I know, I know, I already did a Best Albums of 2012 top ten, but I realized that there are a lot of songs out there that I listened to on repeat- orphan songs that didn’t belong to any albums (or albums I didn’t like, or albums I didn’t know). But they too deserve a spot. Its actually pretty hard to find my favorite songs that aren’t already on my album top 10 list– so I give you 8. If you feel like I missed one, please air your grievances in the comment section.
8- Skrillex- Bangarang
Ah, Skrillex. You and your asymmetrical hairdo. I remember early this year thinking: I wonder what Skrillex sounds like (besides wub wub) and I got hooked on this song. I suppose Bangarang (the EP) was technically released late 2011, but whose really checking. Bangarang is an awesome word, which I have tried to bring into common vocabulary for months. It comes, not as you might believe from the movie Hook with his little hottie Roofio screaming it across Neverland, but instead, from the Jamaican word meaning hubub, which is just as well. Drum and bass at its finest, with a crazy little video. Ahh. its so good.
7- Gotye ft. Kimbra- Somebody That I Used To Know
The second I heard this song for the first time, blasting through someone’s car window on my street, it was everywhere: commercials, every TV shows, every pop-culture reference, the radio, memes, life. It’s pop perfection.
So I asked myself, why is this a song we can all agree on loving? What is it about this song that makes it universally loveable? Maybe its the dramatic breakdowns, with Kimbra’s voice really grabbing a hold of the listener’s emotions. Maybe its the fact that the whole song sounds like Sting- but I know that isn’t what makes it universally appealing.
Perhaps its the theme, breakups. Everyone knows what that is like. I know what you will say: that can’t be it, my scientific research shows approximately 50% of songs are about breakups. So why is this song so special?
Somebody That I Used To Know is sad enough to let you wallow in self pity, but cheerful enough to let you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Its that song you listen to a few months PB (post breakup) that tells you both “I am going to stay in bed for 3 days eating nothing but Chunky Monkey ice cream while watching Downton Abbey” and “Get your tush out that door, and into that dance club, you’ve got some flirting to do.” This song is so perfect, because believe it or not, its complicated enough to encompass a range of emotions. Plus its groovy. And that is what I have to say about that.
6- Japandroids- The House That Heaven Built
I would play this song if I had a big race to run. Or a boxing match. Or before I would kick my nemesis’ ass. Or tell an evil boss to go shove it. Or tell the guy I have a crush on that I want to have his babies. Its like a pep-talk, in a song. Somebody described this as Rocky Balboa with a little bit of punk rock. I can’t disagree. The Canadian band Japandroids is just making appearance on my musical horizon, I imagine there will be more to come.
5- First Aid Kit- Emmylou
Duh. I don’t actually know why I didn’t put the whole album in my top ten. The Lion’s Roar was actually quite spectacular. I think maybe what I felt was that it starts out strong- from the title track to the 4th or 5th song- then I start losing interest. Emmylou is a sweet love song with an interesting melody, sung by Swedish sister’s who consider the Fleet Foxes and Joanna Newsom (WHAT?!) as their influences (who can say no to that). Drunken Trees, and the Big Black and the Blue, their previous albums, are also really lovely. Nothing like a good old fashioned love song to lift your spirits, especially one that evokes great rock ‘n roll couples of times long gone.
4- Macklemore and Ryan Lewis- Can’t Hold Us
I first heard about this guy when his video for Same Love went viral. A hip-hop song supporting gay marriage? Can’t go wrong with that. Then, when his NPR Tiny Desk Concert came out, everything blew up. Macklemore-mania. While I like most of the songs on his debut album, The Heist, the collection as a whole is a little bit too unrefined for me. Its not that I don’t understand that many songs these days revolve around money and “ladies,” but it is his slightly joking tone that gets me. He doesn’t seem to take too much seriously.
Let me explain: One entire song is dedicated to his Nike Airs (“I touched the net, Momma I touched the net, this is the best day of my life/ Air Max’s was next”- Wing$) and a whole other one dedicated to Thrift Shopping (“hey be like, “Oh, that/ Gucci – that’s hella tight.”/ I’m like, “Yo – that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.”/ Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition/ Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant bitch (shit)”) which is all very cute and catchy, but I just don’t get it. Not completely at least.
Perhaps it his attempt to analyze consumerism among urban youth, and take down the whole capitalist cobweb we are all entangled in, but perhaps not. It just seems that these topics are more serious than Mr. Macklemore gives them credit for.
But I digress. Maybe simple is good. Like in Make the Money, where he says: “Make the money, don’t let the money make you/ Change the game, don’t let the game change you.” Also this song, Can’t Hold Us is absolutely one of my favorites this year. The beat is uplifting, with LOVELY vocals accompanying the rhyme. I put this song on and my walk turns into a strut. No joke.
3- Kanye West- Mercy
What can I say. I ❤ this. You got 2 Chainz (which I can take or leave), Pusha T, Big Sean. and Ye.
I don’t know why the Huffington Post even commented on this song, but they did. And this is what they said: “”lyrically, ‘Mercy’ doesn’t have much to it, but it’s a competent piece of braggadocio.” I have to disagree. The ass metaphors (ass-quake, ass-state, ass-tray) is pure poetic genius. No joke.
All the leather and keffiyehs in the video remind me a bit of a S&M al-Qaeda party. But who am I to judge.
2- Diplo- Express Yourself (NSFW)
Maybe my favorite 2012 discovery is Diplo, a Philadelphia music producer and songwriter. You might know his dance hall-y stuff under the name Major Lazer. Besides being oh-so-cute, he also makes amazing music. He also took his name from the dinosaur Diplodocus, which is both nerdy and hot. The video is amazing (though def not suitable for work) and body positive (me thinks?)
This song, part daggering, part Louisiana booty bounce, part dub- is pretty much perfect.
1- Rudimental- Feel the Love
First of all, urban cowboys. That is really all I should be saying about this song/video. But I must indulge. This song was HUGE in England this year but somehow missed the mark in the US- I am not sure why. This group hails from Hackney, and the gritty electro beats are definitely witness to that. I like the dubsteppy, funky, jazzy vibe, and the soulful lyrics. Did I mention I love urban cowboys?? I listen to this song all the time. No joke. Turn that ish up.