Music Features

No Ripcord's Guide to 2011

Though we're yet to do it, can you imagine what a No Ripcord writers Christmas party would be like? It'd probably consist of three dozen or so people having furious arguments about what music should be played before alcohol thaws our collective opinionated ways and our true festive spirit shines through. And what would we talk about? Well, the best and worst of the previous year of course! In the absence of such an event, here's the next best thing - we've rounded up a motley crew (not actually Mötley Crüe, more's the pity) of writers and refused to leave them alone until they revealed what they thought about the period of time that critics worldwide are calling, "2011".
David Coleman (Editor-in-Chief)
Album of the Year: tUnE-yArDs - "W H O K I L L"
Track of the Year: Apologies for being boring, but it's Bizness from the above record for me.
Villain of the Year: Rihanna. I couldn't be less interested in her if I tried.
Surprise of the Year: Kurt Vile. I expected to hate his album [Smoke Ring For My Halo]; ended up loving it.
Disappointment of the Year: Fleet Foxes' second record was good-not-great, but no real evidence of any progression. Also, Radiohead - I genuinely believe that The King Of Limbs was their least interesting album since Pablo Honey.
Film of the Year: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest
TV show of the Year: Modern Family
Live performance of the Year: Not a great deal of competition in this category for me. The Horrors at Leeds Met Uni is about the only decent gig I can remember.
Musical moment of the Year: The unexpected release of Radiohead's The King of Limbs. By far the most interesting thing about the record, unfortunately, but it was another "event release" for the band.
Music predictions for 2012: Rihanna to release another three albums, which will all consist of her warbling sexual innuendoes over bland, dance-tinged backing tracks. A New Romantic revival. The Stone Roses reunion shows to be a crushing disappointment. Andrew Baer to become a hate figure on Owl City fan sites. Oh hang on, that last one was 2011.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Middling
Juan Edgardo Rodriguez (Managing Editor)
Album of the Year: PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake"
Track of the Year: The Field's Arpeggiated Love, followed by James Blake's Wilhelm Scream and Real Estate's Municipality.
Hero of the Year: It was an incredible year for women in rock n' roll. They're all my heroes. 
Villain of the Year: John Maus, for writing one of the most tepid, mediocre albums in recent memory [We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves] and actually getting praise for it (and his humdrum philosophical musings). Cults as well, because I know it'll make our top 50 when it shouldn't even make a list of 200. Oh, and the duo Tennis made me feel poor with their precious story about being in love while taking the high seas in a boat...and writing an album about it.
Surprise of the Year: A.A. Bondy shed his Dylan personification; Believers is actually quite great. Crystal Stilts became my new favorite friends after making some of the year's most irresistible fuzzy psychedelic pop. Cass McCombs wrote not one but two very accomplished albums. And can someone explain to me why Cerebral Ballzy are so huge in the UK? And I am not ashamed to say this, but succumbing to like a bona-fide hipster album like Dirty Beaches' Badlands so much.
Disappointment of the Year: St. Vincent, but that's because my expectations were astronomical. Same goes for Atlas Sound - he usually releases incredible leftover material, but this [Parallax] just feels like leftovers; there comes a time when being so prolific will eventually bite you in the ass. Oh, and Six Organs of Admittance goes ignored...again; I'd buy him a lollipop if I bump into him.
Film of the Year: It's too early to deem a winner (now's when it starts to get interesting), but my current front-runner is The Kid With A Bike, closely followed by The Tree Of Life, The Descendants and Take Shelter
TV show of the Year: I didn't see anything remarkable, I'm afraid. Community never disappoints, though. It would've probably been Mad Men had there been a season this year.
Live performance of the Year: Guided by Voices were middle-aged depraved badasses, blowing all the youngsters I saw at FYF this year out of the water.
Musical moment of the Year: While Julianna Barwick had me in a pleasurable trance midway through one of her songs, she accidentally hit stop on her micro loop monitor. Discovering the dawn of the new Iceage.
Music predictions for 2012: The new Lana del Rey will equally astound and frustrate. Judging by my lads' enthusiasm, the xx will be the second best Album of the Year - and I still won't be impressed - followed by Animal Collective (if they construct a sound collage purely based on sneezing and armpit farts, it'll still be deemed a classic.)
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Stolid.
Joe Rivers (Features Editor)
Album of the Year: James Blake
Track of the Year: Everything Metronomy released from The English Riviera LP was great, but the correct answer here is the only track thus far to receive 10/10 on the No Ripcord Singles Bar - Countdown by Beyoncé.
Hero of the Year: It's a tie between Mario Balotelli and Nicola Roberts
Villain of the Year: Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks, Ed Sheeran - take your pick.
Surprise of the Year: The fact that anything I write on this site gets read at all is a constant source of astonishment.
Disappointment of the Year: I really wanted Lady Gaga's Born This Way to be great, but it has to be Radiohead really, doesn't it?
Film of the Year: George Harrison - Living In The Material World
TV show of the Year: I've been entertained by Frozen Planet and the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be Fresh Meat in 2011. Neither of them are Only Connect though, which wins.
Live performance of the Year: I saw Laura Marling perform in front of less than one hundred people at Maida Vale studios. It was spine-tinglingly good.
Musical moment of the Year: The moment I saw Suede walk out at Latitude was pretty incredible. I also had a half hour phone conversation with Rebecca Taylor of Slow Club. Go me.
Music predictions of 2012: Big things for Azealia Banks, King Krule and StooShe. Second albums by The xx and Little Boots to be amazing. Finally, Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan to be frequently referenced by upcoming artists as important influences.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Trousers
Sean Caldwell (Music Editor)
Album of the Year: Boris - "Attention Please"
Track of the Year: Hope by Boris
Hero of the Year: Tom Waits
Villain of the Year: Lou Reed & Metallica
Surprise of the Year: Mastodon's The Hunter
Disappointment of the Year: Radiohead's The King of Limbs
Film of the Year: Super 8 (it made my inner Spielberg-addled child joyful)
TV show of the Year: Boardwalk Empire
Live performance of the Year: J Mascis at the World Café, Philadelphia, PA
Musical moment of the Year: Probably the biggest music moment of the year was the death of Amy Winehouse. Otherwise, I couldn't give a fuck about Beyoncé’s baby bump or Justin Bieber’s paternity suit, which was likely doctored just so Bieber could claim the ownership of properly functioning male genitals.
Music predictions for 2012:
a. The CD format will continue to thrive thanks to reissues; record labels move to reissue all of 2011’s releases and hope people won’t notice.
b. The Arcade Fire will be inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Kiss is snubbed again; Gene Simmons trademarks their twelfth loss.
c. Rock N’ Roll will be largely ignored; adult contemporary will continue to prosper.
d. Meg White will collaborate with Rebecca Black on a project called Whack. Jack White will be jealous he didn’t think of it first.
e. Lou Reed won’t take a hint and just stop.
f. Post-rock will sound like post-rock.
g. It will be admitted that Korn really did invent dubstep; the public will wise up and move on to some other trend.
h. Tyler, The Creator will find God and change his name to Preacher, For The Creator.
i. Kim Gordon won’t have to change her name back to “Gordon” once the divorce goes through; Thurston Moore and Gordon symbolically issue a split 7.”
j. A new online music resource will get sued.
k. Another online music resource will get sued.
l. Another online music resource will get sued.
m. The proprietor of an online music resource will realize it’s cheaper to open a record store than have to deal with being sued.
n. Other proprietors of said sites will follow suit; a resurgence of independent record stores ensues.
o. Economic boom occurs; vinyl sales save the U.S. economy.
p. American public winds up too happy to appreciate Thom Yorke anymore.
q. Yorke quits Radiohead and tries acting.
r. Fugazi calls off its “indefinite hiatus” and charges $5.50 for reunion tour. Fans feel price gouged.
s. American public finds out that Kanye West is actually CGI. Scandal becomes known as “Westgate.” George Lucas is held for questioning.
t. All of the Grammies go to Auto-tune and Bon Iver.
u. All of the MTV Video Music Awards go to Auto-Tune and about a dozen topless dancers.
v. All of the Kids' Choice Awards go to Katy Perry; millions of Dads tune in; ratings outdo Super Bowl.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Over.
Mark Davison (Staff Writer)
Album of the Year: To be honest I'm a bit surprised that "Metals" is my album of the year too (well, it would be a surprise if I hadn't already given it a 10/10 review). While 2011 offered up a fair few exciting, potentially groundbreaking records, none of them were quite so fully formed as Feist's follow up to The Reminder. It's the only record I can think of this year where I wouldn't change a single thing.
Track of the Year: Nicola Roberts - Beat of my Drum. At first I was convinced it was a novelty record, but it got better on subsequent listens (and, amazingly, still continues to do so).
Hero of the Year: Aidan Moffat for his amazing Twitter feed, or Diplo for being spectacularly lazy and recycling his old stuff, yet still coming up with two of the year's best songs as a result.
Villain of the Year: The British record buying public for ignoring some of the most ingenious pop records of the year (and Chris Brown, for being Chris Brown).
Surprise of the Year: Probably the Nicola Roberts album [Cinderella's Eyes]. Who knew she had it in her?
Disappointment of the Year: Possibly the Zomby album [Dedication]. Possibly the David Lynch one [Crazy Clown Time]. Possibly that, after a fair amount of hype in 2010, witch-house died an absolute death (that Balam Acab album [Wander/Wonder] was also pretty disappointing while I'm on the subject).
Film of the Year: Drive - as a brutal deconstruction of the action genre it managed to both have its cake, and (by being a genuinely emotional, thrilling experience in its own right) eat it too.
TV Show of the Year: This is Jinsy - such delight in language in comedy hasn't been seen since the days of Spike Milligan, the handbuilt sets were adorable, and the songs were amazing (if they'd released an album it would have been in my top 15 albums of the year for sure). It's everything The Mighty Boosh should have been but never was. Shame that it's been tucked away on Sky Atlantic so that barely anybody gets to see it (actually, the same applies for the second best TV show of the year - Game of Thrones).
Live Performance of the YearSufjan Stevens at the Royal Festival Hall - an energetic, exhausting and ridiculous two and half hours, that was worth the five year wait. 
Musical Moment of the Year: The typically playful announcement on Twitter of Pulp's reunion.
Music Predictions for 2012: Having spent the last few weeks buried in Skyrim on the PlayStation, I'm really hoping that somebody has the idea to combine Wagnerian orchestrations with dubstep/hip-hop. It's a bit of a long shot though. Realistically, instead, I expect that we'll see a rise in well-meaning but uninformed protest songs from middle class kids with guitars, and that there'll probably be a bit of a backlash to greet the release of The xx's second album, just because.
Sum up 2011 in Music in just one word: Estrogenic
Joe Iliff (Staff Writer)
Album of the Year: Shabazz Palaces - "Black Up"
Track of the Year: Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
Hero of the Year: Jay-Z and Kanye West
Villain of the Year: Col. Muammar Gaddafi or Bruno Mars
Surprise of the Year: Osama Bin Laden being found
Disappointment of the Year: Miles Kane
Film of the Year: The King's Speech
TV show of the Year: Game Of Thrones
Live performance of the Year: Pulp at Wireless festival
Musical moment of the Year: PJ Harvey's second Mercury Music Prize
Music predictions for 2012: Rihanna or David Guetta to be involved in every Top Ten single which contains any number, letter or symbol in its title
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Better
Angel Aguilar
Album of The Year: PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake"
Track of the Year: Fountains of Wayne - Richie and Ruben
Hero of The Year: P.J. Harvey; I know no braver artist.
Villain of the Year: Lady Gaga, for hijacking the airwaves
Surprise of The Year: A new Strokes album
Disappointment of The Year: R.E.M. quitting
Film of The Year: The Tree of Life
TV Show of The Year: True Blood
Live Performance of the Year: N/A (This tight little island I live in could use some rock ‘n roll)
Musical Moment of The Year: The sad death of Amy Winehouse,
Music Predictions for 2012: The unrest we see daily in the streets will inform the best music.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Lacklustre
Andrew Baer
Album Of The Year: Nicolas Jaar - "Space Is Only Noise". It’s a record like no other, one that seamlessly meshes samples and live instrumentation, one with almost no lyrics but surprising emotional depth. It's often the little things that stand out, like how the claps decay at different rates at different times in Keep Me There, or the chopped guitars in Specters of the Future. The whole record fits seamlessly together, jumping from one trickling, unidentified sound to another. It's full of mystery, but nothing this year managed to sound so familiar.
Track of the Year: Destroyer’s Kaputt is Dan Bejar at his surreal best, with brilliant songwriting throughout. The title track is a shining example, an easy, quick listen, a strange song wrapped in a perfectly simple melody. His off key singing fits the moment perfectly, and it just makes sense that he’d be chasing cocaine through the back rooms of the world. Alright.
Hero of the Year: Julian Assange. The cables didn’t hold all that much great information, but it’s the thought that counts. It pissed off the US government and showed Obama to be an accountability hypocrite, someone who talks a lot but doesn’t back it up. He’s sparking a rising interest in holding them accountable.
Villain of the Year: Penn State. This is easier than the hero, because I spent most of my time hating stuff. My girlfriend and I came up with at least ten villains and only about three heroes. I was going to list Marcus Mumford because I’m sick and tired of hearing how fucking great his music is when it’s terrible, but he wasn’t involved in child rape. In the end, that’s a whole lot worse than making overrated music. 
Surprise of the Year: Low has released a string of mediocre records, but C’Mon was pretty solid. It was a highly enjoyable return to form, and did it without sounding like a rehash.
Disappointment of the Year: Micachu and the Shapes' Chopped and Screwed. I loved Micachu’s debut record, and this was a big drop in quality. I had high hopes for the orchestral collaborations, but it just didn’t work out.
Film of the Year: Cowboys and Aliens. I didn’t see many movies this year, but most things with Harrison Ford are the shit. At one point, he was Han Solo. And Indiana Jones.
TV Show of the Year: Parks and Recreation went from having a pretty bad first season with a great cast, to having a solid second season into an absolutely stellar third. Every character hit their stride, and the TV comedy with the most potential finally started to reach it.
Live Performance of the Year: Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Showbox Sodo, Seattle, Washington. I saw them in late February, on a dark, rainy night. The perfect setting for a fantastic show. They used almost no lights, no features beyond the incredible music. They just played, and did so perfectly.
Musical moment of the Year: James Blake making fun of brostep. It’s a genre I hear a lot of and only enjoy at parties, and I’m sick of hearing about Skrillex. James Blake took it down a peg or two.
Musical predictions for 2012: I think chillwave will continue to be diluted to the point of dying out, and I can’t say I mind. It sounds like the genre has run its course. R&B tinted electronic music will continue its rise, and more artists like James Blake, Jamie Woon and The Weeknd will appear. Dance-infused dubstep will continue its rise in the mainstream. Music will continue its transition, and new artists will keep rising. In 2011 the old guard let us all down, with artists like TV On The Radio, Radiohead, and Panda Bear put out albums that were solid but not nearly as good as we wanted.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Transitional
Pierce Brown
Album of the Year: Deerhoof - "Deerhoof vs. Evil"
Track of the Year: Cave - W U J
Hero of the Year: Robert Pollard for releasing another 12 albums of original material with 12 different side projects as well as reforming the legendary GbV and announcing a new record.
Villain of the Year: Any untalented blow-in getting their mug on telly via a two-bit talent quest.
Surprise of the Year: Lou Reed and Metallica's Lulu. Unfortunately not a pleasant one.
Disappointment of the Year: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Film of the Year: 127 Hours
TV show of the Year: Anthony Bourdain No Reservations
Live performance of the Year: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in Melbourne
Musical moment of the Year: Evolution Festival with Iggy and the Stooges headlining
Music predictions for 2012: Unpredictable
Sum up 2011 in music in just one wordBeardy
Forrest Cardamenis
Album of the Year: PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake"
Track of the Year: Wilco - One Sunday Morning
Hero of the Year: Arcade Fire (for winning the Grammy)
Villain of the Year: Lou Reed and Metallica
Surprise of the Year: Wilco's The Whole Love
Disappointment of the Year: Radiohead's The King of Limbs
Film of the Year: The Tree of Life
TV show of the Year: Boardwalk Empire
Live performance of the Year: Fucked Up and Titus Andronicus at Le Poisson Rouge
Musical moment of the Year: The sudden announcement of a new Radiohead album due out within a week.
Music predictions for 2012: Arcade Fire cranks out another masterpiece just in time for Christmas.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Women
Lukas Clark-Memler
Album of the Year: Bon Iver
Track of the Year: Bon IverHolocene
Hero of the Year: Ryan Gosling
Villain of the Year: Herman Cain
Surprise of the Year: Lana Del Rey
Disappointment of the Year: iPhone 4S
Film of the Year: Drive
TV show of the Year: Boardwalk Empire
Live performance of the Year: Bon Iver on Jimmy Fallon
Musical moment of the Year: Tyler, The Creator receives MTV’s “Best New Artist” VMA
Music predictions for 2012: Rolling. Stones. Back. On. Tour.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Nostalgia
Andrew Davison
Album of the Year: Hey Rosetta! - "Seeds"
Track of the Year: Hey Rosetta! - Yer Spring
Hero of the Year: CBC Radio 3, the quality of the music coming out of Canada is amazing. Probably still compensating for breeding Nickelback.
Villain of the Year: Music's perennial antagonist - mediocrity
Surprise of the Year: That the Weeknd's self-released, download-only mixtape, House of Balloons, would attract so much attention.
Disappointment of the Year: [Lupe Fiasco's] Lasers was not as good as it should have been.
Film of the Year: Midnight in Paris; Hemingway is priceless.
TV show of the Year: Parks and Recreation. This often overlooked series is really coming into its own and begs to be watched.
Musical moment of the Year: Arcade Fire's Grammy; I guess that was kind of a big deal.
Music predictions for 2012: Nothing earth-shattering
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Internet
Joe Gastineau
Album of the Year: Tennis - "Cape Dory"; an eccentric, joyous, freewheeling nautical surf pop adventure. Charming and brilliant.
Track of the Year: Elbow - Lippy Kids; grandiose and intimate at the same time. Not quite sure how they manage it.
Hero of the Year: Tinie Tempah. I don't know much about Mr. Tempah, but, "I've been to Southampton, but I've never been to Scunthorpe", is poetry in motion.
Villain of the Year: People who watch X Factor 'ironically'. Yes, you all beat Gadaffi by a country mile.
Surprise of the Year: The Stone Roses reunion.
Disappointment of the Year: The Stone Roses reunion.
Film of the Year: The Artist; breathtaking, brilliant silent film about silent films. Beautiful, funny and affectionate.
TV show of the Year: Parks and Recreation. Took a series or two to find its feet, but my oh my has it found them.
Live performance of the Year: Beirut at End of the Road Festival. Uke couldn't wish for a better gig.
Musical moment of the Year: Watching two 10 year old kids playing a cover of Teenage Kicks to a crowd of 15 people on the Living Room stage at EOTR '11.
Music predictions for 2012: I predict a New Jack Swing revival. It's about fucking time.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Tight
Andrew Hirst
Album of the Year: The Mountain Goats – "All Eternals Deck". Every time John Darnielle releases an album it is immediately better than everything else released that year.
Track of the Year: The National – "Exile Vilify". Stunningly beautiful and heartbreaking.
Hero of the Year: John Darnielle, for continuing to be amazing.
Villain of the Year: George Osborne, the man ultimately responsible for the steady slew of horrendously unfair cuts.
Surprise of the Year: The return of Jeff Mangum. Think he surprised everyone there.
Disappointment of the Year: The King of Limbs – an astonishingly mediocre album from an otherwise incredible band.
Film of the Year: I only saw two films this year (well, two films released in 2011), and the best was Contagion.
TV show of the Year: Breaking Bad – possibly the best thing on TV in many, many years.
Live performance of the YearSufjan Stevens, Manchester Apollo, 19/05/2011 – to be honest, I could probably have picked any show from this tour, but this is the one I happened to go to. Superbly tight and well-rehearsed band, incredibly intense and moving visuals visuals and a fantastic setlist.
Musical moment of the Year: The live version of Impossible Soul by Sufjan Stevens. An utterly insane spectacle that somehow worked perfectly.
Music predictions for 2012Django Django will release an album and make it (sort of) big. Sheffield’s Screaming Maldini are releasing their debut album next year on Johnny Foreigner’s label and it should be pretty brilliant. I think it may make some waves, as it were.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one wordUnderwhelming
David Hogg
Album of the Year: Handsome Furs - "Sound Kapital"
Track of the Year: Bon Iver - Perth
Hero of the Year: Feist
Villain of the Year: Tyler, the Creator
Surprise of the Year: R.E.M. calling it quits
Disappointment of the Year: I can't decide between Mylo Xyloto or Codes & Keys.  
Film of the Year: A Dangerous Method
Live performance of the Year: Cut Copy
Musical moment of the Year: Arcade Fire winning the Grammy for Best Album
Music predictions for 2012: I'm hoping for a lot less Skrillex.
Sum up 2011 in music in one word: Underwhelming
Michael Iovino
Album of the Year: A tough choice right now. (Am I the only one that really gets to know the year AFTER it's gone and everything can be listened to easier?). Personally I'm going to go with Teebs' "Collections 01", an album helping me go through some grief at the moment. My go to in the back of my head is Gang Gang Dance but in my gut, in my soul, I like the Teebs record, for many, many personal reasons. I know it's an unorthodox choice, but hey.
Track of the Year: Burial - Stolen Dog
Hero of the Year: My father
Villain of the Year: James Blake. And Skrillex. People making bad electronic music and playing it to massive audiences and spreading bad spirits.
Surprise of the Year: Tri-Angle Records.
Disappointment of the Year: The new Radiohead, mostly because I thought they had rested their brains enough to pull off another Kid A, but instead... I also wish that Burial would get more recognition for Street Halo; they're top notch tunes!
Live Performance of the Year: I only went to one show the whole year: Sun Araw at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Was super baked. They didn't play well.
Musical Moment of the Year: Listening to Adult Goth for the first time during the summer.
Music predictions for 2012: I expect 2012 to get more and more beat oriented, much more chillax (if I may use that word). I'm hoping for more mystical beats, kinda like mixing Indian music with dubstep à la Flying Lotus. Hoping for that kind of music.
Sum up 2011 in music in one word: Devotional
Ben Jones
Album of the Year: Fleet Foxes - "Helplessness Blues"
Track of the Year: Bon Iver - Perth
Hero of the Year: Steve Jobs
Villain of the Year: Conrad Murray
Surprise of the Year: Mumford and Sons nominated for the Record of the Year Grammy
Disappointment of the Year: Amy Winehouse’s death
Film of the Year: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2
Live Performance of the Year: Rebecca Black performing Friday live acoustic on ABC
Musical moment of the Year: When word leaked that Justin Bieber may be a baby daddy
Musical predictions for 2012: Sigur Rós, Flying Lotus and The xx all to wind up on Best of 2012 lists.
Sum up 2011 in music in one word: Underwhelming
Luredo Marbery
Album of Year: Jay-Z & Kanye West - "Watch the Throne"
Track of the Year: Adele - Rolling in the Deep
Hero of the Year: The Black Keys
Villain of the Year: Grammy voters for not nominating Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy for Album of the Year
Surprise of the Year: Jack White producing an Insane Clown Posse track (this can also be categorized under the Disappointment of the Year label)
Disappointment of the Year: The White Stripes’ break-up
Film of the Year: Drive
TV Show of the Year: Breaking Bad
Live performance of the Year: My Body by Young the Giant at the 2011 MTV VMAs
Musical moment of the Year: Rage Against the Machine at L.A. Rising 2011
Musical predictions for 2012: Nickelback will continue being awful.
Sum up 2011 in music just one word: Anotheryearfullofbothdisappointmentandsuccessbutessentiallyjustananticipationbuilderfor2012
Gary McGinley
Album of the Year: Katy B - "On A Mission"
Track of the Year: Jamie Woon - Night Air
Hero of the Year: Katy B
Villain of the Year: Jessie J
Surprise of the Year: The Katy B album
Disappointment of the Year: Björk's Biophilia live show
Film of the Year: Wuthering Heights
TV show of the Year: Frozen Planet
Live performance of the Year: The finale of Kylie's Aphrodite: Les Folies
Musical moment of the Year: The loss of Amy Winehouse
Music predictions for 2012: More success for Lana Del Rey
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Mixed
Ryan Pratt
Album of the Year: Junior Boys - "It's All True". No grand statement; just a pitch-perfect return to form. Easily the most fun I had between my headphones all year.
Track of the Year: The Weather Station - Came So Easy. (First song to make me tear up in years.)
Hero of the Year: Ghostly International. Their merging of electronica into post-classical (on the compilation SMM: Context) guided my year in music-listening.
Villain of the Year: I won't indulge my knee-jerk reaction, which would have me calling out Kanye West. Honestly, "villains" in music merely represent differences in taste. So instead I'll call out the jackasses who robbed over $24,000 worth of gear from Mogwai.
Surprise of the Year: Besides Jesu owning the #2 spot on my Top Albums list? Independent rock going soft-rock.
Disappointment of the Year: That Boards Of Canada haven't updated their website since the summer of 2006. Seriously.
Live Performance of the Year: I'd say Radiohead's Live From the Basement taping. And I haven't even seen it, but the audio of that show is more than enough proof for me. Also, it seems to have helped a lot of eye-rolling King Of Limbs pundits see the light.
Musical Moment of the Year: Again, I have to give Radiohead their due. As they had done with In Rainbows, their lead-up to The King Of Limbs had everybody watching their inboxes and waiting to experience new music in a communal way. Whether the record itself lived up to that hype or not doesn't negate the old school power of exploring an anticipated piece of music en masse. 
Music Predictions For 2012: Orcas = Benoît Pioulard & Rafael Anton Irisarri + Morr Music. I don't see how this can possibly disappoint. Also, I'd love to see one of Aphex Twin's reported six albums see release.
Sum Up 2011 In Music In Just One Word: Saturated
Joel Stanier
Album of the Year: Kurt Vile - "Smoke Ring For My Halo"
Track of the Year: Radiohead - Give Up The Ghost. I was slightly disappointed by the album as a whole, but this is one of the best things they've ever done.
Hero of the Year: Tough one to answer, but I'll say Kate Bush. To come out with her first new album in 18 years and to do it so well is a great achievement.
Villain of the Year: Bruno Mars. I do not advocate eugenics, but if our overlords said it was absolutely necessary for the good of humankind, I'd take their word for it and volunteer him and his fans.
Surprise of the Year: Latitude Festival's lineup looked like one of the worst (on paper) I've seen in the four years I've been going, but turned out to be my favourite so far.
Disappointment of the Year: The Decemberists. They're by far my favourite band, but The King Is Dead lost pretty much all of the playful inventiveness that made them great. It worked for them commercially, though.
Film of the Year: I'm rubbish with films - don't think I even visited a cinema this year! I finally watched Blade Runner though - can I say that?
TV show of the Year: Curb Your Enthusiasm was pretty, pretty, pretty good... as ever.
Live performance of the Year: I was seriously impressed by Caribou at Latitude Festival this year.
Musical moment of the Year: The bit in The A Team by Ed Sheeran where he describes someone's face as "crumbling like pastries". He is trolling us all with similes like that.
Music predictions for 2012: I've noticed electronic music has been making more and more of an impact over the last few years, so I'd expect to see more of that. I'm particularly looking forward to the new Flying Lotus record.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Nice
Craig Stevens
Album of the Year: Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx - "We're New Here"
Track of the Year: Azealia Banks - 212
Hero of the Year: Beyoncé
Villain of the Year: Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and David Guetta
Surprise of the Year: Adele's world domination
Disappointment of the Year: SBTRKT's live performance
Film of the Year: Drive
TV show of the Year: Breaking Bad
Live performance of the Year: Muse at Reading Festival
Musical moment of the Year: Hearing Azealia Banks' 212 for the first time
Music predictions for 2012: Azealia Banks, Charli xCx, Clock Opera, Polarsets
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Unremarkable
Gabriel Szatan
Album of the Year: The Smith Westerns - "Dye It Blonde"
Track of the Year: Boddika & Joy O - Swims [unreleased]
Hero of the Year: Tyler, the Creator (purely for the comedy value, he is a total dick)
Villain of the Year: Skrillex
Surprise of the Year: New Radiohead album!!!!
Disappointment of the Year: New Radiohead album.
Film of the Year: Black Power Mixtape
TV show of the Year: Tool Academy (haters gon' hate)
Live performance of the Year: Weezer at Brixton Academy
Musical moment of the Year: Watching a 70-piece orchestra perform the works of the Legend of Zelda (so lame)
Music predictions for 2012: Dom, Milk Music, Jam City, Azealia Banks, Tanlines, Mafia Lights, Maurice Donovan
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Decent
David Wood
Album of the Year: Gang Gang Dance - "Eye Contact". Should be to 2011 what Merriweather Post Pavilion was to 2009. But it probably won't be.
Track of the Year: Burial - Street Halo. Four years after Untrue, Burial returns with his finest track, marrying his trademark shadowy vocal samples to an almost tribal trance rhythm. Takes this genre of music to a new level.
Hero of the YearBjörk, for at least trying something new with this new-fangled technology.
Villain of the Year: The faceless taste-maker who decided that 80s synth-pop deserved to be resurrected in cool new clothes
Surprise of the Year: Two new albums by Kate Bush. And they're both good.
Disappointment of the Year: The Jeff Mangum-curated ATP is postponed until March. Speculation is rife of a double booking blunder involving a 90s boy-band weekend.
Live performance of the Year: Radiohead's 'surprise' appearance at Glastonbury
Musical moment of the Year: The moment six minutes into Glass Jar, track 1 of Eye Contact, when the synth riff and drums kick in. A wave of musical joy unsurpassed all year.
Musical predictions for 2012: The charts become less relevant than ever as Rihanna releases a single a day. Major labels start to implode. HMV stops selling music altogether. iTunes takes on a consciousness of its own. Dubstep mutates into a million sub-genres
Sum of 2011 in music in just one word: Synthy
Stephen Wragg
Album of the Year: Jenny Hval - "Viscera". It isn’t for everyone – it’s an ambient-folk exploration of sexuality and the body – but I found it beautiful and terrifying; it’s a unique and powerful example of the possibilities of the music album format.
Track of the Year: Video Games by Lana Del Rey is still as amazing as it was before the backlash.
Hero of the Year: Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs) made one of the year’s best albums, put on a jubilant live show, and is one of the most innovative artists to achieve recognition this year.
Villain of the Year: Ed Sheeran made me cringe so much I thought my face would stay that way.
Surprise of the Year: How much I listened to R&B mixtapes by The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.
Disappointment of the Year: Das Racist’s new album was such a letdown.
Film of the Year: The Tree of Life
TV show of the Year: Community
Live performance of the Year: Joanna Newsom’s flawless solo set at End of the Road.
Musical moment of the Year: Odd Future doing Sandwitches on Jimmy Fallon was phenomenal – you could really sense their excitement and pride. You knew they’d made it when Mos Def grabbed the camera and screamed, “SWAG! SWAAAG!”
Musical predictions for 2012: Azealia Banks is going to be huge.
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: TABLE! (Both Tyler, The Creator and James Hetfield (on Lulu) recognised the subtly devastating poetic effect of declaring themselves to be a “table” in 2011...)
Daniel Dylan Wray
Album of the Year: PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake"
Track of the Year: PJ Harvey - England
Hero of the Year: Batman
Villain of the Year: Robbie Williams
Disappointment of the Year: Radiohead's The King of Limbs
Film of the Year: Essential Killing
TV show of the Year: Breaking Bad
Live performance of the Year: Pulp - Primavera festival, Barcelona
Musical moment of the Year: Shedding a tear at PJ Harvey in Manchester. 
Music predictions for 2012: A trend will occur, seeing conventional forms of modern day R&B music becoming a larger part of 'alternative' and 'indie' music. 
Sum up 2011 in music in just one word: Okay
So, 2011 - how was it for you? Let us know using the Disqus form below. You can also listen to our tracks of the year on this Spotify playlist.