Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rolling Stone's Top 50 Songs of 2012 -- My View

So after I lauded Rolling Stone for their "best rap songs of all time" list, I decided to take a listen to all of the songs in the "Top 50 Songs of 2012" list from the same issue, most of which I hadn't heard before. Below are my thoughts on each of the songs. Suffice it to say that 2012 was way better than 2011, which I think was the worst year of the rock and roll era (post 1954). Their full list. All of the songs are on YouTube, should you want to hear any of them.

50. Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe": I don't hate this song, but I certainly don't like it. It's disposable bubblegum pop, which by definition usually sucks, but this is maybe the least sucky of these types of songs from last year. Don't get me wrong, it still sucks, it just doesn't suck as much as the rest of the sucky pop of 2012.

49. Kacey Musgraves, "Merry Go Round": No. Just no.

48. Deadmau5, "The Veldt": This is just is kind of boring. Nothing much to say about it.

47. Superchunk, "This Summer": This is a pretty good catchy summer song and I do like Superchunk. This one is a keeper.

46. Maroon 5 feat. Wiz Khalifa, "Payphone": I don't like Maroon 5 much. I don't like Wiz Khalifa much either. Put them together with a video that makes absolutely no sense and I don't need to tell you what I think, do I? Although I will say that this is better work by Wiz that I think I've ever heard.

45. Justin Bieber, "Die In Your Arms": My roommate and I had never heard any of Bieber's stuff, so we weren't sure what to expect. Her response? "So he's a Backstreet Boy?" That's about right.

44. The Wanted, "Glad You Came": This literally sounds like every other pop song on the radio, which means I'll probably never hear it again.

43. Tanlines, " All Of Me": Nice little catchy indie song that I'll definitely listen to again.

42. The 2 Bears, "Bear Hug": This song is totally ridiculous. Which means it's totally awesome.

41. Danny Brown, "Grown Up": This is a great song, but it's only the second best song that Danny Brown was on in 2012 ("The Black Brad Pitt," with Evil Nine). Both belong in the top 50.

40. Craig Finn, "Rented Room": I like the Hold Steady, so I like Finn. This song is as good as their group work, but isn't particularly memorable on a single listen.

39. Dwight Yoakam, "A Heart Like Mine": This is typical Dwight Yoakam, which is to say it's pretty good, but not spectacular.

38. Teen, "Better": This harkens back to some of my favorite alt/indie women bands of the early 90s. That's a really good thing.

37. Muse, "Madness": Kind of a drastically different sound for Muse, with a bit of a dub-steppy vibe. I really like it, but I can see diehard Muse fans hating it.

36. Himanshu, "Womyn": Oh my god, do I love this song. I loved Das Racist and it's great to see that now that they are no longer together that their sound hasn't ended.

35. Icona Pop, "I Love It": If the dance clubs I went to in 2012 were playing stuff like this and "Bangarang," I probably would've enjoyed them more.

34. Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools (Drank)": Better than most popular rap, but not even my favorite song on this album. Not my least favorite, either, but I don't think I'll listen to it in heavy rotation.

33. Miguel, "Adorn": One of the better neo-soul songs of recent years, it still doesn't live up to the older songs in the genre and it's not something I'd listen to a lot.

32. Bruce Springsteen, "We Take Care Of Our Own": Pretty standard stuff from Bruce with better-than-average lyrics, but certainly not a top 50 song.

31. Low Cut Connie, "Boozophilia": I don't have any real idea how to categorize this song, other than it's really catchy. Maybe Ben Fold's if he were in a whiskey bar band.

30. The Beach Boys, " That"s Why God Made The Radio": Man, do I love old school Beach Boys. But this isn't even as good as "Kokomo," and I fucking hate "Kokomo."

29. Grizzly Bear, "Yet Again": Not a bad song, but it strikes me as kind of run-of-the-mill indie-type rock. Nothing spectacular, but I wouldn't turn the station if it were on (unless I was partying).

28. Grimes, "Oblivion": This one totally burrowed its way into my brain upon the first listen. I wonder how much of that was the song and how much of it was the totally interesting video. I'll find out upon repeated listens, I guess. Maybe it's just that she's Canadian, like me.

27. A$AP Rocky, "Goldie": I keep hearing A$AP's music and don't dislike any of it, but nothing has really grabbed me on a higher level yet. This might be the one to win me over.

26. The Lumineers, "Ho Hey": Not normally my type of music, this song was kind of inescapable in the circles I ran last year and I grew to like it quite a bit.

25. Psy, "Gangnam Style": Sort of like the Macarena, except I liked the Macarena when it was out. I've hated this song from the first second I heard it and I hate the dance that goes with it even more.

24. Japanroids, "The House That Heaven Built": This is the first full track I've ever heard by the Japandroids. It won't be the last. Pretty good alt.rock stuff that I might grow to really like if I hear it more.

23. Randy Newman, "I'm Dreaming": I wonder how many people got this song wrong. I know Randy Newman is a lefty and the song is ironic, but I wonder if someone just walked in a room where this was playing, what they would think. It's great satire and it's dangerous, but not really a top 50 song, I don't think.

22. Skrillex Feat. Sirah, "Bangarang": I was totally prepared to hate this, since I don't like much dubstep, but this is catchier than most and it's actually danceable, even if you aren't high.

21. Donald Fagen, "Weather In My Head": The good news is this sounds a lot like Fagen's older work. It's very true the spirit of his past songs. The bad news is I hate everything he's ever done, so I hate this, too.

20. Leonard Cohen, "Going Home": I've always wanted to hear more Leonard Cohen music. This single, while not the greatest thing ever (not even the best song I've heard by him), is probably enough to get me to finally do that.

19. Beach House, "Other People": There really isn't enough here to catch my interest. It isn't that it"s bad, the instrumentation is great, it"s that the song just doesn't grab me in any way.

18. Rolling Stones, "Doom and Gloom": So this is the best Rolling Stones song in a long time, but that doesn't mean what the Rolling Stone editors seem to think it does. I know they want the Stones to make something amazing and groundbreaking, so they like this more than they should.

17. Kitty Pride, "Okay Cupid": There is really no reason I should connect with this song other than the artist"s name (Kitty Pryde is my favorite female comic book character of all time and maybe fourth favorite overall). But I loved every aspect of this and it became the first song I've ever paid for on Bandcamp.

16. Van Halen, "Stay Frosty": The only song I liked off the new album, this one is kind of fun, without reaching the heights of their old music.

15. Usher, "Climax": I've never liked Usher before. This song does nothing to change that.

14. The Vaccines, "Teenage Icon": One of the better songs on this list, the Vaccines are certainly in the running for my favorite new band. I'm not sure this is the best song they put out this year, but it is a great song.

13. Mumford & Sons, "I Will Wait": I like Mumford, but I really can't tell their songs apart. I still listen to them and I appreciate when people do them at karaoke, but I"ll probably never be a big fan.

12. Fiona Apple, "Hot Knife": So this is the first song from the countdown that really made me re-evaluate what I thought. I"d heard this song once before, but upon a second listen, I like it a lot more and it"s definitely the best Fiona Apple song since her first album.

11. fun., "Some Nights": I really, really liked "We Are Young" -- it became one of my party jams earlier in 2012 and I thought there was no chance for a repeat from fun. But I was wrong. This song rocks just as hard and is just as much fun.

10. First Aid Kit, "Emmylou": I don't really have anything to say positive about this song, so I guess I"ll say nothing.

9. Bob Dylan, "Pay in Blood": This is a solid latter-day Bob Dylan song and his gruff voice is getting into Tom Waits territory, which is a good thing, but I'm a little baffled by its high ranking and the Rolling Stone editors" obsession with older artists. This isn't a bad song at all (I like it), but it"s far from vital, revolutionary or representative of its time, things the best songs of a year should be.

8. Jack White, "Sixteen Saltines": I love Jack White and I like this song a lot, but it isn't even the best song on the album (clearly that"s "Love Interruption").

7. Bruce Springsteen, "Rocky Ground": So this is the highest ranked song on Rolling Stone"s list that I love. It"s far from my favorite song of the year, but it"s probably Bruce"s best song since at least "The Rising" and maybe "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Hell, it even has a more than passable rap on it (NOT by Bruce). I love politically AND socially conscious music.

6. Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz, "Mercy": I love Kanye. And I dislike most of the other artists that he likes. This song is best during the chorus and when Kanye is rapping. Other than that, it"s kind of mediocre. I just can't get with the rest of his crew here.

5. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, "Ramada Inn": So, at 17 minutes, this is one of the longest songs I've ever heard. And I get the point of the length -- it"s meant to parallel the marriage that it"s chronicling, saying that life isn't short and it is loaded with ups and downs and things we have to do, even if we don't want to do them like we once did. It"s not a bad song, but I can't imagine putting it in the top 50.

4. Frank Ocean, "Thinkin" "Bout You": Better than most R&B of the last decade, but doesn't rise to the level of great for me. I don't think I"d turn this off if it were playing, but I don't think I'm going to put it on either. I applaud the honesty, bravery and politics of the song and the artist, but that isn't sufficient to make me love the song.

3. Passion Pit, "Take a Walk": A lot like fun., without all the, you know, fun. This song has good aspirations it seems, but it sounds like 100 other songs that came out last year. Dull and emotionless.

2. Taylor Swift, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together": I know that Taylor is being ironic when she says that other albums are cooler than hers, but the fact that she jokes about that when it is undeniably true by any standard shows why she just isn't that good. I am never, ever, ever listening to this song on purpose again.

1. Alabama Shakes, "Hold On": I like this song and I"ll probably like it the more I hear it. I do think that singer Brittany Howard has a great voice, but to call this the best song of the year really makes me wonder what standards they are using, since I just don't see it as that groundbreaking (it"s retro, not futuristic) and while it"s a great example of the genre it"s in, if I never heard it a second time, I"d never remember it. I will listen to it again and I expect it to grow on me, but a #1 single of the year should be instantly memorable and of its time, no?

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