11 December 2012

From Tulle to Tweed's Top 20 Songs of 2012 (10-1)

As the list continues, female pop vocalists are heavily featured throughout my Top 20 picks.  During my childhood I was an avid listener of pop music; my free time was spent listening to a mix of Whitney Houston, Madonna, and Huey Lewis, at the height of their careers.  I continue to maintain a strong appreciation for synthesizers and pop ballads. 2012 was also a year where dub step gained more mainstream success.  Artists like Skrillex, were headliners for major music festivals and were placed in heavy rotation on Top 40 radio.  What once seemed to be a part of middle American fringe culture has emerged to become ubiquitous. 

10. Too Close-Alex Clare
An interesting barometer for a successful pop song is to analyze how often it is being utilized in commercials. British vocalist, Alex Clare, was provided a jolt of worldwide recognition when Too Close was picked up by Microsoft for their re-branding campaign. Heavily influenced by jazz and soul , Clare delivers a powerful male presence in the dubstep scene. Contrary to his ingenue contemporaries, Clare's vocals strongly lead the listener from the start of the song to the triumphant drop.

9. Let's Go-Matt & Kim
Following the success of the bombastic album Grand in 2008, Matt & Kim returned to the scene in 2012 with a more mature and musically rich album.  Lightning extends past college radio and embraces a sound that is much less disquieting to listen to.  Matt & Kim are at their best with a drum set and vocals that are full of angst.  However, Let's Go encourages listeners to sit back in their chairs rather than hurl them towards the stage.

8. Paddling Out-Miike Snow
Miike Snow is the moniker for Swedish electro pop artists Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg.  With a background in music production, including a Grammy win for Britney Spear's Toxic, it is obvious that Miike Snow knows their way around dance music.  Catchy pop music is what Swedes do best and Miike Snow is no exception.  Paddling Out is off of Happy to You, the follow up to their 2009 self titled album.

7. Closer-Tegan & Sara
Artists Tegan & Sara fall into the category of musicians that listeners either love or hate with great intensity.  Many of their songs are reminiscent of coffee house ballads that one would expect to hear within the student union of a Seven Sisters college, sung by a wispy, wannabe, counter-cultural, trust fund ingenue.  Those statements aside, Closer is such a delightful anthem and a total antithesis of what one typically expects of Tegan & Sara.   

6. Oblivion-Grimes
Upon first listen of Grimes, one undoubtedly mistakes her for any one of the numerous indie pop singers who possess similar voices.  However, it is the playful nature of her voices that makes me return to listen.  Grimes is the stage name of Canadian Claire Boucher.  Grimes received widespread critical acclaim in 2012 for her album Visions.

5. The Chaser-Infinite
A personal favorite and one of the most underrated k-pop bands on the scene, Infinite was able to shine brightly through the jewel that is The Chaser. Known for their unique vocalization and harmony, this song is pure 1980's retro goodness.  Produced by k-pop powerhouse duo Sweetune, The Chaser was certainly one of the best k-pop songs of 2012.

4. Constant Conversations-Passion Pit
Constant Conversations delivers Passion Pit away from the carefree, soporific days of 2008's Sleepyhead and into the soulful caverns of adulthood.  Whereas Manners was the work of a group just emerging from anonymity, the desire to be rid of the trappings of celebrity is evident in GossamerConstant Conversations is poignant yet still maintains a sense of the electronic music Passion Pit has become famous for.

3. Get Free-Major Lazer (Minami of CREAM vocals)
I became enraptured when I first heard the original version of Get Free, which featured female vocals from the Dirty Projector's Amber.  Recently, producer and EDM powerhouse producer Diplo released a cover of Get Free with vocals provided by Minami of the Japanese performance duo CREAM ,in a promotional video for his Asian tour.I am waiting with bated breath for when Minami's cover will be available for purchase.

2. The Only Place-Best Coast
Having grown up in the Jersey Shore area, I loved this song the moment I heard it.  Admittedly, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast did not fare well during her short stint on the East Coast.  In an interview with SPIN magazine, Bethany bemoaned her academic career at my husband's alma mater, The New School.  Her time spent in New York City was fleeting and chock full of angst.  That being said, it is implied that the best coast is the west coast.  As a Jersey girl, I am forced to disagree with this statement.  The Only Place is the perfect anthem to illustrate Shore towns prior to Hurricane Sandy.  Most inhabitants could never imagine living anywhere else, but near the ocean, where their dreams were constructed like sand castles.

1. Bad Boy-Big Bang
In April, following the release of Big Bang's album Alive, the hip hop blog World Star Hip Hop released what was supposed to be a hysterical video of an Asian pop band performing in hip hop wear.  Although, some comments were insensitive, the resounding reaction was that the song, Bad Boy, was a really good. While it does channel images of '90s R&B groups like Bel Biv Devoe and Teddy Riley's New Jack Swing, this song is yet another one of G-Dragon's diamond compositions. Bad Boy is the song that solidified my place as a Big Bang VIP and is most deservedly my pick for the Top Song of 2012.


Leave your comments and tell me who you think either made this list or been left off of it. 

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