Evan’s Best Music of 2012: Part II

Because one part just isn’t enough.

Reading this, I’m assuming you’re back for part two of my Best Music of 2012 series, and for that I would first like to say ‘thank you,’ that meaning ‘thank you for sticking by me because I honestly didn’t think I’d make it to a third post.’ This installment will include singles #30-#16 because what’s a best of list without some dramatic effect? However this installment boasts ‘insider commentary’ on each of my selections, that’s just because of my deep appreciation to my craft (if my constant praise of Christina Aguilera’s Bionic wasn’t enough to confirm that) because I am a true ‘music journalist.’

(There are also little pictures of each artist attached, so yeah, that’s fun too.)

EVAN’S TOP SONGS OF 2012: #30-#16

Though voted out of competition in the first round of Sweden’s Eurovision qualifying stage Melodifestivalen, “The Girl” accomplishes something that little to no modern pop tunes have the ability to do; grip you tight and never let go until the very end. Perrelli’s ascending vocals soar high over the disco strings and thumping bass, taking you on a glittery, starlit white-knuckle ride until the final crescendo, making sure you make fast friends with the repeat button in the process.

Eleven years after the group’s last effort, 2001’s Rock Steady, No Doubt triumphantly return with the same funk-infused groove that brought them to the dance in the first place with just enough dub to show the cool kids how it’s done. The dancehall-ready party-starter see Gwen and the boys team up with both Jamaican reggae artist Busy Signal and Major Lazer, a collaboration generating something current that still undeniably screams No Doubt.

28. DEMI LOVATO – “Give Your Heart A Break”
A stunning dance-ballad accompanied by a massive string section reminiscent of The Veronicas’ “Untouched,” “Give Your Heart A Break” managed to both set a standard for Demi’s contemporaries while subsequently distancing herself away from them just enough to stand out on her own. Unlike many of today’s chart-toppers, “Give Your Heart A Break” manages to sound refreshingly modern without so much of a hint of harsh electro, allowing Lovato’s impressive range be the main focus.

27. ALUNAGEORGE – “Your Drums, Your Love”
Lauded in the blogosphere (well shit, I hate that term) for their debut EP You Know You Like It, Aluna Francis and George Reid maintained the hype and avoided the sophomore slump with the release of “Your Drums, Your Love,” a slinky, textured club-worthy cut with a hook that embeds like an earworm. Over spaced-out garage, Francis sweetly delivers the song’s massive chorus “I’ve been treading water for your love/Whether I sink or swim/It’s you I’m thinking of,” showcasing a fine-tuned sophistication that most artists take years to develop.

26. JESSIE WARE – “Wildest Moments”
Ditching futuristic dream-pop for booming bass and ethereal, earthy undertones, “Wildest Moments” proves that Jessie Ware is more than just a one-trick pony. Unlike “110%” and “Strangest Feeling,” which both saw Ware glide over slick, laid-back grooves, “Wildest Moments” sees the 28 year-old cry out “On the outside/Everyone must be wondering why we try,” mulling over the ins and outs of a relationship she just can’t let go of.

25. FRANK OCEAN – “Pyramids”
It just wouldn’t be a “best of 2012” list without the mention of Frank Ocean. A little over a month before the release of his debut channel ORANGE, Ocean casually dropped this ten-minute masterpiece on his Soundcloud account. An eclectic mix of genres and styles without sounding the least bit superfluous, “Pyramids” manages to do it all. From ambient chillwave grooves to quirky, ethereal R&B to a guitar solo by none other than John Mayer himself.

24. SAINT ETIENNE – “Tonight”
A crafty, smart electronic tune about the simple pleasure of going to see your favorite band, “Tonight” shows that dance-pop pioneers Saint Etienne have still got it. Produced and co-written by electro maestro Richard X, “Tonight” is a shining example of a band not exactly being the freshest faces on the block still having what it takes to compete with the likes of stars half their age, and undeniably half their talent.

23. DUM DUM GIRLS – “Season In Hell”
This atmospheric cut from the band’s latest release End of Daze sees lead singer Dee Dee, a master in conveying emotion in her voice whilst showing no emotion whatsoever, exclaim “There’s always darkness to endure/On the path to be redeemed,” documenting her own personal hell on the road the redemption. A departure from the group’s lo-fi roots, “Season In Hell” is one of those songs so accessible, it keeps old fans happy while introducing the band to an entire new fanbase they never knew existed.

22. AZEALIA BANKS – “1991”
We all wondered how Azealia Banks was going to top her underground party-starter “212,” and a simple turnback of the clock was all it took to avoid the sophomore slump. On “1991,” the opening track off the EP of the same name, Banks pairs her quick tongue and defiant personality with a snappy house beat surely taken straight from year the song is named after.

21. THE KILLERS – “Runaways”
Combining their trademark heartland rock with new wave sensibilities brought forth on their previous effort Day & Age, Brandon Flowers and co. managed to recapture the magic that made “When You Were Young” and “Read My Mind” such treasures. There’s something about The Killers that always makes you think of home. No not your shit walk-up, but home. “Runaways” doesn’t disappoint, stirring that feeling of nostalgia with a raucous, sing-along chorus. It creating an enchanting, uplifting epic that’s surely to make you homesick.

20. DISCLOSURE – “Control”
It flips and buzzes and illuminates it’s way around you like a flrefly in the night; and its that bonkers mentality combined with the equally fluttering vocals of Rita Richie that make a song like “Control” get stuck in your head for days. Chopping and screwing Richie’s voice until it’s merely reduced to a scat, the garage duo manage to create a sensory overload so euphoric, you’ll be glad to succumb to it over and over again.

19. TAYLOR SWIFT – “State of Grace”
If “Control” is a firefly that does swings and roundabouts around your head, “State of Grace” is an eagle soaring sky-high. A true arena rock fist pumper, Swift’s refined use of guitar and triumphant, roof-raising introduction bring forth comparisons to acts like U2. While Swift’s songs are mostly driven by lyrics, “State of Grace” focuses on the build up, which finds itself speaking louder than any message childishly highlighted in an album booklet. Substituting grade school folly for a more mature, sophisticated take on the trials and tribulations of love, “State of Grace” reminds us of a message put forth by one Britney Spears: Swift isn’t a girl, and still not yet a woman. Yet.

18. 2NE1 – “I Love You”
Although bitter about how “Gangnam Style” achieved world domination and not this, “I Love You” managed to achieve what is known as a ‘perfect all-kill’ in Korea, an ascension to the top of every major music chart in the country. ‘Perfect-all-kill’ could also be said for the nature of the song itself. “I Love You” presents itself in acts: a speak-sing intro precedes the first verse that glides by in a utopian haze. A synthpop-laden second verse is next, which itself builds up to the massive chorus. A rap middle-8 and final chorus later, you’re left with a pop song that manages to cram in the best bits of not just pop, but dance, hip hop, and electronica in a little less than four minutes, little-to-no English necessary.

17. SKY FERREIRA – “Everything Is Embarrassing”
With a career that’s so far seemed like one huge identity crisis, it seems as if Sky Ferreira has finally found her calling with the melancholy new wave of “Everything Is Embarrassing.” The Ghost cut manages to distance itself from dance-pop singles like “One” and “Obsession,” with producer Dev Hynes complimenting Sky’s apathetic tone with ambient, filtered percussion and a highly distorted vocal sample.

16. JACK WHITE – “Love Interruption”
An awkwardly personal ode of a yearning for a relationship that will simply murder his own mother and take her to hell, Jack White’s first proper post-White Stripes solo effort is a drumless, minimalist affair that ironically doesn’t hold back. White’s ode to such primitive love mixes so well with Ruby Amanfu’s troubled, chirp-like backing vocal that the no-frills blue-eyed soul of “Love Interruption” serves as the perfect way to introduce Jack’s solo career while also a way to burn the records with Alicia Keys and Insane Clown Posse out of our memories for good.

  1. ron said:

    I think I’d describe No Doubt’s groove as ‘ska infused’ more than “funk”.
    Well done list so far.
    Looking forward to the top 15.

  2. Jesse Taylor said:

    #15-#1! I can’t wait to see it.

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