While the year in music was beautifully capped by Adele scoring a first-ever triple crown, with the No. 1 album 21, single "Rolling in the Deep" and Top Artist, much of 2011, according to Billboard's year-end charts, was scary as usual, with a crock of hip-hop bullshit pervading the top 10... including the dubious presence of the two worst acts of the year, Nicki Minaj and Black Eyed Peas.
Man, I thought we had made progress from so many loop-driven production-fueled hits from the late 1990s and returned to a blissful majority of melodic music ruling the charts over the past few years. And yet, exploring Billboard's Top 10 Singles of 2011...
1. "Rolling in the Deep," Adele
With seven weeks atop the Hot 100 and three monster Grammy nominations, along with Adele's No. 1 album 21 and Top Artist nod, "Rolling in the Deep" set the standard for meaningful poetic music in 2011, catapulting the former chubby beanie-wearing old-soul Brit singer to a world-class elegant chanteuse. Along with "Someone Like You" (Billboard's year-end No. 24) and U.K. hit "Set Fire To the Rain," she proffered three of the absolute best of the year.
2. "Party Rock Anthem," LMFAO
Egads. "Anthem" is this year's inarguable "Macarena," a noisy gimmick-filled electronic novelty song that will be forgotten in six months time... Thank god it didn't finish at the top (as did "Macarena," forever marring 1996's year-end chart). Now if only LMFAO would fade as quickly as Los Del Rio. Utter shite.
3. "Firework," Katy Perry
Fine, fine... Katy Perry is a master of pop hooks sung at full volume with the windows down and a summertime breeze blowing. I prefer her "Last Friday Night," but all of Perry's hits are pretty much interchangeable. I was hoping that "Peacock" from Teenage Dream would be released, just to see if nutball Tipper Gore came out of hiding to proclaim it a vulgar detriment to our nation's youthful chastity.
4. "E.T," Katy Perry f/ Kanye West
Ditto from above, with the footnote that if you want to ruin a decent song, just add "featured artist" Kanye West, Pitbull, T-Pain, Lil Wayne or Missy Elliott. The flatulent presence of Kanye here was little more than a cheap record label ploy to guarantee another No. 1 on the singles chart. This is like adding vinegar to vodka...
5. Give Me Everything," Pitbull f/ Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer
Ha, ha, ha... Ever seen a surging 100 mph train engine barrel into a stalled car at a railroad crossing? There you have "Give Me Everything." Hip-hop & dance is an incompatible trend that really makes me snicker... through my tears.
6. "Grenade," Bruno Mars
The finest male pop artist of 2011. Following last year's breakthrough "Just the Way You Are," Bruno's "Grenade" is a fine sing-along song, with an instantaneous chorus, visual lyrics and an exceptional vocal. Baby, this is what it's all about.
7. "Fuck You (Forget You)," Cee Lo Green
"Fuck You" is pretty fucking funny and while it emanates contrivance, Cee Lo came up with a mighty clever kiss-off song. If only radio hadn't played it that 8932754983472623458967th time, I might still be able to stand hearing it.
8. "Super Bass," Nicki Minaj
Without the overbearing imaging that is Nicki Minaj, this "artist" would likely still be working toward her peak career potential as a dishwasher at Denny's or a burger assembler at White Castle (too scary to be in the public eye, you see). Behind her atrocious bubble boobs, pink wigs, Barbie doll ass and trampy vampy trollop persona, "Super Bass" is nothing more than affected processed nails-on-chalkboard rapid-fire Betty Boop vocals and production blips, with a relentless "boom daboom" ear-crushing "hook." This track makes me want to stop the car in the middle of a railroad crossing to make it all go away. How this act became a pop culture heroine is absolutely, utterly beyond reason... It's not as if she could have slept her way to the top. Can you imagine what a filthy tryst that would be?
9. "Moves Like Jagger," Maroon 5 f/ Christina Aguilera
Maroon 5 has maintained mojo as one of few uptempo groups that continues to conjure creative hooks, a steady stream of juicy sing-along songs and quality top 40 grooves. "Jagger" is an ingenious swath of dance pop, and Christina Aguilera soars with beautiful restraint as the featured vocalist. The only thing I don't quite get is why Adam Levine has been embraced as a sex symbol. To me, he's just a skinny white boy with a great soulful voice.
10. "Just Can't Get Enough," Black Eyed Peas
I crowned "Boom Boom Pow" and "My Humps" the Worst Song in each of their respective release years; with "Just Can't Get Enough," Black Eyed Peas unequivocally earns the trophy a third time. This is the biggest piece of shit that invaded the radio airwaves in 2011, with Fergie's typically off-kilter vocals and dated, silly vocoder enhancements from will.i.am and the other two anonymous members. Except for the surprisingly harmonic "Where Is the Love," this group has never displayed one lick of talent (remember Super Bowl 2010?)—especially Grandma Fergie—while its dissonant collection of hits are the absolute worst of the millennium, bar none.
Lastly, where the hell was Lady Gaga among the Billboard top 10 for 2011? Her best showing was No. 18 with "Born This Way" (with "The Edge of Glory" at No. 29), which both seem suspiciously underrated. Album Born This Way thankfully finished the year at No. 3 (behind Adele and Taylor Swift's anemic Speak Now), while she was the No. 4 Singles Artist (following Adele, Rihanna and Katy Perry). I find that curiously fucked up. Rest assured, that gaffe will be remedied in the upcoming Taylor Top 40!