Friday, December 30, 2011

The 25 Best Singles of 2011 (10-6)

10. The Beastie Boys w/Santigold -- Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win

They may be elder statesmen in hip-hop, but the Beastie Boys' decision to team up with Lower East Side alt-art idol Santigold proved to be a stroke of inspirational genius -- injecting funky life into a single that was one of many tracks on an album which proved the Beasties are doing anything but going gently into that good night.

9. TV on the Radio -- Will Do

They've been fierce and they've been wonderfully bewildering, but it was when TV on the Radio slowed their groove and added sensuality and just a hint of haunting melancholy that they produced their best song yet.

8. The Black Keys -- Lonely Boy

How good are the Black Keys? So good that they could release a song in late October that would push almost all the other great singles of the year aside. Lonely Boy didn't have the surprise or whimsy of Tighten Up, but what it had going for it was a driving beat and a kick-ass, bluesy guitar riff right out of a 70s road picture -- and that was more than enough.

7. Frank Ocean -- Novacane

Much like his role in one of the coolest songs of the year, Jay-Z and Kanye's lead-off track on Watch the Throne, No Church in the Wild, the mood on Frank Ocean's big single this year was pitch black. But unlike Church, Novacane found Frank not reveling in his imperial depravity but questioning it, and it's that "How the hell did I get here and is this really all there is?" humanity that made this song hit home. Plus, it's just damn sexy.

6. M83 -- Midnight City

Instantly memorable, slyly retro and flat-out great, French electronic maestro Anthony Gonzalez -- AKA M83 -- rode the chill-wave to something much more profound than many of his contemporaries, producing not just one of the best songs but one of the best full-length albums of the year.

Tomorrow: 5-1

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