Over the next couple of days we will outline our tracks of the year, albums of the year and finally artists of the year. These have been voted for by the Circulation Editorial team and represent our favourite music of the past 12 months.
20: Movin’ Down The Line – Raphael Saadiq
R&B hero Saadiq returned this year with the fantastic album ‘Stone Rollin.’ This track is a standout moment from an album packed with vintage soul.
19: Wildfire – SBTRKT ft. Little Dragon
Dubstep single of the year? A hugely successful cross-over, powered by Yukimi Nagano’s delicate vocal.
18: Wicked Games – The Weeknd
Abel Tesfaye’s gloom R&B project was one of the internet success stories of the year. A free mix-tape packed with wonderfully hazy tracks, this was a foul-mouthed highlight.
17: Thunder Bay – Hudson Mohawke
This was the year Glasgow’s wonky scene went mega. Hudson Mohawke released his ‘Satin Panthers’ EP, featuring the gigantic Thunder Bay. Just the right side of stupid.
16: The Morning – The Weeknd
Stand-out on one of the most iconic, game-changing albums of the year.
15: Ultra Thizz – Rustie
Insane, warped pop from Rustie’s album ‘Glass Swords.’ One of the most joyous and exciting records around in 2011.
14: Holocene – Bon Iver
Justin Vernon had one of the best years of any artist. His self-titled second album moved his sound into more 80s tinged soft-rock areas and was a huge critical and commercial success. This is our favourite acoustic moment on the record.
13: Marvin’s Room – Drake
Along with Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, Drake was a forerunner of the new R&B movement. Slow, foggy and intensely self-revealing; Drake’s sound was everywhere this year.
12: BTSTU – Jai Paul
The utterly mysterious Jai Paul’s BTSTU is really an 2007 track. Yet it was finally released this year, and sampled by Drake and Beyonce. It even has its own wikipedia page. A phenomenon.
11: I’ll Take Care Of You – Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX
The sad passing of legendary soul/funk/hip-hop pioneer Gil Scott-Heron was one of the low points of the year. Jamie Smith’s remix album was a fine tribute to a great man.
10: The Look – Metronomy
Totnes group Metronomy’s album, ‘The English Riviera,’ was one of the albums of the summer. Bright and fun, lead single The Look was a beach pop classic in 2011.
9: Hamilton Road – Ducktails
Ducktails epitomised the new jangly indie sound in this year. Lo-fi and sweet this was one of the most charming tracks about this year.
8: Parfait Tirage – Paradis
A slow burning, house influenced track. Out of the French scene, Paradis are Simon Mény & Pierre Rousseau, this was released on Beats in Space. One to look out for next year.
7: Super Bass – Nicki Minaj
Maybe the pop track of the year. Minaj’s hyperactive rapping and club-friendly melodies was impossible to avoid this year. The most successful female hip-hop star ever?
6: Tell Me A Tale – Michael Kiwanuka
Michael Kiwanuka creates gentle 70s tinged soul, in a similar vein to our favourite Raphael Saadiq. He may be the new Bill Withers, 2012 will be his.
5: Bax – Mosca
The return of garage was one of the stories of 2011. No-one did it beter than Mosca, a heady mix of house and a driving 90s garage, this was the best bass track of the year.
4: Surph – Rustie
More maximal strangeness from Rustie. That his album gets two tracks on our list is testament to its saturation with infectious and sunny tunes.
3: Yonkers – Tyler The Creator
This was the year that really showed the power of the internet. Acts such as The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and A$AP Rocky were powered by free mixtapes and internet releases. No-one had more hype than Tyler and his OFWGKTA collective. The backlash has set in now, yet this remains a masterpiece in dark, minimal hip-hop.
2: Beth/Rest – Bon Iver
Bon Iver’s sudden transformation into a late 80s soft-rocker shouldn’t have worked. It did though: ‘Bon Iver’ was one of the albums of the year, drenched in beautiful harmonies, vocal power and his signature heartbreak. This is the closing epic of the album, at once nostalgic and glorious – this is Vernon’s favourite on the album.
1: 1+1 – Beyonce
This was probably the year Beyonce ascended into the status of legend. A truly great album in ‘4,’ a string of hit singles and collaborations plus the live performance of the year at Glastonbury. To top it all off she teamed up with producer of the year The-Dream to create this gorgeous, Prince-tinged epic. Heartfelt, uniting and truly uplifting this already ranks as one of the best soul songs ever. Perfect in every way.By David Ward