Year-end music lists are everywhere, for better and worse. Here at IASPM-US, we like popular music, too, so a few of us have sorted out what we listened to and enjoyed a lot in 2012 and are sharing it with you. There’s no pretension that anything here was the best of the year or even that it’s good. We just really liked it, that’s all.
Today’s music comes from Justin D Burton (that’s me).
A list of superlatives, key moments, and heavy realizations that reflect my musical world in 2012:
The Music I Play Slightly Louder Each Day in My Office to Test My Neighbors’ Breaking Points: Gaslamp Killer
So far, no complaints…that I know of.
Really, Janet Jackson is Back in My Life? Not Sure How We Got Here: Kendrick Lamar
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City didn’t disappoint, and this song took me back to junior high, when I didn’t understand anything Janet Jackson was talking about but thought it might be nice to know some day.
Guy I Would Least Like to Spend a Weekend With: The Weeknd
I just don’t think I’d make it out alive. From what I can parse in this song, “Initiation” is what Nelly’s “Tip Drill” would have sounded like if it had been born to a drugged out neo-R&B producer. The Weeknd released three mixtapes in 2011, then remastered them all for an official release in November 2012. It’s like a giant sonic contact high, and I don’t want to come down.
Self-Descant is Cliche, but When You Do It, Do It Like This: Fiona Apple
Completely Delightful Cover with a High Degree of Difficulty: Easy Star All Stars
Easy Star likes to mess with the classics, and while Thrillah didn’t quite hit on every track, “Billie Jean” grooves hard.
The House Band You Can’t Miss: The Roots
Every night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, there are the Roots, a legendary hip hop crew goofing off and burning up the set all at once. It seems every week something musically fantastic happens on the show, whether they’re backing Big K.R.I.T. as he rips through “I Got This,” performing as Black Simon and Garfunkel, or using office supplies to accompany Christina Aguilera.
And Did I Mention Big K.R.I.T?
Live from the Underground was as smart and enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. K.R.I.T. completely tore it up with “I Got This,” but “Praying Man” was my favorite cut.
Ooooh, That’s Why Everybody Loves Frank Ocean
I don’t know why it took me so long, but it finally clicked when Frank Ocean did this down tempo version of “Thinkin Bout You,” complete with John Mayer making John Mayer faces in the background.
Sharpest Analysis of a Juicy J Song: Ratchetpiece Theatre with Issa Rae
Issa Rae, the Awkward Black Girl and oncoming media mogul, leads us down the rabbit hole that is Juicy J’s brain.
Bambu is High on Literacy
I teach, so I like it when rappers support reading.
Die Antwoord Continues to Elude
It’s obvious that Die Antwoord is doing some multi-layered encoding in everything they do, but beyond that, nothing’s terribly obvious. They continued their absurdist journey with Ten$ion in 2012, and the video for “Fatty Boom Boom” feels like a personal challenge: Parse this, cultural theorist.
Most Unexpected Collaboration: Childish Gambino with Bun B
Sure, Bun B gets around – I just didn’t know he was hangin with Donald Glover, who also pulled in RZA and Ghostface Killah, among others, for his Royalty mixtape. Bun B’s voice is like butter, melting all over Kavinsky’s “Nightcall.”
If the US Is Ever in Need of a New National Anthem, Might I Suggest Something from Ke$Ha?
“Gold Trans Am” just sounds like the American dream, you know?