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Editor’s Picks: Top Singles of 2011

These lists are always hard to complete, but I had to remind myself that these were the songs that I believed in my heart of hearts were the best.  Obviously, everyone won’t agree, but hopefully I’m not too far off from the general consensus. If nothing else, it should make for great conversations. So here goes, the top 10 tracks of 2011…
10.  “My Last” – Big Sean
Originally not featured on my list, I had to listen to the track a few more times in the last couple of days to appreciate just how big this song was, not just for Sean & Chris, but for the airwaves this year.  It wasn’t what you expected from Sean to lead off his album, but it got the job done and it proved to be the perfect mainstream introduction for Sean.
9.  “Grenade” – Bruno Mars
The song was originally released towards the end of 2010, but picked up speed early 2011.  A song about unrequited love, Mars pleads and croons to his lover about the things he’s willing to do for her, but knows in his heart that she won’t do the same for him.
8.  “Ass On The Floor” – Diddy – Dirty Money featuring Swizz Beatz
A feel good record that had the clubs rocking for half the year, Diddy found himself one of the party anthems of the year with the help of veteran producer, Swizz Beats and his female duo.  One of many records Diddy unleashed this year off Last Train, “Ass On The Floor” was the one that helped keep the focus on the project.  Thumbs up sir.
7.  “Best Thing I Never Had” – Beyonce
You can argue that up to 5 Beyonce songs could be pulled from a hat that would be worthy of this list. While I always hate to admit, Beyonce had a pretty good year and a pretty good album. “Best Thing I Never Had” is just a very well written track, which was developed by a team of writers including Beyonce, Patrick “J Que” Smith & Babyface who also serves as one of the song’s producers.
6.  “Sure Thing” – Miguel
This could easily be changed for Miguel’s “Quickie”, but the stronghold the song had on airwaves early this year was incredible. In a year filled with sad sings and break-up anthems, Miguel lead the way with something positive for the happy couples. He may even deserve a spot higher than 6.
5.  “N*ggas In Paris” – Jay-Z & Kanye West
Jay-Z and Kanye fans will be mad this isn’t higher on my list… But Jay-Z & Kanye fans should be happy this made my list. The entire album was well below my expectations and “Paris” wasn’t even the best song on the album. While the braggadocious raps and the bass heavy beat make for a major club record, and the arrangement with its comic relief and change of pace outro add to the excitement, “N*ggas In Paris” is still no “Diamonds” Remix or even “Run This Town.”
4.  “Look At Me Now” – Chris Brown featuring Busta Rhymes & Lil’ Wayne
A sure winner for collaboration of the year at the upcoming Grammy Awards, Chris Brown found himself a record that would officially put the past behind him. At the same time, Wayne got the necessary push for his top selling Carter IV and Busta Rhymes has reemerged as a dominate voice in Hip-Hop.
3.  “Someone Like You” – Adele
Another sure Grammy winner, Adele catapulted to the top of the charts with the help of this song and she has garnered an army of new fans in the process. It’s a genuine hit that will live on for years.
2.  “How To Love” – Lil’ Wayne
Initially I wasn’t impressed with the sing-a-long single by the Young Money leader. However, once the video was released and I took a moment to listen to the words, I realized just how special this song actually was. It’s unlike anything in his career and we haven’t heard something like this on the radio or seen a vi like this on tv for years.
1.  “Motivation” – Kelly Rowland
“Go, go, go.”. I don’t care where you went this year, when Kelly Rowland’s voice hit with that first line of her song, you got focused. Whether it was dancing in tune with the video or singing along to every word, Kelly helped listeners get back on board with her in 2011.  If only she could’ve capitalized with more stand-out tracks and features before the year was out.
Just short:
J Cole’s “Workout”, which is a great sample of Kanye’s “Workout” plan, and quite frankly should’ve been the focus for Cole this year instead of the track with Trey.
Beyonce’s “Dance On You” could easily stand alone here. Although it wasn’t a major single, it got heavy rotation from me in 2011.
And another sample/remake, “Lay Your Head” from Lloyd didn’t get enough spotlight if you ask me. Sampling Raphael Saadiq & Patti Labelle, Lloyd put his own flavor on a song that was already a classic. Hard to go wrong with that one, Lloyd fan or not.
“Ambition” – Wale featuring Meek Mill & Rick Ross –   With all the music these guys put out in 2011 they had to have something on this list. Trying to determine which song became the issue.  While they all had individual and collaborative hits, “Ambition” stands out by having the best overall verses from each member of the crew.  The track wasn’t a single, but as the title track for Wale’s sophomore album, it stands out as one of the top Hip-Hop tracks of the year.

These lists are always hard to complete, but I had to remind myself that these were the songs that I believed in my heart of hearts were the best.  Obviously, everyone won’t agree, but hopefully I’m not too far off from the general consensus. If nothing else, it should make for great conversations. So here goes, the Top Singles of 2011…

10.  “My Last” – Big Sean

Originally not featured on my list, I had to listen to the track a few more times in the last couple of days to appreciate just how big this song was, not just for Sean & Chris, but for the airwaves this year.  It wasn’t what you expected from Sean to lead off his album, but it got the job done and it proved to be the perfect mainstream introduction for Sean.

9.  “Grenade” – Bruno Mars

 The song was originally released towards the end of 2010, but picked up speed early 2011.  A song about unrequited love, Mars pleads and croons to his lover about the things he’s willing to do for her, but knows in his heart that she won’t do the same for him.

8.  “Ass On The Floor” – Diddy – Dirty Money featuring Swizz Beatz

 A feel good record that had the clubs rocking for half the year, Diddy found himself one of the party anthems of the year with the help of veteran producer, Swizz Beats and his female duo.  One of many records Diddy unleashed this year off Last Train, “Ass On The Floor” was the one that helped keep the focus on the project.  Thumbs up sir.

7.  “Best Thing I Never Had” – Beyonce

 You can argue that up to 5 Beyonce songs could be pulled from a hat that would be worthy of this list. While I always hate to admit, Beyonce had a pretty good year and a pretty good album. “Best Thing I Never Had” is just a very well written track, which was developed by a team of writers including Beyonce, Patrick “J Que” Smith & Babyface who also serves as one of the song’s producers. You can never leave Beyonce of the top singles of 2011.

6.  “Sure Thing” – Miguel

 This could easily be changed for Miguel’s “Quickie”, but the stronghold the song had on airwaves early this year was incredible. In a year filled with sad sings and break-up anthems, Miguel lead the way with something positive for the happy couples. He may even deserve a spot higher than 6.

5.  “N*ggas In Paris” – Jay-Z & Kanye West 

 Jay-Z and Kanye fans will be mad this isn’t higher on my list… But Jay-Z & Kanye fans should be happy this made my list. The entire album was well below my expectations and “Paris” wasn’t even the best song on the album. While the braggadocious raps and the bass heavy beat make for a major club record, and the arrangement with its comic relief and change of pace outro add to the excitement, “N*ggas In Paris” is still no “Diamonds” Remix or even “Run This Town.” but how could you leave a Kanye AND Jay-z song off of the top singles of 2011?

4.  “Look At Me Now” – Chris Brown featuring Busta Rhymes & Lil’ Wayne

 A sure winner for collaboration of the year at the upcoming Grammy Awards, Chris Brown found himself a record that would officially put the past behind him. At the same time, Wayne got the necessary push for his top selling Carter IV and Busta Rhymes has reemerged as a dominate voice in Hip-Hop. The quickness and Lyricism of Busta Rhymes on this immediately puts it on this top 10 singles of 2011 list.

3.  “Someone Like You” – Adele

 Another sure Grammy winner, Adele catapulted to the top of the charts with the help of this song and she has garnered an army of new fans in the process. It’s a genuine hit that will live on for years.

2.  “How To Love” – Lil’ Wayne

Initially I wasn’t impressed with the sing-a-long single by the Young Money leader. However, once the video was released and I took a moment to listen to the words, I realized just how special this song actually was. It’s unlike anything in his career and we haven’t heard something like this on the radio or seen a vi like this on tv for years.

1.  “Motivation” – Kelly Rowland

 “Go, go, go.”. I don’t care where you went this year, when Kelly Rowland’s voice hit with that first line of her song, you got focused. Whether it was dancing in tune with the video or singing along to every word, Kelly helped listeners get back on board with her in 2011.  If only she could’ve capitalized with more stand-out tracks and features before the year was out.

Just short of the top singles of 2011:

J Cole’s “Workout”, which is a great sample of Kanye’s “Workout” plan, and quite frankly should’ve been the focus for Cole this year instead of the track with Trey.

Beyonce’s “Dance For You” could easily stand alone here. Although it wasn’t a major single, it got heavy rotation from me in 2011.

And another sample/remake, “Lay Your Head” from Lloyd didn’t get enough spotlight if you ask me. Sampling Tony Toni Tone & Patti Labelle, Lloyd put his own flavor on a song that was already a classic. Hard to go wrong with that one, Lloyd fan or not.

“Ambition” – Wale featuring Meek Mill & Rick Ross –   With all the music these guys put out in 2011 they had to have something on this list. Trying to determine which song became the issue.  While they all had individual and collaborative hits, “Ambition” stands out by having the best overall verses from each member of the crew.  The track wasn’t a single, but as the title track for Wale’s sophomore album, it stands out as one of the top Hip-Hop tracks of the year.

This has been my list for the top 10 singles of 2011!


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Kevin Benoit
Kevin Benoit graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2007 with a Bachelors of Science in Legal Studies. Empowering the urban community has been a goal for Kevin Benoit for the past 8 years. As a freshman in college, in May of 2004, Benoit created Parlé Magazine, an urban entertainment magazine that focused on literacy through entertainment. The publication has since provided a stepping-stone for many individuals throughout the country, from teens to adults and continues to provide inspiration for inspiring entrepreneurs, writers, photographers and graphic designers. Read more articles by Kevin.
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