Sure, there have been a boatload of decent singles that made an impact both on the charts and in pop culture in 2011. But there were also plenty of outstanding tracks tucked away on your favorite pop artists’ albums that never got their day in the sun. Sometimes it may seem like a no-brainer when choosing which track from an LP deserves an official single release — and sometimes artists and labels get it way wrong and overlook some of their best material.
We’ve rounded up what we consider to be 10 such tunes below. Our selection process was simple: they were all from albums that were released in 2011 or, at the very least, the tail-end of 2010, and they all had ample opportunity to be up for single consideration this year. Alas, these diamonds were left untouched by radio (this year, at least).
Lady Gaga, “Heavy Metal Lover”
From opening line “I want your whiskey mouth all over my blonde south” to the creeping electronic bass and synth squiggles throughout, this Born This Way jam has “disco sleaze” stamped all over it. Gaga’s voice is Auto-Tuned and vocoded beyond recognition at times here, but it totally works. We just have one question: how was “Judas” a single over “Heavy Metal Lover”?
We get it, Rihanna — you crank out albums faster than rabbits make baby bunnies. Therefore, the occasional single-worthy tune gets lost in the cracks, like this shuffling, Enya-sampling mid-tempo pop track. Still, we’d have bumped “Man Down” or “California King Bed” off the schedule for “Fading”.
Robyn, “Stars 4-Ever”
There are a handful of gems on Body Talk that didn’t get single releases, the wistful “Stars 4-Ever” and Max Martin-co-produced “Time Machine” coming to mind first. But since Max doesn’t need any more cash at this point, we say this ode to BFFs (no matter what the distance between them) wins out.
Beyonce, “End Of Time”
Beyonce’s joyful marching band beat on this love song is more accessible than “Run The World (Girls)” or “Countdown”, and a whole lot more ready for the club than any of her other 4 singles. Instead of releasing a video for the forgettable “Dance For You”, why didn’t she show any love to this jubilant track?
Kanye West, “Hell Of A Life”
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy spawned four singles, though “Monster” was mostly tossed aside, as was the potential for the rest of the album. “Hell Of A Life”, in which Kanye speaks about how life would be if he were to romance a porn star, is certainly catchy enough to make an impact on radio. (Its hook does, after all, sample the iconic chords from Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”, tossed in with a bit more synths and drama.)
Britney Spears, “He About To Lose Me”
Femme Fatale is a light-hearted and lusty album full of beat-laden tunes about dancing, lovin’ and straight-up boinking. “He About To Lose Me” is the odd one out, in that there’s actually more than a hint of sadness to it. Call it the LP’s emotional core. Alas, this Rodney Jerkins-produced jam was tacked on as a Deluxe Version bonus track.
Ke$ha, “Crazy Beautiful Life”
The last thing the world probably needed in 2011 was another song about the Ke$ha getting plastered with her friends on a mountain of glitter and empty booze bottles. We will argue, though, that Cannibal strangely only produced two singles — or, make that three, if you include the “Sleazy” 2.0 remix — and the light and breezy “Crazy Beautiful Life” would have been an upbeat way for K-Dolla to close out that whole era, as far as radio is concerned.
Coldplay feat. Rihanna, “Princess Of China”
Leading the Mylo Xyloto album campaign off with “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” and then the gloomy “Paradise” while this stirring duet was waiting in the wings? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, COLDPLAY?
Daft Punk, “End Of Line”
Admit it — this and “Derezzed” are the TRON: Legacy songs that got the most play on your iPod, given that they’re most Daft Punk-esque numbers on the soundtrack. We may already be blanking on what the movie was about, but menacing earworm “End Of Line” is still haunting our playlists 12 months later.
Foster The People, “I Would Do Anything For You”
Total head-scratcher: this indie-pop crossover trio released four official singles in 2011, yet somehow forgot to hand their most radio-friendly love song over to programmers.