If this year was truly the end of the world, then the music scene would have gone out with the biggest bang out of all media. 2012 was a banner year for music hidden beneath the weight of a Korean rapper taking over and a Canadian princess trying to get a guy to call her. The rise of indie rock into the mainstream with hipster sounds and innovation proved successful while the pop scene finally found its footing in the era by pleasing our ears with the sweetest of bubble gum sound to electronic landscapes unheard of. The rap scene fell under as a newbie came in to single handily save the mainstream from breaking in two. If you love music, this was your year beating out the already fantastic 2011. How great? This list is going from 20 last year to 25. The 25 best songs of 2012 are here to stay.
25. ‘Anna Sun’ by Walk the Sun
Hipster. Some may call them pretentious and lazy irony lovers, others innovative and creative in the music field of sound. Personally, I agree with both of these statements because these lazy creative ironic bastards can write a tune and Walk the Moon’s ‘Anna Sun’ is a good example. Combining 80’s synths and sweet and desperate vocals, ‘Anna Sun’ is the ultimate in hipster party songs. From the engaging build up at the beginning to the climatic end, Walk the Moon created a five minute hipster party worth attending.
24. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ by Taylor Swift
Ms. Swift, the ultimate country princess gave the middle finger to country this year to go full pop. Initially the first single ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ was a pain to me and not a good introduction to Top 40 Pop Taylor. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ changed my tune by realizing that Taylor Swift can be a pop princess in her own right. It’s a sexy and smooth fuck you to the bad boy that wronged her and seems to be the karaoke for years to come. Time to give Taylor the crown she rightfully deserves.
23. ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen
As much as the internet turned it into a meme and ran it into the ground, Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop masterpiece ‘Call Me Maybe’ took a long time to warm up to. The lyrics are shallow and cliche and terribly written, yet the hook and chorus, the melody, and Carly’s vocals take this song into pop heaven. The violin swells and delicious licks of the guitar make this song pure joy to the Nth degree with a breakdown section to die for. This is one call you should gladly take.
22. ‘Scream’ by Usher
Oh, yes, it’s Usher baby. Usher comes back again to deliver another club banger in the form of ‘Scream’, a pulse pounding dancefloor anthem. Of course, it can’t measure up to the instant classic ‘DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love’ from 2011, but even calling it a lesser version doesn’t do it justice. Usher’s vocals are on the forefront guiding us through a land of hard synths, screams, and echoes and stellar beats only Usher and his production team can provide. Usher shows no signs of stopping despite being in the R&B game for eighteen years.
21. ‘I Won’t Give Up’ by Jason Mraz
Mr. AZ himself deliver a honest soulful and heartfelt song of love and devotion in the middle of a year of synth filled pop. ‘I Won’t Give Up’ is a sentimental piece of soft rock that doesn’t end up boring or awful by providing a sense of a perfect love and never wanting to quite the relationship that has been going strong. Mraz’s vocal work is magnificent as ever, even if he is going through his bearded man phase. An underdog choice for the list, but a good one at that.
20. ‘Wide Awake’ by Katy Perry
Sometimes in the roughest of moments of one’s life can come a light at the end of the tunnel. As many may know, Katy Perry has been having a rough time dealing with the divorce of her and her husband and even at the box office with her film. Luckily, ‘Wide Awake’ becomes the light to guide her with a darker (for Perry’s music anyway) take on the breakup as she envisions everything crumbling around her like a cataclysm is at hand. Wonderfully dark and beautiful, ‘Wide Awake’ is one of Perry’s best for being a great bonus track.
19. ‘Let Me Love You’ by Ne-Yo
To me personally, it is always a good year when Ne-Yo earns a spot on the list. Ne-Yo is one of the hardest working R&B artists in the industry pumping out singles and albums every year and appearing in countless guest spots. The problem with that: He is always too damn good and this one is no exception. ‘Let Me Love You’ is exactly what you expect from Ne-Yo with pure class and club sounds throughout to deliver some love to his club lovers. Ne-Yo is this upcoming generation’s Usher and make no mistake about that.
18. ‘Diamonds’ by Rihanna
Rihanna has had a year filled with outrageous moments, controversy, and near breakdowns but comes back swinging with ‘Diamonds’. RiRi (terrible nickname by the way) has had a ton of singles this year due to her album release of the late fall in 2011, yet this track manages to make the other seem obselete in comparison. With seductive production work, dark vibes throughout, and Rihanna vocals surpassing the vocal on her other singles, the ‘Diamonds’ truly shine finishing off a on again-off again year for the craziest woman in pop today.
17. ‘Skyfall’ by Adele
Being the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise, it seemed that choosing Adele to do a Bond theme seemed like a complete no brainier. Luckily for the world (and Bond fans), it is one of the best songs of the year and best Bond themes. ‘Skyfall’ represents the beginning of the end of the trails and tribulations of Bond himself as everything seems to be going down. Out of context it sounds like another epic break up song from Adele with the rich and refined production you come to expect, but add motifs of John Barry’s classic orchestrations and it winds up a complete winner. Adele’s induction into Bond history was definitely worth every penny.
16. ‘Blow Me (One Last Kiss)’ by P!nk
P!nk is back out to destroy another man who wronged her in another delicious rip. ‘Blow Me’ tears the one who scorned her apart and delivers a strong blow (no pun intended) with harsh lyrics, kick to the balls style rhythm, and a voice ready for the attack. P!nk has gone from her R&B roots to become a hybrid of pop sounds and rock mentality and works to her advantage by delivering a song other pop artists dare to dream of singing. P!nk once again winds up a winner.
15. ‘National Anthem’ by Lana Del Rey
Possibly the most controversial pick on the list due to her infamy created since the SNL performance fiasco, Lana Del Rey proved that cerebral indie pop can be seductive and sexy. ‘National Anthem’ is all about praising her like some sort of idol or god when deep in love making and also getting her way by taking you down. Lana’s voice is sensual and orgasmic as she plows through each line with femme fatale ease and the hypnotic and arousing chorus help make this song something to pledge their allegiance. Lana Del Rey may be the hipster Britney Spears, but she does what Britney hasn’t in years: actually achieve near pop perfection.
14. ‘Ho Hey’ by The Lumineers
There comes a song that is so out of left field that it hits you with an impact you never expect. The Lumineers gave the charts that impact with a soft and sweet ode to love with ‘Ho Hey’ with a catchy chorus to sing along to. With the sweet folk sounds of yesteryear, the Lumineers remind us of those good old days and leave a lasting impression. The trio manage to use basic instrumentals to their advantage swooning us with a thumping beat and the sounds stings. Don’t let their spotlight fade because it is only beginning to be something more honest and sincere in a pop world run by electronics.
13. ‘As Long As You Love Me’ by Justin Bieber ft. Big Sean
Justin Bieber made 2012 the relaunch of himself and his sound maturing in his vocal styling and as a pop artist in general. Combined with dubstep beats and a pretty good guest verse by upcoming rapper Big Sean, ‘As Long as You Love Me’ is a monster of pop. J. Biebs becomes more than a teen heartthrob into a man on one song ready to protect and ready to serve a la the early days of Chris Brown (before the whole Rihanna brawl). Bieber proves he is no longer the butt of the joke and can hold his own as an artist in this era of pop music.
12. ‘Runaways’ by The Killers
The Killers have returned with a thumping and heartfelt tribute to the glory days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and 80’s New Wave with ‘Runaways’. Brandon Flowers gets his crew together with classic rock sounds and pipes that singers dream about with a thumping beat, sweet synth riffs, and guitar work that dazzles with the best of them. The Killers never disappoint and is always a joy to see them return being the most innovative groups on the alternative circuit. The Killers kill with the best of them.
11. ‘Too Close’ by Alex Clare
2012 was the year of the genre known as Dubstep. This growing sub genre of electronica has infected every form of media from television to video games to movie trailers, but what about the world of rock? Don’t worry, that was quickly answered with Alex Clare’s ode to the breakup known as ‘Too Close’. ‘Too Close’ blends together acoustic sounds of the indie scene, synth styled organs, soulful vocals, and dubstep into a wonderful burst of lightning in a bottle. With stellar lyrics and pure heartbreak, Alex Clare changes the game of dubstep to show off that what it truly can do. Hopefully, it stays that way.
10. ‘Lights’ by Ellie Goulding
This year, America discovered the British pop invasion from the abysmal One Direction to the annoying Cher Lloyd, but the true leader of the pack was in the form of a brilliant songstress known as Ellie Goulding. Personally, I don’t listen to the radio (funny, seeing as I am making a list of best songs), but upon hearing ‘Lights’, it was instant hook. Ellie Goulding, alongside Kimbra and Robyn, are some of the best of electro indie pop scene and ‘Lights’ sets the tone. Introducing more innovation as this song provides dark themes, beautiful rhythms, and almost symphonic sounds. Ellie’s vocals are fit the vibe well with softness and the right amount of pitch. Ellie Goulding proves herself over the other pop stars (also, on a super bias note, I recommend her albums. She is absolutely fantastic).
9. ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ by Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean is an interesting singer in the R&B scene and one of the first African-American R&B to come out as a bisexual openly despite the homophobia in the industry. With that said, Frank Ocean makes the most cerebral innovators in the genre with ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’, a sensual and nearly dark song about the one he loves and wants to be with. Almost reminiscent of Cliff Martinez’s score for Drive, Mr. Ocean tells it like it is with John Legend esque vocals, high notes that D’Angelo would envy, and production work that is phenomenal. Frank Ocean has been nominated for a ton of Grammys for his work and it is all well deserved.
8. ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ by Kendrick Lamar
As everything is being changed and innovated for a new era (a recurring theme on this list), the rap game also has a game changer in the form of Kendrick Lamar with ‘Swimming Pools’. Kendrick Lamar talks about the craziness of drinking and getting faded without going into the stereotypes as rapped by the other rappers in the game by pointing out the good and the bad with a dark ominous tone throughout and a thrilling beat in the chorus that is sure to have a few at the party singing along to. Kendrick Lamar is a hell of a rapper and may become something bigger down the road.
7. ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ by Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars was one of the artists in 2010 that took the world by storm by appearing in guest verses, songwriting for many artists, and continued that streak into early 2011 by proving he had talent and staying power as a pop artist. Mars returns back to Earth to deliver a powerhouse of a Police-inspired tune with ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ by combining the modern sounds of today’s scene and the past. Bruno shines on this record (playing virtually every damn instrument on the track from the reggae style drum beats to the Andy Summer-like guitar work all while singing like a man lost in time. Broken up inside, Bruno takes the song to the atmosphere and lets it becomes something more. Bruno, thanks for the return.
6. ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford & Sons
Last year, I made a terrible mistake labeling these guys as the next hipster wave while praising them. Mumford & Sons is far from hipster and have brought folk rock back to the forefront almost bordering a resurgence in classic country with ‘I Will Wait’. This single deals with waiting for the one you love to come back to you even if the relationship has gone to hell with violin strings, fiddles galore, and heart stomping vocals to die for. Mumford & Sons are rising from more than just another indie act to folk music heroes.
5. ‘Niggas in Paris’ by Jay-Z and Kanye West
When two of the biggest names in the rap game get together, you better believe they can deliver a rap anthem like no other and thankfully ‘Niggas in Paris’ became a anthem. The whole premise of the song is basically Jay-Z and Kanye West celebrating that they can roll with the best in Paris and hang with girls and spend their dough on whatever they please. The beat is hypnotic and catchy as hell with a breakdown section that takes it into epic proportions with a growing dark cloud looming with dirty synths ready for the attack. The verse come fast and furious with Kanye having a ball throughout and even taking lines from Blades of Glory to amp up the listener. Kanye and Jay-Z may have made a major misstep with Cruel Summer, but Watch the Throne was an experience worth listening to.
4. ‘The A Team’ by Ed Sheeran
It is rare in this day and age a true sleeper hit appears on the chart by one lone singer/songwriter, yet Ed Sheeran made it with a song about a young drug addicted prostitute known as ‘The A Team’. A soft and smooth lovely ode to the working girl just trying to make a living in the world and described with such beauty and wonder that one feels attachment to her and want to protect her with light harmonies galore. Ed Sheeran, like her other UK counterpart Ellie Goulding, took a long while to come to the States and hit well with just about everyone with his soft spoken yet heartbreaking vocals. Though a short wonder of a song, ‘The A-Team’ is something to swoon over despite its harsh subject matter. Ed Sheeran is welcome to this side of the pond anytime.
3. ‘Adorn’ by Miguel
Silky smooth and just like butter, ‘Adorn’ by Miguel wants to make (for lack of a better phrase) make the panties drop to the floor. Sensual production and sultry vocals by Miguel, ‘Adorn’ is a throwback to the R&B of the 90’s that doesn’t quit with basic lyrics that somehow become the song’s greatest strengths. Miguel nearly dips into some Al Green territory hitting notes that Mr. Green would have hit back in his heyday and a swagger to his voice that is ready to make love. ‘Adorn’ is a instant classic in R&B and set in stone Miguel.
2. ‘Somebody That I Use to Know’ by Gotye ft. Kimbra
The biggest hit of the year is not only a massive seller, but one of the best songs in the past ten years. Gotye emerged in the public eye to a broader audience with the brutally honest breakup song ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. With subtle hints of strings and nearly bizarre sounds and truly dark lyrics, Gotye lets it all out with bittersweet vocals wit his verbal vengeance Even better is Kimbra showing up on the track to get her say on the breakup and delivers verbal bite back at Gotye in a very vengeful manner that makes this breakup song so refreshing. Gotye deserves way more exposure after this song because after hearing his other songs, this man looks to be the next Peter Gabriel, as well as the dazzling Kimbra. This was a big year of this song (even bigger than the craze of ‘Gangnam Style’ but more on that another time) and being number one on the year end chart is a bad way to end the year.
And the number one song of 2012 is…
1. ‘Some Nights’ by fun.
his was a tough decision between this hit and ‘We Are Young’, but this won out. ‘We Are Young’ was a perfect introduction to exactly what fun. is all about, but ‘Some Nights’ proved their true worth. Innovating and turning the tables on the alternative scene and, hell, the entire rock scene in the course of one record something that hasn’t happen since the days of Queen, The Beatles, and even Nirvana, fun. made an impact larger than all the artists on this list combined. ‘Some Nights’ is a epic tribute to the arena rock anthem that has a dash of Queen, musical theatre, 80’s sound, and a heaping scoop of modern indie to deliver a sing along that every could use for a change and done in a spectacular four minutes to boot. This group as a whole is just astounding and filled with bands these days dreamed they could have done. fun. is the best of the year bar none and ‘Some Nights’ will be played at bars and parties for years to come.
Honorable Mentions: ‘Die Young’ by Ke$ha, ‘Comeback Kid’ by Sleigh Bells, ‘Love You Like A Love Song’ by Selena Gomez and the Scene, ‘These Days’ by Foo Fighters, and ‘Wrath of God’ by Crystal Castles.