Wrapping up my series covering my favorite songs from last year, I decided to include two of the runners-up to my top ten. While the first is more than worthy of it’s position in the top ten, the others are still great tracks that deserve their due attention, coming from some of the biggest bands in music today. It was difficult narrowing the list of great songs from last year down to a mere ten (or twelve), and 2012 has already begun to present contenders for next year’s list. However, let’s live in the past one more time and end January with three more fantastic tracks from 2011.
1. “Shell Games” – Bright Eyes
When this song was released (okay, it was technically in 2010), I put it on repeat for that entire morning. Something about the track just really struck a chord with me, whether it was the overall atmosphere, the slightly dancey beat, or simply the line “here it come, that heavy love.” It instantly surpassed everything from Cassadaga, and got me extremely excited and anxious to hear more. The lyrics are classic Conor Oberst, and way it just hits after the first chorus is perfect, at once punk, 80s pop, and somehow modern. The suspension at the bridge is fantastic, and the way that the sense of universality that pervades the track comes to a head with the call for “everyone on the count of three, all together now!” is really endearing for me. I need to stop gushing. Just click play.
2. “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” – Coldplay
Though the site’s official choice for best mainstream act of 2011 was Foo Fighters, I still hold firm to my personal belief that Coldplay deserves that spot, and this song is a prime example of why I feel that way. Go back and read that song title again. Think of what it means, and then try to comprehend how Coldplay, masters of moody and intimate sad songs turned that concept into an anthem, and an uplifting one at that. Sure, they showed signs of change with Viva La Vida, but the synth line and sheer catchiness of this track couldn’t be further from anything before that album. There’s a fun little guitar part, the drum beat is infectious, and Chris Martin’s voice is as great as it ever was. The band managed to reinvent itself once again, and created the best pop song of their career. In another year, this would have easily made my top ten songs.
3. “The Calendar” – Panic! At The Disco
I like every version of Panic! At The Disco, and this track somehow manages to combine elements of each flawlessly. There’s the flourishes of interesting instrumentation from their first two albums, the straightforward nature of the melodies from Pretty. Odd., the “rock” feel of “New Perspective,” and the air of mystery that shows itself throughout Vices & Virtues. The song caught my attention on a first listen, by the second time through, I was in love. Brendon’s voice is (as always) perfect, the lyrics are some of the best on the album, and the percussion shines. That chorus jumps out and gets stuck in your head forever. The song doesn’t have the urgency of their debut or the whimsy of their sophomore release, but there’s nothing wrong with taking your time and being sure about what you’re doing. This is a well-written song. On top of that, I can’t think of a better way to end a 12-song year-end series than with an incredible one called “The Calendar,” so we’ll just leave it at that. Here’s to another great year of music!