Favourite songs of 2011: 10-1

10. JoJo - Marvin's Room (Can't Do Better)

Drunken self-delusional 3am desperation. Should have ended Drake's career by now.

9. Nicki Minaj - Super Bass

Rap meets bubblegum pop and crushes everything in its way (Gaga the first to be pulverized). Not a lot of bass to the heartbeats, but never mind. ‘When he make it drip, drip, kiss him on the lip, lip!’ keeps it filthy as well as sweet.

8. P Money & Blacks feat. Slickman - Boo You

Blacks's verse at the end jarred a bit after reading a piece about the prevalence of gang rape in London. Gave an uncomfortable ring to 'oh yeah fam, when I'm done with your girl, might pass her on to the bredren as well'. Got over it by convincing myself that the sentiment is much more childish: fantasies of saying boo you, you’ve been cuckolded added to impotent dreams of fucking 'too many, too many hoes' across the length and breadth of England. Receives extra bumps because Royal-T’s Hot Ones remix from 2009 was probably my most played grime track this year, and because the Blacks & P mixtape was really very good.

7. Araabmuzik - Electronic Dream

A stand in for the entire album really, the opening 15 seconds one of the best intros to a record I’ve ever heard. ‘My love may be invisible, but I inspire the dreams that guide you’. Trance diva as muse singing to the inspired producer. Reminds me a lot of FSOL’s Papua New Guinea, but slowed to hip hop tempo, the prescience replaced with reminiscence.

6. Katy B - Power On Me

Another stand-in for the entire album, which is one of my favourites released this year. The opening track has a similar sound and theme to the now classic As I, but it is more suspicious, accusatory. Katy's a wary lady. ‘So glad I knew not to rush things with you because now you've grown on me so naturally’. Something you could say about the whole album, actually. It’s a grower, crammed with delightful embellishments only noticed on the third replay: the descending 'bloop-bloop-bloop-bloop-bloo' in Movement, the Charly sample that bookends Go Away. Personally, I don’t understand the accusations that Katy’s voice lacks personality. Robyn’s voice has also been described to me as flat and unremarkable, which I find insane. Powerhouse technical performance is not what either songwriter is about. Instead they go for truth. And Katy’s has an earnestness that conveys her character very clearly to the listener. Personal favourite vocal moment: the coquettish ‘oh’ that caps the bridge in Why You Always Here.

5. Johnny Foreigner - (Don't) Show Us Your Fangs

I love it when my fave indie band of recent times reminds me of my fave indie band of all time. Belle & Sebastian left behind for harder guitars at the end, of course. Includes a faint ringing sound that comes in at the chorus which always makes me reach for my phone. Johnny Foreigner are building a career on singing about travel, random people you meet on the way, home-sickness and love at long distance. This year I’m finally where they are and the connect is even harder. ‘Every leaving means heading somewhere new’. Shivers each time I hear it. The band leaked the mp3 for free, so you have no excuse. Extra bumps because the new album is really very good.

4. Rockwell - Aria

See here. Hopefully Untold will bring this guy to the attention of non-d&b heads. Undoubtedly some of the most exciting ‘bass music’ {{what a horribly bland name for it}} coming out of London right about now. I mean, just check out this weirdness.

3. Kozzie feat. Marger, Merky Ace, Rival, Ego, Scrufizzer - Spartan (Remix)

‘That's how you do an 8 bar riddim!’ Someone should have told Lethal. Call to arms from the new wave of the grime scene. Here’s to exciting times ahead.

2. tUnE-yArDs - Bizness

Blues for a brighter 21st century. Also dance music for a brighter 21st century, featuring the drop of the year. In my dreams, DJs mix this in next to a lot of the other stuff on this list. Extra bumps for the album, obv. One of the most energizing records to come out this year, burning with the (often self-directed) anger of victimhood. But the music is celebratory, colourful and fun -- giving us a way out, pointing to happier times ahead.

1. Purity Ring - Ungirthed

See here. Still sounds fresh at the end of the year. Music made by polyglot creators for polyglot listeners. In fact, I recognised it being blasted out of a Mercedes on Great Russell Street and thought: now that’s an interesting choice for ridin’ out music... But rather than gluttage or hyperstasis, this evokes something very particular and private: cold bedsits, blue mornings, the passing of time, the way the banal can be transformed by a sense of the unworldly. 'Girth' is an archaic word for encircle, and this song seems to be about everyday surroundings being stripped away. That uncanny numinous feeling that leaves you shivering, teeth clicking, ears ringing, all moorings lost. It’s at number one because it shows that overexposure to the mass of stuff out there doesn’t limit the crafting of something singular, and because I can play it on repeat forever without tiring of it.

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