As a precursor to my pending countdown of the Best Songs of 2012, I felt a little uneasy leaving some tracks off the list. See, for a song to be one of the best from a certain year, it actually had to be released that year, but that leaves an unfair disadvantage for some tracks. Sometimes a song doesn’t take off for several months, or it was quite possibly released too late in the year for it to even get noticed until the next. So I decided to level the playing field and give these “limbo tracks” their due. So I present… The 10 Best Songs Of 2012… From 2011.
10. “Promises” Nero
Nero’s “Promises” is an absolutely triumph for EDM. Finding its way into clubs more prominently in 2012, the song bridges together elements of dubstep, drum and bass, and even new wave, and the impact is intense. “Promises” is the kind of song that most current pop acts wish they were a part of, but luckily for Nero, the track maintained it’s “cool” and clubs all around the world just couldn’t get enough.
09. “Through The Night” Ren Harvieu
Ren Harvieu is one of 2012’s (and 2011’s) greatest unsung heroes. Bringing a jazzy sensibility to vocally-driven, pop, the British singer really let her talent do all the work for her. Her debut single, “Through The Night,” released at the tail end of ’11, was her masterpiece. With its emotional peaks and valleys and second-to-none vocal delivery, Ren Harvieu really made one of the best songs of either year, but very few seemed to notice.
08. “Tongue Tied” Grouplove
Grouplove’s “Tongue Tied” really defines everything that’s going on with alternative music right now… part rock, part folk, and part dance with epic pop hooks. Luckily, most of what’s coming out is absolutely brilliant. “Tongue Tied” is a frenzy in the best way possible. Between the non-threatening strumming of the guitars and almost mocking vocal melody, the only thing that actually makes sense is how worth putting it on for a second time is.
07. “Somebody That I Used To Know” Gotye featuring Kimbra
Whereas “We Are Young” wasn’t too far of a stretch when it came to crossing over to pop hit, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” will forever be a head-scratcher. Despite being sparse a track with a simple melody, the song lit up pop radio. Garnished with whimsical xylophones, pulsing bass, and a guest spot from Kimbra, reads “alternative” through to the core. #1 hit or not, “Somebody That I Used To Know” is a killer track.
06. “Levels” Avicii
We all know that famous Etta James sample in Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling,” but it was Avicii who originally used it as the lone vocal line in his epic dance masterpiece, “Levels.” The song didn’t fully take off until 2012 (most likely as a result of the success of “Good Feeling,”) but became a club staple for pretty much the entire year. The record is triumphant and euphoric to the core, and manages to not feel the least be contrived. Avicii and “Levels” really made proper dance music exciting again.
05. “We Are Young” fun. featuring Janelle Monáe
“We Are Young” is the track that shockingly, and quite abruptly turned indie rock into top-40 pop. It was absolutely inescapable in 2012, and unexpectedly turned fun. into superstars, and it’s easy to see why when you listen to the track. It may be a song that celebrates various forms of intoxication, and it may be deliriously catchy, but “We Are Young” is a masterpiece, if not an anthem for the ages.
04. “Video Games” Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey managed to become one of the most talked about acts in music before her debut single, “Video Games” was even officially released. Thanks to the track’s elaborate gentleness and unique, swag-filled update on a classic sound, the song was enough to make critics practically wet themselves. Lana really stirred things up with “Video Games,” and, honestly, she’s the only one who could have pulled it off.
03. “Little Talks” Of Monsters & Men
Icelandic indie folk rockers Of Monsters & Men made quite a splash in 2012 with their debut single, “Little Talks.” With their magically catchy number, dazzling with horns, thundering drums, and a give-and-take of co-ed vocals, the group captured the hearts of alternative radio almost immediately. As fantastic as “Little Talks” is, the song is really just the tip of the iceberg.
02. “Midnight City” M83
“Midnight City” is an undeniable anthem. With that famous synth line, a triumphant sax-led climax, and an atmosphere dripping with emotion, M83 crafted pretty much the perfect song. For something this cool and alternative, the fact that it got as much attention as it did only goes to show the power of its awesomeness.
01. “212” Azealia Banks featuring Lazy Jay
Harlem rapper Azealia Banks is one of the most exciting artists in the world today, and foul-mouthed “212” was just about the coolest song to circulate in 2012, period. The track bridges together rap and dance in a way the Black Eyed Peas and Pitbull wish they could, but still manages to have just as much hit potential. The song is epic amounts of brilliant… just keep the kids away.