2011 has the seen the continuing rise of some of the world’s biggest music stars (Rihanna and Adele), the decline of others (J Lo), the comeback of oldies (Steps) and the first tentative steps of newbies (Nicki Minaj and Lana del Rey). Here are some of our music-loving writers’ favourite artists, songs and albums from the past twelve months that they want to share with you, as well as some of their least favourites too…



Damien Ryan

Lady Gaga: Love her or loathe her, people just can't stop talking about her

Gaga was the biggest disappointment for me this year, as I noted in my review of the Born This Way album, while I love Jessica 6, the New York-based nu-disco band that emerged on the scene earlier this year.

Dominic Graham

This year Lady Gaga really did mutate into a monster, with the publicity machine behind the Born This Way redefining overdrive, and in late spring a single released what seemed like daily. But looking back, however much it felt like we were beginning to be fed a bit too much of her, Lady Gaga still retains the ability to surprise her fans (the ‘Marry The Night’ video, and performance on X Factor), and to make you believe she’s an artist who is actually in control of what she’s doing (unlike, say, Britney Spears). And that title track does remain an incredible song. As does ‘Judas’, ‘Edge of Glory’, (or my personal favourite off the album, ‘Americano’); really, what Lady Gaga did wrong was release an album with too little filler. I sometimes think we judge her by a harsher standard than we do our other popstars.

Rihanna is a music machine, churning out more hits in one year than some make in five

‘We Found Love’ by Rihanna, featuring Calvin Harris is my song of the year (and the video, set partly in my home city, is beautiful), but releasing ‘an album with too little filler’ is never a criticism you could level at Ri-Ri; Talk That Talk is nigh-unlistenable past track four. Never mind, she will undoubtedly make up for it with a couple of dozen collaborative singles in 2012.

Patrick Wolf: one of the most popular, openly gay artists around today.

Other favourites this year include The Kills – Blood Pressures, Patrick Wolf – Lupercalia, Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes, Metronomy – The English Riviera and CocknbullKid – Adulthood. Next year I am very much looking forward to some new Little Boots material – Shake is fantastic, and will be all over my Christmas Disco 2011 playlist.

In terms of least favourite, I don’t know why Jessie J ever happened…

Leo Kristoffersson

Biophilia by Bjork is my favourite album of 2011 because it has all the elements you would expect from the Icelandic star. Reminiscent in places of her previous albums, Biophilia draws you in with its unique instrumentation and its linking of music with nature.

Matt Buttell

My favourite songs this year were ‘Super Bass’ by Nicki Minaj, ‘Collide’ by Leona Lewis and ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ by Robyn.

This year Nicki Minaj secured herself as one of the world's leading ladies in hip-hop music.

‘Super Bass’ had the summer’s catchiest bassline and brought Sophia Grace Brownlee to the masses, while Leona Lewis’ summer song was grossly underrated and underplayed. Listen to it again and you can tell her voice is sounding better than ever – much better than when she’s bastardizing Snow Patrol anyway. It’s like ‘Bleeding Love’ all over again, only already remixed for perfect danceability.

Robyn’s ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ is easily one of the best songs of the year. It always baffles me why Robyn isn’t as mainstream as, say, Gaga. Her look and music are just as captivating, without being trite. The video was shot in one take, another testament to the passion, power and drive behind her music.

Young Tan

'Moves Like Jagger' was one of the biggest-selling and catchiest hits of the year.

I’m not the biggest fan of most current music out at the moment – I’m more of an old soul, preferring old-school music from the jazz and soul eras of decades gone by. However, when artists of today tap into that vibe and release music reminiscent of such times, I love it. Adele took the worldwide charts by storm this year with 21 (and even her debut 19, has done well for itself) – a collection of predominantly melancholy, soulful songs about heartbreak and ‘Someone Like You’, simple yet beautiful is definitely one of my songs of the year.

Beverley Knight also released her seventh album, Soul UK, which is also one of my favourite albums of the year. I also loved Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera’s smash hit, ‘Moves Like Jagger’, which is a different musical direction for both these artists and certainly put them back on the radar since they last made such a big impact. I am also becoming quite a fan of Emeli Sandé after hearing the gorgeousHeaven’.

In terms of least favourite music, I have never been the wildest fans of Lady Gaga, Nicola Roberts, Rihanna, Ed Sheeran or Example – but none grate on my nerves and ears more so than the simply awful Cher Lloyd!