Top 13 Songs of 2011

Since this is the last day of 2011, I figured I’d save all my “Top of 2011” posts to it. First post to go public – songs:

Note: the top 5 songs can easily be rearranged as you see fit. I have personally classed them as such based on how often I listened to them according to their iTunes play count.

13 – We Are Young – Fun.

This indie band released this song back in September but never got into it until very recently. It’s quirky, exciting and, well, fun. “Tonight, we are young. So let’s set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun.”

12 – You and I  – Lady Gaga

One of the few Lady Gaga songs I can stand and my favorite of hers by far. It could be that there’s nothing “Gaga” about it. It could be that it might as well be played on country radio but You and I is definitely the best song on her otherwise disappointing new album: Born This Way. (My review of You and I)

11 – We Owned The Night – Lady Antebellum 

My favorite song off their new album, Own the Night. The lyrics are smooth, fresh and lively. The music is happy, effervescent. The chorus is one line that will get stuck in your head. “Yeah we owned the night!” (My review of We Owned The Night).

10 – Safe & Sound (Feat. The Civil Wars) – Taylor Swift

This newly released song is easily one of my favorites of 2011 as well simply because it is a greatly written somber song, perfectly befitting the mood of the movie it will be part of. It is among Swift’s best works and can be one of the few songs she has written that would please a wider fanbase than the teenagers she normally targets. “Just close your eyes, the sun is going down. You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now. Come morning light you and I’ll be safe and sound.” (My review of Safe & Sound).

9 – Eighteen Inches – Lauren Alaina

My favorite song off Lauren Alaina’s great debut album, Wildflower. It is a sweet song about young lovers who elope to start a new life. “When you’re young and in love you might do some things that don’t seem all that smart. Cause there ain’t no greater distance than the eighteen inches from your head to your heart.”

8 – 20 Years – The Civil Wars 

Absolutely one of the most stunning songs I recently heard. There’s no clear chorus, there’s no clear bridge – it’s nowhere near a typical song you’d hear anywhere. And it’s simply breathtaking. “In the meantime I’ll be waiting for twenty years and twenty more. I’ll be praying for redemption and your note underneath my door and your note underneath my door…”

7 – Skinny Love – Birdy

Released early in 2011, this is a Bon Iver cover. Well, forgive me Bon Iver but your song about heartbreak is conveyed in a way more heartbreaking way by this fifteen year old singer. “Come on skinny love, just last the year. Pour a little salt, you were never here…”

6 – Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People

This alternative hit came out of nowhere and took everyone by surprise. It is a very dark song – even darker than many people think it is. And yet, it comes off as a very smooth listen. “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,You better run, better run, outrun my gun.All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,You better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

5 – Rolling In The Deep – Adele

Let the Adele domination of whatever remains of this list begin. Her first single of her smash of an album (or whatever you call selling over 15 million copies worldwide of an album in one year nowadays) is also one of the year’s biggest hits everywhere. “There’s a fire starting in my heart reaching a fever pitch and it’s bringing me out the dark.”

4 – Someone Like You – Adele 

Because no other breakup song can be this good. Someone Like You is chilling. Someone Like You is captivating. Someone Like You is a song almost every other artist out there wishes they had written. “Nothing compares, no worries or cares. Regrets and mistakes, they’re memories made. Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?” (My review of Someone Like You).

3 – If I Die Young – The Band Perry

Although released to country radio back in 2010, I’ve decided to include this song in this list because 1. I didn’t have a blog in 2010 and 2. It was released to other radio formats in the US in 2011. There’s just so much I can say about this song and I would still be able to say more. You only need to look at how many people were affected by this song to know exactly the magnitude of its reach. It may not have become the smash hit that Someone Like You or Rolling In The Deep became but it is a song equally worthy, if not more. What song can get a sixty year old woman to stand in a concert in the scorching sun and hold a banner saying: “She died young.” You can’t listen to If I Die Young without being contemplative. “If I die young, bury me in satin. Lay me down on a bed of roses, sink me in the river at dawn, send me away with the words of a love song.”  (My review of If I Die Young).

2 – Set Fire To The Rain – Adele

My favorite song off Adele’s 21. This song is about her breakup – as is all her album, obviously – but this song treats that breakup in a very different light than the other songs. It’s a confusing song in the sense that the beat is there so you’d expect the song to be happy and yet the lyrics are devastating. “My hands, they were strong. But my knees were far too weak to stand in your arms without falling to your feet. But there’s a side to you that I never knew. All the things you’d say, they were never true. All the games you’d play, you would always win.”

1 – Remind Me (feat. Carrie Underwood) – Brad Paisley

The bonafide country hit of the year. Remind Me, the fourth single off Brad Paisley’s new album, is a song about a couple wanting to rekindle their dying romance and it resonates with almost all couples who have been together up to a point where they’ve become so used to each other they take their significant other for granted. The song beholds a stunning vocal performance by Carrie Underwood who’s set to release her fourth album sometime in 2012. “Do you remember how it used to be, we’d turn out the lights and we didn’t just sleep? Remind me, baby remind me.” (My review of Remind Me).

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My 2011 Christmas Playlist

If you’re like me and just started to get into the Christmas musically (shopping and other stuff should have started already. If not, well don’t worry you still have time), this post is for you – or at least for your consideration.

While driving to my university today, a friend who carpools with me suggested that for the rest of the week I put Christmas music in the car. So I started thinking… what’s a decent length playlist full of Christmas music that I can listen to over and over again, at least till a bit after December 25th. So here it goes.

1 – All I Want For Christmas – Michael Bublé

This beats the original by a long mile. And it’s an awesome opener for the playlist.

2 – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Carrie Underwood

An uptempo with a great vocal to back it up. You cannot but feel Christmasy happy listening to this.

3 – Silent Night – Josh Groban

A classic by one of this generation’s best male vocalists.

4 – Joy To The World – David Archuleta

A nice rendition of this song by a young singer.

5 – Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Lady Antebellum

This classic song isn’t about Christmas per se but you can’t but listen to it during the season.

6 – What Child Is This – Carrie Underwood

This is chilling and haunting.

7 – Peppermint Winter – Owl City

“What’s December without Christmas Eve?” – so true.

8 – Blue Christmas – Andrea Bocelli &  Reba McEntire

A great version of this timeless Christmas classic.

9 – Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) – Celine Dion

Like her or not, she can sing – especially when it comes to songs like this. Make sure you check out her version.

10 – O Holy Night – Carrie Underwood

My favorite version of this song. Ever.

11 – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Glee 

I’m not the biggest fan of Glee. In fact, I think the show royally sucks. But every now and then, they release their versions of songs and it just works. This is one of them.

12 – Bilayli Berdani – Majida El Roumi

One of the few Lebanese chants that reminds me of my childhood – of my mother singing it to me during Christmas. I couldn’t even find a YouTube version for it.

13 – The First Noel – Carrie Underwood

Because there’s no better way to end this playlist than with her impeccable falsetto singing “born is the King of Israel.”

 

Bonus Track – because it’s Christmas and just one more track isn’t a bad thing:

Jesus, Take The Wheel – Carrie Underwood

 

Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood’s “Remind Me” To Be Released Outside Country Radio

It seems that the radio run of Remind Me, the #1 country smash, is not over by it reaching the penthouse of the country charts on the September 10th issue.

Arista, the label behind country music’s biggest stars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, who delivered this stunning duet to the masses on Paisley’s latest album, This Is Country Music, is releasing the song to US radio outside the country genre.

On November 14th (one day after my birthday so I’ll take this is a belated gift), radios that play Hot Adult Contemporary and Adult Contemporary music (ie: music by artists like P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Daughtry, Lady Antebellum, Maroon 5, etc…) are invited to add this song to their playlists, after being remixed to suit their sound.

Hot AC success for country songs is seen by many as a gateway for entry to pop radio, which is becoming more and more receptive to country songs without remixes, as shown by Taylor Swift’s “Back To December” and Lady Antebellum’s “Just A Kiss,” currently at #25.

In other news, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley co-hosted the CMA awards for their fourth consecutive time yesterday, opening hilariously with a sketch that played on Hank Williams Jr.’s slur of Obama being like Hitler and Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage.

Carrie and Brad also performed “Remind Me” to a standing ovation.

We Owned The Night (Single Review) – Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum’s second single off their upcoming third album, Own The Night, is called We Owned The Night and it was released while I was backpacking across Spain. As I was the middle of a million people in the streets of Madrid, I felt like listening to the song. So I streamed it on YouTube. Five minutes later, I purchased it via iTunes.

Opening with an infectious mandolin rhythm, the song is fun and upbeat from the beginning. “Tell me have you ever wanted someone so much it hurts? Your lips keep trying to speak but you just can’t find the words. Well I had this dream once; I held it in my hands” Charles Kelley warmly and affectionately sings as the song begins.

“She was the purest beauty,” he continues, “But not the common kind. She had a way about her that made you feel alive. And for a moment, you made the world stand still…” as Hillary Scott provides harmonies in the background. And then the song’s chorus kicks in. “Yeah, we owned the night.”

And that’s it. Yes, that’s the whole chorus. And it works marvelously. Why go into more details when it can all be summed up in one line and have that line hit its target perfectly? Yeah, they owned the line – and they make the song’s hook out of it.

We Owned The Night is a song about a one night stand, and not the kind you forget the following night, similarly to Need You Now‘s ultimate meaning. But the two songs are drastically different. Where Need You Now is a song about hurt and longing, this is a song about one last night with a summer flame that the song’s narrator will forever keep in mind. And where Need You Now is a song that is quite mellow in its musical composition and rhythm, We Owned The Night is the total opposite. But they are telling a similarly ending story.

We Owned The Night ends with Charles Kelley, in synchrony with Hillary Scott’s harmonies, asks the girl if she remembers “we woke under a blanket all tangled up in skin not knowing in that moment we’d never speak again. But it was perfect;  I never will forget when we owned the night,” wondering where she is and if she’s “looking at those same stars again” but the most important thing is that they owned the night.

This song’s biggest strength is it’s relatability. Lady Antebellum are telling their listens a story that happened towards the end of one summer, a story that could have taken place with any of those listeners. It’s drastically different in style than their latest offering, Just A Kiss, but there’s no doubt in my mind it will be another big hit for them.

We Owned The Night is very different from most songs you hear on the radio – even country songs. You can’t help but smile when you listen to it. The song is captivating. Why? because it’s very easy to remember when you were a love-stricken teenager, saying goodbye to your summer days when you listen to it. And your heart fills up with joy and you just feel like holding a girl in the streets of Madrid and dancing with her. At least that’s what I did.

Listen to We Owned The Night:

 

 

Just A Kiss – Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum just unveiled their new single, Just A Kiss and almost like their mega smash Need You Now, I was smiling halfway when I first heard it. It will be huge.

These are the lyrics:

Lying here with you so close to me
It’s hard to fight these feelings
When it feels so hard to breathe
Caught up in this moment
Caught up in your smile

I never open up to anyone
So hard to hold back
When I’m holding you in my arms

We don’t need to rush this
Let’s just take it slow

Chorus
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
I don’t want to mess this thing up
I don’t want to push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life
So baby I’m alright with just a kiss goodnight

I know that if we give this a little time
it’ll only bring us closer to the love we wanna find
It’s never felt so real
No it’s never felt so right

Chorus
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
I don’t want to mess this thing up
I don’t want to push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life
So baby I’m alright with just a kiss goodnight

No I don’t want to say goodnight
I know it’s time to leave but you’ll be in my dreams
Tonight
Tonight
Tonight

Chorus
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so brigh
I don’t want to mess this thing up
I don’t want to push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life
So baby I’m alright with just a kiss goodnight

Let’s do this right with just a kiss goodnight
With a kiss goodnight
A kiss goodnight

The harmonies by Hilllary Scott and Charles Kelley are absolutely stunning. You can draw comparisons to Need You Now melody-wise and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Need You Now won grammys for song and record of the year, which is only indicative of the substantial quality of that song. Some of you might have gotten tired of overplaying it but it’s simply a brilliant song. Just A Kiss isn’t any less, albeit it’s thematically much different from Need You Now. While the latter was a cry of romantic and even sexual urgency, Just A Kiss is a song in which the narrator wants to take things slower and deeper. However, Just A Kiss is as infectious as Need You Now.. It’s subtle, it’s fragile – just as a growing love starts… with that first kiss that you are usually reluctant to take.

You can feel the reluctance in the way Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley deliver the lyrics… there’s a sense of longing in the way they utter the lyrics that adds a whole level of credibility to “Just A Kiss“.

Overall, this will be huge on country radio. It is also a potential crossover smash waiting to happen. It is a brilliant country song that excels at being the lead single off Lady Antebellum’s upcoming album.

You can listen to it here or on youtube:

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