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So finally I'm getting up my annual Top 100 Pop Songs list! I don't know if anybody waits with baited breath for these or anything, but I enjoy doing them as a sort of for-posterity thing.

Anyway, after two years of nonstop In Da Club Dancing Until The World Ends hyper-sampled party hits, I thought the music of 2012 was really refreshing. With my daily commute (in a van that doesn’t have satellite radio or an ipod hookup) and employment in a job that kept music on in the background, this year was the first since 2009 that I’d spend a substantial amount of time captive to the radio, and I was impressed with how tolerable the music was

. . . but then I read this list and realized that just because I’ve been listening to stations that play music released in the past year doesn’t mean I’ve listening to a pop station.

I mean, who knew? I grew up in a town where the options were Pop, Oldies, Classic Rock, Country, and the Mom Station*. (Indie hits? New rock? On the radio? The fuck is this shit? What is this alien place?).

*Mom Station: adult contemporary rock and inoffensive pop hits with no rap and minimal profanity, generally featuring the Delilah program in the evening. THERE IS ALWAYS A MOM STATION IN THE MIDWEST.

So while I was listening to Macklemore, Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men, M83, AWOLnation, and Rise Against, and thinking pop had suddenly gotten miraculously really different and awesome, I apparently just had my dialed tuned to the wrong place >.<

This list was also surprising to me in some ways I think because people in the greater New York area (I use the list published by the Z100 station out of NYC) don’t listen to the same exact music as people in the greater LA. I’m surprised by how many of the songs I just straight-up didn’t hear—and I know I was listening to legitimate pop stations often enough I should have. However, I’ve used Z100’s list since I started doing this in 2007, so I kept with my tradition and used it this year. If I still don’t recognize half the stuff for next year, maybe I’ll switch to Billboard’s Top 100 or something instead, but for this year . . . well, I had already starting writing my responses to this one before I thought to look up the Billboard chart or a local LA station.

Even once I worked through this list, though, I think 2012 was better and refreshingly different than the two years previous. There was still plenty of the same crap, but there were a lot of novel gems and some genuinely talented artists landing big hits.

As always, a disclaimer that these are my personal opinion and you are welcome to disagree and express your disagreement, without getting into generalized attacks of taste. So without further ado (and in two parts, because these are massive), my thoughts on the Top 100 Songs of 2012.

100 Lumineers - Ho Hey
Now this was the kind of thing I was hearing this year that made me feel like 2012 was different and interesting. Stuff a little off the well-trodden path of pounding electronic dance with autotuned vocals or rap relying o-- something catchy and cute enough to be pop, but also a little folksy and just . . . different.

With this song on the list, I’m kind of surprised to see that neither Of Monsters and Men’s Little Talks* nor Mumford & Sons’ I Will Wait didn’t, since I thought they got about the same amount of airplay. (Frankly I think Little Talks got much MORE airplay). But maybe they were #101 and #102 or something . . . or, again, I just listen to the wrong stations.

*Which, geek moment, I associate with Simon and River Tam because I watched Firefly for the first time this year, and the way this song features a male voice comforting a female one that speaks of insanity and “voices in her head,” plus the bit about how “this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore”-- stowaways on Serenity much? I think it totally fits (:
99 Cher Lloyd ft. Becky G. - Oath
From what I’ve heard of her (which is graciously little), I find Cher Lloyd pretty obnoxious, what with the teenage-talk singing style and snotty affectation she puts on in her music videos. I didn’t ever actually hear this song this year, but upon listening to it it at least seems slightly* better than her other hit this year, probably because it’s actually nice (about being friends forever) rather than bitchy, manipulative, and confused.

*But only slightly. Her voice is no different, she has no remorse for crashing her friend’s dad’s new car, and is weirdly hypersexual in a video ostensibly about high school friendship.

98 Gym Class Heroes/Adam Levine - Stereo Hearts
This was on the last year, and I think it grew on me this year. It was just sweet and peppy, and I didn’t get sick of it.

97 Onerepublic - Feel Again
Okay, I guess I remember hearing this this year? Not particularly often, though, and not enough to have strong feeling about it. It’s not bad I guess. Eh.

96 Lady Gaga - Marry The Night
Another recurrence from last year. Is this really the only Lady Gaga song on the list? In fairness, I’m pretty sure that woman needs a break. But as I said last year I wasn’t big on her latest album in general and wasn’t big on this song.

95 Imagine Dragons - Its Time
Oh, this is the song with the plunky strings and the bit about rainchecks, lol. The lyrics make exactly zero sense, but I thought it was different and catchy and I enjoyed it, though not enough to look up the title ever, lol.

I do have to say, though, that this song sounds an awful lot like Believe It Or Not.


94 J. Cole - Work Out
And now the song that samples Paula Abdul. That’s all this song was to me, I didn’t really pay attention to the rest.

93 The Fray – Heartbeat
I don’t remember hearing this song. It sounds Fray-ish, doesn’t really jump out at me as anything special.

92 Rihanna - You Da One
Was it last year every other song was by Katy Perry? This year, every other song was Rihanna. Eventually they all just sort of flowed together into one repetitive pop hit. This one was distinguished from the others by sounding a little bit like a children’s playground song or something at the beginning.

91 K'Naan / Nelly Furtado - Is Anybody Out There?
Definitely never heard this. I haven’t heard from Nelly Furtado in a while . . . and K’Naan did the World Cup song, right? I wonder how they came to collaborate?

My impression of the lyrics at first glance is that the song is kind of about codependence-- I mean, feeling incomplete until you find the person that completes you. It’s not hitting any particular sweet spots with me musically, so I think I’m okay I didn’t hear it this year.

90 Karmin- Hello
I don’t think I heard this, either. The chorus has that kind of electronic + minor key thing going on that rubs some pop sweet spot for me, but the rapped verses (once again, that ubiquitous whiny-talk girl voice-- WHY is that selling?) just feel done.

89 Breathe Carolina - Blackout
Ha, I remember hearing this song for the first time and getting a very vivid image in my head of some skinny hipster college freshman ordering multiple rounds of shots and insisting “I’m only getting started; I won’t blackout!” as he starts to buckle and sway and gulp back vomit.

And I really can’t make heads or tails of the lyrics to determine if anything else other than this is in fact going on, so I’m gonna go with that.

88 One Direction - One Thing
Oh, One Direction. It is kinda cute to see a resurgence of boy bands, though I wish they didn’t rip off my generation’s so shamelessly. (Though in fairness, they dress way better). Like the Justin Bieber phenomenon, I honestly didn’t hear much of them on the radio despite hearing constantly about their popularity.

Listening to this song now, it just makes me laugh; “You’ve got that . . . one thing.” Maybe it would sound more sophisticated in French. But I guess that’s accurate for the teenage audience they speak to.

87 Usher – Numb
I don’t think I heard this. Not my favorite Usher song; as much as I get sick of their ubiquity, I tend to like Usher best on dance hits. He does them well.

86 Linkin Park - Burn It Down
Linkin Park’s been going steadily downhill for a while. I just found this kind of tedious.

85 LMFAO - Sexy & I Know It
Bleh, go away LMFAO.

84 The Wanted - Chasing The Sun
I don’t think I heard this, but the minor key danceability, while repetitive and nothing new, is okay. I’d probably get hella sick of it if I starting hearing it multiple times a day, though.

The video cracks me up, though. Yes, a little bit because they’re “chasing the sun” but are vampires, but mostly because the whole thing seems to be unintentionally about STDs.

83 B.O.B. - So Good
While I find the message a little bit arrogant-- hey, I’m rich and successful and I’m gonna treat you to all this shit I know you never would have had otherwise (kind of like TI’s Whatever You Like)-- I thought the music itself was fun.

82 Dev - In The Dark
Another repeat from last year’s list. I don’t remember hearing it at all this year, honestly.

81 Katy Perry - The One That Got Away
I liked this song the first time I heard it-- making my 2011 list-- but while I heard it more this year, I felt much more meh about it. I think I only like it in the context of the video.

80 Jennifer Lopez ft Pitbull - Dance Again
I don’t really remember hearing this song, but it’s okay. It seems very ‘80s to me somehow.

Every time Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull collaborate, I like Jennifer and try my best to ignore Pitbull. But the same could be said for Pitbull and any other artist he collaborates with, honestly.

79 Outasight - Now Or Never
Don’t remember this one. If I did hear it it must have just sounded too much like everything else on the radio at the time.

78 Wiz Khalifa & Snoop Dogg - Young, Wild & Free
Something about this song has always made me suspicious. It’s all, we’re just young people trying to have a good time! People get down on us-- but it’s totally innocent! It’s just what we do!

Well, no. Because here’s the thing: pretty much nobody actually fucking cares if young people are out and about having a good time . . . UNLESS THEIR GOOD TIME IS CAUSING A PROBLEM. So the fact that they have to be defensive about it means they were probably doing something that wasn’t just being young, wild, and free-- but perhaps noisy, rude, destructive, or even illegal, like partying into all hours of the morning next door to people who have to work early the next day, driving recklessly around town, loitering in public spaces making it difficult for other people to use them, or-- and they outright say they are doing this in the song-- using and distributing controlled substances. Since I first noticed this song around the time we were having problems with our very entitled and rude former neighbors, ever since I’ve just assumed Wiz and Snoop are actually assholes, who just think that normal society is *oppressing* them for not gladly giving them run of the place to do whatever the fuck antisocial (but fun for them!) shit they want to do, and I kind of want to period on their faces.

77 Rita Ora - How We Do Party
Okay yeah I remember this. Didn’t make an impression on me. I remember the bit about an avenue . . . that’s it.

76 Taylor Swift - Eyes Open
Man, Taylor Swift had a bunch of hits this year, too. I don’t think I heard this one on the radio at all, but it sounds a little more like *old* Taylor Swift than most of her other stuff this year, which I think I prefer, though lyrically this is one of those songs I think you can really only relate to if you’re famous. (Everybody’s watching and hoping you’ll fall on your face? Really?). Or a really solipsistic teenager, but in that case it’s just your perception and not actual reality.

75 Christina Aguilera - Your Body
Christina Aguilera had a hit this year? Huh. I’m just gonna ask the same thing I keep asking in regards to her: What happened to her whole classy retro jazz persona she had going on back in the mid-2000s? I really liked that, and the music she produced then. Now she just seems stuck in this sort of regressive Dirrrty trying to catch up with the age of Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj (you can see it in her outfits and color scheme . . . ) and I’m not really feeling it.

74 Flo Rida - I Cry
Oh, the song with the muppet-y voice in it! Okay. I think that’s a lot of what this list is, finally hunting down the titles to all those songs I vaguely acknowledged in the background, lol.

Of course I didn’t pay any attention to the lyrics at all this year, but I just looked them up now and:
Can't let go I got fans in Okinawa
My heart to Japan quake losers and survivors
Norway no you didn't get my flowers
No way to sound better but the killer was a coward

Um . . . so you don’t have pity for the victims of the Norway shooting because the shooter was a coward? The fuck is that logic?

But other than that, same comment as every other Flo Rida song: catchy sample, nothing really to say about Flo Rida’s own contribution.

73 Olly Murs ft. Chiddy Bang - Heart Skips A Beat
Lol Chiddy Bang. Tory and I named a Sim Chiddy Bang. I don’t think I realized it was the name of an artist.

Didn’t hear this song this year but the video is kind of amusing me because the featured guy (Olly Murs?) actually seems to have a sense of humor and isn’t just posturing about how awesome he is.

72 Swedish House Mafia - Don't You Worry Child
Okay yup I do recognize this. But . . . no strong feelings. It was catchy, the religious overtones weren’t really to my taste, but . . . yeah, that’s really all I have to say.

71 Alicia Keys - Girl On Fire
Pretty sure the first time I heard this was in December 2012, so it surprises me it’s even on this list, but so far, it’s a pretty good song. Generally I appreciate Alicia Keys’ talent but don’t actually like that many of her charting songs; however, I do like this one so far as I’ve heard it.

70 Nicki Minaj - Va Va Voom
Heard this, didn’t really stick out from me, definitely heard better from Nicki Minaj.

69 Train - 50 Ways To Say Goodbye
I haven’t particularly liked a Train song since Drops of Jupiter a decade ago, but I enjoyed this one-- because it’s so hilariously and unexpectedly dark! In the song they don’t actually say “50 ways to say goodbye” but “50 ways to say you died”; the whole plot is that he’s too ashamed to admit to his friends his girlfriend dumped him, so he makes up (presumably) 50 wild stories about how she died in a terrible freak accident. (Meanwhile, I wonder if she used one of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover to dump him in the first place :P). While sometimes Train’s weirdly specific references seem forced, I rather enjoyed them for this. ("Got run over by a crappy purple Scion"-- lol, poor Scion). And the video is kind of cute in that after relaying his sob story to all of these people, his girlfriend just walks up and says hi and everything is super awkward.

68 Pitbull - Back In Time
Oh man I forget MIB 3 came out this year until I saw this song on the list. I also forgot this song was on the list. Pitbull is just . . . lol, I’ve moved beyond hating him and more now he just cracks me up. He’s so freaking bad. And not like there’s any point even remarking on sample choices these days, but . . . really?

67 Bridgit Mendler - Ready Or Not
I don’t recall hearing this song, but upon hearing it, it’s unremarkable.

The video is interesting in that I’m cynically realizing that I get a lot less excited seeing people exploring familiar landmarks in LA than I do in, say, Kyoto or Saint Louis. Probably because EVERYTHING IS FILMED IN LA so it is not remotely special. I think the industry needs a change of scenery. Then Robert and I could go somewhere else, lol.

66 Jay Z & Kanye West - Ni**as In Paris
Oh hey, finally a song I genuinely liked! And the video has a seizure warning. That’s always fun.

This song was interesting because it doesn’t really have a melody or a chorus, just the little beat-hook thing going on on the background. But Jay-Z and Kanye’s battling voices creates enough compelling energy to carry the song, and I think that’s something. Though I like pretty much anything Jay-Z puts out these days.

Also, this is so much lolz.

65 Cher Lloyd - Want U Back
I thankfully heard this song only a handful of times. and really the only thing I remember from it is all the bizarre violent grunting and part at the end where she goes “Do a sound like a helicopter! Bbbbbbbbbb!

Which is just . . . is that supposed to be *adorably quirky* or something? At least Ke$ha’s similar spoken “I like your beard” in Your Love is My Drug made sense as a (really dumb, probably stoned) conversation with the object of the song. This is just . . .

64 One Direction - Live While We're Young
Again, the only 1D song I really heard on the radio this year was What Makes You Beautiful. The ones I don’t know all just kind of sound the same.

63 Enrique Iglesias ft Sammy Adam... - Finally Found You
Enrique is very pretty but his voice is sooooo autotuned and I don’t remember this song.

62 Avicii - Levels
If I heard this at all, I probably just thought it was a remix of Flo Rida’s Good Feeling-- which, I mean, it seems to be given the same Etta James sample and beat. But the reality is, of course, that Flo Rida sampled Avicii’s sample; Avicii did it first.

But yeah, I can dig this-- it’s like all the good parts of the Flo Rida song without Flo Rida, lol.
And this would be an example of what I’m talking about with something *different* from 2012, though . . . non-lyrical stuff like this and Midnight City actually making play on the pop stations.

Also, the video is fairly cute.

61 Bruno Mars - It Will Rain
Oh yes, I remember this song from last year-- the one where he basically threatens to kill himself if she leaves him because that’s not abusive at all or anything. NEXT.

60 Grouplove - Tongue Tied
I thought this song was kind of annoying—just this repetitive sort of sing-song shouting.

The video is just like a kooky version of The Scientist-- but without the lip-syncing that made that video so genius.

59 PSY - Gangnam Style
Oh thank heavens this made it on the list! I knew it was charting in the US, but I was worried it might be disqualified from the list somehow. I can’t believe it’s not higher than this, but maybe Z100 was slow on the uptake or something.

But I fucking love Gangnam Style. I love the song, I love the video, I love the dance, I love the dance craze. No, I’m not tired of it yet.

58 Afrojack & Shermanology - Can't Stop Me
Don’t think I heard this one. The background sounds really close to the chorus of Yeah x3 so I just keep thinking it’s going to be that.

57 Nicki Minaj - Pound The Alarm
I can’t really justify why I like this song, I don’t think there’s anything special about it at all, but I did kind of like it. Catchy I guess? Without being completely annoying?

56 Kelly Clarkson - Dark Side
I was split about this song. Since they were in a minor key, I rather liked the sound of the verses, but then they just built up to a chorus that didn’t do much for me. Plus the lyrics were just kind of like early-teen angsty in not a particularly charming way. (Especially from a grown woman performer). Like, I dunno, I don’t think mature adults would need to exaggerate their flaws as like this secret villainous “dark side” they can only trust to reveal to certain special people. I think mature adults are just kind of like, “So, sometimes I can be kind of a bitch if I’ve had a long day or I’m on my period, I hope you can look past that and roll with it,” not “PROMISE YOU WILL STAY WITH ME EVEN WHEN I SHOW YOU MY *DARK SIDE*!!!!1”

55 Chris Brown - Turn Up The Music
Go away, Chris Brown.

54 Gym Class Heroes ft Ryan Tedde... - The Fighter
I don’t remember hearing this one.

53 Havana Brown ft Pitbull - We Run The Night
I like the chorus of this song alright . . . The rest is kind of forgettable and just . . . too much Pitbull.

52 Gavin DeGraw - Not Over You
This song was on the list last year, I think I like it less than I did before . . . his voice is just really annoying.

51 Selena Gomez & The Scene - Love You Like A Love Song
This song is really trite with badly metaphorical lyrics, but it also comes out and accepts that (“it’s been said and done; every beautiful thought’s been already sung, but I guess here now’s another one . . . “). Her voice is also weirdly robotic, but again, I guess it’s intentional because of the record-skipping repeat-peat-peat-peat-peat bit. It is a minor key, though, so it could be worse.
The most interesting thing about this song to me is the video, in which they are ostensibly in Japan but there’s a lady in a Chinese dress (not worn in Japan, at least not traditionally), an MC speaking Japanese with a terrible accent, and no one in the entire room seems a day less than 10 years older than Selena. (Why are they all at karaoke place together?). The parody of cheesy and bizarre karaoke videos is pretty spot on, though.

Continue to 50-1.
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