Song of the Year 2012

For most of my life, one of my end-of-the-year activities was to identify a song of the year.  In recent years, there has been less and less music that pleased me, and it was harder to pick a good—or even halfway decent—song.  But this year, in spite of all the other crap going on, there were actually some choices.

I usually trip over myself when I try to describe what I like about a particular piece of music. Fortunately, through the miracle of YouTube, you can review the videos yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Not even close: Call Me Maybe

During Christmas dinner, my son remarked about this song as being everywhere last summer.  I couldn’t remember it, so I looked up the video.  Indeed, I had heard it, but it escaped my brain as fast as it went in: there is no melody to speak of, and the singer uses Auto-Tune, which gives her the gift of perfect pitch and extracts her soul.  The video is a treat: she’s lusting after a hot guy only to find out that he’s gay.  I suspect there’s a message in that, but I’m not sure I want to know what it is.

Honorable Mention: Gangnam Style

My wife is Korean, and picked up on the video before it became the rage everywhere.  Musically, it isn’t much to speak of, but it’s energetic and happy, and Psy is singing with his real voice.  The video has spawned countless imitators and parody versions, providing an interesting insight into cultures around the world.  The video from Oregon State University was interesting in that they erased the word ‘sexy’ from the refrain ‘sexy lady.’  Are they so policially correct that they’re not allowed to refer to a lady as ‘sexy’?

First Runner-Up: Skyfall

One of the reasons that I look forward to James Bond movies is the music.  I’m hoping for a kick-ass theme song that not only fits the movie, but illuminates my life.  The theme from Skyfall is dark and delicious.

And the winner: Sherlock

I’ve found Korean pop music interesting.  It’s propulsive and energetic in a way that most American music isn’t any more, but it’s very often too obviously synthetic.  But Shinee’s Sherlock is brassy and exciting. The video is charming, too.

5 thoughts on “Song of the Year 2012”

  1. I am so bored of Call Me Maybe and Gangnam Style because they are EVERYWHERE. Skyfall though is amazing and it reminds me of the 1960’s Bond songs like Goldfinger. I really like Adele though and my parents (who generally hate any music past 1965 except country)surprised me by saying they thought she was amazing on the Grammy’s. I got her CD last Christmas and haven’t stopped playing it actually.

  2. I realized that I wasn’t completely clear when writing my post.

    ‘Call Me Maybe’ is a rotten song. After listening a few times, I’ll grant that there’s a melody, but it evokes nothing; it could have been sung by a machine; the video comes to an unhappy, but politically correct, conclusion. In short; it’s a shining example of what’s wrong with popular music today. As I said in my post: not even close.

    Twenty years ago, ‘Gangnam Style’ would have made it–maybe–as an advertising jingle. But people (including me) are so starved for energetic and happy music, as opposed to music that amplifies their pains, that it became a worldwide phenomenon.

    My summer song in 2012 was ‘Too Bad You’re So Beautiful,’ from the Duran Duran ‘All You Need Is Now’ album. What happened to music like that?

  3. I LOVE that album from Duran Duran and think it was robbed of a Grammy. I know that there was a push to at least get a nom in the best alternative album category but that fell through. What happened to music like Duran Duran sadly is that it’s not mainstream enough anymore. The bands I really like for the most part don’t get mainstream play anymore. Outside of a few popular artists who are good most aren’t good at all and many can’t sing.

  4. I agree that Duran Duran isn’t ‘mainstream enough anymore.’ What I’m trying to get a handle on is why? what changed?

    As I think back on the music I’ve enjoyed through my life, the common thread was a sense of energy and accomplishment. I’d listen to Duran Duran, or other music at different times, and want to get up and do something. Or I’d listen at the end of the day, and contemplate the challenges I had faced with a sense of accomplishment. But music like that seems to have disappeared, with very rare exceptions, since about ten years ago.

    How did the mainstream get taken over by impotent moaners and wailers?

  5. I wish I knew but there are many reasons. One was the rise in radio consolidation. Before there were a few stations playing a vast variety but now everything has to fall into a category. When I was growing up we had two radio stations that played EVERYTHING and they were on AM no less. The stations were legendary in Chicago (WLS and WCFL)and they played everything from hard rock to r&b to country crossover. Even in the 80’s the stations did this. Somehow between the 80’s and today there became this whole putting everything in a category. The only formats really that have played Duran Duran in the last 20 years was alternative, Hot/Modern AC (basically alternative that isn’t really hard)and adult album alternative.

    In addition to the formatting there is very much a bias against older acts. I find this sad because back in the 1980’s the top 40 stations were definitely playing older acts that had pop hits, like the various Beatles members, or the Rolling Stones or Aerosmith or Aretha Franklin, and James Brown. In fact at one point the oldest act with a big hit was Tina Turner who was enjoying a career resurgence in the mid 1980”s. I can guarantee any of them could put out a song and no way would top 40 radio touch it. Instead we are bombarded with junk on the radio that my cat or dog or even my bird could write. We have talentless people who look good in outfits who are making fake music. Remember the episode of the Brady Bunch where Greg Brady was pursued by the music executives because he fit the suit? that’s exactly what is happening. The record executives decide they want a cute girl who can gyrate like a stripper and then they search for her, and the music is an afterthought.

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