The Five Best Songs of 2012 (Kinda Sorta)

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Listing the best anythings of anything is always difficult, for many reasons. One of the biggest restrictions is the relative subjectivity of music. A song that can change one person’s life might be just “eh” to somebody else. But here are five of my favorite songs from 2012. And I know that a few of them were technically released in 2011, but I list them as 2012 because that’s when they broke out. Enjoy!

“Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye (from Making Mirrors) BUY!

This one’s obvious. This song was omnipotent in pop-culture last year, everywhere from the radio to commercials to people whistling it on the subway. It became such a huge hit, in fact, that people started to get sick of it. The pop and dance remixes that flooded radio didn’t help: those were a total bastardization of a song if I’ve ever heard one. But getting past it’s eight weeks at Number One, the countless awful remixes, and a horrendous Glee cover, this is really a remarkable song. Original. Beautiful. Haunting. And well deserving of it’s recent double Grammy awards. This is one we’ll be humming forever.

“Shelter” by The Beach Boys (from That’s Why God Made The Radio) BUY!

This track, off of the Boys’ first new album in decades, melodically and harmonically stands with some of their most enduring hits ever. If you heard it on the radio, it could be from 1966. It’s seriously a wonder to hear Brian Wilson singing again along with the vocalists who have for fifty years defined a genre. Wilson’s voice is in remarkable condition, and although his vocals are supplemented by backup singers, Shelter is a return to beautiful form. The entire album is worth a listen or ten– it’s their best since at least 1970’s Sunflower and possibly since their opus Pet Sounds, which Rolling Stone named the second best album of all time.

“We Are Young” & “Some Nights” by fun. (from Some Nights) BUY!

Very rarely have two singles complemented each other so well. But fun.’s first two major releases were so intertwined they were practically two parts to one song. (The entire album, in fact, is like that. So good. Go buy it.) “We Are Young,” propelled by a Super Bowl ad and people drunkenly singing it in the streets, hit Number One for six weeks, but, like “Somebody,” is so much better than the typical Top 40 hit. It is designed so perfectly, leading up to what a friend and I dubbed “structural resulatory balls.” Structural resulatory balls, if you are wondering, are the guts of a song. Kind of the hook, but more than that. The absolute melodic climax. The part of the song that makes you go “Whoa.””We Are Young” has hella structural resulatory balls.

“Some Nights” is equally awesome. My dad calls it “the Lion King song” because of it’s epicness. Whenever an artist releases an incredible first single, there’s always that fear that they are a one hit wonder. But fun. very quickly proved that they are here to stay. And I for one can’t wait to see what’s next.

“Die Young” by Ke$ha (from Warrior) BUY!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ke$ha is a much better artist that she gets credit for. She is an incredible songwriter, even if her biggest hits don’t reflect it. But go listen to “Animal,” “Blind,” “Wonderland,” or “The Harold Song” and you will hear her true lyrical and musical prowess. On “Die Young,” the smash lead single from her latest album Warrior, K-Money delivers both a catchy radio-friendly hit, as well as a piece of great songwriting. Her trademark white-girl rapping is in full force, as is a reflective, insightful bridge. But it’s the monstrous hook that really brings this song home. Co-written by the lead singer of fun., “Die Young” sounds like the kind of music they would play at a club in Super Mario World. And that’s high praise.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t care? Leave a comment!

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