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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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: