The Can You Hear This Countdown: Artist of the Year

Is this the most important qualification in end-of lists? I’d say so. Let me tell you why you should, too. Years aren’t defined by singles (not in the long term anyway), artists are. You might say that Summer 2007 was the year of Umbrella but you’re far more likely to say that Umbrella is Rihanna’s signature song. Likewise, years aren’t defined by albums. Albums define artist’s careers. No-one’s going to say, ‘Hey, 2011 was when The Suburbs was released, right?’ They’re going to be saying, ‘The Suburbs was when Arcade Fire got good again, right?’ Years are, however defined by the artists that dominate them. In a few years time, we’ll be talking about how 2011 was the year everyone found about The Weeknd (as much as we could anyway) or it was when that band Yuck broke through Nirvana-like into the mainstream. It was when Adele had her heart broken and went on to break America. It was when a girl drove to Cali and scored five number 1s from her Teenage Dream. It was a year when break-out British acts restored faith in our country’s potential for ground-breaking (or at least 2007 levels of) music. Here were our highlights:

Artist of the year:
Henry: Katy Perry
Katy Perry has been unavoidable in pop music this year (and popular culture, generally). She’s my artist for a year for a few reasons. Anyone who slogs away for 6 years and breaks out to match records set by MJ is worthy of this title. Reading her second Rolling Stone interview, the only definitive opinion I could take is that Perry’s a freaking hard worker. She makes the intricate look effortless. Secondly, she masterfully sews together an organic singer-songwriter disposition with the big, soaring choruses of the mainstream. The roots were clear (she covered one of my favourite artists, Fountains of Wayne on her Unplugged session) but Perry’s accolade as one of the most expressive artists in the Top 40 shined this year. From her undeniably joyous Firework to the ‘been-there, done-that’ ubiquity of Last Friday Night by way of dubstep-influenced E.T, she’s had quite the year. She leaves 2011, breaking records, winning awards and in the enviable position of number 4 on the Hot 100. Bet you didn’t expect that from the same pop star who kissed a girl and liked it.
Here’s one of the highlights of her year:
Michael: Bastille

How can Bastille not be my artist of the year? First appearing on our blog in early February, he has continued to put out cracking song after cracking song. Maybe they do all sound a bit similar but when the sound is perfect, isn’t that best? And as his stature has grown over the last few months with TV features and the like, 2012 should be the year for total mainstream success.

Jonah: The Weeknd
I have watched this Toronto native get more and more popular this year, and rightly so. The Weeknd has a mesmerising voice that is enough to make anyone shut up and listen. He retains an air of mystery around his character that provokes everyone’s curiosity. His album art is awesome, his albums are awesome, which would automatically lead me to assume the conclusion that he himself is in fact (you guessed it) awesome. Keep an eye out.
Bal: Yuck
Being pinned by the blogosphere as the revivers of lo-fi rock and 90s shoegaze is certainly a lot to live up to, and 2011 showed that Yuck are up to the challenge. Their self-titled debut album took listeners on a trip back 20 years with their scruffy sound, and I, for one, admire their effort. The real question now is whether they can avoid sophomore slump and make the genre as exciting as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr did..

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  1. […] I have posts lined up). Anyway, today is also a good day because a) it’s Thursday! and b) it’s (one of) our artists of 2011′s film premiere. Katy Perry’s Part of Me opens today and I’m heading to […]

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