Looking back at my previous lists, I see that I’m a bit late this year. What was I doing writing a “Best Of” list in early/mid-December in years past? The year wasn’t over yet!
But 2012 is over now, so there is no use waiting. As always, these are not necessarily the “best” songs of 2012, or even my favorite songs of the year. Rather, they are songs released in 2012 that I liked and listened to a lot over the year, or that represent an album I particularly liked (even if any one song didn’t necessarily stand above the rest), or maybe they are from a concert I really enjoyed. Or all of the above. Or something else altogether. I’m not Nate Silver and there’s no real science behind this! Also: Being tagged in this note is a formal request that you either (1) write your own note with your favorites from the year (and tag me in it!) or (2) add a song or two in the comments.
Without further delay, and in no particular order, here goes:
1. Purity Ring — Fineshrine
Shrines was one of my favorite albums of the year, and their concert was my favorite show of the year — so good and unlike anything else I tend to listen to. And I particularly like all the Houston rap-inspired screwed/chopped vocal stylings. It’s one thing to hear it on a Paul Wall track. It’s another thing to hear it with some spritely sounding Canadian woman. Fineshrine is probably my favorite song off the album, or at least the one that got the most play, but the entire thing is worth checking out. (Thanks to Ryan and Lu for the introduction to these guys.)
2. Santigold — Disparate Youth
I don’t know if I can get over her changing her name from Santogold to Santigold for this album, which totally messes up searching, organization, and artist-play-counting in my music library. But what do I care as long as she keeps putting out albums like this. Again, like Purity Ring, the entire album is great. Disparate Youth is a solid song, but you can’t go wrong with any of the tracks.
3. M.I.A. — Bad Girls
At first I thought this song shouldn’t be eligible for my 2013 list, since it’s from a free mixtape M.I.A. released on 1/1/2011. But a few things: (1) This video is fricking amazing, and the VIDEO certainly came out in 2012. (2) This is a slightly different version from the 2011 version — it’s got an extra verse. (3) If it’s good enough for Ryan Arai to have on his year-end list, then who am I to argue? (4) It’s damn good.
4. Jens Lekman — The End of the World Is Bigger than Love
Okay, so it’s not as good as Maple Leaves or Black Cab. But whatever! I love any song that name-checks the pharmacy department at the Flatbush Avenue Target store (the one I used to go to when I lived in Park Slope). And you can’t really get much better than Jens Lekman crooning about a broken heart.
5. Grimes — Oblivion
This is up there for “Song of the Year” for me. Part of that has to be the video, which looks like it was shot by illegally taping inside Division 3 college sporting events and sneaking a camera into a monster truck rally. Or something. Are those people acting or are they real? I have no idea. I don’t care. It’s awesome.
6. Bat for Lashes — All Your Gold
This entire album (The Haunted Man) is great. I am extremely upset that I didn’t get to see these guys in concert this year. As perhaps you can tell from the video, it’s always a very… uh… expressive show.
7. The Ting Tings — One By One
Okay, so apparently the Ting Tings are one of those bands that is now in every commercial, from beer to cars. And for good reason! Their songs are so catchy/fun/etc. Sure, this song isn’t as great as “That’s Not My Name!” But it’s still solid, and the whole album is a good listen.
8. Shearwater — Immaculate
I don’t know why, but for me this was not a year for fast, driving, epic-sounding, male-vocalist rock songs. I think this is the only one on the list, and really the only one I listened to much this year.
9. Robert Glasper Experiment (w/ Mos Def) — Black Radio
I had no idea who Robert Glasper was, but I listened to an interview with him (about this album) during a drive from Portland to Seattle and (1) he seemed like a great guy and (2) this album sounded like a great album. And it was! Basically a sort of modern jazz-ish album, where he gets all sorts of great people to do vocals. This is the track with Mos Def. There’s one with Erykah Badu, one with Lupe Fiasco, etc.
10. Fiona Apple — Hot Knife
Another paragraph-length album name! More strange but great songs! This one is almost a cappella… almost. And it really doesn’t sound like a finished song. But it is. Listen to it once and then try to get it out of your head.
11. Chairlift — Guilty as Charged
A song about trial procedure! It describes a courtroom! Obviously, I love it.
12. Kanye West — Mercy
Do you feel like wide screen videos are just not narrow enough? Do you want to hear some new portmanteaus using the words “ashtray,” “earthquake,” and “estate” combined with the word “ass”? Do you wish more songs had a weird interlude where the backing track drops out and is replaced with what sounds like 80s music from the Scarface soundtrack? Do you miss that distinctive flem-removing “yeeuchk” from every Clipse track? Well then… I’ve got a song you just might enjoy…
13. Cat Power — Manhattan
I had a hard time picking a song from this album; they are all so good.
14. The Walkmen — Love Is Luck
Another “album” pick. This was one of my favorite albums of the year.
15. Best Coast — Let’s Go Home
Can you tell I’m losing energy on these post-link descriptions/comments? Just enjoy the song!
16. Beach House — New Year
Again, one of the best albums of the year. I probably listened to this album more than any other over the course of 2012. And I’m still not even close to being “sick of it” or “done” or whatever. Weird that the “official” video is a bunch of poor-quality home videos from the band, starting with a shot of two cats running around. But whatever.
17. Chromatics — Lady
This may well have been my favorite song of the year, even though it takes more than 30 seconds for anything to happen, and then 1:15 before there are any lyrics or anything. And even then, it just sort of meanders along. But for some reason, I love it. So there.
Ryan Adams — Lucky Now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp064T7rQSk (yes, it’s from 2011, but I didn’t really start listening to it until this year)
Mumford & Sons — I Will Wait http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGKfrgqWcv0
DIIV — Sometime http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHIRgeURQ6U
Seapony — See Me Cry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhP_05Ay0y8 (the intro sounds a LITTLE bit like the Smiths)
THEESatisfaction — Sweat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QmuVLieYpQ (GREAT album release concert!)
Dum Dum Girls — Season in Hell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GPvbcOKTOw (I sort of think I love this band)
Cookie Duster — Living on a Fine Line (there’s no youtube for this song?!?) substitute song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqPboDfWauc
Andrew Bird — When That Helicopter Comes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-HRcVXz3vk
Shilpa Ray — Nocturnal Emissions
First of all, it’s a good song/video. But second of all, I’m in the credits! Woo hoo!
Okay, that’s it. Please leave your picks in the comments below, or make your own list and send me the link!