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Saturday, December 22, 2012

My 10 Favorite Singles Of 2012

Music is so freaking suggestive that it is a fruitless effort to title this post "The Best Singles Of 2012". Personally, I think the fact that Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" is on ANYBODY'S list is an outrage. You may like the song and think it is catchy but it is not a GOOD song. Anyways, like I said, this is not a best of list per se but more of personal favorite list. You're still going to hate it anyways.

10) "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye f/ Kimbra

Music is funny. The more you hear it the more you start to hate it. My favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption and I could literally watch that movie on a loop 24/7 for the rest of the my life and not get sick of it... Probably. The point is, music doesn't work like that. "Somebody That I Used To Know" was a great song when it first came out and so the quality of the song shouldn't be diminished just because you heard it 20,000 times since then. This song is the minimalist, modern day version of Human League's "Don't You Want Me". Sometimes, especially in today's times, less is more.

9) "I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons

When I first heard, "Little Lion Man" as I was randomly searching through the radio one day in 2010, I was blown away. To have music be this fresh and sound this great in today's musical landscape was astonishing to me. In fact, "Little Lion Man" was 4th on my list of the best singles of 2010. I still feel the same way about Mumford & Sons in 2012 with "I Will Wait". The main criticism I've heard of M&S is that they haven't evolved since 2010 and "I Will Wait" sounds exactly like "Little Lion Man". That's probably fair, but this "same" song is still incredible.

8) "Lonely Boy" by The Black Keys

The Black Keys are awesome. Enough said. I want to dedicate my few words about "Lonely Boy" to this awesome music video and not to the incredible song itself. The Black Keys actually shot a really long and elaborate music video but after watching the final product they realized it was terrible and they scraped it. However, during the original filming of said music video, the director shot this guy dancing and everyone decided that this man dancing should be the music video instead. This shot was done in one take and in fact if you look in the background 28 seconds in you can see a body pop up in the Office. That's how 'rough' this take was and it turned into awesomeness.

7) "Lights" by Elle Goulding

I feel like this is the selection I will get the biggest slack for but I don't care. I love this song and this is my list and not yours. I have literally sat at work at played "Lights" on a loop for an hour straight. On multiple occasions. I'm still not sick of it (although I can see how you could be) and think "Lights" is just a great pop song to dance to. The beat is rhythmically hypnotic and I love Goulding's soft spoken voice.

6) "Mercy" by Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz

How can you not bob your head and get up and start dancing when the beat immediately comes in. LAMBORGHINI MERCY! YOUR CHICK SHE'S SO THIRSTY! It's just another great song created by Kanye West that has another great verse by Kanye West. Even though this is 2012 and even though this is a West track, it's still fresh and it's still new. Every time I play this track I feel like I'm walking into a club in slow motion and making it rain like I'm a football player walking into a strip joint. That's what "Mercy" does to you. Plus, any time you can make me say "Wow, I actually enjoyed what 2 Chainz had to say" then you're a rousing success.

5) "Blue Jeans" by Lana Del Rey

This song is so addicting that you won't be able to get it out of your head. I know I can't. It goes into your ear, runs around the crevasses of your brain, and just nestles in there for weeks. The orchestral arrangement with the simple drum line combined with Del Rey's incredible voice just makes for an unforgettable track.

4) "Love Interruption" by Jack White

Jack White said on WTF with Marc Maron that the word "love" is so overused and is such a cliche in songs that if he was going to say the word, it was going to be for a purpose. So the fact that he not only entitled his song to have the word "love" in it but the fact that he says it says "love" 25 times during a two minute and thirty-four second song says something. Love has been, for lack of a better term, romanticized and White tells you exactly how love really is. He wants love and needs love but it's tough and dirty. He wants love but he wants it "to stick a knife inside [him] and twist it all around". To make this song even better he uses Sing Off contestant Ruby Amanfu's incredible vocals which just enhances everything.

3) "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men

Before 2012 I truly believed that Rock was dead. It's still not as alive as it was in the 90's but 2012 is giving me hope. With hit songs by Mumford & Sons, fun., and The Lumineers and headed by "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men, there is hope. This acoustic and folk renaissance that emerged this year is welcoming and I'm glad it's coming/already here. "Little Talks" is a song about futile love from both the male and female perspective. These wondrous lyrics combined with rocking and thumping beats played by real instruments (including the trumpet. The trumpet!) is a delight. With a catchy hook created not by a producer or even vocals but by pure instrumentality and talent, "Little Talks" proudly earns a spot on my list.

2) "Bottom Of The River" by Delta Rae

Artists get credit all the time for pulling from their predecessors in music history and making it their own. Ray Charles took gospel and made it his own. Chuck Berry took soul and rhythm & blues and made it his own, rock artists in the 60's and 70's took Black rock/blues and made it their own and so on and so forth. However, Delta Rae takes the cake on this one. They didn't borrow from 70's rock or 50's blues or 30's gospel. Hell, they didn't even borrow music from the 20th century! They created music inspired by old southern songs from the 19th century and made it their own! Sure, this sound is also inspired from the 20th century as well but the fact that this song sounds like it could be sung in 1812, 1912, and 2012 is just incredible to me. I just happened to be watching Vh1 in the middle of the day when this music video came on and I was so blown away by what I heard. The creativity and originality of "Bottom Of The River" and the look of Delta Rae was just amazing to me.

1b) "Heartbeat" by Childish Gambino

1a) "Bonfire" by Childish Gambino

I couldn't decide which Childish Gambino (aka comedian Donald Glover aka Troy Barnes on Community) song was best so I put them both on my list. "Bonfire" is the better song and it's not even close but "Heartbeat" really was the only mainstream(ish) single off of Childish Gambino's amazing album "Camp" (SIDENOTE: "Camp" is one of the best rap albums I've ever heard and that's not a hyperbole).

I love "Heartbeat" because it takes a realistic view on relationships in this modern world. Essentially every song ever made is about a relationship or a past relationship, but in 2012 the word "relationship" doesn't mean what it used to. How the opposite sexes interact with each other is just different nowadays. I mean, Facebook has a "It's Complicated" button. Often people just hook and are together but are not in a relationship, however that line is often blurred. As Gambino says in the song, "Are we dating? Are we f***ing? Are we best friends? Are we something... in between that?" That's the world today's youth lives in and for an artist to sum up those feelings so perfectly is brilliant to me.

I love "Bonfire" and think ultimately that is the best song of 2012. Rap and the ability to rap is an art form to me, but that art has seemed to have gotten lost by the way side of making money (which is harder to do now in this digital age so I get it. I don't like it but I get it).  If a rapper has someone else make beats for him (or her) and that rapper just spits out nonsense, then what really is the difference between that and a crap movie like "Epic Movie"? There's no art or individuality there. That is why I appreciate "Bonfire" so much. If rap isn't going to speak from the heart (which not all rap has to) then at least put some creativity in the lyrics and take time to perfect the art form of rapping. Sure "Bonfire" is at its heart a song just like every other rap song. All it is is a rapper saying how awesome he is, but Childish Gambino is lights ahead of everyone else in his use of metaphors, analogies, and word play (EXAMPLES: "You can f***ing kiss my ass. Human Centipede" or "Made the beat then murdered it. Casey Anthony.") which makes "Bonfire" my number one song of 2012.


EDITOR'S NOTE: I know some of the singles on this list were technically released in 2011 and/or off of an album released in 2011 but when a song gets released and when a song inches its way in to the mainstream are two different things. If Vh1 ever did a "I Love The 2010's" series and talked about these songs, in my opinion, they would talk about them in 2012 and not 2011. Hence, they make my 2012 year end list. Also, my list, my rules. Whaddya gonna do about it?


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