Top 10 Songs of 2011: #7 St. Vincent - Cruel 

It's taken me a while to get on the bandwagon. I had sort of lumped St. Vincent (Annie Clark) in the Joanna Newsom category, the "I sing pretty and play unique orchestral music." Which is good, but tends not to be something that I really dig.

But, I was wrong. St. Vincent is a rock star. It wasn't until I listened to all of Strange Mercy that it clicked for me. If you strip away the music, it's a really pretty song. It could completely get by purely a cappella. Then you listen closer and realize that, while she's singing the chorus, it's not just a synth she's singing over, but also her guitar. The song is a rock song, and the first time it breaks into a reasonably unexpected guitar solo, your brain switches from "this song is pretty" to "Oh, I get it now!"

It's a 3 and a half minute rock song, with strings, pretty vocals, and some really good guitar. What's not to like?