In 2011, we saw new acts break through to the big time and formerly new ones continue on their paths toward superstardom. We welcomed the likes of the Weeknd and Frank Ocean to the party and watched with pride as Drake and Adele marched on to greatness.
But of all the year's brand-new stars, few broke out to the degree that L.A. rock trio Foster the People did, thanks in no small part to the success of their smash hit "Pumped Up Kicks," #7 on MTV's Best Songs of 2011. Of all the returning stars, none returned with the power and grace of Florence and the Machine, who wowed critics and fans with their sophomore album, Ceremonials, and stirring single "Shake It Out."
So, as MTV looks back on 2011, we're reaching out to a host of acts — who not only dominated the past 12 months, but also came to define them — to get their take on the year in music. And who better to ask than Foster and Florence, two artists who did both ... and then some?
We spoke to both bands about their favorite songs, albums and artists of 2011, and the rather diverse range of answers sort of sums up the year rather nicely. After all, outside of Adele, was there anything we could all agree on?
"I'd say probably my favorite album of the year is Bon Iver's new album, and I hope he sweeps the Grammys, because the guy's just killing it right now," Foster's Cubbie Fink said.
"We're competing with him!" frontman Mark Foster laughed.
"And I hope he wins!" Fink said. "I've listened to that album on repeat all year. It's really amazing."
As far as their favorite artist? Well, Iver ranks pretty high, but of all the acts they listened to this year, none resonated with Foster the People quite like Swedish electro act Little Dragon.
"They've been a favorite band of mine for a while, and we've got to play with them a couple times this year and see them live in a bunch of different settings," Foster's Mark Pontius said. "I'm always just so inspired by them live, and the new record that came out this year [Ritual Union] is pretty fantastic as well."
Florence Welch was inspired this year by the magnificent murk of Canadian R&B producer/singer Abel Tesfaye, better known as the Weeknd.
"My favorite song of the year was the Weeknd, 'High for This,' " she said. "That was this year, [right]? I've been obsessively listening to that song for the past few days on repeat. I must've listened to it about 700 times."
Of course, when it comes to her favorite artists of 2011, Welch kept things close to home, choosing a pair of British bands — one of which didn't even release an album this year.
"I'm really into this English band called the Alpines; I think they're really good," she said. "And I've just heard some of the Maccabees' new stuff, and I'm so excited about their new record coming out, because from the first song I've heard, it just sounds amazing. I'm such a big fan of theirs, so I'm really looking forward to that."