There's a really simple reason why my lists are Top 12s rather than Top 10s this year: I didn't want to limit myself on films. If I did a Top 10, it would be the ten films that scored 9/10 or 10/10 and that's it. Boring. 12 gives me more room to play. This is especially true in the music categories. I didn't do nearly as much music content as I anticipated in 2012. There are songs, albums, artists, and videos I wanted to talk about but just never got to. I hope to do better on that in 2013.
Here are the Best Albums of 2012.
- Esperanza Spalding, Radio Music Society
- Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
- Lindsey Stirling, Lindsey Stirling
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist
- Skrillex, Bangarang
- Taylor Swift, Red
6: Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday...Roman Reloaded
Nicki Minaj's sophomore album is an attempt to create as many hit singles as possible. The goal is to overwhelm the listener with very different sounding tracks that showcase everything she can do. It is an album that will not totally please everyone because of the diversity but one that cements Minaj as a hit maker.
Stand out tracks: "Roman Holiday," "Beez in a Trap," "Pound the Alarm"
5: Mumford & Sons, Babel
Providing the only 2013 Grammy Award-nominated Best Album nominee I understand or even agree with, Mumford & Sons score big with their sophomore album. The album is more accessible and more adventurous in its approach to music. Acoustic folk hasn't sounded this modern in a long time. The band has some of the best technical players recording right now and the songs are elevated by the broad range of techniques they can bust out in the studio.
Stand out tracks: "I Will Wait," "Babel," "Hopeless Wanderer"
4: Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox
I came down hard on Bruno Mars' scattered debut album. Not this time around. Bruno Mars has embraced his inner rocker and put together a fantastic album of throwback Rock 'n' Roll. His voice is strong and the songs even stronger. It's a fun album that goes down easy.
Stand out tracks: "Locked Out of Heaven," "Money Make Her Smile," "Moonshine"
3: Lana Del Rey, Born to Die
No, I did not anticipate falling so hard for Born to Die. "Video Games" took a long time to grow on me. When I finally listened to the album, I was blown away. Forget the painfully hip identity thrust upon her: Lana Del Rey has chops. Her understanding of pop music and torch songs is unparalleled in the industry right now.
Stand out tracks: "This is What Makes Us Girls," "Born to Die," "Radio"
2: Various Artists, The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond
If all companion albums to big films were this well-produced and thought through, there would be no stigma surrounding companion albums. T. Bone Burnett brought together a great group of artists to explore the world and story of The Hunger Games in their own way. From the folk of Appalachia to the industrial sound of the Capital, The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond is a loving tribute to a shockingly well-made film and YA book.
Stand out tracks: "Safe and Sound," "Daughter's Lament," "Come Away to the Water"
1: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra, Theatre Is Evil
Amanda Palmer put the fate of her new album up to the people and the people demanded a hit. With her new band, Palmer delivered. Each track on the main album could be a radio hit (with, of course, a 3-4 minute edit) and open up some great discussions about relationship and self-esteem. Palmer's greatest strength is her honesty. There is no artifice here. She unashamedly uses references to Instagram in songs about domestic violence. She's skilled enough to reign in songs to a clear theme but open enough to not shut out good ideas just to be more accessible.
Stand out tracks: "Smile (Pictures or It Didn't Happen)," "Bottomfeeder," "Olly Olly Oxen Free"
So what do you think? What were your favorite albums last year? Share your thoughts below.