Changeover Music – A Smorgasbord of the Best of 2012

I know I’ve been writing at length about some of my picks for Best Song of 2012 in the past few weeks, but it recently dawned on me that I wasn’t going to be able to fit in every single song that I wanted to write about before the year ran out. Hence, why not put all of these songs in one place?

There are a lot of different genres on this compilation of sorts – I’m sure you’ll find something you like. What were your favorite songs of 2012? Do you have anything you recommend? Please feel free to leave your picks in the Comments below.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some songs that gave me quite a bit of joy in 2012:

Patrick Watson – “Lighthouse” (from the album Adventures In Your Own Backyard)

This was one of my favorite albums of the year, and “Lighthouse” might win the title of Best Opening Song of 2012. That eerie piano melody at the beginning is absolutely beautiful, yet also haunting. And that’s only the beginning of an epic statement of intent by Watson.

Dirty Projectors – “About to Die” (from the album Swing Lo Magellan)

Swing Lo Magellan might be the most overrated album of 2012, but it’s impossible to overstate how perfect this song is. To me, it’s contemporary pop perfection. It’s quirky as heck, unpredictable to the max, yet incredibly groovy. Also, it will stay in your head for weeks and weeks.

Cat Power – “Ruin” (from the album Sun)

Sun was another slightly overrated album, but I do think it was a bold artistic statement from Chan Marshall, whose last album was surrounded by a completely different sound. I love how uninhibited and bombastic she is in this particular song, which is probably the strangest headbanger you’ll hear in a long time.

Miguel – “Don’t Look Back” (from the album Kaleidoscope Dream)

Yes, “Adorn” is an incredible song, and an truly fantastic opener to Miguel’s excellent album. However, the second track gets the nod here. The reason? It walks the tightrope over something that sounds utterly mainstream, but annihilates you with the groovy, unexpected verses, which are accompanied by an insanely filthy beat. Also, no mainstream song would end in the caustic way this one does. A triumph.

alt-J – “Tesselate” (from the album An Awesome Wave)

An Awesome Wave is a good, interesting album. It’s not nearly as great as people would make you think it is, but it’s certainly enjoyable. And “Tesselate” is just an incredible song. Similar to “About to Die”, it’s ultra-quirky and always keeps you guessing. And like the Dirty Projectors’ song, it will stick with you for a while.

Kendrick Lamar – “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” (from the album good kid, m.A.A.d city)

good kid, m.A.A.d city is probably tied for second or third place in terms of my favorite albums of the year, and it’s definitely the most intense “grower” of 2012. It’s as if its narrative starts unfolding in front of you with every listen, drawing you in deeper and deeper into Lamar’s mind. It’s a wonderful piece of work, and this 12 minute epic is simply unforgettable. It’s subtle majesty, full of funkiness and great musical decisions, is simply irresistible. It feels like you’re listening to a movie, with a large cast of troubled characters at the end of their wits. And just when you think it ends – in reality, it’s the “Sing About Me” part coming to a close – , it kicks you in the teeth with “I’m Dying of Thirst”. Of course, they’re two parts of the same song. A wonderful diptych.

Nick Waterhouse – “Say I Want To Know” (from the album Time’s All Gone)

This is 50’s retro done well, I think. Yes, it’s not particularly original, but it’s super groovy, so who cares? Also, if you want an album to get you in a good mood, Time’s All Gone is definitely what you need.

Bat for Lashes – “Oh Yeah” (from the album The Haunted Man)

I’m a little bit like Rafael Nadal – I’ve put about 10 albums in my top 5 for 2012. The Haunted Man is certainly up there, and it’s the overwhelming number one in terms of cover art. I love the quasi cheesy keyboard riff that drives this very latter-years-PJ-Harvey/Björk-from-Homogenic piece. But look into the entire album – you won’t regret it.

Tame Impala – “Mind Mischief” (from the album Lonerism)

I wasn’t a huge fan of Tame Impala’s ultra-Beatles-esque album, but I always loved this particular song, with it’s full on psychedelia and fuzzy riffs. It’s a fun one to end a wild night on, and definitely a nocturnal piece.

Beth Orton – “Dawn Chorus” (from the album Sugaring Season)

This is such a gorgeous song, and Beth Orton’s delivery on it is simply superb. Her album is a little uneven, but there are plenty of gems to make it more than worthwhile.

Lianne La Havas – “No Room For Doubt” (from the album Is Your Love Big Enough?)

Lianne La Havas’ debut album is absolutely phenomenal. Her songwriting manages to be intimate yet timeless, her voice is the softest caress and the warmest embrace at the same time, and my God, is she a mesmerizing performer. Her album is full of unforgettable songs, both of the fuller kind, as well as the stripped down version, like “No Room For Doubt”, which is probably the most beautiful song I heard all year. Also, how impossible is it to go about your days without singing that most perfect chorus?

Swans – “Song For A Warrior” (from the album The Seer)

Speaking of a gorgeous song, this little piece by the very loud Brooklyn band is all about finding absolute beauty in the most unexpected places. One visit to The Seer was more than enough for me, but I’ve paid plenty of visits to this haunting little song since. What I can’t understand is how you put any other song after this – it seems to me that all things – the album, and any compilation which includes this song – need to end with it. It’s the perfect last song for anything. You’ll see why.

Juan José loves a well struck backhand down the line, statistics that tell a story, a nice lob winner, and competent returns of serve.