Trying to sum up my musical highlights of 2011 is proving a little difficult, as it was such a good year, musically! If I had to pick my absolute favourite album of the year though, I think it would have to be Adele’s 21. Yes, it really is that good. When I heard first single Rolling in the Deep this time last year I was blown away and couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the record. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint; it’s pretty much flawless (with the exception of her cover of The Cure’s Lovesong which, in my opinion, just doesn’t work, even though it really should.) Even hearing Someone Like You on the radio far too many times hasn’t ruined its beauty for me (her performance of it at the Brits was magnificent.) The girl can sing, but she can also write a mighty fine pop song. I’ve played the album to death and I’m still not bored of it. Brilliant.
My runner-up is Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure anything could live up to Lungs, but this did for sure. Shake it Out is such a powerful song, and I also adore new single No Light, No Light. Ms. Welch does epic so very well, and the album as a whole is just stunning from start to finish.
Elsewhere, I loved the long-awaited new Feist album, Metals – she’s just got such a beautiful voice, and a knack for writing gorgeous songs with lovely melodies. Also, Laura Marling’s A Creature I Don’t Know was perhaps her most accomplished effort yet; she just keeps getting better, and really does never fail to astound me with her talent. Bon Iver’s self-titled sophomore effort was a favourite of mine this year as well, and a worthy follow-up to its amazing predecessor. The King Is Dead by The Decemberists was just fantastic, too – not being the biggest fan of their last effort, I was pleased to see them back on form. Other worthy mentions for me are the haunting, wonderful Wounded Rhymes by Lykke Li and St. Vincent’s third offering, the fantastic Strange Mercy.
As for gigs, I went to so many good ones this year, but I think seeing Amanda Palmer at Heaven in London was probably my best show of the year – I’m a big fan of both the Dresden Dolls and her solo work, and this was the first time I’ve managed to catch her live. I’d heard amazing things about her shows, and she lived up to my expectations and then some – even despite missing the beginning due to traffic, the rest of the show still managed to blow me away. Plus, Tim Minchin was a special guest, which was a nice surprise and definitely the icing on the cake!
My favourite song of the year was Video Games by Lana del Rey; no matter how many times I’ve heard it now, it still has the ability to send shivers down my spine. I’m looking forward to the album! I also have to give a mention to Rihanna’s We Found Love, one of the best singles this year – what a tune!
So there were have it – my personal musical highlights of 2011. All in all, it’s been a great year for music, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 holds!