Musically speaking, 2012 was one for the records - offering us stellar new outings from Dragonette, Madonna, Crystal Castles and - after much waiting - the first official albums from Tanlines and Niki and The Dove. It was also the year that Canadians rivaled the Swedes in pop excellence.
But many of us also seemed to mix up 'inspiration' with plain old plagiarism... people ate up Justin Bieber's note by note rendition of that other - much better - Justin; they turned Bruno Mars' Police rip-off into a number one hit...and yes, millions still praised Gaga's shameless Madonna karaoke act. What happened to new thinking? Do we really believe, as one young Youtuber recently posted, 'everything has been done already so it's ok to copy'? Does pop music have to equal recycled crap? The answer - clearly - is NO ...and the proof is below.
So next time you are about to waste your $1.49 on a Demi Lovato song - consider any of these 22 singles. The best of the year in my opinion... in descending order for a little suspense. Happy New Year everyone!
22. ‘Golden Light’ – Twin Shadow
From the Dominican Republic. Yes, really. I dig people who break negative stereotypes (Pitbull and J-Lo– can you retire now and stop embarrassing an entire community with your artless, tacky crap?). This guy writes music for film, has created awesome remixes for people way more famous than he is and – in my opinion – was the best male artist this year. By the way.. is that the theme of 1987’s vampire flick ‘The Lost Boys’ buried in the chorus? I wouldn’t put it past him.
21. 'You Stood Me Up' - DWNTWN
Just because I'm a sucker for 80's style synth...
20. 'Paddling Out' - Miike Snow
Always fun. Always off beat.
19. ‘Put Me To Work’ – PAPA
What if Bruce Spingsteen had sprung from 2012 Brooklyn instead of early 80’s New Jersey?
18. ‘All Of Me’ – Tanlines
Timeless pop. Could have been a hit anytime between1981 and today.
17. 'Up All Night' - Oliver Tank
Let's get it on...
16. ‘We Are Young’ - Fun.
Well done American radio listeners. I sort of forgive you for all of the other crap you request. Sort of.
15. 'Sweet Nothing' - Calvin Harris Feat. Florence Welch
This Brit does with Florence Welch what he did with Rihanna last year: he recruited a so-so lady and turned out a golden dance track. One of the best videos of the year.
14. ‘Ghosts’ – ON AND ON
Fresh out of the oven. No album yet. Band to watch in 2013.
13. ‘Time To Dance’ – The Shoes
Irresistible chant-along-indie-dance-track! Now, there’s a micro category for you. Plus, Jake Gylenhaal as a mass murderer in the video? Bring it
12. ‘Catch My Breath’ – Kelly Clarkson
With 3 big radio hits, this was the year of Kelly Clarkson. What I still love about her – 11 years after I kept voting for her On American idol (TMI?) - is that she can rule the airwaves with unforgettable pop songs , with one of the best voices out there, and manages to feel very much under the radar. Here’s to the constant underdog.
11. ‘Days’ – The Drums
Any band that uses Amanda Lepore in their video deserves to be on the best of list. Plus, it’s a kick ass song.
10. ‘Plague’ – Crystal Castles
From the best album this year; it’s also the track with the best video this year. I couldn’t have picked a better film to complement the creepy vibe of this song than 1981’s “Possession” with Sam Neil and Isabelle Adjani.
9) 'Summertime Sadness’ – Lana del Rey
Finally! A summer song for those who appreciate a little misery with our sunshine. Del Rey’s magic trick is to add gloss, allure and sex appeal to tragedy. Very Hollywood.
8) ‘Dj Ease My Mind’ – Niki and the Dove
Disco renaissance done right.
7) ‘Closer’ – Tegan and Sara
These twins came up with the catchiest , most awesome chorus this year. Canada strikes again!
6) ‘To You’ – Young Wonder
I was hooked with the Eastern Undertones on this one. A song of mourning that manages to uplift. ‘See you, See you in the next life’…
5) ‘212’ – Azealia Banks
Is it fair to compare women just because they’re female rappers? Who cares? I’ll do it anyway. Ms Banks’ chops and gritty feel make Niki Minaj feel as vapid and gimmicky as Lady Gaga. Her EP was huge. Another one to watch next year.
4) ‘Dig Into the Waves’ – Freelance Whales
Yup, Hipster world circa 2008 is still very much alive in this nostalgic tune about relationships that are worth saving.
3) ‘Anything could happen’ – Ellie Goulding
2) ‘Steve McQueen’ – M83
The best track of 2011’s brilliant ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’. Like the album, it captures the thrill of being a nine year old: That mixture of awe and horror at your newfound powers.
1) ‘PULL ME DOWN’ – MIKKI EKKO
My pick for best track of the year backs up this blog's premise: you can be unapologetically pop and mainstream and still have a soul and some originality. Here’s a love song that’s so well crafted that it makes me wish I wasn’t so damn single every time I hear it … at least for three and a half perfect minutes.