Top 10 Songs of 2011
The top 10 songs of 2011 prove what a big year it was for classic rock 'n' roll. With an excellent comeback album from the reunited Cars, an updated track from the Rolling Stones' vault and new releases from the likes of Journey and Robbie Robertson, 2011 proved a popular one both at record stores and radio stations. Here, we take on the unenviable task of narrowing the year's best releases down to the Top 10 Songs of 2011:
Yes, 'Fly From Here' really is Yes' 20th album, their first in 10 years and the first with Benoit David, who fronted a Canadian Yes tribute act before he was discovered on YouTube and brought in to replace longtime Yes lead singer Jon Anderson. First single 'We Can Fly' is actually the first part of a six-segment epic piece that clocks in at nearly 25 minutes. Anderson has said that the album “sounded a bit dated,” but we respectfully disagree.
Maybe all that time spent judging 'American Idol' has rubbed off on Steven Tyler, who recruits Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger for this undeniably catchy bubble-gum pop ditty. Only the Aerosmith singer's second-ever solo single, ‘(It) Feels So Good’ was originally titled 'Oxygen' and was written in 2002 during the making of Aerosmith's 'O Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits,' but not included on the career-spanning compilation.
Often overlooked classic rocker George Thorogood — best known for 'Bad to the Bone' — teams up with the Destroyers for '2120 South Michigan Ave.,' a platter featuring covers of tunes by several artists from legendary Chicago-based blues label Chess Records. George rocks cuts by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters on 'Michigan Ave.,' and 'Going Back,' one of two originals included on the album, goes “Back to the South Side sound / Where it all went down.”
Journey get back to the basic tenets of arena rock 'n' roll with 'City of Hope,' an upbeat, catchy and powerful number which showcases the vocal dexterity of Arnel Pineda, the former frontman of a Filipino cover band recruited by guitarist Neal Schon via YouTube. Pineda ain't Steve Perry and 'City of Hope' is no 'Don't Stop Believin',' but fans of that classic Journey jam should at least give the new material a try.
‘Fear of Falling’
The Band's Robbie Robertson proves Bob Dylan ain't the only rock icon in his Rolodex (or whatever he uses) with this track, which features Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood laying down some laid-back guitar and organ grooves. Inspired by his early days of working with Clapton — “we would sit down with just two guitars and start playing around,” Robertson said, 'Fear of Falling' is a simple, elegant song that perfectly captures his 'Clairvoyant' vibe.
The reunion that was supposedly not to be — “I'm saying never and you can count on that,” singer-guitarist Ric Ocasek famously declared — was made official in May when the four surviving members of the Cars released 'Move Like This,' their first album in nearly 25 years, then embarked on an 11-date comeback tour. Like the best classic Cars cuts, first single 'Sad Song' is pristinely crafted, undeniably catchy and bound to be ingrained in your head for years and years. Now, please — more touring?
The first single from 'In Your Dreams,' the Fleetwood Mac singer's first solo album in 10 years. She originally wrote the tune for the band's 1977 album 'Rumours,' but it didn't make the album and has been floating around as a bootleg since. The video for 'Secret Love' features Stevie and her teen-aged goddaughter Kelly hanging out in Nicks' own house and backyard. Eurythmics guitarist Dave Stewart co-produced.
Chickenfoot came back in a big way with the oddly titled 'III' (it was their second album) and its first single, 'Big Foot,' a smokin' number that showcases the powerhouse instrumentation of vitruoso guitarist Joe Satriani, ex-Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith (touring drummer Kenny Aranoff sits behind the kit in the 'Big Foot' video). It's always a party with singer Sammy Hagar, and 'Big Foot' will have you breaking out tequila shots like there's no tomorrow.
'No Spare Parts'
One of 12 outtakes included on this year's reissue of the Stones' 1978 album 'Some Girls,' 'No Spare Parts' is a country-tinged weeper first recorded back then, but included on this list because Mick Jagger actually went back and re-recorded his vocals specifically for the re-release. Which is amazing, because the lyrics sound like vintage Jagger, especially on top of Keith's whiskey-soaked slide guitar. A modern classic.
What a year for Alice Cooper, who was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March. Also arriving in 2011 was 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare,' a sequel of sorts to his classic 1975 release of the (nearly) same name. The also excellent 'A Runaway Train,' which features country star Vince Gill, also got votes, but first 'Nightmare' single 'Bite Your Face Off' is classic Cooper, with campy, in-your-face lyrics and instrumentation from Cooper's original backing band that really rocks the house.