2011 has been a strange year for music. Dubstep and electro-orientated music has invaded the mainstream with artists such as Skrillex and Avicii no longer the preserve of the underground scene. On the other hand though sweet melodic, ballad-heavy pop has invaded the charts. In short, it is hard to find any patterns with mainstream music this year. The only recurring theme I would suggest is the continued outperformance of male pop artists by their female counterparts. Girl power is back bitches and it’s here to stay.
One of the stories of 2011 has been the success of Adele. Adele’s success has been astounding. She is the most successful female artist of the year and has successfully cracked the States. But she has done much more than this. She has opened a gap in the market which other artists have exploited. In my opinion, artists such as Christina Perri and Jessie J have a lot to thank Adele for. Girl power has engulfed the music sphere this year and that’s not just thanks to Little Mix winning the X Factor. Arguably the biggest artists of the year were Adele and Rihanna, two women. Factor in the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce and the emergence of Jessie J, Christina Perri and Lana Del Rey and you begin to see the feminine influence on the music people listen to.
Adele has become somewhat of a national treasure in Britain ever since she performed a tear-riddled version of ‘Someone Like You’ at the Brit Awards. When news broke of her throat ailments it was almost a Diana moment for the musical aficionados of the UK. Her success is nothing to be scoffed at however, her album 21 is the best-selling album of this century in the UK selling 3.6m units, it debuted at no.1 on the Billboard 200 and is the only album this year to sell over 2m units in the US. Adele has also influenced artists more established than her with Beyonce claiming that her new album 4, a more soulful and slow record in comparison with her previous releases, was partly inspired by Adele. It is also worth noting that Adele is a songwriter as well as a singer. Her music is deep and when she sings, you know she is speaking from the bottom of her soul. No female artist has achieved this since Amy Winehouse’s seminal classic Back to Black was released back in 2006.
Adele of course, is but one of an army of female artists who have ruled 2011. Rihanna, for better or for worse, has become possibly the biggest popstar on the planet in 2011. I’m going to admit something right now, something that may not go down too well with a lot of people, I hate Rihanna. I seriously do. She also writes none of her own songs which means that she’s not an artist like Adele. But that does not dispute the fact that she is hugely successful, an extreme influence on popular culture and has, in the shape of We Found Love, possibly the biggest single of the year. We have reached the point now where Rihanna could release a death metal version of Long Haired Lover From Liverpool and it would still reach no.1. I still hate her, mind. And her terrible music (In my eyes, We Found Love notwithstanding, she does not have a good song)
With the possible exception of Ed Sheeran, Jessie J has been the stand out newcomer of 2011. Her debut album has been an unequivocal success and spawned four very successful singles. I swear to God, I must have heard that song Price Tag close on a 3000 times at this stage. I’m not usually a fan of mainstream pop if I’m honest but some of Jessie J’s offerings this year have been mightily good. Who You Are is a fascinating and uplifting track which the talented young lady wrote herself. I would argue that the vocal performance Jessie J gives in the song is the best of all the mainstream artists this year (And considering she’s up against Lana Del Rey, Aloe Blacc and Adele, that’s quite an achievement). My only gripe with her is that she pulled out of Oxegen. You set Amanda Brunker upon us Jessie… not cool!
The success of Lady Gaga and Beyonce show no signs of waning either. Beyonce recently released her critically acclaimed fourth album entitled, rather unoriginally, 4 while Gaga continues to be the most eccentric (and in my opinion fucking annoying) mainstream artist around. Her video for Marry The Night is stranger than a banjo-playing badger. I was lucky enough to see Beyonce in the flesh at Oxegen and let me tell you this, she is as beautiful in the flesh as she is in the papers. How she can dance at such a speed and sing competently at the same time I will never know.
The boys are no damp squibs. Bruno Mars and Michael Bublé are still massively popular, Ed Sheeran has had a fantastically successful opening year and Coldplay are still the biggest band on the planet. But 2011 has been a year for the ladies. And 2012 looks like it could be a carbon copy. In my opinion this is a very good thing. I think the best music this year has been released by men but that’s only because I’m a Rock ‘n’ Roll man. But the worst music has also been released by men (Skrillex, LMFAO, Deadmau5 hang your heads in fucking shame!). The best mainstream music and most commercially successful music has been released by the fairer sex however. So I ask you, Who Run the World? GIRLS. Sound for not suing me for copyright infringement Beyonce.