PopMatters Picks:

The Best Music of 2011

By PopMatters Staff

11 December 2011

The Best Hopes to Break Out in 2012

The year ahead looks to be an exciting one with the emergence of wealth of great new music waiting in the wings. Will Alabama Shakes be the toast of 2012? Will 2012 be a banner year for forward-thinking hip-hop and R&B? And let's not forget all the great new bands expected to break big in 2012.

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The Best New and Emerging Artists of 2011

The year's best new and emerging artists range across the musical spectrum from forward thinking R&B to classic soul, from a bevy of exciting new hip-hop talent to great new hopes for indie rock and Americana. 2011 shows that music is always pushing forward even as it dips into the past.

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The 2011 Artists of the Year

This year's top artists are a diverse lot represented by two of the world's biggest pop divas, a plethora of critically adored indie faves, some new talents emerging from the hip-hop underground, a couple of veteran Americana acts, and a few alt-rock legends among many more.

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The 75 Best Songs of 2011

The year's best songs are headlined by an instant synth pop classic, the massive hitmaking of the planet's hottest new diva, the pristine harmonies of a young band headed for greatness, the return of the poster boys for indie rock, and an instant Americana classic.

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The 75 Best Albums of 2011

The year's best albums feature sophomore sets from two of indie's finest artists, a hardcore punk opera masterpiece, career highlights from four amazing women in the top 10 alone, new forward-thinking R&B and hip-hop, an electronic Big Album that shoots for the moon, and so much more.

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25 Dec 2011 // 9:00 PM

The Best Metal of 2011

PopMatters’ staff of metal experts present their top picks from a year that offered a standout work of Christian “progressive death metalcore”, a philosophical treatise on “Transcendent Black Metal”, and one amazing debut.

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21 Dec 2011 // 9:00 PM

The Best Electronic Music of 2011

Our electronic music enthusiasts pick highlights from a year when the genre ranged widely and wildly from ADD dance music to the last great pure dubstep record to an industrial cacophony that's a proper soundtrack to a world in turmoil.

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The Best Indie Rock of 2011

A “Best of Indie Rock” list, by definition, will be an eclectic bunch. And the process of culling through what the genre had to offer is a task this year -- the indie world has had a banner 2011.

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19 Dec 2011 // 9:00 PM

The Best Americana of 2011

If you ask a critic or music fan to define Americana, be prepared for an avalanche of diverse responses of opinion. Still, there remain some constant benchmarks, such as pedal steel, fiddle, acoustic guitars -- and good songwriting.

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The Best Women in Rock of 2011

In 2011, Tori Amos, Björk, and PJ Harvey turned the clock back to their mid-'90s heyday.

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The Best Alternative Songwriters of 2011

Some of 2011's best songwriting came from artists whose work could be broadly defined as "alternative". Few of these artists fit the mold of the traditional singer-songwriter, creating music the blurs the lines defining genres.

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The Best Pop-Punk of 2011

It’s true, pop-punk is not dead. Far from it. And now is the perfect time to celebrate some of the best albums from a year that helped put the genre back on the map.

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The 20 Worst Albums of 2011

These artists didn't just disappoint, they offered up the listening public albums of utter awfulness across the board. Some of the acts just need to hang it up already, while others have made some sorry mis-steps here along the path of otherwise decent careers.

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The Most Disappointing Albums of 2011

The selections on this list aren't necessarily bad albums -- some actually happen to be among the most critically acclaimed of this year. In some cases, it's just that the albums weren't what fans were expecting, and in others, they were exactly what they were expecting.

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12 Dec 2011 // 9:00 PM

The Best Hip-Hop of 2011

Newcomers, giants, throwbacks, and collaborators -- 2011 was the year of diversity, in which rap fans were faced with enough variety to find whatever flavor of hip-hop they wanted.

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The Book of Mormon: Contemporary Christian Album of 2011

Contemporary Christian Music could take a page or two out of The Book of Mormon.

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The Best Rhythm and Blues of 2011

It's an interesting time to be a fan of R&B. These are commendable examples of artists continuing to push R&B into the 21st century, while also respecting and exploring its roots.

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7 Dec 2011 // 9:00 PM

The Best Jazz of 2011

Jazz is ready to go just about anywhere these days, and our list this year travels a good distance from free playing to fusion, controlled singing to daring solo piano.

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The Best Producers of 2011

Noah "40" Shebib, Doc McKinney, and Illangelo provide a welcome reminder that a talented rapper or a gifted singer isn’t all it takes to create memorable, moving hip-hop or R&B.

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6 Dec 2011 // 9:00 PM

The Best Country Music of 2011

At first it seemed like an especially quiet year in country music, and in some ways it might have been. At the same time, country is country: it rolls on.

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The Best Bluegrass of 2011

While last year was distinguished by a heavy dose of newgrass, jamgrass, and progressive bluegrass, 2011 was defined by a return to traditionalism.

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The Best Indie-Pop of 2011

Perhaps some of the bands on this list aren’t indie-pop in a literal way, but they most definitely are in heredity, influence, or spirit. They prove that our most interesting musicians can express themselves within the essential form of a pop song, while also changing how we think about songs and what they do to us.

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The Best Canadian Albums of 2011

Canadians seeking to understand the identity crisis which plagues the Great White North need look no further than the musical class of 2011.

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1 Dec 2011 // 9:00 PM

The Best World Music of 2011

The best of this year's world music proves there's energy surging everywhere around music, this human-made fight to find an approximation of the inexpressible.

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The Best Progressive Rock of 2011

In 2011, there were only a few high-quality progressive rock releases, but those that managed to stand out are some of the best the genre has seen in awhile.

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The 25 Best Re-Issues of 2011

The year's best reissues are highlighted by a massive re-issue campaign for the kings of English prog rock, a soul giant, and the masterwork of one of America's finest ever pop bands.

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//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article