It's always list season here at the Library of Babel, but were there an official list season, it would now be in full bloom, what with the imminent end of 2011 a mere week away. Now while it's true that the past month or so has been largely spent overdosing on Oscar bait, the movie list will have to remain on the back burner, as I bide my time, once again, to upstage the Academy and their silly little ceremony. Yet somehow, I've actually found the time to take in an album or two, and the result is the paltry series of notable tunes to follow.
I'm by no means an expert here. I've listened to a fraction of what was great in 2011, and stumbled upon more than a few favorites thanks primarily to the generous recommendations of friends, both real and existing only on the internet. Given my impaired scope, I had thought to limit this to a simple Best Tracks/Best Albums kind of deal, but low and behold, a trend emerged.
2011 was a damn good year for the Opening Track.
You can probably name a few off the top of your head. The year's most memorable single, for one. Or the opening teaming of two pillars of rap, right alongside a rapidly rising star. Or the title track off the year's most timely, politically charged album. And what better way to launch into awards season than with a tribute to the album opener, presented here as 10 tremendous tracks that proved to be tough acts to follow (at least half are the best songs on their respective albums). Some will resurface later on my Best Tracks of '11 list, others mark the only appearance by their artist this time out. All can be proud to take part in these opening ceremonials. Commence the fanfare.
10. Perth - Bon Iver (Bon Iver)
9. Don't Carry It All - The Decemberists (The King is Dead)
8. Youth Knows No Pain - Lykke Li (Wounded Rhymes)
7. To Begin - Alela Diane (Alela Diane & Wild Divine)
6. No Church in the Wild - Kanye West & Jay-Z featuring Frank Ocean (Watch the Throne)
5. Rolling In The Deep - Adele (21)
4. Let England Shake - PJ Harvey (Let England Shake)
3. Intro - M83 (Hurry Up, We're Dreaming)
2. Only If For a Night - Florence & The Machine (Ceremonials)
1. Cats & Dogs/Coeur d'Alene - The Head & The Heart (The Head & The Heart)