For the second year in a row, AUX’s team of holiday scientists have been quietly tallying good deeds and frowning at all the ugliness in the musical world. And because we inhabit a blissfully binary, good-bad-right-wrong moral sphere, we’ve seen fit to cast down our mighty judgement again to declare a Naughty and Nice list for 2011.
Looking for balance, we tried to keep our Lady Justice-like scale at an even keel, which, funnily enough, meant having to leave some of the year’s biggest events off the Nice list. Yes, 2011 was a shockingly good year for music and the music business, and not nearly enough evil to go around and keep things level.
First, there was a weird, mean little rap group with a long-ass name and a gravel-voiced leader who succeeded in being in the news pretty much every day for an entire year. Whether releasing minimal, left-field hip-hop or just jumping off of things that were high, Odd Future were, in many ways, the defining act of 2011. Sure, they made it easy to hate them, but they generated the kind of discussion and excitement that music needed after years of being this sad, dead thing we all felt sorry for.
Then there were the Canadians. The worldwide success of homegrown talents is a tired narrative, but holy shit, right? Fucked Up, a band born of Toronto’s venerable punk and hardcore community, was on an episode of No Reservations and the cover of SPIN for album of the year. Then twee, unknown Montreal folksters Arcade Fire won a damn Grammy, instead of Lady Gaga or Eminem, the internet blew up hilariously, and they became one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Yes, Canucks have gone out into the world many times, won accolades and lots of money, but this one-two-punch of success for two bands so into their own art and original sound was unprecedented.
Then all this other great stuff happened. Also all this stupid stuff.