The Best Music of 2011 [#20-#11]

Thank you to everyone who has been following along with this series thus far. Your readership inspires the ROTI team to attack ambitious projects like this one. Here’s a little gift I found just for you: ASAP Rocky and his crew freestyling over a Nurses song.

Today, ten more great albums to delight you and expand your mind. Some have moved tons of units, some have been celebrated by every critic in the land, and some you might not have even heard of. There’s something for everyone here!

Once more, our Spotify playlist of The Best of 2011 has been enhanced to include the latest round of records.

20. Drive — Soundtrack

This one is a little bit of a reach because many of the key songs were released earlier than 2011, but the compilation of the Drive soundtrack, the release of its score, and its unleashing upon the public occurred during this fine year, and so I’m allowing it to stand. This record was repped hard by a trio of Brooklyn masters, Mikey Jones, DBuu and Izzie B. If you want to step to them that’s your business, but I won’t be joining you.

So much goodness here. Cliff Martinez’ score evokes the handsome intensity of Baby Goose on a thrilling mission. Key tracks include Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” and College’s “A Real Hero.” The GTA: Vice City vibe that pervades this collection is really outstanding. The Boston Herald wrote that “The Drive soundtrack is such an integral part of the experience of the film, once you see it, you can’t imagine the film without it.”

But DBuu (of course) put it best when he said, “I loved this movie, and this soundtrack was a perfect companion to it. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t listen to these songs a few hundred times on my way out for an evening of adventure and thought that for that night, I was a real human being — dare I say, a real hero.”

19. Adele, 21

I pretty much disagree with everyone in the world on this album. Some call it the best of the year (including Time and our panel’s @drewkolar). Others (wikipedia would put a “who?” here, but you know who you are) call it commercial crap. I believe that it is neither of those things!

Izzie B pushed to get this on the 2010 list with an eerie prescience, even before it dropped in the US in early 2011 and reigned over the charts all damn year. If you’re down with neo-soul, especially the UK variety, you can’t deny that this is a tremendous disc.

Basically, 21 is half a classic. It includes the two super-massive hits, “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You.” If you don’t know these songs, I assume you have been in “the hole” or some other type of forced seclusion. I thought these hit tracks were legit, but I wholly genuflected before two of 21‘s other songs, the Ryan Tedder-penned “Rumour Has It” and the rollicking “I’ll Be Waiting.” If you can’t get behind these tunes, go listen to some shoegaze or something, you snob.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album leaves a bit to be desired. The middle of the album bogs down with too many ballads. Although some of 21‘s tracks are legends in their own time, it’s hard to say that the album as a whole is truly classic.

But hey. As my own beloved Lady McGregor put it, “Adele is impossible to sing along to, because her voice is so good that you just end up realizing how mediocre your own singing voice is.” Respect to two of the best cords in all of vocal-dom.  Read more of this post

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