Thursday, 1 March 2012

Spring Is Here: 12 Best Songs of 2012 So Far

March 1st, and music marches on.  It's been a major year for great pop songs.  Here are the 12 that have most delighted and instructed Eyewear:


1. 'National Anthem' - Lana Del Rey (remember her?) mixes hip-hop and David Lynch in this weird homage to the New Pop tunes of the early 80s that also manages to be a superb satire of capitalist America.  When she sings "give me a standing o-vay-shee-un" it is funny and sexy at once.

2. 'We Take Care Of Our Own' - Bruce Springsteen is back and sounds exactly as he always does.  Connecting to the blue collar indignation that makes his best songs moving and relevant, this is an ironically-observed state of the union that is also almost as catchy as 'Born In The USA'.

3. 'Young Man In America' - Anais Mitchell is one of the greatest folk singer-songwriters, and this haunting, moving song tells the story of a ravenous young man on the make in a desperate landscape, at once  The Great Depression and the depressing contemporary scene, of Santorum and Occupy Wall Street.

4. 'Darkness' - Leonard Cohen is back, and jazz-darker than ever, his High Bleakness reaching invisible new heights of the sublime in this funny, tuneful tip of the fedora to the encroaching oblivion. "I thought the past would last me/ but the darkness got there too" - terrible and wonderful.

5. 'Show Me Everything' - The Tindersticks are the natural heirs of Cohen, and make a comeback with this Doors-meets-Trip Hop tune, haunting, melancholy and sensuous. "We touch through glass, feel nothing".

6. 'Screws Get Loose' - Those Darlins have taken the new normal, girl-group New Wave mannerisms that so many bands are now accessing, and have made a truly fun, brilliant song with its sexy double-entendres.

7. 'Default' - Django Django have created a song as weird and exciting as any by Devo or Blancmange, and made it their jangly, herky-jerky own - by far the most original pop song of the new decade so far.

8. 'Somebody That I Used To Know' - Gotye is the other Internet sensation of the year, along with Lana - a heretefore obscure Belgian in Australia channelling his inner Men Without Hats to create tunes that capture the radio friendly 80s, with a sliver of Men At Work in their heart.  Best xylophone work in ages.

9. 'I Fink U Freeky' - Die Antwoord aren't the only incredibly weird, off-puttingly ugly underclass South African techno-rap group, but they are the best.  Okay, they are the only one.  No one else, ever, has managed to sound this sexy and threatening, in a genuinely subversive and menacing way.  Intriguingly, the gender tropes get subverted here - usually a young woman's praise of a love object is not this chilling.

10. 'Son Of A Bitch' - Highasakite are Norwegian, and this upbeat, soaring Jefferson Airplane-influenced pop song has very dark lyrics that cut across its upbeat nature, such as "hold my hair while I vomit"; it is very very hard to shake, and I love it.

11. 'Black It Out' - The Van Doos (great name) have crafted a classic power pop tune that is, well, classic.  It gets everything right, and is just purely satisfying within its own intentions.  If they can keep this up they'll be great.

12. 'Lafaye' - School of Seven Bells have created a classic New Wave gem, contemporary but also haunting in a Siouxsie & The Banshees meets Cocteau Twins way.  Propelled by synths and a great beat, its chimes and gongs give it a sublime goth-anthem texture.

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