National Public Radio: 100 najboljih pjesama 2012. i 2011., s linkovima na pjesme.
Algodon Egipcio, "La Espina Del Cardenche"
The Venezuelan DJ's ethereal ode to "cardenche," a northern Mexican music style whose name itself (a reference to pulling out a painful cactus thorn) is full of emotion.
AlunaGeorge, "You Know You Like It"
Young Brits take on late-'90s radio R&B — rubbery synths, snapping percussion and coy vocals — with attitude to spare.
Ana Tijoux, "Las Cosas Por Su Nombre"
In this furious, danceable and biting critique of Chilean society, Tijoux stiffens her usually flexible, soft flow into an incessant, hard-hitting lyrical attack.
Ane Brun, "Do You Remember"
A joyful lament for a broken love affair. As her voice lilts and swings over a drum-heavy beat, Brun sounds like she's literally dancing away from her lover's bed for the last time.
Angel Olsen, "The Waiting"
Hopeless romantics are no stranger to the bouncing twang beat, but with Olsen's desperate warble and Beatles-y backing vocals, this is the kind of song everyone wants sung to them.
Arnaldo Antunes, Edgar Scandurra & Toumani Diabate, "Ce Nao Vai Me Acompanhar"
Brazilian/Malian blues/funk/pop/folk that contains mind-blowing layers of sound (start with Antunes' impossibly resonant voice) as it crosses borders.
Baauer, "Harlem Shake"
Equal parts subwoofers and squelch, this floor-shaking exercise by the young Brooklyn producer was one of 2012's electronic anthems.
Bang On A Can (David Lang), "For Madeline"
Michael Gordon wrote this haunting and nearly apocalyptic elegy in memory of his mother; it's at once both magical and mysterious.
Baroness, "Take My Bones Away"
The ever-evolving metal band mostly went metal-less this year, but gave us a few soaring hard rockers — including this song, with a chorus that won't leave your head for days.
Bat For Lashes, "Laura"
A lush, piano-driven portrait of Hollywood tragedy, "Laura" looks at a life of tabloid excess through a lens of empathy, humanity and compassion.
Behzod Abduraimov, "Danse Macabre"
A patient, tense performance of what's basically a 140-year-old, show-stoppingly spooky pop song.
Best Coast, "The Only Place"
This bubbly, hooky power-pop gem may boast of coastal dominance, but it also captures the simple pull of home — anywhere you might find it.
Bill Fay, "The Never Ending Happening"
Intimate piano balladry from an English folk-rock elder who spent his 40 years away from the recording studio gathering the wisdom that makes his music so generous and graceful.
Bonnie Raitt, "Not Cause I Wanted To"
The great Raitt quietly displays her astounding interpretive chops in this countrified blues weeper. It's the flip-side of her signature "I Can't Make You Love Me": This time she's the heartbreaker, and it hurts just as much.
Bruce Springsteen, "We Take Care Of Our Own"
As tricky in its own way as "Born in the U.S.A.," this rousing, bitter rocker is a protest song transformed into an anthem by unavoidable events — an election, a storm. But that's what happens with the Boss: He speaks what he feels, and Americans turn his passion into what we need.
Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe"
The inescapable, world-conquering summer jam of 2012. To those who continue to dispute this song's limitless charm, we ask: Why do you hate happiness?
Ceclia Bartoli, "Amami, e vederai"
Midway through this aria, the passionate world of opera is summed up in Bartoli's breathtaking (literally) performance of a single word, "Amami." Prepare to melt.
Chairlift, "I Belong In Your Arms"
Yes, the carefree synth-pop song is likely to soundtrack a whimsical afternoon in some teen movie someday, but we can soften our blackened hearts and fall in love for three minutes.
Cloud Nothings, "Stay Useless"
It may pay homage to sloth, but this is no mere slacker anthem: It also captures the way we're pulled apart by a need for both meaning and comfort.
Daughn Gibson, "In The Beginning"
Gibson's Hazlewood-tinged baritone spars with a simple soulful piano loop and a skittering, melancholic drum machine. Hmm, is this the first boot-scootin' goth-pop ballad?
David Byrne & St. Vincent, "Who"
One of rock's most idiosyncratic elder statesmen pairs up with a brilliant rising singer and guitar player. The result? Horns. Horns everywhere.
Death Grips, "I've Seen Footage"
An unreliable narrator's tales from the hood, delivered with a flow like blood from a broken nose.
Django Django, "Default"
A glitchy marching band fronted by a sympathetic android cowboy: "You're a cog in the machine. It's like a default."
Egyptian Project, "Besharis"
The Buena Vista Social Club concept goes to Egypt, layered with some sophisticated producing. (Resurgent trip-hop plus traditional sounds? Sure.)
Ellie Goulding, "Anything Could Happen"
Continuing her campaign to infuse dance music with the energy of real, specific human feelings, this feisty, beatwise singer-songwriter crafts a stirring first-person account of blossoming female independence.
Father John Misty, "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings"
If it's possible to dance yourself into a hot, sweaty mess while feeling nothing but a creeping sense of loss and regret, this is the song that will coax you into doing so.
Fatoumata Diawara, "Bakonoba"
The French-Malian actress and dancer with a smoky-sweet, Sade-like voice glides atop a West African groove on her debut album. More, please.
FIDLAR, "Cheap Beer"
There's an argument on the Web over whether the key line in this punk meltdown is "Forty beers later and a lot of speed" or "Forty beers later and I lie in the street." The whole song sounds exactly like both of those things.
French Montana, "Pop That"
So joyously profane it should ride into battle on Game of Thrones, drunk on Arbor gold, swinging a sword two times its wingspan and still stinking of the local brothel.
fun., "We Are Young"
The most shout-along-able hit single of 2012 is more than what it seems on the surface. It's the chronicle of a bar brawl; it's the midnight plea of an unreliable narrator; it's the Glee generation's slide into maturity; it's an emo barn-burner that tells the ugly truth about male vulnerability for once. If you didn't notice all that, who cares? You still got to sing your guts out.
G.O.O.D. Music, "Mercy"
This hip-hop banger, the work of five different producers and four rappers, is minimalist, uncanny and catchy, anchored by 2 Chainz's flawlessly executed and gloriously braggadocious verse.
Gregory Porter, "Be Good"
A voice like Detroit 1960-whatever, an outlook from Bed-Stuy 2012 and songwriting chops with a certain timeless pathos of frustration.
Everything is fair game in a Grimes track, but "Genesis" gets at what Claire Boucher does best: joyous pop music blown out of a confetti cannon in slow motion.
Grizzly Bear, "A Simple Answer"
An odd but no less hooky song (maybe the most accessible this band has ever sounded), held together by sumptuous harmonies and a driving beat.
An ode to ladies as funny as it is feminist from a former member of Das Racist, the kind of sensitive guy who doesn't just "love the ladies," but understands that they like Dawson's Creek, umbrella drinks, cleanliness, books and harnessing "all this power that they garnish."
High On Fire, "Fertile Green"
A full-on thrasher capable of tearing apart Lucifer's jaw. 'Nuff said.
Hospitality, "Eighth Avenue"
Stumbling into one's place, in New York retrospect; perfectly jangly-sweet in the key of disaffection past. How else do you do indie-pop?
Hot Chip, "Look At Where We Are"
A song for the couples who've lasted long enough to reminisce, and motivation for those just getting started. One of the tenderest love songs of 2012.
Icona Pop, "I Love It"
Feeling frustrated? Want to scream? Here's a three-minute therapy session from two Swedish women. Prescription: Crank it.
Jack White, "Sixteen Saltines"
With White providing all the vocal harmonies and dueling guitar solos, this sounds like a room full of Jack Whites all trying furiously to outplay one another.
Jai Paul, "Jasmine"
How carefully made is this song? It wobbles like Gumby in high heels on a cobblestone street, yet it never tips and and still — somehow — sounds smoother than anything else you'll hear this year.
Jamey Johnson & Alison Krauss, "Make The World Go Away"
The centerpiece of Johnson's tribute to Hank Cochran, one of country music's most sophisticated songwriters, this duet unfolds in the warm, sad light of a velvet morning, when two cracked hearts give love one last desperate chance.
JEFF the Brotherhood, "Sixpack"
JEFF's contribution to the canon of dumb rock songs about drinking beer and hanging out is reliably dumb, reliably hang-out-worthy.
Jeremih, "F—- You All The Time"
A minimal koan of falsetto and electronic intervention, with smolder, space and sensuality in delicate accord. Who needs euphemisms anyway?
Jeremy Denk, "Ligeti: Automne e Varsovie"
Sentimental? Hardly. One motif, repeated obsessively — one leap up, then a sinking descent — slithers down the keyboard and under your skin.
Jeri-Jeri with Mbene Diatta Seck, "Mbeuguel Dafa Nekh"
The Senegalese group, led by Baaba Maal drummer Bakane Seck, unleashes a hornet's nest of percussion in this nine-minute Mbalax corker.
Joey Bada$$, "Waves"
Visions of his future dance in this teenager's head even as his aesthetic recalls a bucolic, Dilla-flavored, freestyle-friendly past.
John Fullbright, "Gawd Above"
Americana music's fiercest young contender speaks the word of a pissed-off deity in the punchiest slice of sacrilege music had to offer this year.
John K. Samson, "When I Write My Masters Thesis"
With wit and wordplay, the Weakerthans singer examines the way a lively mind can function at cross purposes with a directionless heart.
John Talabot, "Destiny"
It didn't get much sexier in electronic music this year than this come-hither crossover hit. If only all dance-floor encounters were this perfect.
Julia Holter, "Marienbad"
Stately and harpsichord-led, "Marienbad" is pop-music mitosis, from a Baroque bounce to an ambient four-on-the-foor house beat.
Justin Martin, "Don't Go"
The San Francisco producer shows his bass-heavy but introspective side in this two-step-esque track, slowly building on harps and a high-pitched female vocal simply singing the song's plea.
Kacey Musgraves, "Merry Go Round"
Packaging stormy lives into a sunny country-pop arrangement, the future country star stares unblinkingly at the tragic underbelly of small-town life.
Kelan Philip Cohran and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, "Spin"
The zither-wielding 85-year-old Sun Ra associate and his eight sons generate a juggernaut of a groove, powered by Tycho Cohran's sousaphone.
Kishi Bashi, "Bright Whites"
A timeless tune that won't lose its charm, despite having rocketed from zero to "national ad campaign" in short order. Pure joy.
Kristen Kelly, "Ex-Old Man"
This spunky spin on the honky-tonk angel tale plays Kelly's soulful vocals off some tropical guitar to reveal that happy hour is also mighty-mad hour for some ladies clutching their margaritas at the bar.
A hiccuping, buoyant jam — as fresh and hard to resist as those dimples on the man who made it.
Lianne La Havas, "Is Your Love Big Enough?"
Like a lost gem from the fusion-frantic early-'70s soul era, this epic exploration of one young woman's creative process sweeps you up with its girl-group handclaps and African guitar line, as the young British singer lays her Nina Simone-loving heart on the line.
Little Big Town, "Pontoon"
Wonder what it's like to live in the South in the summer — that is, from early April to late October? It's Alabama humid, it's Atlanta loose, it's Mississippi laid-back, it's Arkansas fun, it's Memphis funky, it's Nashville friendly, it's a boat and some beer and some friends and some trouble, and it's exactly like this song.
Loudon Wainwright III, "In C"
The Wainwright family patriarch has a lot to be proud of this year (including two offspring on this list). His own contribution is a six-minute-long, nearly unvaried ramble that pulls poignancy from a never-ending spiral of ego, heartache and destruction.
LV, "Nothing Like Us"
The trio of South London producers recruited MCs Sello and Max of South African kwaito crew The Ruffest for a song that lives up to its title.
M.I.A., "Bad Girls"
"My chain hits my chest when I'm bangin' on the dashboard," snarls the serious troublemaker M.I.A. in this Danja-produced re-imagining of L.A. gangsta rap as part of a feminist Arab Spring. The music glints gold and sparkles with sweat as it moves to the growl of a slowly revving engine.
Machel Montano, "Go Down"
The king of soca music rides Brooklyn producer Dre Skull's Loudspeaker Riddim in the Caribbean equivalent to French Montana's "Pop That." A monster.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Same Love"
The Seattle duo proves there's more to it than just a clever YouTube hit. This song calls out not just for equal marriage rights, but also for equality in all aspects of life.
How do you improve something that's damn near perfect? British DJ Mala digs deep deep deep into the rhythms of Afro-Cuban danzon and Santeria-inspired beats for a mix that plays with time in a way that's nothing short of inspiring. How did he do that?
Marcel Khalife, "Oh, My Proud Wound"
The outspoken Lebanese oud master and composer brews a potent mix of traditional Arabic music and ideas from Western jazz in an energized paean to his homeland.
Martha Wainwright, "Everything Wrong"
The singer humbly examines life as a bumpy continuum, blazing a jagged but ultimately optimistic path across three notable generations.
Yes, this song is just as aggressive as the title implies. But its reckless melodies make it feel like the fun type of destruction: less rioting, more smashing piñatas.
Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Lie down in a comfortable position. Relax every muscle one by one. Feel the bubbling fountain of this song's beats, the gentle roll of Miguel's vocals moving from strong tenor to sweet falsetto and the trigger-point massage worked by the words buried in the background: Be my friend, my freak. Realize that seduction can be a meditation practice, too.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse, "Walk Like A Giant"
When these folks get together, something loud and memorable always happens, and this stomper from Psychedelic Pill will stand the test of time.
Perfume Genius, "Hood"
A shaky tower built in tribute to conflicted devotion: sky-high, but full of weakness.
Ralph Peterson, "4 in 1 (Fo'tet)"
A drumming tornado jollifies a Thelonious Monk tune, preserving its tempest-in-a-teapot quality with woody clarinet and ringing vibraphone.
Rick Ross feat. Andre 3000, "Sixteen"
As if trying to prove that 16 bars aren't enough to contain them, Rozay and Stacks go on for eight minutes, tackling a new topic in every line and leaving us still wanting more.
Robert Raimon Roy, "Robert Raimon Roy"
The tonal descendant of Skee-Lo rides a cartoonishly dramatic track as he recounts a staid love life in elastic syllables.
Rufus Wainwright, "Montauk"
A fantasia of domestic bliss in the year of marriage equality, this heart-unraveling ode to Wainwright's daughter and her other dad, his husband Jorn, is beautifully haunted by the memory of Viva's grandmother Kate McGarrigle, who died in 2010.
Ryan Truesdell, "Punjab"
An unreleased gem from luminary composer/arranger Gil Evans, expertly reconstructed in glorious minor-key majesty. Plus, tabla drums.
Saint Etienne, "Tonight"
No other song celebrated the (legal) ecstasy of dance music like this anthem from the British pop veterans. Wish it could always feel this way.
San Francisco Symphony (Adams), "Short Ride In A Fast Machine"
Ignited by a propulsive woodblock, the orchestra thrusts ahead with the intensity of a roller coaster. It's classical music's answer to the four-minute rock song.
Schoolboy Q, "Blessed (feat. Kendrick Lamar)"
The Top Dawg crew member may have bested labelmate Kendrick Lamar (albeit with his help) for best hip-hop song of 2012 with this tearjerker, produced by Dave Free.
Scissor Sisters, "Let's Have A Kiki"
Trust this lesson from Ms. Ana Matronic, because good house music has never steered you wrong. Invite your crew over, pump up this campy new dance-floor classic and dance your bad-night-at-the-club blues away.
Sean Rowe, "Horses"
Rolling thunder that stills itself around Rowe's remarkable voice to speak its quiet, piercing message: "I would go through the rain and snow if you keep me on your side."
Shemekia Copeland, "Ain't Gonna Be Your Tattoo"
Sturdy blues from the genre's young queen opens up slowly, like the slowly raising consciousness of the abused and finally self-preserving narrator; its harrowing story reaches a climax in a fiercely expressive guitar solo from the great Buddy Guy.
Shovels & Rope, "Birmingham"
This rattling boxcar of a ditty tells the story of the harmonizing married couple who made it: two crazy kids who discovered each other banging out music on the Southern line and then drifted apart before realizing that the only songs that made sense for each of them were duets. It's a wedding song for a hobo camp, and its sheer joy ought to make a believer out of even the sourest puss.
Simone White, "Big Dreams And The Headlines"
Bells toll, drums roll and White whispers sweet comfort ("It's the little things that add up to life") to a friend who needs it desperately.
Sinead O'Connor, "The Wolf Is Getting Married"
Twenty-five years after her debut album, O'Connor looks inward to celebrate a complicated yet headstrong love.
Sinkane, "Jeeper Creeper"
Trance-inducing North African-style guitar hovers over a steady dance beat and bubbling synths. Unforgettable music with roots everywhere you look.
Six Organs of Admittance, "Waswasa"
Have you choogled today? Ben Chasny gets back together with the Comets on Fire crew to set that straight, fool.
Solange, "Losing You"
Can a throwback sound futuristic? Can a handclap sound wet? Can a song about falling out of love make you feel like you're doing just the opposite? Yes.
Spiritualized, "Hey Jane"
Only Jason Pierce can turn a Lou Reed-y rocker about a "troubled" love into a musical car crash halfway through before soaring way above the heavens on a Krautrock cloud.
Tame Impala, "Elephant"
Big, brawny and slightly gaudy, Tame Impala's genius "Elephant" slinks toward T. Rex greatness with its sexy, '70s stadium-stomp guitar hook.
Tanlines, "All Of Me"
Punctuated by kicky handclaps and whispers of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, the Brooklyn-based duo searches for a sincere emotional connection in this electro-pop banger.
The Mynabirds, "Generals"
A call for unity wrapped in grinding Midwestern pop. Politics and pop rarely get along so well. "Get your warpaint on!"
The xx, "Angels"
The band's new album is full of minimalist rumination, but there's nothing icy or distant about this knockout song of love and devotion.
Unwinding like a a long braid made of delicate percussion, jazzed-up keyboard and spoken-sung poetics, this is the most conscious, creative, artistic party jam you'll hear this year, based around an irresistible declaration of independence: Whatever you do, don't funk with my groove.
Titus Andronicus, "In A Big City"
You can take the punk out of Jersey, but you can never take Jersey out of the punk.
Todd Terje, "Inspector Norse"
This goofy yet soulful space-disco song is for the guy at the party who can't dance from the waist down, but is having a better time than everyone.
This song was the Prius of 2012: the most popular hybrid on the road, a highly functional blend of Usher's old-school R&B testifying and producer Diplo's future-touching electronic atmospheres. Mileage: amazing.
Waxahatchee, "Be Good"
You know that friend you're kind of attracted to but don't want to pursue because it might ruin what you already have? That's this song.
Wiley, "I'm Skanking" (The 2 Bears Remix)"
Wiley's grime classic is infused with a percolating '90s hip-house beat in this feral remix from The 2 Bears.
Y.N. Rich Kids, "Hot Cheetos and Takis"
A song about snack foods, made by a bunch of kids in an after-school program, "Hot Cheetos and Takis" has chops and charm to spare. It'll put a smile on your face every single time.
NPR MUSIC'S 100 FAVORITE SONGS OF 2011
10/10 Ensemble, "Fiji"
A 17-minute sashay through composer Michael Torke's deliriously colorful, imaginary tropical landscape. Heavy on the congas, bongos and claves, but lighthearted and sweet.
Adele, "Someone Like You"
In tonic chords and modulated phrases, Adele's offered goodbye hug perfectly captures the feeling of waking up from a broken heart: you've both moved on, it hurts, you won't forget, you'll live.
Alabama Shakes, "Hold On"
Neil Young called it "ragged glory" — the sound of a band getting it together right before your ears. Fronted by soulful dynamo/regular gal Brittany Howard, the Shakes are breaking through.
Anthony Hamilton, "Mad"
Otis Redding would have loved this tale of irresistible, bad-for-you romance, sung by one of his worthiest inheritors.
Azealia Banks, "212"
Get your headphones up: The raunchiest shut-down of 2011 features Banks' never-predictable vocal delivery over a drilling Lazy Jay house beat.
Battles, "Ice Cream" (feat. Matias Aguayo)
For a group often tagged as "math rock," the colorful Afropunk-infused "Ice Cream" is one of the year's most boisterous and off-kilter dance parties thanks to fun hooks and a killer funked up organ groove.
An ode to married bliss that's also an exploding grab bag of sounds, from the Boyz II Men sample to a marching band.
Big Freedia, "Azz Everywhere"
A fresh tip of the hat to African-American call-and-response traditions that also provides the New Orleans bounce scene with an addictive dance floor anthem.
Bill McHenry, "La Fuerza"
A saxophonist's quartet attends a bullfight, with Salvador Dali and 'em. RIP drummer Paul Motian.
Bingo Players, "Cry (Just A Little)" (Olav Basoski Remix)
A happy house beat, Daft Punk-style synths and that sample. It's that simple.
High concept multimedia experiences aside, here's a stunning minimalist song about how science and humanity (or lovers, or an iconic musician and her fans) interact.
Blawan, "Getting Me Down"
A slow jam gets the galloping sugar beat that Brandy never knew she needed.
Bon Iver, "Calgary"
The opening synth smears hint at '80s-influenced grandiosity, but tenderness and grace exudes throughout.
Cass McCombs, "County Line"
Many have tried to revive soft-rock and few have succeeded. "County Line" feels like a needle-drop on a forgotten classic: There is a dust road and you are crying.
Caveman, "Old Friend"
Newcomers marry guitar melody to wash of sound, with timeless-sounding results.
Chris Brown, "Look At Me Now" (feat. Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne)
Busta and that bug-eyed beat: waking radio listeners from their stupor since February 2011.
Chris Thile & Michael Daves, "Sleep With One Eye Open"
Bluegrass from the dark end of the street — risky and raucous.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Same Mistake"
An exceptional return to form for the band that once launched a thousand blogs. Epic indie pop anthem that will have you shouting along in cathartic joy by that third chorus.
Cute boy-girl pop that juxtaposes a sunny wall of sound songcraft with disturbing lyrics that hint at dysfunction underneath.
Danny Brown, "Scrap Or Die"
One of 2011's realest, saddest, most terrifying narratives; a zero-options, would be rags-to-riches story where a length of copper wire stands in for the glint of a happy ending.
Darkest Era, "An Ancient Fire Burns"
If you're not dreaming of driving a Camaro up a mountain to slay a dragon by the end of this song, you're doing it wrong.
Das Racist, "Michael Jackson"
Brooklyn internet thugs unleash their first legit single. True to form, it's stupid, childish and way too good to write off as novelty.
David Wax Museum, "Born With A Broken Heart"
A whirlwind treat from a loveable duo with a penchant for presenting pan-American folk with exuberant ease. Equipment: Donkey jawbone, Mexican jarocha guitar, trumpet, accordion, and — clearly — joy.
The Decemberists, "Down By The Water"
Portland folk-rockers incorporate memorable vocal harmonies from Gillian Welch and 12-string guitar from R.E.M.'s Peter Buck in this rollicking slice of down-home Americana.
Delicate Steve, "Butterfly"
New Jersey instrumentalists pluck, twang, strum and pitter-pat through the year's most epic sun-bleached back porch jam session.
Deniz Kurtel, "The L Word"
What begins as jumpy cut heard in the dance clubs of New York City circa 1989 ends saturated in some radiated strobe light out of time.
Drake, "Take Care" (feat. Rihanna)
The complex hip-hop Casanova's take on the blues, with a nod to Bobby Bland and some heavenly comfort from an ex.
The Bay Area veteran raps in a cracking and permanently quizzical tone over a beat made by video game-obsessed aliens. Brass heralds the 2-ply, Beastie Boys-quoting chorus.
Eleanor Friedberger, "My Mistakes"
Eschewing the hyperactive complexity of Fiery Furnaces while retaining the exuberant buoyancy and hooky vocal melodies. Plus a sax solo!
EMA, "The Grey Ship"
This seething and portentous gem takes a remarkable journey, worthy of every second of its seven-minute running time.
Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues"
For all the talk of Fleet Foxes' echo-chamber atmospherics, "Helplessness Blues" takes about 60 seconds to reveal the meaning of life.
Fokn Bois and Jumo Daddy, "Lungulungu"
Ghanaian rappers half- and double-timing over a Hungarian-made beat that ambles with one leg, hustles with the other. Pidgin rap can be hard to understand, but it's probably the future.
Frank Ocean, "Swim Good"
The most charismatic R&B singer of the year delivers a visually rich portrait of existential torment paired with a club-worthy beat.
Garland Jeffreys, "Coney Island Winter"
The best Springsteen song the Boss didn't write this year, by a still-powerful veteran of New York's bohemian streets.
Gary Clark, Jr., "Bright Lights"
Slow-burning blues from a dazzling guitarist and popwise songwriter poised to blow up big.
Geko Jones, "Pa'la Escuela Nene" (feat. Maria Mulata)
A perfect example of why we love Geko Jones: only he could successfully mash up a classic genre like Colombian bullerengue (here featuring the fantastic vocal stylings of Maria Mulata) with thumping club beats.
Gem Club, "Twins"
A minor-key beauty from a cello and piano duo that slows the blood by filling the air between notes with sullen space.
Gillian Welch, "Hard Times"
Welch and David Rawlings sing beautifully of defiance and hope, but the net result is shot through with eternal ache.
Last-day-of-school sunshine, five-speed bikes in the cul-de-sac, laser tag at midnight. Can this please never end?
G-Side, "Atmosphere" (feat. PH)
Deceptively subdued, nearly effortless flow hovers above a reggae riff submerged in a glitch jungle gym.
Hammers of Misfortune, "The Grain"
With a soaring, melancholic chorus, "The Grain" repeatedly returns to a powerful riff that is the stuff that headbangs are made out of.
I Wayne, "Change Them Ways"
Representative of the "new school" in roots rock reggae, Jamaica's I Wayne preaches peace and harmony. His warning to the wicked is something we can all vibe to.
Jacques Greene, "Another Girl"
Clipped beats and wordless sighs made for staring out windows until an R&B siren pulls you out of the funk to get into the funk.
James Blake, "The Wilhelm Scream"
Heart-wrenching slow jam-slash-showcase for multi-talented young dubstep writer/producer-turned frontman, over the irresistibly lethargic beat of the year.
James Farm, "Polliwog"
An instrumental with more engaging, rollicking episodes than most sitcoms out there today.
Jay-Z & Kanye West, "That's My Bitch"
Kanye goes dumb; Jay name-checks half of New York's art scene. Meanwhile, the beat grows a booty, and shakes it.
JD Allen Trio, "Mr. Steepy"
Sixteen bars, short-and-sweet. Just saxophone, bass and drums making swing go H.A.M.
Jean-Guihen Queyras, "Cello Concerto in G minor"
Antonio Vivaldi, an early supporter of the cello, gets a hand from a French virtuoso whose warm, smart reading collapses 300 years of musical history.
JEFF The Brotherhood, "Bummer"
Nashville power punk duo buries this grungy breakup song's ample heart beneath a fuzzy drone of distortion.
Jill Scott, "All Cried Out" (feat. Doug E. Fresh)
The everywoman of R&B turns a Doug E. Fresh beatbox and a touch of ragtime piano into a breezy kiss-off on which she sounds more free and brazen than she has in years.
Jonsi, "Gathering Stories"
The Sigur Ros frontman keeps adding to his whimsically gorgeous solo legacy with a creamy dollop of sunny, swirling majesty.
The Joy Formidable, "Whirring"
British trio knocks it out of the park by marrying melody with chaos while careening headlong toward a ferocious, four-minute climax.
Joyce DiDonato, "D'amour l'ardente flame"Everyone's favorite mezzo-soprano gives this aria from Hector Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust a tender, lived-in passion.
Kate Bush, "Misty"
Sex with a snowman? Only the great Kate at her piano could paint it in colors this lovely and profound.
Katy B, "Katy On A Mission"
Katy gets harassed on her way to the dancefloor, remains focused on her priority; Britain's dubstep scene gets a human face.
Kay Ara, "Me Dough" (feat. Lil Shaker and Yaa Pono)
Kay Ara and his more established compatriots in Ghanaian rap bound over a stutter-stepping highlife sample and hold tight to a beat that drops with authority.
Kes The Band, "Wotless"
The ultimate soca jam of the year urged people to embarrass themselves dancing everywhere from Carnival parade lines to your desk at the office.
Lady Gaga, "Yoü & I"
Monster-sized ode to holding onto a piece of lost love forever and the best evidence yet that pop's queen of relentless provocation has a serious sense of humor.
Lagartijeando, "El Alto De La Paz"
You don't have to speak Spanish to understand the sexiness of this song's hook or its outrageously hip-grinding beat. Turn your swag on.
Laura Marling, "The Beast"
Spun out like one of Scheherezade's tales, this folk-metal ballad expresses a young woman's hunger and fury in no uncertain terms.
Lil B, "I Seen That Light"
In which the gleeful Bay Area purveyor of nonsense reveals a new, utterly convincing face: the humble, respectful motivational speaker with a heart (and a beat) of solid gold.
Lil Wayne, "6 Foot 7 Foot" (feat. Cory Gunz)
"Real Gs move in silence like lasagna," and other lessons in making perfectly reasonable points out of brain-melting nonsense.
Lisa Hannigan, "Home"
Featured player (on Damien Rice's O) steps front, center and widescreen, with lush instrumentation in one of the most exhilarating and beautifully sung songs of the year.
Los Tigres, "Jefe de Jefes"
The title means The Boss of All Bosses, which describes this band perfectly. There are other great Mexican bands but none as bad-ass.
Low, "Try To Sleep"
Soft and trance-inducing yet unmistakably alive, like running through grassy fields. Alan Spawhawk and Mimi Parker's harmonies have never sounded so uplifting.
Lykke Li, "I Follow Rivers"
Rhythm, mood and a declaration of undying devotion, from Sweden's answer to Stevie Nicks.
M83, "Midnight City"
There is no excusing the gratuitous saxophone solo, but we do anyway because "Midnight City" is the cursive neon sign outside the car window, and a contender for euphoria-inducing jam of the year.
Martina McBride, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It"
Country has never shied away from life's messy side, but this string-swept tearjerker about love's loyalty in the face of tragedy earns its sentiment.
Midnite, "Mongst I & I"
The legendary St. Croix roots reggae group since tells us to "keep good relations" with one another, despite the corporate greed and political discord around the globe.
A song that builds itself into a hazy trip while at the same time its exploding itself into fuzzy, synthy oblivion.
Miranda Lambert, "Mama's Broken Heart"
One of country's best young stars plays the bracingly brassy bad-girl role she was born for, spits fire in unforgettable fashion.
The Mountain Goats, "Estate Sale Sign"
A perfectly blistering John Darnielle anthem, suitable for shouting yourself hoarse after everything you hold dear has been pulverized into a fine powder.
My Morning Jacket, "Circuital"
Recorded live by a band that knows what the open road sounds like: 13 years in, Louisville's finest is still finding new tricks.
Natacha Atlas, "Batkallim" (Bombay Dub Remix)
Political prescience from an Anglo-Egyptian smartly steeped in pan-Arabic sounds: "Permit us to know freedom."
Nick Lowe, "House For Sale"
Sure, "House For Sale" functions as a sad metaphor for a relationship marred by neglect. But Lowe is such a humane songwriter that the song can't help but be shot through with hope for better days.
Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass"
The accents, the Slick Rick joke, that thing where you make up hand motions with your friends to the chorus.
Nicolas Jaar, "Keep Me There"
Gurgle, warble, boil and smoke, like a dank jazz side but a bit more baroque.
Now Ensemble, "Change"
Composer Judd Greenstein's tiny, urgent and insistent itches of melodic and rhythmic ideas explode into beauty.
Panda Bear, "You Can Count On Me"
A ghostly tapestry of cavernous Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies, chopped beats and found sound.
Paul Simon, "Rewrite"
As a kora shimmers behind Simon, "Rewrite" goofs on a misbegotten screenplay — until it reveals itself as a heartbreaking look at delusion and momentous mistakes that can't be deleted.
Pedro Soler & Gaspar Claus, "Insomnio Mineral (Rondena)"
A father and son combine an ancient flamenco guitar technique with a non-traditional approach to cello. You wish your family sounded like this.
Purity Ring, "Ungirthed"
Sweetness, light, handclaps, bounce and a touch of menace: ears ringing, teeth clicking, ears ringing, teeth clicking.
Randy Montana, "Burn These Matches"
A big, swollen country power ballad about temptation and fidelity, shot through with regret and relief in equal measure.
Raphael Saadiq, "Heart Attack"
Three-minute soul throwback fueled by a yearning vocal and an ace backing band, all churn and grind, and as potent as it is airtight.
Real Estate, "It's Real"
Sunny with a chance of winsome, sweet-hearted melancholy. What could be better?
Rihanna, "We Found Love" (feat. Calvin Harris)
An uplifting, club-ready pop banger about hard-earned love? Or a chilling account of a relationship doomed by substance abuse and codependency? Depends on how much time you've spent with the video.
SBTRKT, "Wildfire" (feat. Yukimi Nagano)
Masked producer gets an assist from Little Dragon's singer, who cements her status as indie electronic music's go-to guest vocalist of the year.
Seun Kuti, "Rise"
Slow-burning horns, swiftly moving social consciousness, and insistent grooves right out his father's playbook.
Simone Dinnerstein, "Ich ruf zu dir"
This pianist knows that what happens between the notes of this Bach cantata is just as crucial as what's written in the score.
Smith Westerns, "Weekend"
With a hot-as-a-car-hood-on-a-summer's-day guitar riff and a heart-wrenching chord progression, this song kicked off the sophomore album from these Chicago 20-year-olds in style.
St. Vincent, "Cruel"
Even on her album's catchiest song, St. Vincent's Annie Clark expresses darker feelings of fragmentation, discontent and uncertainty with sinister knife-twisting lines that pack an emotional punch.
Telebossa, "Eu Sonhei Que Tu Estavas Tao Linda"
Classic Brazilian songwriting with touches of chamber music and a subtle electronic presence, plus a surreal vocal. Like the moment after the sun sets and everything goes quiet.
Tinariwen, "Tenere Taqqim Tossam"
An awkward joint appearance on The Colbert Report probably didn't move the needle, but this collaboration between Tuareg rock gods Tinariwen and TV on the Radio makes for a sweet, soulful groove.
Dance-ready Afrobeat rhythms built from looping drums and the powerful voice of 2011 All-Star Merrill Garbus.
Tyler, the Creator, "Yonkers"
The lurching funeral march of a thousand angry commenters, the cubist mouth architecture of a suburban nightmare, the problem with starting a fire.
The Weeknd, "The Morning"
The peaceful eye in House Of Balloons' hurricane of addiction: Abel Tesfaye exalts his indulgences like "drinking Alizè with our cereal for breakfast." It's the beautiful sound of the end of the beginning.
Wilco, "Art Of Almost"
The boldest opening statement from Wilco in ten years, "Art of Almost" asserts itself with provocative sounds and fiery riffs. This ain't your dad's "Dad Rock."
Wild Flag, "Romance"
Feminist punk superheroes reveal their secret: SHAKE! SHIMMY! SHAKE!
Wye Oak, "Civilian"
Singer-guitarist Jenn Wasner's insecurities and personal flaws are laid bare before squealing guitar and driving drumbeats.
"Rubber" begins with distortion so thick it hurts and ends with the most cathartic burst of feedback and noise you'll bliss out to this year.