As stated in Part One of The Top 40 Songs of 2012, 2020k thinks the reason that so much good music was released this year was in part because the end of the world was supposed to happen on the 21st. Well, looks like we’re still kicking and if this is what has to happen every year for the forty artists noted in our list this year, we hope there’s a doomsday threat every year! The caliber of music released this year is mesmerizing. 2013 Grammy nominations are the best they’ve been in years, Beyonce is performing at the Superbowl in February, Boards of Canada might release a new record, and we’re taking this all as a sign that the universe spared us because there are many, many great things to come in the music and audio world in the next coming years.
As stated previously, each song has a brief description and a listening link. If I wrote something about them this year, the number associated with the song will be clickable.
An asterisk represents an artist that will be featured on an upcoming 2020k single release (early 2013).
2020k’s Top 40 Songs of 2012. Part One – Songs 20 through 1
20. Ilia Darlin – Hit Me - Greek pop artist and major label signed Ilia Darlin has become a critically acclaimed success around the blogosphere and if “Hit Me” is any indication on what she can do, we’re all ears. Crafted by Darlin herself, alongside Sunny Berhane, Djahmyne Stewart, Billy Mann, David Schuler, and Tonie Nielson, the January released buzz single is a straightforward, honest, and triumphant anthem that has nothing to lose. [Vimeo]
19. Santigold – Disparate Youth - One of the most fiercely crafted rhythmic sections in a long time lies within “Disparate Youth” by Santigold. In fact, the song carries along some of the most substantial compositional and lyrical content we’ve seen this year. The singer’s delivery sounds drone-like in the best way possible, holding an emotional delivery while beat changes subtly around the track and bounces through hip-hop, pop, and guitar tinged firestorms. [Youtube]
18. Boreal Network – Scream Blue Vein - Something infrasound artist Boreal Network has always been good at doing is creating lo-fi Electronic music that’s surrounded and pounding with dark underlings and creating a throw back nostalgic vibe that recalls the sounds of the 1980’s and before. Fitting right into her discography is “Scream Blue Vein,” which is a one-off release while the follow up album is prepared for 2013. Last year, we praised Means Business (see our review here) and we’re more than ready for the next round of Network’d sounds. [Bandcamp]
17. Kanye West – Mercy (Featuring Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz) – There are only a handful of artists keeping Rap & Hip-Hop alive and Kanye West is one man who has yet to let the genre down. A notable Fuzzy Jones vocal sample opens “Mercy” and interpolates itself into being one of the most frantic and unique sections of the track. Heavy kick and bass provide the backdrop for pads, rhythmic and melody samples to flourish while West and the featured artists cipher relentlessly. “Most rappers taste level ain’t at my waste level. Turn up the bass ’till it’s up in your face level” becomes the epitome of the track as it unfolds to be the perfect follow up to last year’s bombastic “Niggas In Paris” and demonstrates yet another notch in Kanye West’s forever progressive catalog of music. [Youtube]
16. Deadmau5 – Telemiscommunications (Featuring Imogen Heap) – The glitch inspired “Telemiscommunications” is a step in the right direction for both artists. As if they weren’t flawless enough, Joel Zimmerman paves the most minimal and delicate offering on his recently released >Album Title Here< alongside do-it-all musician Imogen Heap. At the climax, Heap asks “Did I tell you I loved you today?” and we’d like to let both artists know that this song says enough. It’s a complete throwback to the Imogen & Guy Sigworth collaboration project Frou Frou and since Details is arguably one of the best Electronic Pop albums to be released in the last decade (yes, Details turned 10 this year) we’re all for this technology inspired, ambient-esque and piano based lament. [Youtube]
15. Wet Eyes – The Let Go (Featuring Cecelia Erholtz) - Ross Auger, better known under the alias Wet Eye is one of the more versatile musicians to make himself known on the independent scene. After an Infrasound article and artist on artist interview with him, it’s the un-quantized percussion, the warm bass, and beautifully reverberated and delayed guitars that cause “The Let Go” to kick off the top 15 of this years list. Everything is wonderfully layered and carved out in the mix, but distinctly indistinct and a vastly textured incorporation of evolving sounds. [Vimeo]*
14. Perfect Sound Forever – Blue Sunshine – The One On Twoism series has been buzzing about as a means for fans of the chilled out, alternative Electronic music scene to come together and create compilation discs inspired by the community Warp Records artists Boards of Canada have pulled together. “Blue Sunshine” is the first full track on the fifth installation of the compilation series and singlehandedly puts together flowing pad textures and low snare/hi-hit stereo image. With relaxation vocal samples and a rumbling kick/bass line, Perfect Sound Forever lives up to his moniker in the best way possible through this track. “Close your eyes, breathe deeply, relax completely”. [Twoism.org]
13. Lana Del Rey – Ride – It’s quite a proclamation to combine American nostalgia with 21st century swagger and the line “I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy,” but that’s exactly the combination of sparks that make Lana Del Rey the perfect national anthem. Although the dynamic range on the Rick Rubin produced “Ride” is a bit squashed, it’s still a wonderful lament of insanity and flawless song composition that takes you on a journey, rather than a ride. [YouTube]
12. Kinesthetiac – Mind Castles - Infrasound artist, 2020k collaborator, and the most talented under eighteen artist in the Electronic music community unleashed two wonderful albums this year, but it was “Mind Castles” off Fields of Thought that sealed the deal. It’s electrifying in its song structure and unique composition. Once the middle, chill out portion of the song unfolds, it’s a serious and hard look into the luxurious castle of a mind that is musician Jared VanMartre’s. [Youtube]*
11. Flamingo Pudding – Cardboard - The unknown downtempo brilliance of the year undoubtedly belongs to Flamingo Pudding’s “Cardboard”. It’s straightforward production, ironic lyrics, and catlike calls hold together a track that laments being attacked by a cardboard shark. This track was released on Flamingo Pudding and the Gravis Reazm and the European based artist’s first release to be featured on iTunes & Spotify, And the Zeta Blaster. We highly recommend the more gritty version of the track on the Gravis version and then make your way over to iTunes for underground/unsigned artist support! [Dropbox]
10. Passion Pit – Take A Walk – Passion Pit makes some of the most densely layered, lovely and bouncy Electronic music on the scene. In fact, Michael Angelakos has admitted to producing songs until he has no room to add more voices in his Digital-Audio-Workspace of choice. While celebratory on the surface, the majority of Passion Pit songs drive themselves into a dark place and “Take A Walk” is no exception. Relationship and unstable financial situations work themselves into the lyrics of this lead single from Gossamer and its marching beat and driving chorus are the only things holding the song from a complete honest despair. Instead, showing pure beauty in the breakdown. We highly recommend taking a look at OTM Blog’s review of the record. [Youtube]
09. Solange – Losing You – The True EP was released digitally in 2012 and will be out physically in 2013 (we’ll review the project pending a lossless copy) and it’s the lead single off the project, “Losing You” that’s held our attention since its November release. It’s African shot video is something to take a look at and the 80’s inspired synthesizer lead, complete with warm bass is enough for the repeat button to be hit in infinite fashion. Solange laments through one of the most forward based breakup songs in R&B infused music this year with up front lines such as “I’m not the one that you should be making your enemy. Tell me the truth, boy, am I losing you for good?” [Youtube]
08. Metameta – Color Pattern – This guitar based, Electronic-tinged, and overall rock influenced Yonderosa project has held our focus all year long. Unfortunately, due to a backlog of articles the 2020k blog has acquired it’s not been reported yet, but Metameta is one of the best projects to release an underground project recently. The first track off the mid-2012 release, “Color Pattern” has our undivided attention as grueling guitars demand the forefront of a mix while brainchild Evan Miles Anderson lets us know in folk-influenced fashion that he gets this way every so often. [Bandcamp]
07. Beach House – Myth - From the use of lo-fi percussive instrumentation to express rhythmic structure and reverberated, harmonizing guitar layers, Beach House crafted quite the record with Bloom. “Help me to name it..” Victoria unforgettably cries out on the “Myth” chorus and states “if you built yourself a myth, you’d know just what to give. What comes after this..momentary bliss. The consequence of what you do to me.” It’s a story of melancholy, but told in the most dream-pop based, well produced records of the year. [Youtube]
06. Iamamiwhoami – Idle Talk - 2020k reviewed each track from Iamamiwhoami’s kin in extreme depth. Taken from the review of “Idle Talk”: The synthesizer work is exquisite on “Idle Talk” – specifically one of the main bits of instrumentation that glides downward to create what sounds like a defeated melody that emotionally assaults the listener and battles within itself to continue the notes it’s meant to perform. Lyrically, the song actually sounds like it could fit in with Jonna Lee‘s solo projects from before the Electronic music took off. It’s heartfelt and poetic, honest without metaphors to be discussed upon hours. [Youtube]
05. Burial – Kindred - The entire Kindred EP by Burial is jaw dropping. It’s drawn out, late night alternative dance music that pounds the listeners ear with moments that teeter between beauty, drive, anxiety, and delicate features. The project is composed with changes and layers that rival classical music sophistication with Electronic emotion and the title track guides the listener through several movements that each sound completely different, derive from one another, and create landscapes that weave themselves in and out of each other with precise cohesion. “Kindred” is one of Burial’s greatest accomplishments throughout his on-growing catalog of music. [Youtube]
04. Esthero – Everything Is Expensive – 2020k has flooded its website with Esthero information over the last couple of months and its because her latest record is tearjerking and empowering. It’s catchy and smart. It’s intelligent and emotionally moving. Every single soul involved in the making of Everything Is Expensive deserves a pat on the back and an abundant worth of opportunities. The audio work, musicianship, songwriting, compositional craft, and dedication to this project truly shine and the title track to the album is everything you could ask for and more from Jenny-Bea Englishmen. It was all worth the wait. This life may have gotten pricy, but this album and this are both 100% priceless. [Pledgemusic]
03. Kamas – Child – Christopher Kamas released Cerulean through Bandcamp earlier this year and quickly became a mildly celebrated release throughout fans of the project. Its ambient, warped analog feel recalls the best of alternate Electronic music and “Child” quite possibly embodies one of the finest short musical pieces on the album. Following an eight minute track (which is quite epic in itself), “Child” fades in using a slowly oscillating synthesized instrument and interpolates sampled vinyl scratches and trip-hop-esque rhythmic aspects. A warm, overpowering bass compliments the tripped out atmosphere and by the time the purposefully distorted, stereo oriented and main melody line works itself into the mix, goosebumps and emotional outlets will pour.* [Bandcamp]
02. Fiona Apple – Every Single Night – It’s a no-brainer that life can sometimes be considered a Fiona Apple song. Every single track in her small, sprawled out discography contains a hard, shockingly virtuous outlook on the songwriter’s current endeavors. Her pen to paper, voice to microphone brutality is impossible to be ignored and is explored on “Every Single Night” from The Idler Wheel… Every single night’s a fight with her brain and it’s known through fragile moments incorporated with warrior-like call outs. It’s minimal, but it’s strong and a daring, experimentally intimate look into the sparse sonics of this release. “I just want to feel everything” Apple proclaims. She does and we sure as hell do as well. [Youtube]
01. Grimes – Oblivion – Sometimes, artists change the way you look at things. Claire Boucher, better known as Grimes does this. She’ll complete a song in a day, she’ll use extensive looping skills, become a one woman band on stage, and craft projects that incorporate standard techniques and use them in wildly creative ways. Visions isn’t the most layered album, it isn’t he most pristinely produced but it’s what adds to the charm and makes it one of this years best releases and a career catalyst for the artist. “Oblivion” fought with “Genesis” but eventually won out in the end for this year’s top spot in the 2020k Top 40 Songs of 2012 because of its pop accessibility, mixed with Electronic motives and clear sonic approach that’s expressed within the mix, and presented emotionally. Plus, it’s difficult to pass up a song which states “cause when you’re running by yourself it’s hard to find someone to hold your hand” and “I need someone now. To look into my eyes and tell me girl you know you gotta watch your health. To look into my eyes and tell me..la la la la la.”
We won’t see Grimes on a dark night, we’ll see her and all those sexy boys in her video on all the nights.