30. The Mowgli’s-San Francisco
“San Francisco” is an excellent example of ‘60’s inspired Cali jangle pop that I always fall for. Simple lyrics, foot-tapping percussion and a catchy hook.
29. Bruno Mars-Locked Out Of Heaven
It might sound a like a combination of The Police and k-os’ “Born To Run”, but Mr. Mars took the best of those influences and created an irresistible anthem. Bruno’s SNL performance of this song also came with some dance moves even white people can execute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDgZfTdwRiY
28. Aluna George-Your Drums, Your Love
The quirkiness of “Your Drums, Your Love” draws listeners in with slowed vocal samples, but Aluna Francis’ angelic pipes and the stuttering electronic grooves kept them hitting repeat.
27. Father John Misty-Hollywood Forever Sings
I’m always a fan of narratives in song, but a love affair at a Tinseltown cemetery is just plain weird. Despite the odd subject matter, the moody folk rock of Father John Misty was a welcome surprise in 2012.
26. Kendrick Lamar-Swimming Pools (Drank)
It’s almost comical how a song that narrates a story of the dangers of excessive alcohol intake is played in nearly every club. Kendrick takes us through different stages of drinking, even talking from his body’s perspective, amid T-Minus’ laid back West Coast production.
25. RAC-Hollywood ft Penguin Prison
Remixers RAC are my go-to source for great indie reworkings, but they finally got into making originals. If the rest of their album sounds like “Hollywood”, I might let them take a break from making other artists’ work sound so good.
24. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-Same Love
Macklemore’s spoken word/raps about a divisive issue in our country is refreshing, especially for hip-hop. From the piano keys and subdued horn blasts to Mary Lambert’s excellent hook, it’s a compelling opinion that will hopefully change others’ in our country.
23. Atlas Genius-Trojans
Each track off Atlas Genius’ debut EP has earworm potential but “Trojans” is the best combo of synth, guitar and an inescapable hook. Looking forward to their full album in 2013.
In my experience, people either love or hate Muse. No matter your stance, listeners have to admit that the English trio stepped out of their comfort zone in 2012. “Madness” exemplifies this with with a varied combination of Queen-inspired rock, gospel, synth and a little George Michael.
21. Alt J-Tessellate
These Mercury award winners gained buzz at the end of 2012, but will likely have an even bigger 2013 as their tour hits the US. Slow burner “Tessellate” is Alt J’s biggest hit so far as the guitars meanders along while Joe Newman speaks on a past love.