Three things about 2012:
First, this year’s list has way more songs that got heavy airplay than any other list I’ve ever done. By airplay, I don’t just mean radio. I mean YouTube, Pandora, TV shows, commercials, you name it. It felt like the same 10 songs were absolutely everywhere this year. The very good news is that 5 or 6 of those songs were actually good. Can’t remember the last time that was the case (early 90’s?). The bad news is those songs got pummeled into the ground as if nothing else was being released. I tried to be as objective as possible, not penalizing a song for being overplayed while also not rewarding it for merely being stuck in my head from being on repeat.
Second, the explosion of EDM into the mainstream this year may have influenced this list indirectly. You won’t find any DJs on the list and I find most of the stuff tedious. But at the same time I felt like there was more dance music out there this year that actually had heart and sounded human. Maybe it’s me feeling nostalgic for LCD or maybe dubstep is working insidiously behind the scenes to influence my psyche. Either way, anything on the list this year without a banjo or power chords tended to have a big beat.
Third, I might be imaging this but I feel like there is more happy music on the list this year. Is that because of me or because of what was released? We’ll probably never know. But I was struck by how much on the list this year seems uplifting.
Enough navel gazing. As always, let’s start with the rules:
+ All songs are listed in reverse order because that is the only real way to do a list. Any of you with any sense of drama will listen to the whole thing from 100 slowly building up to number 1, at which point you will practically be bursting with excitement.
+ These are tracks, not necessarily singles. Covers qualify as well though I usually only include ones that are markedly different than the originals (and are good).
+ I only have one song per artist because the list is way cooler that way. It’s no fun for one artist to horde a bunch of spots on the list. Best track only.
+ They were all released in 2012 on either an album or as a single. Sometimes the album came out last year but it was released as a single this year (or vice versa). That is a loophole I happily exploit. There is also a chance I got the year wrong.
100. Gangnam Style by Psy. If every year gets the defining song it deserves, what the hell does that say abou this year?
99. Roman Ruins by Line & Circle. Wait, I thought R.E.M. broke up.
98. Stay Frosty by Van Halen. The Ice Cream Man is back in business.
97. Death Trap by Charlie Peacock. Makes death traps sound as pleasing as a square dance down at the county fair.
96. Push and Shove by No Doubt (Feat. Busy Signal, Major Lazer). If you aren’t somehow dancing when you hear this, I have no idea what you’re doing
95. Crazy to Love You by Leonard Cohen. Just give Leonard a guitar and get out of the way.
94. Hit the Ground (Superman) by The Big Pink. For the piano bassline if nothing else.
93. Santo Domingo by Rodriogo y Gabriela (Feat C.U.B.A.). Award for fastest guitar playing goes to….
92. Some Place by Nick Waterhouse. Cmon everybody, let’s do the twist.
91. The Scientist by Willie Nelson. A song that is gorgeous across genres.
90. Waiting for Something by Nada Surf. Sounds like every other Nada Surf song. I mean that in a good way.
89. Leon Vs. The Revolution by The Melvins. Fight! Fight! Fight!
88. Jonti by Wild Cub. Can’t think of another band that really sounds like this
87. Lolita by Lana Del Rey. Provocative for provocative’s sake. I’m OK with that.
86. Groundhog Day by Corin Tucker Band. Riot grrrrls live!
85. Emmylou by First Aid Kit. ”Be the Johnny to my June” needs to be a valentine greeting.
84. Jealous Girl by Ben Kweller. Makes me want to hang Cheap Trick posters in my bedroom.
83. Eyeoneye by Andrew Bird. Andrew Bird is a genre onto himself.
82. Blank Maps by Cold Specks. When you sing like this, you don’t need much in instrumentation.
81. Turn it Around by Lucius. Tegan and Lucius?
80. This Summer by Superchunk. Proof that summer = power pop.
79. Awesome by Will Power. Take all the highest energy songs of all-time and combine them. Obvious and brilliant.
78. Stay the Night by Green Day. Dear haters, they do power pop well. Let the boys have fun.
77. Harley Dollar Bill$ by Turbo Fruits. This year’s Southern Rock torch bearer.
76. ITAL (Roses) by Lupe Fiasco. Like Kanye without all the over-the-top production.
75. R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike. A checklist of hip-hop’s backbone and best ever pronounciation of the word “chruch”.
74. Sweet Sipping Soda by Reptar. Is there anything called “college rock” anymore? If so, this is it.
73. I Am Your Leader by Nicki Minaj (Feat Cam’ron, Rick Ross). What every political candidate is murmuring under their breath.
72. Lunacy by Swans. This HAS to be used next year on “Game of Thrones”.
71. Bricks to the Bones by Suckers. Britpop singalongs always do well with me.
70. French Lessons by Levek. Lounge music for the 2010s.
69. Rashida by Rufus Wainwright. Part American standard, part soul song, part opera.
68. Gimme Click Gimme Grid by Jason Lytle. That ephermal voice and glitchy synth could belong to only one person.
67. White Freightliner Blues by Lyle Lovett (Feat. Keith Sewell, Luke Bulia, Ray Herndon). Cmon, if Lyle Lovett played a party who wouldn’t be there?
66. Lotus Flower Bomb by Wale (Feat. Miguel). Wale, you’re making me blush.
65. The Gravedigger’s Song by Mark Lanegan Band. Love songs are rarely this epic.
64. Dissolve Me by Alt-J. The only reason that fantastic riff stops in the song is so it can start back up again.
63. Abraham’s Daughter by Arcade Fire. Every bit as ominous as the Hunger Games themselves.
62. It’s Time by Imagine Dragons. Like reading daily affirmations backed by the cheer squad.
61. Trembling Hands by The Temper Trap. Feel the anguish.
60. The After Party by Bad Books. Could’ve been on the Singles soundtrack.
59. Elephant by Tame Impala. Ten thousand kids thrust their fists into their jeans and bob their heads in unison.
58. Always Waiting by Michael Kiwanuka. Like a voice from ages ago.
57. God’s Sure Good by Dr. John. Gospel, New Orleans style.
56. Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar (Feat. Jay Rock). The eternal question: Halle Berry or Hallelujah?
55. Doom and Gloom by The Rolling Stones. 50 years later!
54. I Found You by Alabama Shakes. I keep imagining them playing a party at Delta Tau Chi.
53. Same Love by Macklemore (Feat. Mary Lambert). Because of the bold lyrics and because Ryan Lewis.
52. Hard Way Home by Brandi Carlile. If this counts as country music then I like country music.
51. Origami Hearts by The Airplane Boys. Nothing is more hip hop than origami hearts.
50. Sisterly by Fang Island. Why aren’t they more famous?
49. That Old Black Hole by Dr. Dog. Levon Helm is up there smiling.
48. Hairspray Heart by Black Moth Super Rainbow. Cussing sounds cooler with vocal effects.
47. Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars. As if New Order was the backing band and Kate Bush was guest vocals.
46. Flaggin a Ride by Divine Fits. Also knows as Spoon.
45. Let Your Heart Hold Fast by Fort Atlantic. Did Jackson Browne change his name to Fort Atlantic?!
44. Singularity by Hollow & Akimbo. Can’t wait for a full album from these guys.
43. The Paper Trench by Admiral Fallow. Makes “Holy Moses” actually sound rock n’ roll.
42. Lay Down by Alberta Cross. Sounds like they live in their own Kashmir universe.
41. Is Your Love Big Enough? by Lianne La Havas. When it’s time to write a bridge, just start singing about ice cream.
40. Oh Susannah by Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Not the way mom taught me this song.
39. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings by Father John Misty. Guy from Fleet Foxes makes a racket (relatively speaking).
38. I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons. Fist-pumping banjo.
37. Me and My Shadow by M. Ward (feat. Zooey Deschanel). Love She & Him a bit more when She is pushed into the background.
36. Artificial Nocturne by Metric. Like Depeche Mode’s kid sister.
35. Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men. Every time I write off group chants for good, another one sneaks in here.
34. Too Close by Alex Clare. Dubstep I can handle!
33. Live and Die by The Avett Brothers. As soft and cuddly as a kitten.
32. Angels by The xx. Makes being in love sound like a total bummer.
31. Paddling Out by Miike Snow. An anthem for the less-glamorous side to surfing.
30. All of Me by Tanlines. For achievement in handclaps.
29. Five Seconds by Twin Shadow. This song ends a John Hughes movie in my head.
28. The House That Heaven Built by Japandroids. The musical equivalent of lighting shit on fire.
27. Octopus by Bloc Party. A return to form.
26. That’s What’s Up by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. How can you tire of hippie music when it’s done this well?
25. The Mother We Share by Chvrches. One of my favorite new acts despite the slightly pretentious “v”.
24. Sixteen Saltines by Jack White. It’s not a DB Top 100 until Jack White shows up.
23. Change the Sheets by Kathleen Edwards. To new beginnings
22. She Brings the Sunlight by Richard Hawley. Drugs? What drugs?
21. Supermoon Made Me Want to Pee by The Flaming Lips (Feat. Prefuse 73). If I ever go completely batshit insane, I would like this to be the soundtrack.
20. Line by Line by The Walkmen.Time slows down during this song.
19. Splitter by Calexico. Aerobic music for mariachis.
18. Hot Knife by Fiona Apple. ”Row Row Row Your Boat” on steroids.
17. Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding. Did she just invent Electro-gospel?
16. Night and Day by Hot Chip. For Hot Chip, dance music is serious business.
15. We Are Young by fun. (Feat. Janelle Monae). High schoolers everywhere had a new anthem to sing together at the top of their lungs.
14. Everybody Talks by Neon Trees. Neon Trees have perfected the catchy pop song.
13. Take a Walk by Passion Pit. The riff that sold a million tacos.
12. Default by Django Django. Same old same old never sounded so funky.
11. Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye (Feat. Kimbra)
10. Go Right Ahead by The Hives. The Swedish Ramones.
9. Ho Hey by The Lumineers. Singalong of the year.
8. Ain’t Messin’ Round by Gary Clark Jr. It was a slow year for horns but this one brought the brass.
7. The Magic Clap by The Coup. Since when did this anarchy-leaning outfit turn into Outkast?
6. Madness by Muse. Slinky.
5. My Love Won’t Wait by Two Gallants. Like the controls failing while you’re riding “Pirates of the Carribean”.
4. Thinkin Bout You by Frank Ocean. This song actually has the power to undress you just by listening to it.
3. Sweet Sour by Band of Skulls. Chinese food never sounded so heavy.
2. Simple Song by The Shins. Sometimes a simple song is all you need.
1. Cherokee by Cat Power. A song straight from the spirit world.