There are all these end-of-the-year lists, and I feel like I haven’t seen all of the movies or read all of the books I would want to, if I ever wanted to make a list of those things. But during my nostalgia-filled 2011, I realized that I remember my school years and calendar years through songs.
Not that my music taste is impeccable, but it is my own. So, I wanted to immortalized the songs I enjoyed screaming at the top of my lungs throughout the year. Admittedly, most of them come from August until December 2011 because, you know, that’s how my memory works.
Oh, and I want to note that I chose one song by one artist I greatly enjoyed this year. Sure, I could stuff whole albums in here (a list of which follows this one), but I think the individual song is important, too. And a couple of these came out in years before 2011. And one of these I could argue as a 2010 song, but you’ll find out why I had to add it to this list.
In the order in which I thought of them:
1. Remain Nameless by Florence + the Machine
“I wish to remain nameless/ And live without shame/ ‘Cause what’s in a name?/ I still remain the same.” Oh, man, with those lyrics, Flo, how could I not feel exactly like I felt in middle and high school? For the kid who never really budged in big ways but constantly varied in small ones, this song, like this album, helped my get over (read: bask in) my youthful nostalgia. I guess high school’s youthful now. The whole album, “Ceremonials,” loads itself with wonderful tracks that, admittedly, took me a while to get into. But, boy, once you do. You find this track and its predecessor. And then you realize Flo and her crew are totally brilliant. For more nostalgia-related lyrics, see “Shake It Out”: “I’ve been a fool, and I’ve been blind/ I can never leave the past behind.” One day I will, Flo, but that day didn’t come in 2011.
2. Frankenstein by Tokyo Police Club
“So tell me/ You’re coming with us/ Tonight at 10/ An A+.” What precise lyrics to depict what I wanted out of 2011 but never got. I sat in a parking lot and listened to this song over and over with An in what must’ve been February. What a perfect afternoon. After seeing this band with her in January, with only an RAC remix of “Be Calm” on my iTunes that popped in there maybe in 2008, I had no idea how much I’d love Toronto’s pop boys. I spent so much of 2011 obsessing over this band. It’s a good’un and gives me all of those memories of high school that I never actually had. The track, like the band, truly supersedes an A+.
3. Short Bursts by We Were Promised Jetpacks
Lizzie introduced me to these Scottish guys early in the year. And I spent much of the Spring 2011 semester loving them. While this might not be what I consider my favorite track, it’s pretty much up there. I have close memories of just going crazy over this song during the summer. I even made a goofy graphic relating one of its lyrics to “Doctor Who”: “Your silence/ Is bearable/ But only in short bursts/ And then it becomes/ Uncomfortable.” I appreciate WWPJ’s role in my 2011 — making me feel edgier than probably necessary.
4.The Brush-Off by LizzieRadio
Speaking of my best friend Lizzie, this has to be the best track she wrote all year. I love it, she loves it, the entire Internet loves it. The entire Internet being our friends and her subscribers but whatever. Definitely one of those fall 2011 songs, I’ll never forget when she sung it to me sans guitar as she, Raquel and CeCe were going back to the former’s place after a fun evening. This is one of those songs where I’m all like, “Yeah, everyone needs to hear this.” You know why? Because “This is a hopeful song/ That travels throughout my lungs/ And burrows deeply in your head/ And I hope/ It bursts both your eardrums.”
5. Someone Like You by Adele
OK, it came down to either “Turning Tables” or this one. While the former reminds me of my friend Emily for some weird reason, I think the cultural phenomenon this song became, long after I heard it for the first time in February, just allows it to go on this list. I’m not original here, but I love this song. There! I said it! And I’m OK with saying it! It’s our love song. It’s how I felt about 2010 being so rocky and 2011 being so great. It’s how I felt when I got over a certain crush after that certain crush found a certain boyfriend and how I kinda felt a couple nights ago, what?, what I found out another certain crush has — but may or may not still have! — a certain boyfriend. “Never mind/ I’ll find/ Someone like you.” Right? Like. It’s perfect. We sung this song at Greg’s SNL style by total accident. What a song that so many know and can sing collectively. Thank you, Adele, for writing an anthem for love and heartbreak for 2011. I love you for it. We all love you for it.
6. Waste by Foster the People
Oh, speaking of 2011 anthems. I love “Pumped Up Kicks,” I really do! But, like! I don’t listen to Top 40 radio all to often, so it’s still my summer pop anthem! You know? But I’m talking about “Waste.” Oh, gosh. What a song. This track. This track. It’s one of those you hear while walking around that outdoor mall, and everything just sounds like a beautiful relationship. A relationship with the lamp-laden, street-y night. A relationship like that, juxtaposed to Foster the People’s hometown California beaches. “You know, it’s funny/ How freedom/ Can make us feel contained.” Gosh, Mark. With those lyrics and everything that is “Houdini,” how will I ever not think of 2011 without thinking of you and Other Mark and Cubbie? Thanks for feeling my earholes with this one. And thank you for that memory I have of me and my three friends skipping down the beach singing “Pumped Up Kicks” at the end of the summer.
7. After the Storm by Mumford and Sons
OK, OK! This should be No. 25! Because, if this list were an actual playlist that you would give someone and say, “Here! I love you, but you drive me crazy, and this makes me think of 2011 and of how you broke my heart!” it would go last. But this is a stream-of-consciousness list I concocted either several nights ago or a week or something ago. So, this is where we stand. Gawrsh, this track. I feel like it’s just hidden in “Sigh No More” and awaits for someone to find it and love it. And I do. And it helped me quite a bit with Things in 2011. So, thank you, Marcus, for making this song exist in my life and in my 2011. “Love will not break your heart/ But dismiss your fears.” I waited out all of high school and a year and a half of college before that time came.
8. I Saw Water by Tigers Jaw
Right now, I’m listening to “Distress Signal,” but I super duperly enjoy “I Saw Water.” It’s one of those rock tracks by young’uns that make you happy to be alive. It makes you happy that you made it through middle and high school. It’s another one of those I wish had grown up with me, but I’m super pleased to have found it this year. I love Scranton’s punkers pouring their hearts out to me. “I felt lighter/ I impressed her.” With a couplet like that, how can I not connect with my 2006 self? Thanks, Tigers Jaw.
9. Anna Sun by Walk the Moon
I can’t even lie here: I have a crush on Walk the Moon. How can you not?! Maybe I am more infatuated with this song. It’s the party anthem of 2011 that I feel like few people know about. It’s what I imagine what those Greek life kids hear when they’re up to their shenanigans and what every young person feels as he or she parades around town with nothing to do. “Anna Sun” makes me feel cooler than I should. It makes me feel cooler than the people in high school I looked up to. This song only stuck to one of my friends, Rhianna, but that’s OK. It’s our track. We can text it to each other, and no one will know why we love it so much. The couplet “Wait for summertime/ Wait for summertime” perfectly accentuates how I felt all Fall semester while in my folks’ home. I hope I can relive the afternoons and nights I danced around to this ditty in my house and room, in the summer of 2012. But, of course, with the knowledge that this’ll always be a 2011 track for me. Thanks, Walk the Moon, for a song for boring-town kids with big-town dreams.
10. King of the Rodeo by Kings of Leon
I spent most of 2011 passionately connecting with “Aha Shake Heartbreak.” If you can believe it, I missed it during its original runyear sometime in high school! I didn’t even know Kings of Leon made music until “Use Somebody”! That’s kinda bad, ain’t it? If the South produced one good thing, it’s the Kings of Leon. How can anyone, like, not from the South enjoy them as much as us down here could and should? While it’s not my favorite track from ‘Aha Shake,’ it’s just too good to pass up. I mean, going with my recent obsession of couplets, it has one of the best timeless couplets of all time: “Let the good times roll/ Let the good times roll.” And since 2011 pleased me, I can say I let the good times roll.
11. Towers by Bon Iver
Whatever! I only just heard this song maybe two weeks ago! I’m not one of those obsessively-talking-about-how-great-Bon-Iver-is freaks! I enjoy Bon Iver! But this is the first record I heard from the band! Now let me talk about this track! It’s incredible! But really, I am in love with the electric guitar, and “Towers” just gives me that visual of a gray winter sky — with mountains! duh! — and all you can hear is that electric guitar riff at the beginning of the song. For miles. “Well, you’re standing on my sternum/ Don’t you climb down, darling.” I don’t even really get that, but it’s something I want to be able to say one day. Maybe?
12. Freaks and Geeks by Childish Gambino
Of COURSE Childish Gambino had to make this list. I only knew one of his tracks in 2010, so all that I’ve obsessively played have made its way into my earspace in 2011. Suburban hip-hop like Childish Gambino is something that I need more of. But I guess it ends with D. Glover. Also, I wanted Hoodie Allen on this list, but, well, I replaced the next track for it. So, here’s to 2011’s hip-hop. Oh, and Watsky. “My clique should be canceled/ Freaks and geeks.”
13. Under Cover of Darkness by The Strokes
Now THIS is the track that makes me feel totally fine with wearing my high-top black Converse shoes with shorts and a cardigan. I am THAT kid, and it’s because I listen to The Strokes. Oh, man, this song reminds me of Orlando. This is my Orlando song. And I took many trips than usual to Orlando in 2011, and I can’t even imagine 2011 straight without a memory from Orlando. I almost left this song off the list! What a disservice to myself that would’ve been! “I’ll wait for you/ Will you wait for me, too?” Thanks to this song, I had some confidence I didn’t know existed in me. And I explored that confidence in 2011. Glad it helped me breakaway from the guy I was in 2010.
14. We’re Cheap Already by Driftless Pony Club
I have the best music video idea for this track, and I just want to MAKE it, right NOW. Anyway, this song, from 2011’s “Buckminster,” must be the best song from DFTBA’s 2011 releases and its releases, like, ever. It’s kinda nerdy without being at all overpowering, and it feels like 2011 should feel like. It’s got that electric, and it’s got that guitar and drums. Who could not love the boys’ interjection of “But I don’t smoke!” after a lyric about cigarettes? This is the one I had to turn all the way up in my car and on my computer during 2011. Did that make for safe dancing choices? No. I may have overheated several times while listening to this song. But the image of Craig raising his arms during the chant “I went to sleep/ I went to sleep/ About an hour ago” at Playlist Live gives me chills. And that’s one of the top images of 2011 that I saw firsthand.
15. Charlie Brown by Coldplay
All I’m gonna say for this one is, “LIGHT A FIRE WITHOUT A SPARK/ LIGHT A FIRE, A FLAME IN MY HEART/ WE’LL RUN WILD/ WE’LL BE GLOWING IN THE DARK.” Anyone who has “Mylo Xyloto” in his or her car and HASN’T screamed this lyric at the top of his or her lungs is missing out on one of the best reasons to be alive and listening to music in 2011. Seriously. Who cares if you like or don’t like Coldplay? Well, everyone should like Coldplay because everyone has a soul, and WHO CARES IF YOU THINK THEY’RE CHEESY, Chris Martin and the boys make you FEEL — not just some of the things but ALL of the THINGS. I want everyone in the world to hear “Charlie Brown.” I want to see Coldplay live around people who love this song as much as I do, and we’ll sing that part together, and we’ll feel so many emotions at once, and nothing could top that moment. Seriously.
16. In Circles by Skyway Flyer
Aww, this pop ditty. I love it. I love it, OK?! I can like Skyway Flyer AND Bon Iver! It’s what makes me human! But I’m sure everyone who I lost after Coldplay does not beat the number of folks who left after Skyway Flyer. Whatever, Jason’s cool, and his music is always catchy and well-produced. I just love the chorus: “We’re running around/ In circles now/ There’s nowhere left/ For us in town.” It’s one of those images in which you and your crew or, whatever, special someone, have just exhausted all of your city’s fun choices for an afternoon or night. And you wind up doing the same thing but still enjoying one another — or, you know, each other’s — company. I also have a fun(ny)/ annoyingly cute idea for a music video to this song. I’m so glad I listened to this one in 2011 and not 2010. I needed a good pop break many times during the first half of this year.
17. The Weapon by Harry and the Potters
OK, this is the one I said I listened to in 2010 and loved in 2010 and probably would’ve made my 2010 list, but it just IS 2011! Holy crap, how many times did I listen to this song throughout the summer? In July alone? During the week of LeakyCon alone? And how many times did I see it LIVE during that week? Twice. TWICE! I saw this song live TWICE. The first time at my very first Harry and the Potters show at a downtown library in Orlando and the second time at LeakyCon sans voice. I listened to this song over and over again in my car on the way to and from my internship on the LeakyCon 2009 live album. I’m listening to that recording now. It’s that song that makes me feel not so bad for being a loser and loving Harry Potter as much as I do. Which is so much! It’s too much! I can’t leave 2011 without reflecting on the overabundance of Harry Potter love I spread on Twitter throughout the summer and year. Besides ties to the best series of books and films of all time, the more secular bit of this song that gets me every time is the in-unison “LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE/ LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.” I just remember holding my friends and screaming that over and over again. Ah, 2011, apparently the year I understood love.
18. Our Most Brilliant Friends by Slow Club
I think all year I knew this would be my New Year’s reflection track. I can’t even imagine getting through Spring semester without it. This is another one of those that I wouldn’t want to keep for myself. Like, “The Weapon”: I think anyone who, like, doesn’t know what Mugglenet is shouldn’t listen to that song. But I think everyone with a pulse should listen and love “Our Most Brilliant Friends.” Along the lines of middle and high school nostalgia, all my friends were of the brilliant type — thank you, academic magnet program, it’s the perfect party song that just has guitar and some fun-but-not-really-overbearing percussion. Without being to racy, I just want to scream “Your body looks good tonight!” with such a large group of Slow Club fans. Or by myself in a crowded room and not apologize for it. OH! It’s worth mentioning that this track is my favorite off “Yeah So.” Just because it means so much and is so good.
19. Cannonball Coming by Ryan Seiler
Although this song and album didn’t stick with me throughout 2011’s entirety, I can’t deny all of those nights in which I fell to asleep listening to it. I might assert that “And We Sing” is my favorite song on the album, but “Cannonball Coming” is the second-best con song of all time — I mean, Lizzie’s “Real Tonight” from 2010 tops all, but I’m 100 percent biased. After a con-filled year of Playlist Live, LeakyCon and VidCon, it would be a shame to not nod toward this song. Note: I actually took this out in favor of The Stokes track, but my lists didn’t match up, and I took out Hoodie’s track for this song. So, subconsciously, I couldn’t trade hip-hop for feelings. That is just so typically me. Wow, quoting Britney Spears. My credibility at this point is definitely 1 percent. But really. I miss everyone I can’t see all the time, and for them, on 2012’s eve’s eve, I raise a glass: “To God/ To friends/ I hope I see you again.”
20. Lines by Tom Milsom
If you have heard of “Explorers 6,” we must clearly be in the same Tumblr circle. This song makes me its addict just with its opening boops and beeps. You may not have to agree with Tom Milsom on EVERYTHING, but you have to agree that he makes good, addicting music. I once called him lo-fi, he calls himself no-fi, he doesn’t really like “Doctor Who” that much. Sci-fi. But anyway, all attempts at my suburban hip-hop aside, “Lines” gives me all the happy. It’s just a bit of well-composed music that I think needs the attention Milsom wants it — and the record — to have. I also think there couldn’t be a video for this song that would be, like, perfect. I mean, I don’t think just any ol’ YouTuber could make the video. Maybe Mitchell Davis. He directed a YACHT music video. WHAT?! I know, crazy. Anyway, back to “Lines.” Milsom exemplifies his masterful word play, and it’s easy to memorize the lyrics once you realize he’s not saying the same words, but almost all of the lines kinda almost rhyme. What? Sorry, I’m enjoying the song too much to give that technique the proper literary device. But back to “Lines.” For a song that clocks in 6:27, it’s one of those that feels long when you’re just listening and Tumbling and nothing really doing anything-ing, but goes by in two minutes when you’re writing a paper or something homework-related. Also, the last line of lyric is always relevant in my life: “A lonely editorial can never hurt/ And only time will tell.” Oh, the couplets.
21. The Concept by Teenage Fanclub
Man! “Lines” is the last song on my list that’s actually on my iTunes. WHY IS THAT?! Anyway, we all know I love “Young Adult,” and I’m thankful for that movie for introducing me to this song. I found this ’90s alt rock track while perusing all things the Internet would give me for “Young Adult” in November. It’s a great early ’90s anthem to love. And, like, I would’ve totally jammed out to this song as an early-’90s teen had I been a teen in the early ’90s. Yah dig? The “Young Adult” soundtrack and individual songs from it helped me realize that, like, what I think of the ’90s and what my peers think of the ’90s is actually ’90s youth culture. It’s not just ’90s culture in the bag. And, to be even more precise, it’s more like late-’90s youth culture. But if you slap ’90s on it, there’s a 100 percent chance that I will love it. So, I fell in love with this track. And ran around singing “I didn’t want to hurt you/ OHHHH YEAAAAH.” And felt proud for being maybe the only 20-year-old I know who’s infatuated with this song. I need to convince my friends why it’s so good! I need to convince my friends that Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody and the actors in their movies and the musicians who make up their soundtracks are all ACTUAL geniuses — and go-tos for cultural advice.
22. Mouthful of Diamonds by Phantogram
That melody. That’s what nighttime in 2011, specifically the first four months of 2011, sounded like. Exactly like that. “And troubles/ Are on the rise ’cause in your disguise.” I’m sad that I could only listen to this song in that context, and, because of that, it is a song inherent to 2011. It is 2011. Every good memory about the first bit of 2011 could play over the this song — except the weekend that is Playlist Live, of course, but I’ve detailed songs ad nauseam that soundtracked that weekend. Back to “Mouthful of Diamonds.” It was always this song. Going back to it. Waiting for it to play. Being ready for it when it did.
23. Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye
We all love this song! And for a good period, we replayed this song over and over and over again. And it was great! It was a good time! This track kept us going! We all felt at least one of its lyrics! My choice favorite: “You said that you could let it go/ And that I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know.” By the way, a certain someone recorded a FANTASTIC cover of this song, which another certain someone is nearly done editing. Boy, that was a while ago, but September, baby, this song’s for you.
24.Bad Day by Darwin Deez
I had to switch out a Black Keys track for this one because I’ve honestly listened to this one more than I have that one. Oh. And it’s just so good. Sure, it came out before 2011, but I only just heard of Darwin Deez and this song a couple of months ago! And it is everything that the end of 2011 is. Fun story: I played this song over and over again one morning, the morning in which I had possibly my worst day in 2011, definitely my worst day from, like, May until December. I couldn’t unlock my knee, and I don’t know if that’s the right term, but I had to eventually go to the emergency room, and it just wasn’t happy Jan. So, I tried to make that as vague as possible. But because of that horrible day, I let “Bad Day” stay on this list. “And every day oughtta be a bad day for you.” Luckily, every day in 2011 wasn’t entirely bad.
25. Lotus Flower by Radiohead
I’ve only just reconnected with this song in the past month! Or so! Maybe month and a half! I adore it! It’s fantastic! I only just fell into Radiohead in summer 2010, so most Radiohead songs have a chance of being 2010 or later songs for the rest of my life. Which is fine! Because I have plenty of songs by artists not as renowned as Radiohead to fill up 1999-2009! “Slowly we unfold/ As lotus flowers.” A perfect song to fall asleep to or to maybe wake up to or to just listen to during some last-minute essay-writing. SNL caused my reconnection with this track that I first heard accompanied with Thom Yorke’s fantastic dancing, and I’m so glad SNL did that for me.
NEED TO MENTIONS: I lovedlovedlovedloved “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys, “The Fear” by Ben Howard, “James Franco” by Hoodie Allen, “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn, “Chase the Stratosphere” by Cooper/Ardie Collins, “Sprout and the Bean” by Joanna Newsom, “Under Your Spell” by College, “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi, “Furr” by Blitzen Trapper, “Courtyard Apocalypse” by Alexandre Desplat, “I Don’t Want Love” by The Antlers and “Friday” by Rebecca Black in 2011. Decide for yourself if I like the last one on the list ironically or not.
GUILT-FREE TOP 40 THREE: “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, “Everything” by Pitbull and “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5.
FAVORITE LIVE PERFORMANCES:
1. “Say You Like Me” by We the Kings (July and October performances)
2. “Count the Shadows” by Chameleon Circuit (Liam Dryden jumping across the stage at VidCon at one point was artful and perfect)
3. “Smells Like Harry Potter” by Harry and the Potter (Evanna Lynch playing bass at LeakyCon. ‘Nough said)
4. “Top Five” by Tokyo Police Club (I distinctly remember thinking the song was incredible upon hearing “I think I’d like to own a motorbike” in January)
5. “Rolling in the Deep” by Childish Gambino (I mean, the whole October set was great, but I’m choosing this because it was fantastic and involved tons of clapping)
6. “We’re Cheap Already” by Driftless Pony Club (I can’t remember if it played it at VidCon, but I’m, of course, referring to the Playlist Live performance in March. The whole set was great quality, though.)
7. “The Weapon” by Harry and the Potters (OK! It’s on here twice! But, like, the performance at the Orlando Public Library in July was beautiful and moving and touching and incredible)
8. “Stay Awake” by Julia Nunes (A track which COULD be on the 2011 list, but WILL be on the 2012 list. At least some song from her February 2012 release will be. I’m referring to the VidCon performance here.)
9. “Real Tonight” by LizzieRadio (Like, one of the many times she played this at VidCon. It was perfect every time, but my favorite may or may not be the night in which Luke Conard was mad we were playing music in the hotel room late at night, and she played it for him upon his request. Not that he knows who she is but because he wanted to hear someone play the guitar that was keeping him and Ingrid awake. Sorry for the noise, L and I, but at least you heard a great performance.)
10. “First Impressions” by J. B. Dazen (One of my VidCon roomies! Steve wasn’t there to hear his theme song, but that almost everyone in the small-but-like-not-all-THAT-tiny crowd knew and sung along to the song warmed my heart so much. I loved VidCon. Clearly.)
11. “The View From the Afternoon” by Arctic Monkeys (October performance at the HardRock Cafe in Orlando! I thought ‘Dancefloor’ would steal it for me until Alex and crew came back for the last time with that unexpected “AND SHE WON’T BE SURPRIIIISED,” which, coincidentally, was one of my favorite surprises of 2011.)
FULL ALBUMS: “Torches” by Foster the People, “Ceremonials” by Florence + the Machine, “Acoustic Songs for You: An EP” by LizzieRadio, “Champ” by Tokyo Police Club, “Buckminster” by Driftless Pony Club, “21” by Adele, “Bon Iver” by Bon Iver, “The Ego Pueblo EP” by The Caradoc Dearborns, “Mylo Xyloto” by Coldplay, “Live at the Leaky Cauldron” by Various Wrockers, “Expert” by Driftless Pony Club, “Top Secret Pockett” by The Great Working, “Aha Shake Heartbreak” by Kings of Leon, “These Four Walls” by We Were Promised Jetpacks, “Sigh No More” by Mumford and Sons, “Yeah So” by Slow Club, “Into the Wind” by Ryan Seiler and “Skyway Flyer” by Skyway Flyer
Remember: This list is of the stream-of-conscious variety, and ordering these by level of enjoyment and sentiment would be difficult and boring. And, of course, not all of the ditties and records in this blog post dropped in 2011.