BEHOLD! Victor's Best Tracks of 2012 have arrived! While I hope that 2012 was a good year for you, I can report that it was a solid year for r&b and electronic music, which introduced themselves, had some wine, and made some gorgeous babies. 2012 was also the year of Riff Raff, the single best person making stuff in the world today. I am advised by several counselors that perhaps the entire world does not share my enjoyment of Rap Game James Franco, and I will admit that he is an acquired taste. Therefore, I've limited myself to a single Riff track on the top songs list, though I've helpfully created a separate list linking to the 24 best Riff Raff videos and interviews from this year.
But as the more traditional best music of 2012, download the tracks as a zip file by clicking here. Once downloaded, double click the file and extract the tunes to your computer.
Without further ado, here are my top 39 songs of 2012, counting down to number 1...
38. The xx - Fiction
The masters of bedroom music did not disappoint with their 2012 release “Coexist.”
37. Future - Turn on the Lights
The thing that makes this modern-day Biz Markie jam worthwhile is that the whole song appears to take place in a David Brent-type sad sack’s head as he’s perusing the ladies at a club and imagining how he’s gonna get with them.
36. Death Grips - I’ve Seen Footage
This is the kind of band that would have played Thunderdome as a warm-up act for the post-apocalyptic battle royale.
35. Wild Nothing - Nocturne
I’m not over my dream pop phase.
34. Fidlar - Cheap Beer
The chorus goes: “WE! DRINK! CHEAP! BEER! SO! WHAT! FUCK! YOU!” Welcome to the best-of list, simple awesome song.
33. Kanye West, Jay-Z, Big Sean - Clique
Another jam from team H.A.M.
32. Ty Segall Band - I Bought My Eyes
Psychedelic rock that’s pretty good.
31. Chairlift - I Belong in Your Arms
This is the song version of the cool older girls I crushed on in the 80s.
30. Holy Ghost! - It Gets Dark
This song delivers a tense claustrophobic vibe before breaking apart into a wide plain of deliverance.
29. AlunaGeorge - Your Drums, Your Love
With a dead sexy voice and the ability to craft perfect gems like this one, AlunaGeorge’s ceiling is very very high.
28. Disclosure and Sam Smith - Latch
This Al Jarreau-sounding crooner hooks up with a fluttery electro beat and a pseudo-Cee-Lo for vocal juxtaposition, creating a hell of a good song.
27. Miguel - Adorn
I think that R&B has been in a holding pattern for 20 years, waiting for electronic music producers to free them from stagnation. Miguel’s Adorn is a well-balanced confection made possible by this fusion.
26. Rustie ft. AlunaGeorge - After Light
Beautiful sweet voices + dubstep. BWAAMP BWAAMP.
25. Holy Other - Nothing Here
This is the best song ever made by ghosts.
24. Major Lazer - Get Free
Slinky and lithe, this song brings the island to the city.
23. Diiv - How Long Have You Known
This dreamy ditty captures the platonic/romantic bridge in everybody’s inner teenager.
22. Die Antwoord - I Fink U Freeky
21. Tanlines - All Of Me
These guys easily make the list for a sophomore appearance. Just everything a good song should be.
20 TNGHT - Higher Ground
With a martial horn line that powers through, collecting drums along the way, TNGHT deliver a catchy earworm.
19. Crystal Castles - Transgender
These guys used to be so far ahead of the game, but now a rock solid track like Transgender clocks in at number 19 because music has been converging on Crystal Castles for the last five years.
18. Majical Cloudz - Turns Turns Turns
Wonderful choral pulses decorate this contemplative dream pop rock song.
17. Cloud Nothings - Stay Useless
Great song to play really loud with the windows down on the highway.
16. Killer Mike - Willie Burke Sherwood
A paean to dads and an elegy for Killer Sr.
15. Kate Boy - Northern Lights
A propulsive beat supports some spacey high pitched ladder melody,
14. Anna Meredith - Nautilus
This is mad genius music, unhinged classical arrangements with compulsive melodies that seem to drive the other instruments over the edge of sanity until everyone’s given up, and the circus of the absurd becomes accepted destiny.
13. Chromatics - Back From the Grave
Chromatics keeps producing atmospheric synthy tunes that get filed under your italo disco music genre. Ethereal vocals and minimalist guitar lines swoop over a languorous bassline that give the song a room to reflect on those we’ve lost.
12. Diiv - Follow
With a spacey surfer lick to welcome you in, this song feels like a day spent playing outside in the rain.
11. Baroness - March to the Sea
A good old fashioned rocker. It seems anachronistic for about five seconds, then you’re like, fuck it, and you dive into the pit.
10. Benoit & Sergio - New Ships
Electronic music is hitting its stride my friends, carving out a space that’s not pure dance floor and not experimental art. New Ships carries the flag in 2012.
9. Jai Paul - Jasmine
Percolating along a syrupy bassline, featuring ambiguous lyrics and a charismatic guitar, Jasmine is entrancing.
8. Bat for Lashes - All Your Gold
Ethereal voice, tripping guitar riff , subtle strings, epic chorus.
7. Grimes - Genesis
Excellent composition, thorough builds and scales, and a manic pixie dream girl voice highlight this confident Asian-tinged track.
6. Mikky Ekko - Pull Me Down (Ryan Hemsworth Remix)
Electric night dream music, with Hemsworth reworking the elite Clams Casino, with a solid duo of R&B vocalists conveying the high stakes of love.
5. Japandroids - The House that Heaven Built
I’m jealous of 14 year old kids that get to see this band live at an all ages show, and just absolutely lose it, screaming every single lyric and having the best night of their lives.
4. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - Only In My Dreams
It’s a new Beach Boys song! This comes from a pure, blanket-forts kind of place, and acts as laser death ray for cynicism.
3. Kendrick Lamar - Swimming Pools (Drank)
Kendrick is a special talent, and Drank is his masterpiece to date. It’s metaphorically lush, features multiple narrators, is challenging without being too judgmental, has a sick beat, and Lamar’s flow is top notch.
2. Riff Raff ft. Action Bronson - Bird on a Wire
Over a felonious horn-based beat by Harry Fraud, Bronson drops syrupy low-range effortless flow and references a leather Jodeci suit, before Riff goes up high with his most technically impressive verse to date.
1. Usher - Climax
Usher’s falsetto sails over a languorous Diplo beat to create a perfect summation of the state of music in 2012 - R&B’s return to prominence and the mainstreaming of electronic music. Despite the entendrish title, the song’s subject is the moment that a relationship peaks, when the gravitational pull between two people transforms into a centrifugal force.
Victor’s Top Albums of 2012
9. The xx - Coexist
8. Crystal Castles - III
7. Diiv - Oshin
6. Chromatics - Kill for Love
5. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city
4. Baroness - Yellow and Green
3. Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction
2. Grimes - Visions
1. Riff Raff - Birth of an Icon
Victor’s Top Music Videos of 2012
Three Loco - We Are Farmers
Grimes - Oblivion
M.I.A. - Bad Girls
Todd Terje - Inspector Norse
Top 24 Riff Raff Tracks/Videos of 2012
Lil Mama I’m Sorry
Bird on a Wire
Chop Another Rock
Now They Mad
Only I Can Cure Your Broken Heart
Rap Game King Tut
Nightstand (Chorus only)
Cuz My Gear
Summer of Surf
Riff Raff in Bad Bitch Stripper Brazil
Pitchfork Selector Interview
I hope you enjoy the tunes - Happy New Year!