Top 13 Songs of 2012

As the year ends, I’ll be making countdowns of my favorite things of this past year. The first list is for songs. The rules for this list are simple: 13 songs by 13 different artists that I’ve enjoyed the most over this past year. The song doesn’t necessarily have to be a 2012 year but it needs to have gotten to its maximal reach during this past year. The songs also cannot be album tracks that never became singles – yet.

Without further ado, we begin.

13 – Home – Phillip Phillips 

An guitar driving a feel good simple lyric – and yet the overall result is effective enough for Home to be one of 2012’s best songs.

[Listen here]

12 – Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men

A newcomer band with a niche sound that makes them stand out from the first note that gets played. Little Talks is one of the highlights off their album My Head Is an Animal.

[Listen here]

11 – Madness – Muse

Many people didn’t like Muse’s newest offering. I have to disagree. It may not be a typical Muse song but Madness is really, really good. At least to me.

[Listen here]

10 – Drunk On You – Luke Bryan

Some of its lyrics may be cheesy but Drunk On You’s hook line is gold: “I’m a little drunk on you and high on summertime.”

[Listen here]

9 – Pontoon – Little Big Town

This summer anthem has a quirky melody to it that takes some time to get used to. But once it sticks, it’s mmm, motorboatin’.

[Listen here]

8 – The A Team – Ed Sheeran

This well-written song about a crackhead is bound to hit a nerve somewhere.

[Listen here]

7 – Merry Go ‘Round – Kacey Musgraves

An extremely well-written song about life in a small town where God, family and country always have to come first, limiting your prospects and what you can be. “If you ain’t got two kids by 21, you’re probably gonna die alone. At least that’s what tradition told you.”

[Listen here]

6 – I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice

A country song about a truck? How original. Guess again.

[Listen here]

5 – Charlie Brown – Coldplay

The third single off Mylo Xyloto is a song that makes me happy whenever I listen to it. It’s not necessarily a feel-good song, it just has this feel to it that puts it high up my top songs list.

[Listen here]

4 – Never Let Me Go – Florence + The Machine

2012 has been a good year for Florence + The Machine. They’ve had big hits with Calvin Harris remixes. But this ballad remains one of the highlights off Ceremonials and a definite highlight of 2012.

[Listen here]

3 – I Knew You Were Trouble. – Taylor Swift

This dubstep-influenced song is all over the place. In a good way. It might prove polarizing at first but you will soon find it stuck in your head, refusing to let go. Trouble, trouble, trouble.

[Listen here]

2 – Springsteen – Eric Church

A mellow song of a young love set to a backdrop of The Boss’ most famous tunes. What more can you ask for?

[Listen here]

1 – Blown Away – Carrie Underwood

I’m sure none of you expected otherwise. This song about a daughter’s vengeance is dark and mesmerizing. One of the year’s best written-songs and most multi-layered productions that give the song depth beyond the words and sound, not to mention the spot-on vocal delivery.

[Listen here]

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4 (Album Review) – Beyonce

Beyonce - 4 - album cover

I have to admit. When I first heard “Run The World” my expectations for this album by Beyonce sank lower than the Dead Sea. I am not the biggest Beyonce fan but I’ve come to appreciate her as an artist and come to like a few of her songs (Halo, Sweet Dreams, If I Were A Boy, Listen, Irreplaceable…) so it was with caution that I approached listening to this album.

And it is drastically different from what I expected it to be. If the norm is for an artist to release a sample of the album’s sound with the leading single, Beyonce simply shattered that. “Run The World” has nothing to do with any other song on the album. And that’s a very, very good thing.

4 is an album full of ballads where Beyonce showcases her amazing vocals. She’s the kind of artists that’s always underestimated when it comes to her vocal chops, mostly because she caters to an audience that doesn’t really care about such things. So with 4, she shows impeccable growth in that department and she delivers the album that she wanted to make, regardless of how much it would sell or how well radio would respond to its singles.

4 is also an album that could well be the exact theme opposite of the Adele’s brilliant “21”. Where the latter was an album about sweet heartbreak, 4 is an album about falling in love. Even the heartbreak ballads on 4 are songs about how Beyonce still has love for her significant other.

The album opens with the gut-wrenching ballad “1+1”, which I reviewed earlier after Beyonce debuted it in an impeccable performance on American Idol. And if you thought that performance was great, a video of Beyonce singing the song in her dressing room for select friends and family where she was even better, showing that what you get on stage is who she is – not just a synthetically improved gimmick.

The album continues to a song titled “I Care,” a balland about Beyonce’s significant other not caring about her anymore but she can’t help it that she still cares about him. On “I Miss You,” Beyonce sings: “It hurts my pride to tell how I feel but I still need to… I miss you.” Another album highlight.

“Best Thing I Never Had” is the album’s second – and much better – single, where Beyonce declares to the person she was interested it that he doesn’t deserve her tears and she was the best thing he never had.

A change of tempo in the upward direction comes in the form of “Party”, a song that I cannot wrap my head around, mostly because it feels like sub-quality compared to the songs around it. But for those who like dancey Beyonce sound, this song is for you.

On “Rather Die Young,” another vocal-showcase ballad, Beyonce declares to her love interest that even though he smoked too much and drove too fast, he gave her a rush – made her feel like she was seventeen – and she’d rather die young than live her life without him.

“Start Over” is another album highlight where Beyonce acknowledges that the relationship reached a very rough patch, but she can’t help that she still loves the guy. And then she invites him to “start over” because they can’t let their good love die.

“Love On Top” is another declaration of love on the album where Beyonce’s love interest put her love on the top list of his priorities. How he’s the one she always calls, how his lips taste like champagne, etc…

I cannot also wrap my head around “Countdown,” another song for uptempo Beyonce fans. The song is basically a countdown from ten to one that ends with him being the one.

“End of Time” is rumored to be a strong contender for the upcoming single off 4. Many people are loving this song but I feel the album has many stronger songs but I do get the radio potential in this. And after all, you need a strong radio performance of a single to sell the album. On this song, Beyonce declares that she’ll “love you until the end of time.” The song is filled with a tribal-like rhythm.

“I Was Here” is the album’s most personal song. It is a testament of Beyonce’s achievements, what she has accomplished and what she still wants to do: “I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time… When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets. Give something to remember so they won’t forget I was here, I lived, I loved. I did, I’ve done everything that I wanted…”

And the album is concluded with “Run The World (Girls),” which after the series of brilliant songs that precede it sounds like an out of place song on a much superior record. You start thinking what Beyonce was thinking when she released this song as the album’s lead single when she had much stronger songs that could have helped her sell the album more.

It’s always refreshing when a capable artist decides to deliver true artistic songs that display their talents and not just some brainless pop songs that only get you to dance. 4 is an album with many influences, the most prominent of which is an 80s RnB sound. It feels to be a natural evolutionary step for an artist who made her career by walking across genre lines. 4 is a great album that could be considered as Beyonce’s best.

Songs to download:

1+1, I Care, I Miss You, Best Thing I Never Had, I Was Here.

Edge Of Glory (Single Review) – Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has been what you would call pretentious in her “Born This Way” era so far. In what way? well, she calls people to embrace who they are and yet, her image is fake, her covers are filled with prosthetic additions to her face  that make you cringe and her songs are anything but a simple manifestation of artistry.

More often than not, she writes songs that serve as a vehicle for her shock value entertainment, follows them up with a video that has nothing to do with the song, extends the video to about ten minutes and people go gaga over it. And it has been working for her except Judas isn’t doing as well as they thought it would, especially on pop radio.

Now, as part of an iTunes countdown to her album, Lady Gaga has released Edge Of Glory. I have mixed feelings about this. While I like the departure from the “religiously-controversial” and “born this way” themes to much less controversial stuff (such as love), I feel the song is simply deja vu.

Has Lady Gaga lost her touch? This is a song that doesn’t rely on techno music and electronic beats as much as it relies on simple pop music and it’s simply not as strong a tune that you would expect from someone who has given the masses hit after hit, some of which are quite good quality-wise.

Now, I’m not the best person to consider when it comes to Lady Gaga. I have yet to immediately get hooked on her songs. They usually get “stuck” so to speak due to radio overplaying them. But that’s not to say that “Edge Of Glory” isn’t catchy. After all, Lady Gaga knows how to write a crafty hook. And I especially like how the saxophone goes into play there. But I think when Lady Gaga tackles the issue of love for the first time in a single, I thought it would be more like this song (Captivated) before she went all gaga:

Regardless of what I think, her fans will eat this up. Watch it become #1 on iTunes in a few hours and debut high atop the Billboard Hot 100 next week. But selling truckloads of singles isn’t always a sign of quality. And I think Lady Gaga has become too indulgent.

Listen to Edge Of Glory here:

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