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- Posted by Spinner
This epic drunk dial stands as Drake's most cohesive mix of singing and rapping as he rants and pleads to an ex atop one of producer 40's wooziest soundscapes yet. Audiences may not be able to empathize with Drake's #FamousPeopleProblems -- "I've had sex four times this week, I'll explain" -- but damn, we've all made this bad idea phone call. -- J.O.
19. Black Lips, 'Modern Art'
Atlanta's trashiest garage-rock gang joined forces with hitmaking producer Mark Ronson, who reins the boys into a less distorted but no less unhinged two-minute pop song about doing drugs at art galleries. 'Modern Art' boils down Black Lips' raw, propulsive and eminently slam-danceable essence. -- J.O.
18. Tennis, 'Marathon'
Could there be a sweeter tune to smooch to? Husband-and-wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore serve up some seriously dreamy pop with this breezy number that has all the fixings of a throwback chart-topper. -- J.C.
17. The Weeknd, 'High for This'
Secretive Toronto avant-R&B singer Abel Tesfaye owned 2011 with his server-crashing mixtapes, but this opening salvo still burns the blackest. Those bottomless beats build to an all-in instrumental assault as the self-aware but still shockingly creepy lyrics, delivered in beautiful falsetto, warn a bedmate she might "wanna be high for this." -- J.O.
16. Florence and the Machine, 'Shake It Out'
Brimming with resolve, Florence's voice does battle with thundering drums and a whopping church organ, enlisting a choir for backup. This hangover-inspired anthem for rebirth will surely find its way on to people's new-year workout playlists, or the soundtrack of the next Julia Roberts vehicle, no disservice intended. -- R.S.
15. Little Dragon, 'Ritual Union'
The title refers to marriage, and as singer Yukimi Eleanora Nagano rhymes "white dress" with "mistress," it's clear she has mixed feelings. Thankfully, there's no hesitation in the beat, and if the bride and groom don't feel like grooving, they might be the only ones. -- K.P.
14. Real Estate, 'It's Real'
This New Jersey band captured the sound of summer in 2011 with 'It's Real.' Using a combination of unforgettable lyrics, shimmering guitar effects and melancholy melodies, Real Estate have tapped into the collective nostalgia of anyone who misses childhood. -- C.M.
13. St. Vincent, 'Cruel'
Like on much of St. Vincent's 'Strange Mercy,' the wistful melody and saccharine-in-a-good-way vocals on 'Cruel' mask a much darker lyrical underbelly. Married to Annie Clark's usual stellar guitar work, those attributes turn this odd ditty into one of the catchiest songs this year. -- T.S.
12. We Are Augustines, 'Juarez'
Heavy yet joyful, this anthemic tearjerker is a semi-fictionalized account of singer Billy McCarthy's search for his long-lost father, a trucker he's never met. You'll feel like you're along for the tequila-fueled ride as McCarthy sings of desert sunrises and dashboard statues of Maria with a Springsteen-like rasp. -- D.R.
11. Cults, 'Oh My God'
When Cults came together, boyfriend-girlfriend founders Brian Oblivion and Madeline Folin were two aimless college kids wary of the real world. Uncertainty informs much of their self-titled debut, and here, amid spaced-out xylophones, Jonestown samples and a Jackson 5 melody, it's practically a third band member. -- K.P.
10. jj, 'Still'
This lower-case Swedish dream-pop duo have made purple-hazed rap covers their shtick. The incongruity of hearing their soft breathy claims of getting crunk doesn't make their hypnotic revamp of Dr. Dre's piano-plinking 'Still D.R.E.' any less brilliant, even when they wander off on that random Drake tangent towards the end. -- J.O.
9. Austra, 'Beat and the Pulse'
Katie Stelmanis' opera-ready voice and icy electro style make for a killer combo on 'The Beat and the Pulse,' the crown jewel of Austra's much-hyped debut, 'Feel It Break.' Wallflowers be warned: The moody jam will drag you onto the dancefloor faster than you can properly pronounce their band name. ("Aw-Struh," for the record). -- J.C.
8. Bon Iver, 'Holocene'
The beauty of this Grammy-nominated song is in its simplicity, as Bon Iver's Justin Vernon relies on haunting melodies and deeply personal lyrics to reach his audience. The result? A melancholy single sure to touch anyone who's been in love -- or lost it. -- S.C.
7. Robyn, 'Call Your Girlfriend'
After dancing on her own last year, Sweden's greatest popsmith returns as the other woman. In this throbbing club ballad, Robyn may have won, but she's mostly concerned with making sure the girlfriend in question is let down easy. It's a rare angle to approach a love triangle and perfect example to play for anyone who says pop music has no heart. -- J.O.
6. EMA, 'California'
Does any track from 2011 have a better opening lyric than "F--- California/You made me boring"? Erika M. Anderson's ode to the dark side of the Golden State is one of the most engaging songs of the year, thanks to the harsh violins, drums that really sound like thunder (no hyperbole) and her plaintive wailing. -- D.R.
5. Kanye West and Jay-Z, 'New Day'
'Watch the Throne' mostly featured juvenile rhymes about the duo's royal riches. But this RZA joint, floating atop a plaintively AutoTuned Nina Simone sample and fairy dusted horns, let the Kings finally act like grown-ass men and rap to their unborn sons. Beyonce's subsequent pregnancy announcement a few months later (a girl, as it turns out) only makes Hova's opening line hit that much harder: "Sorry junior, I already ruined you." -- J.O.
4. Charles Bradley, 'Heartaches and Pain'
Our love for Spinner's favorite song of the first half of the year only grew as the months marched by. The power and sadness in Bradley's true-life tale of his brother's murder makes this an instant soul classic. -- D.R.
3. Adele, 'Rumour Has It'
That 'Glee' got this on the song charts before Adele released this as a single is a good example of everything wrong with the music industry. The song itself, however, is everything that is right: Glorious throwback pop sounding utterly of now, with Adele letting loose on an up-tempo blues-rocker that stomps hearts and floors with equal ferocity. -- J.O.
2. F---ed Up, 'Queen of Hearts'
This epic bruiser blasts off at the beginning of the punk-rock opera 'David Comes to Life' and Damian Abraham and co. never look back. Sparks fly, and death lurks close behind in this tale of romance (which also features Cults' Madeline Follin performing as Veronica), delivered with such intensity that you can't help but get sucked into the 80-minute masterpiece. In four and a half minutes, F---ed Up may have created the catchiest hardcore song of all time. -- D.R.
1. Dum Dum Girls, 'Coming Down'
While singing about being lost in a self-medicated haze after the death of her mother, frontwoman Dee Dee summoned the courage to show off her vocal power and ravaged heart. That stunning vulnerability let Dum Dum Girls transcend the confines of the garage-pop genre and lay claim to being one of the best rock acts around, as well as our pick for best track of the year. -- D.R.