2012 was a year filled with great music. From viral videos to new artists to the explosion of EDM, there was no shortage of entertainment. We’ve compiled a handy list of the 25 best songs of the year for your listening pleasure.
25. “Payphone” – Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa
Maroon 5’s “Payphone” was catchy enough to get stuck in your head for days, featured mega-popular rapper Wiz Khalifa, and was an anthem for every young girl who was sick of having her heart broken. “One more stupid love song, I’ll be sick,” sang frontman Adam Levine. Me too, Adam…me too.
24. “HYFR” – Drake ft. Lil’ Wayne.
In case some of you out there still didn’t get it, HYFR stands for “Hell Yeah, F**kin’ Right.” It’s a pretty explicit song, but Drake’s swagger shines in all its glory with Lil’ Wayne’s signature drawl backing him up.
23. “Ho Hey” – The Lumineers
Even if you don’t know what song this is, I guarantee you’ve heard it in stores, soundtracks, and on the radio. The Lumineers’ hit crossed over from indie charts to pop charts and became an instant success.
22. “How We Do” – Rita Ora
2012 was Rita Ora’s year. The woman made a name for herself as a cross-genre artist and a fashion icon. Her hit “How We Do” borrowed lyrics from Biggie Smalls’ “Party and Bullshit,” showing us that British girls have swag too.
21. “Mercy” – Kanye West ft. Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz
“Mercy” was one of the first tracks to push 2 Chainz to the top of the charts and of course, with Kanye at the helm of this great track would we expect anything less? Don’t tell me you don’t excited everytime you hear Fuzzy Jones’ incoherent yelling at the beginning of the track.
20. “Simple Song” – The Shins
The Shins’ first single in five years featured a completely re-shufled line-up with only lead singer James Mercer remaining as an original band member. Their first single showed off a new, refreshing, positive sound and set the tone for a strong fourth album release.
19. “Bangarang” – Skrillex ft. Sirah
2012 was also the year EDM became a mass-popular genre. Everyone and their mother listened to some form of Electronic Dance Music, with producer Skrillex making dubstep a mainstream genre. His club-banger “Bangarang” made everyone just let loose and dance hard.
18. “Get Free” – Major Lazer
Major Lazer’s “Get Free” showed us the producer’s mellow side, with Amber Coffman from the Dirty Projectors lending a hand to the project. It’s smooth, it’s slow, and it’s perfect.
17. “Houdini” – Foster the People
Foster the People’s first hit “Pumped Up Kicks” has nothing on “Houdini.” The perfect harmonies, the mixture of piano and electronic elements, and lead singer Mark Foster’s confident vocals make this track one of the best of the year.
16. “Sweet Nothing” – Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch
Of course, a year of great music would be nothing without DJ Calvin Harris and his ever-popular string of female collaborations. Florence Welch’s collab with the DJ was one of the best, with her soaring voice meshing with Harris’ pounding beats like they were made for each other.
15. “Chasing the Sun” – The Wanted
In 2012 we also saw boy bands make a fast, unapologetic, hugely popular return. The Wanted were one of them and their hit “Chasing the Sun” still takes me back to the summer time and all the great memories I had.
14. “Starships” – Nicki Minaj
Who knew Nicki Minaj could sing? “Starships” was the first single off Minaj’s second album, with a poppier sound. Minaj cleverly incorporated dance and house elements to the track to keep up with the 2012 EDM trend.
13. “Every Single Night” – Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple’s “Every Single Night” was the perfect example of a track that could rely on minimal instrumentation, a great set of pipes, and thoughtful lyrics to be successful. Apple clearly wrote the song from experience as she sang “every single night it’s a fight with my brain.”
12. “Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars seemed to have found his calling as an artist mixing retro elements with modern hip-hop elements. “Locked Out of Heaven” showcased Mars’ smooth voice and set a record by topping three charts at the same time
11. “A Team” – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran’s “A Team” is a haunting yet beautiful track about a girl’s addiction to cocaine. The dark lyrics, soft melody and Sheeran’s sweet voice are the perfect combination. It’s no wonder Sheeran received a Grammy nomination for this song.
10. “Swimming Pools” – Kendrick Lamar
Up and comer Kendrick Lamar made a name for himself with this smooth track about his relationship with liquor. Lamar’s mellow vibe and laidback style made this track one worth listening to.
9. “Anything Could Happen” – Ellie Goulding
Indie-pop darling Ellie Goulding had quite the year, despite breaking up with producer-boyfriend Skrillex. Her synth-drenched single “Anything Could Happen” was one of her better tracks with a great beat and heart-breaking video to go with it.
8. “Climax” – Usher
Usher came back in 2012 to remind us that he can still serenade like a pro. Some of Usher’s best work comes in the form of slow jams and “Climax” was no exception. The R&B crooner made hearts melt everywhere with this ballad and his falsetto is still on point.
7. “Live While We’re Young – One Direction
Is a list of best songs really a list without British boy band hotties One Direction? Their upbeat summer track exploded as soon as it was leaked online and made girls everywhere swoon. Talk about a British invasion!
6. “Take a Walk” – Passion Pit
Passion Pit’s “Take a Walk” had a completely different vibe from the indie band’s previous work, which was more atmospheric. “Take a Walk” has a stomping beat, coherent vocals, and a catchy chorus impossible to shake.
5. “I Will Wait” – Mumford and Sons
Mumford and Sons pretty much created their own genre of sound, mixing folk and rock, and incorporating gruff but beautiful harmonies. “I Will Wait” has their signature banjo-y style with sweet lyrics that will make you fall in love.
4. “Some Nights” – Fun.
A follow up to their incredible hit “We Are Young,” “Some Nights” is Fun.’s latest and greatest. The clean harmony is just perfect and the almost militaristic beat make this track fresh in a world of cloned pop music.
3. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has now officially perfected the art of the breakup song. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” not only had flawlessly blunt lyrics, but a melody that just made you want to get up and dance. Perfect for any girl trying to get over her latest boy.
2. “Gangnam Style” – Psy
You’ve gotta hand it to Psy. His song wasn’t even in English and it went from YouTube sensation to actually playing in clubs and on the radio to becoming one of the most popular tracks of the year. Any song that has an awesome dance to go with it like “Gangnam Style” is an A+ in my books!
1. “Call me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepsen
Is it really any contest? Carly Rae Jepsen went from a struggling artist to mega superstar before Justin Bieber and friends could even finish recording their hilarious YouTube video. The song is so catchy, love it or hate it, you’ve jammed to the track at one point. Kudos to Carly for creating the song of the year.