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year in culture 2012

Listen to Nitsuh Abebe’s Favorite Songs of 2012

Well, here’s the part where the year comes to a close and we do our best to package up whatever joys we found in it. And here’s my contribution: 50 songs I loved in 2012. I’m not big on calling lists of things I like the “best” — it’d be like saying my dog is the “best” dog, even though he never finds bombs or cheers up terminally ill people and is scared of plastic bags and is, objectively speaking, kinda average — so just consider this a mixtape of sorts. Or five mixtapes at the same time, full of things I enjoy and think you might enjoy — maybe especially in the realms of pocket-size synth-pop, dreamy R&B, buzzy indie rock, rap, and murky, meditative pieces you may or may not find depressing.

You can listen via Spotify, and here’s hoping you’ll discover some sounds you’ll like as much as I do: Elle Varner’s shivery rasp, Ellie Goulding’s triumphant chirp, Future’s pitch-corrected gargle, Prinzhorn Dance School’s terrifying explanation of your own inevitable death, the transition from Damon Albarn’s pseudo-Elizabethan opera to Rick Ross bellowing about hustle, Metz bellowing about rats, R. Kelly stepping out on the dance floor, Frank Ocean, Grimes, Miguel’s steamy “Adorn,” Dawn Richard “going mutant” on you ...

Enjoy — and please, shout out some of your own favorites this year, so I can hear what 2012 sounded like to you!

1. Grimes - "Oblivion"
2. Sky Ferreira - "Everything Is Embarrassing"
3. Evans the Death - "I'm So Unclean"
4. Cloud Nothings - "Our Plans"
5. Frank Ocean - "Super Rich Kids (ft. Earl Sweatshirt)"
6. Elle Varner - "Sound Proof Room"
7. Schoolboy Q - "Hands on the Wheel (feat. A$ap Rocky)"
8. Icona Pop - "I Love It (ft. Charli XCX)"
9. Ellie Goulding - "Anything Could Happen"
10. Torche - "Kicking"
11. Melody's Echo Chamber - "I Follow You"
12. Miguel - "Adorn"
13. Belbury Poly - "Green Grass Grows"
14. Kitty Pryde - "Okay Cupid (prod. Beautiful Lou)"
15. Future - "Straight Up"
16. Fiona Apple - "Every Single Night"
17. Savages - "Husbands"
18. Death Grips - "Get Got"
19. Metz - "Rats"
20. Carly Rae Jepsen - "This Kiss"
21. AlunaGeorge - "You Know You Like It"
22. Mount Eerie - "Lone Bell"
23. Todd Terje - "Inspector Norse"
24. Jesca Hoop - "Born To"
25. Daniel Rossen - "Golden Mile"
26. Aesop Rock - "ZZZ Top"
27. Joey Bada$$ - "Enter the Void (ft. Ab-Soul)"
28. Lianne La Havas - "Don't Wake Me Up"
29. Dirty Projectors - "Gun Has No Trigger"
30. Swearin' - "Kenosha"
31. R. Kelly - "Believe That It's So"
32. Kwes. - "Bashful"
33. Cate Le Bon - "Puts Me to Work"
34. Prinzhorn Dance School - "Usurper"
35. Sleigh Bells - "Born to Lose"
36. Chairlift - "I Belong in Your Arms"
37. Dawn Richard - "Bombs"
38. Damon Albarn - "The Moon Exalted"
39. Rick Ross - "Hold Me Back"
40. Spoek Mathambo - "Put Some Red on It"
41. Tennis - "Origins"
42. Screaming Females - "Expire"
43. Light Asylum - "Hour Fortress"
44. House Shoes - "Sweet (ft. Danny Brown)"
45. THEESatisfaction - "QueenS"
46. Pallbearer - "Devoid of Redemption"
47. Purity Ring - "Fineshrine"
48. SWV - "I Missed Us"
49. Future of the Left - "Sheena Is a T-Shirt Salesman"
50. Neneh Cherry & the Thing - "What Reason Could I Give"