Here it is, the conclusion of my top tracks of 2012. The accompanying mixtape will be out tomorrow. Leave your list in the comments and let me know what I missed.
10. Electric Guest-This Head I Hold Newcomers Asa Taccone and Matt Compton get together with Danger Mouse and create a soulful yet funky number. If I was ranking songs I played most in 2012, “This Head I Hold” would be near the top.
9. Punch Brothers-This Girl If 2011 was the return of the banjo, I think 2012 might claim the mandolin. While “This Girl” seems like a light affair, it is a sly exercise in wit as a sinner asks God to set him up with a church-going woman.
8. Jack White-Love Interruption I’m always a sucker for boy/girl duets and Jack White’s detail of different kinds of love that disrupt life is nearly perfect. The stop and go pace of the guitar excellently amplifies the track’s message.
7. First Aid Kit-Emmylou As I said on AMG, a slide guitar-filled love song that doubles as an ode to singer songwriters of the past, name-checking Johnny Cash, June Carter, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris along the way. Much like the duo’s heroes, the Soderberg’s honeyed tones coat the song’s sadness with enchanting vocals.
6. Twin Shadow-Five Seconds It’s not like New Wave needed a renaissance, but if it did Twin Shadow and Toro y Moi would be leading it. “Five Seconds” sounds like the mid-1980’s in the best way possible.
5. Usher-Climax While Usher’s latest album wasn’t a comlpete departure from stale ’00s R&b, “Climax” showed Mr. Raymond isn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone. Aided by production from Diplo and Ariel Rechtshaid, Usher metaphorically details a failing relationship to an act of love-making.
4. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-Thrift Shop From the funky horns, to the Nate Dogg-ish guest singer, to the bizarre subject matter of finding fresh attire in your local Goodwill, there wasn’t a bigger surprise than “Thrift Shop” in 2012. That R.Kelly line continues to make me chuckle.
3. The Lumineers-Ho Hey While you might have tired of hearing “Ho Hey” any time you turn on the TV, there is a reason music supervisors select it so often: it’s catchy and perfectly balances pop with folk for a golden result.
2. Frank Ocean-Pyramids To quote a recent drunken tweet: “that’s why I love Pyramids, because no one makes 8 min songs anymore”. That and no one was a better narrator than Frank Ocean as he takes us from Egypt to the strip club.
1. Jessie Ware-Wildest Moments This Brit songstress had many charming offerings and covers in 2012, but “Wildest Moments” was her pop star moment. Bet there will be many more ahead. Also catch the remix from always superb Star Slinger.