If I like a song, I'm going to listen to it a lot. It's part of how my brain works. I like deconstructing music and figuring out how it ticks. The best songs hold up under such deconstruction. I can't say there were many songs in 2012 that held up to such scrutiny, but I can say these 12 did, no problem. It's a good blend of indie and mainstream, with a little YouTube humor thrown in for flavoring.
Here are the Best Songs of 2012. You can jump to the fourth page for a YouTube playlist of all the songs.
- Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra, "Bottomfeeder"
- Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
- Fiona Apple, "Hot Knife"
- MIA, "Bad Girls"
- Reformed Whores, "Rush Limbaugh Calls Sandra Fluke a Slut: Response"
- Willam Belli featuring Detox and Vicky Vox, "Chow Down (At Chik-fil-A)"
6: Lindsey Stirling, "Song of the Caged Bird"
Lindsey Stirling put out a lot of great music in 2012. "Song of the Caged Bird" is my favorite of her releases for its relative simplicity. The electronic elements she's embraced are present, but they feel far more organic and fitting for the sweet little melody. It's a lovely composition and a strong instrumental performance.
5: Mumford & Sons, "I Will Wait"
Mumford & Sons know how to build a song. "I Will Wait" has their biggest climax to date. The chorus jumps up the octave the second time around, screaming for attention and forcing you to sing along. The constant pull of the acoustic strings drives the song in an unexpected funky folk groove that stops at the chorus without killing the momentum of the song.
4: Janelle Monae, "Electric Lady"
Janelle Monae is probably the most exciting recording artist out there right now. She's eccentric and brilliant in equal strides. "Electric Lady" is a song she's been doing on tour since the early summer and each performance is different. That's exciting. The structure and substance of the song are strong enough to take on any tempo, repeat, or style change she decides to throw out at that gig.
3: Le1f, "Wut"
Le1f has skills. "Wut," his breakout single, proves that without a doubt. His lyrics are fast and clever at the start and only pick up the pace going into the second verse. He laughs at himself and lets us all in on the joke. He's confident enough to introduce himself to the world but not cocky. "Wut" is who he is. Take it or leave it.
2: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra, "Smile (Pictures or It Didn't Happen)"
"Smile" is easily the best rock song of the year. Amanda Palmer wails out a song delving into the stigma of an abusive relationship. She consoles the victim, who should smile for getting away from their abuser, and warns the villain that their actions will haunt them because their version of history has no relevance in the real world. It's an exhilarating anthem of rising above a terrible situation because you have no other choice.
1: Carolina Chocolate Drops, "Daughter's Lament"
There is something to be said for simplicity in music. The Carolina Chocolate Drops wrote a very quiet and folksy song inspired by the fate of Katniss Everdeen's father in the backstory of The Hunger Games trilogy. Backed by distorted guitars--reminiscent of whistles in a mine--and a gentle percussion (a washboard, perhaps?), the melody cries out for attention in the story of a bond between father and daughter that cannot end even in death.
Those are what I consider the best songs of 2012. What do you think? Sound off with your thoughts below.