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Top 50 Songs of 2012

on December 07, 2012, 1:00am
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annual report songs e1354807570564 Top 50 Songs of 2012

The first week in our 2012 Annual Report has come to an end. But what an end it is: our Top 50 Songs of 2012. For this list, we took into consideration the tracks that not only spoke to the year, but each respective act’s ability to grow and engage their mind, genre, and sound. That might sound spiritual and what have you, but okay, maybe you’re not a fan of dreamcatchers and stuff. Whatever.

Feel free to let us know what you think, including some tracks you’ll take into 2013 with you. Also, stay tuned as our 2012 Annual Report continues next week with our picks for Live Acts of the Year, Artist of the Year, Band of the Year, Music Festival of the Year, and Top 50 Albums of the Year.

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mia badgirls Top 50 Songs of 2012

50. M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”

Matangi

M.I.A’s “Paper Planes” was no mere hit song: it was a cultural entity that rose from obscurity to take a prominent place in TV and movies, helping to define and reflect the cultural mood of much of 2008. While some artists never experience said phenomenon in their entire career, Ms. Arulpragasam scored a second, slightly diminished return with “Bad Girls”. Released just days before her PR nightmare at Super Bowl XLVI, the track’s something of a spiritual successor to “Paper Planes”; both are catchy, intricate, and ready-made for pop radio and/or singing by the late-night party crowd. But unlike her first big hit, this latest banger has none of her trademark political undertones, proving she can make music just for the sake of having a good ol’ time.  -Chris Coplan

Buy: Amazon
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ty segall slaughterhouse Top 50 Songs of 2012

49. Ty Segall Band – “Wave Goodbye”

Slaughterhouse

The prolific Ty Segall released three full-length albums, a live LP, and a split EP in 2012 alone. As he drops record after record, you can hear him developing as a songwriter, growing weary of old sounds and striving for new ones. That was his intent behind forming the Ty Segall Band and recording a song like “Wave Goodbye”. It’s one of the heaviest things he’s ever done — sludgy metal with a bottomless pit of psychedelic noise. One can only sing so many pop songs before wanting to crank the amp and bash it out Sabbath-style, and Segall does exactly that. -Jon Hadusek

Stream: “Wave Goodbye”

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cult of youth love will prevail Top 50 Songs of 2012

48. Cult of Youth – “Garden of Delights”

Love Will Prevail

For the first four-fifths of its duration, “Garden of Delights” takes us to the darkest of corners that Cult of Youth frontman Sean Ragon offers on his post-industrial project’s second LP, Love Will Prevail. For almost three minutes, the bass line grooves away on a doomed-out E minor riff, the tension slowly accumulates, and Ragon shouts “Angels pray while devils kill / We’re left to rot in this stupid landfill” as it snowballs into apocalyptic enormity. And then, something unexpected happens. With just 30 seconds left, the song’s key shifts from minor to major for the first time, and the next words out of Ragon’s mouth are “and love will prevail!” We knew you had it in you, Sean. -Steven Arroyo

Stream: “Garden of Delights”

Buy: Amazon
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tanlines mixed emotions cos Top 50 Songs of 2012

47. Tanlines – “All of Me”

Mixed Emotions

At my part-time retail job, “All of Me” plays almost every single day amidst Christmas tunes, easy listening, and “classic rock.” While the song might be more “fitting room” than radio-hit, it without a doubt has the potential to be the latter. Tanlines’ album was a long time coming from an EP and some live appearances, but “All of Me” gives that “2-person-multi-instrumentalist-dance-music” genre a push from gimmick into feat. It speaks to their strengths as songwriters who only have themselves to lean against. Small things like the song’s extended shelf life, or its overall affecting nature, also play a big part in its success, too. Yeah, small things like that. -Mikey Zonenashvili

Buy: Amazon
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indianhandcraftscover Top 50 Songs of 2012

46. Indian Handcrafts – “Bruce Lee”

Civil Disobedience for Losers

A song that begins with the smack of a gong can only get better from there. The Canadian riff-rock duo bring Stonehenge-levels of hard rock, packing in elements of speed metal, bloozy guitars, and a healthy dose of schlock. As much as Indian Handcrafts borrow from the likes of Iron Maiden, Motörhead, or even Satan’s Host, the real citation belongs to their Canadian comrades, Anvil. “Bruce Lee”, like the thrash movement Anvil inspired in the ’80s, is loud,  leaden, and replete with coiling guitars. At the two-minute mark, vocals swell around the drum-and-strum blues jam. It builds into a voracious gallop that, of course, ends with a gong. -Sarah Grant

Buy: Amazon
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cohenoldideas Top 50 Songs of 2012

45. Leonard Cohen – “Come Healing”

Old Ideas

Old Ideas’ “Come Healing” won’t be covered by the masses, featured in teen soap operas, or soundtrack weird Zack Snyder-directed sex scenes. But don’t let its lack of oncoming ubiquity fool you. “Come Healing” is one of the most beautiful songs in Cohen’s catalog, and from that beauty comes its strength. The traditional gracing of the all-female choir counterpoints Cohen’s gravely vocals and gravitas, decorating a deceptively complex chord progression and throwing  the lyrical themes into sharp focus. At first, the central request to “come healing of the spirit, come healing of the limb” sounds timid, but “Come Healing” builds, gently yet insistently. When that same sentiment is repeated at the song’s end, it has become a certitude. There won’t be many televised opportunities to demand healing from heaven, but Cohen convinces us of that healing’s inevitability  marking the irrefutable success of “Come Healing”. -Chris Bosman

Buy: Amazon
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earl sweatshirt chum Top 50 Songs of 2012

44. Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”

On his first official solo cut after returning to Odd Future, Earl ditched the stomach-churning rape jokes that peppered his 2010 debut in favor of a more introspective yet no less mesmerizing flow. Behind an ice-cold piano line, he touched on his absent father, his big brother/little brother connection with Tyler, and his strained relationship with his mother. Rhyme upon rhyme is stacked onto each verse, to the point where you’re virtually hanging on to every lazy-mouthed syllable. One of the many stand-out lines from the second verse includes: “Nothing was fucking awesome / Trying to make it from the bottom this is / Feeling as hard as Vince Carter’s knee cartilage is.” He seamlessly juxtaposes dead-serious feelings of depression with grin-educing punch lines, all while sounding like he’s hardly lifting a finger. -Bryant Kitching

Buy: Amazon
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crystal castles iii e1348676099314 Top 50 Songs of 2012

43. Crystal Castles – “Sad Eyes”

(III)

She loves you, she hates you, she’s just not into you. The eyes give it all away. Even a veiled woman “can’t disguise / sad eyes.” But she can certainly sneak somber lyrics into a toe-tapper. Alice Glass first sang about “sad eyes” in her debut studio session during “Alice Practice”. She now revisits this weepy motif on the danciest track off Crystal Castles’ latest album, (III). The song’s tempo hastens within a few seconds of ignition, and then speeds along, never once losing steam. Ethan Kath’s bruising, wrap-around-a-neck bass lines and jittery keyboard pulse with a scared energy. Meanwhile, Glass croons like Sylvia Plath lost and abandoned at a rave set in the middle ring of Inferno‘s seventh circle. “Sad Eyes” finds one of the grittiest bands around delivering a straight party song sharpened to the sinister edge fans have come to love. -Dan Pfleegor

Buy: Amazon
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 Top 50 Songs of 2012

42. The Walkmen – “Heaven”

Heaven

In their 12-year career, The Walkmen have audibly matured from New York roustabouts to mature family men, as stunningly evidenced on the title track to their latest, Heaven. Judging from the photo of the guys and their kids on the disc’s back cover, Hamilton Leithauser’s silvery croon to “remember all we fight for” acts as a rallying call to keep everything together in 2012’s uncertain times. Sure, the jangle in this track sounds familiar, but the leveled request of “Don’t leave me / Oh, you’re my best friend” is an adult honesty that not many seasoned rockers would feel this comfortable showing. -Adam Kivel

Buy: Amazon
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rick ross sophisticated 500x500 Top 50 Songs of 2012

41. Rick Ross feat. Meek Mill – “So Sophisticated”

God Forgives, I Don’t

Before Bawse was Bawse, his lyrical skills were entry-level. Things done changed over the years of many Ross releases, and though 2012 saw one fantastic mixtape, one halfway decent major release, and another highly questionable mixtape, Ross’ fire on the God Forgives, I Don’t single “So Sophisticated” ranks as one of his top performances. In an album where he surrounds himself with his spoils, Ricky takes time to elucidate on his accumulating stacks, choppers, champagne, the whole lot — all while sticking to a flow that puts the weight of a three-syllable rhyme scheme at the back of the bar. It doesn’t get much better than to hear Ross breathlessly growl “Tatted on my stomach: Rich Forever Makavelli.” Ross’ next-in-line MMG disciple Meek Mill keeps up with Bawse on his verse and the production from The Beat Bully ties up and collects on any loose ends. -Jeremy D. Larson

Buy: Amazon
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