33 Songs That Defined My 2012

17 Dec

fun-2012There’s a reason why everyone is falling over themselves to shower praise on Bruce Springsteen, Frank Ocean, and fun. right now.

It’s because they released damned good albums this year, ones that many of us are still listening to.

But they weren’t the only ones who put out great tunes in 2012. There were plenty of good singles and albums, and a good number of those really resonated with me.

Sure, it wasn’t all good: The eagerly awaited release from Fiona Apple (the one with the really long and crazy name), which I was looking forward to, barely made a blip on my radar. And I had had enough of Psy’s viral smash “Gagnam Style” within about 30 seconds of hearing it for the first time. But lets’s stay positive, alright?

Here, in no particular order, and with commentary where I have something to say, are 33 (mostly) new songs that I couldn’t get enough of this year — with apologies to #bFlat, who just missed the cut — and a Spotify playlist so you can relive my year in music with me.

1. Frank Ocean – “Sweet Life”
For me, this was a perfect summer song. I blasted it out my car windows often, whether I was seeing the world or on my way to the beach.

2. Florence + the Machine – “Shake It Out”
With lines like “It’s always darkest before the dawn” and “It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back,” this song became my soundtrack in March.

3. Bruce Springsteen – “Death to My Hometown”

4. Green Day – “Let Yourself Go”

5. Mumford & Sons – “I Will Wait”
The band filmed the video for this song at Red Rocks in Colorado, somewhere I’m hoping to check out in person next year.

6. Hoodie Allen (feat. Jhameel) – “No Faith in Brooklyn”

7. Olly Murs (feat. Chiddy Bang) – “My Heart Skips a Beat”
Watch for this Brit to attempt a U.S. crossover in 2013.

8. Cris Cab (feat. Big Sean) – “Good Girls (Don’t Grow on Trees)”
Been listening to this 19-year-old’s music for a couple years. This track marked his first attempt at mainstream success, though I still say the original version was better.

9. The Killers – “Runaways”

10. Neon Trees – “Everybody Talks”

11. Fun – “Carry On”
“When you’re lost and alone, and you’re sinking like a stone, carry on.” Yup.

12. Rodriguez – “Crucify Your Mind”
This song came out in 1970, and bombed. It achieved national attention this year thanks to the excellent documentary Searching for Sugar Man.

13. Jason Mraz – “Hidden Track (I’m Coming Over)”
This awesome song about a guy who still isn’t over someone shouldn’t have been buried as a hidden track on Mraz’s latest album. I think it should have been released as a single.

14. Eric Hutchinson – “Talk Is Cheap”
In a year when social media (for marketing and personal use) became more widespread, this song hit a chord: “Some people just look for an open ear. Some people don’t care what you want to hear.”

15. Train – “50 Ways to Say Goodbye”
“How could you leave on Yom Kippur?” may be the funniest lyric of the year.

16. Steve Kazee – “Gold”
I didn’t like everything about the Broadway adaptation of Once, but I thought this song worked and sounded even better than it does in the film.

17. Glen Hansard – “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting”

18. Imagine Dragons – “It’s Time”

19. Ryan Adams – “Lucky Now”
This song is from Adams’ 2011 release Ashes & Fire), but it appears on the soundtrack for the new Judd Apatow film This Is 40, and I really appreciated its introspective themes.

20. Oscar Isaac – “Never Had”
I’ll probably always associate this song about unrequited love with my 20-year high school reunion because it’s from the soundtrack of the high-school-reunion movie 10 Years, which I saw two months earlier.

21. Jamie Cullum (feat. Carlos Sadness, Fuel Fandango & Frank-T) – “Everything You Didn’t Do
A sampling of what’s on Jamie’s upcoming album (hooray!), this song was used in a campaign for the Spanish beer San Miguel. A shame it isn’t on Spotify, even though the song was released as a single (in Europe, anyway).

22. Nick Waterhouse – “Say I Wanna Know”
Another commercial song, this one was used in a spot for the Acura ILX that I thought was pretty cool.

23. Outasight – “Tonight Is the Night”
Sure, this song came out last year as a single, and it was used in a rather ubiquitous Pepsi ad, but it didn’t appear on an album until November 12.

24. John Mayer – “The Age of Worry”
I like the message of this song, which talks about having the confidence to follow your own path: “Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it.”

25. Dave Matthews Band – “If Only”

26. The Avett Brothers with the Brooklyn Philharmonic – “You and I and Love” (live on Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Not a new song (it appeared on the band’s 2009 album of the same name), but when the Avett Brothers performed it — beautifully — on one of Jimmy Kimmel Live‘s shows in Brooklyn this year, in the week after SuperStorm Sandy, it took on additional meaning. (The JKL version isn’t on Spotify, but another live version is, so I included that on the playlist below.)

27. Counting Crows – “Amie”

28. The Fray – “The Fighter”

29. Dispatch – “Circles Around the Sun”

30. Pat Stansik – “I’m 24
A novelty goof, this song just makes me laugh. But it’s actually a bit of a jam. Of course, it isn’t on Spotify either. Oh well. So check out the video on YouTube.

31. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
Infectious and unavoidable, I couldn’t not include this song.

32. Etta James – “I’d Rather Go Blind”
We lost a bunch of great singers this year, including this blues legend. Flo Rida samples James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” on his “Good Feeling,” but for those who don’t know her, I think this song is more indicative of James’ talent.

33. Ne-Yo, Herbie Hancock, Johnny Rzeznik, etc. – “Forward”
This song may have had little actual impact on the election, and Barack Obama’s victory, but it’s catchy as hell.

What songs would be on your soundtrack for 2012? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

2 Responses to “33 Songs That Defined My 2012”


  1. What a Year for a New Year « Martin's Musings - December 31, 2012

    […] heard some memorable music, saw some awesome concerts — including three nights of Bruce Springsteen (most memorable among […]

  2. If My Year Had a Soundtrack, This Would Be It | Martin's Musings - December 23, 2013

    […] Of course, like any movie, there’s a soundtrack. Here are the songs I was listening to this year, which, when listened to together, provide a pretty accurate representation of the emotional roller-coaster I was on in 2013. (For the record, no pun intended, I did the same thing last year.) […]

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