The Best Fit Fifty: Tracks of 2011

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We’re not going to be so trite as to rehearse the old argument about iTunes having killed the album. That’s been done to death, with pretty unedifying results.

But (and it’s a decent sized but, if you’ll excuse the crudity), the way in which we listen to music today is undeniably very different from the way in which we listened to music just a few years ago. Single sales might be collapsing, but with mp3 blogs still going strong and the cult of the DJ enjoying a resurgence, the stock of the individual track, as opposed to the album, seems to be on the rise.

That trend has been pretty well represented this year. While there have been dozens of albums deserving of your love, it seems like 2011 has been the year of the single – or, more accurately, of the single song. The last twelve months have seen some of our favourite artists honing the art of the discrete track to perfection, while a handful of newcomers have quietly birthed undeniable delights of their own. Some of the biggest albums of the year might have struggled to hold attention over the course of twelve songs – but the 50 beauties here have kept us rapt.

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50. Kathleen Edwards – Sidecar

One for the lovers… or indeed, anyone with a penchant for glorious melodies smeared like butter over a power-pop backing. That’ll be anyone with a pulse, then. Forget its middle-of-the-road leanings and just enjoy it for what it is: Americana at its absolute finest. Guaranteed to stay floating around in the caverns of your brain for days on end.
-Richard Thane

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49. Joe Goddard – Gabriel

Joe Goddard has enjoyed something of a creative burgeoning since Hot Chip went into hibernation. But if The 2 Bears provides a comedy outlet, his solo work is where the floor-fillers are made. A relentless, UK funky-indebted track that manages to simultaneously sound like an illicit pirate radio rip and the biggest pop song you’ve ever heard.
-Josh Hall

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48. Kenton Slash Demon – Daemon

Future disco from one half of the Copenhagen based quartet When Saints Go Machine. Think of Kenton Slash Demon as the alter-ego of When Saints’ tightly wound electronica. With ‘Daemon’, they’ve created a sprawling, arms aloft floor filler with one of the greatest drops of 2011. Add to that an irresistible vocal line that sounds like the ghost of Arthur Russell and a bass line so fat you could feast off it for weeks – you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe. Dig in.
-Richard Thane

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47. Kurt Vile – Puppet To The Man

“Sometimes I get stuck in a rut too, it’s ok girlfreeeeynd” – sneers Kurt Vile over one of the most irresistible guitar motif’s heard in the past twelve months. A highlight on a sure fire future classic album Smoke Ring For My Halo, ‘Puppet To The Man’ is a masterclass in lazy swagger and sees Vile at his nonchalant best. Also: Hands down the best haircut of 2011. There’s magic in them follicles, kids.
-Richard Thane 

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46. Nicola Roberts – Beat Of My Drum

The first fruits from a debut solo album that didn’t quite deliver, there’s no doubt that ‘Beat Of My Drum’ is an absolute beast and one that saw Miss Roberts glide effortlessly from the pages of HEAT magazine to the NME in one flawless swoop. She’s secretly always been everyone’s favourite Girls Aloud member and ‘Beat Of My Drum’ – for a short period of time at least – saw Nicola crowned as the UK’s princess of snotty-nosed pop music. Wherever your musical loyalties lie, there’s no doubt that this is a bonafide classic pop gem.
-Richard Thane

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