel
office any time soon. And yah damn right, I've danced along with him!
14Eisley
The Valley


"THE VALLEY" - I realize that this is an absolutely unheard-of phenomenon
that no one else but me experiences, but when a single song turns me on
to a band's entire catalogue, usually that song gets an unusual amount of
plays throughout the year. "The Valley" did exactly that for me, making me
rue every single missed opportunity to see Eisley live this year (which,
oddly, was quite a few). It's an easy listen, and it has never failed to put
me in a good mood; the type of song that I imagine an independent movie
might play during its opening credits; bouncy and light-hearted with angelic
harmonies and ironically dark-ish lyrics. An excellent addition to any coffee-
shop soundtrack, Christian or otherwise.
13Old Man Markley
Guts N' Teeth


"FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE" - The single most fun song I listened to this year.
12Bad Meets Evil
Hell: The Sequel


"FAST LANE" - With the possible exception of "Welcome 2 Hell" (the track
right before this), this is by far the best song Eminem has done since
"Mosh." And this EP is his best release since 'The Eminem Show'.
11Thrice
Major/Minor


"YELLOW BELLY" - For me, the first songs of Thrice records almost always
become favorites of mine. "Cold Cash and Colder Hearts," "Firebreather,"
"All The World Is Mad"...all of them are excellent in my eyes. "Yellow Belly"
follows the trend, probably for the simple fact that it's the first song on a
Thrice record, but more for the fact that it's a damn good song. That
drawn-out, haunting guitar line behind the second verse is a spectacularly
simple addiction of mine, and the bridge is the catchiest one I've heard from
the band since "Firebreather."
10Mutemath
Odd Soul


"ALLIES" - The closest thing that 'Odd Soul' has to a straightforward rock
song. The drumming is some of the best on an album full of stellar
drumming, and the main guitar riff is probably my favorite on the entire
album (save the title track). As off-beat as it is, it still managed to get stuck
in my head.
9Hugh Laurie
Let Them Talk


"ST. JAMES INFIRMARY" - It took exactly one song to validate Hugh Laurie's
decision to write an American Blues album, and sing it in an American
accent. And even with a 2:40-long intro, this song demands you pay
attention to its intricacies. Everything, EVERYTHING fits into place, even
that five second accordian fill about 2:15 in. And then, when Hugh Laurie
(finally) starts singing, you breathe that sigh of relief because you realize
that, yes, this album was a good idea.
8M83
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming


"MIDNIGHT CITY" - Pure 80's schmaltz of every type and flavor. There's the
"laser-firing" sound effect, the barren, synth-and-electric-drum-driven
chorus, the Rick Astley-esque drum fill that pops up in the background every
so often, and even the George Michael sax tribute at the end. Promise,
though, that you felt like a bobblehead everytime this came on. And I bet it
came on often.
7Scale the Summit
The Collective


"THE LEVITATED" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XDosorLbZw ...just
watch that video, and maybe you'll get what I mean when I say I've never
been so impressed simply WATCHING someone play guitar (start at 0:45).
The full song is even better, of course.
6Foo Fighters
Wasting Light


"BRIDGE BURNING" - 'Wasting Light' was such a refreshing listen: a straight
modern rock album that carried with it everything good about the 90's (the
least of which was the fact that it was recorded in Dave Grohl's garage). It
was tough choosing which song would end up on this list--should it be the
stripped back "I Should Have Known?" or the pure 90's homage "White
Limo?" or the emotional "These Days?" In the end, "Bridge Burning" was
the song I listened to the most, and the one stuck in my head the longest,
so it's the one that gets the spot.
5Soundtrack
Portal 2: Songs to Test By


"EXILE VILIFY" - Ballad of the year, like only The National could pull off. It
felt so real hearing this the first time I found that secret room in Portal 2
that I had to hear it again...and again...and again. Oh, and I might mention
that I'd never heard a song by The National before this one, so I'm not a
fanboy raving about his favorite band...though after hearing this, I may turn
into one.
4Tech N9ne
All 6's and 7's


"WORLDWIDE CHOPPERS" - The most impressive hip-hop song I've heard in
years, plain and simple. Multiple listens haven't lessened its power.
Fucking Busta Rhymes...damn.
3Fair To Midland
Arrows and Anchors


"MUSICAL CHAIRS" - Ever since the demo came out over two years ago, this
song has been on repeat in my head. I knew all of the melodies and most
of the lyrics, paid attention to every drumbeat and keyboard note...and yet,
when the studio version was released, I was STILL blown away. The
forward-mixing of the out-of-place bassline puts a very distinct Fair-to-
Midland-spin on the song, and those extra little high-hat hits change the
entire dynamic of certain parts. Oh...and the music video is one of the best
band-playing-the-song videos I think I've ever seen. I've been digging this
song for over two years...and counting.
2Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math


"PALE BLACK EYES" - It's the build-up. It's the climax. It's the utterly
desparate self-depreciating plea that would automatically make Oscar-
worthy any movie or actor that managed to scream it out with as much
emotion as Andy Hull pulls out of his throat at the end of this song. It's
probably the most heart-felt rock song I've heard this year (other than
perhaps Foo Fighters' "I Should Have Known"), and it somehow manages
to trump the rest of the specatcular songs on this album to make my list.
It's that damn good.
1Common
The Dreamer, The Believer


"GHETTO DREAMS" - This wasn't an easy decision by any means; even just
within hip-hop, there are quite a few songs that could've made it here
(which gives me so much hope for the future of the genre, to tell the truth).
But when it comes down to it, there hasn't been a song since Raekwon's
"House of Flying Daggers" in 2009 that has fully captured my attention in
the year it came out like "Ghetto Dreams" has, hip-hop or otherwise. The
song is deceptive; it's very tounge-in-cheek, a don't-take-me-too-seriously
track that Common seemingly wrote while literally dreaming about his
perfect woman. The thing that captures my attention, however, is how
FRESH this obvious old-skool homage sounds. It's got a classically simple
No I.D. beat underlining two of the best M.C.'s from the '90's (and two of
my favorites, period), and those M.C.'s give their best performances of the
decade so far. And it's catchy as hell, too; I seriously look like a
Turntable.fm avatar whenever this song comes on. And sometimes I forget
to actually answer my phone because I'm too busy listening to this as my
ringtone. It may not have been an easy decision, but it's a firm one:
Common and Nas's "Ghetto Dreams" is my song of the year.
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