Linkin Park covered “Rolling in the Deep” and their audience sang along like it was “Numb” or “One Step Closer”; Lil Wayne rapped over it on the title track to his better-than-the-album-proper mixtape, Sorry 4 the Wait; hell, the CBC used it for their Stanley Cup Finals montage. On a city bus, I noticed no fewer than five people singing or humming along as it leaked through another passenger’s earphones. This year, Adele’s song was as inescapable as it was irresistible.
When Adele hits that first “awwwllll” one minute into “Rolling in the Deep,” it still gives me chills, even after hearing it twenty million times on the radio, from my stereo, or in every store or restaurant I walked in.
Charles R. Cross
In “Super Bass,” Nicki Minaj finally delivered a single that fulfilled her big-pop ambitions without masking her absurdly charming smart-aleck spunk. It helped make 2011 feel like Minaj’s true coming-out year.
Brooklyn, New York
The ghastly part of M83’s “Midnight City” isn’t the sax solo—Anthony Gonzalez’s vocal is more proof that indie rockers still aren’t being resourceful about their musical purloining. Steal Curt Smith, John Lydon, or Baltimora, please!
Twenty years have passed since the end of the 1980s, and the threat of communism dominating the world now seems more quaint and distant than people making records with huge gated drums and cornball synths. M83 want things to stay that way. If you can set up a mental block in front of all the unlikable things about the ’80s while still longing for the days when everything on the radio sounded like “Midnight City,” then you’ll probably love Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
“Super Bass” reveled in performance: Minaj makes consonants sound like vowels, and vowels sound like consonants; her loquacious mastery inverts every kind of gender expectation. Azealia Banks’s “212” takes this conceit to geometric proportions. What’s left standing is a one-woman community, a town crier who do the police in different voices, a masterpiece of mimicry and appropriation, L’Trimm, Neneh Cherry, Lil’ Kim passing a dutchie.
I don’t particularly care about Lana Del Rey, but my RSS feed sure seems to like her.
Less a woman than ever, Britney Spears has become the disembodied sound of disco apocalypse. “Till the World Ends” and “I Wanna Go” incarnate a polymorphic essence so post-feminist/post-sexual/post-whatever that to wonder whether she’s used or being used by the purported objects of lust she’s dancing/fucking is as beside the point as comparing “Libya” and “Iraq.”
Britney’s anthem was the soundtrack for all of my millennialism and various zombie-induced fears. It’s way better than “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes” by Ultravox, too, although I still give the nostalgic end of the world edge to “Shiny Shiny” by my boyhood faves Haysi Fantayzee.
Of the four shooting-spree songs I know, “Pumped Up Kicks” is far and away the sprightliest; of the dozens of whistling songs I know, it’s the only one about a shooting spree.