Hit the Right Note: Top Albums of 2011

Peter Falvey, Reporter

21- Adele 

If you haven’t heard one of the songs off this album by now, you are truly living under a rock. The songstress composed her sophomore album, 21, after the breakup from an unnamed partner. As a result, the album is filled with heartbreak, anger, and forgiveness. Adele’s vocals mixed with the unflashy nature of the album made it hit across many genres and caused some to call her the “Anti-Lady Gaga.” Adele is the torchbearer in the British Soul invasion, which included Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. The album yielded three singles. The first single is “Rolling in the Deep.” This song became an instant hit with many artists covering it, such as Childish Gambino, John Legend and Go Radio. Go Radio’s cover was the best of the crop, in my opinion. Her second single, “Someone like You” is played about every hour on any top 40’s radio station. If you haven’t heard it, which you most likely have and are sick of, it is one of the most tear-inducing songs I have heard. The second it comes on the radio you have to make a decision—to either change the station or get ready to be sucked in to Adele’s heartbreak. While many of my friends cannot stand the song, I simply love it. The third single is “Set Fire to the Rain.” This song is unlike the rest of the album, more like a power ballad with a very strong instrumentation and swelling string section. Overall I give the album 9 out of 10.

Speak Now- Taylor Swift 

I was surprised to see that this made it to the second most selling album of 2011. Before I begin, I do not listen to Taylor Swift on a regular basis. I listened to the singles off the album. That said, I enjoyed what I heard. The first single off the album is “Mine.” This song is classic Swift; it’s a love song and is sing-able. The lyrics speak of the ups and down of young love. The second single “Back to December,” is a little different than most Swift songs. She is looking back at a relationship and realizing how careless she was. This is the first time that Swift has apologized to someone in a song. Some speculate that the song is about actor and ex-boyfriend Taylor Lautner. I think we all remember when they we dating. “They both have the same fist name; could you imagine if they got married?” or some variation of that celebrity gossip was a common musing among Swift fans. “Mean” was the third single, and it has a great country sound with the potential to become the anthem to those who are bullied. Critics seem to agree that it is aimed at those who say she can’t sing. My question is “can T. Swift really play the banjo?” Overall, I give the album an 8 out of 10 hearts-made-out-of-hands.

Born This Way- Lady Gaga 

Before I can address the content of the album, I feel the need to address that album cover. If you haven’t seen it yet, imagine a motor cycle with a Lady Gaga head. It looks like a bad Photoshop job. Then I noticed that that her arms are the suspension. The cover isn’t bad, just different (but then, what would you expect from The Queen Monster?). The first hit off this album is “Born This Way.” This song is club-ready, electro-pop with synth backing. It is about self-empowerment and is a hit in the LGBT community. It became the fastest-selling song in iTunes history, selling one million copies in five days. “Judas” was the second hit off of Gaga’s album. It is classic Gaga, electro-pop mixed with controversy. The song was criticized by William A. Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, for the portrayal of Mary Magdalene. He also attacked her for releasing the song and video so close to Holy Week and Easter. The third single from the album is “The Edge of Glory.” It is a dance song that is about the very last moments of life. Gaga said the lyrical inspiration came from the death of her grandfather. My favorite part of the song has to be the saxophone solo by Clarence Clemons, which makes the song feel more like the music of Bruce Springsteen and 1980s adult contemporary musical works. Her music video for this song was very un-Lady Gaga. It was very simply shot and she only wears one outfit designed by Versace. I give this album 8 out of 10 claws.