"Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO was one of the dozens of pop hits this year to use the same hammering disco beat. YouTube hide caption

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What's That Sound? The Rhythm That Ruled 2011

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Tunisian rapper El Général's "The President of the Country" is an essential song of the Arab Spring. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Leaders Wanted: Protest Songs From The Arab Spring

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Explore NPR Music's interactive memorial to the musicians, songwriters and producers who died in 2011. NPR hide caption

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The Music They Left Behind

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A performance at the Afghan National Institute of Music in November of 2010. Daniel Wilkinson/U.S. Embassy Kabul Afghanistan/flickr.com hide caption

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Music In Afghanistan A Sensitive Subject

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Russian musician Noize MC Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Government Bulldozer: Protest Songs From Russia

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Yiannis Aggelakas Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Flame On: Protest Songs From Greece

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The rapper Lil B, who spread the word "swag" throughout hip-hop. Courtesy of the artist. hide caption

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Swag: Hip-Hop's Word Of The Year

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Skylar Grey. P.R. Brown/Courtesy of Universal Music Group hide caption

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Skylar Grey: And The Hits Keep Coming

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The Edge and Bono performing in June at the Oakland, Calif., stop of U2's 360˚ Tour — the most successful in history. Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images hide caption

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The Music Stories We Missed This Year

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Rihanna performing in Zurich last month. This year the pop star tried to move beyond the fallout from her very public encounter with domestic abuse by taking on the role of risk-taking erotic outlaw — she was still faulted as superficial. The Image Gate/Getty Images hide caption

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A statue of George Frideric Handel, posing with his Messiah transcript, at London's Westminster Abbey. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images hide caption

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'Messiah': A Holiday Tradition Transcending Time

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Korean pop group Girls' Generation pose on the red carpet to attend the MNET Asian Music Awards ceremony in Singapore in November. AFP/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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K-Pop Blows Up: Korean Music Finds Fans Worldwide

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