10 Best (and 5 Worst) Singles of 2011

6. Wild Flag, ''Romance''
A scrappy, choogling blast of pure grrrl-group nirvana, courtesy of four '90s alt-scene survivors with stellar résumés — and clearly undiminished powers of garage-rattling rock. When ex-Sleater-Kinney guitarist (and current star of IFC's Portlandia) Carrie Brownstein yelps in her hiccupy growl ''We love the sound/The sound is what found us/The sound is the blood between me and you,'' it's not so much a chorus as a manifesto: If you're not dancing, you're not listening. —LG

7. Britney Spears, ''I Wanna Go''
That icy four-on-the-floor beat and those irresistible alpine whistles (courtesy of Swedish superproducer Max ''...Baby One More Time'' Martin) lure you in. By the time the chorus hits its glitter-and-fog climax, you've pledged your allegiance to the Brit-ish empire. ''Shame on me/To need to release/Uncontrollably,'' she coos with an Auto-Tuned pout. We know exactly how she feels — minus the guilt, because pop this pixel-perfect is nothing to be ashamed of. —AM

8. Colbie Caillat, ''Brighter Than the Sun''
Musicians have used all kinds of gimmicks to evoke the pure hedonism of a permanent summer, from the Beach Boys' sun-drenched harmonies to Will Smith's celebrations of subwoofers and backyard barbecues. Colbie Caillat keeps it simple, offering up her own round of applause for that big shiny ball in the sky alongside a frothy melody so seaside-ready it should come with its own bottle of SPF 30 and one of those stripy towels with the built-in head pillows. —KA

9. Foo Fighters, ''Walk''
Dave Grohl has been the frontman and mastermind of a consistently excellent stadium-size rock outfit for over a decade and a half, but that doesn't mean that he's immune to Everydude insecurities: ''I think I lost my way/Getting good at starting over,'' Grohl croons while a trio of guitars chime below him. ''Walk'' is the sound of Grohl's unending restlessness, delivered with the same eardrum-pounding joie de vivre he's been unleashing since we knew him only as the shirtless Tasmanian devil pounding the drums behind Kurt. —KA

10. Kelly Clarkson, ''What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)''
Note to all boys: Please keep breaking up with Kelly Clarkson. Seven years after ''Since U Been Gone,'' we still need more single-ladies anthems like this one: a sequin-studded disco revamp that begins with a note of self-assurance (''You know, the bed feels warmer sleeping here alone'') before raging into full-blown I Will Survive defiance. Sure, what doesn't kill you might make you stronger. But more important, it helps you write a mean pop song. —Melissa Maerz


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