The thing that got me through? Music. Come on, you probably expected to read that if you've been paying attention at all. It's the truth though - every day was just made a tiny bit easier when I could throw in my head phones and here sweet sounds and good words to make it through the day.
All that being said, there was some amazing new music put out this year to cry to, laugh with, and especially jam to. Once again, artists presented us with epic songs that define the time and albums full of new surprises and goodness.
Here's this year's list fo releases from January to December, only minor-ly narrowed down from the full listing on Wikipedia of releases to what I've heard of/knew had a shot at my personal list (i.e. Nicki Minaj did not even make this cut). The stars are for ones that were automatically definite considerations, and the ~ was a recommendation for this list that I'll consider. The second iteration consisted of more symbols and markings to help in whittling it all down to what you'll get below.
Side Note: I had NO IDEA some of these people put out new albums. I mean, P.O.D. is still around? And I thought The Fray was sort of a decently big deal - when did they drop a new album? All-in-all, this just means I'm even more thankful for this post.
I also have the 2011 list I made last year up in a side tab to reference for stylistic choices, but also to critique how this year has changed my listening habits. For instance, I'm seeing Kelly Clarkson, Adele, and Lady Gaga dominating that list, as I really was in to powerful girl-driven songs at the time. This year, I had a lot more headphone time because of thinner walls in my new NYC place, as well as walking time, so lyrics and good moving songs became really important.
All that said, I think we're about ready. Deep breath - let's look at 2012:
(in no particular order!)
10. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
Oh America. Oh Bruce.
Partially as a joke, partially out of respect, I took a listen to this a little while back. While I'm not sure this one will give us any classics a la "Born In The USA" or "Glory Days" (aside from "We Take Care Of Our Own"), it is a rockin' good time with an old friend.
The title may be political, let alone the music, but Bruce has every right to say whatever he wants at this point. He's earned it. Talk about an American among Americans, this music is great and always will be. There's just no way to not include him in the best of the year.
9. Maroon 5 - Overexposed
Winner of most colorful cover of the year!
Seriously though, Maroon 5 continues to win me over with more good songs than bad. I know some people hate them, but I can't help it. They have a great beat in every song, and use these funk and soul approaches to some songs that have me twisted into love.
Is this a choice out of rebellion against the majority? Maybe. But they've been around for over 10 years now, have had hit after hit, and show no signs of stopping. Something must be right here, and I love it.
8. Lifehouse - Almeria
All right... confession time: I haven't actually listened to this entire album. BUT this is my favorite (one of my favorite) band and therefore they automatically get an honorary top 10 spot just for giving me new music this year.
I just haven't listened because I got this awesome gift set for myself complete with the deluxe copy (where this cover is from - the regular version's green and blue) and I'm waiting for my first listen to be on my new CD!
The one song that has been release is "Between the Raindrops," a western-themed song featuring Natasha Beddingfield. If that's any indication, this is going to be fantastic and totally deserving of my biased decision.
7. Original Broadway Cast Recording - Once: A New Musical
Broadway had to make it in here somehow, and why not the musical of the year? This is an incredible story that I got the honor of seeing with my extended family. The night before, I believe, I listened to the whole soundtrack for music's sake alone.
This is an incredible work of genius. The music is inspired and brilliant, full of Irish themes. Now, I saw it on stage, and I have to say - the excitement from the stage shines right on through on the recording.
To quote my own review: love is actually something of such extreme depth that we'll never fully understand it - and we never should.
6. Jason Mraz - Love Is A Four Letter Word
Clever little double meaning there, sir.
This was another one that I didn't hear until today, and I don't know how I lived without it for this long. Jason Mraz is so clever in how he shows affection to others. Also, Colbie Callait is in there from time to time, and her voice with his is perfection. Love shines through.
This album has an excellent range musically and never fails to give us something cool. There are simple emotions sung about, and then there are more intense feelings brought on to us. Regardless of where he winds up calling, my heart strings are tugged all the way to my top 10 of the year.
5. Jack White - Blunderbuss
Well I mean, come on. This was one of the best concerts I saw this year (thanks Chris!) and he is a bloody rock god! Blunderbuss (btw - this is what blunderbuss means) continued to solidify Jack's legacy, giving the world of music what we've waited so long for: his debut solo album.
The music is so much fun in parts, and so ridiculously different in others. I've never heard of some of the sounds he created here. I took a listen and wrote about it back in April, when the release happened. Also, additional little tidbit I never noted before: the album was released for listening on iTunes 8 days before the actual release, courtesy of one of my dream companies: Three Man Records. And you think the album is good? See him live. Even after a hissy fit.
4. The xx - Coexist
Thanks JK - this one is great. While Wikipedia bills it as an indie pop album, let's face it - everything's indie pop these days. In reality, it's an electronic dance album pumping out sketchy, loose songs. I mean that in the best way possible!
A writer on wikipedia said that this album contains themes of "heartbreak, loneliness and intimacy" - which makes it basically my theme album of 2012! Heh. And the album cover? It's oil and water with some light reflecting off of it - get it? Oil and water don't mix, but they can in fact Coexist.
3. The Script - #3
I remember finding a few gems last year just based on brief iTunes listening on the 'preview all' function, and this year yielded even better results. The Script makes incredible music, and I have yet to be disappointed by anything they put out into the world.
The music on this latest piece of work is much like heir previous music, but... I don't know, more mature? Not even. This music has something special to it, continuing to reach out to listeners in creative ways. Their use of so little to make so much still astounds me. They keep an intensity in some songs, a relate-ability in others, and charm throughout. Trust me, a review's coming on this one asap.
2. The Shins - Port of Morrow
This was an unexpected highlight of the year. I highlighted it in our New Music Tuesday series back in March, and could not have been happier with the results. While I spent a good amount of time in the review talking about their lack of consistency, the band and sound have grown on me over the year.
It also much help that this is an Oregon-based band, so my heart's immediately captured. Most importantly, it left me wanting more and more of their music, which has been a rarity in music lately. Plus, there's a darkness to the whole thing, despite the unexpected pop sound, that keeps these guys beyond interesting. I hope 2013 brings on even more.
1. fun. - Some Nights
I just reviewed this a week or so ago and mentioned right then it would be a contender for the top spot, and it has held up against all the others. This album combined the anthems people seem to need throughout the year, with a extreme measure of youth and appeals to this particular reviewer's needs. Musically, they experiment, and hit the nail on the head way more often than not.
I have no idea if fun. will be able to follow up on this success and have staying power, but for the moment, everything is right about this band. The songs on this album have made 2012, and 2013 is sure to be full of more great times and lots of fun.