Top 50 Songs of 2012 :: [50-41]

Welcome to our annual countdown of the 50 best songs of the calendar year. Songs must be from an EP, LP or demo released during 2012 and no band may appear twice. Today, we count down 50 to 41.

50. Swim Good - "Totally A Mess Wild"

A spiraling and looping beat, this First Rate People offshoot delivered a song about being out of control that was tautly and intentionally organized. The initial duet was the charmer, playful and biting in the asking of questions like, "Are you ashamed of the things that you do?"

49. Little Legend - "Saints"

This group of Wisconsinites brought the house when it came to blue-collar rock in 2012. "Saints" proved to be nothing like its title, lines about being born under bad signs and with fires lodged firmly in the skull. It was all whiskey and cigarettes, full of small sins and resolute sinners

48. Teleman - "Cristina"

Bits of Phoenix crept into the corners of Teleman's debut Moshi Moshi single, "Cristina". The cruise-control set at something closer to residential speed limits, "Cristina" glides around under its own power: glossy, love-sick and circular.

47. Long Walks On The Beach - "We're Growing Up"

Long Walks On The Beach made lo-fi sound high on the vaguely seasick "We're Growing Up." Frantic and breathless, the band grappled with the developmental process in a string-soaked universe where "crowds swell" without urging and people "hang tough" in the tape fuzz.

46. Mike O'Neil - "Henry"

Mike O'Neil built the most marketable chord progression of 2012 on "Henry;" it was a wonder it didn't find a multitude of advertising syncs. "Henry" wasn't intentionally commercial, but its breezy arrangement and lilting piano were made for the selling of consumer durables on your television.

45. farragoes - "The End of the Affair"

"The End of the Affair" was a summer single that name-checked Dostoevsky, snappy enough to sing along and dark enough to drive a listener to review their copy of Notes From Underground, somewhere gathering dust on a bookshelf. It was electro-pop with a cynical twist, sounds made for May and lyrics for the middle of a winter that never ever ends.

44. The Shins - "No Way Down"

In an election year, the Shins surprisingly shitty LP, Port of Morrow included one of the sharper, and least obvious political songs of the campaign. All about Mercer's weird liberal guilt and his effervescent liberal anger, it was at once a stab at elites, and a polemic spoken in their language. Beautiful and self-consciously hypocritical, "No Way Down" emerged as a song about "a tiny few having all of the fun," marketed in Starbucks outlets and served with five dollar coffees, a v-neck sweater song all about the 99%.

43. Warships - "Sleeper Hold"

Rooted in a lonely guitar lick, "Sleeper Hold" eventually gathered warmth before spilling over in one of the year's most affirming choruses. It wasn't all rainbows and lollipops, the lyrics were largely about sleeping alone, but the layered and soaring vocal of the refrain was enough to carry the light up out of the darkness.

42.Wildcat! Wildcat! - "Mr. Quiche"

Wildcat! Wildcat! will have a far bigger 2013 than anyone is ready for, a fact evinced by debut single, "Mr. Quiche." It sounded like the making of an indie rock slow-jam, lyrics about "lonely days" and a keyboard progression that practically exploded off the fingers. Two distinct movements, one sparse and the other lush, "Mr. Quiche" eventually erupted into falsetto final act before falling away to nothing.

41. Band of Horses - "Shut-In Tourist"

"Shut-In Tourist" exercised form and function in the same moment, the chorus' only and intensely memorable lyric was the repeated, "so I repeat what you said." The band sang the lyric four times in each refrain, the refrain repeated three times, and then a fourth for posterity only. That's 16 chances to sing "so I repeat what you said," which was, luckily, one of the better, if smaller, hooks of the year.

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