2012 is coming to a close. Musically, new acts made a name for themselves and pop veterans returned with a vengeance. The next 30 songs burned up radio, tore up the clubs, or blew up in the blogosphere this past year. It’s a mix of songs you’ve most likely heard with tracks you ought to know. The list concludes with Frank Ocean, Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, Marina and the Diamonds, and Sky Ferreira.
No. 5 Frank Ocean – “Bad Religion” / Channel Orange
Odd Future member Frank Ocean became a breakout artist this year following his admission about being intimate with a man in the past. The song at the center of attention, “Bad Religion,” from his Channel Orange debut, is a telling confessional in itself with Ocean letting his taxi driver know about an unrequited love. The Louisiana-based singer digs deep on the organ-backed tune, singing, “I can never make him love me,” until his words run dry. “Bad Religion” is an all too brief, but very personal R&B track that spoke volumes about Ocean and the music industry that overwhelmingly supported him following its release.
No. 4 Katy Perry – “Wide Awake” / Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection
Pop singer Katy Perry’s teenage dream was over on “Wide Awake,” an introspective ballad she wrote with hit songwriter Bonnie McKee and producer Dr. Luke. Amidst a melodic wave of synthesizers, she sings about the harsh reality of coming down from a breakup, but finding the strength to move on. “God knows that I tried seeing the bright side, but I’m not blind anymore,” Perry professes on the electronically mellow track. It was a mature departure from her previous party singles and a great note to end on for her wildly successful Teenage Dream album era.
No. 3 Marina and the Diamonds – “Primadonna” / Electra Heart
English singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis, widely known by her Marina and the Diamonds stage name, released the dazzling “Primadonna” early in the year. Aforementioned hitmaker Dr. Luke’s industrial throbs are paired with Diamandis’ searing social commentary as she lampoons the Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians of Hollywood. “Get what I want ’cause I ask for it / Not because I’m really that deserving of it,” she sarcastically sings about the celebutante life. It’s a solid pop tune served up with Diamandis’ clever wit.
No. 2 Sky Ferreira – “Everything is Embarrassing” / Ghost EP
Alt-pop singer Sky Ferreira re-emerged in late 2012 with the Ghost EP to signal a new direction in her career. She teamed up with indie producers Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid on “Everything is Embarrassing,” a gloomy dance ballad about love gone awry. “Maybe if you let me be your lover / Maybe if you tried then I would not bother,” she solemnly sings. Ferreira’s echoed vocals soar over the song’s celestial production, backed by a hard-hitting drum machine and light piano. Embarrassment had never sounded so beautiful.
No. 1 Lana Del Rey – “National Anthem” / Born to Die
On the weight of last year’s “Video Games,” indie pop singer Lana Del Rey released her major label debut, Born to Die. Among the dramatic numbers on the record, none shined brighter than the jubilant “National Anthem.” Del Rey is at her slyest as she raps about the excesses of fame and love over cinematic strings and a trip hop beat, laying it on thick with her Betty Boop-like vocal. Lyrically, she is on-point with the smooth flow in her rhymes, confidently dishing lines like: “You said to ‘be cool,’ but I’m already the coolest / I said to ‘get real,’ don’t you know who you’re dealing with?” Lana definitely came out strong this year.
Did your favorites make the cut? Thank you for following the countdown! Happy New Year!
Listen to the complete Top 30 of Songs of 2012 on Spotify here
Here’s the list for Nos. 10-6: link
Here’s the list for Nos. 15-11: link
Here’s the list for Nos. 20-16: link
Here’s the list for Nos. 25-21: link
Here’s the list for Nos. 30-26: link
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