#BestOf2011 Music: Disappointments Of The Year

With LMFAO celebrating that their party rocking is the most downloaded track of the year and the charts conquered by Adele; the 90’s retro sounds of Guetta-like productions and Michael Bublé crooning his way to the biggest sales figures this Christmas, it is safe to assume 2011 won’t go into history books as a year of musical excellence. A new generation of bands revisiting the sounds of 90’s indie rock and grunge has failed so far to produce any outstanding work. While individual tracks remained the king, with the EP still strengthening as a favoured format for new acts to deliver their songs, all of which underlines a growing lack of remarkable full-length efforts. Only our album of the year can be unanimously claimed as a true classic. The rest of the lot paled in comparison.

However, not everything is lost, and even when the indie, electronica and alt-folk scenes were giving signs of exhaustion, salvation came in the most unexpected of shapes, from the world of R&B with a new batch of producers and artists ready to challenge the genre and move forward towards more interesting shores; blurring the boundaries between indie shoegaze, hip-hop and R&B, past and present, into a new brand of urban sounds that’s taking the world by storm, helped by the fact that some of them offered their music for free. The Odd Future collective has crashed into the rap scene with rising stars such as Tyler, The Creator; Mellowhype or the soulful vocalist, bound to be the most popular of the lot, Frank Ocean. Canadian producer Abel Tesfaye, under his The Weeknd moniker, delivered his albums as mixtapes available for all to download, which in turn saw his profile boosted as one of the most in demand remixers of the planet –everyone from his pal Drake to Lady Gaga demanding his services.

Some long awaited sophomore efforts broke up the curse of that difficult second album. Bon Iver; Real Estate and tUnE-yArDs, among many others, made the art of following up a successful debut look easy. Veteran favourites (Tom Waits; Gillian Welch Kate Bush and the late Gil-Scott Heron, reworked by Jamie XX) delivered notable records. It was also a good year for those who enjoy a foray into experimental grounds with Tim Hecker; Colin Stetson or Andy Stott bringing some ground-breaking pieces of work.

Before revealing our Top 50 albums of the year, we’ll go through some Honorary Mentions, divided by genre. But let’s get the bad news out of the way first with the annual black list of those greatly anticipated albums that failed to impress. Keep reading for the most disappointing records of 2012.


Not that we care much about any of them, but many stadium packing rock heroes released new albums during 2011, whose results ranged from the truly hideous (RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS) to the predictably safe (FOO FIGHTERS). Their blander UK counterparts such as COLDPLAY or NOEL GALLAGHER'S HIGH FLYING BIRDS also added their share of sonic boredom to the year.

FRIENDLY FIRES-Pala; THE DRUMS-Portamento; HERCULES & THE LOVE AFFAIR-Blue Songs; MEMORY TAPES-Player Piano; GLASVEGAS-Euphoric///Heartbreak..etc ..Better luck with the next one.
Nine Types Of Light

Not a bad album, just one not up to the standard of TVOTR's previous achievements.
(Rough Trade)

More heroes of the noughties whose careers seem to be fading away. The Strokes' fourth opus after a five year hiatus didn't live up to the high expectations. Their trademark sound has aged too quickly.
The King Of Limbs

The world may be experiencing a bit of Radiohead fatigue. The way they market their music is still a model to follow, but this album felt half-baked and unispired.
The Carter IV
(Cash Money)

After becoming the best selling artist in the US and publishing that nasty rock record, early singles were promising for Wayne's fourth instalment of his Carter brand. Then 'How To Love' came and lowered our expectations. Despite healthy sales figures, the final result was quite a flop.
Born This Way

Even for those of us who just consider Gaga an occasional guilty pleasure, the follow up of 'The Fame' was an awfully overindulgent affair, sorely lacking on the kind of dance-pop that turned her into the new queen of the genre, replaced instead by cheesy 80's-inspired midtempo numbers. Even the title track -and best song- borrowed heavily from Madonna's 'Express Yourself". The former queen must be still chuckling.

Three years ago the Aussie band was piling up the Robers they'd won for 'In Ghost Colors'. This time, however, we struggled to find the necessary patience to listen up to the end of 'Zonoscope'. Come back, Tim Goldsworthy!
(Warner Bros)

Two icons from different sides of the rock spectrum, both having seen better days, joined forces in hope of a career boost. Unfortunately, the songwriting let them down miserably. Some critics compared the unanimously appalled reaction to 'Lulu' to the one Reed's influential lost classic 'Metal Machine Music' had on release. They were having a laugh! Best thing of the whole project was the Darren Aronofsky's directed video.
Audio, Video, Disco
(Ed Banger)

The love affair between French electronica musicians (M83 are also to blame) and prog rock is not delivering the goods, taking them through a very bumpy road, instead. Justice, once acclaimed as the missing link between metal and electronica, took this way and ended up sounding like the thousand Daft Punk impersonators that populate the airwaves. A wiser choice of influences is urgently needed.

This post is also available in: Spanish