TOP 10 SONGS of 2012

I’ll be counting down the Top 10 Songs of 2012 starting on Monday morning. But before that begins, and since I had such a tough time narrowing this list down to only 10, here are a few honorable mention songs that just missed the cut, in alphabetical order by artist.

BARONESS/ EULA

BURIAL/ ASHTRAY WASP

JAPANDROIDS/ YOUNGER US

PORT ST. WILLOW/ TOURIST

SWANS/ AVATAR

TAME IMPALA/ APOCALYPSE DREAMS

THE TOP 10:

#10 FRANK OCEAN/ SWEET LIFE

The sharpness of the production quality on Frank Ocean’s debut album is never more evident than on its strongest track, a jazzy, airy lounge anthem that combines a sprinkling of piano, a steady synth bass line and soaring horns all together with Ocean’s fantastic vocal range.

#9 CHROMATICS/ THESE STREETS WILL NEVER LOOK THE SAME

This is a masterful example of a slow burn that builds tension steadily, as a despondent male autotune vocal accrues elements of ominous piano, a hypnotizing, repetitious but effective guitar pluck and dance beats that deliver exponentially increasing payoffs with each passing moment of its eight minute length.

#8 JOHN TALABOT/ SO WILL BE NOW

More than anything else on John Talabot’s smashing debut, we see the peak of his abilities pertaining to restraint and arrangement on its closing track, as¬†Pional’s vocal loop slowly picks up additional elements of trip-hoppy snap and cymbal percussion beneath its soothing, robotic house synth groove.

#7 FLYING LOTUS/ THE NIGHTCALLER

All of the best Flying Lotus songs always consist of some type of mid-song tempo shift, and Until The Quiet Comes standout “The Nightcaller” is no exception, beginning with buzzing, robotic synth and spooky dance beats that shift halfway through into a swanky jazz groove.

#6 GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR/ WE DRIFT LIKE WORRIED FIRE

Over its first ten minutes, the song evolves slowly, beginning with a simple guitar line and picking up additional violin elements one by one until all of a sudden, it becomes a sprawling masterpiece of a song. By the midway point, guitar lines are soaring high into the heavens, and at just about the point when we probably can no longer take it, the track suddenly shifts and takes a brief pause. But the band powers on, and the song gains an unsettling edge that is the perfect set up for its eventual release. There’s such a massive combination of musical wonder going on here that words alone begin to do it an injustice, but suffice to say that all bets are off once the pounding percussion and soaring electric guitar give way into a folk violin solo through the coda.

#5 GRIMES/ SKIN

Claire Boucher demonstrates her acumen for arrangement on the standout penultimate track from her breakthrough album, utilizing an enormous amount of spaciousness to create an remarkably intimate and powerful sendoff that showcases her very best vocal as well.

#4 TRUST/ SULK

A gorgeous, fuzzed out opening synth chord steadily picks up additional elements, including clap-drum percussion and lead singer Robert Alfons’ eerily distant but oddly comforting vocal to create the most emotional moment on Trust’s surprisingly strong debut album of dark electronica.

#3 KENDRICK LAMAR/ M.A.A.D. CITY

There’s an array of strong tracks I could choose from the stunning debut from Compton’s Kendrick Lamar, but it’s this centerpiece that is perhaps the song that west coast rap has been waiting for since 2Pac left us. Lamar’s voice reaches an affective, high pitched paranoia underneath a spooky beat before MC Eiht enters the picture and the track suddenly shifts into an enormous violin line and heavy bass that do the old school west coast rap genre proud while maintaining a sense of originality and innovation.

#2 GRIZZLY BEAR/ YET AGAIN

This is arguably the most impressive track on the band’s career topping effort Shields, as Ed Droste has clearly refined his vocal technique, utilizing a rich falsetto not unlike that of notable fan and tour mate Thom Yorke. The song builds and releases with its addictive melody throughout a relatively simple structure, but the band takes it up a notch in a shocking final minute of screeching distortion that lies in heavy contrast to what came before it.

#1 BEACH HOUSE/ MYTH

Opener “Myth” might just be the prettiest single thing that the constantly improving dream pop band Beach House has ever written, and it makes you shake your head in disbelief that they are able to continue to create melodies like this one without breaking into any new musical ground. Simply put, this is what the band’s best music sounds like, and they want to keep making more of it by just doing what they do rather than trying to outsmart themselves. A gloriously repetitive keyboard loop stretches itself behind lead singer Victoria LeGrand’s gorgeous vocal, but the real magic happens in the final thirty seconds when a synthesized violin takes over and leads us into the coda before the song stops suddenly and leaves us hypnotized. There have been years where choosing the best song was a difficult decision to make; this was not one of them.

Explore posts in the same categories: Tunes

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