Skip to main content

Top 10 Songs of 2012

It was a pretty solid year for music. Nothing too extraordinary, but lots of consistent goodness. When it came time to compile my list of favorite songs from 2011, it felt as though I had to perhaps stretch it a bit in order to come up with ten tracks. With 2012, I'm leaving things on the cutting room floor. It is with great pleasure therefore that I present to you my favorite bits of music from the recently-departed 2012. Hope you find something you like!

10. The Marvelous Dream / Damon Albarn

The mastermind behind Gorillaz, and former lead singer of Blur, managed to craft a quirky little album for 2012 titled Dr. Dee. It's a bit of an acquired taste, and took a few listens for me to accept, but from the get-go, the brief Marvelous Dream track stuck out to me.

I'm still not sure exactly what it's about, but The Marvelous Dream manages to be one of those perfect blends of Albarn's voice, sparse yet building music, and interesting lyrics. It's stuck with me for most of the year, and so it rates being in the Top 10.

9. Everyone Says Hi / Claudia Brucken

Bavarian-born singer Claudia Brucken released an album of covers this year, helmed by possibly my absolute favorite music producer, Stephen Hague. While her rendition of Pet Shop Boys' Kings Cross was disappointing, her cover of David Bowie's Everyone Says Hi was excellent. Lush, strong and fragile, the track is definitely one of the year's best.

8. Night and Day / Hot Chip

Pop/dance band Hot Chip are good at two things: releasing albums on a pretty regular basis, and crafting at least a few songs per release that I dig very much. 2012's In Our Heads was no exception. From wistful ballads to uptempo tongue-in-cheek, Hot Chip produced another winner. My favorite of their newest offerings (although it was a tough choice) was Night and Day. This may have been bolstered a bit by the video, which features Terence "General Zod" Stamp.

7. Girl On Fire (Inferno version) / Alicia Keys & Nicki Minaj

Late in the year, I made the decision to push myself a bit in terms of the music I tended to dismiss out-of-hand. Included within this is much of the popular stuff that you might see on the Top 10 singles list on iTunes. Truth be told, I never really listen to the likes of Alicia Keys or Nicki Minaj. But in my quest to push some boundaries, I discovered their little gem of Girl on Fire. I quite like the juxtaposition of Keys' call-for-help vocals and Minaj's strong and edgy rap. Not too shabby.

6. Tonight / Saint Etienne

After two decades, the British synth-pop group Saint Etienne can still make some really good music. They haven't evolved much stylistically, but that's ok. When you do something well, best not to change much, eh? Their 2012 album (their first in seven years) was an ode to their love of music, and about growing older and still appreciating dance/pop, which is something I can relate to. Perhaps no other song from the album embodies this sentiment quite as well as Tonight.

5. Die In Your Arms / Justin Bieber

2012 was the year that I caught Bieber fever (apparently my flu shot didn't inoculate against it). His Believe album has actually had a number of pretty decent tracks, our # 5 entry included. I stumbled across it while seeing it ranked on iTunes, thinking it would be a crappy cover of Cutting Crews' '80s classic I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight. It wasn't a cover, and it wasn't crappy (although it does sample Michael Jackson's We've Got a Good Thing Going). This song contains a Matty-Matt favorite, that of the 'pathetic lyric.' The words and the way they are sung really pack a great deal of sadness and longing in them, and that kind of thing always grabs me.

4. Falling Free / Madonna

The best song off of Madonna's MDNA wasn't released as a single. The uneven album ends on a quiet, exquisite note with Falling Free. I've heard it said that, in her very best moments, Madonna's voice is reminiscent of Karen Carpenter's. This is notable in her classic song Rain, and in this one. Her voice is delicate, the lyrics poetic, the emphasis both sad and uplifting.

3. Memory of the Future / Pet Shop Boys

Have you ever met someone and either knew or felt something with them? You weren't sure exactly what it was, or if you even wanted it to be there, yet it existed? You are drawn to them, and they to you. And, when you begin to realize this, their involvement in your life becomes inevitable. That is what Memory of the Future is all about. And about it oh so well.

2. National Anthem / Lana Del Rey

I've mentioned this song before on the blog, and on my Facebook account. If you read both, then you no doubt know I really, really dig this tune. Ms. Del Rey is one of the best artists performing today, and this song deftly treads a fine balance between detached commentary and emotional fragility. I still love it when someone says we can party later on.

1. American / Lana Del Rey

National Anthem was pretty much set to be my song of the year, and then Ms. Del Rey up and releases a new mini-album a month or so ago, and darn it, we're treated to yet more awesomeness, including our # 1 song of the year.

It is difficult for me to put into words why I love American. The soaring chorus, the wonderful voice of Ms. Del Rey, the fragility intertwined with the pure, loving nature of the song. I still can't do it justice. But I play it over, and over, and over again.

2012 was, for me, a year full of love. Love for other people, love of country, love of life. I think this is why I like American so much.

And there you have it. My Top 10 favorite songs of 2012. It was a very good year.


Popular posts from this blog

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …

Third Death

My father has had three funerals. The third (though perhaps not final) one, was last night.
In reality, Lewis died in 1997. Cancer. Aged 52. He had a real funeral. I was there. The next two funerals occurred only in my dreams, yet they seemed real at the time, and their impact during the waking hours was keenly felt.
You see, during the intervening nineteen years, Lewis has come back to life in my dreams, many times. It is more than simply having a dream about him. During these nighttime images, it is noted that Lewis shouldn't be there, that he died of cancer and is resting six feet under. How, then, could he be alive and, seemingly, healthy?

Thoughts on an Election

Before I get started on the ruminations of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, I'll begin by saying I really have no clue as to who our next president will be. I've always fretted over the outcome of elections, regardless of the polls, and this year is no different. Especially this year. A good case can be made as to why Hillary Clinton will become our 45th president. All one has to do is look at the polls. Clinton has a comfortable lead in many states, enough to make one think that she will win handily on November 8th.
Of course, polls can be wrong. 538 gives Clinton's changes of winning in the low-mid 80 percent range. Several polls would seem to agree. Many Republicans are jumping ship from Trump. The race looks over. But of course, humanity isn't as easily predictable as polling would have us believe. Things happen. People can surprise us. And, for better or worse, I think that Donald Trump may very well become our next president.