Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 BS Awards - Top 20 Songs of the Year

Bigger than the Grammies? More hip than the BET awards? Down with the kids more than the MTV VMAs? Probably three no’s. But more important to me than any of those. Most definitely! Since you have wandered onto my little part of the blogosphere, welcome to the 2011 BS Awards for best song of the Big Sexy fiscal year, ending November 18. Click the link, dig the tunes and hopefully discuss your thoughts. Without further adieu…

1. Walk – Foo Fighters

Fave Lyric: “I’m on my knees, I’m praying for a sign. Forever. Whenever. I never wanna die!”

The top song of 2011 is not only a kick ass rock song from one of my very favorite bands in the world. It is not only another example of the Foos making good, comic videos with their parody of the 90s movie Falling Down. (The only thing I don’t like about video is that it doesn’t really match the meaning of the song.) Mostly what I love about Walk is that it is an emotionally uplifting number about overcoming a depressive episode. Walk fits so perfectly right after I Should’ve Known at the end of their excellent album Wasting Light. I Should’ve Known is Dave Grohl’s first mention of Kurt Cobain and is a reflective and rather sad song. Walk builds on the emotion of that song. The song slowly works into it, but soon gets the release of the new start the protagonist is feeling. It is very emotional. The simple, repetitive 6 bar guitar strum is so sweet at the start and really feeds the rest of the song. By the middle of the song, Dave is vehemently declaring his re-birth. And I right there screaming with him… at least in my head.

2. Lonely Boy – The Black Keys

Fave Lyric: “Your momma kept you, but your daddy left you. I should’ve done you just the same.”

Hell, yes! That has to be a common refrain when any Keys fan hears their latest hit. They knocked it out of the park. It is rare that a song that hits so late in the Big Sexy fiscal year can land so high on the list. But this song simply cannot be stopped. The album did not make it into the fiscal year, but I cannot wait to get my hands on it. The Black Keys just keep getting better and better. There blues backed rock is getting catchier and catchier. I’m guessing the influence of Danger Mouse is helping them with their crossover status. There is more going on musically in their new songs then if you were to go about five years back. It is hard to not bob your head, tap your toes and sing a few “ohh o ohhs” by the end of this song. I knew this song was special from just that opening guitar riff that stands alone before the drums kick in. That has to be the riff of the year.

While I’m on the Keys, they are getting to be masters of the video. I espoused last year the master work of the dinosaur, who was in several videos, most notably in Next Girl.  Tighten Up is genius with Beardy and Glasses kids in the schoolyard.  The first time I watched the video for Lonely Boy, I was a little perplexed. But now that you have seen it, try to get it out of your head. This cat can shake it. I have a lot of dancing envy with the videos of these songs this year. He is definitely dancing, as they suggest, “like no one is watching.”

3. Mustache Man – Cake

Fave Lyric: “Meanwhile, back at the Candlerock Lounge, it is past 11:30 and your friends are getting down”

I’ve waited soooo long for new Cake. I was nervous when they released their first new album in nearly 10 years. Had they overstayed their time on the alternative scene? They did not disappoint. They are hotter than ever. While this album is not the best Cake set of all time, it is very good. This song was a big hit for me all year. I enjoyed taking my kids to the Candlerock Lounge here in Sacramento to show them the name-check from this song while were bowling since that is just the dive bar within the bowling alley. This song has all the Cake standard features. Killer Trumpet from Vince DiFiore-check. Vibra Slap – check. Nearly talking lyrical style of John McCrea – check. Background singing of ahhhhh ahhhs-check. It also features the under-rated guitar stylings of Xan McCurdy. This was clearly Lil’ Sexy’s song of year. It inspired him to want to get a tattoo of a mustache on the inside of his index finger so he can hold it up to his lip. Maybe for his 12th birthday. My kids liking an awesome song does not hurt it’s standing on the list.

4. Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO

Fave Lyric: “Everyday I’m Shufflin”

I was geared up and excited for the new release by the breakout party band of 2011. When I heard this early on in the year, my ears got a boner. By the end of the year, this song has been overplayed to the point that I will usually turn the radio station when it comes on. But I cannot mark it down too far because so many people liked it. That is silly. As LMFAO will tell you “hatin’ is bad”. This dance band hit the big time this year and this song was unavoidable. I knew it had finally hit the mainstream when the Rio Freshmen cheerleaders performed a dance routine to this song at halftime of a football game in the fall. I’m not sure all of the hip soccer moms who are now enjoying this song are ready for all of the party rocking this band has up its sleeves (in its pants) during the rest of their catalogue of songs. This band is a very positive and upbeat band. The guys always look like they have fun and all they really want to do is party. About 110% of their songs are about getting wasted and hooking up. Even this song, if you can shake the crazy infectious beat and hooky chorus, has lyrics such as “I’m running through these hoes like Drano” and “If you’re looking for your girl she’s on my jock”.

Big ups for the video. I saw this just as I was riding the high from watching the first season of The Walking Dead. The video has a great zombie-ish premise and wonderful dancing (man, I wish I could shuffle. If I could, I think I’d do it everyday.)

5. Ready to Start – Arcade Fire

Fave Lyric: “You say ‘Can we still be friends?’ If I was scared, I would. I was pure, I would. If I was yours… but I’m not.”

This is the top rated Canadian band on this list and perhaps on any list. I finally opened my ears and my soul to Arcade Fire this year after largely ignoring them for the better part of a decade in which they have been critical alternative darlings. Ready to Start is their most rollicking number over the two albums I own. This is off of last years release The Suburbs. Ready to Start, similar to Walk (#1 above), deals with a new beginning. In this one, our protagonist has been kept a little at bay by a romantic interest. She puts him down but then picks him up when it’s convenient. Finally, he has had enough and he’s ready to start his life. Actually, it could probably be about any type of a relationship like that from a friendship to a parent. I also like the line “I’d rather be alone than pretend to be alright” in response to asking him to come hang out. I have heard this band is great live. In this cut from a concert, the very large band does seem to be all in. Sweat pouring off Win Butler’s weird hair style. He’s singing with a lot of emotion. That type of feeling that a song can give me goes a long way with me.

6. Jenny Kelly – Fight Like Apes

Fave Lyric: “Never trust a ponytail. His evil charm is off the scale.”

This video is fun and may or may not make any sense or relate to the song in anyway. I don’t know what the song is about. I can only understand about every other word. I just like it. I beat the song does not have anything to do with chasing a huge, rolling block of cheese on BMX bikes. I just discussed Fight Like Apes in my latest post. This is an Irish band that was new to me in 2011 thanks to a tweet from my good friend Eddie Argos of Art Brut. I love the passion in the squeaky/hoarse voice of MayKay. There is good use of synths in a rock band. And it kicks it pretty well. It was a tough call which song I liked the best from FLA, but I’m going with Jenny Kelly.

7. Ghetto Love – Spinerette

Fave Lyric: “Ohohowaohoh ohohowaohoh Ohohowaoho Ohohowaoho. HEY!”

I’m a big fan of Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal. He has this hard-rocking-but-very-cool vibe that just hits me right. Late this year, I was tipped off to the music of his wife Brody Dalle. Brody started out with The Distillers at the start of the century when she was married to the lead singer of Rancid. Here’s Drain the Blood from The Distillers.  It is a killer hard driving rock song and actually just missed this list, despite it being eight years old. If you remember what Rancid sounded like, you can kinda hear the similarities. The Distillers are harder edged than Rancid.

Brody left the Rancid dude years ago and just gave birth to her second child with Josh Homme. They have been married for about 5 years. During the Homme relationship, she started a new band, Spinerette, which includes a guitarist for Queens of the Stone Age. This band sounds like QOTSA with a rocker girrrl in charge. This song has a kicking bass sound that I love. Someone is pounding the heck out of a drum kit. The guitar is blistering. And Brody is alternatively singing, ohohing and screaming. Try not getting hooked into that hand clap near the end. During the second half of 2011, I couldn’t get enough of this song or my Best of Brody mix that was able to span a decade of Distillers and Spinerette.

8. Aberdeen – Cage the Elephant

Fave Lyric: “I’ve been trying real hard to realize”

Claymation is always pretty awesome. However, this video makes me a little sad for the poor monster. I wish it had a happy ending (spoiler alert!) But I love this song. There were several good songs from the 90’s throwback band Cage the Elephant off their most recent effort. This was the best one for me. I like the changing pace and screaming. This song rocks. I think he’s screaming “White Flag” at the end of the chorous but the official lyrics say “Way Back”. Mine would be better.

9. Long Time – Cake


Fave Lyric: “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen your smiling face. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a su-uu-uu-uu-uu-uu-uny day.”

The first band with a second song on the list! I’m saving you from another bad animated video. The song is great, though. Excellent use of the vibra slap in this song! It’s there along with a good base line and signature trumpet blasts and backup “aaahh aahhs”. Plenty going on musically here. The song is about a stale relationship, but it’s ok because he is in love. You can tell we’re all getting older.

10. Bartolomeo and the Buzzing Bees – Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Fave lyric: “I know I’ve been resistant, but I feel a change coming on”

The video is actually from another good song from Ted Leo’s album The Brutalist’s Bricks. It’s a good song too, I just prefer the Bees song to it. I couldn’t find video evidence of the song existing so you’ll have to look it. The Bees has a bit of a better driving beat to it and a good bass line. It is also a very positive song about forgetting the past and how you’re living the present and just change for the better. Although, I do love the “tell the bartender” refrain in Bottle Up in Cork, I don’t like them picking on my American Idiot musical.

11. Arlandria – Foo Fighters

Fave Lyric: “Shame, shame, go away. Come again some other day.” And “You and what army?”

I was so ticked I missed the Foos live this year. I have seen them in 3 different states and only Green Day puts on a better show. Dave Grohl is an excellent front man at a concert. Dave does some of his best scream-singing in Arlandria. This song starts off nice and quiet but doesn’t take long to get to the rockin’. It also has a nice groovy guitar in the middle that brings the passion down a bit before it hits hard again.

12. Colours – Grouplove

Fave Lyric: “I am a man man man man up up in the air. And I float around round round round the town town and act like I don’t care.”

I’m not sure if this band will have a long career or not but I love this song. The repetitive words in all the lyrics work here. I could see where that would be annoying in some songs. I didn’t hear this song until late in the summer, but it seems like it would be an excellent summer song. I can see hanging out at a beach while some white guys with dreadlocks are playing hackey-sack of to the side and everyone just is sharing in the peace and love of the day. I have no idea what this song means I just just just just like like like it.

13. Don’t Carry It All – The Decemberists

Fave lyrics: “You must bear your neighbor’s burden within reason. And your labors will be borne when all is done.”

I really thought their crazy operatic album The Hazards of Love would be a one-off for my love of this band. They hung out with Peter Buck of R.E.M. for a while and came back strong with excellent album full of Americana twang. This song starts with a harmonica blast. The Decemberists are a very lyrical band. They use a lot of words I don’t even know the meaning of. This song appears to be a song about helping your community in the time of a crisis. In this example - the death of a boy.

14. Rolling in the Deep – Adele

Fave lyrics: “You had my heart in your hand and you played it to the beat.”

Ok, so that was a cover. You don’t have to look hard to find someone who has covered this song. There are a few talented musicians from David Cook here to Lincoln Park and John Legend that have covered the song. There are also about a million teen and pre-teen girls and boys taking a shot at it on youtube. It’s a sing-able song and David Cook’s version here is not half-bad despite the poor audio quality. The first time I really heard this song was at a bar in Aptos in early May. This young, heavy set black woman wowed the crowd with her excellent rendition of the song. I found out after that she was trying out for some TV singing contest after being rejected by American Idol. It was actually the same night that Aptos’ own American Idol finalist was eliminated. I got to watch him get eliminated in the bar that he used to perform karaoke. There was a lot of venom spewing that night about American Idol.

Without a doubt the best version of this song is sung by Adele. She really has an excellent, heartbroken soul voice.

I’ve done a lot of mean things on my blogs before, but that might top the cake. I feel bad about myself for doing it, if it is any consolation. I’ll make it up to you. Here’s a live version of the song so you can wash your ears out.

15. Estate Sale Sign – The Mountain Goats

Who doesn’t love an animated video? You wouldn’t if you saw the video to this. It was ugly, distracting and not in tune with what the song is about, so you get this audio clip only. John Darnielle is usually an excellent story teller spins tales about tragic relationships. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here, but I bet it’s not good having listened to quite a bit of The Mountain Goats. I think he’s having an “estate sale” from the relationship that is now dead. I wouldn’t swear to it, but he’s very passionate about selling items in front of his house. Great garage sale song or best garage sale song ever?

16. Lotus Flower – Radiohead

I dislike the video for this song violently. Therefore, I present a clip of me dancing to it. Ok, that’s not me, but somehow enjoyable. It’s how I picture how Mrs. Sexy pictures me dancing. The clip only has a bit of the song, but you get the point. As with all Radiohead songs, it took a while for Lotus Flower to really hit with me, so if don’t already like it, you won’t miss the other three minutes of the song. I have no idea what it’s about, if anything. I just like the music and how it fits with Thom Yorke falsetto. Radiohead songs come into my soul through my ears, but it’s really not all about the sound. It is hard for me to articulate.

17. Paradise – Coldplay

This is a great video. I love plushies, but telling a story with animal costumes that includes a zoo escape and an elephant riding a unicycle puts it among the top videos of 2011. I liked the song before I saw the video. It is the top song of a very good Mylo Xloto. This is an example of a video making a song even better. The “para-para-para-dise” part of the song reminded me of an absolutely horrible pop song by Rhianna from a few years back that made me want to stick an umbrella-ella-ella through my ear drum. This song overcomes that somehow.

18. Burn It Down – Awolnation

Fave Lyric: “If you need love, turn around, do the helicopter” – (fine advice)

This clip is just from a super cool looking EA Sports game coming out in early 2012. It doesn’t play the whole song. The official video is here.  I posted it earlier in the year when I raved about this album. It’s a crazy courtroom video where he turns people into ninjas, mermaids, pillow-fighting cheerleaders and floosies. I think this was all in my teenager, J Sexy’s dream last night. The song certainly makes me think the protagonist is a little angry with something, but the video makes me think he’s ready to party all night long despite his legal troubles.

19. Whirring – The Joy Formidable

This song sounds a bit like a new wavey 90’s Swedish song at times. But it does evolve into a good 21st century rock beat. The band is from Wales. Maybe that explains the sound. You’ll like it more the more you hear it. I can hear Beavis yelling “Yeah! Break it! Break it all!” near the end of the video.

20. Under Cover of Darkness - The Strokes

I thought this would be the album I finally really loved The Strokes. This song was the lead single. It is really good. Dig the bass line. Loved the passionate singing. Was down with the changing tempo. The mid-song guitar solo was good as it was backed by a slowed down bass. Unfortunately, this song was really the highlight of the set. They have it in them, but I don’t think they will ever realize the full respect of the Big Sexy.

There were so many others that were so close to Big Sexy immortality. Kayne just missed with All of the Lights. Excellent cameo by Rhianna who was also excellent in the just-missed Shy Ronnie 2. In the end, I think it was just too old. Or maybe I just don’t like the protagonist in the song.

Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People just got overplayed too much to keep a fringe song on the list.

Let It Out from Girl Talk’s latest compilation mixed Jay Z with General Public was pretty cool. It was just a little overlong.

The Black Belles cover of the Stephen Colbert song, Charlene (I’m Right Behind You) is pretty great. You can definitely hear their Jack White influence.

Nicki Minaj owned the David Guetta song Where Them Girls At, as she did with Lonely Island’s The Creep, but both are just outside the list.
Congratulations to all of the winners. May you come back even stronger in the years to come!

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