…because it wouldn’t be right to NOT have a “best of” list, now would it? No. So here, after much thought and tortured contemplation, is our list of 20 albums from 2012 that were our absolute favorites, in some particular order…
20.) Shins — “Port of Morrow” — We were off to a slow start, but after a while, we definitely found that this album is one of their best.
19.) Rihanna — “Unapologetic” — She won’t apologize, and she certainly won’t stop making albums. And with one of the year’s most covered singles, “Diamonds” is stuck in everyone’s head.
18.) Bruno Mars — “Unorthodox Jukebox” — Mars has a trajectory of ending up like famed burnout James Brown, but for now, his latest album is a huge step forward from an already excellent debut.
17.) Yuna — “Yuna” — The lovely Yuna decended upon the Pop/R&B scene from Malaysia, and we haven’t been the same since. She’s delicate, earnest, and very, very, very talented.
16.) Frank Ocean — “channel orange” — Hipster ghetto nerdiness. Oh, and he’s a gay rapper. And no one seems to care. Yeah, we definitely have a soft spot for Mr. Ocean.
15.) Carly Rae Jepsen — “Kiss” — We make no excuses. After the epic success of “Call Me, Maybe”, we were hard-pressed to find a better follow-up once “This Kiss” came around. “I went out last night. I’m going out again tonight again.” Enough said.
14.) Daniel Rossen — “Silent Hour/Golden Mile” — This. Guy. Is. Talented. In that George Harrison sort of way…
13.) Tame Impala — “Lonerism” — An awesomely trippy follow-up to their awesome trippy debut. These Aussie rockers are so under-appreciated right now.
12.) Onuinu — “Mirror Gazer” — Definitely on our “new emerging artist” list. With a clever name and a penchant for disco-dancing samples, Dorian Duvall has made a big splash with his debut, “Mirror Gazer”.
11.) Chad Valley — “Young Heart” — We have a total crush on this guy. Period.
10.) Marina & The Diamonds — “Electra Heart” — This b*tch is simply electric. And a little crazy. We have a sneaking suspicion that she’s standing behind the curtain laughing at us. And we just can’t stop loving her for it.
9.) Nick Waterhouse – “Time’s All Gone” — Retro Soul 2.0. Who says that white men aren’t good at it?
8.) Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics — “It’s Time” — Their aptly-named debut, “It’s Time” is soulful and gritty, and proof that hard work pays off.
7.) Quantic & Alice Russell — “Look Around the Corner” — Alice Russell, who has flirted on the edges of the music scene for the last decade, teams up with eccentric DJ/producer/musician Quantic and produced the most soulful Bossa Nova record we’ve heard in years. Well done.
6.) Michael Kiwanuka — “Home Again” — We can barely pronounce his last name but we don’t care because this rising star of soul completely lives up to all the hype.
Here are the top 5:
5.) Kimbra — “Vows” — Recommended to us by a close friend, we were astonished that this little Aussie songstress had slipped under our radar. Kimbra broke through on the American airwaves by way of Gotye’s hit single, “Somebody That I Used To Know” but let us tell you — her debut album is not to be overlooked. “Vows” is a dazzling collection of pop songs that SHOULD have gotten more attention than it did.
4.) Electric Guest — “Mondo” — Singer writes some songs. Singer stalks mega-producer in search of his opinion. Mega-producer hooks singer up with musician and tells them to collaborate. The result: Electric Guest. Their collaboration: “Mondo” — one of our FAVORITE albums this year. Short, to the point, both dance-friendly and introspective, “Mondo” is a fantastic surprise debut album.
3.) Norah Jones — “Little Broken Hearts” — Whoa Norah. Whoa. Way to take it there. Dark, darker, and even darker are themes that can be found among the songs of her fifth studio album. And especially the eerily effective video for “Miriam”, which shows a deadpan Jones discussing why she had to off the woman that stole her man.
Finishing in a very tight second place is…
2.) Vacationer — “Gone” — We’ve seen these guys live a total of three times and at this point, we are convinced that they are the cat’s meow. We wore this record out and we’re not at all ashamed. Imagine if Vampire Weekend went to Hawaii and hung out there for a year. 9.99 out of 10.
… and our top pick for 2012 is…
1.) Jessie Ware — “Devotion” — We have prattled on about Ms. Jessie Ware enough, so we’ll keep this short. Her debut “Devotion” is a triumph — a solid 10. The more we listen to the album, the more we love it. We’ve decided that 2013 shall be devoted to making Jessie our friend. That’s how much we like her.
But why stop there. Our favorite hold-over albums from 2011 are:
Nicola Robert’s “Cinderella’s Eyes”
Phantogram’s EP “Nightlife”
The Pierces’ “You & I”
Rumer’s “Seasons of my Soul”
And last but not least, the most unnecessarily debated album of 2012 is…
Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die”. A terrible debut that fell solar systems short of the hype. Regardless, Del Rey knows how to write a good single, and she should be credited with making up some ground with her EP follow-up “Paradise”, which featured the dramatically epic “Ride”.
Finally, the world of music is not just about albums, there were a ton of GREAT singles this year, which our friends at Pop Justice have compiled. As far as we’re concerned, this is the definitive list of pop music for 2012.