Libertarian. Enjoys politics, technology, music, food and drink.
I am a huge fan of lists. To-do lists, checklists, and my favourite of them all – end of year lists.
This is a task I have undertaken before (2011, 2010) and have for some time now been looking forward to writing this years. ‘But it’s only the end of November’ I hear you shout in disdain. Well this is true, but I’ve had a brief look at what’s going to be released in next month and I don’t think much is going to take my fancy. Plus, time is a big factor in this process. It is more impressive that a song from January makes this list than it is a song released last week. Freshness always tricks you a little bit. I digress.
Without much further ado, here are my favourite 20 songs of 2012.
20. Ultraista – Smalltalk (Four Tet Remix)
I first heard this at the beginning of a mix back in the summer. I then kicked off my October mix with. So it’s fitting that it is at the beginning of this list. Beautiful vocal made even more wonderful with Four Tet’s broken beat.
19. Sebastien Tellier – Cochon Ville
Little of Tellier’s work has ever stood up next to La Ritournelle and it probably never will, but Cochon Ville makes a valiant attempt albeit in an entirely different direction. Made even better by the most nudity-filled video of the year.
18. Andrew Bird – Spirograph
Most of the music I listen to these days is driven by a beat, typically a four on the floor, but there are odd moments when a man and his guitar still makes it way into my listening. Spirograph is one of those moments.
17. fun. – We Are Young
This was my song of the moment for quite a few weeks after its release. It’s not as big on my listen-to-list anymore, but when it comes on shuffle, it still has its definite pride of place.
16. Kanye West – White Dress
MBDTF is still my favourite hiphop album of all time, but there are moments when I miss the old Kanye. Pre-autotune, pre-terrible albums with Jay-Z, pre-baroque pop and grand orchestration. I miss the College Dropout days and White Dress is a wonderful throwback to that.
15. The xx – Angels
Standout from this year’s album and even through its overuse for television, this remains a great tune.
14. Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments
I had heard a lot of Jessie’s voice through various house remixes this year, but I only recently listened to her music in its original form and wow. Wildest Moments is simply sublime. I’ve only heard it a handful of times but I know it’s going to grow and grow and grow. Of all the British female musicians at the moment, Jessie Ware stands miles above the rest.
13. Dusky – Lost Highway
This has to be my favourite house tune of the year, that I didn’t put on one of my mixes. The synth chords guide this feel-happy tune, but the real highlight is the two part drop after the main break. Listening to it takes me back to summertime even with the rain beating down outside.
12. Otto Knows – Million Voices
I’m not much a fan of progressive house generally, though about once a year a song comes through that’s just in your face brilliant. This will have you smiling from cheek-to-cheek. Particularly amusing is seeing the YouTube comment thread where fans debate how the lyrics should be written (my preference is for Eh Ah etc rather than E A).
11. Stay+ – Crashed
Crashed finds itself at the crossroads of The XX, garage, house and trance. While there are moments that are a little cheesy, the sum of all its parts make for a stellar tune.
10. Hot Chip – Flutes
Hot Chip outdid themselves with their long player this year, an absolute classic in my eyes and Flutes just about clinches my favourite song on it.
9. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse
This was released in January, although it has become such a classic that it feels like it’s been in my life even longer. I’m hit or miss with Todd Terje, but this is hit, hit, hit.
8. Russ Chimes – Back 2 You (Hot Since ’82 Remix)
The original of this is patchy, but Hot Since 82 really make this tune something. Less can be said of his Pete Tong remix.
7. Lana Del Rey – Ride
Dark-pop princess LDR had it pretty good this year and any fears that Video Games would be a one-off were appropriately quelled. Lyrically she is on fantastic form here, and the “I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy” is one of those incredibly simple moments in writing that could not be written better in any other way.
6. Ry & Frank Wiedemann – Howling/Howling (Ame remix)
Yeah I know it’s cheating to put both in but I love them both equally depending on my mood. The acoustic original is a brilliant example of why more house producers should take the reigns with producing indie tunes, and the Ame remix kills it. Hearing Maceo drop it at Warehouse Project was one of my moments of the year.
5. Julio Bashmore – Au Seve
This song must have been dropped about ten times at Eastern Electrics and I missed all of them. Thank God I heard it dropped at Sancho Panza at Carnival because there was little more I wanted to hear it through a soundsystem from the moment I first heard it. Song of the summer without a doubt.
4. Hot Natured – Benediction
The Hot Natured crew did a remarkable job stopping this from leaking. Every time it went up on YouTube from either Jamie Jones’ closing set at Paradise/DC10 or his essential mix, it was taken down almost instantly. Which doesn’t help when all you want to do is play it on repeat. It does help build anticipation though, and so it unsurprisingly hit the UK top 40. “I feel like our love has found a home” Ali Love sings about his first discovery of Space in Ibiza. I’m sure many will feel the same about this song.
3. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
“Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad” has been a lyric of much discussion for me this year, because frankly I think it’s one of the greatest lyrics of the year. The kind of allusion to a feeling that pop doesn’t ever usually hit in any context, yet alone with this eloquence or passion. Absolute best part of this song is the break, and nothing else this year comes close to that.
2. Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Cyril Hahn Remix)
I used to slate Annie Mac for being too mainstream, then I actually started checking our her tracklistings and realised she champions new, underground music extremely well. This absolute gem was one of those championed pieces. I have listened to this song to an almost obsessive degree and it still gets better. The video is here, and if I can blow my own trumpet for a moment, it’s place in my October mix was probably one of my favourite 15 minutes I’ve ever done.
1. Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
I had a hard time deciding whether this, Cyril or Carly should be my number one, but since putting this list together and hearing it in order, I know I was right to put it at number one. Bubblegum pop shouldn’t ever, nor has it ever, been this fucking good. The ‘oohs’ in the pre-chorus make even the most reluctant singers want to burst out into horrendously camp song. The ‘indie record’ line will make anyone who’s ever been remotely snobbish about music, start wondering if they’ve ever done that (yes, we probably have).
It’s just so good. The fact this sits on top of the Billboard Country chart is absurd but hilarious. But it’s the fact it reached the elusive number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 that is really telling. Let’s hope her career carries on with the same arc that it has so far, because if it does, we could be looking at a new queen of pop.