It’s that time of year again: A time to debate, bicker and bitch relentlessly–that’s right, it’s “Best Of” season!
Below is a list of my Top 50 favorite singles from 2012, which will inevitably be crucified, panned and ultimately deemed worthless in various forums. Or maybe not! Maybe you’ll love it so, so much that you’ll print it out and use it as wallpaper or something. But let’s face it: This is the Internet–you’ll probably just be really, really mad.
This isn’t a Pitchfork-ian snob fest, nor the Billboard 100–it’s just a list of the (many) songs that I loved the most in 2012. (And by loved, I mean either danced to on a table at 3 AM, sobbed to in my car at 3 AM, or sobbed to while dancing on a table at 3 AM.)
I’ve included a Spotify link at the end so that you can hear these flaw-free gems in one place. Happy listening!
49.) No Doubt – “Push and Shove”
48.) MNDR – “Feed Me Diamonds”
47.) Delta Goodrem – “Dancing With A Broken Heart”
46.) Nicki Minaj – “Pound the Alarm”
44.) Katy Perry – “Part of Me”
43.) Wynter Gordon – “Still Getting Younger”
42.) Example – “Say Nothing”
41.) Utada Hikaru – “桜流し (Sakura Nagashi)”
39.) Ellie Goulding – “Figure 8”
38.) Agnes – “All I Want Is You”
37.) Wild At Heart – “Darling”
36.) Nicki Minaj – “Va Va Voom”
34.) BoA – “Only One”
33.) Kelly Clarkson – “Dark Side”
32.) Gossip – “Move In The Right Direction”
31.) JoJo – “Sexy To Me”
29.) Morgan Page – “Body Work (feat. Tegan & Sara)”
28.) Charli XCX – “You’re The One”
27.) Cheryl Cole – “Call My Name”
26.) Róisín Murphy – “Simulation”
24.) Bright Light Bright Light – “Feel It”
23.) Sam Sparro – “I Wish I Never Met You”
22.) Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven”
21.) Icona Pop – “I Love It”
20.) Christina Aguilera – “Your Body”
Legendtina’s Max Martin collaboration (she waited over a decade to let him work with her, you know) was so much more than what we, her faithful unbreakable flowers, could have ever imagined: The unofficial Grindr anthem found the merrily working her way through a series of anonymous men on top of a sleazy ho stroll of a beat that wouldn’t soon allow us forget her name. Despite what true music lovers might SAY, “Your Body” probably isn’t really one of the Top 20 best tracks of the year, but what would 2012 have been without her Kool-Aid stained extension wearing, baseball bat wielding, delusional self? She came (HA!), she saw (SAY!), and she fucked our bodies raw. It’s #LotusPromo, bitch.
18.) Madonna – “Girl Gone Wild”
17.) Demi Lovato – “Give Your Heart A Break”
16.) Marina and the Diamonds – “Power & Control”
15.) Kylie Minogue – “Timebomb”
2012 was Kylie’s #K25, a year-long celebration of 25 years in the industry for the pint-sized pop goddess. And while she delighted us all with monthly treats looking back at her prolific career, the dance diva dropped a massive glitter bomb on us in the summer with “Timebomb,” an all-new, X-era-esque rush of surging electro-pop bliss. With its euphoric chorus (WHOOP!), breathy temptations (“Wait…no, please don’t make me wait!) and throbbing synthesized pulsations, it was all but impossible to resist Kylie’s latest Kreation. And really, who would ever want to?
13.) Pet Shop Boys – “Leaving”
12.) Solange – “Losing You”
11.) Jessie Ware – “Wildest Moments”
10.) Rihanna – “Diamonds”
After coming off the sweat-drenched high of “Where Have You Been” over the summer, Rihanna took a major leap of faith (and an equally major drop in BPM) for her stunning lead single from Unapologetic. Relying on chilly ’80’s synthesizers and a tribal drum stomp, the Barbadian beauty reached deep within to deliver one of her most soulful offerings yet, aided by an instantly infectious melody crafted by today’s most reliable fount of pop genius, Sia. “Diamonds” certainly didn’t cater to radio’s dance-pop obsession, but it didn’t matter: Radio catered to Rihanna.
9.) Azealia Banks – “212 (feat. Lazy Jay)”
Hey, she can be the answer: Just as Nicki Minaj was exploding with her batch of saccharine-sweet pop-rap tunes in early 2012, newcomer Azealia Banks came crashing into (semi) mainstream consciousness with “212,” a feverish explosion of rude come-ons (“I guess that cunt getting eaten” is almost certainly one of the most memorable lyrics of 2012), and spitfire energy recalling Missy Elliott. Between the no-nonsense rapped verses, dramatic crooning and aggressively yelped chorus above the stinging electro beats, the song plays like three in one–and it all ties together effortlessly. It’s not only a gruff alternative to Minaj’s fluff, but a solid debut from an artist with plenty of promise in 2013.
8.) Frank + Derol – “Barely Love You Too”
Up-and-coming pop duo Frank + Derol–the pairing of singer Codi Caraco and Miley’s half-sister, Brandi Cyrus–made their quiet, phenomenal debut mid-summer with “Barely Love You Too,” a hypnotic midtempo destined tailor-made for a proper pensive sunset drive. There’s simply something magical lurking within the fuzzy, lo-fi production: With its twinkling synthesizers, earnest vocals and lonesome echoes in the distance, it’s the stuff of California sun-soaked teenage dreams, with the kind of haunting melodies that’d have the Beach Boys beaming with pride.
7.) Marina and the Diamonds – “Primadonna”
Ah, the sick, soulless world of Electra Heart: Teaming up with pop’s most powerful production team (Dr. Luke & Cirkut), Welsh singer-songwriter Marina & The Diamonds carved out a brilliant first taste from her concept-heavy sophomore record: “Primadonna,” a searing slice of sarcasm-laden lavishness. Twirling her way across a synthesized pulse and a shimmering anti-chorus (a la Britney‘s 2011 smash “Hold It Against Me”), our dastardly antiheroine demands nothing less than a life of glitz and glamour, all revolving around the most perfect, tongue-in-cheek pop zinger of the year: “All I ever wanted was the world.”
6.) Rihanna – “Where Have You Been”
Where could one possibly go after 2011’s dance floor masterpiece, “We Found Love”? For Rihanna, as always, the answer was higher: Talk That Talk‘s “Where Have You Been” is an almost mind-bogglingly perfect explosion of clubland sound. But it’s that sizzling, Ecstasy-induced post-chorus dance breakdown–provided by the likes of Cirkut, Dr. Luke and Calvin Harris–which proved so utterly massive and so undeniably danceable that it even forced the Illuminati High Priestess Navy Commander to break trend and learn some proper choreography. (And by that, I mean vagina voguing.) No club-pop cut in 2012 could truly compare.
5.) Lana Del Rey – “National Anthem”
Lana Del Rey has a funny way of conjuring a nostalgia you never knew existed. For her perfectly timed summertime single, the throwback singer-songstress longingly speak-purrs her way across moody hip-hop production and dramatic strings while evoking only the most decadent of American dreams. “Money is the reason we exist/Everybody knows it, it’s a fact, kiss kiss,” Lana innocently whispers above the song’s tripping beat, co-crafted by Emile Haynie and Jeff Bhasker. Sure, she’ll never be everyone’s can of Pepsi Cola–but for those already sitting in the backseat of her Bugatti Vayron, “National Anthem” was the song that had us all seeing red, white, blue in the sky and firmly swearing allegiance to Lady Lana.
4.) Cassie – “King of Hearts”
She may not have the most rock solid career strategy of all time, but on Valentine’s Day, Cassie dropped one hell of a sensual surprise: “King of Hearts” finds the icy-R&B songstress moaning up on top of hand claps and chilly electronica tingles. As the song goes on, Ibiza-imported tribal House beats fill out within the speakers, and the singer’s seductive come-ons slowly layer onto the track. “Baby, why you playin?” she teases. The song builds steadily, as Cassie’s lust-filled coos and moans intensify and the beats pound harder still–faster and faster until finally reaching its aching climax. It’s easily the year’s best bang–err, banger. You just might need a cigarette when all’s said and done.
3.) Girls Aloud – “Something New”
Three years after hanging up their sky-high stilettos and announcing their hiatus, the Almighty Aloud came roaring back this year with–well, “Something New.” From the very first second (“Go girls, g-g-go, go, go!”), the massive corker of a comeback track surges forth with the kind of ferociousness that firmly secures the Aloud as the greatest UK girl group of the 21st century. From the boldly yelped declarations (“Follow the leader!”) to the euphoric early ’90’s piano-led House pulsations–even down to the fierceness of the title alone (as to imply that everything else on the radio sounds the same!)–“Something New” kept Queen Nuhdeen, Cheryl, Sarah, Kimberley and Nicola leading the pack, leaving acts like Little Mix and The Saturdays gagging on their glittery dust. Tell me: Can you handle that?
2.) Lana Del Rey – “Ride”
Back in July, Lana Del Rey announced that she would be re-issuing her debut record Born To Die, along with a set of new songs to “put a period on the statement that I was making when I was making the record.” “Ride” is the concluding chapter of Lana’s journey this year, and the very epitome of her excellence: From the first few seconds alone–the lonesome moans, the dramatic strings, the haunting piano melody–the song fills out gorgeously, as the talented singer-songstress sets off on a desert drive leading off into the unknown, belonging to everyone, belonging to no one. “I drive fast, I am alone in the night,” she quivers throughout her majestic masterpiece. With “Ride,” Lana Del Rey effectively “Bad Romance”-d her own “Just Dance.”
1.) Sky Ferreira – “Everything Is Embarrassing”
Like a Christina Aguilera career retrospective, Sky Ferreira keeps getting better–even if she doesn’t have an album yet.
After collaborating with Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and Ariel Rechtshaid, the electro-pop lolita-turned-indie darling-turned-grunge goddess slipped into soulful songstress mode, resulting in the year’s best, most endlessly repeatable offering: From the very first line (“Everything and nothing always haunts me”), no other song this year cuts as deep or feels as raw as “Everything”–a song that fully captures the dejection, futility and hopelessness of a relationship that’ll never work out (or never really was to begin with.) The blend of Sky’s haunting, worldweary vocals and those dreary piano chords, juxtaposed with the tripping ’80’s beats and occasional twinkles of electronica makes for just the right combination of earnestness and heartbreak.
In 2012, everything truly was embarrassing.