As hard it was to narrow down to 10 albums, picking 20 songs was even tougher. Here’s my “best” of 2012, though there’s plenty more out there. Also, I’m just posting the videos for your reference…they didn’t influence my pick of the song at all. I also have the playlist on Spotify.
20. When I Was Young – Nada Surf
Reengaged with Nada Surf for the first time since obsessing over Let Go in the early 2000s. This whole album is worth a visit, but this song in particular is beautifully nostalgic. Almost wish I’d picked “We Are Young” by Fun. to juxtapose.
19. Eyeoneye – Andrew Bird
I kept forgetting about this album, but each time this song came up I’d have to look it up. Catchy hook for pretty damn depressing lyrics that I may or may not identify with a bit too much.
18. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Resistance is futile.
17. The Drummer – Niki & The Dove
This album was in my top 10 and this song is one of those you can end up with on repeat. Such a driving beat, I heard this as a sample on the NPR All Songs Considered podcast and got hooked on the album. Also, if you see this performed live you’ll be a sweaty mess by the end.
16. & It Was U – How to Dress Well
15. Emmylou – First Aid Kit
Are your panties back on? Good. This song has the same gist, but in a gorgeous, simple, and musical history way.
14. The Way a Sound Leaves a Room – Sarah Jaffe
The version on the record is so sparse and haunting, the piano and her voice give me massive chills.
13. Default – Django Django
Hard to pick one track from my album of the year, but this sums up everything I love about Django Django. Catchy hook, driving beat, clever lyrics and irrepressible urge to shake your booty.
12. Some Nights – Fun.
Say what you will, but there’s a time and place for arena rock. 2012 found me embracing Fun., despite wanting to eye roll at them the same way I’d detested The Killers and Foster the People in the past. I think it’s the Queen emulation, although no one will ever come close.
11. Offspring Are Blank – Dirty Projectors
This song! Ah! I totally get if it’s inaccessible to you, but once it becomes accessible I dare you to not crank the volume.
10. Stay Away from Downtown – Redd Kross
The whole album is truly fucking addictive, I just came to it too late to get it in my top 10. This song sounds like it’s been around forever (in a good way) and could easily be on a mix tape between Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” and The Knack’s “My Sharona.”
9. Thrift Shop (feat. Wanz) – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Yes I realize “Same Love” has far more cultural and political significance, but as a lifelong “tag popper” this song is “fucking awesome.”
8. The Only Place – Best Coast
I can roll my eyes at Bethany Cosentino along with everyone else, but this song coming out during my second year in California hit a definite chord with me. Why would you live anywhere else?
7. Adorn – Miguel
Hey girl, did you enjoy that break after How to Dress Well? I’ll let you relight the candles…
6. The House That Heaven Built – Japandroids
Life is awesome. You are awesome. Take on the world! Yeah! Fuck yeah!
5. Bright Whites – Kishi Bashi
Can a song be adorable? Can you hug a song? Or can a song just hug you every time you hear it?
4. Elephant – Tame Impala
Did you hear that bass line?
3. Hot Knife – Fiona Apple
The closer to her album, this song is – in the words of TLC – crazy/sexy/cool. It warrants the Nina Simone comparisons for Fiona.
2. Thinkin Bout You – Frank Ocean
There’s a reason this is on everyone’s list this year. Instant classic.
1. You Ain’t Alone – Alabama Shakes
Speaking of “instant classic,” the reason this song beat out Frank Ocean is precisely for its timeless quality. It could’ve been sung by Etta or Janis and probably will be covered by their equivalent in the future. This song and Brittany Howard’s wailin’ reaches straight into the gut to touch the soul. I will never get sick of hearing this.