Here are my top 10 songs of 2012. The full top 100 will be appearing on my Echo blog soon.
1. Carly Rae Jepsen: “Call Me Maybe”
I first heard “Call Me Maybe” in a video trashing it. Not yet a fan of top-40 pop (getting over my anti-pop attitude was one of the key
moments of my year), I could have easily agreed with the video.
Still, I heard something in the song’s production that made me want to hear it again. Listening to the song from beginning to end for the first time made me fall in love with the lyrics, possibly the most definitive ever written about a crush. After that, I listened to the “Curiosity” EP and fell in love with Carly Rae Jepsen as a performer. And then I watched the video, and fell in love with that too. “Call Me Maybe” is my favorite song of 2012 not only because it helped me become a fan of radio pop, but also because it’s the one song from the whole year that seems flawless.
2. Taylor Swift: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
“You would hide away and find your peace of mind/With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine.” Brutal, especially since few indie records are much cooler than this one. Taylor Swift’s headfirst jump into pure pop was a big surprise, but should it have been? She’s been hinting at a pop classic for years. It just never seemed like it’d be as sudden as it was, and the fact that she set it to the best song she’s ever recorded (and her first No. 1 single) makes it even better.
3. Frank Ocean: “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You”
Frank Ocean released more great songs than anybody in 2012, and the most extraordinary of them was the first. Both the lead single and opening song to “Channel Orange,” “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You” is still as stunning as it was the first time I heard it. “My eyes don’t shed tears/But boy they pour when I’m thinking ‘bout you.”
4. Avan Lava: “Slow Motion”
The year’s most unappreciated song, “Slow Motion” sounds like something Justin Timberlake might create when he decides to start recording music again, but it’s also hard to imagine him making anything that can touch this. Quite impressive for a band with less than 2,000 Facebook likes.
5. Y.N.RichKids: “Hot Cheetos & Takis”
Fun, silly songs will always be dismissed by people who think they’re too good for them. Thus, “Hot Cheetos & Takis” is likely to be remembered as little more than a stupid novelty Youtube hit. But if you’re willing to resist an unbelievably catchy rap song performed by a group of kids, twelve and under, then your will is stronger than mine. This song brings to mind charming old school hip-hop more than any song from 2012, but that might just be basing that on the amount of joy it brings.
6. Ellie Goulding: “Lights”
Over the last couple years, Foster the People, Gotye and Fun have brought indie-pop to the Billboard Top 10, but their songs didn’t hold up. That’s why “Lights” is so refreshing: it’s an indie-esque radio hit that didn’t grow tiring after the fifth time I heard it.
Not only that, it’s inspiring, whereas the other indie hits have been way too cynical. Goulding may have followed her first hit with an unmemorable second album, but “Lights” will hopefully hold up over time.
7. Kendrick Lamar (featuring Jay Rock): “Money Trees”
“good kid, m.A.A.d city” is such a brilliant album that it initially seemed like it couldn’t feature a standout track. “Money Trees” quickly proved to be something special, though. “Money trees is the perfect place for shade/And that’s just how I feel” is also my favorite line of the year, a genius piece of lyricism that shows, no matter how content love and spirituality make you feel, few things bring comfort like currency.
8. Usher: “Climax”
“Climax” features one of the most mind-blowing uses of falsetto ever, fascinating production from Diplo, and who would’ve thought that Usher would release one of the most lyrically phenomenal songs of the year? These points have all been made numerous times, but they deserve to be repeated. Every complimentary thing that has been said about “Climax” deserves to be repeated.
9. The Avett Brothers: “Live and Die”
The new Avett Brothers album, “The Carpenter,” was pretty lame, but “Live and Die” is the most addictive song they’ve ever recorded. Not only does it have a beautiful melody, but it’s also one of the most sincere songs ever written about falling in love.
10. Nicki Minaj: “Starships”
“Get on the floor, floor.” The club song of the year (although that claim might not mean much coming from somebody who’s never set foot in a club).