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We're a few days into the second half of 2012 so it seemed like a good time to look back at the last six months and take stock. There have been some undeniably strong songs, the kind that will forever mark 2012 in many people's brains, but I still struggled to come up with a list of 10 singles that I really loved this year so far.
I decided to make the task a little more difficult by restricting my choices to radio singles instead of any album track. What surprised me is that no rock or country songs made the list. Plus, there are some obvious choices that I've seen on other "best-of" so far, most notable fun.'s "We Are Young," that didn't make mine.
A few of the selections will look and sound very familiar, but there may be some surprises here or there.
1. “Somebody That I Used To Know," Gotye featuring Kimbra: Gotye sings like the offspring of Sting and Peter Gabriel on a song that shows no sign of wearing out its welcome. Just like Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” when it arrived in 2010, there is absolutely nothing else on pop radio that sounds like “Somebody.” At least not yet....
2. “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen: Jepsen’s hit isn’t just her career breakthrough, it’s a pop culture movement. It’s feather thin, but absolutely adorable. It’s everything that a summer hit should be.
3. “Next To Me,” Emeli Sande: The latest British thrush to arrive on these shores to be well-versed in R&B. The mid-tempo pulser starts out as if it’s about stealing someone else’s man, but the subsequent verses turn it into something else entirely. What that is, I’m still not sure after all these listens.
4. “Love Interruption,” Jack White: OK, the sentiment is hardly going to find a way on a Hallmark card, but there’s something compelling about White’s take-no-prisoners description of love. Plus, the melody is this weird combo of ‘60s country (you can almost hear Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash singing it) crossed with stripped-down R&B.
5. “Payphone,” Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa: “Moves Like Jagger” did nothing for me, but this pop gem is impossible to get out of my head. Plus, Adam Levine sounds absolutely great on song about a cynic’s longing for love.
6. “Where Have You Been,” Rihanna: Though I am totally ready for electro-pop to be over, this dance thumper reels me in every time. There aren’t many songs that hypnotize me and make me want to sing along at the same time.
7. “Climax,” Usher: Bittersweet and raw and sexy. It’s not an easy combination to pull off, but Usher does it better than most. That falsetto... c’mon.
8. “Heaven,” The Walkmen: Sweet jangly pop rock wrapped around slightly desperate lyrics about friendship and the fear of loss and the joyous hope of what’s to come.
9. “Watching You Watch Him,” Eric Hutchinson: The loping, easy-going melody belies the tale of unrequited love: He loves her, she loves someone else who doesn’t love her. No one wins,but the listener.
10. “She’s So Mean,” Matchbox Twenty: Power pop hasn’t always been Matchbox’s sweet spot, but they hit a bullseye with “She’s So Mean,” a free-spirited romp complete with hand claps and backing vocals straight out of 1973.
What are your favorite songs of the year so far? Share your thoughts below.