This Is Our Jam: The 2011 Mega Roundup

Over the past 12 months, Refinery29 has featured our favorite tunes, highlighting what we thought was the best in current music ranging from underground pop to hip-hop, and beyond. While it was a great year for music, 12 months is a long time, and it may be hard to remember the tracks that dropped last month, let alone last February. In order to jog your memory and remind you of all the music we’ve been digging, here are 10 songs we’ll be playing long after 2011 has come to a close. From the The Weeknd to Rihanna, and from established artists to new-comers, this was our jam.
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10. Jamie xx - “Far Nearer”
It was a great year for Jamie xx with his remixes of people like Gil Scott-Heron and Radiohead, yet it was “Far Nearer” that truly gave the xx member the credit he deserved. A bass track unlike any other, “Far Nearer” combined marimba with an amazing use of negative space to create one of the best dance tracks of the year.
9. Rihanna Feat. Calvin Harris - “We Found Love”
The most exhilarating Rihanna song since “Umbrella” was also paired with the most exciting music video in recent memory. It was Skins meets Trainspotting filled with tattoos, pills, and an overflowing sense of exuberance. Rihanna found love in a hopeless place, and she helped countless others find it on the dance floor.
8. Shabazz Palaces - “Swerve... The Reeping Of All That Is Worthwhile (Noir Not Withstanding)”
The best track off of the best hip-hop album of the year, Shabazz Palaces took Afro-futureism to strange and beautiful new realms. One of the best tracks on an album that will be remembered as a giant leap forward in avant-garde hip-hop.
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All music is for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If you would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.
Photo: Via of Jamie xx; Via of Rihanna; Via Shabazz Palaces
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7. Purity Ring - “Belispeak”
Purity Ring still haven’t released their first full length album, but the tracks they did drop in 2011 were some of the most buzzed-about tunes of the year. While we expect great things from Purity Ring in the near future, the skittering, warped vocals of “Belispeak” will be hard to top.
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6. Gang Gang Dance - “Adult Goth”
A song whose title seemed to define the dark musical tones of 2011, “Adult Goth” begins with a groove that meanders between genres even as it creates its own. It’s the music aliens would make after being given a drum set and an electric guitar with no instruction manual.
5. Austra - “Beat and the Pulse”
“Beat and the Pulse” encapsulated a trend among female vocalists in 2011: dark, synth-driven, starkly beautiful, with a singer whose voice dominated the mix (see also: Light Asylum and Zola Jesus). “Beat and the Pulse” was a gothic tour de force by one of the most exciting new singers of the past 12 months.
All music is for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If you would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.
Photo: Via Purity Ring; Via Gang Gang Dance; Via Austra
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4. Grimes - “Vanessa”
For Grimes, “Vanessa” was a tipping point of sorts. It showed that Claire Boucher’s avant-pop could move from the experimental to the catchy without losing any atmosphere. One of the most infectious songs of the year, and one of the best.
3. The Weeknd - “In The Morning”
After three mixtapes, and a guest spot on Drake’s blockbuster new album, it may be easy to forget that Abel Tesfaye was a total unknown just a year ago. On “The Morning” Abel was a shadowy voice, singing about a lifestyle somewhere between heaven and horror. It was music that no one knew what to make of, or who was even making it. In some ways, it was better that way.
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2. M83 - "Midnight City" “Midnight City” is the crowning achievement for M83’s sweeping, tear-jerking synth pop project. The aural equivalent of a first kiss, a rocket launch, and a flower blooming in fast motion. “Midnight City” was just plain HUGE.
All music is for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If you would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.
Photo: Via Grimes; Via The Weeknd; Via M83
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1. Azealia Banks - “212” The freshest voice in hip-hop, and the jam we requested most at parties (to the annoyance of many a DJ), “212” was probably our most replayed song of the year. 2012 may see Azealia Banks becoming a true star, but it would never have been possible without the raunchy perfection of her first single.
All music is for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If you would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.
Photo: Via Azealia Banks
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