Year in Review: Top 10 Pop Tracks of 2011

Keo Nozari on the year's best music.
December 16, 2011

How did we pick our Top 10 Pop Tracks of 2011 (especially with the same artists putting out multiple songs we love in the same year)? Some criteria—chart success, cultural influence, popularity in gay bars and, in some cases, a stellar accompanying video and vocal performance—helped us determine the winners.

  1. “Rolling in the Deep” • Adele (from 21) “Someone Like You” was our personal fave, but this song—omnipresent all year— launched Adele into super stardom. In a time of oversexed, over-processed and over-accessorized artists, Adele proved an awesome return to simplicity and genuine, raw talent.
  2. “Party Rock Anthem” • LMFAO (from Sorry for Party Rocking) With this goofy, fun song and video, the real-life nephew/uncle duo made something like an anthem for straight male drag kings. Plus, including its six weeks at No. 1 , it spent 25 weeks in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100.
  3. “Born This Way” • Lady Gaga (from Born This Way) We preferred “Edge of Glory,” and there’s the “she’s a Madonna copycat” controversy, but there’s no denying the song’s cultural impact. With the crisis of gay bullying, we love Gaga for taking a stand and getting a song on mainstream radio that specifically mentions gays and trans in a forward-looking light.
  4. “We Found Love” • Rihanna (from Talk That Talk) She put out six singles in 2011. “S&M” was close, but with the collaboration of Calvin Harris and the edgy, gorgeous video, we found this one got our love.
  5. “Hold It Against Me” • Britney Spears (from Femme Fatale) “Till the World Ends” was more popular, but “Hold It Against Me” brought dub-step into mainstream pop music—a significant milestone.
  6. “Hello” • Martin Solveig featuring Dragonette (from Smash) They had us at hello.
  7. “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)” • Katy Perry (from Teenage Dream) Supported by a super-campy ’80s-style star-studded video, the song’s success was a huge achievement for Perry, the first female to have five No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 songs from the same album (and only the second artist since Michael Jackson!).
  8. “Run the World (Girls)” • Beyoncé (from 4) An odd one out in a largely R&B retro album (our pick: “Love on Top”), the track nonetheless proved a real grower and spawned some campy reinterpretations including “Who Runs the World (Squirrels).”
  9. “Without You” David Guetta featuring Usher (from Nothing But the Beat) Usher’s vocal here: the best of his career (or any other male this year). Plus, “Titanium” with Sia (from Guetta’s same album) technically hasn’t been released as a single yet!
  10. “Super Bass” • Nicki Minaj (from Pink Friday) We worked to not be distracted by her fashion (non)sense, plus a fairly underwhelming debut album. Then came winning seventh single “Super Bass.” No mistake, it’s not only her most successful solo single, but its three million digital copies sold in the United States alone was a first-time feat for a female solo rapper.

Honorable Mentions:  Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend,” Jennifer Lopez – “On the Floor,” Afrojack – “Take Over Control,” Foster the People – “Pumped Up Kicks,” Avicii – “Levels”