Brow Beat

Listen to the Year in Pop in 5 Minutes

Still from the video for Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” as seen in “United State of Pop 2011.”

With a musical landscape as fragmented as ours has become in 2011, it’s easy to miss even some of the most ubiquitous hits. That’s why every year now I look forward to DJ Earworm’s all-embracing mashup of the year on the charts—his annual “United State of Pop.”

So what does pop sound like circa 2011? A big part of what makes the Earworm mashup great—the 2011 edition was posted last night—is that you get relatively little editorializing. Sure, in this you’ll hear a little of what our favorite critics have been anatomizing over at Slate’s Music Club, and you’ll pick up on some of the trends Slate’s critics and others have pointed out throughout the year. (These 25 hits don’t highlight the return of the sax solo, but towards the end they do pay tribute to The Year of the Whistle.)

But mostly you hear a lot of the silly common ground (let’s not say lowest common denominator) that best brings us together. If we’re looking back at 2011, perhaps it’s okay if the sounds that most united us add up to little more than this: “Boom.”

For the Music Club’s picks for 2011’s greatest songs, head over to our Spotify playlist.
To look back at 2011 in film, don’t miss “The Best Year-in-Movies Montage Ever?