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All of the writers who contributed to this list declined my invitation to write an introduction for the piece. I chalk it up to, perhaps, the lack of an obvious angle. There are admittedly few trends or takeaways to be discovered in our list—at least at first glance. A fetish for the past might have been a good thematic point of reference: Adele and Lana Del Rey peddled a brand of vintage that seemed surprisingly fresh; the pop divas (Lady Gaga, Robyn, Beth Ditto, Beyoncé, Patrick Wolf) all lovingly and non-ironically paid homage to the decade in which most of them were born; even the ’90s got a nod thanks to EMA’s “California.” And notably, a holdover from last year, officially released as a single in January, emerged as our favorite with points to spare.

But aside from our top pick, there was a surprising lack of consensus in the rankings. Adele’s ubiquitous “Rolling in the Deep” got the broadest support from the Slant staff, but few were enthusiastic enough about it to propel it above two provocative but highly respected rappers’ big singles. This was the year everyone seemed to agree that Gaga chose the wrong singles from her album, and yet they all made at least one appearance across our individual lists. So maybe that’s the best angle to take when looking at the figurative and literal hits of 2011. From hip-hop to K-pop, the year’s best singles were an eclectic bunch. Even the King of Pop made an appearance. Sal Cinquemani

25. Battles featuring Matias Aguayo, “Ice Cream.”
24. Beyoncé, “Love on Top.”
23. St. Vincent, “Cruel.”
22. Patrick Wolf, “The City.”

21. 2NE1, “I Am the Best.” One of 2011’s best developments was that the Western world finally discovered the unmitigated joy of K-pop. Even within a music scene characterized by its fearless appropriation of pop, hip-hop, and dance styles, 2NE1’s “I Am the Best” is a jaw-dropping, vibrant triumph of pure swagger and verve. Really, who’s going to argue with logic like “Even if you were me/You’d be envious of this body” or stand in the crosshairs for 2NE1’s machine-gun “rah-tah-tah” hook? It ain’t bragging if it’s true, and 2NE1’s “I Am the Best” makes its case airtight. JK

20. Frank Ocean, “Novacane.”
19. Girls, “Vomit.”
18. Lykke Li, “I Follow Rivers.”
17. SBTRKT featuring Yukimi Nagano, “Wildfire.”
16. Britney Spears, “Till the World Ends.”
15. EMA, “California.”
14. Lana Del Rey, “Blue Jeans.”
13. Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out.”
12. Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know.”
11. Das Racist, “Michael Jackson.”
10. Azealia Banks featuring Lazy Jay, “212.”
9. Beth Ditto, “I Wrote the Book.”
8. Lady Gaga, “The Edge of Glory.”
7. Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues.”
6. Robyn, “Call Your Girlfriend.”
5. Lady Gaga, “Born This Way.”
4. Lana Del Rey, “Video Games.”
3. Adele, “Rolling in the Deep.”
2. Tyler, the Creator, “Yonkers.”
1. Kanye West, “All of the Lights.”

*Slant Magazine is an online publication that features reviews of movies, music, TV, DVDs, theater, and video games, as well as interviews with actors, directors, and musicians. The site covers various film festivals like the New York Film Festival. It was first launched in 2001. On January 21, 2010, the site relaunched and absorbed the popular entertainment blog The House Next Door, founded by former The New York Times and The New York Press writer Matt Zoller Seitz and maintained by Time Out New York film critic Keith Uhlich, who continues as the blog’s editor.*

Source: Slant Magazine
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