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Supajam's 20 Best Tracks of 2011

Here We Go!

2011 is nearly up, and the Supajam team have gathered together to decide on their highlights. We’re starting with the twenty best tracks, and we welcome your own lists in the comments below.

20. Bear Hug by The 2 Bears
On paper, this could have gone either way. Yes, it had Joe Goddard of Hot Chip as one of the Bears, but it was a fairly basic beat with a vocal that could have annoyed. But, and it’s an important but, the song worked. When this was played in clubs people got close, and who wouldn’t want a lovely large bear hug on some mornings? Crucially, the song stressed the beauty of a big hug, without being lascivious.


19. I'm Not Yours by Angus And Julia Stone
We’re sure the vocal for this song gets called ‘kooky’ an awful lot, but we loved the fractured quality which stays the popular side of broken, as well as the heartbreaking lyrics. Just in case the song didn’t ram the point home, there’s a video which features an animated cat crying. Of course.

18. Money by The Drums
That perky opening guitar suggests some sort of summer fun, but then there’s a lyric about doing something before you died, and everything gets darker. In this austerity climate, a chorus about not having any money really took hold, and for a moment it looked like the Drums had ridden the zeitgeist. The sublime indie pop really helped too.

17. 212 by Azealia Banks
We have to begin this by giving a shout out to the man who created the beat: Lazy-Jay. Azealia took his overlooked track and added a dense and frequently rude set of lyrics (which stopped you from playing this in front of anyone easily offended). The radio edits must have taken all day… But it’s not just a woman swearing, it’s playful, it’s strong, it’s the welcome card to what we’re sure is a real rap force.

16. Saviour by Coockoo
And now we blow our own trumpet. We first heard of Coockoo through Fast Track to FIB 2010, but it was in 2011 when the band went up a gear and produced music like Saviour.  It starts dark with pulsing synths, but moves into a chorus that’s powerful and just big. The track deserves to spread beyond Russia, but is Britain’s phobia with Eastern Bloc musicians going to let them get a toehold here?

Saviour by Coockoo


15. I Still Love You by Switch
Dave Taylor, aka producer Switch, has had a busy time recently. On one hand he’s been working as Major Lazer, and on the other he’s worked for Beyonce. Somewhere in the middle comes I Still Love You, with the glorious vocals of Andrea Martin. There’s a parallel universe where this song is sung by a massive pop star and is huge, but we don’t need that because Martin nails these lyrics perfectly. When the dubstep hype has died down, it’s subtly influenced tracks like this which deserve to be remembered.

14. Still Life by The Horrors
We’re sure the Horrors latest album will score highly on end of year lists, but Still Life was our favourite track off it, a triumphant song which builds and spreads and shows the band in many colours. We rated thirteen other tracks in this list better for this year, but Still Life might be the one still being played in thirty years.

13. St Peter's Cathedral by Death Cab For Cutie
A song which opens talking about, guess what, a cathedral, but give it time and you find a track all about life and death, with lyrics that look self indulgent before they get to jaw dropping. "It's either quite a master plan, or just chemicals that help us understand that when our hearts stop ticking, this is the end, there's nothing past this. There's nothing past this." For some of us in the office, this summed up a worldview that too easily gets hijacked by bitter critics, and Death Cab did it with a swelling, growing tune.

12. If You Wanna by The Vaccines
It’s a sign of how good the Vaccines year was that there was dispute in the office about what their best single of 2011 actually was. In the end we went with ‘If You Wanna’, a mere three minutes but one with a chorus that perfectly summed up a fatalistic view of love: “it’s alright if you wanna come back to me.” Yes, we want you back, but we’re damned as well not going to beg.


11. The Fallen by The Ambience Affair
When you’re watching the video for this below, don’t get distracted by the visuals, which turn the old staple of someone running from every other Doctor Who episode into something visually interesting. Instead focus on the worn, fraying vocals and the plaintive cry of a painful and possibly doomed love while the band do their best to sound demonic. And then smile, because the rest of the album is this good.

10. Sail by Awolnation
You don’t have to tone down your guitars and moan a lot to get across your angsy frustration. This is this fine example of a track rippling in sexuality as Awolnation turned up the beat and let their neuroses rip. We at Supajam recognise that these emotions are out there, they feel real, and this track is going to mean a hell of a lot to people just trying to get through to that someone.

9. Sister by The Black Keys
The Black Keys evolved from a garage rock band playing the Blues into an award winning juggernaut. Their transformation into pop stars is complete on Sister, which sounds only partly like the Black Keys (there is that guitar around the edges), and partly like a track recently unearthed from the eighties. It’s a combo that works, although just a little scarily, and we’re assuming it’s even darker if you actually have a sister…

8. How I Waited by Andy Hull
When you release a song in connection with a shoe company, you’ve blown it in many people’s minds. But how many tie in tracks are the tales of a broken man growing angry at still missing a dead lover, a death he blames on the girl’s father? We’re not joking when we say one of our team cried to this, and the simple combination of voice and acoustic guitar work so well here because everything is fractured. We can only hope Andy puts out more material like this and , in some of the pictures we’ve seen, he certainly has the beard to carry it off.


7. Girls Like You by Naked And Famous
We’re suckers for a long build up, and this song just grows and grows, with a vocal that starts subdued and is finally allowed to let loose near the end. Okay, it’s not the strongest vocal, but it perfectly gets across the feeling, and we’re sure many a young person had cause to stick this on repeat over the last twelve months, n ot least 2 of the office who had it on repeat every sodding Friday for 6 months.


6. Get Some by Lykke Li
Lykki Li came back with seemingly one thing on her mind: sex sells. We’re not going to pretend all the office were comfortable with the lyrics ‘I’m your prostitute, come get some’, but this seemed to be more about fun than yet more belittling. The video looked like Blade Runner cut with Barbarella, and added something pleasingly predatory to the effect.


5. The Basket by Guillemots
The Supajam team is a diverse crowd, and some of them thought the Guillemots ought to be shot and dumped in a particularly distant forest rather than release a third album. But what is great art if not the creator of strong emotions? And the band had certainly come back firing, as this full on indie pop piece proves and this ended up coming from one of our most played albums of 2011.


4. Apply by Glasser
YouTube comments contain the best and the worst of the world, but we had to quote the following, which applies equally to the chilled out and hypnotic song as the video: “When i was watching it my mom came in and thought i was doing drugs, but i told her its just youtube.. the fucked up thing is my mom died 2 years ago, and i don't even own a computer." Apply is basically what would happen if you sent a synth and a load of acid back to a medieval monk.


3. Gabriel (feat Valentina) by Joe Goddard
Joe Goddard’s second entry on this list proves you can survive once you’ve taken a break from your highly praised group of fellow nerds, and this time he uses his own name. Gabriel has vocals by Valentina, and mixes an admonishing close up vocal with a spaced out, almost hymnal part. It’s confessional and raw, honest and plush as suited to break up sobbing to a tender moment in a club.


2. Radioactive by Marina and the Diamonds
Full marks to Marina for throwing out what everyone expected, or what you’re supposed to do to be an indie act, and produce one of the best pure pop songs of the year. In fact, the only bad thing we can say about this is that it occasionally made us think of Spiderman instead of sun kissed beaches and distant nightclubs.


1. Video Games by Lana Del Ray
And lo, Lana Del Ray divided the world like Moses, into those who hated her possibly fake lips, posed style and sudden rise to fame, and those who recognised a damn good tune when they heard one. We don’t care that Lana has adopted the fifties chic to go with her throwback vocals, and yes it is tragic if the girl really did feel she needed surgery to get famous, but she’s here now and this sleek, sly and darkly seductive track smashed the year.

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