Best Of 2012: Top 100 Songs (#50-1)

Hey, look! A 100 song list! That I have finished! Completely! And it’s only 9 days into 2013, so I’m only 9 days late.

Anyway, here’s the top 50 and here’s a Spotify playlist with the top 50 from 2012 (minus Emeli Sandé’s “Read All About It (Part III)” because it’s not on Spotify).

#50 The A Team
Ed Sheeran
Say no to drugs, kids
Blown Away
Carrie Underwood
Blown Away
Not a blowjob innuendo
#48 Love This Life
Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head
Now out of prison (… err, I think)
Next Breath
This Is How I Feel
This list needed some more R&B
#46 Wild Ones
Flo Rida f/ Sia
Wild Ones
Ten points to anyone who can understand Sia
I Don’t Care
Elle Varner
Perfectly Imperfect
Except I really, really do care
#44 Ships in the Night
Mat Kearney
Young Love
Chill and bouncy all at once
Kaleidoscope Dream
{This list needed more R&B}
#42 Drunk
Ed Sheeran
Any friend of cats is a friend of mine
Without You
New Life
Hot synths
#40 No Church in the Wild
Jay-Z & Kanye West f/ Frank Ocean
Watch the Throne
#1 in the heart of hip-hop hipsters
Rita Ora f/ Tinie Tempah
Thank god Drake gave this away
#38 Live While We’re Young
One Direction
Take Me Home
Get some (radio hits)
Love on Top
Could use another key change or two
#36 Some Nights
Some Nights
For optimal use play after Some Nights (Intro)
We’ll Be Coming Back
Calvin Harris f/ Example
18 Months
I don’t even know who Example is
#34 So Good
Strange Clouds
Rhymes included
Maroon 5 f/ Wiz Khalifa
You’re sick of this but I’m not
#32 Wrong Side of a Love Song
Melanie Fiona
The MF Life
Check out her BET performance posthaste
Elle Varner
Perfectly Imperfect
Still the best a fiddle has ever sounded
#30 Kiss You
One Direction
Take Me Home
If ADHD was a song
Brand New Me
Alicia Keys
Girl on Fire
Alicia Keys/piano OTP
#28 Numb
Looking 4 Myself
Boy can daaaaaaaance too
Losing You
AKA Beyoncé’s lil sis
#26 My Kind of Love
Emeli Sandé
Our Version of Events
Already regretting not having this higher
Childish Gambino
Troy and Abed in the morning on the radio
#24 Call Me Maybe
Carly Rae Jepsen
And a million parodies were born
Oh What a Night
Elle Varner
Perfectly Imperfect
The actual best song about hangovers ever
#22 Little Talks
Of Monsters and Men
My Head Is an Animal
Every song should have jovial horns
True Life: Youtube Stars
#20 Wanted
Hunter Hayes
Hunter Hayes
Not just in the name of genre diversity
Heart Skips a Beat
Olly Murs f/ Chiddy Bang
Right Place Right Time
Actual pure pop perfection
#18 Daughters
Life Is Good
Only song named Daughters that matters
Beneath Your Beautiful
Labrinth f/ Emeli Sandé
Electronic Earth
Suprisingly, not *you’re
#16 Safe & Sound
Taylor Swift f/ The Civil Wars
Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond
The lullaby for all your dystopian needs
Set Fire to the Rain
Chances are you own the album
#14 Wide Awake
Katy Perry
Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection
Part of Me 3D available on DVD now!
What Makes You Beautiful
One Direction
Up All Night
Encouraging low self-esteem in a teen near you
#12 Lights
Ellie Goulding
Only took two years to catch on
Melanie Fiona
The MF Life
Infinitely replayable
#10 The Vision of Love
Kris Allen
Thank You Camellia
Mariah Carey could never
Read All About It (Part III)
Emeli Sandé
Our Version of Events
That one song from the Olympics
#8 Titanium
David Guetta f/ Sia
Nothing but the Beat
Ten more points for translating Sia-to-English
Good Feeling
Flo Rida
Wild Ones
Etta James.
#6 One Thing
One Direction
Up All Night
Maybe the catchiest song ever
We Are Young
fun. f/ Janelle Monáe
Some Nights
 Most anthemic anthem that ever did anthem
#4 Girl on Fire
Alicia Keys
Girl on Fire
Just listen to Alicia belt, please
Take Care
Drake f/ Rihanna
Take Care
Another A+ Drake/Rihanna collab
#2 Next to Me
Emeli Sandé
Our Version of Events
How is this not the biggest song ever?
Looking 4 Myself

Best Of 2012: Top 100 Songs (#100-51)

Apparently this top 100 thing is actually a thing I am doing! I have the list made and everything. Alright, eligible songs were basically anything that charted/was released as a single in 2012, in the absolute loosest of terms. Originally I was going to do top songs instead of top singles, but the “short” list I had with album tracks was around 250 songs and that was not something I had the energy to pare down. So here we are, top 100 singles of 2012!

(Well, part one because this is a long list.)

#100 The Fighter
Gym Class Heroes f/ Ryan Tedder
The Papercut Chronicles II
Could use more Tedder kick drum and snare
Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
The Truth About Love
Not the least subtle blowjob innuendo of 2012
#98 Somebody’s Heartbreak
Hunter Hayes
Hunter Hayes
In the name of genre diversity
Talk That Talk
Rihanna f/ Jay-Z
Talk That Talk
Is it even a Rihanna song w/o a music video?
#96 Why
Mary J. Blige f/ Rick Ross
My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1)
With 100% fewer chicken wraps
Hall of Fame
The Script f/
Moves Like Jagger for The Voice UK
#94 Favorite Song
Colbie Caillat f/ Common
All of You
1. Colbie + rapper 2. ??? 3. Profit!
Triumphant (Get ‘Em)
Mariah Carey f/ Rick Ross & Meek Mill
New era, same poses
#92 Charades
Chrisette Michele
Audio Visual Presentation: Audrey Hepburn
No one will listen to this but you should
Give Your Heart A Break
Demi Lovato
Simon Cowell approved
#90 Wicked Games
The Weeknd
The world is not on fire so bring the drugs?
As Long as You Love Me
Justin Bieber f/ Big Sean
#88 Too Close
Alex Clare
The Lateness of the Hour
The most relevant IE has been in years
Too Good to Lose
Rebecca Ferguson
Throwback Motown deliciousness
#86 One More Night
Maroon 5
Somewhere between addictive and obnoxious
The One That Got Away
Katy Perry
Teenage Dream
Poor old, aging Katy Perry
#84 Mercy
G.O.O.D. Music
Cruel Summer
G.R.E.A.T. production (bacronym that yourself)
Let Me Love You
(Until You Learn To Love Yourself) didn’t fit
#82 Love and War
Tamar Braxton
Love and War
[obligatory Toni reference here]
Nobody’s Perfect
J. Cole f/ Missy Elliott
Cole World: The Sideline Story
Missy Elliott, you are perfect to me
#80 Fine by Me
Andy Grammer
Andy Grammer
Happiness in audio form
Nothing on You
Open Invitation
Not fast or furious, but still pretty great
#78 Die Young
No one does vacant party tune quite like Ke$ha
Battle Scars
Guy Sebastian f/ Lupe Fiasco
Or Lupe f/ Guy (hemisphere dependent)
#76 Both of Us
B.o.B f/ Taylor Swift
Strange Clouds
Filed under: collabs that shouldn’t work but do
Catch My Breath
Kelly Clarkson
Greatest Hits: Chapter One
Girl can saaaaaaaang
#74 Young, Wild & Free
Wiz Khalifa & Snoop Dogg f/ Bruno Mars
Mac & Devin Go to High School
Afroman would be proud
Let’s just pretend the refrain isn’t annoying
#72 Express Yourself
Electronic Earth
Fresh Prince for a different millennium
Put It Down
Brandy f/ Chris Brown
Two Eleven
Can someone make a feature-less edit?
#70 Share My Love
R. Kelly
Write Me Back
Steppers stepping
It All Belongs to Me
Monica & Brandy
New Life
(and the boy is still mine)
#68 Breathing
Jason Derülo
Future History
I just wish he sang his name
Heart Attack
Trey Songz
Chapter V
Guest video appearance by Kelly Rowland
#66 Summer Is Over
Jon McLaughlin f/ Sara Bareilles
Promising Promises
Conceived in piano pop heaven
Rest of My Life
Ludacris f/ Usher & David Guetta
Luda? Good. Usher? Good. Guetta? Good. Win x3
#64 Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
Kelly Clarkson
Goes best with arhythmic dance parties
Want U Back
Cher Lloyd
Sticks + Stones
With the catchiest grunts around
#62 Daylight
Maroon 5
Pop music syrup
Looking 4 Myself
Boy can saaaaaaaang
#60 I Knew You Were Trouble
Taylor Swift
Pop/country without the country (the best kind)
New Day
Alicia Keys
Girl on Fire
Fewer keys, more beats, still great
#58 I Won’t Give Up
Jason Mraz
Love Is a Four Letter Word
Remembers that a slow build needs payoff
Thinking Bout You
Frank Ocean
channel ORANGE
Apparently about zombies? Who knew.
#56 Trust and Believe
Keyshia Cole
Woman to Woman
People just keep doin’ Keyshia wrong
Olly Murs f/ Flo Rida
Right Place Right Time
 & the award for gratuitous rap feature goes to…
#54 Sweet Nothing
Calvin Harris f/ Florence Welch
18 Months
This is how all Florence should be
Other Bond themes got nothing on Adele
#52 Domino
Jessie J
Who You Are
If you don’t love Jessie J you are wrong
Bye Baby
Life Is Good
Putting a Guy sample to good use

Best of 2012: Top 20 Albums

It might be 2013 already but damn it, I spent time trying to rank my top albums of the year so I’m going to tell the internet about it. This list was originally conceived as a top 25, but when trying to whittle down, I found that the while the top 20 was clear cut, there were a bunch of albums fighting for the next five spots. Instead of attempting to arbitrarily discern between those, I’ll just list them as honorable mentions before getting to my top 20. (I’ve also attempted to make a list of top 100 singles of 2012, though I doubt I’ll ever properly rank/post that. But I will post my top singles of 2012, it just might end up being a top 3.)

Honorable Mentions: Woman To Woman – Keyshia Cole, Write Me Back – R. Kelly, R.E.D. – Ne-Yo, channel ORANGE – Frank Ocean, Two Eleven – Brandy, Heaven – Rebecca Ferguson, Wild Ones – Flo Rida, Halcyon – Ellie Goulding

And on to the top 20:

#20 Some Nights
Listen To: “Some Nights (Intro)”, “Some Nights”,
“We Are Young”
Admittedly, I only really like half of fun.’s Some Nights, but that’s an incredible feat of strength given my predisposition to abhor anything even alternative-adjacent. And the half of the album I like, I love. The songs are filled with wall-to-wall sound that booms and crashes in orchestral swells. It’s dramatic and theatrical to achieve the best sort of bombastic glory. And mostly, it’s full of anthem-like pop hooks that just beg to be belted at the top of your lungs.
#19 Right Place Right Time
Olly Murs
Listen To: “Troublemaker”, “Head To Toe”,
“One Of These Days”
Right Place Right Time helps to fill the straight-up male pop void that’s existed for years. The melodies bounce over plucky guitars and keys and light beats. The album sounds more than a bit like a Maroon 5 record, less slick than Overexposed and more fun than Songs About Jane. (Also distinctly more British on tracks like “What A Buzz”.) From start to finish, it’s catchy and bright, making it one of the year’s most enjoyable albums to listen to.
#18 My Head Is An Animal
Of Monsters and Men
Listen To: “King And Lionheart”, “Mountain Sound”,
“Little Talks”
If someone had told me Of Monsters and Men were an Icelandic indie folk band before I heard “Little Talks”, I’m certain I wouldn’t have given My Head Is An Animal a chance. Fortunately, I was hooked by the joyous horns in “Little Talks” first and fell into the rest of the album later. While the rest of the album has distinctly less pop sensibility, it still moves and has a strong focus on melody amid all the interesting instrumentals. The album’s sound is strikingly cohesive whether the songs are slow and soft or loud and brash.
#17 Kaleidoscope Dream
Listen To: “Adorn”, “Where’s The Fun In Forever”,
“Arch & Point”
In case you were wondering, R&B music is all about sex. And well, Kaleidoscope Dream is R&B music done right. Whether he’s being sensual or gritty, urgent or coy, Miguel hits all the perfect moods to create a truly atmospheric listening experience. The album’s craft makes it feel like an instant classic, while its creativity keeps it fresh and contemporary. Oh, and on top of being a great vocalist, Miguel also lent his talents to writing and producing most of the album.
#16 Promising Promises
Jon McLaughlin
Listen To: “The Atmosphere”, “What I Want”,
“Maybe It’s Over”
Even if most of Promising Promises is just a repackaging of Jon McLaughlin’s self-released Forever If Ever, it’s still worthy of any praise I can heap upon it. The runaway star of the album is Jon’s piano skill, which is on full display on every track. Though, it’s the funky bass line on “The Atmosphere” (one of the few new tracks) that elevates that song. Anyone with even moderately positive feelings towards piano pop needs to have this album in their library.
#15 Overexposed
Maroon 5
Listen To: “Payphone”, “Daylight”, “Lucky Strike”
It’s no surprise that Maroon 5 is all over the radio, given that Overexposed is the band’s most pop-oriented effort yet. The album pairs their signature infectious hooks with glossier production to create some of the slickest earworms ever. The upbeat tracks feel like they’re brimming with hyperactive energy and even the ballads are charged with a little extra pop-oomph. Overexposed was a clear grab at mainstream pop trends that succeeded in every way.
#14 Looking 4 Myself
Listen To: “Climax”, “Dive”, “Numb”
Usher is one of the few stars who can produce quality R&B/hip-hop songs and quality dance songs. He does both considerable justice on Looking 4 Myself, though thankfully the album leans much more heavily to the former. Usher remains the best and most versatile male R&B vocalist and flaunts it from the smooth “Show Me” to the flawless “Climax”. Combine that with some of the best production around and, well, it’s a winning formula.
#13 Once Upon Another Time
Sara Bareilles
Listen To: “Sweet As Whole”, “Bright Lights And Cityscapes”
If it were a full album instead of an EP, Once Upon Another Time would rank much higher. All five tracks are immaculately written, sung and produced. From the crackling log fire that starts “Once Upon Another Time” to the weighty keys that end “Bright Lights And Cityscapes”, the album feels like a modern fairy tale: full of magic, wistful and with a princess who spews “fuck that guy, he’s just an asshole.” The track that includes that line, “Sweet As Whole”, would be the moment in the Disney movie where the princess finds herself in a rowdy pub full of commoners, only in this version she’s got the saltiest mouth and is leading the bar sing-along.
#12 Strange Clouds
Listen To: “Bombs Away”, “So Good”, “So Hard To Breathe”
With this album, B.o.B continues to prove that he’s in a league of his own when it comes to pop-styled rap. Strange Clouds is full of B.o.B’s mellifluous verses complete with smart rhymes and effortless flow. While the album employs a slew of features from Morgan Freeman (yes, you read that right, Morgan Freeman) to Taylor Swift, it certainly doesn’t rely on them; “So Good” and “So Hard To Breathe”, two tracks performed solely by B.o.B, are among the strongest and most infectious of the album.
#11 +
Ed Sheeran
Listen To: “The A Team”, “Drunk”, “The City”
Ed Sheeran’s debut is startlingly upbeat and rhythmic for someone expecting typical singer/songwriter fare. He spends a hefty portion of the album in a rapid-fire rap state, spitting through dense wordplay and quirky cadences with a breezy touch. More typically, the instrumentation stays sparse and raw and the ballads are all about drawn-out sentimentality. If nothing else, + is certainly the most British album you’ll hear around.
#10 Unapologetic
Listen To: “Pour It Up”, “Jump”, “Stay”
I can always count on Rihanna to put out one or two songs per album that I like. Usually, though, that’s it. That’s not the case with Unapologetic, which puts forth the best production in the music industry and a bit more of an urban lean to create an entire album of tracks that hit hard. Whether she’s putting a gender-bending twist on Ginuwine’s “Pony” or showing off her balladeer-side on “Stay”, she’s striking all the right chords. Quality has definitely not suffered, despite Unapologetic being Rihanna’s seventh full-length studio album in as many years.
#9 True
Listen To: “Losing You”, “Lovers In The Parking Lot”
True is full of smooth R&B tunes that borrow their sound from the 80’s and early 90’s. It’s light and airy and simply refreshing to listen to in a sea of contemporary R&B retreads. Even as she’s singing about the dissolution of a relationship, the record feels joyous – and that’s not a failing at all. The EP is just an immensely pleasurable listen that’s held together at its core by Solange’s smooth, dextrous voice.
#8 Up All Night
One Direction
Listen To: “What Makes You Beautiful”, “One Thing”,
“Stole My Heart”
If this ranking were based solely off my playcounts for 2012, Up All Night would be #2 (behind, well, behind this list’s actual #1). One Direction’s debut album doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, just to bring it back. Clearly recreating the boyband sound from the late 90’s full of crisp guitars and immaculately clean production, the songs bop over the best pure pop melodies around. There’s something to be said about bubblegum pop done right.
#7 The MF Life
Melanie Fiona
Listen To: “4AM”, “Wrong Side Of A Love Song”,
“Change The Record”
The MF Life plays like an hour long journey through all the delicious cracks and crevices of Melanie Fiona’s breathtakingly gorgeous voice. She pulls back on softer moments and pushes her voice to full power to equally stirring effect. Of course, the songs themselves are fantastic, solidly R&B with bluesy, folky and pop twinges here and there. But really, come and stay for Melanie Fiona’s sweet, soulful powerhouse vocals that constantly manage to impress even as they shy away from flash and flourish.
#6 Take Me Home
One Direction
Listen To: “C’mon C’mon”, “Heart Attack”, “I Would”
Take Me Home is hardly a departure from the sound One Direction carved out in Up All Night, but with a little practice, it’s a a touch tighter and more specific. It boasts fewer generic, swoopy mid-tempos and amps up the energy on choruses that explode into even more spectacularly catchy peaks. The songs buzz with a hyperactive youthfulness that compel the listener to bounce along with the band. In terms of fun-per-square-inch, Take Me Home can’t be beat.
#5 Life Is Good
Listen To: “Daughters”, “Cherry Wine”, “Bye Baby”
As he tends to do, Nas is once again rapping about his personal hardships – most notably this time around, he candidly tackles his divorce in “Bye Baby”. Life Is Good is rap as rap was intended to be – solid beats, good flow, good lyricism. Nas sticks to what he does best and it works. It’s really as simple as that. No tricks, no frills, no excess. Just Nas, which is more than enough to make it the best hip-hop record of the year.
#4 Perfectly Imperfect
Elle Varner
Listen To: “Refill”, “Oh What A Night”, “Damn Good Friends”
All you really need to know about Perfectly Imperfect is that the lead single, “Refill”, manages to put soul stylings over an aggressively prominent bluegrass fiddle and makes it sound amazing. The rest of the album is more quietly innovative, but always fresh. Elle Varner breathes new life into a genre that feels increasingly stale, even if all she’s singing about are “straight shots of Patrón and a slice of lime.” The songs are vibrant and her personality totally inhabits every word.
#3 Thank You Camellia
Kris Allen
Listen To: “My Weakness”, “Out Alive”, “Loves Me Not”
I’d wax poetic about the catchy mainstream poppiness of the tracks on Kris Allen’s Thank You Camellia or his strong, sure vocals or the emotional sincerity of the ballads, but then I might never stop. Instead, I’ll just say that it’s one of the cleanest, most enjoyable pop-minded pop/rock albums out there and it’s criminal that a record with such mainstream sensibility hasn’t been heard by more people. If you’re not tapping your foot and singing along, you’re doing it wrong.
#2 Girl On Fire
Alicia Keys
Listen To: “When It’s All Over”, “Girl On Fire”,
“Not Even The King”
Girl On Fire is all about Alicia Keys getting personal. It’s personal in its intimate moments where Keys sings in a whisper accompanied only by her piano and it’s personal its loud moments where Keys is shouting declarations to the world over thundering drums. Her voice is powerful and oozes raw emotion. The album is full of songs that need to stew, that seep in slowly, but completely. Simply, it’s everything I’ve come to expect in a great Alicia Keys album without being anything I’ve ever heard before.
#1 Our Version Of Events
Emeli Sandé
Listen To: “Next To Me”, “River”, “Read All About It (Part III)”
In a year in which One Direction released two albums and Alicia Keys and Kris Allen released one album a piece, my favorite album came from someone I’d never even heard of before March of this year. But, well, now I have heard of Emeli Sandé and so has every person who has spent more than five minutes talking to me. Our Version Of Events is, well, perfect. It’s a little bit Alicia Keys and a little bit Adele, and all wonderful. The songs are powerful and soulful, intimate and exciting, catchy and emotional. Sandé’s voice is weighty as it reverberates through tunes entrenched in full sounds. Even after hundreds of full plays through the album, I still don’t skip a single track. If I have one complaint related to the album, it’s that not enough people are receptive to my screaming about it. (Though, slowly but surely, that’s changing.) If you haven’t heard this album, do yourself a favor and listen to the entire thing right now.

Album Review: Haley Reinhart – Listen Up!

Though she didn’t win last season of American Idol, Haley Reinhart still managed one of the most impressive and unlikely runs on her way to a respectable third place finish. While every contestant on Idol dabbles across genres to some degree, Reinhart was especially hard to define stylistically; she jumped between jazz, soul, classic rock, R&B, country and contemporary pop to varying degrees of success. On Listen Up!, Haley has a clearly defined sound, though that doesn’t mean she’s settled on just one genre. It’s entirely retro, recalling sounds from every decade since the 60’s, mixing Motown with funk with neo-soul with disco with throwback pop. The record has a surprisingly left-field sound for a debut CD of an Idol alum, which ends up being the source of its biggest strength and weakness.
Continue reading ‘Album Review: Haley Reinhart – Listen Up!

Album Review: Karmin – Hello

Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan are the latest examples of Youtube sensations turned pop stars. The duo, known as Karmin, infamously covered Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” and Amy’s adept take on Busta Rhymes’s lightning fast verse netted the duo sixty-five million views, a spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and a major label deal with LA Reid-helmed Epic Records. Fast forward a year and they’ve released their seven song EP, Hello, which heavily features Amy’s rapping skills to mixed results. Hello is far too forgettable for a duo without a large, devoted fanbase.
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Album Review: Adam Lambert – Trespassing

Oh how time flies! It’s already been two and a half years since Adam Lambert released his debut album, For Your Entertainment, which was something of a Lambert smorgasbord: a song sampler with every distinct musical style one could conceivably associate with the flamboyant Idol alum. Trespassing manages to be more focused and, yet, somehow infinitely more jarring. Adam has settled on just two sounds this time, unapologetic dance pop and plaintive rock ballads, that split the CD into two halves with questionable effectiveness. Still, it’s a much more memorable listening experience than his first album and carves him a bit of his own pop niche.
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5/13/12 Audio Crack Top 30

For a third week straight, Kris Allen holds on to the #1 position with “The Vision Of Love.” Childish Gambino reaches a new peak of #3 and B.o.B sneaks into the top 10. There are three debuts this week. Usher notches a second entry from Looking For Myself with “Lemme See” and Brandy gets her second entry with “Put It Down.” Meanwhile, “Let’s Go” is the first entry for Calvin Harris.
Continue reading ‘5/13/12 Audio Crack Top 30’