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).

Advertisements

Rumour Has It (Single Review) – Adele

Adele - 21 - album cover

Contrary to popular belief (and hope), the next single off Adele’s album (and only album selling anything nowadays), 21, is not Set Fire To The Rain but Rumor Has It.

I can hear the disappointment resonating all the way to where I’m sitting as I write this. But do you really need to be? Simply, no.

Starting off with an infectious drum beat to the hum of “ohohohs,” Rumor Has It sets itself as a rhythmic smash from the get-go. “She, she ain’t real,” sings Adele in a raspy voice. “She ain’t gonna be able to love you like I will. She is a stranger. You and I have history or don’t you remember. Sure, she’s got it all. But baby is that really what you want?”

The first part of the first verse ends with Adele’s voice resonating with no music behind, leaving a subtle echo that will hook you. “Bless your soul, you got your heads in the clouds. You made a fool out of you and boy she’s bringing you down. She made your heart melt but you’re cold to the core. Now rumor has it she ain’t got your love anymore…”

And then she breaks into the repetitive yet highly infectious chorus: “rumor has it, rumor has it, rumor has it…” all to the echo of the word rumor.

The second verse starts with another phase in the “rumored” relationship. “She is half your age but I guess that’s the reason that you strayed. I heard you’ve been missing me. You’ve been telling people things you shouldn’t be, like when we creep out and she ain’t around. Haven’t you heard the rumors?”

The second verse then continues with its second part, which is structurally similar to that of the first chorus: “Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds. You’ve made a fool out of me and boy, you’re bringing me down. You made my heart melt, now I’m cold to the core. But rumor has it I’m the one you’re leaving her for.”

And then she goes into a second repetition of the chorus before going into the song’s bridge, accompanied with a change in pace and melody, proclaiming “people say crazy things. Just cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it… Just cause you heard it.”
Then she breaks into one final repetition of the chorus before ending the song on a chilly note: “but rumor has it he’s the one I’m leaving you for.”

The thing about Rumour Has It is that it is, yet again, very different from almost anything else o radio currently and that is always something positive in my books when a song is done well. And in this case, it is most definitely done well. The buildup, the story arc Adele subtly presents… All of it works to deliver a song that is both catchy and insane.
It’s very hard not to get hooked by the repetition of the drums at the beginning and the gospel-effect of the background “ohohoh.”

Rumour Has It is a song that serves two purposes. Adele said of the song that it’s about all the useless talk people say without knowing the truth and how it ends up hurting relationships, be it mere friendships or a love relationship. In itself, the song presents you with three arcs, represent three facades of Adele. You have the scorned Adele, the played Adele and the player Adele. You have Adele falling to the rumors of her man going with another girl. Then she decides to take him back, revealing at the end that she was playing him. And the awesome thing? It could all be a simple unfounded rumor. After all, rumour has it…

Listen to Rumour Has It:

Biology 101: The Myth Of Multitasking

As society advanced, the thought that people can multitask (do multiple things at once) grew even stronger. And it has become a concrete belief of many: “Oh yeah, I rock at multitasking” is a sentence you hear often when someone is asked how they pulled something off.

Well, as my first post in the major I have a degree from, I hate to break it to you but multitasking does not – scientifically – exist.

Don’t cry. I shall elaborate.

Sure, it might seem that a person can do two things simultaneously. But a person cannot do two things simultaneously if both of those things require conscious activity.

Meaning: you cannot drive and read at the same time and be 100% aware of both. You cannot watch TV and study and be 100% efficient in both. One of the two tasks has to go into the background.

When you answer a phone while driving is not an example of multitasking as well. Driving, especially after years of expertise, becomes an automated action (thanks to a part of your brain called the basal ganglia). So you actually drive without putting much conscious effort into it. It is an automated action. Therefore, you’re not really doing two things at once, since only one of those things (answering the phone) requires you to be mentally active.

The brain is very good at deluding itself. Most of you might have closed this tab or browser window in outrage by now, thinking that you are the exception. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not. This is how all of our brains are wired. There’s a limit to the amount of information we can process and the speed with which this processing happens. The brain sometimes gives the illusion that you are doing many things at once by quickly switching tasks, in which case you’re not actually doing all of those things at the same time. You think you’re actually fully aware of everything around you, but you’re most definitely not.

Even while writing this, I’m listening to Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain” and if I focus on the song, I lose focus on what I’m writing. However, when I switch fast enough between focusing on the song and writing, I get the illusion that I’m doing them both at the same time.

Think about two tasks that require you to be fully mentally aware while doing them: talking on the phone, while writing a paper. Have you tried doing a combination of those? It’s pretty difficult to accomplish writing the paper if you’re busy talking on the phone because the two tasks interfere with each other in the brain, each wanting full attention – and ultimately, you fail at one of them.

So next time someone asks you how you pulled something off, tell them you’re good at organizing your time or something. Do not brag about an excessively powerful mental faculty you do not possess.