#1: Radiohead’s Lotus Flower
This was the one song from ‘The King Of Limbs’ in which one could tell Radiohead was actually trying to get played on the radio (they do that every once in a while). The result? A side-stepping, quick-drummed, psychedelic pop song with arresting and soaring vocals. The musicianship is deceptively adroit, the attention to the detail is astronomic. It is a song that you like upon first listen, but actually enjoy more as you get to know it. It makes you want to dance. It makes you want to stop and listen. We suggest you try to do both at the same time…
Radiohead’s Lotus Flower
Those opening horn-like synth lines just scream youthful revelry. The neo-80’s drum beat pushes the song forward, while the hollow-baritone verbed vocals hint to something mysteriously pleasurable – if you only knew what was being talked about. It’s urban, it’s youthful, yet it is progressive only by harking to the past. With the song M83 has reminded us we haven’t moved out of the electro-rock phase, and is letting us know it may not be a phase at all. Not when nearly everyone falls in love with a track, as happened with Midnight City.
M83’s Midnight City
#3: Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks
Sometimes there is a song from a new band that everyone listens to and says, “crap that’s catchy, I like it, play it again.” So much so that musicians themselves also agree and it becomes, easily, the most remixed song of the year. This song was ubiquitous in 2011, but because it deserved to be so. Good and simple is a hard combination to hit in music, but Foster The People found it with this song. This is a song that your grandmother or 5 year old would like, and that’s a good thing. Just don’t tell them the chorus is about shooting people…
Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks
#4: Bon Iver’s Calgary
You don’t always have to be able to dance to a song for it to captivate the public’s ears. Bon Iver reminded us of this fact with their song Calgary. The human brain is designed so as to listen to the human voice above all other sounds (that’s true), and this is a little design feature that is pleasantly hijacked by Justin Vernon (the signer) in this song. Whether pleasantly clean, or effected, the vocals have been perfectly designed and placed within the music. It’s relaxing, but in a special way, he makes you take pause. That’s a rare gift.
Bon Iver’s Calgary
#5: SBTRKT’s Wildfire
It’s funny how sound creation is starting to separate some DJs from others. The devil is in the details, but so is success, when you are talking about electronic music. With Wildfire SBTRKT has reminded us how a smartly constructed synth sample, thrown within a bangin beat, can consistently capture the listener. And then if you can find just the right lyrics to go over that music, then voila, you have yourself a hit. And this is a hit that SBTRKT earned. Damn dude, play that again and let’s get the party started…