From Coldplay to the Black Keys: Top 11 Alternative Rock Songs of 2011


From Blink-182 to Foster the People, 2011 brought plenty of alternative rock hits

Out of rock ‘n’ roll’s numerous genres and sub-genres, alternative rock is the most daring. With its experimental nature and willingness to try pretty much anything, alternative rock has always carried the torch for the newest bands to get their voices heard. This past year brought everything from new tracks performed by classic alternative bands (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blink-182) to fresh faces making new alternative addictions (Foster the People, Young the Giant). In honor of all things alternative, the staff of Audio Ink Radio has compiled the Top 11 Alternative Rock Songs of 2011. Voice your picks in the comments section!

11. The Dirty Heads, “Lay Me Down”

Last year brought a resurgence of the laid-back, reggae-inspired, surfer brand of alternative rock that Sublime and 311 popularized in the ‘90s. The Dirty Heads certainly had something to do with that revival. The band‘s ditty “Lay Me Down” brought a mellow, carefree vibe and definite reggae flavor to alternative rock airwaves and became the summer jam.

10. Blink-182, “After Midnight”

Punk-pop trio Blink-182 reunited a few years back, but it took until 2011 to get a proper release of all original music from them. With 2011’s “Neighborhoods,” fans got just that, plus a catchy, party-happy punk nugget called, “After Midnight,” which brings together the best of Blink-182, then and now.

9. Young the Giant, “My Body”

Young the Giant’s, “My Body,” is a sing-along, rollicking alternative rock anthem, and while the song was popular from the get-go, it really got attention when the guys performed it live on the MTV Video Music Awards in 2011. Young the Giant recognize how to write a song that’s poppy without being over-the-top cheesy, and it shows on, “My Body.”

8. Cake, “Sick of You”

Alternative rock band Cake celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with the release of the band’s sixth studio album, “Showroom of Compassion.” The self-produced album immediately scored the guys an alternative radio hit in the catchy, “Sick of You.” The track recalls Cake’s best hits — such as “The Distance” and “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” — while still sounding fresh and contemporary.

7. Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”

If any one band took over alternative music in 2011, it was Foster the People. Coming out of seemingly nowhere (they’re out of Los Angeles, for the record), Mark Foster and his crew garnered heaps of attention with their crossover hit, “Pumped up Kicks.” While the song, musically, is catchy and fun, lyrically, it’s about a kid suffering trauma from bullying, and the daydreams he has of stopping the pain. Foster describes the inspiration behind the song, here.

6. Coldplay, “Paradise”

It doesn’t get much bigger than Coldplay in the world of alternative sounds, and the band’s latest full-length, “Mylo Xyloto,” is hardly an exception. The album shot to the top of the Billboard 200 chart without a ton of promotion, and the album’s first single, “Paradise” — a mellow, wistful nugget of a track — scored the overseas guys yet another No. 1 hit.

5. Switchfoot, “Dark Horses”

Christian rockers Switchfoot have churned out pop-flavored, introspective alternative tracks for over a decade. While a lot has changed since the band’s breakout hit, “Meant to Live,” first hit fans’ ears, one thing hasn’t: Switchfoot’s ability to make a fun rock song while also getting across a serious message. “Dark Horses” is an anthem about anyone who feels like a “dark horse” in life, and brings hope to listeners’ ears.

4. The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”

The Black Keys are one of the few alternative rock bands who can still pull off that lo-fi, D.I.Y. sound in the studio while sounding exciting enough to keep the interest of modern rock fans. With the release of the band’s latest single, “Lonely Boy,” off, “El Camino,” Keys fever was at an all-time high, and the duo delivered, with an all too catchy, upbeat indie nugget that shot to No. 1 on the alternative chart in no time.

. Bush, “The Sound of Winter”

With “The Sound of Winter,“ Gavin Rossdale and his comrades in Bush scored their first-ever No. 1 modern rock hit. (Yes, while it’s hard to believe that the band’s ‘90s hits such as “Glycerine” and “Machinehead” never went to No. 1, it’s true.) To see a band come back to rule the charts nearly twenty years later is inspiring and says a lot about Bush’s resilience and commitment to their music, and for that, “The Sound of Winter” has to be high on this list!

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”

News of the Red Hot Chili Peppers plans to release a new album in 2011 spread quickly, and even without longtime guitarist John Frusciante in the group, fans were giddy at the prospect. With new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer on board, the Peppers crafted what became their longest-running No. 1 alternative rock hit, “The Adventures of Ran Dance Maggie,” making their latest album, “I’m With You,” a set that will go down in rock ‘n’ roll history.

1. Foo Fighters, “These Days”

Dave Grohl and his post-grunge rock band Foo Fighters have already seen several hits off their 2011 full-length, “Wasting Light,” including “Rope,” “Walk” and, most recently, “These Days.” With the latter, Foo Fighters have not only matured in their sound, but they’ve also hit the core of why their music works, and it makes for what is possibly the best song off, Wasting Light. The lyrics get you in the gut: “Easy for you to say / Your heart has never been broken / Your pride has never been stolen / Not yet not yet!” Again, Foo Fighters have churned out a song that brings melody and musings together in one historic song. (Foo Fighters photo credit: Steve Gullick.)