Your other option was a list of the best psychological studies of 2012 so be thankful it's not that.
Here are my picks for the best of the best of my little slice of the music world. Feel free to let me know what some of your favorites are or bitch about me not picking your favorite artist because *GASP* different opinions!!!
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Get ready for the shocked gasps when you see that my pick for the artist of the year is...
Have you all recovered from this surprising revelation? I know, me picking Metric for the best overall artist is earth shattering but you need to calm down. COLLECT YOURSELF, GODDAMMIT.
Okay good. This was without question the year of Metric. Now before you go all, "But [insert breakthrough act/shitty pop artist/old school artist who had a hit here]..." let me explain. Yes, Metric's most recent album, Synthetica, didn't crack the top 10 on Billboard sales but hot damn, they came in at number 12. Pretty good for a band that runs their own label, effectively putting out their own records and not getting help from the major label music machines. They sold out shows all over the world, they played VH1's Divas thingy, they headlined festivals, they grabbed the attention of Rhianna (who could take notes from Metric on how to make less awful music), and scored a film with Howard Shore. They may not be topping charts but they're doing their own thing, winning fans on their own terms, and they're showing the world that you CAN stay true to yourself and be successful in the entertainment industry.
|And they had the honor of hanging out with us after their Minneapolis show.|
Now, considering I saw them three times this year (two of which were in a different country), I don't think it'd be fair to include them for consideration for the rest of the categories as they'd sweep them all so I am removing Metric from the running for the rest of my picks... but know that everything they do is perfection.
LIVE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
I go to a lot of concerts so this category is always a difficult one for me to pick. Throw in Osheaga, the music festival I went to this year, and things get even more difficult.
I managed to see these guys twice this year (Once at an intimate show at the Triple Rock and once when they opened for Metric) and hot damn do they put on an excellent show. Their energy and awkward dance moves is infectious. Amy and Torquill have voices that melt together to produce something more beautiful than Ryan Gosling's abs. They also are genuinely thankful for all the love from the audience and, on top of it, Amy is the most adorable person on the planet. Also, my favorite jam off The North, their most recent release, "Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It" is even more stellar live than it is recorded.
The Ting Tings: It was tough not to pick these two. Despite only having two members, they manage to put on a show that's full of pure rock goodness. I honestly never sweat that much in my life from all the dancing. I was exhausted, but didn't want it to end.
Sleigh Bells: If I were to describe everything a rock show should be, it would be a Sleigh Bells show: Loud guitars, hot chicks (in the form of their lead singer, Alexis Krauss), crowd surfing WHILE STILL SINGING AND PLAYING GUITAR by both Alexis and Derek, rowdy dancing... I was honestly shocked by how great these two were.
Doomtree: I usually am not a fan of rap but these guys are so freaking great. They have high energy, deep lyrics that aren't just "fuck a ho and drank some Patron," and Dessa. Dessa is her own category of awesome.
Feist: This lady puts on a show. Not only does she interact with the audience, but she has them participating in various aspects of her show. She played multiple instruments and wowed the crowd of 40 thousand at Osheaga. And, in a personal favorite part, she stopped mid song to accept a palm tree that had been passed up through the crowd as a gift from a fan. Why they picked a palm tree is a mystery, but it was awesome regardless.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Another difficult category to pick for me. There were a ton of great new artists that came to my attention this year. However, I think one sticks out a little more than the rest.
Most of you probably know Kimbra from her song with Gotye, "Somebody That I Used To Know," but she's a great artist in her own right. This spritely little Kiwi has an amazing voice and does all sorts of interesting things with her vocals. She also has the coolest outfits I've ever seen. I read somewhere that she makes most of her clothes herself... Multitalented! I look forward to seeing what she has to offer in the future!
Hey Ocean: These guys were the first band I saw at Osheaga and it was a great way to kick off the festival. Super high energy and Ashleigh Bell is a great vocalist. There's a great video of them doing a cover of "Sprawl II" by Arcade Fire that I suggest you check out.
Polica: A great local band from Minneapolis that I also saw at Osheaga (and saw on the plane there... and awkwardly ran into them at the festival). They use a lot of autotune but unlike most uses of autotune, it's not to make up for a lack of vocal prowess. It actually enhances the music and live, Channy is able to let her impressive vocal abilities shine through.
blondfire: These guys have been getting a lot of hype regarding their song "Where The Kids Are" and they absolutely deserve it. The music video for the song is whacky and the song is catchy as hell (and a great song to snowboard to!). But they're more than just a one hit band. Check out their other music, as well. It's pretty great!
SONG OF THE YEAR
Ahhh, the best single song of the year. With the sheer volume of music released this year, how to pick just one song?
"PUSH AND SHOVE" BY NO DOUBT (FEAT. BUSY SIGNAL AND MAJOR LAZER)
Gwen Stefani is probably the only white girl on the planet who can get away with talking about hustling and not sound like she's trying too hard. This song is a sort of bizarre mash up of genres. It's a bit pop, a bit dance, a bit reggae. The lyrics are kind of quirky but in the context of the song, they work. This sounds like it would end up as a musical hot mess but it actually works... Really, really well I might add.
"Somewhere to Hide" by Shiny Toy Guns: Shiny Toy Guns' latest release is a great album overall (more on that in a bit) but this song stands out to me and, in my opinion, is a wise choice for their most recent single. Singer Carah Faye Charnow does an absolutely killer job on vocal, perfectly blending her powerful pipes with the completely danceable beat.
"The House That Heaven Built" by Japandroids: These guys have been getting a lot of attention this year and even sold out THREE shows in Minneapolis. This song is largely what has been driving this hype. It's a really simple, repetitive rock and roll jam that's infectious and will remain stuck in your head all day.
"I Don't Recall" by Lavender Diamond: I heard of Lavender Diamond a few years back and wasn't overly impressed by them (I also think their name is rather tacky). However, this song is so full of emotion and realism that I decided to give them a second chance. The vocals are sincere and the lyrics, despite their simplicity, manage to express everything they need to without frills.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
This is the category that I would consider my biggest honor. A whole album, with 12ish songs that are actually worth listening to, is rare. So who put forth the best effort this year?
HALCYON BY ELLIE GOULDING
I'm going to admit something I probably shouldn't: Sometimes I cry from how perfect Ellie Goulding is and how much I love her. Now that I've outed myself as absolutely pathetic, we can move on. Halcyon is an absolute treasure. Despite being a pop artist, Ellie doesn't really do what anyone else is doing in pop music today. She plays with her vocals and reaches soaring high notes on the opening track, "Don't Say A Word," and "Hanging On." She mixes her airy voice with dubstep beats on numerous songs and, on songs such as "Explosions," and "I Know You Care" she uses minimal instrumentation and REALLY shows off that she can sing. My personal favorite, "Only You," starts out with a strange autotuned vocal section and moves on to be largely based on a repetitive beat that wiggles in your brain long after the song has finished. For those who get a physical copy with bonus content, the album comes with a bonus track, "I Need Your Love." This song features Calvin Harris and has some of the best synthesizers I've hear in a long time (and it's great to snowboard to!).
III by Shiny Toy Guns: STG fans have been waiting years for this album, which features the return of Carah Faye on vocals and man, does she make the wait totally worth it. Their other lead singer, Chad, does just as great of a job. The band manages to infuse a lot of rock influences with electronic dance music and the result is a hard rocking, futuristic treat for your eardrums.
Sounds From Nowheresville by the Ting Tings: The Ting Ting's first album had a lot of great singles but didn't flow as well as album as Sounds does. This album is a great sophomore release and Katie White even gets a chance to prove that she actually can sing on tracks like, "Day To Day." I suggest giving the acoustic version a listen in addition to the original.
Give You The Ghost by Polica: I believe I said everything I need to say about Polica in their Best New Artist honorable mention, but I'd really like to stress it again: Go give them a listen. Their debut album is gorgeous and I'm sure you'll be seeing them on my favorites lists in future years.
So that's it! Those are my picks for favorite music for this year. Looking ahead, 2013 already looks exciting with the Joy Formidable, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tegan and Sara, Lady Gaga, and more set to release new material and many exciting concert tours, including Fleetwood Mac, Stars, and, hopefully, No Doubt! I hope everyone has a great 2013 and that the music gods are just as wonderful to us as they were this year!
On a side note, this is my 100th blog! Woo hoo! Given my sporadic blogging, I'm surprised I've managed to somehow bust out 100!