Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Year in Music: 2011 - Top 10 Songs

My series of blog posts on the best music of 2011 concludes with my nominees for Record of the Year. These are essentially my top ten favorite tracks of the year...the ones I haven't been able to get out of my head; all but a couple of which have already made appearances in my other categories. I hope, if anyone's been reading this, that you picked up a new favorite song or two along the way. If not, then, you're missing out :-)

Record of the Year

Never Gonna Leave This Bed - Maroon 5
These guys came close to topping my year-end list a few years ago with "Won't Go Home Without You." It seems like they've improved with every album, in my opinion. Hands All Over may very well have been my album of the year, except for the fact it was released in 2010. This single just stuck in my head from the beginning, and still hasn't left. Pop perfection.

Walk - Foo Fighters
Fuckin' Perfect - Pink
Give Me Something - Scars on 45
Mr. Know It All - Kelly Clarkson

The One That Got Away - Katy Perry
Even when my tastes coincide somewhat with popular opinion, I still manage to go against the grain. As I had mentioned, my favorite songs and artists this year were atypically commercial, and Katy Perry is certainly the best example of that. Perry tied Michael Jackson's record for scoring five #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 from the same album. "The One That Got Away" was, in fact, the one that got away, only making it to #3, and preventing Perry from breaking the record. So, of course, logic would hold, that this was my favorite of all the singles. Hey, I tried.

Down By The Water - The Decemberists
A little more of a folky sound with The Decemberists album than what I normally listen to. I gave The King is Dead an honorable mention in Album of the Year, and this was the most catchy tune of the bunch.

Slave to the Grind - Halestorm

Sorry - The Smithereens
I won't call myself a huge fan of The Smithereens. There isn't really one album of theirs that I would listen to start to finish, but they always seem to come up with a few great tracks each time out. I heard this one played twice on a local radio station, and that was pretty much it. The Smithereens are long past their heyday, but this track is still worth a listen, or several.

Werewolves - The Damnwells

Jerammies 2011 - Record of the Year by Jeremy Sand on Grooveshark

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Year in Music: 2011 - Part V

Hope everyone had a great holiday season! Hopefully, 2012 will bring some great new music. For now, I leave you with the second to last category in my year-end Jerammy nominations - Song of the Year. As the real Grammy voters typically ignore the distinction between this and Record of the Year, I will point out that these nods are supposed to be for achievement in songwriting, and hence, go to the songwriters...not necessarily the same as the performers. To me, excellence in songwriting doesn't have to indicate some deep, world-changing lyrical passage, but there should be something unique and non-cliched about both the lyrics and the music. The melodies should also grab you - an engaging hook is definitely part of masterful songwriting. That having been said, the nominees are:

Song of the Year

Fuckin' Perfect - Pink, Max Martin, and Shellback (performed by Pink)
Nothing too complicated or poetic here. It's a simple song with an admirable message and a tight melody. Enough to be my top choice.

Werewolves - Alex Dezen (The Damnwells)
Another song that isn't exactly treading any new topical territory, but Dezen certainly has a way with words, which lifts this one to a higher level. The hook is great too, with the backing vocals to the chorus even featuring a sort of "howling" tone to them. It's the details that count when you're deciding on the best.

Someone Like You - Adele Adkins, Dan Wilson (Adele)
Nine years after the release of Semisonic's signature rock tune, "Closing Time," lead singer Dan Wilson scored a Song of the Year Grammy win for co-writing the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice." Four and a half years after that, he notched his first #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with this Adele track. I am personally not the biggest Adele fan in the world, and think she is overhyped. However, the raw emotion conveyed in this song warrants that props be given to both Adele and her writing partner, Wilson. Plus, I'm such a huge Dan Wilson fan, that I wanted to recognize him here. I wish he had more of his OWN music out there, and that he had more success with those songs. The fact that he's so ably adapted his writing across genres through the years shows that he is simply one of the most talented songwriters out there today.

Give Me Something - Danny Bemrose (Scars on 45)
Love Shines - Ron Sexsmith (Ron Sexsmith) 
The Cave - Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons)

Jerammies 2011 - Song of the Year by Jeremy Sand on Grooveshark