Jan 12

The Freaky Trigger Reader’s Poll 2011: #10-#1

FT//37 comments • 3,228 views

Hi, I’m Lauryn Hill circa my breakthrough role in Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit, and it is a real pleasure to be able to present to you the top ten FreakyTrigger tracks of the year. When my mother told me I couldn’t join the choir run by a fake nun, I got really surly and pouted a lot – which some of you may recognise from my recent career. Later in the film I stepped up to the plate and delivered this inspirational, hip as 1993 could ever be, version of Joyful Joyful. But enough of my career highlights, back to the FreakyTrigger top ten of 2011.

Its a real privilege to reveal to you that this top ten is entirely female, so much so that I might be inspired, much like Whoopi Goldberg inspired me in Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit to make a comeback and win next year. I’ve got a soup tureen full of Grammy’s you know.

10. Nicola Roberts – ‘Lucky Day’

For chrissakes put some trousers on woman:

9. tUnEyArDs – ‘Bizness’

I’m listening to WhoKill as I’m typing up this list, and “Bizness” is definitely the best track on it. Well done, voting public! If you haven’t heard any tUnEyArDs yet then watch the video, it’s a corker.

8. Nicola Roberts – ‘Beat of My Drum’
Along with Gaga and Katy B, Nicola suffered badly from a split vote across many songs, though I’m sure Team Ginge will be consoled by having two songs in the top 10. Video AGAIN features inadvisable fashion choices but at least those are sensibly shaped pants she’s got on:

7. Beyonce – ‘Countdown’

This year I watched Beyonce’s 90-minute Glastonbury set, enthralled, but it was only later that I really appreciated how good it was. Not only can she holler and dance at an unbelievable level, she can do it while she has morning sickness. I am starting to think Beyonce may actually be a new evolved species of superhuman.

6. Robyn – ‘Call Your Girlfriend’

FT Reader Favourite Robyn was in the lead during the early stages of voting, but eventually had to be satisfied with 6th.

5. Nicki Minaj – ‘Super Bass’

If Nicki hadn’t released this song then she probably would have been relegated to Guest Rapper status for the rest of eternity. Thankfully this has been avoided!

4. 2NE1 – ‘I Am the Best’

Tireless efforts by Frank Kogan and the Singles Jukebox crew have finally made Korean pop much more than a curiosity for us ignorant westerners this year. Non-ugly girlgroup 2NE1 have only been going a few years but they are the cream of the K-pop crop and BLIMEY don’t they know it.

3. Nadia Oh – ‘Taking over the Dancefloor (Kate Middleton)’
My personal favourite! If you’ve not heard or seen anything of Nadia’s before, have a look at this. Go on, it’s only 90 seconds long. What’s the worst that could happen?

2. Lana Del Rey – ‘Video Games’

‘Divisive’ might be one word to describe Miss Del Ray this year, but it seems that plenty of you lot are fond of the ol’ Pong (or Playstation, whatever).

1. Azealia Banks – ’212′

Well clear of the field with 199 points to Lana’s 149 and Nadia’s 147 we have sweet little ‘street urchin’ Azealia Banks, who has done alarmingly well considering ’212′ only fully emerged in the last few months of the year. Here she is – make sure the kids are out of the room…

There we go! Thanks again to everyone who voted – see you next year!


  1. 1
    jeff w registered on 10 Jan 2012 #

    Who run the world?

  2. 2
    flahr on 10 Jan 2012 #


  3. 3
    thefatgit on 10 Jan 2012 #

    My top choice never made the cut (Agyness Deyn was in the video) but I’m glad a lot of my other choices did. I helped Nicki Minaj into the top 10 f’rinstance. All in all, a good year.

  4. 4
    Erithian on 10 Jan 2012 #

    Scandalous that the top ten nominations are entirely female, we need a complete overhaul of the way this poll is conducted and the women compiling these lists should be ashamed of themselves and (continued on page 94)

  5. 5
    swanstep on 10 Jan 2012 #

    A bunch of these are new to me. At first listen then: Nicola Roberts? Not feeling those two tracks at all. Nadia Oh? You must be joking. Azealia Banks? Interesting and she’s got great flow, but the track just meanders then ends. She may have a song of the year in her but this isn’t close to being it in my view.

    Lana d.R. was my #2 despite (like many people) being pretty burned out on the tune and the buzz by year’s end. Bey.’s Countdown was my #11 – she made exquisite records all year that *weren’t* earworm-y: they all sounded great as one listened were playing but strangely weren’t memorable/hummable. Countdown was closest though.

    Surprises for me: no Anna Calvi or Bon Iver on the whole list. I had Blackout and Holocene top 5 (and thought that those guys were generally some of the best, most legacy-building talent of the year, along perhaps with OWS-baiting Wu Lyf).

  6. 6
    Mark M on 10 Jan 2012 #

    Interesting that there’s a high potential irritant factor in many of these – none has what you’d expect of an obvious consensus choice. I don’t find I’m alone in having a fairly allergic reaction to both Robyn and Nicola Roberts, and normally find Nicki Minaj pretty damn annoying (although I voted for Super Bass), and soon lost patience with Video Games after whatever radio station we have on in the office played it at least five times a day for a month.
    No surprise on the winner, though – one of those songs you have to stop yourself from singing along to in private in case you end up doing so in public.

  7. 7
    koganbot on 10 Jan 2012 #

    How to impress your bank teller (if your bank teller’s name happens to be Jintae): As your friend and the teller are discussing the proper pronunciation of the “J” in “Jintae,” idly wander over and say, “The only phrase I know in Korean is ‘Neaga jeil jal naga,'” pronouncing “naga” as “laga,” the way CL does (and the way you’re supposed to, apparently, when the n is preceded by an l), and the j’s more like ch’s, again following CL. He will nod and say, “I am the best one.” You can reply, “I know it from the 2NE1 song,” and then when he tells you he’s got a bunch of K-pop in his car stereo and you ask him for recommendations and he mentions JYP, who he says has worked with Ma$e and Lil Jon, say, “Ah yes, Miss A, ‘Bad Girl Good Girl.'”

    Here’s “I Am The Best” live, CL going beyond effervescent and into incandescence:

    110715 2NE1 – I AM THE BEST @ Singapore Korean Music Wave KMW 2011

  8. 8
    redcommieapples on 10 Jan 2012 #

    I’m most surprised Beyonce only has 1 appearance in the top 97. I voted for “1+1” but lately the omnipresence of “Love on Top” has bludgeoned me into out and out love. But the strangest thing is the number of indie blogs that have singled out “Party” as their token Beyonce track of choice.

  9. 9
    koganbot on 10 Jan 2012 #

    Freaky Trigger readers displaying a range of reactions to the high finish of 2NE1 in the Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll:


    (I’m the guy in the white jacket, third row, left.)

  10. 10
    admin on 10 Jan 2012 #

    at the risk of repeating myself, but as some people are looking in here who know what i mean, and may even sympathise, Lucky Day *really* sounds like it belongs on Margaret Berger’s Pretty Scary, Silver Scary.

  11. 11
    Tom Lawrence on 10 Jan 2012 #

    Again to my shame, and since I’m a singles-and-charts guy rather than an albums guy, I didn’t actually hear Love on Top properly until after I sent my ballot in. If I’d felt about it then as I do now, well.

  12. 12
    chelovek na lune on 11 Jan 2012 #

    I don’t know that Margaret Berger, but I will be sure to check it out…but (speaking as one who loves Lucky Day, although it isn’t even close to being the best track on the Nicola Roberts album) I could imagine the track as a speeded up, danced-up cover version of something acoustic released on Sarah Records c. 1987 – there is that tweeness and innocence about it (and those “waaah-waaaah-waaah” bits too). Obviously Nicola R has improvised and extended the chorus to make it a bit poppier…but I think it could have been thus…

  13. 13
    lex on 11 Jan 2012 #

    Re: “Love On Top” – for most of the year I played it back-to-back with “Countdown”, stacking the latter on top of the former (on top of all those key changes it closes with!) was just the most massive delirious rush of joy. This is the God performance though – at the VMAs, revealing her pregnancy to the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IO1mlF13nI

    I am in total awe. The key changes! She sings the shit out of that song.

    Thought the Nicola Roberts album was near-unlistenable, cheap and chintzy Ting Tings-esque crap. Tune-Yards was unlistenable in your bog-standard “hi we’re so indie we don’t bother to produce” way, plus some rather dubious lyrics. Robyn, ugh just get over her already. Nadia Oh never clicked with me? Not horrible but IDGI at all. I have no opinion on K-pop (sorry Frank!) but I am never sure how to really love foreign-language pop (unless French or Spanish, ie I know enough to know what’s going on). Sorry, I’m too attached to lyrics.

    “Super Bass” and “Countdown” were my clear top two tracks of the year, totally undeniable.

    Top two here are funny. I seem to spend half my time defending LDR and AZ Banks to haters, and half the time grumbling “they’re not THAT good” to people who overrate them. Kind of feel the presence of Banks but not eg Reema Major or Brianna means people need to pay less attention to bullshit bloghype but OTOH the serious rap heads who can’t stand her are even more annoying and at least she’s better than Rick Ross and Drake.

    (I think “212” and “Video Games” are both incredibly great songs – key to each, the “ayo” bit functioning as a massive break in the former and the slight out-of-body perspective of the latter – but I am reeeeeeally not yet convinced by either LDR or AZB as artists, and I find the stuff they play on a bit tiresome in both cases.)

  14. 14
    lex on 11 Jan 2012 #

    I could imagine the track as a speeded up, danced-up cover version of something acoustic released on Sarah Records c. 1987 – there is that tweeness and innocence about it

    summing up in one sentence why I can’t stand it! BEGONE ALL TWEENESS.

  15. 15
    koganbot on 11 Jan 2012 #

    #13 Sample lyric from “I Am The Best,” translated: “Even if you were me, you’d be jealous of my body”!

  16. 16
    swanstep on 12 Jan 2012 #

    @15, Koganbot. I like that line! In general, though, I share Lex’s unease about of missing too much in (seriously – no lexical overlap, can’t tell nouns from verbs) foreign language pop. 4NE1’s vid. was pretty cool, reminding me a bit of vids. from en vogue’s glory days, but what would en vogue have been to me if I’d had only the vaguest notions of their lyrics, what all the attitudinizing was about, etc.? Ditto Missy Elliot.

    My sense is that more melodic pop gets the less work the lyrics and details of delivery have to do, e.g., the Supremes or even the Shangri-Las can work as almost pure image and sound. Pon Pon Pon and corporate J-popsters like Perfume are intelligible enough to me in a way that the post-en vogue/Missy-ish 4NE1 isn’t.

  17. 17
    Tom on 12 Jan 2012 #

    I’m in the “not THAT good”/like it anyway camp w/”Super Bass” to be honest. If LDR and AZB are amazing-songs/not convinced by artist then “Super Bass” is amazing artist/not convinced by song.

    “212” was my #1 on this poll – I agree that nothing else she’s done so far is even half as good (though the quality gap isn’t quite as massive as with Lana Del Rey’s follow-up) but that’s the way of pop: one perfect single + video is fine as a legacy in my book.

    “Schoolin Life” got my Beyonce vote, “1+1” and “Best Thing I Never Had” not far behind. Perfectly happy w/”Countdown” but I decided it didn’t need my vote.

    Thanks to everyone who voted, and to Kat for putting it together!

  18. 18

    I have very nearly zero interest in lyrics in music, most ppl (well, most writers) pay them far too much attention, pro or con: i doubt i can complete the words to a SINGLE song

    (i’m not remotely bothered by this as some kind of critical delinquency before anyone kicks off: someone has to be listening to the actual significant part of the music, viz the music)

  19. 19

    but i am equally truculently proud that i have never had the patience or the right kind of memory for end-of-year polls so have no business in this thread really! happy new year!

  20. 20
    Rory on 12 Jan 2012 #

    I tend to agree with Lex about Nicola Roberts’s album, but ‘Lucky Day’ was my earworm of the year (thanks to punctum for the comment on FT which led me to it), so yay, one of my picks made the top 10 (and 50) (and only one).

    Now, everybody go and check out the video for the Black Keys’ ‘Lonely Boy’. Yes, yes, rockist bollocks, etc. Pshaw, I say; it’s great.

  21. 21
    Steve Mannion on 12 Jan 2012 #

    re #18 YESS thank you…that is to say however good or bad or foreign the lyrics may be, this could never be the most important thing about a song afaic. certainly a reason to listen but there’s no song i actually love where i’m thinking that love is from what’s being said MORE than how and/or WITH what. this in turn partly explains my eternal (tho seemingly increased) value of instrumentalists…’Aquifer’ being my track of 2011 (and NO-ONE ELSE’S HURRAH :)

    altho “i doubt i can complete the words to a SINGLE song ”

    Crazy Frog surely?

  22. 22

    a nim nim something

  23. 23
    swanstep on 12 Jan 2012 #

    Indifference towards lyrics suggests failure to understand what a song (as opposed to a sound performance piece or some such thing) is. Go directly to Jon Brion. It’s at the 34 min mark of a Sound Opinions podcast: streamable version, downloadable version.
    And batting away the straw men: you probably can’t hum too many songs all the way through either; and it’s nowhere required that lyrics be *more* important than chords, melody, timing etc..

  24. 24

    Or — alteratively (and correctly) — it suggests that I approach music from a different entry-point, as of course do many musicians. As for the strawmen you’re busily multiplying — it’s a method you reach for much too easily and much too often — you’re the one attempting to convert a confessed parochialism into a self-important point of principle.

  25. 25
    thefatgit on 12 Jan 2012 #

    Lyrics vs Music seems like an age-old argument to me. “I Am The Best” or “PonPonPon” don’t rely on knowledge of Korean or Japanese to be appreciated on their own terms, that’s why the hooks are there. Likewise, I don’t need to speak fluent italian to appreciate “La Traviata”. Verdi did a fantastic job of inserting all the necessary emotional triggers into the music. That’s not to say a knowledge of italian wouldn’t enhance my appreciation, of course it would, but it’s not essential.

  26. 26
    koganbot on 12 Jan 2012 #

    I enter sooner through music than words as well, usually. Which doesn’t mean that if I hadn’t known English and had never seen a translation or synopsis, my experience of “Leader Of The Pack” wouldn’t have been significantly different from what it was. But I’d probably still love it.

    But not understanding the lyrics to “I Am The Best” seems more akin to not understanding the lyrics to “Be Bop A Lula.” What’s not to understand? Also, the K-pop groups are aiming at all sorts of foreign markets, esp. in East Asia, the vast majority of whose consumers do not speak Korean; and so the K-pop strategy is to insert a lot of lines and phrases in a foreign language that is a second language to many many many Asians, i.e. English. And further, record labels will often provide English subtitles [click CC if you’re not getting it], and when they don’t, fans will. Plus, 2NE1 have created a new universal language called “Bam Ratatata Tatatatata.”

    Which doesn’t mean there can’t be cultural barriers to understanding K-pop no matter what the languages or the translations — or for that matter that there might not be plenty of good reasons not to like a lot of K-pop. And there’s plenty of American music, in English, that “all sounds the same” to me or goes in one ear and out the other.

    I’m pretty certain that Lex will one day love some K-pop, just as I was certain a bunch of years back that he’d one day discover and love some Teena Marie tracks. Actually, I’ve a campaign mapped out for the K-pop conquest of Lex, starting with dancing and freestyle and hip-hop. But now I’m getting far afield from the topic of this thread.

  27. 27
    Mark M on 12 Jan 2012 #

    Count me in on the music more than words side, too (note: that’s not ‘music not words’). I’ve always been amazed at how many people can sing (or rap) along to the words of hundreds of songs. There are probably nine or ten songs I can get pretty near (Different Drum, Hotel California) but there’s normally a line or two than eludes me.
    Likewise, although I can appreciate how much a critic Greil Marcus seems to get from the lyrics of a song, I seem to conjure up something a lot less rich in my mind. And I often find myself suddenly working what the (presumably) intended meaning of a song I’ve heard for ten or twenty years is.
    There are lots of lyrics I love and make the songs more valuable to me – and indeed lyrics that put me off.
    But equally, there are plenty of French songs I love and only have the vaguest idea what they are about, and ones from further afield that are way beyond my linguistic capabilities and that doesn’t spoil my enjoyment at all. And as a flip to that, I remembered being surprised in Italy by the vast numbers of books of translated lyrics, implying a desperate desire to mine wisdom from the Doors or Depeche Mode. Good luck with that.

  28. 28
    koganbot on 12 Jan 2012 #

    I’ll say that hip-hop often hits me much harder as sound than a lot melodic pop does.

    Once I do get the lyrics to a song, those words can have massive importance to me, far more than equivalent words in a poem or novel.

    Mark S., I doubt that you actually believe that, when I was 17 and wrote The What Thing, I was paying too much attention to lyrics. One could argue that it might have been good for me, in some of my other writing at the time, to have paid better attention to the music, and learned to be more articulate about it. But, as the person who has paid perhaps the most attention to lyrics of anyone you know, I most certainly don’t think I should pay less attention to lyrics.

    (I think you inadvertently set up a zero-sum slice-of-the-cake either/or when you said “pay them far too much attention,” which led to a bit of misunderstanding.)

  29. 29
    swanstep on 13 Jan 2012 #

    Interesting thoughts from everyone here. My apologies for my last post coming out a little more combative than I intended. I do think that Brion’s distinction is a helpful one tho’, and like him I tend to calibrate with respect to the Gershwins, Berlin and all that crowd: my Songs you wish you’d written playlist embodies this perspective. Anyhow, back to the main topic, notwithstanding that the sonic impact of hip-hop can be incredible, I think that hip-hop’s lyrics are often better, and just more central to the experience than in melodic pop. The backing track to

    I got a letter from the government
    The other day
    I opened and read it
    It said they were suckers
    They wanted me for their army or whatever
    Picture me given’ a damn – I said never
    Here is a land that never gave a damn
    About a brother like me and myself
    Because they never did

    *kills*, but the words and the fast-shifting underlying attitudes do too. Listeners who have no English can get almost all of Off the Wall or Thriller, say, whereas they’re only going to get a fraction (1/2?) of PE or Missy E. or Kreayshawn. And my rough claim was that 2NE1 felt to me like they might be the same way (whereas the J-pop stars felt more down the will-travel-well, MJ end of things).

    Of course, after the fact translation can help quite a bit as Frank says and just-in-time subtitles for music videos would help even more (good business opportunity for someone?). And setting aside translation issues as such, notwithstanding my Gershwin/Berlin leanings, my own experience of popular music is often of being grabbed by the overall sound first. I’m thrilled though when the lyrics pan out later to something good (Fucked Up!) and disappointed when they don’t (Bon Iver! Thank god no one can understand a word he’s saying – it’s best that we all agree to treat it as in hopelandic/Sigur Ros-ese).

  30. 30
    Matt DC on 13 Jan 2012 #

    One of the things that various FT international pop tournaments have taught me is that you can actually appreciate whether a rapper is any good or not without understanding a single word, there’s enough to appreciate in just riding an MCs flow and enjoying the presence and the rhythms and the cadence. Same goes for great singing in a foreign language.

    Same goes for English actually. I’ve listened to Super Bass dozens of times this year and I’m buggered if I can tell you what it’s actually about. The meaning is of secondary importance, it’s all about the click and rush of the sound of the words.

  31. 31
    wichita lineman on 13 Jan 2012 #

    Re French pop. When I was obsessing over it in the 90s I met plenty of French people who said ‘ah but you will never really understand the wordplay’. Air were always keen to say the same when the likes of Beck were lauding Serge Gainsbourg. Only trouble, when the wordplay is easily understood – Baby Alone In Babylon (Gainsbourg), For Me Formidable (Aznavour), Merde In France (Dutronc) – it’s fucking dreadful.

  32. 32
    Erithian on 13 Jan 2012 #

    Or, around the time of “Let’s Dance”, “Beau oui comme Bowie” (Isabelle Adjani). I never heard it, for which I’m quite grateful.

  33. 33
    wichita lineman on 13 Jan 2012 #

    If you had heard it, you wouldn’t have got it.

  34. 34
    Erithian on 14 Jan 2012 #

    OK, now I’ve heard it… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw3EHd_ovjY&feature=related

  35. 35
    Tom on 11 Jan 2013 #

    With hindsight I liked that Nadia Oh record a bit too much. But who cares about hindsight!

  36. 36
    Richy on 2 Mar 2022 #

    I am starting to think Beyonce may actually be a new evolved species of superhuman.

  37. 37
    Joseph on 26 May 2022 #

    This will be viral soon https://www.springfieldgutterservices.com/

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