100. Serpents---Sharon Van Etten***
A brooding, swelling condemnation that combines crackling drum rolls with Etten's jaded fury into a mini-epic.
99. Wasted Days---Cloud Nothings
Speaking of epic, Cloud Nothings' nine-minute rager contains the most piercing, animalistic vocal performance of the year, and while you're mulling over whether that's actually a good thing or not, feel free to indulge in the gritty, grimy, tension-stuffed instrumental bridge.
98. In the Same Room---Julia Holter***
A woozy, dreamy number that stirs together dripping reverb, a luminous keyboard line, and an etherial vocal performance. In other words, it's a Julia Holter song.
97. Who Did That to You---John Legend
The standout from Quentin Tarantino's wildly eclectic Django Unchained soundtrack, Legend's voice is as buttery as ever, promising revenge over some badass backing.
96. Stay Useless---Cloud Nothings
Entire worlds removed from Wasted Days, SU is a pop-punk ditty that clings to the brain, and won't let go. An unmitigated celebration of youthful apathy and indecision.
95. Would You Be My Love---Ty Segall
No one writes songs as simultaneously catchy and grimy as Ty Segall, and Would You Be My Love is an amazing example, a rocker and a whistler wrapped into one.
The Feeling---Domo Genesis and Alchemist***
All right, I'll admit it: I'm a total sucker for rap beats that go heavy on the brass. The Feeling rubs me just the right way, glowing, swagger-filled horns with DG's equally over-confident flow fitting just right on top.
93. Fireshrine---Purity Ring
Don't let Megan James' girly, sing-song voice fool you; Fireshrine is an admitted wierdo, powered by a glitchy, domineering beat, and violent imagery that's as lovely as it is disturbing.
92. Constant Conversations---Passion Pit
In which Passion Pit slows down and smells the roses (spoiler alert: they smell terrible). Mid-summer seems to ooze out of the thing, proving that even a sun-soaked stroll can't keep Michael Angelakos' mind from slipping back to self-hating territory.
91. Druggys Wit Hoes Again---Schoolboy Q feat. AB Soul
Warning: this track has no nutritional value to speak of, but you best believe it's damn delicious. Q's flow is kinetic as always, and the beat here is nothing short of monstrous.
90. Monoliths---Lotus Plaza***
Monoliths shoots for the stars, all crashing drums and endlessly ascending guitars. It juxtaposes the enormous and the intimate in a way that few songs can.
89. Leader of the Pack---Sleigh Bells
Sleigh Bells' 2012 LP, Reign of Terror, wholly failed to live up to its name, watering down the chaos of their debut for something a touch more user-friendly. Leader isn't the best song because it reinstates old philosophies; it's the track that blends the two styles with the most savvy and emotion, alluding to promising future directions for the duo.
Much of Alt-J's appeal is in sparseness. Not so on Breezeblocks, a track that rides the momentum of Joe Newman's finest vocal performance to date into a swirling, multi-layered outro.
87. Thank God for Sinners---Ty Segall
Like sin itself, the pleasures of this Twins stand-out are downright primal: Absolutely punishing guitar work from front to back, pounding drums, and Segall's big wet kiss to all things wrong.
86. Night Swim---Frankie Rose***
A sleek, sexy, nocturnal guitar jam, all cast in a gorgeous night-time dark blue. All of Interstellar is this pretty, but NS stands out by adding speed and fun into the equation.
85. How Long Have You Known---DIIV
DIIV doesn't really make too much of a fuss. Their songs are streamlined, simple, intrinsic, and immediate. How Long Have You Known synthesizes all of their strengths into one three-and-a-half minute burst, twinkling melodies and earworm mastery on full display.
84. Hey Jane---Spiritualized
Jason Pierce is a firm believer that bigger truly is better, and one needs look no further than Hey Jane for irrefutable evidence. The proper opener on his 2012 disc lasts a towering nine minutes, ebbing and flowing, shrinking and growing within its colossal frame.
83. Fire's Highway---Japandroids***
Celebration Rock has ruckus and mad-cap fret work in spades, but pure, front-and-center hooks can be a bit hard to find. Then there's Fire's Highway, a track that tones down the anarchic rocking by just a hair and doubles the pure songwriting pleasure in the process.
82. Bad Religion---Frank Ocean
Rather than follow those growing strings and powerful piano line to a place of enormity, Ocean, never one for playing by the rules, makes your heart pound faster and faster before concluding not with sky-scraping catharsis, but rather a haunting whisper.
81. Yes, I Know---Daphni
Yes, I Know is almost more of a dare than a song, challenging listers to hold out on its guy-on-a-laptop production, or to remain still in the face of gaudy, just-get-'em-on-the-dance-floor obviousness. Don't bet against it. Remaining motionless is downright impossible.
80. Gangrimes Style---Dan Deacon
A mad scientist of the most deranged and alluring accord, Deacon uses his Wish Book Vol. 1 mixtape to chuck just about every popular song from the last few years into a pot, and proceeds to stir with madman fury. This track's opening moments, which mesh Grimes' Oblivion, Beach House's Myth, and PSY's Gangnam Style, are among the year's most delicious and insane.
79. Survival Tactics---Joey Bada$$ feat. Capital STEEZ***
As both the name and the militant march that opens the track suggest, ST is the most dangerous, threatening track on 1999, and all the more titillating for it. Major ups to STEEZ, whose ferocious verse reminds us of just how much we lost when the MC left the earth less than one month ago.78. The House That Heaven Built---Japandroids
Otherwise known as Get off Your Ass and Move: The Song. "If they try to slow you down/Tell them all to go to hell," Brian King repeats on numerous occasions, a perfect mantra for this rollicking, no-holds-barred jam.
77. Sleeping Ute---Grizzly Bear
One of the tastiest guitar lines of 2012, Sleeping Ute loses points from me for never really capitalizing on all of the glorious tension it builds, but before the pseudo-cut-off, you can practically feel the walls shaking around the performers.
76. Carried Away---Passion Pit***
On an album chuck-full of Candy Land sonics, Carried Away is the most unrepentantly exuberant of the bunch, and thereby the best. The jump-up-and-down merriment of the tune can almost make you blush at points, but damn, that chorus is undeniable.
75. Hot Knife---Fiona Apple
Both Idler Wheel...'s most and least dense track. The closer takes its parent album's instrumental minimalism to its greatest extreme, wrapping those bellowing drums in infinite loops of Fiona's sensual vocal yearnings.
74. I Bought These Eyes---Ty Segall Band
Whenever there's a moment of relative calm on Ty Segall Band's Slaughterhouse (and trust me, they are few, and far between), it's only there so that the next break-down hits that much harder. IBTE serves as exhibit A, its hushed opening moments exploding into guitars and drums engulfed in flames.
Yet Again---Grizzly Bear***
Incase I haven't shouted my opinion loud enough, I was not a huge of Grizzly Bear's latest: The whole enterprise just goes down too smoothly, stifling some of the band's freak show tendencies in favor of jazzy subtleties. But at least Shields' rhetoric has given us the enormous gift that is Yet Again, a track that uses their deviated style to encase one of the year's catchiest, slipperiest guitar licks, topped with Ed Droste's eerie-angel croon.
72. Periphery---Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple is no stranger to piss and vinegar, and Periphery might just be one of her best, 'I'm-better-off-without-you-thank-you-very-much,' tracks to date. It's an ode to the allure of the unknown, how people lie about and distract themselves from the palpable world right in front of them. Oh yeah, and that piano hook totally rules.Hands on the Wheel---Schoolboy Q feat. A$AP Rocky***
Schoolboy Q's Habits and Contradictions is wholly thematically assured, all illegal fun and games set atop some of their year's finest club beats. Hands is simply the best at following the blueprint, lightning-speed rapping enclosed in the biggest, dirtiest, and most commanding track imaginable.
Hype Starts Here's Top 50 Albums of 2012:
Hype Starts Here's Top 100 Songs of 2012: