Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Listmania: Best Songs Of 2012

As pop culture aficionados, your friends at Culture Blues are not immune to the end-of-year lists currently overwhelming the internet. We just like to wait until the entire year is over before we post anything, in case something cool happens around the holidays (also, we're lazy). Welcome to Listmania, where Culture Blues ranks our favorite shit in a handful categories. Here are the best songs of 2012.

Umm... Sorry, Psy didn't make the cut.

50) Nautilus - Anna Meredith. I'd like to start this list off with a rather high-brow track, meant to provide you all with some serious culture. Anna Meredith is a gifted composer hailing from the land of tea and rain, who has been credited with modernizing the sounds of classical music in our digital age. Nautilus is a circuitous joy, with massive amounts of tension and a surprise wobble towards the end, which I guess is meant to appeal to you Skrillex fans.

49) In The Same Room - Julia Holter

48) Pigs - Black Dice. There are a ton of fascinating textures happening throughout this track. Also it might freak you out if you listen to it alone at night.

47) Krokodil - St. Vincent

46) Higher Ground -TNGHT

45) Theraflu - Kanye West. I don’t care what this song is called nowadays, it will always be Theraflu to me. Also, how cute is the kid in this video?

44) Pair Of Wings - Frankie Rose. I  wanted to marry this track most of last year.

43) I Belong In Your Arms - Chairlift. How can something released in 2012 sound SO ‘80s?

42) Wrath Of God - Crystal Castles

41) Boobie Miles - Big K.R.I.T

40) Get Got - Death Grips. This song still sounds like tribal music from a dystopian and savage future... Like what I imagine they play inside Thunderdome.

39) Flood’s New Light - The Oh Sees. No one does simple-yet-obscenely-catchy choruses like John Dwyer and his band-mates.

38) Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings - Fear Fun. I kind of just want to watch Aubrey Plaza all day.

37) Monkey Riches - Animal Collective

36) Survival Tactics - Joey Bada$$ (Ft. Capital Steez). Joey Bada$$ is younger than you, raps better than you can think and, like Ke$ha, comes from a family which has yet to fully master the letter ”S”.

35) Open Your Heart - The Men. My heart wanted to go with Oscillations, but it lost out to a song with lyrics. I hate my stupid brain.

34) Swimming Pools (Drank) - Kendrick Lamar. Is there a drinking game based on this track? Because if there isn’t, then the kids today are slacking.

33) No.1 Against The Rush - The Liars. Not only is this one of the best songs of the year, it also has one of the 2012’s best videos.

32) True Thrush - Dan Deacon. The same statements can be made for this track.

31) The Seer - Swans. The title-track from my favorite record of the year is a 32 minute masterpiece, and the longest song on this list. In fact, this is one of three tracks which is longer than 15 minutes. Consider yourself warned

30) Hey Jane - Spiritualized. Great video alert!

29) Hands On The Wheel - Schoolboy Q (Ft. A$AP Rocky). I never knew I had so much in common with Schoolboy Q!

28) I’ll Be Alright - Passion Pit

27) Inspector Norse - Todd Terje

26) Stay Useless - Cloud Nothing

25) Yet Again - Grizzly Bear. This track finally made me dig Grizzly Bear, and this video makes me happy I was never an ice skater.

24) Monoliths - Lotus Plaza

23) Pyramid - Four Tet. Not to be confused with Frank Ocean’s Pyramid(s).

22) The Nights Of Wine And Roses- Japandroids. Allow me to print the first few couplets from this track in lieu of a blurb: “Long lit up tonight and still drinking / Don't we have anything to live for / Well, of course we do, but until it comes true / We're drinking. And we're still smoking / Don't we have anything to live for / Well, of course we do, but until they come true /We're smoking.”

21) Nova - Burial & Four Tet

20) Reagan - Killer Mike. Great video alert!

19) Feel Like We Only Go Backwards - Tame Impala

18) Song For A Warrior - Swans (Ft. Karen O). :)...

17) I Bought My Eyes - Ty Segall. Much like in life, there is always room for lo-fi garage. It’s similar to Jello.

16) The Full Retard - El-P. Thank you Kirk Lazarus.

15) Fineshrine - Purity Ring. I hope Purity Ring remembers how long I’ve loved them when they become big and famous. They totally won’t though.

14) Oblivion - Grimes. Perhaps you’ve heard of Grimes from Canada?

13) Every Single Night - Fiona Apple

12) We Drift Like Worried Fire - Godspeed You! Black Emperor

11) The House That Heaven Built - Japandroids

10) Grown Up - Danny Brown. With the aid of a Lou Reed sample, Danny Brown delivered a single that will take up residency in your brain, and NEVER leave. Also, cute kid alert!

9) Myth - Beach House. I’m pretty sure this song is on God’s iPod.

8) NYC: 73-78 - Beck (Philip Glass Remix). This year’s award for the greatest musical achievement goes to Beck Hansen, who mixed together some of Philip Glass’ work into a stunning, remarkable, and sublime composition. Not only is this the best thing Beck has done in a long while, it’s also my favorite track of the year of Mayan fail.

7) Thinking Bout You - Frank Ocean

6) Wasted Days - Cloud Nothings. Sing it with me now: I thought / I would / be more/ than this!

5) Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe - Kendrick Lamar. Ladies and Gentlemen, the year’s best rap song.

4) Ruin - Cat Power

3) Bad Girls & Come Walk With Me - MIA. I’m cheating a little bit here with my entry of one and a half MIA songs. First we have Bad Girls, which seemed to appeal to every demographic of music lover in 2012. Are you a pretentious hipster? A cred-obsessed rap lover? A fan of fierce, independent, women? Just someone who like to dance? Whatever the case, there is a good chance you found yourself grooving out to this track at some point this year.

That being said, the best thing MIA dropped in 2012 wasn’t even an official release, but a teaser for a track which I presume will end up on her upcoming record (which should also include Bad Girls). Come Walk With Me is a hook-drenched 85 seconds of music which I can’t get enough of, and already has a place in next year’s ten best tracks.

2) Genesis - Grimes. To all of you Grimes haters... you’re lucky this wasn’t number one. Grimes had a monstrous 2012, and the most important aspect of her year wasn’t that she sucked a nipple while being photographed, or that insane story about the houseboat. No, the nucleus of Grimes is her music, and Genesis is her best song. I know many of you out there prefer Oblivion (which is also on this list), but I feel this track has a superior rhythmic figure, a more tangible hook, and features better production. To be honest, you really can’t go wrong either way. Grimes is pretty amazing like that.

1) Pyramids - Frank Ocean. This is what I wrote about Pyramids in my review of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange back in early July: “Over the course of more than a hundred reviews, I have reiterated one point above all others: I admire and respect ambition. In this postmodern age of computers, samplers, focus groups, and studio wizardry, it’s far too easy to put minimal effort and thought into art which still turns out to be massively successful. Furthermore, as the music industry becomes more and more close-minded in regards to the artists and ideas it is willing to support - they need to ensure they turn a profit - it has become increasingly difficult for a major label artist to either want to or be allowed to demonstrate ambition. Bearing all that in mind, the fact that Pyramids, a ten minute space-age track with multiple-movements, which I’ve become fond of calling “the R&B Dark Side Of The Moon,” was even written, let alone recorded, let alone pushed as a promotional single is not only impressive, it's frankly a triumph.”

Now that the clatter and subtext surrounding Ocean has begun to die down, we’ve had more time to appreciate his music without the accompaniment of headlines or “controversy”. Upon further review it’s still fantastic, and sounds as vital and current as ever. I’ve written thousands of words of praise about Ocean over the course of this year, and all of them have been well earned. Pyramids is a song with numerous distinctions, chief among them being it is the best song of the year.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

5 Responses »

  1. I'd like to throw 10 more on the pile from artists not mentioned above:

    Only In My Dreams - Ariel Pink
    212 - Azealia Banks
    Forever - Haim
    Beez in the Trap - Nicki Minaj
    Back from the Grave - Chromatics
    How Long Have You Known - DIIV
    Okay Cupid - Kitty Pryde
    Paradise - Wild Nothing
    Five Seconds - Twin Shadow
    Country Queen - Night Moves

  2. I feel like this was a really really good year for music.

  3. Also, I totally and completely agree with your #1.

  4. I like a lot of your choices Corey! Only In My Dreams, Beez In The Trap, and Five Seconds, were all on the list at some point but, for reasons which escape me at the moment, got left off. I did have 212 on my list last year, when it was first released as a single. Lastly- yeah, Pyramids is pretty killer.

  5. Solid list. It was a crazy good year for hip-hop. I agree about Beez though.