2011 Roundup: Five Tracks Worth A Listen, x2 [Music]

There’s always a few tracks each year that I think are worthwhile even if the album off of which they come didn’t make my “short list.” Here are ten tracks, five from me and five from Shaun, we think you should spend some time with while you’re relaxing over the Holidays. Please be conscious of the NSFF [“not safe for families”] designation before you turn on some of the tracks at Christmas dinner.

Previously: Courtney and Shaun’s Top Five Albums of 2011

Courtney’s Tracks

  • The Black Keys, “Little Black Submarines,” – This song begins oh-so-eerily with just Auerbach and an acoustic guitar. His folk-y, ominous ballad doesn’t last long, though, for a big, loud finish shortly whisks you back into classic Black Keys terrain. That brief hiatus into unique musical territory, however, is enough to push this song over the edge. That man can sing.
  • Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross, “Blacks” – Don’t be fooled, DG&RC is actually just one producer. The manipulation of sounds and instruments and the lyrics float over a pounding, clock-like rhythm. It’s hypnotizing.
  • Drake, “Take Care” – So, let’s see if I can get this straight. “Take Care,” in its Drake manifestation, is a remake of a remix of Gil Scott Heron’s cover of “I’ll Take Care of You” by Brook Benton. Rihanna’s chorus provides the lyrics to the original song, and some of the layers of the Jamie xx remix are blended in to Drake’s version [primarily the piano]. Normally I snub my nose at Rihanna [I lived in Prague when “Don’t Stop the Music” was released, and yes, I went to that club a lot, and yes, I’m sick of that song], and come on, Aubrey “Drake” Graham was on the Canadian Degrassi – have we forgotten this? Regardless, he’s proven he’s got talent, and this is a good song [NSFF].
  • King Creosote and John Hopkins, “Bubble” – What happens when you mix a British electronica producer with a Scottish indie-folk singer? Serenity, beauty, virtuosity. Seriously. NPR’s Bob Boilen dares you to listen to this song without tearing up.
  • Raphael Saadiq, “Day Dreams” – Raphael Saadiq is wonderful, full stop. This cut is light, endearing, and funny, made all the better by the music video which features Danny Pudi [Abed from “Community”] as the adorable narrator/man out to woo a lady with mannequins and llamas [the official video is in the link to the song above]. Try not to smile.

Courtney’s Honorable Mentions:

  • Bright Eyes, “Shell Games”
  • Das Racist, “Relax”
  • Iron and Wine, “Tree By The River [Acoustic]”
  • Jay-Z  & Kanye West, “Ni**as in Paris”
  • Lana Del Ray, “Video Games”
  • Lykke Li, “Youth Knows No Pain”

Shaun’s Tracks

  • Dawn Golden & Rosy Cross, “Blacks” – If you know me, you know that I play my cards close to my chest, especially when it comes to music. I once played this song for a co-worker…in a cab…on my iPhone. He loved it, too.
  • Eleanor Friedberger, “My Mistakes” – I challenge you to smoothly blend in or out of this song on a mixtape. You can’t do it. Neither could I. But, instead of scrapping it, I just made a mix repeating this song ten times. BEST BIKE RIDE EVER.
  • Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Ni**as in Paris” – There’s a reason the duo performed this song multiple times at each stop on the Watch the Throne Tour. [NINE TIMES IN CHICAGO??!!?] This is arena rap at its best. My only hope is that Hit-Boy gets a fair share of the royalties [NSFF].
  • Lil’ Wayne, “6 Foot 7 Foot” – Wayne’s strategy has always been to throw three handfuls of darts at the board and hope one hits. This Bangladesh banger hits the bullseye so hard it knocks the board off the wall [NSFF].
  • Tyler, the Creator, “Yonkers” –  I love rap, was raised on it, and will probably die listening to it. Still, I’m the first to admit that sometimes the whole genre bores me. 2011 was not a boring year, largely due to Tyler’s discomforting lyrics and even more discomforting beats. This is Tyler at his best…or worst [NSFF].
Shaun’s Honorable Mentions:
  • ASAP Rocky, “Trilla”
  • Cities Aviv, “Coastin'”
  • Cults, “Abducted”
  • James Blake, “The Wilhelm Scream”
  • Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”

Further Reading: Pitchfork’s Staff Picks the 100 Best Songs of 2011


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Categories: Music


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/


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