2012 has been a year of great music. The tide turned from dude-centric indie guitar outfits and glitchy electronica to a refreshing new focus on pop, next Gen beat-makers and tasty soul and R&B. Transcendent hooks, quality radio hits, and slow-burning beat-driven sleepers. Australian music had a blinding 2012 season. First time discoveries were made and adored henceforth, with debut releases from the likes of Flume, Boomgates and Collarbones stood out from the throng, and, of course, there was the hallowed return of chill gods, Tame Impala. These are our Top 20 Songs of 2012. Let’s count them down…
20. Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe”
Commercial radio went nuts over this sugary pop cut for obvious reasons. Sure the lyrics are annoyingly cute, but any non-wanker with a pulse was impervious to the infectious charms of the Euro-ish dance-pop beat and those synth string chords. A guilty pleasure so pleasurable how can you possibly feel guilty about it? Sing it with me: “Your stare was holding, ripped jeans, skin was showing/Hot night, wind was blowing/Where you think you’re going, baby?”…
19. Woollen Kits “Susannah”
The rate at which Melbourne is producing quality pop-informed garage bands really is something. “Susannah” is the whiny single off Woollen Kits’ LP Four Girls (Susannah is one of four girls who inspired title songs on the record). It’s just a cool shambolic song about a girl with a simple garage-pop hook and a bitchin’ saxophone riff. Full Disclosure: my name is Susannah so narcissism.
18. Catcall “The World Is Ours”
This super-listenable mid-tempo pop jam by Sydney singer/songwriter Catcall got plenty of repeat plays this year. The Eighties vibe and steady kick drum beat recalls the awesome US girl band The Go-Go’s and the production is so slick you can almost hear it shining.
17. Tame Impala “Be Above It”
Tame Impala couldn’t have chosen a better opener for their sophomore album. Undulating strands of reverb wobble out of the guitars, Kevin Parker’s looped chanting of Gotta be above it (NOT got to be a puppet. Ha ha! – you too?!), and the repetition of verses gives this tune an almost meditative quality that sets the mood for the rest of the supremely chilled album. Man.
16. The xx “Angels”
A stunning, bare cut from The xx’s 2012 release Coexist that perfectly shows off the delicate vocals of Romy Madley Croft. It’s a quiet track that is so graceful and haunting in its simplicity.
15. Beach House “Myth”
We were instantly enamoured by this lovely shimmering first single off Beach House’s fourth studio album Bloom. Isn’t it nice when you have very high expectations of a band and they actually meet them? Dreamy.
14. Collarbones feat. Guerre “Hypothermia”
Marcus Whale and Travis Cook of Collarbones are some of the most talented dudes fronting the new wave of Australian dance music and beat production – a movement we’ve seen grow exponentially in 2012. This atmospheric dance gem combines R&B and pop influences, the gorgeous guest vocals of Guerre, and a skittering hip hop beat. The result is a sublime orgy of sound.
13. TEEN “Better”
This slowly building euphoric indie pop sleeper by all-girl Brooklyn quartet, TEEN, starts with simple pounded piano chords and is steadily joined by new synth and vocal layers until you are yelling “I’ll do it better than anybody else HAH” right along with them. And then there’s the video…
12. Kanye West feat. 2 Chainz, Big Sean & Pusha T “Mercy”
A siren-like vocal sample of dubplate hype man Fuzzy Jones, a dancehall-flavoured hook and modest rhymes such as “Don’t do no press, but I get the most press, kid/Plus, yo, my bitch make your bitch look like Precious” this immense track won every imaginary pissing contest that the mind can conjure.
11. Flume feat. Jezzebel Doran “Sleepless”
The track that started it all for Sydney producer Flume AKA Harley Streten, a gorgeous glittering slice of summer.
10. Boomgates “Layman’s Terms” [UPDATED: It has been brought to our attention that “Layman’s Terms” was actually released in 2011. How embarrassing.]
Off the fantastic debut album from Melbourne garage-pop ‘super group’, “Layman’s Terms” is one of the year’s most sweet and understated love songs, featuring raw his ‘n’ hers vocals by Brendan Huntley (Eddy Current Suppression Ring) and Steph Hughes (Dick Diver).
10. HAERTS “Wings”
We’ll make this amazing tune by HAERTS our substitute number 10.
9. Kendrick Lamar “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
2012’s golden child of hip hop was the cause for thousands of blog boners and altitudinous praise. Is Kendrick Lamar worthy of the mountains of hype? Probably not. But his smooth R&B anti-haters jam “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” is such a great track and a good example of his creativity as an artist. The production alternates between very spare and layered, and his interesting flow seems to change seamlessly from landing on and off the beat. Plus, it could be the most quotable hook of the year.
8. Chromatics “Kill For Love”
Chromatics’ debut album is hard to put into words. It was formed with such a perfect stirring combination of Eighties synth nostalgia, lo-fi post punk, ambient pop, sprawling electro, and then something entirely new altogether. This single, “Kill For Love”, done gone and bewitched us.
7. Japandroids “The House That Heaven Built”
Fist-pumping shouty power pop with a chorus ballsy enough to inspire a 2.13 minute bed-jumping session from the opening riff. DONE.
6. Frank Ocean “Pyramids”
Epic in every sense of the word. An almost 10-minute R&B opus with a rad funk bassline, Ocean’s emotive storytelling vocals, and a fascinating narrative about ancient Egyptian pharoah Cleopatra reimagined as a black stripper named Cleopatra working in a club. There’s a beautiful electronic breakdown, a slowed down bridge that evokes Prince at his silkiest, and a massive guitar freakout at the finish… Whatever, it is just a really really good song.
5. Sky Ferreira “Everything is Embarrassing”
Produced by the brilliant Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and Ariel Rechtshaid, this bouncy ‘jilted lover’-themed single from dance-pop babe, Sky Ferreira, is super cool, moody and regularly on repeat around here.
4. Grimes “Genesis”
Insane, beautifully rhythmic and completely innovative electronic track that is like the sonic equivalent of looking through a crystal. As far as lyrics go, I think the line “eye ooh ning nah” comes into it at some stage. *Shrugs*
3. Tame Impala “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”
A Seventies-charged sprawler that sounds like it could be a cut from the Beatles at their most psychedelic. Masterpiece.
2. Solange “Losing You”
Written and produced by Dev Hynes, “Losing You” is masterfully executed emotive singalong pop with a large does of soul. The bouncing production is polished to perfection, and Solange’s clipped, steady vocal performance as a desperate woman anticipating heartbreak is so well-measured and the melody infectious. Her sister might be among the most famous pop stars on earth, but 2012 has been Solange’s year.
1. Major Lazer feat. Amber Hoffman “Get Free”
This moody and melodic reggae-infused dub track got under our skin from the first listen and never got old. Jungly samples, a deep skank-ready bassline, the powerful guest vocal by The Dirty Projectors’ Amber Hoffman, it’s seductive and transportive – just as suited to the dancefloor as it is for solo chill time. That’s rare. Our number 1, Major Lazer’s haunting and beautiful “Get Free”.
Cloud Nothings “Wasted Days”
Holy Balm “Favourite Sweater”
Lana Del Rey “Blue Jeans”
Lower Dens “Brains”
Want to argue? We’re okay with that! Hit the comment section.