Thursday, 20 December 2012

Be Careful! Your Hand! Top 10 Songs of 2012

It's pretty much impossible to pick only 10 songs that represent the best of 2012, without leaving out a whole host of brilliant songs, so some great singles like Of Monsters And Men's 'Little Talks', Aiden Grimshaw's 'Is This Love?' and Lana Del Rey's 'National Anthem' didn't quite make the cut. However, you can hear these tracks in my list of 2012's Top Ten Albums right here. The songs that made it to the top 10 include everything from k-pop and American rap to country pop and piano based ballads.

So let's take a look at what made it into the number ten spot.

10. BigBang - Fantastic Baby

What can I say about this group that I haven't already? BigBang were huge in their native South Korea before but 2012 saw them reach new heights with the success of hit single 'Fantastic Baby'. The video is just insane and you just can't help but start moving when you hear the production. 'Gangnam Style' may have been the breakout K-pop hit of this year but 'Fantastic Baby' is more typical of the genre, with its outlandish visuals and random English bits thrown amongst the Korean singing and rapping. It sounds weird but give it a chance. This song could be huge in the West. To hear more from the group and other K-pop acts, start by clicking here.

"I wanna dance, dance, dance, dan-dan-dance. Wow...Fantastic Baby!"

9. Cassie - King Of Hearts

Why won't Cassie's career take off? The girl is stunning and her music is surprisingly innovative for a female RnB artist yet people aren't buying it. The past few years have seen a range of Djs and producers experiment with her icy cool voice but nothing is as good as hearing Cassie on her own track. 'King Of Hearts' was released to critical acclaim this year - hey even Beyonce liked it - but once again, Cassie failed to set the charts alight, which is a crying shame because 'King Of Hearts' is one of her best yet. The tribal club beat perfectly compliments Cassie's minimalist style as she sings and dances in her typically detached manner. For more music from Cassie, click here. Now where the hell is her bloody album?

"You are the prince of charm, seduction is your art"

8. Solange - Losing You

You can't help but feel bad for Solange. By being born into the Knowles family, the poor girl will forever have to endure comparisons to her older sister Beyonce, which is just ridiculous because Solange is an incredibly talented singer in her own right, whose style is worlds apart from the polished RnB/pop of her sibling. I instantly fell in love with Solange's second album but this follow up is possibly even better as her sound veers further away from the childish pop of her debut to an alternative indie style that embraces 80s dance music. If you haven't heard Solange before then immediately click below and then download the new EP 'True' to hear more of this incredibly unique and talented artist.

"There's something I know you're taking it away from me, I gave you everything and now there's nothing left for me"

7. Childish Gambino - Heartbeat

Donald Glover has had an insanely successful career, working on the TV sitcom '30 Rock' as a writer and the hit show 'Community' as an actor. His talents don't stop there though as he's since made the seamless transition to full time rapper under the pseudonym Childish Gambino. 'Heartbeat' is the lead single from his critically acclaimed debut album 'Camp' and it marks Gambino as part of a new wave of young socially conscious rappers who feel free to express their feelings without having to talk about on bitches and guns. The emotional honesty of 'Heartbeat' combines vulnerable lyrics with pained vocals that everyone can relate to, regardless of age, gender or race.  

"I come around when you least expect me, I'm sitting at the bar when your glass is empty. You thinking that this song's coming on to tempt me, I need to be alone like the way you left me"

6. Tom Odell - Another Love

Singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen these days but every now and again, one comes along with a unique sound that grabs your attention upon first listen. Tom Odell sounds a little bit like Antony and the Johnsons with a hint of James Blake and just a smidgen of Matt Bellamy but he is still completely his own artist. The raw intensity of Odell's vocals combine with his beautiful piano playing on 'Another Love' to create a haunting track that has quickly become one of my favourites this year. I predict huge things for Odell in 2013, so dive in now and give him a listen before everyone and your Nan asks for his album next Christmas. To hear the rest of the EP which this song comes from and to read a track by track review, click here.

"And if somebody hurts you I wanna fight, but my hands been broken one too many times"

5. Drake - Take Care ft Rihanna

Rihanna has been everywhere in 2012, duetting with just about anybody who will have her while recording a new album every 14 seconds, but this collaboration with Drake is definitely a career highlight. 'Take Care' is produced by Jamie from indie British group The Xx, whose latest album is in my top 10 of the year. Their minimalist style has a definite influence on the track but Drake brings his own hip hop flavour to the proceedings which, combined with Rihanna's melancholic vocals, creates an incredibly unique rap/pop/indie/alternative sound. Few rappers are as openly honest in their lyrics as Drake and its refreshing to hear a male perspective on love that sounds so vulnerable yet strong. The video is also incredible. Watch it now. 

"I know you’ve been hurt by someone else, I can tell by the way you carry yourself"

4. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)

What a year it's been for Kelly Clarkson. After seeing her sales decline in recent years, Clarkson came back in 2011 with a new smash album. 'Mr Know It-All' was a great track to kickstart its promotion but at the beginning of 2012, Clarkson released the title track 'Stronger', which became one of THE pop anthems of the year and her new signature song. Sure it doesn't break the mould but at her best, no one does a fist pumping pop anthem like Clarkson and this is one of her most catchy in years. The flash mob concept behind the video is an apt demonstration of how infectious the track actually is and I absolutely love it.

"You didn't think that I'd come back, I'd come back swinging"

3. Rihanna - Diamonds

Rihanna again!? I couldn't resist. While you could argue that anyone who records as much music as Rihanna would probably make it into most year end lists purely due to the law of averages, 'Diamonds' is actually one of the best singles that the Barbadian icon has ever recorded. Written by the incredible songwriter Sia (who you can find out more about here), 'Diamonds' is a stunning love song that contains more emotion and fragility in its mid-tempo style than a hundred soppy ballads. Rihanna's voice has never sounded better and when her voice cracks at the end, it's just incredible. When I hear every year that Rihanna has a new album lined up, I doubt if the singer can keep it up, but every year she comes back with yet another lead single that breaks conventional pop boundaries and redefines her as an artist. I just hope Rihanna can come up with something as strong as 'Diamonds' if she plans to release her fiftieth album in 2013. 

"You're a shooting star I see, a vision of ectasy. When you hold me, I'm alive. We're like diamonds in the sky"

2. Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together  

I have written so much about this song already on the blog, including a track by track review of Taylor Swift's latest album 'Red', which you can find here. To summarise; I used to hate Swift but it was this song, 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' which completely turned me around, to the point where 'Red' has since made it into my top 10 albums of 2012. I've possibly never heard a song so catchy and let's face it: even if you still hate Taylor Swift, I guarantee that you will have sung along to this track at some point in the last few months. While there was much speculation as to who the song was written about upon its release, what is certain is that Swift has taken her pain and somehow crafted one of the best pop songs of the past decade. Laugh all you want but its true. Give in to the Swift love!

"And you would hide away and find your peace of mind with some indie record that's much cooler than mine"

1. Psy - Gangnam Style

I know what you're thinking but seriously, this really is my top choice for best song of 2012. Sure its bonkers and you could argue that the song's success is due mostly to its insane promo but it was possible to escape 'Gangnam Style' this year. And why would you want to? Psy took over the world this summer and now we're at the end of 2012, the success of 'Gangnam Style' still shows little sign of slowing down. No other song has been parodied as much this year and who hasn't tried the weird 'horsey' dance after a few drinks? You may hate it but you sure as hell can't deny it; 'Gangnam Style' was THE song of 2012. To see Psy's influence in the West, including parodies and celebrity performances of the track, click here. And if you're wondering what's next for the Korean rap superstar then check out my post right here.

"Ehhhhhhh sexy lady. Op op op op oppan Gangnam Style!"

So what do you think of my choices? Did the right song make it to the number one spot? Or did I miss out one of your favourite tracks? Let me know by commenting, liking and sharing below. Thanks!

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