2011 was a great year for music, so any kind of awards or accolades we could attempt to give would be barely scratching the surface of the surface. So, once again, we present the Autostraddle Music Awards (the Real AMAs), a ragtag bunch of highly subjective, highly contestable honors given to the good, the bad and the Gaga in this crazy musical year.
Person We Want to See More New Things From in 2012: Merrill Garbus
I would launch into a diatribe about how amazing W H O K I L L is and how Merrill Garbus’ voice makes us melt into warm, velvety masses of bliss and how the ‘Bizness’ video is adorable and how all the music should be more like this, but bcw already did it, and did it better. So go read that.
Album We Pretty Much Are Under Contractual Obligation to Mention: Bon Iver, Bon Iver
It was one of the best albums of the year, said the Internet.
Favorite Non-Guilty Pleasure: Nicki Minaj, ‘Super Bass‘
Gaga who? While Ms. Germanotta was busy hatching from eggs and writing well-meaning-but-problematic gay disco anthems, there were plenty of awesome solo female pop singers ruling the charts… and our hearts. Adele, Florence Welch, Beyonce, RiRi, and of course, Nicki Minaj, who would have already won the Jam of the Year award from me for ‘Super Bass,’ but then this video happened, and the combination of Ellen DeGeneres, adorable wee British girls and Nicki will cause death by adorable.
Favorite Guilty Pleasure: LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem‘
Next time you listen to it, just imagine it being sung by members of the B-52s. Now you will understand. Trendy Genre Whose Inception Can Actually Be Pinpointed: Moombahton
For an explanation, go here. #shamelesselfpromotion
Favorite Music Tumblr: Amy Rebecca Klein
The former member of Titus Andronicus and current member of hilly eye is not just a talented musician, but a brilliant writer. Her Tumblr houses rich touring stories, insights on scenes and musicians you may not have known existed and some very interesting writings on rock ‘n’ roll and gender (you’ll have to page back a while to get to the best ones, but it’s worth it).
Second-Favorite Music Tumblr: Unbest
Unbest is the work of a former editor for the music magazine I used to work at and still sometimes write for. Its mission is to be something of an antidote to the yearly glut of ‘best-of’ lists, and instead of picking ‘the best’ music of the year, people write in about the music that meant the most to them in 2011 and why. Oh hey, and you can submit to the blog until the end of January, so you should do that if you’re so inclined.
Third-Favorite Music Tumblr: Childish Childish Gambino
This was a big year for ’90s nostalgia. All That came back. Ricky Martin was in the headlines again. Thought Catalog struck gold with the whole nostalgia thing. And whether you loved or hated Community star Don Glover’s non-sequitur-obsessed rapping alter ego, it’s kinda hard not to dig these juxtapositions of his lyrics with images from Recess and Muppet Babies.
Best European Club Jam: Zdob si Zdub, ‘So Lucky‘
Did you watch Eurovision this year? I hope you did, because then you would have seen this most excellent group from Moldova, Zdob si Zdub (who have also performed with the likes of Rage Against the Machine, Gorky Park and the Red Hot Chili Peppers). ‘So Lucky’ is the party jam LMFAO wish they could have written. Moldova seriously got robbed. Sorry I’m not sorry, Azerbaijan / Jedward fans. Are there any Jedward fans on Autostraddle?
Best Comeback: Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest
I guess this doesn’t totally qualify as a comeback because Gillian Welch never really left, but it is her first solo album since 2003. And it was most certainly worth the wait.
Best Car Commercial Anthem: M83, ‘Midnight City‘
Every year, there’s always that one boss indie jam that just sounds like it was tailor-made for Hyundai ads or whatever. Circa 2007, it was Justice’s ‘Genesis.’ In 2008, it was MGMT’s ‘Time to Pretend.’ This year, it’s M83.
Only difference is ‘Midnight City’ was actually used in a Victoria’s Secret advert, not one for cars.
Best Concept Album: Fucked Up, David Comes To Life
I had the privilege of seeing Fucked Up perform bits from the album at a Sound City show in Liverpool, and it was manic and sweaty and exhilarating and I woke up with bruises in places I don’t remember falling on. This album is like getting a big half-naked drunk hug from Damian Abraham, and the album’s tales of thwarted revolution in Thatcherite Britain felt strangely fitting in a summer marked by riots and occupations. There have been rumors of a musical based on this album, which would just be too much. Top that, Book of Mormon.
Best Concept Album, Honorable Mention: The Roots, Undun
Only The Roots could get away with ending their album with a four-part suite based on a deep cut from Sufjan Stevens’ first album, deconstructed into a drums-and-avant-garde-piano explosion in the third movement. And in the grand scheme of their character study of Redford Stephens, a young man in the wrong place at the wrong time, it all works.
Best Intercontinental Collab: Kiran Ahluwalia & Tinariwen, ‘Mustt Mustt‘ / Tinariwen & TV On the Radio, ‘Tenere Taqqim Tossam’
Tinariwen were everywhere this year (or rather, everywhere for people who listen to NPR a lot). The awesome Tuareg folk-rock-psych-pop ensemble thing released another great album this fall, Tassili, which included a magical guest spot from Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TVOTR. The live performance of the track on The Colbert Report was underwhelming, but don’t let that deter you. Everything else is just so good. So good. Elsewhere, Tinariwen appeared on Indo-Canadian chanteuse Kiran Ahluwalia’s album, revitalizing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ‘Mustt Mustt.’
Best Intercontinental Collab, Honorable Mention: The Very Best, Super Mom
I’m probably a bit biased here because I really, really liked the first Very Best (Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and British producers Radioclit) mixtape, which dropped back in like 2008 or something, so I was going to probably like this no matter what. But Mwamwaya’s voice soaring in Chichewa over the hook of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘I Can Change’ or Tom Petty’s ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ makes for a free tape full of aural treats.
Worst Karaoke Song: Adele, ‘Someone Like You‘
Yeah, it’s a great song. A really, really great song. But you know what you shouldn’t sing in front of inebriated lonely people who were previously having a great night? Adele. Especially if you can’t sing. Way to be, Captain Bringdown. Why don’t you just do ‘Tears In Heaven’ while you’re at it? (Nota bene: The guy in the clip can actually sing quite well.)
Worst Unlikely Collab: Metallica and Lou Reed, Lulu
Two greats in their respective genres got together, and what could have been weird-great just ended up being the biggest pop music punchline since ‘Hey, Soul Sister.’
Best More Likelier Collab: Jamie xx/Gil-Scott Heron(/Drake/Rihanna), ‘I’ll Take Care Of U’/’Take Care’
The Jamie xx/Gil-Scott version is probably my favorite track this entire year, which seems kind of silly, in a year of such amazeballs music, that my favorite track would be an understated, under-the-covers jam between half of one of the biggest buzz bands of 2010 and a revolutionary most people from my demographic only know from Kanye West samples. But, man, oh man. It’s sexy. It’s honest. It’s the kind of song you want to play for the people who mean the most to you. It shimmers in places, smolders in others, and Drake and Rihanna ran with it and made it burn even brighter. Oh, and here’s Florence Welch covering ‘Take Care’:
Best Lady Gaga Moment: The Clarence Clemons Sax Solo on ‘The Edge of Glory‘
That solo > everything Lady Gaga did in 2011. FACT. The song itself isn’t bad, but the solo is like finding a freshly-made grilled cheese after being served a platter of turd sandwiches. There just isn’t enough well-placed sax in pop music anymore, and there will be even less with the loss of the great Mr. Clarence Clemons. RIP, Big Man.
Most Enjoyable Mashup: DJ D.veloped’s ‘Bacon Cookies’
Eminem, meet Third Eye Blind. Your adolescence smiling back at you, and for some reason you don’t want to punch it in the face.
Most Enjoyable Mashup, Honorable Mention: The Glee Adele ‘Rumour Has It’/ ‘Someone Like You’ Medley
Yes, it’s Glee, which should automatically invalidate it from any music awards, but legit, it’s one of the few moments of Glee this entire season that has been remotely watchable. Also, Naya Rivera can sing like a boss.
Best Out-of-Genre Cover: Trent Reznor and Karen O, ‘Immigrant Song‘
VALHALLA, I AM COMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING. That is all. Carry on.
Most Unnecessary Seasonal Attempt: Scott Weiland’s Christmas Album
Scott Weiland made a Christmas album, you guys. Somewhere, Santa is weeping.
Best Amy Winehouse Track Worth Revisiting: ‘Tears Dry On Their Own‘
Feel free to post your favorite albums, tracks, artists, etc. from this year! Or your least favorites. Or whatever you want. No one’s stopping you.
This year wouldn’t have been the same without Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues!
Agree! The track and the album. Such a good year for emotionally-present coffee-shop indie folk. The Decemberists and Laura Marling put out boss albums as well.
word! a creature i don’t know and the king is dead are pretty much what got me through this fall.
Karen O. U R my hero! Lindsay, the comment is awesome, I still laugh my ass off!
2 go on with the topic: this year wouldnt have been the same without Foster The People, The Good Natured and Uh Huh Her!
YES Foster the People!
I love them love them love them.
decemberists: the king is dead.
I almost gave them an award for “Best R.E.M. Impression” but then R.E.M. also put out an album, so… (It was really really good though.)
Adele’s voice makes me melt and haunts my dreams
Here’s some albums I liked this year:
Wild Flag by Wild Flag
Camp by Childish Gambino
Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under by Amanda Palmer
21 by Adele
Get What You Came For by Vanity Theft
Red by Dia Frampton
Born This Way by Lady Gaga
Father, Son, Holy Ghost by Girls
Strange Mercy by St Vincent
The Less You Know The Better by DJ Shadow
Metals by Feist
Ceremonials by Florence & the machine
Undun by the Roots
excuse me while I music geek out here..
I still can’t get over how horrible Lulu was. I was GENUINELY excited for it too. Super happy to see Tuneyards on here, she’s getting a lot of attention, yayyy. UGH YES to the Karen O Led Zep cover, she made it into something sinister and its all kinds of sexy.
Also I /still/ listen to the someone like you mash up, its just so powerful and I want to hug kittens to comfort myself after watching. :”(
my personal top 10;
oops, awkward reply when it was supposed to be a separate reply post.
My top ten that I wrote for a music website I sometimes contribute to:
Wild Flag – Wild Flag
MEN – Talk About Body
King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Kate Wax – Dust Collision (for fans of Ellen Allien, Apparat, etc.)
M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
Low – C’mon
The Antlers – Burst Apart
but I’m also adding the albums by Yuck, Washed Out, Fleet Foxes, Tim Hecker and Tune-Yards and also Wooden Shjips and Little Scream and..and…2011 was AWESOME for music.
normally I don’t know about/listen to new new music because I live in a cave under a rock with blinders on, but I think Gold Panda and William Fitzsimmons had shiny 2011 things and I liked it all somehow.
For me Strange Mercy from St Vincent was by far the best 2011 album. I love Annie Clark
My most played albums this year were:
I think i listened to nothing but this album for about 5 weeks.
Pearl and the Beard-Killing the Darlings.
If you ever have an opportunity to see them live, do it. Most fun show i went to 8 times this year.
Wye Oak- Civilian
This album is right for so many moods
The Antlers-Burst Apart
Dessa-Castor, The Twin (dessa.bandcamp.com)
Fleet Foxes-Helplessness Blues
Conveyor-Sun Ray (conveyor.bandcamp.com)
wye oak! agreed.
oh i forgot to say! Thank you, Lindsay! This is great, there are some artists mentioned in this article that i love, and some that i’ve not heard of before and really enjoyed being introduced to.
*waves* Jedward fan here! We were at Eurovision in Dusseldorf, we had a guy in a big pointy hat in front of us, got excited he was from Moldova… turned out he was from Derby! He did eventually find a real Moldovan though which was exciting! We loved Zdob si Zdub big time, they made ESC2012 lots of fun.
(first time commenting on this site, long time reader though. I hope comments can be very long)
I’ve heard a lot of music this year and have a lot of feelings, the following is a list of some 2011 albums that have the best feelings/I recommend very strongly.
Kate Bush- 50 Words For Snow
Very gorgeous, understated but immensely affecting album. Beautiful vocals as always and lyrically wondrous as well, atmospheric instrumentals hark to a cold, desolate landscape- Definitely a winter album. Each track is its own story but they complement each other very nicely. I feel that most everyone would enjoy this album.
Sam Mickens- Slay & Slake
Not sure the words for this- avant-garde concept album, I can’t exactly place the concept. Debauched villainy gives way to the power of love? Vocal-centric, his voice is very distinctive and would probably be the deciding factor if you love or hate this. There are some incredible covers that fit in perfectly, and very neat guest vocals. The lyrics are so bizarrely/badly-written, approaching occasional comedic perfection. This is a masterpiece. If you care for very experimental music you may want to check this out/fall into obsession.
Veronica Falls- Veronica Falls
This is simple, sweet indie pop music, but endearingly sad lyrically. It’s catchy and staying, with overt 60’s girl group influence and layered vocals. The girls are really cute. If you like pop music and feeling pleasantly melancholy (i.e. everyone ever), look up the song/video for ‘Bad Feeling’.
Cold Cave- Cherish The Light Years
Also pop, but this is dark synthy/comparison to Depeche Mode’s Playing The Angel-sound. It has a great sense of urgency and every track is hideously catchy as well as fairly intricate. There are some cute blasphemous religious themes and really glamourous overtones. Do you like interpretively dancing/flailing about? This album is really good for that. And every song is stuck in my head at once.
Thunder Grey Pilgrim-ᛁᚫᛟ
One 45-minute drone/metal/interesting folk interlude/chant track. If you’re into all that, I really recommend this. Uncomfortable, hypnotizing, kind of shivery, very great experience.
Combat Astronomy- Flak Planet
Intense Metal/Jazz fusion. Sounds just about what you think it would based on those words. This is very unique and hurts my ears in a glorious manner. There is a heavy sense of impending doom and screeching saxophones. Entirely instrumental, very motivating.
Sleep ∞ Over-Forever
Solo dreamy swirly pretty female vocals in some witch-house esque abyss. It’s relaxing but also interesting enough to warrant full attention. Mostly ambient but occasionally approaches some sort of pop sensibility. Very soothing/pleasant.
Parenthetical Girls- Privilege pt III & IV (EPs)
(pt. I & II were 2010, also relevant)
Experimental indie pop with queer themes and heartbreakingly beautiful vocals. Some of the most brilliant lyrics I’ve ever heard. Do you like sudden weeping fits because you are too too sad but also in total ecstasy? This is my favorite thing ever.
Giles Corey- Giles Corey
May be under some intersection of neo-folk, slowcore, lo-fi, dark ambient, shoegaze, no label is an exact fit. The gist of it is that it’s really really depressing and drags along. I give you a 97% guarantee that you will feel really beautifully sad.
(may be continued because I have heard an absurd amount of music this year)
I completely forgot the new Cold Cave was released this year, oops. I think I prefer the debut though.
I’ve not yet heard Cold Cave’s first album yet but ooh thanks for the reminder, I’m going to get right on that! ☆
I friended you so let me know what you think!
Kate Bush yeeeesss.
Fleet Foxes! I got to see them live at an outdoor concert that took place on a mountainside. SO. GOOD.
Also I’m adding Freelance Whales and the Naked and Famous even though their albums didn’t come out this year but their tour supporting their albums went through 2011.
looking through my itunes now:
Noah and the Whale – Last Night on Earth (whole album)
Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (song)
An Horse – Walls
Emmy the Great – Virtue
how great is emmy the great.
We Almost Had a Baby is my jam.
Which I suppose is ironic in some way.
“Next time you listen to it, just imagine it being sung by members of the B-52s.”
That song would be 100000x better. I NEED THIS TO HAPPEN.
I spent all of 2011 listening to MEN’s Talk About Body, Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials (though it came out relatively recently, “What the Water Gave Me” was on repeat for months in my car), and arguing about Lady GaGa.
You’re right; M83 makes me want to buy a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
I mean car.
Had to stop reading midway through so I could come talk about how much I love Fucked Up and how David Comes To Life is still listened to start to finish on a regular basis and also brag about seeing them perform twice in one day earlier this year.
Yeah. They’re great.
Also the basist is super cute.
Not that it matters.
The Antlers, Wild Beasts, Dirty Beaches, PJ Harvey, Kurt Vile, Jonathan Wilson, J. Mascis, Bon Iver, I Break Horses, Peaking Lights, Cults, and Washed Out (in no particular order) put out my 12 fave albums this year.
No doubt I’ve forgotten something.
FM Belfasts’ album ‘Don’t want to sleep’ always makes me smile.
also this video does
No award show is complete without a Taylor Swift “What? Me? No Way! OMG” face. This is my contribution…
i loved the new CSS album (but i love every album they make) especially hits me like a rock http://youtu.be/atbY03rKrdA and fuck everything http://youtu.be/MqZymmB5zdI
real estate had a good album. it makes me feel like im just laying on beach and everything is chill with no worries http://youtu.be/civAcUrI96A http://youtu.be/kbznOLs3qYk
tune-yards easily takes the cake for best album EVER (of the whole entire year). even though we all loved bon iver, nothing is even close to top this bit.ly/o1eQOc
This whole thing is making me so happy right now. I am so excited to listen to all of this music while I sit at home with a bottle of wine and a puppy tonight.
LMFAO are so my guilty pleasure. I simultaneously love and hate them.
Also this is so wrong but I have to link it anyway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJNBfBr-OGU
For my fellow classic rock fans, The Beach Boys’ Smile Sessions was absolutely fantastic. Like, everything I had always hoped Smile would be, but maybe even better?