Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published February 6th 2021
An interesting year for music
I recently looked back 20 years at the songs of 2001 and that seemed to be quite interesting for people. Well, I decided to keep going with my looks back and, in that regard, decided to only go back a decade and look at 2011 this time!
Ah, 2011. The Amazon Kindle Fire hit, the Apple iPhone 4s hit, MySpace stopped hitting, skinny jeans made a bizarre comeback, and Battlefield 3 was the game everyone felt they had to play. And I knew most of that because the students in my class were pop culture junkies. But 2011 had some interesting songs. It is certainly not the best year ever for music; however, a list of 20 tracks makes for a decent playlist to remember a year that really was not that long ago, but saying it was a "decade" certainly makes it feel ancient!
Now, musically, we saw the rise of hip-hop for one of its many resurgences, a lot of r&b, and electronic dance music starting to make more and more of an impact. At the same time, rock music was in one of its periodic doldrums. However, it must be said, when I went through my collection, my initial list was over 30 songs long. Once I got rid of repeated artists (one song per artist rule stands), it was down to 22, so I only had to get rid of two.
And here is the list of my favourite 20 songs of 2011! (In order of song title.)
Okay, sorry, word of warning. I have included a number of comedy songs from the year, and some of them are really not safe for work and one is definitely not family-friendly. That song I will not embed the video, just supply a link. Also, some songs I struggled to find videos. Sorry. YouTube's algorithms wipe things out seemingly at random.
Here's the list!
'4 Chords' by Axis Of Awesome NSFW!!
First song and it's a comedy song! A medley song showing how, with just a little bit of tweaking, the vast majority of modern songs use the same four chords and they're not wrong. This has become something of a classic song – I have heard it referenced by everyone from online vocal coaches to people doing serious video essays on music. And deservedly so. It is brilliant.
'Act Yr Age' by Blueju!ce
I know absolutely nothing about this group, but this song was "gifted" to me by my students (I was a teacher at the time) after a video of me doing some basic parkour emerged on YouTube and they decided that was not something a 40 year old should be doing. As such, I heard it a bit and came to really enjoy it. It's not dour, but a bit of fun. Positive memories for me.
'After Midnight' by Blink-182
I don't mind quite a bit of Blink-182's stuff, and this track is a mid-tempo one that has some odd lyrics. Is the guy wanting to stay with the girl or is she driving him crazy? In the end, I think it's about the craziness of being in love in general. Well, it doesn't matter – I enjoy this song. While not their best track, it is still a good song.
'All Out Of Love' by Me First And The Gimme Gimmes
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes keep on appearing in my columns, and this is another of their strange punk/rock takes on a classic song – this time it's the old Air Supply tear-jerker. I go through phases of liking and being sick of the original, but this version is just a lot more fun.
'California Dreamin'' by Meat Loaf with Patti Russo
All right, hear me out before you try to lynch me. I am a fan of Meat Loaf's music, and am not ashamed to admit it. But the original version of this song by The Mamas And The Papas is one of my all-time favourite songs. Is this version better than that? Of course not! Is it still quite good? Yes, it is. Meat Loaf's voice is a little rough but still hits the right notes and Patti Russo is the perfect counter to him. Fine cover version.
'Call Me Maybe' by Carly Rae Jepson
Yes, this song. At the time (and for a few years after…) I was sick of this song. It was everywhere. But, with the benefit of hindsight, it is a fun little pop song. It has spawned a thousand memes, but it just feels like a fun little song that you don't have to think about. It's grown on me.
One of the finest modern bluesmen, this is one of the first tracks by Bonamassa I heard. That almost country guitar feel to the track, and the subject matter harkening back to the traditional blues songs from so long ago, this is a fine example of this music. And that solo! He deserves to be better known.
'Forever Young' by Kim Wilde
A song I really like in all its incarnations, Kim Wilde delivers a version that is stunning, long past her peak popularity in the 80s. She has continually recorded and released great music over the years and continues to do so. I really enjoy her version of this song.
'I Just Had Sex' by The Lonely Island feat. Akon
NSFW!!! No, really NSFW!!! I am not embedding this video. Sorry.
A funny song with a funny video, where the singers celebrate having just slept with someone else. There is very little else to say, but I really enjoy this silly song.
'I Want It All/We Will Rock You' by Queen feat. Armageddon aka Geddy
From the soundtrack of the film Sucker Punch (which I was not a huge fan of), this mash-up/ re-recording/ sampling of the Queen songs with extra additions is not normally the sort of music I enjoy, and yet it works here. Why? I think because the original Queen songs are so good it would take a huge effort to ruin them if using the originals as a base. There is power here and it just rocks along so well.
The son of New Zealand musical stalwart Neil, this song by Liam was the first time I'd heard any music by him. Carried along by his drumming (he is a multi-instrumentalist) and the smooth voice, this is a song that has a deceptive feel about it. It has the veneer of being something light and ethereal, but it kicks in and grabs you like a rock song. Under-appreciated track.
'Last Time (aka Bittersweet)' by Bond
Bond, that all-female string quartet that mixes classical music with modern pop sensibilities, is a band I really enjoy. This is a version of the Rolling Stones' classic 'The Last Time', focusing on the section used as the sample in the Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony'. Such a stunning piece of music, it works well in the ladies' hands, becoming its own entity.
'Pumped Up Kicks' by Foster The People
A song that I first heard, I think, on a television advert. Shame, because that is not a good first impression, but when I later rediscovered it separate from that imagery, it is a catchy pop-rock song with a chorus that sticks with you like the true ear-worm it is. Decent song with a different sound in vocals and instrumentation that makes it stand out.
'Ringtone' by 'Weird Al' Yankovic
We're including comedy sings, so this one had to be here. I saw 'Weird Al' live at about this time, and he performed this and it was so good. But the recorded version is a great piece of comedy about buying the ringtone you grow to hate… as much as everyone around you hates it. The man can really sing, and his lyrics are spot-on. Glad to include one of his tracks in a list!
'Rolling In The Deep' by Adele
One of the finest singers to emerge in the 2000s, this song showcases Adele's powerful vocals and glorious voice. It was the first song of hers to hit it big around the world, and it signalled a talent to be watched. While her releases have been sporadic since – she has not released a huge number of albums – when they come out they have all been so well done. But, for me at least, it all started with this.
'Shake It Out' by Florence & The Machine
I am not sure what it is about this song, but it just grabs me. The slow start, the build-up, the soaring chorus… the song has it all. The percussive backing really helps keep it going, and Florence's voice is amazing. The band is not one I go out of my way to seek out, but when I hear tracks like this, I think maybe I should. It has an almost epic feel to it, and I love it.
'Somebody That I Used To Know' by Gotye feat. Kimbra
Another song by an artist with a stunning voice, Gotye hit the ground running with this one, his voice perfectly accompanied by Kimbra. The thoughts behind the song are actually quite deep, and the songwriting is stunning. This could well be my favourite song of 2011. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is one of the best Australian songs of the 2000s.
'Storytime' by Nightwish
One of the finest purveyors of Symphonic Rock, Nightwish really go all out with this track. Everything you want from them – pounding drums, raging guitars, Anette Olzon's great vocals (she's since left the band to be replaced by Floor Jansen), and that symphonic backing sound. This is so good; Nightwish are under-appreciated outside of Europe.
'Velociraptor' by Kasabian
I have spoken about this strange rock song before, and it still stands – I do not really understand what it is going for, but I love the sound and feel of the track, the title track from Kasabian's fourth album. Kasabian release some interesting stuff, and a lot of it works.
'Walk' by The Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters are one of those bands that lasted a lot longer than I thought they would. This is a great rock song (with a video taking its cues from the film Falling Down), showing more of Dave Grohl's singing abilities and the band's great musicianship. It builds up to a great crescendo and then the whole band kicks in and it feels good to finish a list like this with a genuine (and really good) rock song.
And that's 2011 in song. It might only be ten years ago, but a lot of these songs have already fallen by the wayside, while quite a few others are still being used in TV adverts, in movies, or just in memes. It was not the greatest year, granted, but it was not the worst.