Top 100 Best Pop Songs Of 2011

Adele, Lady Gaga, and Kanye West collaborating with Jay-Z were among the artists that produced the most compelling songs of 2011.

"Man Down" provides the soundtrack to one of the most controversial music videos of the year in which Rihanna shoots a man dead out of revenge for rape. The song is unusually downbeat for the album on which it is included. "Man Down" has a stronger reggae influence than much of Rihanna's hit msuic.

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Jessie J delivers a strong vocal performance on "Domino," but it also invited frustration that she sounds too much like Katy Perry. Despite that fact it has turned into a pop hit, and the comparisons do not detract from the quality of the recording.

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Christina Perri contributed "A Thousand Years" to the Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 soundtrack. At first glance it seems a bit of an ordinary ballad, but "A Thousand Years" contains a gorgeous bridge section.

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"When We Stand Together" is the pop-rock single released to introduce Nickelback's album Here and Now. It has a strong swing to it accompanying the uplifting lyrics. "When We Stand Together" became a top 15 adult pop and adult contemporary hit.

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"The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie" is the lead single from the Red Hot Chili Peppers I'm With You album. Anthony Kiedis says the song is not about anyone in particular, but is simply a melange of memories and people he has met along the way. "The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie" topped both the rock songs and alternative songs charts while going to the top 20 at adult pop radio.

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It may have gotten a bit buried in the "Moves Like Jagger" avalanche, but "Never Gonna Leave This Bed" is a pleasing, mellow ballad from Maroon 5's unjustly ignored album. Adam Levine has stated it is his favorite song on the album and the most honest.

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Pitbull takes his sound worldwide here. Chris Brown delivers sweet featured vocals, and the entire record is a smooth pleasure destined for both the dance floor and the radio playlist.

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Rapper J. Cole's debut album was one of the most eagerly awaited of the year. He delivered on that promise when Cole World opened at #1 on the album chart. "Work Out" has a laidback feel that shows off influences from classic rap. "Work Out" was a top 5 hit on the rap chart.

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"Heartbeat" is the first single from The Fray's album Scars and Stories. The song features a big pop-rock production. The lyrics are inspired by international travels of lead vocalist and songwriter Isaac Slade.

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"Dance (A$$)" has been criticized as being a shameless stripper anthem. However, it is also clever and humorous with standout rap delivery from Big Sean. Nicki Minaj adds her inimitable sytle. The song was a top 5 rap and R&B hit.

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David Guetta scored a massive hit with this tribute to both slow ballads and uptempo dance music. Usher's vocals are beautiful here. "Without You" is the first David Guetta song to top the mainstream pop radio chart.

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Christina Perri followed her "Jar Of Hears" breakthrough with this pop ballad which starts out gentle but moves into bold upbeat territory. Christina Perri's voice is arresting and distinctive here. "Arms" hit the top 15 of the adult pop chart.

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Matt Nathanson carried the banner this year for sweet, singer-songwriter pop. "Faster" is upbeat and charming. The addition of horns adds depth to the mix. "Faster" became a top 15 adult pop hit.

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Beyonce delivers one of the more memorable pop song lines of the year here with, "I bet it sucks to be you right now." She pleased long-term fans with a nod to other midtempo hits like "Irreplaceable." "Best Thing I Never Had" reached the top 5 of the R&B chart and topped the dance chart.

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Lady Antebellum continued to straddle the pop and country worlds this year. While chosen as the lead single for the album Own the Night, it was one of the last recorded for the project. "Just a Kiss" effortlessly crossed genres topping the country singles chart and hitting the top 10 pop.

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"Tonight Tonight" is the breakthrough single for Nashville based pop band Hot Chelle Rae. All four band members are sons of established songwriters and performers. "Tonight Tonight" hit #1 on the adult pop radio chart while landing in the top 10 at mainstream pop.

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"For the First Time" is the lead single from the Script's second album Science and Faith. The emotional pop-rock landed in the top five on both the adult pop and adult contemporary charts. The band has said the song is about harsh reality for many people in the world that came to mind for the band after they returned from touring.

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The violence of the music video generated all of the headlines surrounding Britney Spears' fourth single from Femme Fatale. The song itself is the closest we get to a slow pop ballad on the album. The flute driven melody gives it all a light feel compared with the harder edged dance pop on Femme Fatale.

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Electronic duo Breathe Carolina broke into the pop mainstream with this single. It is drenched in electronic effects that propel a catchy hook. There is a strong influence of classic synthpop in the song.

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Jennifer Lopez keeps the party going here, but the real star of this record is one of Lil Wayne's most charming featured raps. His contribution is clever and fun in radio-friendly fashion.

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Wiz Khalifa's "No Sleep" is one of the top laidback party anthems of the year. He collaborates here with producer Benny Blanco. Fellow Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller appears in the music video. "No Sleep" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #6.

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Rihanna does know how to deliver a sweet love song. Here she is back in island mode singing the gentle praises of her lover. T/here is a dubstep breakdown that helps keep Rihanna completely contemporary here.

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T-Pain makes magnificent use of a sample here. The segment comes from Lily Allen's minor hit "Who'd Have Known." The result was T-Pain's sixth top 10 pop hit as lead artist and his first since 2008.

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"Set Fire To the Rain" carries one of the most traditional pop orchestrations of all of the songs on Adele's album 21. However, the additional production fails to diminish any of the emotional impact of her music. "Set Fire To the Rain" has been another major top 10 pop hit around the world for Adele.

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"Sing" may seem somewhat out of character for My Chemical Romance, but it is an anthem for the downtrodden that resonates. "Sing" turned into a surprising top 10 adult pop hit for the band.

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Colbie Caillat introduced her All Of You album with this sweet pop confection. The song simply celebrates a beautiful relationship. Colbie Caillat is at her sunniest here.

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"Price Tag" introduced Jessie J to American audiences. It was a #1 hit single at home in the UK. The sound has a definite classic Motown soul influence.

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Bruno Mars' beautiful rap proved strong enough to pull intense, rough rap to the upper reaches of the pop singles chart. The Bad Meets Evil project is a reunion of Eminem and former collaborator Royce da 5'9". "Lighters" reached #2 at pop radio.

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Katy Perry's effort to generate an unprecedented sixth #1 hit single from her album features a song that does touch emotional chords in the listener. The melancholy lyrics about a relationship that just couldn't be are haunting.

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Gym Class Heroes prove here that their return with "Stereo Hearts" is no fluke. Upcoming British artist Neon Hitch delivers a sweet chorus.

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Coldplay are in an upbeat mood here. The energy is infectious. The music video shows off the influence of graffiti art on the Mylo Xyloto album.

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Ke$ha continued her dominance of party-ready dance pop with "Blow." She begins here simply with the command, "Dance!" Don't miss her ragged vocal when she takes the chorus over the top late in the song.

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"Fly" stands out on Nicki Minaj's hit album Pink Friday with its inspirational tone. It was nearly left off the collection, but turned out to be one of the most memorable songs. Rihanna contributes an uplifting chorus.

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Britney Spears responds here to concerns about her personal behavior. She is unapologetic. It is all set to an irresistible pulsing dance groove. The music video is one of her most humorous yet. This was the third consecutive top 10 hit from the album Femme Fatale.

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The Foo Fighters' "Rope" debuted at #1 on the rock songs chart and did not let go for 20 weeks. It is a bracing piece of straightforward rock. The music video is an outstanding, fresh approach to the performance video.

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The release of the "I Need a Doctor" single made us all think that Dr. Dre's album Detox was finally just around the corner. That turned out to not be the case, but we did get a song that emotionally details the relationship between Dr. Dre and Eminem with a wrenching call for his return to the music business.

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Rapper Wiz Khalifa is one of the most impressive new talents of 2011. "Roll Up" is smooth and laidback and landed at #2 on the rap songs chart. It has sold more than a million digital downloads.

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"Marry the Night" may have the misfortune to be the first Lady Gaga single to miss the pop top 10, but it is a powerful pop song. "Marry the Night" provides an upbeat rock-dance kickoff to the Born This Way album.

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French DJ Martin Solveig headed for the pop mainstream here and he brought Canadian alternative band Dragonette along with him. "Hello" was a top 10 smash around the world and a #1 dance hit. Don't miss the humorous accompanying dance video.

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Dev stepped out on her own with this song after the massive success of her featured vocal on "Like a G6." She likes her beats fast and her bass down low. The song is little more than a novelty hit, but it is a party must for 2011.

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The swampy riff that kicks off the song gives "Country Song" its title. However, rock band Seether is quick to assure fans this is not a country song. What it provides a solid, bracing rock element that was sorely missing on pop charts much of the year. "Country Song" landed in the top 10 of the alternative songs chart and #2 on the rock songs chart.

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For those of us who reveled in the emotional funk of "Grenade," Bruno Mars takes us deeper here. "It Will Rain" was the lead single for the soundtrack to the hit film Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1. It is perhaps one of the very few mentions of morphine in the lyrics to a mainstream pop song, but the point is a powerful one.

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With the able collaboration of Ryan Tedder, Gavin DeGraw put together one of his biggest pop hits in years. It is a bittersweet ode to the pain of a relationship that ended too soon. The result is a top 10 adult pop hit.

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Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" provides the soundtrack to one of the top music video achievements of the year. It is also a fun, singalong pop hit all on its own. Here's to celebrating the liberating powers of parties.

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This may have been the song that Avril Lavigne wasn't excited about on her album . It was perhaps a little too pop, but it is fun and energetic. There is also a serious element to the lyrics which should be heard.

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Coldplay's album Mylo Xyloto was a commercial disappointment, but "Paradise" has those elements that endear us all to the band. There is a positively huge sound that opens the song, and then the lyric encourages us all to dream along and look to something big in both sound and vision.

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DJ Khaled's first top 10 pop hit is a superstar rap collaboration. That is the usual approach for DJ Khaled. The song is a dissertation on money that sounds a lot like it could be a Drake record. Regardless of that fact it is one of the most memorable hip hop hits of the year on the pop charts.

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Rihanna tries a drinking song and she scales that mountain as well as she has any other. Who wouldn't want to join her island party here? That backing crowd when the song breaks down sounds truly happy. "Don't let the bastards get you down" indeed!

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It is a very unusual occurrence to have two of the top songs of the year be animated by the same sample, but here it is. Dance master Avicii uses the same Etta James sample that turned Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" into such a big hit. The instrumental structure of "Levels" also provides the backdrop for "Good Feeling."

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Love it or hate it, but you couldn't ignore "Gucci Gucci" once you saw it or heard it. Kreayshawn disses rich kids and laughs all the way. However, she rides the edge of being just as annoying herself. Watch the video and see a truly scene stealing performance by her sidekick.

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We all might have wondered whether LMFAO could really follow up a hit as big as "Party Rock Anthem." Now we all know they had another ace up their sleeve, and it is the most humorous big pop hit of the year. Listening to the lyrics is humorous enough, but the music video truly takes it all over the top.

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If you are having a bad day, this is the 2011 song to bring you out of the funk. Colbie Caillat is effervescent and sunny here without being saccharine. Ryan Tedder co-wrote and produced the song. The percussive beat gives powerful energy to the performance.

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The last time Drake and Rihanna collaborated it was on last year's near perfect love song "What's My Name." This time around the mood is darker, but nearly as beautiful. There is a classic soul influence here that gives weight to the song.

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If any of us was Selena Gomez, it is very easy to imagine singing, "I wouldn't wanna be anybody else." Also when she sings, "I'm no beauty queen," it is a bit hard to believe the sincerity, but "Who Says" is an utterly charming self-esteem anthem. The song doesn't pound you over the head with the message, but it is loud and clear.

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I challenge you to listen to this upbeat song from newcomer Andy Grammer and not smile. He went clear to the top 5 at adult pop radio with this debut single. There is real mainstream pop talent here, and a video personality that is magnetic.

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Lil Wayne decided to sing instead of rap on a major single release. The result was one of the most touching pop songs of the year. It also turned into one of the biggest hits of his career thus far. Many pop fans gained a new appreciation for the talents of Lil Wayne.

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Beyonce decided to take chances in kicking off her album, and commercially this single was a failure. However, she did take chances and the scope of what she is trying to achieve here is massive. Don't miss the dance moves delivered in the video. That marching band beat is still hypnotic.

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If "Born This Way" hadn't stolen much of its thunder later in the year, this Pink song may have been THE anthem of the year for those who feel out of the mainstream. As it is, the song is still quite memorable, and a highly emotional music video helps the point of the song sink in even more.

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Before Rihanna released her single, we all might have thought this was a taboo subject in pop music. However, "S&M" became one of the most played pop radio hits of the year. Pain mixed with pleasure and the smell of sex in the air are memorable in the song, but it is truly the line, "I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it" that should be most remembered from "S&M." That sums up Rihanna's approach in general to the attitude of much of her music.

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We will have to wait until next year for the album, but the heavy power of "Strange Clouds" gives some ideas of what is to come from B.o.B. on his second album. There is an ominous feel that hovers over the song fitting the concept of "strange clouds" perfectly.

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Dev proved she is a very compelling pop artist all on her own here. Dev lets her vocals slide all over the words in powerfully sexy fashion here. The Cataracs proudction is hypnotic as always. Don't miss the accompanying video which features...hands.

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Chris Brown tries out rapping, and then he is shown how it is really done by two of the masters. Busta Rhymes' rapid fire raps in particular will blow you away. That stripped down "Look at me now" chorus is positively infectious as well.

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British folk rockers Mumford and Sons are nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the upcoming Grammy Awards for this song. Listen and the powerful lyrics will slowly sink in. Mumford and Sons transport us to a place somewhere between the sound of traditional music and the attitude of contemporary alternative rock.

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What happens when Pachelbel's Canon meets hip hop? Rapper Lupe Fiasco shows you here. "The Show Goes On" was also a centerpiece of battles between Lupe Fiasco and his record label. He has said the song is a record label creation and one which they wanted him to record, and it did not emerge out of his own personal inspiration. In this case, the record label seems to have been right.

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The team that brought us "Moves Like Jagger" also brought us a second, nearly as charming, pop hit which returned Gym Class Heroes to the upper reaches of the pop chart. Adam Levine's featured vocals are simply gorgeous and Travie McCoy delivers a sweet, metaphor filled rap that will make you smile.

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Thank you Apple for bringing us this song in your commercials for the iPod Touch. This upbeat celebration of friendship is not to be missed. It rides a simple guitar groove with chiming keyboards that is pure, sweet, alternative pop candy.

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Here Kanye West took a unique approach to using featured artists. "All of the Nights" includes contributions from, literally, a small army ranging from Elton John to John Legend, but you would be hard pressed to pick out the voice of any single contributor other than Rihanna. However, the song is dense, catchy, and anthemic.

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Pitbull gathered what seemed a small army of collaborators here and nothing was going to stand in the way of his path to the top of the pop charts. "Give Me Everything" celebrates his rise from poverty and encourages having a transporting night of sexual engagement all at the same time. Ne-Yo's gorgeous vocal performance sends the song over the top.

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No one knew quite what to expect from the return of Disney pop princess Demi Lovato to music after a stint in rehab. What we got was this fragile anthem of slowly building strength that is riveting. Her vocals have never been this compelling in the past.

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Lady Gaga in a country honky tonk mood? It sounds a whole lot better than you might have imagined. Lady Gaga heads to Nebraska to rekindle a lost love. The accompanying video is one of the wildest visual trips of the year, and it is completely Lady Gaga.

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In case you wondered what happened to slow, smoldering, sexy R&B ballads, Kelly Rowland decided to remind us. This is the sexiest pop hit of the year, and the biggest solo hit of Kelly Rowland's career.

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The heavy, pounding northern soul style beat here just may stick in your head for days. Adele takes us all to her own personal dance floor in a popwerful song of emotional catharsis. "Rumour Has It" also provided the base for the best moment of Glee so far this year.

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"It's hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off!" That lyric line seems to sum up the overall approach of Florence and the Machine to their music. Don't be surprised if you find yourself getting up and dancing or spinning in place to this powerful anthem.

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It took Glee to finally pull this song into the pop charts, and it is a fortunate thing. There is an anthemic feel here that grabs your attention. When you listen a bit closer you will realize how complex the song and the lyrical picture really is. The music video is a challenger for the title of most disturbing music video of the year.

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"Walk" closes Foo Fighters' album Wasting Light, and it provides a truly uplifting, anthemic coda. In a year in which rock seemed to fade into the background, the Foo Fighters provided a bracing example of how engaging straightforward rock music can be.

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The first time through Kelly Clarkson's introductory single from her Stronger album may seem a bit underwhelming. However, when you realize that you are wanting to hear it again, and then you want to sing along, it just might be one of your favorite songs of the year. Kelly Clarkson's vocals have never sounded better than here, and you will likely detect a pleasing R&B vibe animating the song.

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Waking Up, the album which features "Good Life," may be a couple of years old, but most of us had not really recognized the charms of this song until this year. Trademark percussive, hooky pop from OneRepublic was very welcome this year. The hook feels so simple that it may take awhile before you realize how beautiful "Good Life" truly is.

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Katy Perry's "E.T." is one of the sexiest pop hits of the year. It also owes much of the sexiness to Kanye West's brilliant featured rap. There is a relentless, pounding quality to the song which is hypnotic, and, for lack of a better term, otherworldly. "E.T." is one of the biggest selling pop songs of the year.

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If it brought the Black Keys to the pop charts, it must be a towering achievement. "Lonely Boy" is a massive collision of pop hooks with chugging garage rock. The accompanying music video is unforgettable, too. "Lonely Boy" topped both the alternative songs and rock songs charts.

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For many pop fans LMFAO seemed to come out of nowhere. However, party music fans were already familiar with the tongue in cheek approach of this duo. "Party Rock Anthem" is arguably the catchiest pop song of the year, and it was a #1 smash around the world. No self respecting party soundtrack in 2011 would be without it. We were all shufflin'.

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If you want to hear the state of the art in Britney Spears' music, look no further than "Till the World Ends." She simply takes over the dance floor here, and the "Oh Oh Oh" chorus is simply sublime. It was also the occasion for a star powered remix featuring Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha.

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Jennifer Lopez is back, with a bit of help from American Idol, and she knows how to kick off a party. Pitbull delivers an intoxicating rap as well. Few party songs this year were appealing to a wider audience than Jennifer Lopez' sweet, slightly exotic sounding comeback hit.

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Tinie Tempah crossed the Atlantic after a stellar debut year at home in the UK in 2010 with this huge, uplifting anthem. His staccato delivery contrasts with the smooth vocals of American singer Eric Turner. It is a truly exciting introduction to one of pop's top new young talents.

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All of "Headlines" has a feeling of nervous urgency. Drake doesn't blow us away with a massive hook here. Instead he focuses everything on his tales of the ups and downs of being a star in a fashion that is mesmerizing. "Headlines" clearly focuses our attention on Drake's unique delivery that lands somewhere between rapping and singing.

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There is a melancholy air about "Just Can't Get Enough" that is difficult to shake. The song is a showcase for Fergie's vocals, and it might remind you just what an impressive solo artist she can be. Black Eyed Peas proved here they do not need to be in uptempo party mode to deliver a truly memorable pop song.

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Here Selena Gomez stealthily delivered one of the true pop gems of the year. Just like the lyrics state, it is very tempting to keep hitting repeat when listening to this song. The beat structure is hypnotic, and Selena Gomez is one of the most talented young singers in pop.

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Initially many may have seen "Moves Like Jagger" as simply an effort to cash in on the rising popularity of Maroon 5's Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera from their appearance on the hit TV show The Voice. However, soon the song's real charms sink in, and you realize this song combines breezy pop energy with alluring sex appeal in a way that is all its own. "Moves Like Jagger" topped pop singles charts around the world and has sold nearly four million copies in the US alone.

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With "The Edge Of Glory" it seems that Lady Gaga listened closely to a few 80s power ballads. The sound is huge here, and it is based on touching personal experiences of Lady Gaga when losing her grandfather.

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The hook here is massive. The lyrics are not safe for work, but "Ni**as In Paris" just might stick in your head for days. The spoken word interlude here provided one of the year's laugh out loud moments in pop music. Jay-Z and Kanye West joining forces do take us to a different place than either can go alone.

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Taylor Swift knew it would be a hit and encouraged its release as a single. Soon we all found out how special "Super Bass" is. The candy coated rapid fire, humor-filled raps are intoxicating. Along the way Nicki Minaj set new standards for the success of female rappers on the pop chart.

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Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" wins the prize for the best use of a sample in a pop hit during 2011, and it shares the award with Avicii's "Levels." The vocal hook from Etta James' 1962 song "Something's Gotta Hold On Me" is simply stunning. The music of Etta James has never been brought higher on the pop charts than in this song. The recognition is long overdue. Kudos to producer Dr. Luke as well.

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This first single from Florence and the Machine's album Ceremonials may have been forgotten int he crush of publicity that followed. However, it is an artistic masterpiece. The song is based in the tragic suicide of Virginia Woolf and filled with trademark Florence and the Machine drama. An a capella break late in the song leads into an ecstatic audio explosion that is one of the most exciting pop music moments of the year.

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Britney Spears visits dub step territory and conquers. "Hold It Against Me" introduced the Femme Fatale album and went straight to #1. That grinding beat combined with sweet, airy vocal breaks is hypnotic, and then the dub step breakdown late in the song sends the whole recording over the top.

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Beyonce's album struggled commercially in a way she has not experienced in the past. It seemed like single after single failed to impress pop audiences, too. "Countdown" performed in lackluster fashion commercially, too, but it is a true gem that should not be missed. Horns, drums, the backward counts, and a Boyz II Men sample all add up to the breathless magic we have gotten from Beyonce in the past. Don't miss the accompanying video.

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What happens when two of rock's reigning hip hop kings attach themselves to samples from soul legend Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness?" It is simply magic. Jay-Z and Kanye West sound like they are simply having loads of fun boasting and rhyming here.

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This song is what happened when Adele entered the recording studio angry about the ending of a relationship. "Rolling In the Deep" is the single that introduced us to the 21 album. The song seems utterly lacking of a specific genre, and, conseuqently, it hit more different radio format charts, from Latin to rock, than any other song in Billboard's history. That was on the way to selling more than five million digital copies.

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Listening to it the first time, Rihanna's "We Found Love" might seem overly simple. However, over time the beauty and elegance of Calvin Harris' production sink in. "We Found Love" spent eight weeks at #1 becoming the longest reigning chart topping hit of the year and of Rihanna's career thus far. The somewhat disturbing music video generated controversy.

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"Pumped Up Kicks" is one of the most talked about pop songs of the year, and most of those conversations track in similar directions. How can a song that is so catchy and sounds so upbeat have such an intense and decidedly creepy set of lyrics? The band claims "Pumped Up Kicks" is intended to publicize the issue of violence in schools. The song climbed into the top 3 on charts from rock songs to adult pop.

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Lady Gaga was reaching for a game changing anthem when she put together "Born This Way," and she succeeded. The song was instantly adopted for advocacy by anyone that might feel "different" in society. Musically, "Born This Way" is aggressive in its unabashed use of classic disco songs. Some complained that it reminded them of Madonna, but "Born This Way" is much more a case of Lady Gaga standing on the shoulders of those who came before than creation of a copy of something in the past.

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This is a song for the ages. It closes Adele's wrenchingly powerful album 21 with a hint of hope for a positive future, but it is obvious she is still mired in great pain from the end of a relationship. "Someone Like You" is the first chart-topping hit in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to consist of simply solo voice with piano accompaniment. The song hit #1 on pop charts around the world and even made its way on to the rock songs chart in the US.

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Lamb, Bill. "Top 100 Best Pop Songs Of 2011." ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/top-best-pop-songs-p2-3247016. Lamb, Bill. (2016, August 22). Top 100 Best Pop Songs Of 2011. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/top-best-pop-songs-p2-3247016 Lamb, Bill. "Top 100 Best Pop Songs Of 2011." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/top-best-pop-songs-p2-3247016 (accessed October 21, 2017).