It's been another spectacular year for music, but what were the highlights? Here's our pick of the 50 best songs of 2011. We also asked NME readers to vote for theirs - you can check out the readers' top 20 here.

30Rolling In The Deep (Jamie XX Shuffle)

The original is a near-perfect pop record, but Jamie manages to infinitely improve on it with just a few handclaps, a kick drum and a pitch bend. His obsessive, intricate cross-rhythms and Adele’s flawless vocal made this the heartbreak record that condoned hip-thrusting.


What a year BBC have had with the release ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’. While packed with glorious moments, none quite match up to the wide-grinning joy of ‘Shuffle’, its piano-led intro opening up into a merry little dance. It’s so good, every day we’re shuffling.

Bombay Bicycle Club - 'Shuffle'
Video: Bombay Bicycle Club - 'Shuffle'

28Post Break-Up Sex

Sometimes beauty is in simplicity. The Vaccines’ second single is basically four chords, a steady drumbeat and a relatable tale of lamentable lust. But stick it in front of a ravenous crowd and you get a rough and ready everyman anthem.

27Ritual Union

If amazing gal-fronted pop was a country it would be Sweden-shaped, and with the title track of their album, Gothenburg’s Little Dragon have staked their strongest claim to the throne yet; this one’s a 21st-century, electro-pop banger with just enough melancholy to make it go down a treat.

26We Found Love

How hopeless a place will Rihanna go to in order to find love? Judging by the depravity of this unlikely dance hit, somewhere pretty bleak. Some moments on the album have all the romance of a night in with a Fleshlight but here she returns to the rawness that made her. Stevenage, maybe?

25Under Cover Of Darkness

The album was a duffer, but this single could have held its own on ‘Is This It’. Ditching the experimentation for old tricks (two choruses, cartoon riffs), it sounded messy (while being super-organised) and like the work of perma-hugging best pals (which it wasn’t).

24The World Is Yours

Looking back at 2011, James Allan will no doubt wince at a few choices he made: ditching his all-black look for an evangelical white outfit wasn’t wise, for a start. But he can boast about recording this year’s most outrageously over-blown single. This is a skyscraping triumph of euphoric songwriting.

23Shake It Out

‘Ceremonials’’s most epic moment (and by god, there were a few of ’em) sprouted from inauspicious roots: written with producer Paul Epworth while in the grip of a hangover, it ended with Florence channelling Annie Lennox, crafting a pop megalith in the process.

22The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala

This seductively basslined stroll, with a ringing, Marr-ish riff, was the perfect canvas for Turner to revel in his lip-licking love of words: “She flicks a red-hot revelation off the tip of her tongue… I took the batteries out my mysticism and put ’em in my thinking cap”.

21Pumped Up Kicks

From festivals to rom-com montages to Noel G’s iPad, FTP’s re-released debut single was everywhere in 2011. Unusually for a song so omnipresent, listening to its hyper-upbeat melodies about a psycho high-school kid-killer is still an enjoyable experience.

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