BEST SONGS OF 2012
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 

These are my 100 favourite songs of 2012: songs I love more than panetonne & starfruit & cloudy spotlit nighttime skies.

I follow just one arbitrary rule: that no artist may be listed twice.

I made similar lists in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The best way to browse this list is to click the little arrow beside each song and then to listen as you read. The things you like you can then download by right- or ctrl-clicking with your mouse.

You can also download the complete 100 songs, in three parts:

Said the Gramophone is one of the oldest musicblogs. We try to do just two things, well: finding good songs, and writing about them. We don't mess about with tour-dates, videos or advertising. We post new songs and old songs, write clumsy dreams of what we hear. If this is your first time here, I hope you'll bookmark us or subscribe via RSS. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Of these 100 songs, approximately 71 are fronted by men, 29 by women. 53 acts are American, 24 are Canadian, 10 are British, 2 are Swedish, 2 are Ghanaian, 2 are French, and there is one Kiwi, one Australian, one Dane, one Korean, one Nigerian, one Chinese Japanese and one Finn. This is the way it worked out; it certainly ain't perfect.

My favourite songs of the year do not necessarily speak to my favourite albums of the year. But if you want full-length records that are the best, the best, these were my ten in 2012: Micachu & the Shapes' Never, Taylor Swift's Red, Eric Chenaux's Guitar & Voice, the Chromatics' Kill For Love, Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, James Irwin's Western Transport, Damien Jurado's Maraqopa, Avec pas d'casque's Astronomie, PS I Love You's Death Dreams and Eternal Summers' Correct Behavior.

Some songs that you heard in 2012 may have been omitted from this tally because I heard them before this year, and included them in my Best of 2011. For example works by Gotye, TEEN, Bry Webb, Grimes and Azealia Banks.

Said the Gramophone's Best Songs of 2012 - original painting by Adam Ferriss.
original painting by Adam Ferriss


  1. Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe" [buy]
    It was already rattling around my office at the end of 2011, but it's hard to question that 2012 was the year of Carly Rae. Propelled by Justin and Scooter but mostly just by being exquisite, a joy to sing-along-with. Breathless, jubilant and beautifully catchy, I wrote in the Globe & Mail. With wheeling strings, a simple disco beat ... [it's] tinselly and luscious, miles away from the remixes and ringtones of the rest of the Top 40. "Call Me Maybe" is pop as purest confection, fairytale prize, the valentine at the end of a rainbow.
  2. Miguel - "Gravity" [buy]
    I am moony about Miguel's "Adorn", but "Gravity" has become compulsive - the softshoe "shooby-doop", that synth-bell fizz, the singer's sensual prowl. And those lyrics: Lately / I am certain that I dreamt you. / Overnight suspense is / leaving me defenseless. Right rhymes, like links, a chain.
  3. The Mouthbreathers - "Birthdays" [buy]
    The year's finest one minute and fifty-two seconds of rock'n'roll: crunchy and childish, clever and determined, the work of a dynasty that will take over every palace in the land. "Then I drink my coffee / and listen to records / and when I say records / I mean mp3s." Setup, punchline, smelling salts. Just enough learning that you leave the fight wiser. At parties sometimes you drink some punch, and the punch is spiked, and you do not know it is spiked until you have drunk it down. And sometimes you do something, and you do not realize you are growing up until you have finished the something, and you have lost that friend or felt that feeling. And when you form a band you don't know what the band is until you've formed it. You have drunk a drink, you have grown up a little, you have formed a band. These things happen when they happen. Like a birthday, like the end of a song.
  4. Usher - "Climax" [buy]
    Diplo-assisted, rayed, glittering. But Usher is himself the secretest secret of this song: the singing, the coaxed heart, the cherishing of a wish.
  5. Brianna Perry - "Marilyn Monroe" [download mixtape]
    An elevation of what people love about Azealia Banks: sirens, swagger, the pleasure of words pronounced just just just right. Soundtrack for a catwalk knife-fight, wireless mic.
  6. Avec pas d'casque - "Intuition #1" [buy]
    Impossible for me to divorce this song from Jeremie Battaglia's short video, in May, that used it as a soundtrack. In Montreal this summer the city came into the streets, banging on pots, brought together, beautifully and movingly brought together. We clanged and hoped. We wished. Not just for cheap university education but for an equitable society, a new city, streets full of neighbours. In a certain way, this moment passed. Broken parties fought a dumb election. The autumn blew in. Now it's winter. But Battaglia's film, and Avec pas d'casque's song - they help me remember. They help me hope & wish & set my heart a-clanging. A carelessness / so necessary every now and then, sings Stéphane Lafleur, in French, in words much more eloquent. Let it be your base camp. Avec pas d'casque are one of Canada's best of all bands, and I want you to hear. (Translation here, at the end of the post.)
  7. Taylor Swift - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" [buy]
    There are so many gorgeous inventions to this silly, joyous kiss-off song; I love the way Taylor's "we" - the we that represents the former couple, the failed relationship, the doomed love - is sublimated as "Weeeee!". I love the grin and eyeroll as her boyf consoles himself with a "cool ... indie record"; as if Taylor is admitting she likes it a bit too, but seriously boy-o come on. And I love the way the title doesn't give away the choruses' secret: we, in fact, are never ever ever getting back together. Because it's 2012, I hear a little "Call Me Maybe". Because it's victorious & rocking, I hear "Since U Been Gone". Because this is Said the Gramophone, I hear defunct sparklers, tumbling magnolia blossoms, matches.
  8. Jessie Ware - "110%" [buy]
    Strobelight effect on a blooming dogwood, blooms in quick motion; or else dogwood effect on a dancefloor scene, slip and turn. "Who's that girl?"
  9. Plan B - "Ill Manors" [buy]
    Fisted and gnashing, the fury of a kid who has seen his country take too many wrong turns. The Guardian calls it "the greatest British protest song in years". They're absolutely right. Labour MP Jamie Reed compared "Ill Manors" to Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On", the Graun's Dorian Lynskey name-drops Public Enemy and the Clash. Me I hear Rage Against the Machine. As with de la Rocha & co, the politics here are a little muddled, a little clumsy - Ben Drew is hardly offering an electoral platform. But what "Ill Manors" lacks in policy talkingpoints it makes up in a precise, racing wrath, bottleshard-sharp. I think of the nettling slur that follows the Occupy protesters: What are your demands? Plan B has no demands, here. He has a list of complaints. He has a list of snarled complaints and he wants you to know that he is angry. "OY, RICH BOY": Shit's not fixed.
  10. Eternal Summers - "Millions" [buy]
    One of America's great bands, just six pairs of eyes and six pairs of hands, hooks and gallop, a fixed stare at a common horizon. Happy / is the man who / understands it's gonna burn. Never mind the sorrows and defeats; we will pick up guitars, learn how to sing, make up different laws.
  11. Andy Stott - "Numb" [buy]
    The most inventive electronic musician since Burial. On "Numb," Stott makes something new out of early dubstep's ghostliness. There is a little Tim Hecker in it, a little Mary Jane Lamond, the sinking grind of machinery. The ghosts roam more than they could on Untrue. The fences are eroding, the heather fluttering, three suns beginning to rise.
  12. MIA - "Bad Girls" [buy]
    MIA's best song in years, assisted by a wild & languorous big-budget music video. Almost nothing happens in this song, but just enough nothing: chewy rhymes, backwards tape, the glint of a gold tooth. The swagger of a beautiful woman. Listening to this, it makes every sense that Madonna would call up Maya and ask for a team-up. (Though I'm not sure why MIA agreed to the indignity; maybe that's what the middle finger was about.) "Bad Girls" is MIA at her hardest, hard as diamond, marching indefatigably down the road.
  13. BJ the Chicago Kid ft Kendrick Lamar - "His Pain II" [buy]
    My favourite thing from Kendrick Lamar, this year, does not appear on Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City; it's this, sad and hoarse, from BJ the Chicago Kid's mixtape. A treasure and devotional. Soundwave reinvents a sample from Black El's "The Ride", and Lamar finds the bassline, the feeling at its heart. He elevates his three minutes, earns them, telling his story in the blue-goldish glow of stained glass. Questions of God and fortune are not easy: anyone who skips and gallops with this stuff is not thinking hard. Note the care of Lamar's revelation, the melancholy shiver of his doubt.
  14. Solange - "Losing You" [buy]
    I propose that this is only half a song: a one-bar beat, a chorus, repeat. A ringtone in search of an extended mix. And yet it's luscious, pearly, Twin Peaked. It's compulsive, and you play it again, and again, and its scarcity doesn't matter. Loop it round your day, in a ring.
  15. Damien Jurado - "Museum of Flight" [buy]
    In years of great, rough folk music, Jurado has often tried to mix things up with electric guitars. Here, he changes everything, just everything, in a much simpler way: falsetto, organ. It's as if he's moved from the woods to the plateau - through the telescope there's just cliffs, surf, open sky.
  16. Frank Ocean - "Thinkin Bout You (Ryan Hemsworth bootleg)" [more from Ryan]
    Ryan Hemsworth pours water into Frank Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You," fills the r&b with little blooms and 8bit runs, two colours of wishing. The way the light changes at rain. The road disappeared. The pavement's clear lines went wavy. Cars lifted like lakes. Peter blinked in the mist, vision swimming, with a sun that showed and vanished, showed and vanished. There were pinks and golds but especially blues, running blues. Peter thought of Jude, he was so stuck on Jude, but he could no longer find the heartbreak in it, the loss; while the rain ran, he remembered only the way that a touch feels, touching, and the way it feels, so gently soft, as it is coming apart.
  17. Plants and Animals - "The End of That" [buy]
    This is pretty much a perfect 70s country-rock song, or something, only I don't really listen to 70s country-rock, so what the hell do I know? I know that it's magnificent, riffed and hooked, beautifully recorded, with crisp drums and gauzy backing vox. I sing the chorus to myself sometimes. And I imagined an alternate history of its making, of its video's making, like true life were a story and I could make it all up.
  18. Neal Morgan - "Fathers Day" [buy]
    Neal Morgan plays percussion for Joanna Newsom and Bill Callahan. Sometimes you hear a song and you go: oh shit i need to buy this. Other times, like this time, you hear a song and go: oh shit i need to buy this and also i need to buy a drumkit. I went to Neal Morgan's website, clicked BLUE AUDIOPHILE LIMITED LP w/ mp3 because I am a sucker for limited edition things by artists that make the top of my head fly off, skimming out across the room to hit the painting over the lamp. After I had ordered Neal's record I went to ebay.ca and did a search for sweet drumkit and then clicked Buy It Now and ordered a vintage GRETSCH orange drumkit 60s, and three weeks later it arrived. I set up the Gretsch drumkit on a rug in my living-room, beside the painting and the lamp and the top of my head. I raised the drumsticks. I hit the drums. I racketed and blitzed. I was remembering the way Neal Morgan coos and hoos and bloos, like a red and black bird. I was remembering the way he hits his cowbell, like he is rattling a golden egg. As I played the drums, I stood up and sat down. I rocked back and forth. I farted and died. I came back to life with a clear blue look in my eyes, the look of a lover or a killer, someone who is going to stroll into someone else's memories and point at the person who will cause them harm and say, into the camera of the rememberer's mind's eye, This person will do you harm, and then pull out a knife.
  19. Big Sean ft Kanye West & Jay-Z - "Clique" [buy]
    The beat is dour, relentless, one of this year's very best. When I come crushing through walls, cinderblock-fisted, the nightsounds will be these, blue-black and silver. And the raps are fine, too: Jay, Sean and Kanye have easy roles, hyping themselves, hyping their posse, "Clique" calling for nothing except glinging brag.
  20. Chromatics - "Lady" [listen]
    Alongside the new record by Godspeed, Chromatics' Kill for Love is the year's most successful albummy album. And they are not very similar. "Lady" is my favourite song. It is icy and ignited, surprisingly subtle electropop, a coquette coo undergirded by menace and velocity.
  21. James Irwin - "Needleye" [buy]
    This is a new song by James Irwin, whose album Western Transport is the best LP of any unsigned act in Montreal. "Needleye" is woozy and deliberate, patient, all ghostwater and sinking, will o'wisp & folded cloud & gentle saxophone. Rivers rise, shaker shakes, electronics sing. "I don't know why I went alone," James speak-sings. "Somehow staying here felt wrong." His lyrics are always chosen and wrong, accords he finds in dream. His voice is flat as paper. Sometimes he writes his songs quickly and sometimes very slowly. Imagine if you could do the same thing with a tree - cut it down quickly or cut it down slowly, depending on the tree. When a needle slips into an eye it does not hurt: it is like a light that enters another light, a shadow that crosses another shadow, a time that becomes another time. You see only later what has happened, the ruin that was wrought, what the needle has done.
  22. Neneh Cherry & the Thing - "Dream Baby Dream" [buy]
    Neneh Cherry and the Thing, a nordic jazz trio, cover Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream". They wrap it in sax, vibraphone and drum, as if it is very exciting, vigorous, robust advice. Rising into skronk and racket, it imagines a very particular, popping, celebratory dream. The kind of dream where you win.
  23. Micachu and the Shapes - "Nothing" [buy]
    As usual, most of the year's greatest albums are not at their best cut up into singles. Case in point: Micachu, who made one of my favourite LPs of 2012. Never is a collection of woozy, noisy, drowning, fuckd pop songs, sentimental and unsentimental; 35 minutes of seasick industrial ditty. It's utterly brilliant, future-forward, inventive, sad and thrilled. It's like the Beatles, the Fall, Animal Collective and a shipwrecked oil tanker. So - yes, it's good. But it's not an LP of standalone knockouts. It's an LP of standtogether knockouts. Stand "Nothing" with the others, tipsy and coy, full of sickly beauty, the charm of curdled milk.
  24. Kendrick Lamar - "The Recipe" [buy]
    A paean to the west coast and its "three Ws", women, weed and weather. I have never had the chance to visit California, to sun in California, to gawk at the bronzed California women or to evaluate the notorious Californian foliage. But it all certainly sounds good, right here. It sounds very, very good. Producer Scoop DeVille borrows Twin Sister's "Meet the Frownies", but Andrea Estella's Brooklyn coo feels perfectly at home, perfectly blonde; I think of Don Draper waking, bewildered, in a sun-licked mansion. I love Lamar when he is stricken & questing (see #13) but also here, leaning (back and foward), contented as a field of psychoactive sunflowers.
  25. How to Dress Well - "It Was U" [buy]
    This song has never triumphed on my home speakers, on my laptop or even my headphones. But when we listened in the car this bare, thin beat sounded like the best thing in the world: Michael Jackson in a single USB stick, pop-music as perpetual machine.
  26. Joey Bada$$ - "World Domination" [download mixtape]
    Cranberry crunch, cereal-bowl swagger. Baggies full of froot loops, clips full of shreddies. On the corner they are slinging mini-wheats. It is time for a re-up. There are rules of the game, lessons learned: you can make your own raisin bran; don't leave your cornflakes sitting; and the Milk Man cometh. He always cometh. Keep alert, eyes flickery. The Milk Man cometh. He cometh in a truck.
  27. Dirty Projectors - "Impregnable Question" [buy]
    I didn't listen enough to Dirty Projectors' lovely Swing Lo Magellan, an album like a refracted version of Nico's These Days. The PR's digital copy felt insufficient; I need to go buy it on a piece of black vinyl. Then I will listen to it again, and more, and sufficiently. The record will spin on the turntable. "Impregnable Question," so full of love, patient, full of space, all through the room.
  28. Purity Ring - "Obedear" [buy]
    Purity Ring can be distilled into this one fine song. Terse and crystalline synthpop, more vibe than meaning. Like weather.
  29. PSY - "Gangnam Style" [buy]
    I didn't expect this.

  30. Sonny and the Sunsets - "Pretend You Love Me" [buy]
    "Pretend You Love Me" isn't sand, isn't desert, despite all that lap steel. Instead it's flowering, sprouting, ivy curls. It's buds, spuds, beet greens, gladiolas. There is flute, reverb and bassline groove. Sonny and the Sunsets are planting a garden overtop all that strife and spite, the passive-aggressive drama. Rakes and hoes, bags of seed, microphones and electric guitars.
  31. Nap Eyes - "White Disciple" [buy]
    Sour and beautiful indie folk-pop, from Halifax, like the Velvet Underground crossed with Fairport Convention, Lou Reed drawling Thomas the Rhymer. Keats going through a break-up. OK but less esoteric than that. I tried to write a story about it: I do not always understand the Acolyte's parables...
  32. Flying Lotus ft Earl Sweatshirt & Captain Murphy - "Between Friends" [more]
    Posing as Captain Murphy, Lotus' lyrics are Star Wars and Kundalini yoga, kitty-cats, "ramen in a parking lot". Earl's lines are less fragmented. "Watching pot grow in short shorts and some soggy crocs / Shoddy lot of black faces trading body shots ... She buzzin' like a walkey-talk." The raps are secondary to the song, the sound, the production; vibraphone, claps, horns, synths. Several different rabbit-holes, half-explored.
  33. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - "I See a Darkness" [buy]
    Will Oldham re-records "I See A Darkness", one of his greatest songs, adds dancing electric guitar, quick drum-thump, backing ladies. It'd be inappropriate to a sorrowful, mournful song, about the darkness in every human being's heart. But it's just right for a song about seeing a darkness and surmounting it, with love and music, the drive to live - "I won't let go!"
  34. Milk Teddy - "Come Around" [buy]
    This dusty, surfy Smiths-stuff, winsome and full of guitars, made me write the story of an artist, a Morrissey impersonator, and some big Cali waves. (Thanks Andy.)
  35. Peter Peter - "Une version améliorée de la tristesse" [buy]
    With its 80s synths and saxophone, "Une version améliorée..." could be mistaken, in 2012, as redundant. Don't mistake it. Peter Peter have simply written a great song, a song in the songwriting sense, that sounds lovely, and blossoms, splendid, and makes good on every promise. Swoop of strings and Adam Kinner's life-giving saxophone, that synthesizer which warms your bones, lifts the melancholy, all the way to the fade-out. (thanks Erik)
  36. Japandroids - "The House That Heaven Built" [buy]
    Here's an idea: rip the scar off your heart, rip it right off, and see what happens.
  37. Darq E Freaker ft Danny Brown - "Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine) [soundcloud]
    Freaker's a grime DJ, Brown's from Detroit, they meet at a party somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. There's purple seaweed, swordfish, a bioluminescent couch. There's lots of recreational substances. The seawater's salty. Someone teaches someone else the breast-stroke.
  38. Tune-yards + Angelique Kidjo + Ahmir '?uestlove' Thompson + Akua Naru - "Lady" [listen/buy]
    A charity single, a Fela Kuti cover, subverted by the very shouts of Merril Garbus and Angelique Kidjo. But even if Fela's original has some dubious lines, this isn't parody. It isn't inversion. It's a righteous rendition, funky, trilling, terrific. When I saw Tune-yards play in New York they turned this on after leaving the stage and the crowd didn't leave, it didn't budge. The girls put their purses on the floor and danced.
  39. JLS - "Hottest Girl in the World" [website]
    In the absence of new music from Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, at least there is "Hottest Girl in the World." Yes, the songwriting is very sub-Timbo. JLS, a British boy-band, have been spending too much time with Thriller and not enough with Justified. But Bangladesh's production is thrilling, tumbling - busted blurts, toms, synths like bari sax, fingersnaps, and of course those 32nd-note handclaps, a round of applause in every bar.
  40. Zigi ft Sonniballi - "Amanda" [website]
    Forget the Gangnam style - let me see you do Amanda. The dance-step comes hip-swivelling out of Ghana (see also: Azonto, and #81), carried by the crisp swivel of its beat, Zigi's nonstop chant. The music doesn't just tell you how to put down your feet - it tells you how to lift them.
  41. Chris Malinchak - "So Good To Me" [soundcloud]
    A rosy little Monday morning gift. Small, translucent, like a pink bead. So slight that you could forget it somewhere - on a windowsill, a nighttable, a bench. You could forget it in your own pocket. You could take it for granted - this song that is itself about not taking love for granted, about knowing that feeling in every wakeful moment. You forget the reminder that you should not forget. This is a rosy little Monday morning gift; take care that it does not send you spilling out into loneliness.
  42. Zebra Katz ft Njena Reddd Foxxx - "Ima Read" [video/buy]
    Just one note tall, all threat, all dread, reading.
  43. Chris Cohen - "Heart Beat" [buy]
    Noisy soft pop from the United States of America.Notes from a seeker. You have to be quiet to hear a heartbeat, but if you're really good, you don't need to be that quiet.
  44. White+ - "Red+" [buy]
    A very lucky whirlwind, from Beijing. The conversation stops there, when the air is ripped open by the thunderous tearing of a plane overhead. In the reflections of windows and car doors and sunglasses, summer unfolds like a Dear John letter, where nothing can be but the end.
  45. Fiona Apple - "Hot Knife" [buy]
    A hot mantra, a circle. It widens and narrows in its second half, kaleidoscopic, an overlap of voice and voice, desire and habit. Always the drum at near-boil, flushed. (thanks Ben.)
  46. PS I Love You - "Princess Towers" [buy]
    I'M AT THIS PARTY AND I'M LIKE-- Canada's deepest band - deep in the manner of mines and peaks, canyons. PS I Love You don't just rip up turf, they tear blazing into daylight. What is the word for the thing these riffs do? You are rising too fast, thrown upward, shot like a rocket from the seabed or that molten pit. You are thrust by your furious heart. Earnest without any of the sticky sap of earnestness.
  47. Major Lazer ft Amber Coffman - "Get Free" [buy]
    A weird, gentle, frabjous party song, something you can dance to, slowly. Elastic. Adaptable. Could be a song about class. Could be a song about gay marriage. Could be a song about democracy, race or international development. (See the video.) Major Lazer is Diplo, from Philly. Amber Coffman is a member of Dirty Projectors, from Brooklyn. Geography's just lines.
  48. Karneef - "We Found Money" [buy]
    Karneef is an act from Montreal's new bedroom school: damaged, funky, full of appetite and desire. None of Grimes' childish hexes; this is more grown-up than that, nicked and mangy, wolftongue lapping. Karneef can sound like David Byrne or he can sound like Prince, he can sound like James Murphy or Jim Carrey circa The Mask. "We Found Money" is a resolute jam, skewed and self-satisfied. The singer found money. I do believe he found money. As you may imagine, he is happy about this. He celebrates like a man dancing alone on the dancefloor, like a man dancing alone in an alley, like a junkyard dog dancing alone at the top of the heap. But with the song's slow advance - woodblocks and backing sighs, a cellphone interruption, the sudden & unexpected, frisky, acoustic guitar - you can imagine everyone joining in. You can imagine the scales falling from everyone's eyes, realizing this dirtbag ain't. He found money. He's a millionaire.
  49. The-Dream ft Pusha T - "Dope Chick" [video]
    One of those rare cases that I prefer the "clean" version: in spite of Dream's apologies, the language of "Dope Bitch" is just too vicious. Otherwise the song is all adoring, devoted, oddly cozy, more sleigh-ride than banger.
  50. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft Mary Lambert - "Same Love" [buy]
    Completely, utterly, stupidly sentimental. But after decades of completely, utterly, stupidly sentimental hip-hop songs, it's about time we get a chart contender that gestures toward gay rights. This is just as important as Lady Gaga's self-aggrandizing slogans, Nicki Minaj's sexual agnosticism, Zebra Katz's lidded stare. (It's maybe a little less important than Frank Ocean's tumblr post.) There are aspects of homophobia that need to be addressed on the hip-hop charts, faced head-on, real talk. "Same Love" is a start. It reached No 36. If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me. Have you read the YouTube comments lately? Besides, it doesn't matter how pertinent it is, or how political: as a song it's good, and pretty, and so long as you have a sweet-tooth, there's much to love. (Thanks Michelle.)
  51. Nicki Minaj ft 2 Chainz - "Beez in the Trap" [buy]
    This is basically a song about being at work. This work may or may not be drug-dealing. I remember hearing this song at the grocery store, piped over the PA. For a second I got a flash of what it must be like when you are on in years, disconnected from pop music, and the kids' newest thing sounds simply incomprehensible, alien. This is music?! "Beez in the Trap" is awesome. It is cool, swinging, ungenerous. But I imagine Roy Orbison at the grocery store, pushing his cart of pickles and Oreos, wondering, What the hell is this?! Any sufficiently advanced pop-music is indistinguishable from noise. One day the songs on the radio will no longer make any sense.
  52. Freelove Fenner - "Mint" [buy]
    Montreal's limber Freelove Fenner cover Chevalier Avant Garde. "Mint" is neat like spearmint, golden like taffy, one minute and fifty-nine seconds of righteous skimming softshoe. This song would sing in an empty ballroom, reflecting on open surfaces; and it would sing in a full one, while the dancers try their moves. There is a guitar solo like a sunlight doing parkour, like a small dog chasing a larger dog, and I want to listen to it until I die.
  53. Schoolboy Q - "There He Go" [download mixtape]
    Schoolboy's still my favourite in the Black Hippy crew. An associate of Kendrick Lamar and (refreshingly) Macklemore. This is how you do braggadocio in 2012. Striding, driving, charging right up to the thing that you want; and taking it. Q is high and elite, hot and packing heat. He's a fucking asshole, stealing girls, slinging metaphor. Pistols, pistachio, "whatever occur". He's not wrong when he raps: "Magnificent / They be like, 'There he go!'"

  54. The Hood Internet x Ma$e x Diddy x Notorious BIG x Penguin Prison - "Fuck With Mo' Money" [website]
    Can't tell you how delighted I am that there is still room in the expanding universe for another splendid, doorbell-ringing remix of "Mo' Money Mo' Problems". Jean shorts are meant for thighs. Ice cream is made to melt. Shoes are built to sweat, to brown from street dirt. Hair is meant to tangle. Grass to be matted. Debit cards to be lost, bike bells born for sunglasses.
  55. Eric Chenaux - "Dull Lights (White or Grey)" [buy]
    From Chenaux's peerless Guitar + Voice, one of the very best albums of 2012. Music that evokes Sandro Perri, Chet Baker, recent PJ Harvey, Little Wings, Richard Youngs, Arthur Russell, Willie Nelson, Derek Bailey, Hoagy Carmichael and on & on. This is a song of heartache, bruise, trampled love. All the lyrics seem so bruised, blood running thin circuits underneath. His fingers dance on strings - a guitar that summons summer nights, spanish valleys, dusty bus-stops - and yet there's always that far, listening drone. Someone just out of picture. A waiting face.
  56. Azealia Banks - "Fuck Up The Fun" [soundcloud]
    Steamrollers make things easy. (Previously.)
  57. Pat Jordache - "Steps (Damaged Goods)" [soundcloud]
    A new ropeadope from Montreal's extraordinary Jordache. Melting funk, cowbell roast-beef, Ziggy Stardust plummeting Baumgartner-style from subspace to terra. Bluetooth headset blinks, sharp blue light, mayday / octoberday / saxophone. Play two records on rival turntables, align them, make them perfect, break up with the DJ. Break up with the DJ - and see if those records wobble. See if they scratch. See if they keep on turning, 33 or 45, unstoppable diamond needle, as the earth takes a deep breath and decides to quake.
  58. Adam & the Amethysts - "Drinking in LA" [buy]
    Like Freelove Fenner's "Mint," a cover via CJLO, this time of Bran Van 3000's dopey 1996 hit. "Drinking..." has always been a strange creature, part booze-up party song, part hangover. Adam & the Amethysts mine the song's melancholy, honing in on that central lyric: What the hell am I / doing drinking in LA / at 26? It's a question of fade, growup, entropy, disillusionment. Wisely, it is not reduced to a droopy acoustic cover: the original's strange happy-sad is still present, just in different proportions. There is joy in Rebecca Lessard's backing whoops, in the canter of snare. And the band have imbued this childhood favourite with their own markers of nostalgia - swimming reverb, drifting synths, harmony. Inadvertently, it recalls the Red House Painters, early Cat Power. And for my money, it is every bit as good as the original.
  59. The Doozies - "Independence Day" [buy]
    Like a single ragged inhalation, joyous & wrecked, two minutes long. The song ends at the exhale. There are guitars, drums, a broken microphone, a cheeseburger rock band from Washington DC. Edmund thought of how he might call and say he's somewhere and then quickly arrive. He thought of himself moving quickly around the house, picking Tate up and spinning him in the air. He thought about the last time he was on a plane, and how he had to piss worse than any other time in his life. He thought about the way traveling shakes the juices out of you. All the chemicals get shaken loose, and you could cry or shove somebody or just look at nothing and feel nothing.
  60. Thee Oh Sees - "So Nice" [buy]
    Thee Oh Sees open the big door of their garage and pretend they are John Cale, sort of. Vultures circle.
  61. Bernice - "Rêve Général" [buy]
    Breaking, dissonant indie r&b. Pianos were still falling from the sky. Each one began as a distant black dot, almost imperceptible in the cloudcover. Then slowly it would get larger, and larger, all telltale shape. And the birds would get out of its way.
  62. Here We Go Magic - "How Do I Know" [buy]
    Luke Temple sings "How do I know", the lyrics not the song, like they are one long word, one onomatopoeia, a pennant tied with silver wire. HowdoIknow, like the pinging sound of an aluminium baseball bat, hitting a single; HowdoIknow, like the blurry buzzing of a spring doorstopper; HowdoIknow, like a plucked heartstring. The whole song rests on that sound, that hook, that howdoIknow, and Temple acts as if the question is central to his existence, his worldview. He's wrong. The more important question is plainer. Not How-do-I-know? but simply Do I? Does he? Does he love you?
  63. Arlt - "Tu m'as encore crevé un cheval" [buy]
    Crever means to puncture, to burst. Un cheval is a horse, a pony, a stallion. So listen to France's inimitable, extraordinary Arlt and imagine a horse that slowly deflates, there in the vegetable garden. Also: an electric guitar that sounds like a singing saw, a shrilling kettle. A ticking clock, an old photograph of your uncle's death.
  64. The Luyas - "Fifty Fifty" [buy]
    When we die we are like parachutists, leaping right back up. A cold song that's lashed by warm wantings. Electric guitar & strings & great singing atop the metric motorik of the beat.

  65. Jai Paul - "Jasmine" [buy]
    A song always on the verge of happening, not quite there, like a gem that splits every time you go to measure it. Radiant, then hidden, then shiny again. Lapidary r&b.
  66. Way Yes - "Important" [buy]
    Loose, zingy indie pop. A song in many pieces, that's roamed both hemispheres. The kind that makes you spout giddy gibberish: No scruffs. No doubts. Yearner high, lift, point upsing til the lopers move. Move it, lopers! It don't matter lest you nor.
  67. Tomas Barfod ft Nina Kinert - "November Skies" [buy]
    Eleven months until the next November. To revisit those windy days you can use an old View-Master, or else this song, wistful and running, Kinert's voice within a wave of rushing synths and driftwood snaps.
  68. Killer Mike - "R.A.P. Music" [buy]
    I feel like Killer Mike released this album without even clearing his throat. His old ratty black faded George Foreman shirt, with George kind of grinning, thumbs up, one of his eyes long since flaked off in the wash. He would never yell, but it was so frigging loud. Deafening, almost. The kids next to me would have their earphones in, but you knew they were listening, you could tell by the way their jaw hung open like they themselves were speaking.
  69. Rose Cousins - "For the Best" [buy]
    A country song full of striving. (Previously.)
  70. Alt-J - "Tesselate" [buy]
    My friend Vinny, and the Mercury Prize jury, are able to overlook Joe Newman's creeper voice. I wish I could. He knows "Alt-J" makes him sound like an Australian radio station, or like a fancy way of rolling a marijuana cigarette. But he thinks the music will speak for itself: surely no one will meditate on Alt-J's name while they listen to his coo, his blunt electronic pop. And yet I do. I do. This song is a little like Eagle-Eye Cherry and a little like DJ Shadow circa Endtroducing (mostly the former), all witchy beats & chimes.
  71. Olu Maintain - "NAWTi" [myspace]
    Nigeria's Olu Maintain offers this weird pop single. Sometimes it feels like a parade of MIDI instrument-sounds, fake trombone and fake strings and fake flute. Other times it feels like effortless poolside seduction, sun glinting on sunglasses. "NAWTi" stands for Natural African Woman Totally Inspiring, and yes there's a video.
  72. Justin Bieber - "Die In Your Arms" [buy]
    Bouncing harpsichord, Justin still cherubic, but here's a song about wanting to die in your arms. Can you imagine this kid expiring, maybe with bullet-holes in his chest, and a beatific smile on his face? Can you imagine him going peacefully into death? I imagine him shrieking, sniffling, clawing the unjust air. Kid's never known love. Kid's never known a love he'd trade everything for. These lines are pure fiction: "If I could just die in your arms / I wouldn't mind." But most pop music is fiction, after all - at best the recollection of a feeling. And here's a tune that's a middle-eight short of brilliant, because did I mention that harpsichord? It's borrowed from Michael Jackson's "We've Got a Good Thing Going". And did I mention those fingersnaps? They're new. And did I mention that there are certain chord progressions that are coded into our bodies, just like sunsets look nice, yes sunsets look nice.
  73. Willis Earl Beal - "Evening's Kiss" [buy]
    Willis Earl Beal has the charisma, the voice and the back-story. He just needs to work on his songs. Acousmatic Sorcery feels like a sketchbook, immature scraps; only in the internet age would such a thing send Beal so high, so fast - probably to his own detriment. I sent Beal a letter; his label emailed me a photograph of a drawing. I've seen Beal live; I left disappointed. But he's given me two extraordinary things, this video and this song, "Evening's Kiss", soft and almost imaginary, all at once like a Biggie verse and a Daniel Johnston demo.
  74. Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra - "Melody Dean" [buy]
    I find Amanda Palmer insufferable. I think she's self-absorbed, self-satisfied, and she doesn't try hard enough. Friends' personal anecdotes suggest she is a jerk. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this list, none of that matters. Lots of musicians, including Terius Nash, are insufferable. What matters is that "Melody Dean" is great, I admit it, a pastiche of "My Sharona" and the Cars which surprises at every turn. It is triumphant and melancholy, horny and shrewd, a little like Los Campesinos. And it is a delight to listen to. (Thanks Kate and Michelle.)

  75. Young Galaxy - "Youth is Wasted on the Young" [buy]
    Jangly post-punk, gorgeously sung. Headphone music: the corners of the song are full of secrets. More than anything I love the blurred, swimming electric guitar, wobbling in and out of tune, in and out of phase, from this dimension to a better one.
  76. Katy B and Jessie Ware - "Aaliyah" [download ep]
    The latest-breaking addition to this list: Katy B's Danger EP was released around 7 December. So good to hear new songs from the queen of British dance-pop, but that's not what sets "Aaliyah" apart. Nor is it the Geeneus production, the duetting voice of (the marvellous) Jessie Ware. Rather, it's the song. Aaliyah is Aaliyah. That Aaliyah. Late, great, one in a million. Instead of a dance-floor hagiography, Jessie and Katy singing an elegy for their idol, the track is polyphonic, ambivalent, almost backhanded. "Aaliyah, please/ This is green envy/ Why must you taunt me, girl?" Not just the anxiety of influence, that familiar sinking feeling - these girls are scared that Aaliyah will steal their boyfriends. "Aaliyah, please don't take my man / Although you know that you can."
  77. Adam Torres - "Mountain River" [buy]
    Folk music from a man with a voice like a screened window. The man sets up his easel near the green river, by the wagging willows, under the blue sky, and he gets to painting. It is difficult work. His plan is not to capture the scenery, the sunlight, the lazy breeze: just to paint a square of water, running river water, as it passes by. He spends the first hour smearing colours on his palette, blending them, choosing a hundred hues. Then he stares hard at the water, and begins to paint, and stares hard again, and he can't get over the small thin fear that if he stares too hard at the river he is going to tumble all the way in.
  78. Kitty Pryde - "okay cupid" [buy]
    Some of a year's best songs are not about hooks and beats but personalities, characters. Voices we haven't heard before. "okay cupid" is one of those: a portal, for those of us who are not teenage girls, into the dreamy quotidian of a 2012 teenage girl. It is scary, seductive, intimidating, disorienting; this is an age when nymphet have bandcamp pages. Kathryn Beckwith raps about crushes and lies, underage sips, the-Dream and Frank Ocean, scrawling names on binders, pills. But, like, I'm open minded / and it's fine. / I don't do this shit / but I don't really mind it. / I'm not heartless / but I'm hardened / a rotten tooth. She slings her rhymes slow. They drop from her lips like maraschino cherries. Teasing and high; sexual, shrewd, theatrical, adult.
  79. Grizzly Bear - "Yet Again" [buy]
    There's a mathematics to the way Grizzly Bear wrote this song, to the way they tell the tearing-down of a relationship. As on "Knife", Ed Droste sounds dissociated from any fury. He is safe now. Once-fooled and not again. So amid all these towers of timbre and harmony, billowing silver stormclouds, there's a sad, tranquil heart. It could be accused of bloodlessness, yes. But only until those shrieking final instants - as if something almost got out.
  80. Rufus Wainwright - "Sometimes You Need" [buy]
    So maybe this is a song about going to a dogpark with Jake Gyllenhaal, up near Griffith Observatory. But it's beautiful-as-can-be for a song that's just a little tacky, with lines about "movie star eyes" and a "movie star's [dog's?] bark". Wainwright is a gifted arranger, Mark Ronson an inspired one, and their work is transcendent here: acoustic guitar, strings, an oboe even, deliberate and gorgeous. So easy to add a bland sweep of violins; but this orchestration is precise, particular, changing the song. Suddenly we see gardens, Hollywood-lit, the park's droll undertone, and understand the way a plain, dumb stroll can help you find yourself again.
  81. Guru - "Lapaz Toyota" [website]
    More from Ghana, which had a thrilling 2012. Guru's azonto hit is a repeating motif, a series of tasks, an obstacle course. It is a small car in a busy alley.
  82. Django Django - "Life's a Beach" [buy]
    Chummy, strummy, a prep-school Beta Band. You can fall on anything: a step, a piece of timber, a banana peel. You can trip over a relationship, a regret, a long-lost friend. One kiss can send you flying. Be careful when you are on the beach, when you are relaxing on a rooftop garden. Sometimes your mind is like the jingle of tambourine and the clack of coconut-halves, voices rhyming in your ears, and you can slip straight out of your comfy pit.
  83. Parlovr - "You Only Want It 'Cause You're Lonely" [buy]
    Such a tiny, elongated indie-rock anthem. Something for an arena the size of a snowglobe, a world where people go melancholy to football games, throwing obsolete engagement rings to the turf. (Previously.)
  84. Father John Misty - "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" [buy]
    J Tillman strikes the right tone for a song about fucking in a cemetery. Neither spooky nor sexy, just a little confused. Moved by the experience, in many ways at once. (Thanks James and Daniel!)
  85. Heartless Bastards - "Marathon" [buy]
    A great long song, that wheels out cannons in its final minute. Lots of wanting in this twangy garage waltz; lots of praying, with everyone on their feet.
  86. Gros Mené - "Vénus" [buy]
    Fat, farting blues rock, mostly in québecois french, the accents such that it sounds a little like they're just goofing gibberish, chewing black liquorice til their skins turn blue. This is a good time, especially if you are standing near a burning oil drum. (Thanks Julia!)
  87. Icona Pop ft Charli XCX - "I Love It" [website]
    Electropop so simply made that it could be an exercise machine - a stairmaster or bowflex, something you do over and over, grimly, until you figure out a way to escape.
  88. White Label - "Roberta" [download album]
    White Label are ruthless and sentimental plunderers. Here, the vocal from Roberta Flack's "Trade Winds" is stolen and reattributed, given to a new song. It's an uncanny result: "Trade Winds" was little-known to begin with, and White Label's arrangement feels like it could have been written in 1972. So "Roberta" ends up like a new old song, a kind of imaginary anachronism. In this age of remixes, re-dos and collages, "Roberta" still feels special and strange, rare.
  89. The Tallest Man On Earth - "To Just Grow Away" [buy]
    Kristian Matsson in his Woody Guthrie mode, acoustic balladry elevated by organ and a second guitar. Like his tourmate Bon Iver, Matsson makes sincere-sounding songs that are surprisingly opaque, even cryptic. It's an antidote to accusations of sentimentality, but also sometimes a feint. Here it just feels like a man fumbling for the right words to say exactly how he feels. (Thanks Brett.)
  90. Death Grips - "I've Seen Footage" [buy]
    The musical equivalent of a man scampering around an empty auditorium, knocking over chairs. Maybe he'll knock down all of them. Maybe he won't. Depends on him. Lousy robot rap, a chrome cinderblock funk band.
  91. Isaac Delusion - "Early Morning" [buy]
    Languid, chirping pop; a fast thing slowed-down, a nordic place made tropical. It is not easy to stop a moving vehicle. You have to sustain the impact, accept it, without losing your footing on the road. You have to say yes while also saying no. It is the same thing with a day: it will not stop unless you can let it wash right over you, all twenty-four hours.
  92. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - "That's What's Up" [buy]
    A shaggy stomper, the Zeros like hillbilly Muppets casting their hands to heaven, asking for their lovers to stay, the lice to leave, and for the livestock to figure out how to dance. (Thanks Bryan.)
  93. Bankrobber - "Soon" [soundcloud]
    A messy, fine song, its verses echoing like a voice in an empty lighthouse. Wild and whirly, indie rock that hasn't hangups. A dog strolled by, acting like the king of the world. Then the world ended.
  94. Cat Power - "Manhattan" [buy]
    Like many other good songs this year, this is not quite a full song. It's a loop, an experiment of sound, twins as neighbours. Breakfast of leftover stars, saran-wrapped, Dan wrote. Walk on spindly legs in spindly shadows. Harsh sun makes noise on the pavement, like a pap-pap-pap. The world seems to spin on hunger.
  95. Sean Price - "Bar-Barian" [buy]
    No trembling in this rap, no hysteria. Sean Price doth not protest too much. If you want him, you know where he is. Woof. He'll knock your teeth out. (Thanks Casimir!)
  96. CHVRCHES - "The Mother We Share" [soundcloud]
    There is jubilation in the ec-ec-echo of the chorus, something so so sweet in it. Would that the verses were as delicious; I love the sound more than the song.
  97. Mirel Wagner - "No Death" [buy]
    Dark as earth, this acoustic folk song. The narrator sings to her dead love, to a corpse and its still-stirring spirit, without any tricks of pretty language. But I'm also drawn to it as a queer folk-song, the genders slipped, the change like nothing at all. (Michelle again.)
  98. Oregon Bike Trails - "A Summer Thing" [website]
    A ring of rinky-tinky piano and reverby oh-oh-oh, nothing more, but you could build an island out of it; build an island then erect a palace, a skatepark, a zoo. (Thank you again Michelle.)
  99. Opossom - "Blue Meanies"" [buy]
    A merry triumph of bassline and drummer. Lo-fi pop with splashy choruses, sorta Super Furry or Beck-esck, only nothing's nearly as important as that scurrying bassline and those dusty drums, someone give them a medal. (Thanks Lauren.)

  100. The Fresh & Onlys - "Long Slow Dance" [buy]
    Of all the songs on the list, this was the last I heard - and I don't think it would have made it if were not for its extra guitar. Mostly the Fresh & Onlys play a friendly, lite kind of guitar-pop, with winsome melody and moon-eyed lyrics. But there's this one extra guitar, needle-precise and golden, that darts into the song like a hummingbird, like a golden scarab, and all I want to do is to hear that one part again. (Thank you again to Bryan.)

And that's 2012's century of songs, or the way they seem today. There are so many that didn't make it, that I wish I were pointing you to. And there will be so many I've missed (there are so many I'm already remembering). Maybe make your own suggestions in the comments.

At Said the Gramophone we spent the year writing about as many wonderful songs as we could, and old songs too, treasures kept in chests. If you're new to the site, please come again (or subscribe). We update almost every weekday, penning tales about the tunes that make us think yes

Thanks for reading, sorry for the broken links, please support these artists with your money. Wishing you all the best this season - hope you find feasts and dazzles, bonfires and fizz, and lots & lots of love.

Posted by Sean at December 10, 2012 1:02 AM
Comments

Thank you for all these musical discoveries!
I waiting this time each year with great pleasure !

Posted by glen at December 10, 2012 4:21 AM

Gratefully accepted, as always.

Posted by shane at December 10, 2012 7:12 AM

My favorite list, every year. Many thanks!

Posted by SB at December 10, 2012 11:50 AM

Oh my thank you thank you thank you for that Plants and Animals track. How on Earth did I miss that?

Posted by ZK at December 10, 2012 2:58 PM

Such a treat, can't wait to listen!

Posted by brooke at December 10, 2012 4:09 PM

Just jumping right to the comments without reading 3 - 100 to say: yeah, of course Call Me Maybe at 1, no contest, but I am *so* glad Gravity was 2. It stayed at the top of my most-played list right up until I got the Fiona Apple album, at which point it didn't really stand a chance, but up until then, boy, nothing came close.

Posted by Ryan at December 10, 2012 4:48 PM

White+ is from Beijing, China, not Japan. I felt the need to correct it because this song is the only piece of music from China I have ever liked.

Posted by Allyssa at December 10, 2012 7:00 PM

I love the songs and the writing on this list. Thank you!

Posted by Casey at December 10, 2012 11:22 PM

Am downloading the monster zip file because most of these (most! I'm woefully out of touch) are new to me. The writing, as always, is wonderful and makes me anxious to hear the songs. Best holiday wishes to the three of you!

Posted by Amy at December 11, 2012 2:11 AM

Always love your end of year lists! I made a spotify playlist which has about 70 of these 100 songs (the other 30 are not on Spotify, I think?).
http://open.spotify.com/user/1235393289/playlist/1cfqrZgaRRNyLpDTtBlJoX

Also, 'Blue Meanies' is by Opossom, not the other way around (but a great song).

Posted by Tim at December 11, 2012 3:29 AM

Visiting this blog since years now. Guess why?
Thanks a lot!

Posted by marc at December 11, 2012 7:51 AM

Thanks for this thoughtful selection. It gets me to listen to things I normally am not exposed to and so find numerous new sounds worth exploring.

Posted by john at December 11, 2012 11:31 AM

As wonderful as the music is, it is made even more enjoyable by your write-ups. Truly one of a kind, loved every word.

Posted by amir at December 11, 2012 12:48 PM

Many thanks for this list!

(Somehow I was sure that Call Me Maybe would end up at the top)

Posted by Sergey at December 11, 2012 1:27 PM

Oregon Bike Trails website has changed because the band name has since been changed to Cayucas (after another great Oregon Bike Trails track!) : http://cayucas.com/

Posted by BSRMatt at December 11, 2012 3:22 PM

Thanks Sean, you rule the music writes school

Posted by Owen at December 11, 2012 7:40 PM

A fabulous list - very eclectic. Some of these songs are a revelation as they passed me by during a (very busy) year. Congratulations to STG for the effort. You may like to check out my best of 2012 too!

Posted by Trevor at December 12, 2012 4:26 AM

Love it. I wait for this list each year. I've made a Spotify list as well (great minds)! http://open.spotify.com/user/bazilli/playlist/2GoYbTgDOqZjoY9z0bCH7O

Posted by Sarah at December 12, 2012 3:29 PM

You might think it overkill, but I bet a lot of readers who love and appreciate this list would love a second (maybe shorter) list of songs that might have ranked which people sent after saying "hey you forgot this" or like here where you're sort of saying "hey I forgot this." Maybe for the new year? Thank you for everything.

Posted by Miguel at December 13, 2012 2:24 PM

And such beautiful, perfect writing to accompany the songs. Thank you.

Posted by Marisa at December 13, 2012 4:19 PM

Did I honestly just see Usher, Taylor Swift and many other "musicians" in a top 100 songs of the year?

Never visiting this website again *Puke*

Posted by Erm at December 13, 2012 6:28 PM

I've always loved this site and your writing, but this is the worst list I've ever seen coming from you guys. Or the worst list anywhere. Waaaay too many crass pop songs. I'm loosing respect for your tastes. I'm so open minded to most music, but this is beyond bad. Good night and good luck.

Posted by kelly at December 13, 2012 9:06 PM

Great list! Happy to see Plan B get recognition here. It was a fantastic song and album. It was also a pleasant surprise to see "Lady" on the list. I had completely forgot about that track. And don't worry, pop songs deserve love too, so I am happy for there presence on your list.
Let me know what you think of my list
http://imveryape.com/2012/12/09/the-best-songs-of-2012/

Posted by IMVERYAPE at December 14, 2012 12:50 PM

Had to write again to say I am in the middle of listening and I love the variety here. Awesome job.

Posted by IMVERYAPE at December 14, 2012 1:12 PM

the mixture is always the best part, we can't take ourselves so seriously all the time. thanks for still keeping me on my unsuspecting toes!

Posted by camille at December 15, 2012 1:49 AM

seriously? you can write cloying and pretentious praise for fucken TAYLOR SWIFT and CARLY RAE JEPSEN but for PSY, a pop store who has mesmerized Korea for a decade, all you can say is "i didn't expect this." Lemme guess, those weirdo Asians! Whodathunk a freak song like that would end up on a list by the exquisite pinnacle of (white) taste that is SaidtheGramophone! You're damn straight this list isn't perfect - it's written by a racist.

Posted by joyce at December 15, 2012 11:20 AM

STG: providing mainstream R&B and K-pop recommendations to white supremacists since 2003.

(but no, for reals, 3 - 100 were great too)

Posted by Ryan at December 16, 2012 1:44 PM

wow the hate people can lash. ya, i was disapointed by jepsen, swift and beiber, not touching most of what i seek for in art and emotion... they're songs are too doctored and perfected for general. i need some wackness and courage. but i'm looking forward to this eclectic list. Transcends 'genres' and music cliques. good music should be from ANY nation or person, right? art

Posted by lauren at December 17, 2012 1:57 PM

Excellent list, in excellent order.

I think joyce -- who seems to have made an uninformed assumption (that PSY has "mesmerized Korea for a decade") and then used that assumption to launch into a racist accusation -- doesn't realize that including Bieber/Swift/Jensen precludes any pretentiously flowery praise.

I'm just sort of bothered by how someone could take a four-word, harmless comment ("I didn't expect this") and make the leap into a Yellow Peril rant. Seriously? White+ has a deservedly high spot on this list. Maybe what Sean meant was that "Gangnam Style" came as an awesome surprise to him like it did to many people.

Also, thanks, STB, for acknowledging that Taylor Swift put out the best mainstream release in years. "Red" is victorious.

Posted by bowen at December 17, 2012 5:11 PM

My one objection to the Plants and Animals song is that "pepper grinder hips" line. What are the peppercorns being ground, his balls?

Posted by Jason Treit at December 18, 2012 12:37 AM

what happened to the one australian band
(MILK TEDDY)?

Posted by oliver at December 19, 2012 11:04 PM

Thanks, Sean, for the beautiful music and the beautiful writing. I've spent the past week or so working through everything in this post.

Posted by Nine at December 19, 2012 11:24 PM

Thanks, as ever, for this Sean. So, so much I missed.

That Pat Jordache track sounds very, very much like 1980s Bill Nelson, eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnfKzoqW--A

Posted by Phil Gyford at December 21, 2012 7:16 AM

I am married to a wonderful women because of this list, well not this one, the 2007 one. The story is too long for this space, but I just want to say thank you, Said the Gramophone! Keep on keepin' on!

Posted by Todd at December 24, 2012 8:57 AM

Thank you Sean. Mel and I will listen to this during Christmas lunch as is now traditional. Yes to 'Call Me Maybe' and PSY, but an emphatic no to Taylor Swift.

Oh, and my discovery of the year - SOAK. Incredible 16 year old songwriter/singer/guitarist who I was lucky enough to see in her home town of Derry earlier this year: http://open.spotify.com/user/gaseousbrain/playlist/59qBoOIh7MjgzMofkZWXXU

Posted by Milo at December 24, 2012 12:20 PM

Loving the descriptive imagery that you guys paint for each track. It's been a delightful road to discovery.

Thanks for the beautiful list of songs!

Posted by Marlowe at December 26, 2012 11:15 PM

#1, 7 and 29 are bad songs but other than that, this is a good list

Posted by Unknown Funkster at December 28, 2012 4:00 PM

#72 is also bad

Posted by Unknown Funkster at December 28, 2012 4:04 PM

Last year was my first time finding this list and it reawakened my love for new music that I hadn't had since high school - thank you. Couldn't wait for the 2012 list, and now I've got ~6 hours of solo work ahead of me, and I'm going to listen to all that I can!

Posted by BDLFLT at December 31, 2012 11:06 AM

Still listening through it, and glad to find there is, after all, an Australian act in the list (as Oliver notes!) - #34 Milk Teddy :) Awesome choice! Can we have the notes in the intro edited please? Thanks Sean!

Posted by charlie at January 3, 2013 8:00 PM

great list, great write-ups. thanks a lot.

Posted by c. straub at January 17, 2013 9:52 PM

As always, great picks. Your write up for Neil Morgan is hilarious, in a "this is actually funny, I am actually laughing" way. Thanks for continuing to champion Michachu! I love them and they are not very visible so I appreciate their appearance on the list. 'Til next time!

Posted by A is for at January 20, 2013 10:47 PM

Bernice is a revelation -- thanks for turning me on to this amazing album!

Posted by Lewis Francis at February 19, 2013 4:37 PM

Just thought you might be interested in the fact that Peter Fox's song Alles Neu (2008) (German rap hip hop, yes, it's actually pretty awesome) was either the original beat or uses the same beat as "Plan B - Ill Manors". Great song, might want to check it out!

Posted by Hannah at March 29, 2013 2:18 PM

And now that I have looked it up having it on my mind (and studying German), pretty freaking awesome lyrics "Alles Neu": http://lyricstranslate.com/en/alles-neu-everythings-new.html

Posted by Hannah at March 29, 2013 2:27 PM
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Said the Gramophone's best songs of 2013


about said the gramophone
this is a daily sampler of really good songs. all tracks are posted out of love. please go out and buy the records!

to play a song in your browser, click the . to download a song, right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

all songs are removed within a week or two of posting.

said the gramophone launched in march 2003, and added songs in november of that year. it was one of the world's very first mp3blogs.


if you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
montreal, canada: sean
toronto, canada: jordan
toronto, canada: dan


please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets.

if you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. please do not direct link to any of these tracks. please love and wonder.

"and i shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and i will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels lives in Montreal. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here.

Dan Beirne is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Jordan's posts appear at Said the Gramophone only on the last Wednesday of every month. Email him here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by .
our patrons
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
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Archives
elsewhere
our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Dau.pe
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Herohill
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Molars
Daytrotter
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Musicophilia
Anagramatron
Nicola Meighan
Fluxblog
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
LPWTF?
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
ftrain
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Marathonpacks
Song, by Toad
In Focus
AMASS BLOG
Inventory
Waxy
WTF [podcast]
Masalacism
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
Goldkicks
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
eat:
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
lawrence
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
ripples
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

shop:
phonopolis
drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

shows:
casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe


(maga)zines
Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
McSweeney's
State
The Skinny

community
ILX