BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #60 to #41

Today I bring you the big middle bit of the list, a delightful array of 20 songs that more than tickled my fancy throughout the year.  So this post is a little long, but bear with me…

Click here to view songs #75 to #41  :)

Three singers in this list escaped from an often horrible fate in the music industry – record company hell.  Tyler Hilton had never been away from the music scene, and of course showed up on TV quite regularly in One Tree Hill as Chris Keller.  After many delays in trying to release a sophomore album, seven years perhaps is a long time between albums but his TV and film popularity preceded him and Tyler definitely grew in that time.  So he ended up releasing his album Forget The Storm independently, and toured throughout North America, the UK, and Europe.  It’s a fine rocking effort and gave Tyler the opportunity to connect with many fans who have been waiting for him, and “Prince Of Nothing Charming” became yet another Top 10 entry on my chart for him.  Ryan Star is another fantastic singer whose previous record company was doing nothing to help the release of new songs after some success in 2010 with the album 11:59.  So he switched to Island Records and saw his single “Stay Awhile” (video below) released while he works on a new album.  Phenomenal piano man Jon McLaughlin also parted ways with his previous record company only to sign a new deal with Razor & Tie after releasing the exceptional (and now, no longer available) Forever If Ever album independently.  Two of his songs slid into the Top 10 and both long runs on the chart.  “Promising Promises” was originally featured on Forever If Ever but ended up being the title song of his re-released album.  And to whet our appetite for that album, Jon teamed up with Sara Bareilles in one of those pairings where the voices just go so well together.  A rerecording of “Summer Is Over” (video below) was the song the singer was waiting for to throw him back into the spotlight after touring North America for most of the year.

His initial songs didn’t really draw me in, but I thought “Better Than I Know Myself” by Adam Lambert had a lot of personal conviction in the vocal performance, and showed a more vulnerable side of the singer, so it became his first chart entry for me.  Darren Hayes’ third and final entry in this list peaked in January where some chartphiles carried over “Bloodstained Heart” from 2011 (that song was #22 on last year’s list).  “Black Out The Sun” is a lilting and sombre affair led by another wonderful vocal by Darren.  Another darker song captured with a fine and appropriate vocal is Jane Badler’s theatrical “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” (video below), a song that gets better with repeated listenings (there are also many delightful remixes available).  The Australia-based actress best known for TV’s “V” is well on her way with another career as a pop singer.  And did funky pop seem out of vogue?  Not if you’re Sam Sparro, who released his sophomore album Return To Paradise mid-year with lead single “Happiness” in advance.  The album is a moody but always danceable affair, and is much better as a long-player than to isolate most of the songs individually.

Singles still go very steady in my musical world.  “Champagne” gave the start of the year its fizz courtesy of Australian singer Nelson Clemente.  Converse shoes had a stroke of brilliance by creating a free download with a highly entertaining video (below) to promote its products.  So Foster The People head honcho Mark Foster gets paired up with Canadian producer/DJ extraordinaire A-Trak for the song “Warrior”, and who gets to save the day not only in one of the year’s most entertaining videos, but as the song’s vocalist?  New Zealand chanteuse Kimbra, who duetted with Gotye on the year’s biggest song “Somebody That I Used To Know”.  US production duo The Knocks did the rather unthinkable – they transformed M83’s ethereal “Midnight City” into a 3 minute pop song with the help of singer Mandy Lee, in a free download and a fine video (also below) to showcase the singer.  I ended up liking it even better than the original so it ranks in the Top 50.  Minnesota’s Nicole Brenny, known as Vague-à-bonde, is an emerging talent to watch who is recording a new album as well as a video for the song that reached the Top 10 on my chart, “Evolved”.  The song has a gentle vocal whose toe-tapping refrain throttles you and makes you want more.  UK quartet Boy Banned seemed on the bubble to go on to big things by the end of 2011, however the bubble exploded when they split after the release of the immensely likeable “The Stars Are Saying Yes” and its utterly charming video (also below).  “Only The Horses” by Scissor Sisters proved that this outfit can produce fine original pop singles that sparkle amid an inconsistent album, outside of its engaging presence in the dance/EDM community with fun records like “Let’s Have A Kiki”.  “Horses” became their first Top 5 hit on my chart.

The remaining songs in this group are featured in albums that have held their own since their release.  “Unheard” is a jaunty album track from Netherlands singer Jeronimo, whose song “It’s A Fun Thing” is the Cartoon Network theme song in the south Pacific part of the world.  His unique voice and eagerness to please made his album One Kiss one of the most solid records of the year, even if it didn’t receive release in North America.  Another song from that record ranks higher up on the list 🙂 Markus Riva’s “How It Feels To Be A Man” is the Latvian singer’s second entry on the chart, and one of the highlights of the year’s best dance compilations This Beat Is…Poptronik Volume One that morphed into a summer dance festival on the beaches outside of Barcelona.  Volume Two and another festival are in the works for this year.  Another song from the compilation is featured later on as well.  I proclaimed Brooklyn’s Matt & Kim as pop music’s hardest working duo after partaking in their most enjoyable show, where they had to work around a power failure (with the effortless help of the audience).  “Let’s Go” is the song and video (below) that took them back to a simple and basic but high energy sound on their latest album Lightning.

Boston sextet Gentlemen Hall are one of my 13 Performers to Watch for ’13 and mix journeyman rock in with powerful, lush instrumentation on their EP When We All Disappear, which is still available for free on their website.  While every song on that EP is strong, it was the joyous “All Our Love” and its accompanying video (below) that captured my attention this past Spring.  And what would the year be without me including two songs from Austin duo DATABOY’s Dreams Are Gold album?  “Lotion” was initially released on the free Summer Now EP, which led up to the release of their long-awaited full album.  That record contains some of the most entertaining and heartfelt songs of the year, all also designed to make you dance, one being “Genius”, which could be the new unofficial theme song for “The Big Bang Theory”.  Without question, Dreams Are Gold is my favourite album of 2012, and you’ll find two more DATABOY songs much higher on this list in the next few days 🙂

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