HST Mixtape: Playlist for 2011

Every year, I usually post my favorite songs of 2011 playlist to my Facebook page. Now that I am a writer for HST, I decided to make it a bit more public. Of course, there are a couple of rules that I have to enforce on myself:

  • *The songs must be release from January 1st to December 28th, 2011. (for the pure fact that there is not a whole lot of new music coming out, I decided to release this early. I did, however, take the singles for those few albums into account)
  • *The song must be from a complete album that is released during that time period, so no pure singles. (so fun. and Dr. Dre are out of the running)
  • *No re-releases, remastered, rarities, or cover songs (Ben Folds, I’m looking at you)
  • *The songs on the list must total 120 minutes (aka enough to fill up one blank disc)

Now, I hope you all will sit back, play the videos, and enjoy what I believe are some of the best songs. Again, this is all just my opinion, and purely for fun. Enjoy!

1. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”

  • I really would be lying to myself if I didn’t put this massive track on my list. This song catapulted the British songstress to super stardom, and helped make her sophomore album, 21, be the biggest album this year (even if it was released in January). This song happened to be covered by lots of different artists, including Linkin Park, John Legend, and Panic! at the Disco. So if you haven’t heard this song all year…well, it seems to me that you have been living under quite a large rock.

2. Panic at the Disco’s “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”

  • People were questioning how the now duo Panic! at the Disco would regroup after two of the members quit to make The Young Veins (who, I believe, broke up earlier this year). Well, “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” should be able to clear any sort of uncertainty. A call back to the second half of their debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, “Mona Lisa” brings out the trademark catchiness, mixing in with Brandon Urie’s amazing vocal work to create a great first single off of their good comeback record. Here’s hoping that they continue on to make incredible music.

    3. Foster the People’s “Houdini”
  • “Pumped-Up Kicks” was a great introductory to this pop-alternative trio, as it became one of the biggest summer songs this year. But the best song to come off of their major debut was “Houdini,” an upbeat mixture of synths and textures which had one of the best hooks I’ve heard all year. Even without the accompaniment of Kenny G (if you don’t get it, then you didn’t watch the live performance on SNL), it still holds up as one of the catchiest songs to come out this year.

  • 4. Patrick Stump’s “This City”
  • A song that you can adapt to anywhere, Patrick Stump (with or without Lupe Fiasco backing up the song) has put out an anthem for YOUR city, not just Chicago (where they were both born). With a catchy hook, memorable lyrics, and a sense of happiness that you get from this track, it is undoubtedly 2011’s unsung pop classic. I have a hunch that this song will be brought back next year, and used for a lot of parties and sporting games.

  • 5. Cobra Starship’s “You Make Me Feel…(feat Sabi)”
  • Now, I’m not one to enjoy club-ready party songs, and I’m not a big Cobra Starship fan, but at the end of the day, this is a flat-out good song. The vocal work of Saborta, and a great spot for up-and-comer Sabi, makes this song one to dance to, sing along to, and blast through every car radio. There were a lot of party songs to come out this year, but only some shine as much as this one does.

  • 6. Innerpartysystem’s “American Trash”
  • Firstly, may Innerpartysysem rest in peace. Such a promising electronic band, who only put out two albums, an EP, and multiple mixtapes (which you should take the time to go out and find), but had to close their own doors. But “American Trash” isn’t a sentiment for IPS, but a great choice to put on a mix like this. The electric feel, with dub-step influences, “American Trash” was a breath of tragic fresh air, as it accurately portrays what the American dream has become. This song was so under-the-radar; deserved WAY more than what it got.

    7. Skrillex’s “First of the Year (Equinox)”
  • Besides Deadmau5, no DJ has successfully put out their product more than what Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex) has done. Now, by itself, it is one great piece of dubstep pop. However, it’s the video that makes this song truly memorable. Having a little girl musically destroy the pedophile following her made an incredibly dark music video, but also made a very powerful statement to both the dubstep community and to popular music: Skrillex is here to stay. Look out for a bigger year from Sonny Moore in 2012.

  • 8. Tyler the Creator’s “Yonkers”
  • No rapper in the year 2011 came out with such a strong statement like the Odd Future frontman did earlier this year. The lyrics about stabbing Bruno Mars in his esophagus and telling Jesus to “stop bitching” are just some of the incredibly dark/offensive lyrics that filled the Best New Artist VMA winning song this summer. The video, which has Tyler eating a roach and later hanging himself, only solidifies the dark, yet incredibly good first single off of “Goblin.” Can’t wait to hear what he has next.

    9. Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Otis”
  • When I first heard that Jay-Z and Kanye West were going to join forces to deliver one giant hip-hop album, my first thought was…no they’re not. There is no way that these two – arguably the most prolific rappers of all time – can coexist long enough to put out a great album. Luckily for us, they delivered Watch The Throne, one of the best records of the year, with one of the catchiest first singles to come out in a long time. Taking a sample from the legendary Otis Redding, Jay and ‘Ye trade off great verses with one another, which was a great change of pace from them. Why can’t they have more fun like that all of the time?

  • 10. Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now (feat. Busta Rhymes and Lil’ Wayne)”
  • 2011 was arguably Chris Brown’s year. His album, F.A.M.E., went gold, his first single, “Yeah 3X” successfully filtered its way into radio playlists all over. And this collaboration with Busta Rhymes and Lil’ Wayne was an incredible jump forward for the hip-hop artists. Each verse comes out at a blistering speed (besides the first), and the trance-like beats catapult this song into pop-genius atmosphere (Busta KILLED this song). Congrats Chris, you’re back.

  • 11. Childish Gambino’s “Bonfire”
  • I have listened to Camp, Childish Gambino’s first album on Glassnote Records, way too much. But if I had to pick out a track to put on a public playlist like this, it has to be his first single “Bonfire.” Referencing Looney Tunes, PETA, Casey Anthony and The Human Centipede, Gambino flows through each line with the rawness that has been missing in a lot of hip-hop today. However, any track off of Camp would be suitable for a position on this list.

  • 12. Big Sean’s “High (feat. Wiz Khalifa and Chiddy Bang)”
  • There are multiple reasons why this song makes the list. One of which is that it is my favorite song off of his debut Finally Famous. Secondly, each of the rappers on the track (including Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, and Chiddy Bang) had a great year (including Wiz’s album, Rolling Papers). With each of the three lyricists bringing a different verse on how each of them are getting “high,” the song turns from referring to drugs to almost a feel good rap song.

    13. Lupe Fiasco’s “Till I Get There”
  • Speaking of feel good rap songs, this is basically the pinnacle of them all this year. Lupe successfully took some time off of his anti-establishment role now (mostly any of the songs on Lasers resemble this) to throwback himself; acknowledging that he has flaws, but knowing that he can overcome them all to be successful. After you’re done vibing to it, I highly recommend that you take some time and read the lyrics – some of the best lyricism this year (second verse especially).

  • 14. Thursday’s “Sparks Against The Sun”
  • A lot of the fans of post-hardcore outfit Thursday were ashamed to be them once they dropped their mellow (by their standards) album No Devoluciónearlier this year. I personally don’t understand why, because that album contains some brilliant pieces of musical art. “Sparks Against The Sun” is by all means the best song of the album, as Geoff Rickly and Co. put out one of the years surprisingly beautiful songs. It might be a little bit Coldplay-y for some fans’ tastes, others will find absolutely nothing wrong with it.Sorry I couldn’t just find the song, so you should just go look it up in your iTunes or Spotify instead. Here’s a live video for your entertainment though:

  • 15. Manchester Orchestra’s “Simple Math”
  • I love this song. I love the album. I love the music video below. Simply put, this is my favorite song of the year. Andy Hull and company really know how to make music beautiful in their own southern alternative way. I wish more people went and bought their album, and I do hope that once Grammy time comes around, the committee will see the utter genius in this song AND the album of the same name.

  • 16. La Dispute’s “King Park”
  • Now, I normally do not put such a long song into a playlist like this, but “King Park” is an amazing exception. Telling the story of a drive-by shooting gone horribly wrong, La Dispute made a cohesive story of what then happens to the shooter, as he existentially drifts to different time periods to see what the kid was like. The song ends with a stand-off between himself and the police, as he yells for suicidal redemption. And then it just ends, and your minds will be left blown.

  • 17. Taking Back Sunday’s “Faith (When I Let You Down)”
  • With yet another line-up change (thankfully to its original state), Taking Back Sunday came back hard with this apologetic pop-rock song that reaffirms that they can still put out catchy and worthwhile songs. Their entire self-titled outing reaffirms this, but “Faith” is a special occasion. As an almost apology to the fans, singer Adam Lazzara croons for fans forgiveness, asking them to once again have faith in him (and what I believe to be the band). We accept, Adam…just no more line-up changes.

  • 18. Cage the Elephant’s “Shake Me Down”
  • This is a song that I didn’t expect to hear out of everyone’s favorite secret Cage the Elephant. At least, not at least they became older. Yet “Shake Me Down,” off of their sophomore album Thank You, Happy Birthday, is a beautiful – and almost inspirational southern rock song. A soft beginning, which crescendos quite magnificently throughout, CTE brings a rawness to this song that really hasn’t been heard of since early Kings of Leon without losing what makes Cage the Elephant them. And I hope that they never lose that in their future releases.

  • 19. The Dear Hunter’s “Lillian”
  • Out of the 36 songs that happen to fill The Dear Hunter’s concept album The Color Spectrum, “Lillian” stood out the most. The dark and intense song about superstars who have to force themselves to smile is filled with moments that will send your body up in chills. The beautiful orchestral backdrop, plus Casey Crescenzo’s beautiful vocal work, is what makes this song IT. I highly recommend any of the songs out of this collection, as they are all different in their own separate ways. Just pick your favorite color and go!

  • 20. Death Cab for Cutie’s “Stay Young, Go Dancing”
  • Is there a better way to end a playlist with a folksy love song? Why a Death Cab for Cutie folksy love song, of course. With lyrics of love and living, the closer to Codes and Keys is as catchy as “Hey There, Delilah” but with the lyrical prowess that you come to expect from the band. Expect to hear this one at a lot of indie fan’s weddings from here on out. But honestly, who could blame them?

    Well, there you go. I know I might have missed some of your favorites (I know I missed some Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Iron And Wine, The Strokes, Mac Miller, Lil’ Wayne, and Drake…just to name a few), but of course, these are all just my opinions. What did I leave off? Leave a comment below. Hope you enjoyed it!

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