Paste Magazine has released their top 50 songs of 2011. I really appreciate their willingness to make it a list of songs instead of CDs. I just downloaded the top 20 (or at least the portion of the top 20 that I didn't already have), and I'm enjoying making my own decisions about their worthiness for the list.
Follow the link for the whole list, but the top 5 are:
1) Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
2) M83 - Midnight City
3) Typhoon - The Honest Truth
4) tUnE-yArDs - Powa
5) Phantogram - Don't Move
None of these were 5 star songs on my iPod, but the Generationals, who came in at #6, do make my short list of 2011 releases with personal 5-star ratings. Fleet Foxes has 5-star songs too, but not from 2011. I do see the appeal of their new release, but it's just a bit bland in a late 70s CSN-ish way as opposed to the more interesting CSNY-ish vibe of their first EP.
I'm going to keep M83 and Phantogram on at least medium rotation on the iPod for a while. I can see how their indie-oriented pop confections could grow on me, but they also might be no better than Katy Perry or Lady Gaga, just with a different target audience. OK - I paused for a few minutes to watch a few Katy Perry and Lady Gaga videos. I was unfair to M83 and Phantogram. They're better than that, but I'm still not sure they belong in a top 5.
I wasn't familiar with tUnE-yArDs, even though it's music tailor-made for former free form DJs (and of course current free form DJs, but I don't know any of them). I'm on the fence about the 2011 tracks, but I also downloaded some 2009 tUnE-yArDs tracks and I think "Sunlight" may have been one of the many late-decade omissions from my best songs of the 2000s list. I think I may also like the older Typhoon song I downloaded better than the newer one. Sometimes I think bands make these lists with their second best records because of critics regrets about omitting their earlier releases which were discovered too late to make any year-end lists.