Entertainment’s songs of the decade: 2011

Tyler, The Creator, Drake and Lady Gaga headline our 2011 playlist.


(Shane Guilfoyle / Amherst Wire)

For the next few weeks, Amherst Wire entertainment is bringing the best of the decade right to you. We’ve taken the best and most memorable songs of the decade to give you the ultimate nostalgia trip. Check out the second installment of our decades playlist below.

 “Yonkers” – Tyler, the Creator 

Jonathan Kermah, editor

2011 Tyler, the Creator was a whole different animal than the “Flower Boy” of today. 

While 2009’s “Bastard” created a buzz for Tyler, “Yonkers” felt like his official arrival. Over a muddy boom bap beat buzzing of pure paranoia, Tyler fires off paradoxes and lines of absurdity. Eight years later, controversial lines like the one about stabbing Bruno Mars in his esophagus might not have aged well, but at the time, each line had me and many other teenagers hooked, wondering what he would say next.

While the song itself is pretty much solidified as iconic at this point, it’s the music video that created real shock value with Tyler eating a roach and then hanging himself on camera. This video got so big that my mom’s pastor even mentioned It in one of his sermons, which then lead my mom to telling me I should never listen to Tyler, the Creator. Sorry Mom.

Other picks: “Trouble on My Mind” – Pusha T ft. Tyler, the Creator, “N***** in Paris” – Jay Z and Kanye West

Drake – “Marvins Room”

Trevor Wilson, editor

If you ask a wide breadth of hip-hop fans what Drake’s best song is, the majority will rule in favor of “Marvins Room.” This R&B/hip-hop hybrid classic is some of Drake’s best work. Few sounds are more iconic than the whirling synths and bass-boosted tom drums to drive Drake’s effortless, emotional delivery. This is one of a few tracks in music history that is perfectly composed from beginning to end. Drake’s final verse ties all of his drunken, begging pleas to his love interest to return. The grand piano on the closer serves as the perfect outro for this track, leaving the listener overcome with emotion, forcing you to think about all the lovers you had, or the ones that got away. Even on your best days, “Marvins Room” is sure to get anyone in their feelings.

Other picks: “Holocene” – Bon Iver, “6 Foot 7 Foot” – Lil Wayne

“Born This Way” – Lady Gaga

Brianna Silva, writer

Even though Lady Gaga produced a number of iconic hits during the 2010s, the single “Born This Way” had a significant impact on the LGBTQIA+ community. Beginning with lyrics like, “It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M / Just put your paws up ‘cause you were born this way, baby,” it’s no surprise the song turned into a queer anthem. Not only is “Born This Way” a catchy and fun song, it’s empowering. The queen herself sings, “I’m beautiful in my way / ‘Cause God makes no mistakes / I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.” By daring to embrace queerness publicly, “Born This Way” will be played for many years to come.

Other picks: “Party Rock Anthem” – LMFAO, “Somebody That I Used To Know” – Gotye ft. Kimbra

“House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” – The Weeknd

Astghik Dion, editor 

“House of Balloons” is The Weeknd’s debut, self-released mixtape. This project is where he initially received a Drake co-sign, and where the R&B star’s road to becoming one of the biggest names in contemporary music began. Overtly sexual, cocaine infused and an incredibly dark tribute to the Toronto nightlife, Abel Tesfaye welcomes listeners to his twisted lifestyle. “House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls,” is his first of many two-part songs, the first half narrating a chaotic party scene, the second half focusing in on the effects of it. “We’d throw these s****y parties and have girls over, and we’d try to make it celebratory, so we’d have balloons,” shared Tesfaye with Rolling Stone regarding the song. The track is heavy with haunting, lustful and downcast instrumentals, sampling  Siouxsie and the Banshees’ 1980 record, “Happy House.”

Other picks: “How To Love” – Lil Wayne,  “Work Out” – J. Cole

“Strange Mercy” – St. Vincent

Adam Buckley, writer

Bridging the sonic gaps between Prince, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Lana Del Rey, St Vincent has made a career out of forgoing her own unique sonic identity. Six years before her Grammy Winning MASSEDUCTION, she works Cheerleader into a part fuzzed-out stomp, part laid back pop number, before Exploding into a stadium sized chorus full of Muse-ian bombast. Few modern artists can combine so many styles, and fewer still make it sound so effortless as Annie Clarke. Working out new squeals and buzzing hums, she truly is truly a 21st century guitar hero. 

Other picks: ”Make Some Noise” – Beastie Boys, “The Cave” – Mumford and Sons

“Someone Like You” – Adele

Nasya Blackshear, writer

Adele single-handedly is one of the top ballad artists to date. “Someone Like You” is just one of her many songs that put her on the map. The simplicity of the piano paired with her powerful and sultry voice create a masterpiece for your ears. To this day radio stations still play “Someone Like You” and it still makes listeners emotional. “Someone Like You” is a song that everyone has listened to and cried at least once in their lifetime. 

Other picks: “Stereo Hearts” – Gym Class Heroes, “Run the World (Girls)” – Beyonce

“Super Bass” – Nicki Minaj

Chloe Lindahl, writer

“Super Bass” was one of the defining songs of 2011 and remains a classic still today. The song was released as part of Nicki Minaj’s debut album “Pink Friday” and helped launch her commercial career and define her as the icon she remains today. “Super Bass” is empowering, fun, fast, confusing and energetic and most of all showcases Minaj’s skill as a rapper who dominated the industry. It’s a little bittersweet to reflect on her start as earlier this year she was retiring from the industry at 36 years old to focus on starting a family. Who knows, maybe one day she’ll come back, but for now she’s left us with countless billboard hits and has paved the way for a new generation of female rappers. 

Other picks: “Firework” – Katy Perry, “Grenade” – Bruno Mars

“Rope” – Foo Fighters

Julia Donohue, editor

In 2011, Foo Fighters released their best album “Wasting Light.” While others attach themselves to “The Colour and The Shape” (1997) or “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace” (2007), “Wasting Light” marks the first album in which all five primary members contributed; Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel and Dave Grohl. Subsequent albums fail to live up to the intricacy of chaos contained in this album, recorded entirely in Dave Grohl’s two car garage on tape. Each track on this album evokes rock and grunge that have fallen out of the popular conscious. The opening guitar riff from “Arlandria” to screeches during “White Limo” to the lonely and painful lyrics of “I Should Have Known” in which Grohl mourns the overdose of a childhood friend. When I was 13, I refused to listen to the album out of order and I abide by that promise. It’s not a single track but a series of perfectly tethered vignettes that dive back into the never ending ocean of rock and roll. 

Other picks:  “A Song For You” – Amy Winehouse, “We Found Love” – Rihanna

“Bonfire” – Childish Gambino

Shane Guilfoyle, writer 

In August of 2011 Childish Gambino debuted “Bonfire,” which would prove incremental in his transition between acting and music. At the time, Donald Glover was more notorious for his acting chops on NBC’s “ “Community,” than his growing discography of EPs online. “Bonfire” was a visually surreal, powerful music video that utilized racial imagery to deliver a message that grabbed mainstream media’s attention and beckoned for them to look at what the multi-hyphenate was doing.

The sound of “Bonfire” is ambient, dark and piercing, coinciding with the visual’s summer camp setting. The tempo is constant and rapid as Gambino deploys sirens over a looped chant, evoking feelings of fright and exhilaration, with a hint of chaos. Glover delivers one iconic bar after another, which to this day, still find themselves lodged in the deepest crests of our frontal lobes. Lines such as “Okay, it’s Childish Gambino, homegirl drop it like the NASDAQ / Move white girls like there’s coke up my a**crack,” And “The sh*t I’m doin’ this year? Insanity / Made the beat then murdered it: Casey Anthony” grabbed the ears and turned the heads of everyone within reach.  Glover was unforeseen and overlooked by many when it came to producing such a moving and thought-provoking piece, but that’s what made his come up and prolific success more satisfying. 

Other picks: “Ima Boss” (feat. Rick Ross) – Meek Mill, “She” (feat. Frank Ocean) – Tyler, The Creator

“What The Hell” – Avril Lavigne

Kacey Connolly, editor

The world’s most angsty teen followed her iconic 2007 album “The Best Damn Thing,” which contained the hit single “Girlfriend,” with “What The Hell” in 2011, making fans wait nearly four years for new music. While the style of the song stayed pretty on brand for her, Lavigne speaks to all girls with this “running wild” type anthem. Even though the hysteria surrounding her started to dwindle with the close of the early 2000s, this song will always be a jam that my friends and I still rock out to when we need to hear it. 

Other picks: “Best Thing I Never Had” – Beyonce, “Tonight Tonight” – Hot Chelle Rae

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