2012 In Music

2012 was the year pop music got it right. Before you take into account vast radio overplay, the songs were actually good pop songs. The year is almost over and with that comes the annual year-in-review in music. I think 2012 will be seen as a big year for transitioning as a lot has changed since January with indication that there’s still more change to come. This is based on the type of music to come out this year, what became popular, the trends and even the methods in which certain songs received the spotlight.

2012 offered a relatively new outlet for music to reach wider audiences than ever before: Social networks. Though not through advertising by the artists or their labels themselves but rather through authentic sharing by the users through YouTube links, sharing, response videos and memes.

Gotye meme

One of the hundreds of memes inspired by Somebody That I Used To Know

Early on in the year, the song Somebody That I Used To Know was being shared through Facebook and blogs. The song by Gotye originally came out in the Summer of 2011 but somehow made its way to North America where, thanks to its very different sound compared to nearly everything that was popular at the time, it got people’s attention. Within weeks, it was memified hundreds, if not thousands of times with quite a few YouTube covers of it, including one by Canadian band Walk Off The Earth, whose cover of the four band members playing the song simultaneously with one guitar got them a lot of attention.
Soon after, Call Me Maybe, a simple and sweet pop song by Carly Rae Jepsen was receiving similar attention through the networks with dozens of covers by some of entertainments biggest names as well as tons of amateur parodies. Both songs were back-to-back #1s on the Hot 100 spending eight and nine weeks there respectively.

Another song to benefit from social networking was the first K-Pop song to really gain popularity in the western world, Gangnam Style by Psy. So far, it remains the only such song to have become a hit in North America, but thanks to its familiar sound (it’s like an LMFAO song with Korean lyrics) and its accompanying dance, many have compared it to being this year’s Macarena, meaning it’s novelty value may prevent a similar song from repeating its success here anytime soon. Nonetheless, the interest in K-Pop is bigger than ever so it could be just a start…

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean
(image from telegraph.co.uk)

Gotye, Carly Rae Jepsen and Psy are just three of the new artists to break through in 2012. fun., Frank Ocean, One Direction and The Wanted are among some of the other recognizable success stories in music this year. Even though Rihanna, Maroon 5 and others continued to dominate the charts and radio, they left plenty of room for the newcomers which could indicate a changing tide.

2012 saw some change in the styles of music that gained popularity. While the last few years were centred on electro-inspired dance/pop, this year saw that break off. EDM became more focused as several DJs and producers gained recognition with songs that otherwise would have gone unnoticed such as Zedd, Swedish House Mafia and Calvin Harris. Meanwhile, after Adele gave a taste of music away from the oversaturated sounds of electro-pop last year, this year many other artists who weren’t involved with dance or pop were able to break in with a lot of indie artists. The so-called “indie music” genre is perhaps in need of a new name as indie has pretty much taken centre-stage as the new mainstream. Even folk music has gotten a place amongst the rest with Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers. Such variety in pop music hasn’t been seen at one time in a long time.


(image from poptower.com)

It is with these reasons that I dub 2012 the best year in music since… well, since I became a music fan in 1994. Not only was there a lot to choose from but nearly all of my favourite artists released new music this year. I’m talking from a list of about 30 or so. Most of them were exciting, a lot of them were good while a few were disappointing but adding these to the growing list of my favourites, many of them new to me this year, this year was simply great!

Over the next couple days, I’ll be presenting my thoughts of the best music of the year with lists for the best songs and albums. Like years past, these are determined by my opinion on how good I thought the music was, how I perceived their impact, how much I personally liked them and how much I listened to them throughout the year. You’ll most likely have differing opinions and I certainly welcome any thoughts and comments you might have as my lists get posted.

One comment

  • I think your right that we saw the new styles that look like they’re about to take over pop music begin to emerge in 2012 but let’s be real, 2012 gives 2011 a RUN for its money for the peak year of the domination of electro/dance-pop. In 2012 it continued to feel like every.single.song. that came out was dance pop and the EDM innfluence got deeper in terms of the dubstep beats pop songs were being set to. Now I feel like 2013 is going to be looked at as more of the transitional year, much like 2001 for teen-pop. Thoughts?

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