For the first time this year, I am going to take into account my iTunes total plays for the year as well as my opinion. Why not right? Moving into the 21st century, or something.
10. Bruno Mars - "It Will Rain"
Achingly gorgeous. The kind of song I never expected out of Bruno Mars, whose catalog of songs I entirely do not care for. The song sounds like it is being sung through fog in hot rain. I find something stylistically brave in it, in the sense the song doesn't sound like any of his previous work or anything else on the radio.
9. Sebastian Bach - "As Long As I Got The Music"
An anthem for anyone who ever heard the music & believed. Sebastian released a contender for Album of the Year in my opinion back in September and this is one of the best songs on it. There were other songs I loved equally on the album but this one got the edge because of its lyrical content.
8. Lights Over Paris featuring Game - "I'm Not A Gangsta"
Every year, I have to include something completely (or at least partially) ridiculous but awesomely fun and this is it. [See: Heidi Montag, 2008; Cobra Starship, 2009; Sean Kingston & Justin Bieber, 2010.] The awesomely whack rap in the middle about Charlie Sheen is probably what cemented this song's place in history on the Annual Year In Review List (TM). The perfect party song.
7. Glee Cast - "Rumour Has It/Someone Like You"
One of the most ambitious songs Glee has ever done, in the sense of its utter emotional beauty and subtlety. So often, Glee hits the viewer over the head with theatrics and this mashup of two of Adele's biggest hits of 2011 is understated from everything to the visuals to the choreography. There is nothing like this song out there right now.
6. Lady Gaga - "You And I"
So much going on in this song. Mixes a pseudo-Auto-Tuned four-on-the-floor country beat with "We Will Rock You" handclaps. The story of a love that runs in circles and goes nowhere but means everything and is too stubborn to die. Best lyric: "It's been two years since I let you go/I couldn't listen to a joke or rock 'n roll/And muscle cars drove a truck right through my heart". I mean it wholeheartedly when I say this song is really something else.
5. Demi Lovato - "Skyscraper"
One of the best music videos of the past 5 years. A breath of fresh air in a musical landscape of "at the club" party songs. Raw emotion that slowly builds throughout the song. Her voice breaks and cracks in a way that can not be made of artifice.
4. New Found Glory - "Summer Fling, Don't Mean A Thing"
This song instantly takes me back to 2003 and that is in no way a negative statement. The kind of song I would have listened to endlessly back then and that I quickly accumulated hundreds of plays of on my iTunes.
3. Pistol Annies - "Hell On Heels"
My most played song of 2011 on iTunes. Subversive, sexy, and slinky. A Miranda Lambert side project that evolved into something that can stand completely on its own. The kind of song that doesn't get repetitive after endless listenings.
2. Vicci Martinez - "Afraid To Sleep"
The sort of song that is altogether lacking from Top 40 radio these days - a midtempo (remember those?) with driving instrumentation. Vicci dazzled me on The Voice on every performance but none more so than her utterly devastating cover of "Jolene" (which I didn't include here due to it being a cover song, but should have). This song would get stuck in my head every night before bed and basically all the time. Vicci knows how to convey more than the required emotion but doesn't overemote or rely on melismatic vocal runs to underline her point.
1. Britney Spears - "Inside Out"
Call me biased, but Britney's "Femme Fatale" album was the best album of the year, in an era where cohesive albums don't matter, just singles. This may just be Britney's most addictively listenable album from start to finish. I could have picked any of the following songs off this album to put at #1: "Up N Down", "Selfish", "Trouble For Me", "He About To Lose Me", "Gasoline", and "(Drop Dead) Beautiful".
* Casey James - "Let's Don't Call It A Night"
* Thompson Square - "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not"
* Jason Aldean - "Dirt Road Anthem"
* Sunny Sweeny - "From A Table Away"
* Lady Antebellum - "Just A Kiss"
* Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood - "Remind Me"
* Jessie J - "Domino"
* David Guetta & Jennifer Hudson - "Night Of Your Life"
* Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera - "Moves Like Jagger"
* Katy Perry & Kanye West - "E.T."
* Rihanna featuring Britney Spears - "S&M (Remix)"
* Cash Cash - "Jersey Girl"
* Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull - "On The Floor"
* Selena Gomez - "Love You Like A Love Song"