Features / Lists

The 100 Best Songs of 2011 (50-1)

Quit Mumbling's Best Songs of 2011 (50-1)

Sure, a top songs list can never not be subjective, but these selections meant the most to us over the year of 2011. The following tracks brought every minute of joy to a new high, and every moment of heartache a bit of solace. These are the songs that kept us writing throughout the year, that brought us out to shows, lead us to meet so many wonderful people, and most importantly soundtracked a year of unforgettable memories. Pending the arrival of any global calamity, looking back at the songs of 2011 only builds our excitement to see what 2012 will offer.

To see songs 100-51, click here.

Enjoy our top 50 favorite songs of the year.


Kendrick Lamar – “Rigamortis”

Off Section 8.0 – Top Dawg Entertainment

Kendrick Lamar – “Rigamortis”

Kendrick drops his spitfire flow over a jazz loop with verses full of words conjured forth quicker than the listener can keep up. With boom bap drums accompanying Lamar’s flow, he pays tribute to past hip-hop titans with the chorus proclaiming the death of seemingly anyone’s favorite rapper. Kendrick’s ferocious flow on “Rigamortus” is promising enough to maybe eventually be referenced against some of the other greats. – Rudo


Panda Bear – “Last Night At The Jetty”

Off Tomboy – Pawtracks

Panda Bear – “Last Night At The Jetty”

“Okay so this single actually came out in December of 2010, but since the album came out earlier this year, we felt justified in including it in 2011’s list.  Now that we’ve clarified lets talk a bit about “Last Night at the Jetty.”  This track sounds like it was recorded underwater.  It’s as if this song was composed for the mystic cities of Atlantis or Naboo.  You could have subbed this song in on the Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind soundtrack for the scene on the beach.  Wheres “Comfy in Nautica” off 2007’s Person Pitch was the theme song for Coney Island, this track has that amusement park enthusiasm, with the added benefit of  a musical torrential rain.” – Juan


Michael Kiwunaka – “Tell Me A Tale”

Off Tell Me A Tale EP – Communion Records

In “Tell Me A Tale”, Michael Kiwanuka draws heavily from past influences but maintains authenticity through a showcase of pure talent and an attention to detail. Despite the influx of neo-soul artists, there is something refreshing in Michael’s billowing vocals and meandering song-writing that seems so often missed. “Tell Me A Tale” settles into an early groove as much of the attention is given to Kiwanuka’s astonishingly mature vocal tone. Strings back the entire song, adding a layer of texture, while flourishes of brass add quick doses of energy. As the track gains momentum, all tension finds a release in the easy-going chorus where Michael begs for some “good good lovin’”. ” – Bear


Hooray For Earth – “True Loves”

Off True Loves – Dovecote Records

There’s something recognizably humane under “True Loves” synthetic makeup, like that girl you had a hunch about in high school. It’s part-church, part-reggae gets you bouncing even in your seat in its dreamy yet apocalyptic kind of way. – Kenny


Weeknd – “House of Balloons”

Off House Of Balloons – Mixtape

Weeknd – “House Of Balloons”

Much of the Weeknd’s best material sounds like slow mating calls for the sorts of chicks inclined to join some just-met dude at his loft for a 5AM after-party. Though lyrically, the Siouxsie and the Banshees “Happy House” sampling “House of Balloons” is no different, the music backing the track is an assertive party starter. Weeknd singer Abel Tesfaye paints a picture of desperate lust. Like its sampled track, Tesfaye is also trying to convince himself more than anyone else that he’s enjoying himself, “this is fun. this is fun to me.” The dark mood of the track echoes that of much of House of Balloons, and Tesfaye’s lyrics leave one with a subtext that questions whether anybody is enjoying themselves during those moments of unrestrained hedonism. Ultimately though, “House of Balloons” is the sort of song that lends itself well to playback in those very moments. – LC


Weeknd – “What You Need”

Off House Of Balloons – Mixtape

Weeknd – “What You Need”

“The Weeknd makes me want to look at hot girls on the Internet,” said a fellow writer who would probably rather be unnamed (Bear). It was a joke, but if you think about it, the description suits the Toronto based contemporary R&B singer. If Marvin Gaye romanticized sex, The Weeknd just makes it raunchy. “What You Need” attacks the hopelessness of a love crazed girl, catching her in a web, and ultimately turning her into a victim of a dirty game. – Stuart


Feist – “Bad In Each Other”

Off Metals – Cherry Tree

Feist – “Bad In Each Other”

“Bad In Each Other” opens Metals with a distant and heavy floor tom, giving the listener an indication of the open-air atmosphere that awaits. Following the tom comes a rustic guitar riff, building an early state of tension. The commotion is short and quickly quieted by Leslie Feist’s commanding opening note. While sonically beautiful, the verses in “Bad In Each Other” can’t help but put the listener in a state of unease. It is as if we have stepped in on a couple fighting, only to watch them reach a state of compromise come chorus. To announce the triumph of understanding, victorious horns enter backed by sweeping strings. The state of calm may only be to cushion the blow from the notion that love that adds up on paper doesn’t always mean a success in reality. – Bear


Yuck – “Georgia”

Off Yuck – Pharmacy Records Ltd.

Yuck – “Georgia”

Of every piece of fuzzed out 90’s sugar on Yuck’s debut album, “Georgia”, may be the sweetest. The track is quick to grab your attention with an overly distorted guitar riff that leads into an innocent male/female vocal melody. You can almost see the split television screen as the two kids in love chat about nothing and everything on the phone. The chorus is somehow able to lift the song into a higher state of bliss, as bittersweet vocals pout over a boy that walked away. – Bear


Pinch & Shackelton – “Jellybones”

Off Pinch & Shackelton – Honest Jon’s Records

Pinch & Shackleton – “Jellybones”

“Jellybones” starts off rather straight forward.  The hollow drums are notably Shacklton’s doing, whilst the precise metered beat can only be the articulation of Pinch.  Building off their interaction, “Jellybones” evolves from simpler interactions to the more complex, until the bass kicks in just before minute 2, followed closely by warping chords that appear to be in a constant state of fall only to be save themselves through their own resuscitation.  45 seconds after the drop, everything comes back together.  Futuristic gongs still permeate the periphery, but the track never veers too far down off center, before it recapitulates with a harrowing organ back in the middle. “Jellybones” is a multidimensional, multi-layered effort drawing off three distinct parts.  It is quite possible that Pinch & Shackleton might be the new Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. – Juan


Beirut – “Goshen”

Off The Rip Tide – Pompeii Records

Beirut – “Goshen”

I have a friend who once described to me a dream in which she met President Obama, and they listened to this song – together. If you’ve heard this beautiful coo of a song, you’d know how strange this dream is, but cannot deny, when I think Obama, I think of Zach Condon gently warbling, “You’re not the girl I used to know”. – Kenny

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