In this special magazine-style feature article, I celebrate the 10th consecutive year of counting down my favorite music with an extended look back at all the music that defined 2012 for me. Inside, a summary of the year’s most memorable songs by season, followed by original reviews of my top 40 albums of 2012.
That’s right, I’m still alive! This is TC’s top 40 albums of 2012.
It’s even more special this year, because this is the 10th (!) consecutive year that I’ll be counting down my favorite music. This year-end tradition started way back in 2003, and I’m excited to be back for the 10th time.
In recent years, Foo Fighters, Robyn, and Lady Gaga have all taken the crown. Who will it be this year? Join me for yet another journey through the year’s memorable singles of each season, followed by the main event, my top 40 albums. The road to this year’s #1 album starts right here.
The year began with a dance party thanks to this instant pop hit from Jessie J.
I didn’t have time to fully appreciate Stronger, but the title track won me over.
Sleigh Bells specialize in blowing your face off, and “Comeback Kid” did just that.
I’ll tell you this: Charli XCX is turning pop upside down. Her LP will set it on fire.
Demi’s uplifting anthem was one of my favorite and most played songs of 2012.
MNDR, seen last year with the Ronson fam, upped her game further this year.
I was searching for something else entirely when I stumbled upon this charmer.
Probably one of the best, most powerful, infectious songs CSS has ever made.
Simple, light pop from Sweden. She has drawn some Kate Bush comparisons.
Madonna’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl made this track memorable.
Flo Rida did this one during Jimmy Fallon’s Super Bowl Special. I was there!
From their 2011 album Era Extraña, I couldn’t get this one out of my head all year.
I heard this great track just once on Sirius XMU, and then it was mine forever.
No new Katy album, but I’ll allow it because we got “Part Of Me” and it’s so good.
In terms of really well crafted pop songs, you can’t do much better. Selena wins.
Don’t fuck with Cady Groves. Just listen to “This Little Girl” and you’ll know why.
Some songs build up to a ridiculously strong final chorus. This is one of them.
I got on board the Vivian Girls train this winter. More from Katy Goodman later.
Top notch, friendly hip-pop that you just have to sing along with when you hear it.
Before Skrillex became a joke among hipsters, he brought EDM to the forefront.
The Good Natured brightened up the winter with some fun British electropop.
Great song, but even better was the video with Aubrey Plaza of Parks & Rec.
This collaboration was a bit chillwave, a bit trip hop, and every bit excellent.
If you were alive in 2012 you heard “Tongue Tied” and were better off for it.
This super catchy track was spearheaded by their performance on Late Show.
After a decade of hiatus, it was nice to see The Cranberries back together.
This cover of the Men Without Hats classic showed up on some TV commercials.
Best known for “Bruises”, the synthpop duo from Brooklyn returned for more.
The once-controversial adult film star randomly released a club banger. What?
She’s a Kim Kardashian lookalike with Mickey Mouse ears, but I like the song.
Yet another club track that got in my ears and wouldn’t leave for better or worse.
With this particularly hot single mix, I’m glad to say Shakira’s still going strong.
The electronic duo from Portland channeled ’70s Blondie on this toasty track.
Great chill track from the French pop singer that I just discovered early this year.
It was everywhere and for good reason. Such a creative song and music video.
Love them or can’t stand them, Karmin absolutely dominated pop in early 2012.
What an amazing electric dance pop creation. Blows my mind whenever I listen.
Straight up enjoyable, no-nonsense, lovable pop from Sweden. A bit like Robyn.
One of 2012’s greatest new discoveries, no question. "Hold On" is a jam of jams.
I miss her ’80s style synthpop, but this Record Store Day release was top notch.
More from Record Store Day! It was beyond great to get a new release from Blur.
Even more RSD12. Feist and Mastodon covered each other’s songs. Feistodon!
The infinitely charming Ladyhawke (of "My Delirium") returned for more in 2012.
It was an ad for Internet Explorer of all things that rocketed this song to the top.
Cher Lloyd is trouble. I think the key to success on this track was the "AUUGH!"
I stumbled upon this experimental alt-pop group’s single and instantly loved it.
If you know me at all, you know that I tend to enjoy Canadian singer-songwriters.
These guys may have set the record for most fun had in the making of a video.
Man, this song was everywhere for a while. Couldn’t avoid it. But it deserved it!
I would describe Tennis as unconventional lo-fi pop. They’re super good. That’s all.
Great song by an indie singer-songwriter from Texas with a really unique sound.
The sleeper hit that you definitely heard even if you never realized that you did.
I feel as awkward about this as I did Kevin Rudolf and Lil Wayne in ’09. Oh well!
I’m glad Garbage is still together and doing their thing. I played this single a lot.
Really good straightforward rock music, but holy shit I can’t get over this photo.
Despite the album art, The Ting Tings are very much alive, and I’m glad they are.
Is Nicki gonna keep reusing Pink Friday for every album that she ever releases?
From the season premiere of Mad Men, this performance took on a life of its own.
At the beginning of 2012, I said I wanted some good rock. The Hives delivered.
I think these guys are classified as noise pop. Well, it’s some pretty great noise.
It’s a fun song, but that’s about all I can say. I can’t really defend this next block.
More low-rent pop from the gutters of SiriusXM 20 on 20. "Shame On Me" indeed.
Oh god, now I like a song by a no-name former member of the Pussycat Dolls?
Like it or not, these guys are this generation’s *NSYNC. Might as well embrace it.
Linkin Park re-emerged again in 2012 just to die in this fire. R.I.P. Linkin Park.
OK, now we’re talkin’. The Gaslight Anthem continues to rule the world of rock.
Class Actress, more than just a great band name. This song grabs a hold of you.
Speaking of great names, I discovered Jesca 5 years ago. I’m glad she’s back.
Sia is the best. Add the magic touch of David Guetta, and a surefire hit is made.
From his critically acclaimed Channel Orange, it’s when Frank Ocean took over.
The season finale of SNL wrapped up with this wonderful send-off to Kristen Wiig.
Kylie celebrated 25 amazing years in the music industry with this hot new track.
Kimbra set out on her own and killed it with “Warrior” to start off the summer.
This riveting cover of the Siouxsie & The Banshees classic was a nice surprise.
One of the best songs of the year to light up the alt rock space. Go Blondfire!
I’m glad 2012 gave me this great new Justice track to play over and over again.
I was late to the party, but this “cosmic disco funk collective” ruled my summer.
The people of Sweden really make some of the best music. Let’s move there.
This perfect chill track for the summer is a bit psychedelic, lo-fi, and garage-ish.
After her stripped-down Nirvana cover last year, Yuna impressed once again.
I’m glad Matchbox Twenty, one of my old faves, was back in business this year.
Push And Shove was Rock Steady Pt. 2, but I was so stoked No Doubt reunited.
Our ’90s reunion continues! Alanis’ angelic video reminded me of her in Dogma.
Green Day put out 3 new albums with mixed results, but points for switching it up.
Crystal Castles are fucking weird, but that’s what I enjoy so much about them.
Fun light pop as heard in some of NBC’s promos for the London 2012 Olympics.
Speaking of! I about lost my damn mind when this happened. So did the world.
French Canadian music! Loved this song from the Montreal singer-songwriter.
I slept on this lovely song from 2011 until it showed up in Kindle Fire ads in 2012.
More upbeat pop that I discovered thanks to TV commercials. Thanks, TV!
Kendrick Lamar helped define 2012 with this incredibly infectious summer track.
This great Australian indie band eluded me for a while with their misspelled name.
Sickeningly sweet pop song from a chorus of sisters known for singing a capella.
I didn’t give Battle Born the chance I should have, but I did appreciate this single.
One of the best new indie projects out there. Can’t wait for their full LP in 2013.
The photo tells you all you need to know. Just a hot club track, no credibility here.
From an as-of-yet relatively unknown singer, this is just a sweet summer song.
Wild Belle is a new duo whose blend of music feels kinda exotic and glamorous.
Legends of rock and roll right here, with one of my favorite Neil songs in years.
Cornell and friends reunited (hooray!) starting with this track for The Avengers.
At some point “It’s Time” reached the stratosphere and totally dominated 2012.
Great new Wye Oak from the Adult Swim Singles Program, a wonderful thing.
I was happy as Mumford & Sons in this photo to hear their new music this year.
Karmin’s best song. “Brokenhearted” was everywhere but “Hello” won me over.
Love this new Pink track. If you’ve had a shit day, just put this on and turn it up.
I love Nelly Furtado, I love it that she returned again, and I loved this quirky hit.
One of 2012’s defining songs and bands. “Some Nights” will go down in history.
It’s the “Macarena” of 2012. I had to include it. Absolutely fucking ridiculous.
My faves set their sights on pop with this crazy hot new single. New LP in ’13!
To celebrate 50 years, the Stones released their greatest, freshest song in ages.
Adele’s theme for the James Bond film of the same name is ridiculously great.
I’ve been on board the Sky Ferreira train for years. I hope for an LP someday!
This ode to insomnia will get stuck in your head and leave you awake all night.
First, The Wallflowers are back! Second, Mick fucking Jones! Can’t do any better.
Twin sisters who started their own pop band. Where have I heard that before?
Real line from this “crazy, twisted, stupid” track: “I’ma start it up like Zuckerberg!”
This dark and ominous track fits its title quite well, and I can’t get enough of it.
Every now and then I like a country song. Another of my Sirius XM discoveries.
I really liked this enjoyable pop single from last year’s winner of The X Factor.
The always reliable Band of Horses have one of the best names in the business.
A bit folk, a bit indie, can’t get it out of your head at all. Not that you’d want to.
Great new band out of Portland with strong influences drawn from ’80s new wave.
Very laid back and chill new song from the infinitely lovely Lisa Marie Presley.
Solid effort for inclusion as new material on Kelly Clarkson’s greatest hits album.
Rihanna has been kinda insufferable lately, but songs like these win me back.
A truly great anthem of a song that you wanna shout along to when you hear it.
The latest 20-year-old to break out from the Disney scene into the real world.
What an earworm of a song. That’s pretty much all I got. You’ve probably heard it.
I don’t really know what Christina’s doing anymore, but I like this song anyway.
The last of the club tracks on my 2012 list. Thankfully, it’s one of the better ones.
After “Girl Talk” took over the spring, Ultraviolet Sound returned to rule the fall.
Bruno Mars did his best impression of The Police here, and it worked out well!
I’ve adored Alicia since 2001. I wish I had more time to get into her latest album.
“HO! HEY! HO! HEY!” Another song that was everywhere and deserved to be.
One of the finalists from The Voice, Vicci got Cee Lo to lend a hand to this one.
I love raucous Pink as well as introspective Pink. Great to hear the latter here.
Solange has found her niche. Sophisticated, futuristic, and dark but danceable.
This new indie band took me by surprise. I’ve never heard a voice so pleasant.
The Joy Formidable put out this dreamy new single ahead of their next album.
Immediately became one of my favorite Shiny Toy Guns songs when I heard it.
This new band put folk, bluegrass, rock, blues, and pop into a blender. So good.
Paul McCartney. Dave Grohl. Krist Novoselic. Pat Smear. 12/12/12. AMAZING.
“Bom Bom” sent off 2012 with a bang. This song is fucking bonkers. Womp it up!
The legendary girl group reunited for what became my 2012 year-end anthem.
Top 40 albums
I often like to kick off the top 40 with a fun one, so it’s no surprise this compilation of the best musical comedy moments from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon fits the bill. It was great to see the show in person at the Super Bowl — that unreal experience added some actual meaning to this album. From the “History of Rap” with Justin Timberlake, “Balls In Your Mouth” with Eddie Vedder, and “Friday” with Stephen Colbert to Jimmy’s versions of “Tebowie”, “Reading Rainbow” as The Doors, and bookend Neil Young impersonations, this collection has it all. My favorite track is “Scrambled Eggs” with Paul McCartney, as he and Jimmy sing the original, legendary, and quite silly placeholder lyrics to “Yesterday” (along with some extra made-up verses) with such absurd sincerity.
Previously known for being a finalist on Canadian Idol several years ago, Carly Rae Jepsen suddenly took over the world with her earworm-tastic, ubiquitous hit “Call Me Maybe” this spring. But it didn’t stop there — with other addictive tracks like “This Kiss”, “Good Time”, and “Curiosity”, many of us had these songs from Kiss in our heads all year. The best track on the album if you ask me is “Turn Me Up”, a more daring, Robyn-esque electropop gem that was never released as a single but would have been #1 on all the charts if I were running the show. Carly perfected the craft of bubblegum pop in 2012, and (my favorite part) she pulled it off while being older than me! Hallelujah, I’m not ancient just yet. Thanks, Carly!
This indie punk-ish rock band from New Jersey entered my radar a while back and I’m glad I finally took the time to appreciate one of their full-length efforts. Ugly is kinda gritty and in-your-face, and I like it that way. Marissa Paternoster and crew know what’s up and get the point across. This one is really a front-to-back listen, but if I had to single out a couple tracks I’d go with “Rotten Apple” and “Doom 84”, which both really get it going. If you’re new to Screaming Females you should listen to the whole thing and go through the same epiphany I did. You won’t regret it unless you don’t like great music.
Ty Segall is a force to be reckoned with. This guy put out 3 albums under 3 different projects all in 2012: Hair with White Fence, Slaughterhouse with the Ty Segall Band, and this one Twins billed as a solo effort. Of those, as you can see from its spot on this list Twins was the one I kept coming back to the most. Other reviews have described Ty Segall as everything from indie to garage to psychedelic to lo-fi. That’s about right! The album gets off to a roaring start with “Thank God For Sinners”, which became a bit of an obsession of mine after he showed up to perform it on Conan in the fall, and it never lets up from there. I look forward to exploring and appreciating Ty Segall’s catalog further in the years to come.
A sleeper of an album in my world, Our Version Of Events was released in February but I didn’t register it until later in the year. I first took notice of Emeli Sandé during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, where she performed one song and had another, “Heaven” (the first track on this album), featured during the tribute to Tim Berners-Lee. I was taken by her grace — though young, she comes across as an old soul with such sophisticated style and presence in her music and performance. As soon as I heard the pounding percussion and choir-influenced delivery and positivity of “Next To Me”, which became my favorite song off of the album, that sealed the deal — Our Version Of Events was headed to my top 40.
Let’s keep it going with the sophisticated and soulful with this entry from Jessie Ware, another new artist from the UK stretching the boundaries of pop. Listening to Devotion from beginning to end is a bit of an experience. It never goes four-to-the-floor, but there’s an undercurrent of dance and electro influence present in its more down-tempo tracks. There’s a certain restraint and elegance that makes the album stand out from the sea of popular music we have right now. It’s a nice break from the bombastic, and it’s truly top quality. “Running” and “110%” are good starters released as singles, but listen to the whole album for highlights like “No To Love” and “Swan Song” as well. Devotion is ready for you if you’re ready for it.
Hospitality is a trio from Brooklyn that basically has my name written all over it. To try to sum it up in one sentence, here you’ve got clever, infectious, jangly indie pop driven by a female lead singer with a quirky, meandering vocal style and an incredible amount of energy. That’s definitely a me type of band. The standout “Friends Of Friends” is the track that got me hooked from hearing it on Sirius XMU all year (which you’ll find will be a trend throughout several albums on my top 40). Other really great songs here are “Betty Wang”, “Julie”, “Liberal Arts”, and “Eighth Avenue”, but who am I kidding? You’ll want to give Hospitality a legit chance and queue up the entire album.
Where would we be without Norah Jones? From the first time I heard her beautiful, graceful voice and music in 2002, I knew she would become one of my favorite artists right away. Here we are a decade later and that’s as true as ever. Her newest album, Little Broken Hearts produced by Danger Mouse, tells a story from beginning to end of anguish and vulnerability that ultimately led to Norah finding herself better off after ending a failing relationship. The album art is an homage to the poster for the classic film Mudhoney, a really nice artistic touch that made it stand out on my virtual shelf. Another work best appreciated as a whole, the single “Happy Pills” is a great place to start if you’re short on time. I love it how Norah switches it up a bit with every new album — she’s one of the world’s best talents.
Drawing influence from country, pop, indie, and straight up rock-and-roll from the music capital of Nashville, I’m pretty sure Those Darlins also got on my radar thanks to that fancypants satellite radio I keep talking about. I heard the title track from this album “Screws Get Loose” early in the year and I loved it. I’d describe Those Darlins as a bit discordant and raucous, but that’s all the better. I love the attitude, forthrightness, and eccentricity that comes out in tracks like “Be Your Bro” and “Fatty Needs A Fix”, a couple of my favorites from the album. This is just a really great piece of work. The songs are short, punchy, and weird. I like it. Spend a half hour with Those Darlins and you’ll see what I mean.
First off, let’s establish here that Regina Spektor is great and I’ve enjoyed her quirky anti-folk stylings going all the way back to Soviet Kitsch in 2004, and I always look forward to her new albums. With that said, I wasn’t sure if What We Saw From The Cheap Seats should be part of my top 40 — the material’s great, but most of it isn’t new. Although the songs were never recorded and released properly on an album until now, Regina has been performing them live for years, hence the album’s title. Ultimately, the sheer quality of this album was enough to get it onto my top 40 anyway, so, crisis averted. Among the best songs here are “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)”, an amped-up re-recording of a decade-old original, along with “All The Rowboats”, a longtime entry on Regina’s setlists.
Best Coast have come a long way in a couple of years. Just 2 1/2 short years ago, they put out a (great) lo-fi surf-rock album Crazy For You that was basically all about slacking off, smoking weed, and paying tribute to lead singer Bethany Cosentino’s cat, Snacks. But the carefree days are over as the mid-20s hit Bethany like a freight train and she struggled with figuring out her life as opposed to just the next few hours. Enter The Only Place, on which tracks like “Why I Cry”, “Better Girl”, and “Up All Night” present a more introspective, polished effort. Meanwhile, the title track is the best ode to the state of California that any person could hope to make, and the album’s cover art was adapted from the sheet music to California’s 100-year-old official state song. Despite all the changes the band has gone through, Best Coast still live up to their name, representing California like no other.
I’ve been a fan of Natasha Khan a.k.a. Bat for Lashes for several years, so I always look forward to what she’ll come up with next. Her previous albums were fairly bombastic at times, with overwhelmingly loud percussion and a dizzying array of instruments highlighting some of the tracks. This time around, that kind of ornamentation has been stripped away, shining the spotlight instead on Natasha’s impressive vocal range and bewitching lyrics. Though I was a fan of the other-worldly, dream-like atmosphere that surrounded and enveloped her previous efforts, I’m equally appreciative of the more austere approach on The Haunted Man because she pulls it off so well. Tracks like “All Your Gold”, “Horses Of The Sun”, and the lead single “Laura” each arrived with a powerful and raw emotional punch that left me ramshackled.
Every now and then an EP is great enough in its limited number of tracks to make it onto my top 40 albums, hiding out among all the LPs on the list. This year that honor goes to End Of Daze, a 5-track EP from Dum Dum Girls, who previously showed up on my 2011 year-end review with their full-length album Only In Dreams. Three tracks on this EP were originally meant for that album but were withheld because of their more ethereal sound. They’re joined by two brand new tracks that are similarly atmospheric, “Season In Hell” and of course “Lord Knows”, one of my most played songs of the year. At the beginning of 2012, I was constantly playing Dum Dum Girls’ excellent cover of The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” from their previous EP, He Gets Me High; and at the end of 2012, I couldn’t put down End Of Daze. All in all, a pretty great year if you ask me.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Poliça originates from somewhere overseas, thanks to that “ç” in their name, but it turns out they’re actually from Minneapolis, their band name is derived from the Polish word “polica” (which means “policy”), and there’s not even a “ç” in the Polish alphabet — so, who knows, you figure it out. Regardless, I love this album Give You The Ghost. The sound is a bit electronic and a bit progressive rock-ish, with lots of percussion, and a layer of moody, delicate vocals echoed and amplified by some sort of crazy, bubbly distortion. It’s packed full of tracks that never leave your head like “Violent Games”, “Dark Star”, and “Lay Your Cards Out”, which I couldn’t get enough of this year. If you haven’t heard Poliça, you’re in for a treat.
Dinosaur Jr. have been around for decades, with songs in their back catalog like “Start Choppin'” and “Feel The Pain” that were staples of ’90s alternative and indie rock. The band has put out three new albums since regrouping several years ago, and while I enjoyed the previous two, I Bet On Sky is the first one to break onto my top 40 — a cause for celebration, I say. Everything you love about the distinguishing sound of Dinosaur Jr. is here, from their mighty guitar solos to their trademark distortion and feedback. I Bet On Sky is, plainly, a great rock record. I played the early single “Watch The Corners” into the ground I liked it so much, and once the album came along in the fall, tracks like “Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know”, “I Know It Oh So Well” and “See It On Your Side” were some of my favorites.
By any reasonable estimation, Tristan Prettyman isn’t a new artist — she toured with (and dated) Jason Mraz several years ago, and she has released a handful of albums since 2005 — but 2012 was the first year I really took notice. Cedar & Gold is a great pop record that reminded me on first listen of albums by some other singer-songwriters I’ve enjoyed over the years like Kate Voegele and Christina Perri. Tristan wrote this album after splitting up with Jason Mraz, reuniting, getting engaged, and then splitting up again, so it’s like the breakup record of breakup records. “Some of these songs were written in ‘fuck you’ moments,” she said succinctly to LA Weekly. Among the highlights here are “Second Chance”, “When You Come Down”, the hilarious bonus track “The Rebound”, and the lead single “My Oh My”, which is fantastic.
Chromatics have been around in some capacity for over a decade. They formed in Portland in 2001 and have since been through more lineup changes than I can make sense of, leaving a list of former band members twice as long as their current members. But none of that matters to me because I never heard of them until 2012 anyway. I’m typically not a fan of sprawling, overlong albums — Kill For Love hits the edges of the disc at 77 minutes — but I’ll make an exception here because it’s so good. This album opens with an unbelievable stripped-down cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)”, sticks around for a few punchy new tracks, and then twists, circles, and winds through an instrumental, dreamy synthpop landscape before emerging on the other side with the tremendous “The River” and calling it quits. Kill For Love is an immersive experience. Lose yourself in it.
Santigold catapulted onto the scene in 2008 with my #1 album of that year, Santogold, before a bizarre lawsuit saw her swap a vowel in her stage name. Four years later I was happy to see she would be returning with a new album, Master Of My Make Believe. The first track “Go!” featuring Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs actually debuted in 2011 and made it onto my rundown of singles last year, but the rest of the album didn’t come until this year. I was impressed right away with the sleek but frantic “Disparate Youth”, and further tracks like “The Keepers” and “Look At These Hoes” kept me coming back to the album throughout the year. Though it wasn’t the front-to-back smash that would’ve seen a repeat #1 showing, Master Of My Make Believe is still a strong album from Santigold and well-deserving of a spot on my top 40.
It’s hard to give proper consideration to an album that gets released with only one month left in the year, but Ke$ha left me in that position anyway with Warrior, a confounding, dancey electro-rock stunner of an album that I’m still wrapping my head around as I write this. As with Animal, here Ke$ha is still a no-holds-barred party girl with inexplicable sweetness at her core, but there’s a definite rock-and-roll bent to this album, with an admirable and diverse range of influences drawn from classic rock, garage, punk, and glam rock. “Die Young” and “C’Mon” are certified hits while the rest of the album veers into uncharted territory, featuring some mind-bending collaborations with Iggy Pop, The Black Keys, fun., and The Flaming Lips. Warrior is ambitious, crazy, and downright weird. Ke$ha knows all of this, she owns it, and we’re all better off for it.
In some circles, 2012 was the year of Montreal’s Claire Boucher, a.k.a. Grimes. She had begun to make a name for herself over the past couple of years through her almost indescribable brand of digitally self-produced, avant-garde, experimental music, and with the release of Visions this year, she took the indie world by storm. Her version of indie pop is creative, strange, dreamy but a bit creepy, and certainly hypnotic. AMG said Grimes “honed the mix of little-girl-lost vocals and dark synth-scapes she’d forged on her first two albums into something just as unique, but far catchier” on Visions. “Genesis” and “Oblivion” are the album’s greatest hits; “Visiting Statue” and “Skin” are some of my other favorite tracks. Sometimes I don’t even know what’s going on anymore when I’m listening to Grimes — she challenges my expectations of what music is.
Splitting the countdown this year is Of Monsters & Men. I swear the first time I heard “Little Talks” I thought for sure it featured Ellie Goulding. I soon found out, of course, that’s not true. Instead, the lead singer of this band is Reykjavík’s own Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir. She recruited a handful of Iceland’s finest musicians to accompany her on this project that has drawn comparisons to Mumford & Sons and Arcade Fire — and when you can do that out of the gate, you know you’ve got something pretty great going. I picked up the U.S. reissue of My Head Is An Animal for both “Little Talks” and “Mountain Sound”, and I was greeted by 10 more solid tracks that helped cement Of Monsters & Men as a breakout band and one of 2012’s best discoveries.
“Kickball” Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls has released a couple of solo albums under the name La Sera, and you know what? This time, she nailed it. While her first solo album was great work but not necessarily distinct from her other projects, Sees The Light creates its own identity and succeeds wonderfully. This album is energetic and punchy when it wants to be, but it also has some room for emotion and reflection. “Break My Heart”, one of the album’s best tracks, had a must-see video that was nothing short of adorable, featuring a potpourri of items in Katy’s room coming to life and turning against her. La Sera is full of charisma, individuality and charm that really comes out in this album. With 10 songs clocking in at a total of 30 minutes, Sees The Light is an ideal album: There’s nothing not to like, and when you finish listening, you immediately feel like queueing it up again.
Breaking onto the scene in the spring of 2012 with her Criminal EP, singer-songwriter and musician ZZ Ward is somebody you can’t put in a genre box. From the moment I first heard her hit single “Put The Gun Down”, I was impressed by the multitude of influences colliding on the track, as if pop, blues, soul, and hip hop were all put into a blender. On top of that, the presentation at least of ZZ Ward is pretty hard-edged (whether it reflects her actual personality or not), giving her a definite standout characteristic from other typically non-threatening female singer-songwriters. There are so many top-notch tracks on Til The Casket Drops, from “Blue Eyes Blind”, “Cryin’ Wolf” featuring Kendrick Lamar, and “Save My Life”, to all 4 tracks originally on the Criminal EP, including “Move Like U Stole It” and the album’s title track. In terms of today’s mainstream music, ZZ Ward is refreshing and different — just the right combination to shake things up.
Straight outta Brooklyn, Friends is a bit of an eclectic group, bringing together indie pop and rock with inspiration from dance, funk, and disco. I first heard their single “I’m His Girl” around the beginning of the year, and I got hooked on it immediately. That was followed up on Manifest! by the trippy “Friend Crush”, one of the band’s defining songs, as well as “Mind Control”, which is both frenetic and energetic. These songs are incredibly strong and instantly recognizable — the sound of this band is really unlike anything I’ve heard. More than just addictive, it’s hard not to shout along with the infectious hooks you’ll find on these songs and throughout the album. There’s a bit of filler here and there, but the great songs are so great it’s enough to send Manifest! well into my top 20 albums and make Friends one of my favorite new bands of 2012.
Some of the best pop artists in the world come from Sweden. Case in point: Icona Pop. This duo (Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt) take synthpop and inject it with a postmodern punk attitude and unreal, almost overpowering electric expression. From what I can tell, they began to gather attention when Chiddy Bang featured a hook of theirs on his single “Mind Your Manners” that blew up in the U.S. in early 2012. From there, they teamed up with new indie pop darling Charli XCX to create an anthem of sorts in “I Love It”, which was released to critical acclaim. Their self-titled LP was then released in Sweden in November, and man is this thing on fire. Tracks like “Sun Goes Down”, “We Got The World”, “Downtown”, “Ready For The Weekend”, “Manners” (a full-length adaptation of their Chiddy Bang hook), and “My Party” (a remake of the ’60s classic) turn pop upside down. If I hadn’t just discovered the album at the end of 2012, it would be a #1 contender. It’s saying a lot that such a new discovery is so high up on my top 40 albums of the entire year. If that’s not enough, just take a good look at that album art — what the hell is going on there? It might be the greatest cover I’ve ever seen. I wanna reenact it. Anyway, Icona Pop are way ahead of their time. They’re the future, right now. Let’s go.
It would’ve been hard for Canada’s infinitely lovable indie/new wave band Metric to top Fantasies, their last album released in 2009, which in my opinion was one of the best albums of the decade. So, spoiler alert: They didn’t. But they came close! Synthetica is still a really great album. They effortlessly took over the alt rock scene again when the bombastic “Youth Without Youth” was released this spring, and the follow-up “Speed The Collapse” came shortly after. Probably my favorite track from the album is “Breathing Underwater”, which strikes that balance of power and emotion that Metric does best and that I enjoy the most. The entire rest of the album is also well done, from the title track to “The Wanderlust” featuring Lou Reed and “Nothing But Time”, the album’s closer. I would describe Synthetica as a solid Metric album that I listened to a lot, and that alone is enough to propel it to these heights on my top 40 albums. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Me and Cat Power go way back, all the way to 2003 when I discovered You Are Free, her excellent album released that year. She has always specialized in lo-fi, folk and blues influenced indie rock, taking the opportunity on each album to go in a slightly different direction with it. This time, though, she amped it up a bit. It doesn’t make sense on the surface: Cat Power doing songs that are driven by a discernible beat? But it works! Don’t get me wrong, Cat Power’s not doing four-to-the-floor dance music or anything, but it’s still bolder and more experimental than her previous eclectic and acoustic-driven work. It was a huge risk to take in terms of the Cat Power catalog and I think it paid off. EW noted for example that Cat Power “has never sounded as confident or in control” as she does on Sun. The first track released from the album, “Ruin”, ruled my summer, and “Cherokee” followed up in the early fall. Outside of those, I really enjoyed “3, 6, 9”, “Always On My Own”, and “Nothin’ But Time” featuring Iggy Pop. Despite whatever other external factors continue to cause trouble for Cat Power, she got it together for Sun and tried something different with strong success.
I’ve never met her, but I’m confident enough to say Aimee Mann is one of the best human beings on the planet. I mean, she’s a living legend of a musician through her work with ‘Til Tuesday and her soundtrack for the film Magnolia; she bridges music and comedy through collaborations with my hero Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, Portlandia, Tim and Eric, and Tom Scharpling, just to name a few; and she records some of the best new independent albums every few years. This time around we get Charmer, which features a title track I played dozens of times; “Labrador”, the music video for which was a shot-for-shot remake of “Voices Carry” and one of the best videos I’ve probably ever seen; “Living A Lie”, a collaboration with James Mercer from The Shins; other really great tracks like “Gumby” and “Gamma Ray”; and so much more. I feel legitimately fortunate to have everything Aimee Mann chooses to give us in the world of entertainment.
Believe me, I don’t have the time or space here for a proper think-piece on Lana Del Rey. What was real, what was fake? What was genuine, what was manufactured? I don’t even know. Last year at this time, I was enamored as anybody with the mystery surrounding Lana Del Rey’s origins, her “gangster Nancy Sinatra” persona, and the story behind her genre-bending music, which blended elements of baroque pop, trip hop, alternative hip hop, and indie pop with bleak, downbeat music and vocal stylings. Upon the eventual release of Born To Die in January, critical reaction was split, and when she appeared on SNL, her carefully crafted persona fell apart in front of our eyes. From there, I think we were just left with a moderately successful new pop singer with a collection of beat-infused, retro-inspired melodies, and that’s all there was to it. Who knows. No matter the case, I enjoyed Born To Die enough to play some of its tracks dozens of times, from the title track and early releases “Video Games”, “Blue Jeans”, and “Off To The Races”; to album tracks like “Diet Mountain Dew”, “Radio”, and “Carmen”; to “Ride”, a new addition on the Paradise EP that was part of the album’s deluxe edition. Add it all up and there’s enough to assemble one of 2012’s best albums, regardless of how we got here or what it all means.
Over the years, Toronto’s own Dragonette kinda retroactively became one of my favorite bands. Though I largely slept on the original releases of Galore in 2007 and Fixin’ To Thrill in 2009, I went back to discover them after being turned onto the band’s excellent Mixin’ To Thrill bonus disc released in 2010. I took quickly to Dragonette’s new wave throwback style, amicable sensibility, and unabashed, eye-opening lyrical content and delivery. So when I got word early in 2012 that the band would be releasing a brand new album, Bodyparts, I was on board from the get go. It all clicked perfectly several months ahead of the album when the band released “Let It Go”, a hot hot hot track that became far-and-away one of my favorite and most played songs of the year. I could go on forever about it, but I’ll spare you. Some more of my favorites from the album include “Run Run Run”, “Untouchable”, and “My Work Is Done”, among others. As SSG put it, Dragonette is “the perfect blend of electro-pop glamour and rock-and-roll swagger” — and that’s why I love them so.
I’ve been a fan of The Shins for the better part of a decade. They helped define early ’00s indie with Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow. So I was excited to see James Mercer and crew (well, James Mercer and his new crew) would be returning with Port Of Morrow early this year. The lead single “Simple Song”, which debuted right around the beginning of 2012, began to carry a lot of personal meaning and became my single most played song of the year — its accompanying music video was also one of the most creative and best of 2012. Throughout the year, I found myself returning to the whole album and its other wonderful tracks like “The Rifle’s Spiral”, “It’s Only Life”, and “September”, to mention a few. Port Of Morrow is another strong showing from Mercer and represents indie rock at its best.
Purity Ring are a new duo from Montreal whose music blends traditional elements of dream pop with haunting, futuristic electronic noise, merging ridiculously honey-sweet vocals with mysterious, dark, and ominous lyrics. Put it all together and Shrines is a strange, fascinating trip. I first discovered the album about half-way through the year and I got addicted in no time. Every track on the album has a grim, mangled one-word title: “Fireshrine”, “Ungirthed”, “Belispeak”, and “Lofticries” are some of my favorite tracks, but the crown has to go to “Obedear”, a foreboding, subversive take on electro-pop — its first 30 seconds sound like an almost post-apocalyptic down-tempo club track — that crafts a perfectly honed, delightfully uncomfortable listening experience, if that makes any sense at all. Shrines is candy-coated and crawling with demons, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I don’t have to tell you Bruce Springsteen is a living legend. The Boss been active in music for more than 40 years, taking over the world with The E Street Band year after year. Wrecking Ball is his most cohesive, urgent, and all-around best album in least a decade. In terms of content, Wrecking Ball came at the perfect time, filled to the brim with Bruce’s trademark socioeconomic and political themes that hit an important and desperately needed critical tone for 2012. “We Take Care Of Our Own” debuted at the beginning of the year and served as somewhat of a theme song for President Obama’s re-election campaign. I also particularly enjoyed “Land Of Hope And Dreams” and “Rocky Ground”, an experimental track drawing influences from both gospel and hip hop. The album’s standout is “Death To My Hometown”, which barrels into your ears in the style of amped-up Irish folk music, with gritty vocal delivery and lyrics of righteous indignation — the closest thing to a protest song we’ll find in this decade. My year in Bruce peaked when I saw him in concert with The E Street Band on the weekend directly following Hurricane Sandy and leading up to Election Day. Needless to say, that nearly 4-hour monster of a show was an unparalleled experience — an event I’ll remember for a lifetime.
Taylor Swift has gone through somewhat of a remarkable transformation and evolution over the past 5 years, from a bright-eyed but feisty young country hopeful to an established, driving force leading the world of pop. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to expect from Red the first time I heard “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” in the late summer — my mind initially drew comparisons to Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” — but it didn’t take me long to come around and realize there was much more going on here than the juvenile teasing you might see on the surface. “Never Ever” was representative of an expressly confident, genuine, and bold direction that would set the stage for the rest of Red, and that became clear upon hearing the full album. I couldn’t escape the powerful and commanding presence of “I Knew You Were Trouble”; the charming and outwardly sincere “Stay Stay Stay”; or the incredible departure of my favorite track “State Of Grace”, whose ethereal guitar-driven sound, forceful instrumental interludes, and metaphorical, sophisticated lyrical content had U2 written all over it. As someone who has been on board since virtually the beginning, I can say Red is my favorite Taylor Swift album to date.
Sharon Van Etten is an indie and folk rock singer-songwriter and musician I took notice of early this year upon the release of her third album, Tramp. The truly excellent lead track “Serpents” was one of the most resilient songs of the year for me — I pretty much never stopped playing it. “Warsaw”, “Give Out”, “Kevin’s”, and “I’m Wrong” were some of my other favorites off of the album. I got to see SVE live along with Flock Of Dimes (Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak) in the spring, which was great. I was standing in the front row wearing an “I’m with Coco” shirt, which prompted her during a break between songs to recall her then-recent performance on Conan, comment on Andy Richter being one of her favorite people on the planet (which I agree with 10,000%), and then go off on a tangent about her other favorite TV shows and characters including Seinfeld and Kramer, which led to a short back-and-forth of quotes and plenty of laughs. I’ve never felt so responsible for completely derailing a live show in progress. It was fantastic — and incredibly endearing. I knew at that point SVE was not just a great musician and performer, but also a pretty awesome all-around person.
I had been a casual fan of Fiona Apple since the days of seeing her then-scandalous “Criminal” on VH1’s Insomniac Music Theater, but the long and arduous process we all went through in 2004 and 2005 to hear and see the release of Extraordinary Machine — and the ultimately outstanding result of that album — cemented Fiona Apple’s status as one of my favorite artists. After that, it was a long 7 years waiting for more new material. So I was ecstatic upon the announcement and release of The Idler Wheel in 2012. The lead track “Every Single Night” was released in the spring to near-universal acclaim. Billboard said it best: It was “exactly what Fiona Apple’s cult of devotees had been yearning for”, radio airplay and accessibility be damned. The song and video were both winding, spiraling, and exquisitely weird. My other favorite tracks like “Werewolf”, “Periphery”, “Anything We Want”, and “Hot Knife”, along with the rest of the album, followed this template, serving as a risky, powerful, unabashed, and raw artistic outlet of emotion. The Idler Wheel isn’t designed for easy listening — it’s best experienced front-to-back with minimal distractions, so that you can be fully consumed by its excruciating anguish and intensity. Now more than ever, Fiona Apple is unapologetically herself — one of the most truly individual artists of our time.
Last year at this time, I said Electra Heart was one of the most fascinating projects in all of music. Looking back now, that remains true. We had only heard “Radioactive” and about 2/3 of “Fear & Loathing” at that time, but the mystery and uneasiness surrounding the presentation of Marina’s retro-inspired, idealized but fragile and artificial Electra Heart character was already enough to be enthralling and captivating. Upon the release of the album, Marina revealed that the Electra Heart character is “the antithesis of everything I stand for”, representing “the corrupt side of American ideology” and exhibiting her worst fear: Becoming as superficial and “vacuous” of a person as the character she plays. The album itself is stylistically modern electro-pop; lyrically, it’s a dizzying deconstruction of that archaic, outwardly picturesque but inwardly troubled American starlet. The songs within take on every aspect of Electra Heart‘s rise and fall: The bombastic “Bubblegum Bitch” is the initiation; “Primadonna” and “Homewrecker” are the height of the character; “Starring Role” and “Hypocrates” are a dark turn from carefree into introspective and self-doubting; “Teen Idle” is downright suicidal; and “Fear & Loathing” builds with ominous fervor and explodes into the ultimate destruction of Electra Heart. Through it all, Marina & The Diamonds crafted one of the finest concept pop albums I’ve ever heard.
I remember saying around the beginning of the year that I really wanted just some straight-up, punchy, uncomplicated rock music in 2012 — and man, did Japandroids deliver. Celebration Rock is the Canadian indie rock band’s second album but the first one I heard. Japandroids were unavoidable across the indie and alt-rock space this year and for good reason: Their modern take on punk and classic rock is one of the best albums of any kind to come along in quite some time. At just 35 minutes long over 8 tracks, Celebration Rock doesn’t mess around: It gets in and gets out, and that’s just the way I like it. Pitchfork summarized the album’s content pretty well: “The duo taps into a power greater than itself to address impossibly vast and elemental topics — friendship, lust, revenge, art, self-actualization — with songs every bit as big.” Musically, the volume is high, the tempo is fast, the drums are loud, and the chorus of almost every track is a group shout-along festival of rock. Japandroids knocked it out of the park on Celebration Rock. My favorite tracks include the melodic “Fire’s Highway”, the homage to “American Girl” on “Evil’s Sway”, and of course the anthem-like “The House That Heaven Built”, with its defining line that says it all: “If they try to slow you down, tell ’em all go to hell!”
What a year it has been for Ellie Goulding. When I first discovered her in 2010, the original UK release of her album Lights didn’t even include its title track that would become a sleeper hit all the way into 2012 and eventually dominate the U.S. charts. “Lights” did so well for so long that it was still competing in real time with Ellie Goulding’s new releases off of Halcyon, her wonderful newest album released this fall. Halcyon expands on the dreamy, snyth-infused electro-pop found on Lights and takes it into the stratosphere, shining a brighter spotlight on Ellie’s uniquely quirky, smoky vocal style along the way. The first track I heard was “Hanging On” in the early summer, a varying, beat-driven but down-tempo creation that got me geared up for the release of the album. In the early fall, the more up-tempo and instantly infectious “Anything Could Happen” quickly became a breakout hit. Upon the release of the album a few weeks later, I couldn’t put it down, repeatedly playing other tracks like “Only You”, “Explosions”, “I Know You Care”, and “I Need Your Love”, the album’s closer. But my personal favorite from the moment I heard it is “Figure 8”, which Time said “injects a scenic quality that bludgeons with cinematic density” (I love that description) and acts as a metaphor for heartbreak through its scorching, glass-shattering energy and fury. I can’t get enough of it or the album in general. In case you didn’t know it before, Ellie Goulding has certainly made it clear with Halcyon that she’s no one-hit wonder — she’s here to stay.
Jack White needs no introduction: His incredible work over the years with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather speaks for itself. But this year, he took a path he had never taken before, recording and releasing his first solo album, Blunderbuss, through his own label Third Man Records. He said of his decision to release a solo album: “I’ve put off making records under my own name for a long time, but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch and had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas.” Blunderbuss is at once a culmination of Jack White’s past experiences and an exploration of broader influences, bringing together elements of garage rock, blues, soul and folk rock into a veritable masterpiece. The first single “Love Interruption” got the year off to an amazing start; the raucous “Sixteen Saltines” redefined modern rock and easily became one of my top songs of the year; “Missing Pieces”, “Freedom At 21”, and “I’m Shakin'” were all required listening on repeat; and “Hypocritical Kiss”, “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy”, and “Trash Tongue Talker” were my other favorites. I’ve been a huge fan of everything Jack White has done for more than 11 years. I was as sad as anybody about the end of The White Stripes last year, but an unfazed Jack White set out on his own this year with his alternating all-female and all-male backing bands — as seen during his excellent SNL performance — and owned the stage just the same. While I can’t and wouldn’t compare Blunderbuss head-to-head with any albums he released with his other bands, I’m proud to say unequivocally that it’s my favorite album of the year. This time, Jack White brought the house down. Make no mistake about it, Blunderbuss is my #1 album of 2012.
Jessie J – “Domino”
Kelly Clarkson – “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”
Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”
Charli XCX – “Nuclear Seasons”
Demi Lovato – “Give Your Heart A Break”
MNDR – “#1 In Heaven”
Katie Sky – “Sweet Sweet Melody”
CSS – “City Grrrl”
Amanda Mair – “Said And Done”
Madonna f/ Nicki Minaj – “Give Me All Your Luvin'”
Flo Rida – “Good Feeling”
Neon Indian – “Polish Girl”
Bleached – “Searching Through The Past”
Katy Perry – “Part Of Me”
Selena Gomez & The Scene – “Hit The Lights”
Cady Groves – “This Little Girl”
Tribes – “We Were Children”
Vivian Girls – “I Heard You Say”
Chiddy Bang – “Ray Charles”
Skrillex f/ Sirah – “Bangarang”
The Good Natured – “Skeleton”
Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
CSLSX f/ I Break Horses – “Violent Sea”
Grouplove – “Tongue Tied”
Electric Guest – “This Head I Hold”
The Cranberries – “Tomorrow”
Savoir Adore – “Pop Goes The World”
Chairlift – “Sidewalk Safari”
Traci Lords – “Last Drag”
Melissa Molinaro – “Shake The World”
Emii – “Stilettos”
Shakira – “Addicted To You (Arbadel Mix)”
Glass Candy – Warm In The Winter”
Soko – “First Love Never Die”
Gotye f/ Kimbra – “Somebody That I Used To Know”
Karmin – “Brokenhearted”
Ultraviolet Sound – “Girl Talk”
September – “Party In My Head”
Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”
Little Boots – “Every Night I Say A Prayer”
Blur – “Under The Westway”
Feist – “Black Tongue”
Ladyhawke – “Black White & Blue”
Alex Clare – “Too Close”
Cher Lloyd – “Want U Back”
Zambri – “ICBYS”
Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
Walk The Moon – “Anna Sun”
Neon Trees – “Everybody Talks”
Tennis – “Origins”
Sarah Jaffe – “Glorified High”
M83 – “Midnight City”
Yelawolf f/ Kid Rock – “Let’s Roll”
Garbage – “Blood For Poppies”
MuteMath – “Allies”
The Ting Tings – “Hit Me Down Sonny”
Nicki Minaj – “Starships”
Jessica Paré – “Zou Bisou Bisou”
The Hives – “Go Right Ahead”
Crocodiles – “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)”
Guinevere – “Crazy Crazy”
Katrina – “Shame On Me”
Jessica Sutta – “Show Me”
One Direction – “What Makes You Beautiful”
Linkin Park – “Burn It Down”
The Gaslight Anthem – “45”
Class Actress – “Keep You”
Jesca Hoop – “Born To”
David Guetta f/ Sia – “Titanium”
Frank Ocean – “Thinkin Bout You”
Arcade Fire – “She’s A Rainbow / Ruby Tuesday”
Kylie Minogue – “Timebomb”
Kimbra f/ Mark Foster – “Warrior”
School Of Seven Bells – “Kiss Them For Me”
Blondfire – “Where The Kids Are”
Justice – “New Lands”
Phenomenal Handclap Band – “15 To 20”
Little Dragon – “Sunshine”
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Ffunny Ffrends”
Yuna – “Live Your Life”
Matchbox Twenty – “She’s So Mean”
No Doubt – “Settle Down”
Alanis Morissette – “Guardian”
Green Day – “Oh Love”
Crystal Castles – “Plague”
Echosmith – “Tonight We’re Making History”
Spice Girls – “Wannabe / Spice Up Your Life”
Cœur de pirate – “Danse et danse”
The Submarines – “Fire”
Gin Wigmore – “Don’t Stop”
Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
The Jezabels – “Endless Summer”
Cimorelli – “Million Bucks”
The Killers – “Runaways”
IO Echo – “When The Lillies Die”
Mayra Veronica – “Freak Like Me”
Dominique Pruitt – “To Win Your Love”
Wild Belle – “Keep You”
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Oh Susannah”
Soundgarden – “Live To Rise”
Imagine Dragons – “It’s Time”
Wye Oak – “Spiral”
Mumford & Sons – “I Will Wait”
Karmin – “Hello”
Pink – “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”
Nelly Furtado – “Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)”
fun. – “Some Nights”
PSY – “Gangnam Style”
Tegan and Sara – “Closer”
The Rolling Stones – “Doom And Gloom”
Adele – “Skyfall”
Sky Ferreira – “Lost In My Bedroom”
Allen Stone – “Sleep”
The Wallflowers f/ Mick Jones – “Reboot The Mission”
Megan & Liz – “Bad For Me”
Bex – “Life Of The Party”
Little Big Town – “Tornado”
Madison Cain – “Dirt”
Melanie Amaro – “Don’t Fail Me Now”
Band Of Horses – “Knock Knock”
Avett Brothers – “Live And Die”
Blouse – “Shadow”
Lisa Marie Presley – “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”
Kelly Clarkson – “Catch My Breath”
Rihanna – “Diamonds”
Youngblood Hawke – “We Come Running”
Bridgit Mendler – “Ready Or Not”
Olly Murs – “Troublemaker”
Christina Aguilera – “Your Body”
Spencer & Hill f/ Nadia Ali – “Believe It”
Ultraviolet Sound – “Neon Child”
Bruno Mars – “Locked Out Of Heaven”
Alicia Keys – “Girl On Fire”
The Lumineers – “Ho Hey”
Vicci Martinez f/ Cee Lo Green – “Come Along”
Pink – “Try”
Solange – “Losing You”
Chvrches – “The Mother We Share”
The Joy Formidable – “This Ladder Is Ours”
Shiny Toy Guns – “Somewhere To Hide”
Churchill – “Change”
Paul McCartney & “Sirvana” – “Cut Me Some Slack”
Sam And The Womp – “Bom Bom”
Girls Aloud – “Something New”
Top 40 albums
40. Jimmy Fallon – Blow Your Pants Off
39. Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss
38. Screaming Females – Ugly
37. Ty Segall – Twins
36. Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events
35. Jessie Ware – Devotion
34. Hospitality – Hospitality
33. Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts
32. Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose
31. Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
30. Best Coast – The Only Place
29. Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
28. Dum Dum Girls – End Of Daze
27. Poliça – Give You The Ghost
26. Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky
25. Tristan Prettyman – Cedar & Gold
24. Chromatics – Kill For Love
23. Santigold – Master Of My Make Believe
22. Ke$ha – Warrior
21. Grimes – Visions
20. Of Monsters & Men – My Head Is An Animal
19. La Sera – Sees The Light
18. ZZ Ward – Til The Casket Drops
17. Friends – Manifest!
16. Icona Pop – Icona Pop
15. Metric – Synthetica
14. Cat Power – Sun
13. Aimee Mann – Charmer
12. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
11. Dragonette – Bodyparts
10. The Shins – Port Of Morrow
9. Purity Ring – Shrines
8. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
7. Taylor Swift – Red
6. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
5. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel
4. Marina & The Diamonds – Electra Heart
3. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
2. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
1. Jack White – Blunderbuss
That’s it for TC’s top 40 albums of 2012. It was great to be able to complete this review of my favorite music for the 10th consecutive year — an amazing milestone! Thank you so much for reading. I hope you have a great 2013 and beyond. [Tumblr]