50 Tracks of 2012

I made this list because it’s an accessible way to listen to some (hopefully) outstanding music from this year, it’s a good outlet for my compulsion to share the music I listen to. I was part of a short-lived radio show in September/October which got unfairly cancelled, and I really enjoyed my friends’ interaction and responses to the stuff I played. So if you’re a friend or internet follower of mine whom I indirectly pointed towards this list, let me know your favourites/what’s missing; that’s partly why I made it.

The idea of listing favourite songs still seems silly and it’s hard to say how I approached it, but it started as my contribution to No Ripcord’s top 40 tracks of 2012. I mostly picked tracks that I have been listening to on repeat, or at least the first tracks I go to on my mp3 player – so usually the catchiest tracks, but sometimes the most emotionally rewarding singular moments.

But songs that I listen to on repeat might not represent the “best”, so for that reason I want to point towards what I think is the best track I’ve heard this year, one I don’t listen to on repeat for obvious reasons, ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ by Angel Haze. It speaks for itself. (trigger warning: rape)

Here are 50 of my favourites, vaguely ordered favourites first, plus my favourite thing about each one. I had to talk myself out of just writing “EVERYTHING” for many of these songs, especially at the top.


Usher – Climax: the way it just veers off the tracks for that chorus, and it just hangs

Death Grips – Hacker: the fact that it is just a list of absurd non-sequiturs from a band that gets very over-intellectualised

Solange – Losing You: the pure nostalgia created by those crowd noise samples

Soap&Skin – Vater: just the range of what she does in only five minutes

R. Kelly – Share My Love: “populate! yeah!”

Neneh Cherry & The Thing – Dream Baby Dream: Cherry’s yearning delivery

Allo Darlin – Tallulah: “i’m wondering if i’ve already heard all the songs that’ll mean something / and i’m wondering if i’ve already met all the people that’ll mean something”

Panopticon – Bodies Under the Falls: the out-of-tune recorders (?)

AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love: that astonishingly addictive chorus

Mount Eerie – Through the Trees pt. 2: “mountains and websites”

Kendrick Lamar – Backseat Freestyle: the fact that in the context of the record, this song is wryly ironic, but it’s his most impressive flow on the album

Mystikal – Hit Me: his impression of white people makes me laugh every time

BBU – Outlaw Culture: “young queer kids that never fit in your scene”

Dirty Projectors – Gun Has No Trigger: the chord structure

Swearin’ – Just: that chorus

Hop Along – Young and Happy: Frances Quinlan’s voice

Pinback – Proceed to Memory: those “whoa-oa-oah”s

Autre ne Veut ft Mykki Blanco – Counting: the arpeggios in the verse melody

Fiona Apple – Every Single Night: the expressiveness of her voice

Frank Ocean – Bad Religion: the desperation when he sings “taxi driver / you’re my shrink for the hour”

Killer Mike – Reagan: the beat just after “i’m glad Reagan’s dead”

Lil B – California Boy: Lil B is the human being who makes me most happy

James Blackshaw – And I Have Come Upon This Place By Lost Ways: the wandering piano melody

Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together: her hilarious sarcasm

Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built: “and if they try to slow you down / tell them all to go to hell”

Laurel Halo – Light & Space: “words are just words that you’ll soon forget”

Perfume Genius – All Waters: his intensely emotional angle on gay rights

Angel Haze – New York: the Gil Scott-Heron sample

Sharon van Etten – Leonard: the ways she delivers “he loves you”, “he loved you”, “i loved you”, before going into each chorus

The Mountain Goats – Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1: “do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive”

Cloud Nothings – Wasted Days: the escalation of the line “i thought i would be more than this” towards the end

Earl Sweatshirt – Chum: everything about Earl’s newfound maturity

Screaming Maldini – Summer, Somewhere: now that is how you write a song in 7

Mirrorring – Silent from Above: the production is simply perfect

Major Lazer ft Amber Coffman – Get Free: Coffman’s vocals

Leda – Halfway: the string arrangements

Cat Power – Cherokee: that one moment when the beat drops and there’s that screeching noise

Kitty Pryde – Okay Cupid: in many ways she’s so un-hip-hop and she doesn’t even care

El-P – The Full Retard: that hook

TNGHT – Bugg’n: the sheer audacity of their samples

The Tallest Man on Earth – 1904: this is so much fun to play on guitar

Blawan – Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?: just how dark he’s made that Fugees sample

Future of the Left – Robocop 4: Fuck Off Robocop: “art?! hahaha! where you from? where you been?”

Passion Pit – I’ll Be Alright: the hyperactivity of those quickfire edits

M.I.A. – Bad Girls: that hook

Grimes – Oblivion: the chromatic vocodery line that enters halfway through

DJ Rashad – CCP: the delirium of that sample

Julia Holter – Moni, Mon Amie: “i feel so ordinary / when you go out with your friends / and your passion’s transparent”

Ty Segall – You’re the Doctor: Segall’s boundless energy, especially on that Letterman performance

Deerhoof – Fete D’Adieu: that guitar tone

thanks for reading!


About decemberembers

I've noticed that all of my music-obsessed friends have completely different approaches to music in the digital age, and I'm writing this blog as an attempt to raise questions about what you experience when listening to music. It's also partly a response to a majority of music journalism which, stylistically and ethically, I find problematic. I'm trying to avoid being prescriptive and will encourage open-mindedness. :)
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One Response to 50 Tracks of 2012

  1. This is like half rap. Ugh. I can say I like: Allo Darlin’ (you’ll like this: https://soundcloud.com/wilful-missing/diy); Mount Eerie (even though it’s not the best song by them); Dirty Projectors (mmmm falsetto but his voice borders on annoyingness); Taylor Swift (shitty song, “State of Grace” is better and less ego-centric); Japandroids (woah-waaoh, totally a you song); Mirrorring (what a soft and vulnerable song); Cat Power (great music); The Tallest Man On Earth (yeeeeah boi); Passion Pit (decent song at best); Grimes (who definitely has the breathiest voice ever). The end.

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