Brow Beat

The Slate Music Club Picks 2011’s Best Songs

Beyonce at the Glastonbury festival

Photo of Beyonce at the Glastonbury festival by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, and not just because of the holidays. Christmastime also means Slate begins rolling out its annual Gaming, Music, and Movie Clubs, in which we get some of our favorite critics to do a postmortem on the year in culture.

Last week we asked some of our favorite gamers to reassess the year in video games, and this week Slate’s music critics Jody Rosen and Jonah Weiner will be joined by NPR Music critic Ann Powers, New York pop critic Nitsuh Abebe, and Globe and Mail music critic Carl Wilson to debate the year in music. (The Movie Club will kick off just after the New Year.)

Of course, not everyone gets to spend their working hours keeping track of all the latest music, so we wanted to make a primer for all those that want to follow along with the club. Below you’ll find the top tracks of the year from each of the critics who have listed them so far, as well as a Spotify playlist compiling them all in one place. Oh, and the tunes are pretty good too.

You can listen to the complete playlist on Spotify: Slate Music Club 2011.

And click through for a complete track listing, with each critic’s picks:


Jody Rosen

Beyoncé, “Countdown
Brad Paisley ft. Carrie Underwood, “Remind Me
Miguel, “Sure Thing
A$AP Rocky, “Peso
Frank Ocean, “Novacane
Jawan Harris ft. Tyga, “Keisha
Jay-Z/Kanye West, “Niggas in Paris
Lykke Li, “I Follow Rivers
Eric Church, “Homeboy
Beyoncé, “1+1
Fountains of Wayne, “Richie and Ruben
Katy Perry, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
Ashton Shepherd, “Where Country Grows
T-Pain ft. Lily Allen and Wiz Khalifa, “5 O’Clock
Kenny Chesney ft. Grace Potter, “You and Tequila
Hot Chelle Rae, “Tonight Tonight
Florence + The Machine, “Shake It Out
Rick Ross, “I Love My Bitches
Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera, “Moves Like Jagger
The Pierces, “You’ll Be Mine

Jonah Weiner

1. Kurt Vile, “Baby’s Arms
2. Kelly Rowland feat. Lil Wayne, “Motivation
3. DJ Khaled feat. Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Drake, “I’m On One
4. Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, “Look at Me Now
5. Real Estate, “It’s Real
6. Lil Wayne, “6 Foot 7 Foot
7. Das Racist, “Michael Jackson
8. Araabmuzik, “Underground Stream
9. Beyonce, “Countdown
10. Bon Iver, “Holocene
11. Lil B, “Motivation*
12. Kendrick Lamar, “ADHD
13. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, “Huzzah*
14. No Age, “Fever Dreaming
15. LMFAO, “Sexy and I Know It
15. Radiohead, “Lotus Flower
16. Panda Bear, “Slow Motion
17. The Weeknd, “The Morning
18. Feist, “How Come You Never Go There
19. Juicy J, “Who da Neighbors
20. PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake


Ann Powers

The Top 10 Top 40 of 2011

Lady Gaga, “Born This Way”
Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull, “On the Floor”
Kanye West, “All of the Lights”
Britney Spears, “‘Til the World Ends”
Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”
Kelly Rowland feat. Lil Wayne, “Motivation”
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, “Remind Me”
Dev, “In the Dark”
Selena Gomez, “Who Says”
Adele, “Rolling In the Deep”

Favorite Albums of 2011

PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake” (from Let England Shake)
tUnE-yArDs, “Gangsta” (from W H O K I L L)
Shabazz Palaces, “Are you… Can you… Were you? (Felt)” (from Black Up)
Pistol Annies, “Housewife’s Prayer” (from Hell on Heels)
St. Vincent, “Surgeon” (from Strange Mercy)
The Civil Wars, “C’est La Mort” (from Barton Hollow)
Kate Bush, “Misty” (from 50 Words for Snow)
Drake, “Take Care” (from Take Care)
Anthony Hamilton, “Mad” (from Back to Love)
The Roots, “Make My” (from undun)


Nitsuh Abebe

Tune-Yards, “Bizness”
Wiley, “Numbers In Action”
Gauntlet Hair, “Top Bunk”
Shabazz Palaces, “Swerve… the reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)”
Katy B, “Movement”
The Drums, “Money”
Jamie xx, “Far Nearer”
Chairlift, “Amanaemonesia”
King Krule, “Portrait In Black and Blue”
The Vaccines, “Post Break-Up Sex”
Lloyd, “Cupid”
Destroyer, “Savage Night at the Opera”
Austra, “Hate Crime”
Das Racist, “Michael Jackson”
Death Grips, “Takyon (Death Yon)”
Eleanor Friedberger, “My Mistakes”
DJ Quik, “Do Today”
Yelle, “Safari Disco Club”
Marques Toliver, “Deep In My Heart”
Gang Gang Dance, “Adult Goth”
Nadia Oh, “Taking Over The Dancefloor (Radio Edit)”
Kendrick Lamar, “F*ck Your Ethnicity”
Wye Oak, “Holy Holy”
PJ Harvey, “The Glorious Land”
Nicolas Jaar, “Space Is Only Noise If You Can See”
Colin Stetson, “A dream of water”
Liturgy, “Generation”
Jamie Woon, “Night Air”
Britney Spears, “How I Roll”
The Joy Formidable, “Whirring”
Wavves, “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”
TV Ghost, “Wired Trap”
St. Vincent, “Cheerleader”
Jay-Z and Kanye West, “No Church In The Wild”
Frank Ocean, “Novacane”
The Men, “Bataille”
Prurient, “A Meal Can Be Made”
James Blake, “I Never Learnt To Share”
Feist, “A Commotion”
Bobby V, “Words”
Fucked Up, “The Other Shoe”
Jeff The Brotherhood, “Cool Out”
Marsha Ambrosius, “Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player)”
Burial, “Stolen Dog”
Girls, “Vomit”
EMA, “California”
Lady Gaga, “Marry The Night”
Beyoncé, “Countdown”
Dum Dum Girls, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”
Kate Bush, “Snowed In At Wheeler Street”


Carl Wilson

Stay tuned—we’ll update both this page and the playlist when we have them. Updated, December 21st, 2011:

Azealia Banks, “212”*
Rebecca Black, “Friday”*
Buika, “Se me hizo facil” (from The Skin I Live In soundtrack)
Destroyer, “Kaputt
Hayes Carll Ft. Cary Ann Hearst, “Another Like You
Death Grips, “Beware
Feist, “The Bad in Each Other
Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”
Grouper, “Alien Observer
JoJo, “Marvin’s Room
Ke$ha feat. Andre 3000, “Sleazy (remix)
The Luyas, “Too Beautiful to Work
M83, “Midnight City
Stephen Malkmus, “Senator
Massive Attack vs. Burial, “Paradise Circus*
Mountain Goats, “Estate Sale Sign
Frank Ocean, “Swim Good
One Hundred Dollars, “Waiting on Another” (live—the LP version is much more polished)
Sandro Perri, “Changes”
Lana Del Rey, “Video Games
Robyn, “Call Your Girlfriend” (2010 album, 2011 single)
SBTRKT feat. Little Dragon, “Wildfire”
tUnE-yArDs, “Powa
TV on the Radio, “Will Do”
Gillian Welch, “The Way It Goes

*Track unavailable on Spotify.