10 best (and 5 worst) singles of 2011 | EW.com

Music

10 best (and 5 worst) singles of 2011

Love for Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, and Kelly Clarkson. Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus? Not so much

Best
1. Nicki Minaj, ”Super Bass”
It was the boom badoom boom heard round the world — or at least from every ringtone, passing car, and pink-wig emporium in 2011. (When YouTube clips of Taylor Swift and teeny British ballerinas paying tribute to your track are each at 20 million-plus page views, you know you’ve entered the beyond-Thunderdome pop culture zone.) Still, ubiquity couldn’t kill our love for Nicki Minaj’s verbal jujitsu and high-fructose hooks; she’s one (pelican-) fly girl. —Leah Greenblatt

2. Foster the People, ”Pumped Up Kicks”
The greatness of this song doesn’t come from its junk-drawer-of-the-future sound collage, its revenge-fantasy lyrics, or even its kick-ass whistle solo. The secret is Mark Foster’s woozy charisma, which brings all those elements together in an effortlessly cool crossover smash that inspired awkward dancing, serious social debate, and subversive sing-alongs in the car-pool van — a rare pop-radio trifecta —Kyle Anderson

3. The Throne, ”No Church in the Wild”
Jigga and Kanye build their world-weary catalog of top-one-percent street wealth around a WWE-entrance-song-worthy rumble and shout-outs to 5 a.m. nights, Socrates, and the Rolls-Royce Corniche. Esoteric Odd Future crooner Ocean, the track’s true star, ices the lyrical cupcake by lending lines like ”What’s a king to a god?/What’s a god to a nonbeliever?” a haunting gravitas worthy of the biggest names in hip-hop. —KA

4. Lana Del Rey, ”Video Games”
If it were possible to give the entire Internet a case of the vapors, the self-professed ”gangster Nancy Sinatra” achieved it with her utterly beguiling, endlessly polarizing debut single. Some couldn’t get past the extracurriculars (those lips! that label deal!), but the song — a swooning noir symphony of intimacy and bad-girl ennui — stands gorgeously alone. —LG

5. Beyoncé, ”Countdown”
Her skittering, deliciously scatter-brained R&B über-jam has strains of everything from drum-line funk to Boyz II Men and Roberta Flack spliced into its musical DNA. Pulling it all together is Queen Bey, her voice slip-‘n’-sliding gracefully between genres while she brags about loving her ”boof” — the man who is still killing her softly, even though they’ve been at it for years. So what if it was a little heady for the Hot 100? (The song peaked at No. 71.) Go ahead and listen; we guarantee you’ll want to hit play again in T minus 10, 9, 8… —Adam Markovitz

Originally posted December 16 2011 — 12:00 AM EST

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