Top 50 Tracks of 2012: 40-31

surviving the golden age, best of 2012
fan, some nights40. fun. “Some Nights”
Although “We Are Young” introduced the world to fun., “Some Nights” solidified their place as one of indie rock’s biggest mainstream exports. From the Queen-esque opening harmonies to the call to arms of “this is it boys, this is war,” the track has it all. It even has hints of sensitivity that made “We Are Young” a hit. – Adam Morgan
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bob dylan, paid in blood, tempest39. Bob Dylan “Paid In Blood”
Although it was not released as a single from Bob Dylan‘s latest album, Tempest, “Paid in Blood” was almost certainly the standout track on the album. At 71 years of age, it can not be easy to sound as fierce as Bob Dylan sounds on “Paid In Blood.” He rasps “another politician pumpin’ out the piss/another ragged beggar blowin’ you a kiss.” In an election year, such harden anecdotes ring truer than ever. – Adam Morgan

psy, gangnam style38. Psy “Gangnam Style”
Reading others’ top ten lists, they celebrated Carly Rae Jepsen and Taylor Swift for their pop performances but it seemed all left Psy “Gangnam Style” off their countdowns. Was it simply because he was South Korean and besides “hey, sexy lady” very few in America have any idea what he is saying? Is it because, like the “Macarena” before it, the track is seemingly just a vehicle for a silly dance craze that everyone seems to be doing? Either way, what these lists seem to be forgetting is: it was one of the most popular songs ever and sometimes popularity deserves to be reward. – Adam Morgan

Perfume Genius, Hood37. Perfume Genius “Hood”
“Hood” is an uncomfortably personal confession where specifics are eschewed but drama certainly is not. One of the most impressive vocal and dramatic performances of the year, “Hood” manages to be a tour de force of emotion in the span of less than two minutes. Although its brevity gives it a swift, slap-to-the-face power, its true power lies in the apparent reality that Hadreas simply couldn’t go on singing this personally for another minute. – Mark Steinbach
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Diiv, Doused36. Diiv “Doused”
A standout on one of the year’s best debuts, “Doused” is an intricate rock song that manages to sound different from just about anything else out there. With a guitar riff that hauntingly pervades the whole song and vocals that are only partly discernable, DIIV has created a benchmark for their future recordings, a lofty standard that their next songs will be measured against. – Mark Steinbach
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Passion Pit, Take a Walk35. Passion Pit “Take a Walk”
As indie bands get bigger, there is a tendency for their lyrics to become less inclusive. But on “Take a Walk,” the lead single from Gossamer, Passion Pit shows a depth in songwriting previously lacked. As Michael Angelakos spins a tale of a businessman burdened by financial troubles, it becomes clear that he has not become disconnected from the common man but rather can sum up many people’s discontent in the current economy with a deft hand. At every climax where other songwriters might go for the cheap shock of committing suicide to escape one’s problems, Angelakos suggests taking a walk to clear one’s mind. It is a banal solution to a problem that plagues many and it makes the song more realistic and more hard hitting. – Adam Morgan
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alt-j, breezeblocks34. alt-J “Breezeblocks”
A band named after the keyboard shortcut for a delta symbol released a single that they identified as “folk-step.” This has all the makings of a pretentious disaster. Instead alt-J‘s “Breezeblocks” was the most memorable single of this year’s crop of similar sounding British invaders. The track constantly shifts with different rhythms, time signatures, and styles until it crescendos with a double time round of “please don’t go/I need you whole/I love you so.” – Adam Morgan
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tanlines, all of me33. Tanlines “All Of Me”
Tanlines were the quiet, forgotten kings of indie pop goodness this past year, and no song better captures their irresistible sound than “All of Me.” Much of their impressive debut is pure, infectious pop music with a slight hint of sadness under the surface. Yet “All of Me” possesses a life-affirming fullness to it that stands apart from the cavalcade of masked sadness much of the album deals with. – Mark Steinbach
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killer mike, reagan32. Killer Mike “Reagan”
If you want proof that Killer Mike is one of the smartest, boldest rappers currently working, listen to “Reagan.” Then listen to it again. Then listen to it another 666 times. In it, you’ll hear Render lambaste the entire political system so forcefully and so deftly that you’ll never want to vote in another United States election. Taking every president of the last thirty years to task (and most notably a certain Great Communicator), the illusion that the government works for you is unmasked as the disdain drips from Killer Mike’s mouth. If this doesn’t provoke thought, what will? – Mark Steinbach
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mia, bad girls31. M.I.A. “Bad Girls”
“Bad Girls,” the Danja-produced lead single from Matangi, merges the chasm between commercial hip hop and bollywood. The track’s instrumental sounds like Punjabi MC wet dream while M.I.A. manages to spit one of her cockiest verses while rapping about having sex in a car. It might not be an emotionally deep or socially conscious track but it surely was an anthem for many ladies this year. – Adam Morgan
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