What a year. As you can see from our post history the last few months, 2012 became a very busy affair. August – December were likely the busiest 5 months of my life. Hopefully 2013 will yield what I as a child yearned for in my Career. Leisure Time.
While going through some schoolwork from my childhood, I discovered an “essay” from my elementary days. It was basically about what I wanted to be when I grow up, and why. It all came down to “Leisure Time”. It would seem that I do have a fair amount of this fine commodity, but I also seem to be working my butt off to get it. Everything that is worth something comes with a cost. This year I started a second full-time job. I am now an instructor of Photographic Technology. And on 12/12/12 my amazing wife and I welcomed our first child into the family. Neko Anne. She has been an amazing journey, and it has only begun. I hope to write a little post about her and music in the New Year. 2012 also welcomed the return of our siblings. All 4 of our sisters have moved back, and having so much family around has been a blessing.
With all that has happened, there have been so many moments and gatherings soundtracked by what I might call an extra special year for music. It is also a year that I became obsessed with music from Nordic countries. Sweden especially. There is a seemingly disproportionate number of Nordic songs on this list. And I like it.
So, here in its entirety is the list of tracks that soundtracked 2012. I have embedded a playlist on 8tracks so that you can listen to the playlist during your leisure time on your computer or your mobile.
112 – Next Year – Two Door Cinema Club
It seems rather apropos to begin the list with an electro-rock track entitled Next Year.
111 – Marilyn (feat. Dominique Lejeune) – G-Eazy
A folky little hip hop number with a raspy hook by Dominique Lejeune. Everything will be alright, so baby get some sleep tonight
110 – Only in my Dreams – Ariel Pink
It seems that there is always one track per Ariel Pink album that really grabs me. Simply gorgeous in a retro way.
109 – Petroleum – Kent
The first of the Swedes to enter the list. My Cousin-in-law introduced me to this great post-rock-ish pop band last year, and their new release did not disappoint.
108 – Madness – Muse
A song that the radio seemed to drive into my head. The album was a large disappointment for me, but this slow driving wobble worked for this song.
107 – That Old Black Hole – Dr. Dog
Sounds like it comes straight out of one of those funky 70′s films.
106 – Ice Age – How to Destroy Angels
A plodding song that features unique instrumentation behind the beautifully understated vocals of Mariqueen Maandig.
105 – I’m Skanking (2 Bears Remix) – Wiley
A fun remix of a fun track that adds a bit of that Hot Chip feel to this grimey dance number
104 – I Will Wait – Mumford and Sons
Not the best track on the album, but it was one of those songs you just couldn’t evade all year. It took the band to the next level, which means they became hated by every music critic in the world.
103 – The Way we Move – Langhorne Slim and The Law
This is what Tallest man on Earth would sound like if he rocked out. The Old timey piano and horns take it to the next level. A perfect song to dance your newborn to sleep. sorta.
102 – Down on Life – Elliphant
A fresh Swede that blends electro, dub, indie, and that dark swedish pop sound to perfection. I could use a break, we need to go down on life, I need you to take all of my shadows for a walk tonight
101 – I Spy – Mikhael Paskalev
A rousing retro rocker from this Norwegian that is heavily inspired by some of the American greats. Another great dancer. I Spy with my little, to fall is connected to try
100 – Splitter – Calexico
This is pure Calexico. Not much more to say about it.
99 – Gangnam Style – PSY
For this song to not be on a 2012 list would be insane. This is the song that represents 2012. It touched everyone. It isn’t necessarily a great song. But it was a song, and video, that wove itself into nearly every aspect of life.
98 – Wishing you the Best – Campfire OK
And I’m sorry if I was overbearing, but I didn’t mean it.
97 – Born To – Jesca Hoop
A song that reminded me so much of Cat Powers new album, that I often mistook it for Cat Power.
96 – Achilles’ Desire – Whitehorse
Classic rock sounding track from some veteran Canadians from one of the best Canadian albums of the year.
95 – Cold – Blood Red Shoes
Blood Red Shoes push their sound and their angst forward in one of their most seething singles so far.
94 – Passage – Exitmusic
Title track from the dark and revealing album from Exitmusic. Layers upon layers build this song into the chorus that features some of the rawest and haunting vocals of the year.
93 – My Love is Real – Divine Fits
Simple electro-pop song that showcases the talents of this “Supergroup”
92 – Underwater – Joshua Radin
The obvious single from a sleepy album from an artist that tends to be sleepy. Sometimes the place that you fear, is where you need to go.
91 – Restless – Karin Park
This dark electro track from Sweden’s Karin Park is reminiscent of the Knife and Fever Ray. My favourite track off of a fantastically dark pop album.
90 – Cold Nites – How to Dress Well
How to Dress Well nearly take the saddest sounding album of the year title away from Perfume Genius. nearly.
89 – Runaway – Imperial Teen
Happy sounding indie pop from this San Fransisco group. Straight forward summer time bliss.
88 – Bright Lights – Gary Clark Jr.
This grooving blues number gets the full LP release in 2012. The Blues will never die Bright lights big city, going to my head, I don’t care, ’cause you don’t care
87 – Off to the Races – Lana Del Ray
The most rowdy of the new tracks on an album that just didn’t live up to the expectations the early singles set. This is the sound that I expected a bit more of from her.
86 – Sleeping Ute – Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear at its finest. Pop melodies that evolve beyond their simple roots.
85 – It’s All Okay – Julia Stone
Another track that the radio wove into my head. The album kept growing on me, as did the song. Which was a nice calming song for the stressful fall.
84 – Battle Scars – Lupe Fiasco
Lupe is back. Intelligent Hip Hop with a pop sensibility. These battle scars don’t look like they are fading, don’t look like they are ever going away.
83 – State Hospital – Frightened Rabbit
More great sad music from this Scottish Band that never fails to impress me.
82 – What Makes a Good Man – The Heavy
Funk rock at its finest. The Heavy channelled James Brown once again to liven up the summer.
81 – Free – Graffiti6
This smile inducing number was originally released in 2010 but received the LP release in 2012 subsequently pushing it up the charts this summer.
80 – The Well (We Will Change it All) – Sandra Kolstad
This Norwegian electro pop songstress nails it with this fantastic gem.
79 – Jasmine – Jai Paul
This summer’s electronic anthem
78 – Reboot the Mission – The Wallflowers
The Wallflowers recruit The Clash’s Mick Jones for this grooved up rocker. Eyes on the prize, reboot the mission, I lost my sight, but not the vision
77 – I Belong in Your Arms – Chairlift
76 – It Was Blue – Angus Stone
This Aussie folkie and his sister decided to both release solo albums this year. This is the slow driving psychedelic rocker that i didn’t see coming.
75 – Ghosts – James Vincent McMorrow
A gorgeous ballad from the final Twilight Saga movie. Such a perfect falsetto.
74 – Broken Crown – Mumford and Sons
Mumford is at its best when it is angry.
73 – Hero – Family of the Year
Family of the year released a great album this year. And this is just a pretty little track you just sing along with, and then you hum it the rest of the day. So let me go, I don’t wanna be your hero, I don’t wanna be a big man, I just wanna fight like everybody else
72 – Simple Song – The Shins
The title says it all.
71 – Hot River – Yes Nice
Yes Nice add a little bassy groove to their sing along style pop that creates a highlight at their live shows.
70 – Lightning Bolt – Jake Bugg
This 18 year old from England sounds like he has lived a life well beyond his 18 years. That great guitar riff mixed with the raspy nasalness of his vocals really make this song.
69 – Good For you – Icona Pop
The young Swedish electropop duo have a little fun over this thumping pop anthem. You hate my love because you’re dead without it
68 – DJ, Ease My Mind – Niki and the Dove
The track that started it all. This song was on repeat throughout the first half of the year. It’s all about the builds and the reveals. Simply complex
67 – Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Another one of those tracks that defines 2012. The biggest pop anthem of the year. I never realized how much it had taken over until I saw a tattooed muscular man singing along shamelessly at Subway.
66 – Now is the Start – A Fine Frenzy
Taken from the more upbeat second half of her new album, this electro-folky sing along gets you bobbing and clapping.
65 – This Head I Hold – Electric Guest
This Danger Mouse produced track kicks off with a kick ass piano riff that follows with the drum intro, that kicks into a classic french inspired melody. Hand clappingly good.
64 – Only You – Ellie Goulding
One of the more dancey tracks on an album that feature more than a few dancey tracks. Features some helium style vocals, and pounding pianos, and a catchy-ass hook. Only you can feed the aching in my heart
63 – The Veldt (Ft. Chris James) – Deadmau5
8.5 minutes of snowboard movie soundtracking bliss. You can already picture the powder flying.
62 – Broken Brights – Angus Stone
The second track from Angus on the list. This was my mellow acoustic go to for the early summer. This song has one of those great chill vibes to it.
61 – Cheek Mountain – Cheek Mountain Thief
Tunng lead singer falls in love with Iceland, moves to Iceland, forms band in Iceland with the locals, writes a song about Cheek Mountain and names the band as such, song is awesome.
60 – The Broken Side of Time – Matthew Ryan
Raw acoustic track from one of my favourite Singer/Songwriter types.
59 – Thrift Shop – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
The track that put Macklemore on the map. This track was everywhere the last few months of the year. I’m gonna pop some tags
58 – Fineshrine – Purity Ring
A throbbing electronic masterpiece with lots of body references.
57 – Neptune – Lemonade
Another summer electronic chill track.
56 – Get By – Kassidy
Scottish rock anthem. Not as immediately rewarding as some of their previous work, but this track got lots of repeats.
55 – Coming Down – Anais Mitchell
One of the prettiest piano ballads of the year. A pleading number that was also covered by Bon Iver. I’ve never laughed so loud, I think I’m coming down, Nothing gonna stop me now
54 – Man on Fire – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
One of the more obvious hits from this collective. A near perfect hippy pop hit.
53 – Sharks – Boxes
Athlete’s Bassist’s solo project yielded this gem. It begins as a slow moving piano number that builds with strings into an explosion of electronics. All at once I am not the same as you thought I was.
52 – Overjoyed – Bastille
English electro-soul track from an artist to watch in 2013. I hear you calling in the dead of night
51 – Become Someone Else’s – Jens Lekman
Swedish singer Jens Lekman has a gift with words and melody. This track has a memorable piano hook, interesting structure, and clever lyrics.
50 – Kill for Love – Chromatics
And the first song in the top 50 is one that I listened to a lot at the beginning of the year, but perhaps too much. A great song
49 – Taktoja – Axiomatik
This just might be officially my favourite track from this local Edmonton band. Nearing 7 minutes, this epic song begins with guitar and bass reminiscent of 7 Mary 3 and then it builds and swells into post-rock territory that can draw comparisons to Sigur Ros. And don’t just think its about the instrumentation, as lyrically it is one Axiomatik’s stronger tracks.
48 – Modern Times – RNDM
Jeff Ament and Joseph Arthur pair with drummer Richard Stuverud for one of the best straight up rock tracks of the year.
47 – Take the Heartland – Glen Hansard
Unlike everything on his fantastic album, Songs of Good Hope, this is an angst ridden rocker off of the Hunger Games soundtrack album. We need more Glen like this.
46 – Tenere Taqhim Tossam (Four Tet Remix) – Tinariwen
The beginning of a few dance parties at the house. This Four Tet remix takes this track in an unexpected direction.
45 – Lost – Frank Ocean
Perhaps the most radio friendly track from this fine album. I expect this catchy track to play a part in 2013 as well.
44 – Faithful Man – Lee Fields and the Expressions
Classic James Brown inspired soul that features one of the most painful sounding vocal moments of the year.
43 – Marilyn – Bat For Lashes
Standout from the fantastic new album from Bat for Lashes
42 – Constant Conversations – Passion Pit
Surprisingly awesome track about the constant conversations you have in some relationships. well they will say what they say and they will do what they do and it doesn’t mean a Goddamn thing
41 – Blank Maps – Cold Specks
The first time I heard this song it commanded my attention immediately. Her voice has this hauntingly ethereal quality to it, so much so, she calls it Doom Soul.
40 – A1 – Darkside
This rock project from Nicolas Jaar really doesn’t shift too far into the rock territory, but the welcome use of funky guitars and vocals does show a different side.
39 – Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding
This advance single held me in anticipation for her follow up album. It is immediately catchy and showed her new direction.
38 – Ho Hey – The Lumineers
Perhaps one of the catchiest songs to come out of the new Portland/Seattle movement of the last couple years.
37 – Bitch Bad – Lupe Fiasco
A well written dialect on the complexities and confusion of the modern usage of “Bitch”. And it sounds great too.
36 – On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons
Clappy Clappy Clap Clap. This song is fun and happy!!!
35 – These Chains – Hot Chip
Hot Chip can make even the cheesiest sounding lyrics sound cool.
34 – Some Nights – fun.
fun. made it huge this year. This second single from their anthemic album is perhaps the most in your face of them all. Unabashedly in your face.
33 – Drift Drive – The Antlers
Understated goodness from a band that excels at it.
32 – Ruin – Cat Power
This song was a pleasant surprise from Cat Power. One of my favourite piano lines of the year, and one of the most listened to songs of the last half of the year.
31 – Happiness – Sam Sparro
Australian pop with more than a hit of the 70s and 80s in it. This was my go to dancing track of the year for me, and for whenever I needed a pick me up
30 – Maybe You – Saint Lou Lou
29 – Angels – The XX
An album that sounds amazing as a whole, but has few standout tracks. But this one stands on its own.
28 – I Miss the Zoo – Joseph Arthur
Sometimes you miss the chaos of disorder. Poetry put to song
27 – Climax – Usher
Electro soul produced by Diplo and featuring strings from the brilliant Nico Muhly. The best Usher track ever.
26 – Hold On – Alabama Shakes
The beginning of what I predict to be an explosion of garage soul in the next few years. This is pure raw soul.
25 – Dark Star – Poliça
Jay-Z may have been premature when he said Autotune is dead. Dark Star is a fantastic standout from an album that shouldn’t work, but does. Autotuned vocals, over electronics, and some of the more interesting drumming in electronic music
24 – Drones in Large Cycles – Nico Muhly
12 minutes of classical variations over constant drone tones with some electronic beats and blips. This song on repeat puts in me in a great mental place.
23 – Why Didn’t you Save me – Nicolas Jaar
This year I listened to a lot of Nicolas Jaar. This track taken from an album released on an aluminum prism is pure headphone candy. A slow build that culminates in one of the best minutes of music this year.
22 – Apples – Efterklang
This Danish band sourced several unique sounds for their album, and this song features horns (or sampled horns) steel drums, and a whole manner of something else all crafted into a great little song.
21 – Avalanche – S. Carey
Pulsing little electronic number with some autotuned vocals. One of those unexpected songs that just keeps getting better with each listen.
20 – Hood – Perfume Genius
And the saddest song of the year goes to Perfume Genius. And it might not even be this one. But this is a super sad song. And it rocks out. 2 minutes of pure sadness.
19 – Vowels = Space and Time – Grimes
Canadian electro pop goodness.
18 – Same Love – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
While not as huge as Thrift shop, this gay marriage anthem accomplishes the difficult task of delivering a message and inspiring people and maintaining artistic integrity and reaching an audience. I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to.
17 – Water against the Rocks – Faye (Fanny)
The first breakout track for this Swedish electro pop singer. There is a pain within her vocals that makes this song.
16 – Tesselate – alt-J
A brilliant track about fornication from this Mercury Prize award winner.
15 – The House that Heaven Built – Japandroids
One of the best shout along rock tracks of the past several years.
14 – Get Free (ft. Amber) – Major Lazer
Eventually Major Lazer will release the album we have been waiting for since last year. But if they keep releasing killer singles like this each year, I think we will all be fine. Might be the least Major Lazery Major Lazer song of all time.
13 – Loner – Burial
Patterns over layers, over patterns over…
12 – Counting – Autre Ne Veut
A late November find. Might be up so high because of its recency, or because it is a fantastically complex track.
11 – Depak Ine – John Talabot
This opener sets the tone for the amazing ƒin. It’s a long slow build, like many on this list.
10 – Young Man in America – Anais Mitchell
One of those storytelling songs that is so much more than just that.
9 – Bright Whites – Kishi Bashi
Infectious indie pop at its best
8 – Backstreet Freestyle – Kendrick Lamar
Hip Hop’s new golden child delivers on its promise. An early standout in the album, and a clear standout for the year
7 – Wildest Moments – Jessie Ware
This is one of those songs that we will look back on as a trend setter for the next few years. Expect a lot more electro soul out of the UK (and Sweden (see Saint Lou Lou)).
6 – Pyramids – Frank Ocean
10 minutes soul opus that you just can’t get enough of.
5 – Varúð – Sigur Rós
This is what happens when Sigur Ros tries to push their epic sound even further by adding a boys choir.
4 – Say I Wanna Know – Nick Waterhouse
Akin to Jake Bugg, this youthful musician’s influences come from an era many decades before his time. Old time R&B with contemporary indie aspirations lead to one of my most listened to songs of the year.
3 – Emmylou – First Aid Kit
This might be my favourite country song of the last 20 years or so. And it comes from 2 sisters in their early 20s from Sweden. I’ll be your Emmylou, and I’ll be your June, if you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too. No, I’m not askin’ much of you, just sing little darlin’, sing with me.
2 – Bad Girls – M.I.A.
Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well. M.I.A is back, even if it is for only one song this year.
1 – Tomorrow – Niki and the Dove
I’m not all too sure that this is the best song of the year. Or even my favourite. But I do think it belongs at the top of the year for me. It represents the year perfectly for me. It is rooted within so many memories and events of the year. This was a song from an album that simply kept growing with me all year. Every time I hear this song, I get flashes of the year. Our vacations, their concert in Sheffield, mowing the lawn, road trips, living room dance parties.
Oh if tomorrow comes, I wanna waste my love on you like a pearl merchant, I’m ready to learn what it takes to burn, I’m gonna let you show me what it means to breathe fire
interesting tidbits of the above list
avg song length – 4.3 minutes
Track 1s – 38
songs placed track 6 or later on the album – 21
Songs from Nordic Countries – 15
Songs from the UK – 20
Songs from Australia – 6
Songs from Canada – 6
Images by Erik Hornung