Music swims about in my head all day, every day. I’ll obsess over a song or album for a while, only for it to be replaced by another, and then again. Never stopping for long. Always seeking new sounds. Or I’ll look back and rediscover. Here is the music that has endured more than a couple of plays by me in 2012, with my top tune saved for last.
Frank Ocean “Pyramids”. I’ve not bought a lot of albums this year, who has. Channel Orange is a modern masterpiece that raised the bar for R&B, hip hop, soul or whatever you want to call it. Original, inventive, odd, cool and sexy. “Pyramids” has to be song of the year, but I played “Super Rich Kids” over and over. It samples Bennie & The Jets too.
Emeli Sande “Clown”. She’s topped the best UK album sales this year, and deservedly so. Critics and bloggers didn’t love her album, they felt she didn’t match the greatness of “Heaven”. Too many ballads they said. But then, she was everywhere performing her songs and they found their way into the pop landscape. “Hope” and “Clown” are just beautiful personal songs – both of which impressed me most when I heard her sing at Koko earlier in the year, before the album was out. Class.
Jessie Ware “Running”. Not much to say here except, wow. This is one of those moments in music when song, production and video come together to produce absolute magic. And that Disclosure remix is bonza. But I didn’t love her album despite there being some strong songs. Something didn’t quite engage me for repeated listens.
Late Nite Tuff Guy “Forbidden Reality”. Disco edits came thick and fast through the year – some still bringing something fresh, many not. Late Nite Tuff Guy was head and shoulders above them all for tweaking and switching up some classics. This was my favourite of the year. There will be a stampede when he arrives to play a gig in London.
Maverick Sabre “No One”. His album came out in early February. It was the single Let Me Go that grabbed my ears. I played the album a lot, over and over. Proper UK soul from a 22 year old white boy from Hackney.
Behling & Simpson “Work That Body”. These guys are on my 2013 list of DJs to catch. This was the sound of UK house in 2012.
Roberto Rodriguez “Lies”. After a string of killer tracks and remixes, Roberto released his debut album “Dawn“. This is my most played and favourite track from the album. Get in – if you like Scandinavian deep house. Quality.
Sam Sparro “The Shallow End”. It seems like we waited years for Sam’s second album, oh that’s right, it was four years! He returned with more of funk, pop and soul, the highlight for me being this Prince-like workout.
Plan B “Playing With Fire”. I totally missed his first album instead leaping straight into this ‘soundtrack’ from the film Ill Manors. It’s a brilliant tough record, and I can only listen to it with my headphones without distraction – anywhere else and I can’t be immersed enough. It’s about David Cameron’s broken Britain, touching on some seemingly obvious themes. But it’s fresh, full of hooks, great songs and powerful lyrics. It helps he’s quite sexy.
Will Young “I Just Want a Lover”. Released in July 2012 as the fourth single from his 2011 album, this is my favourite pop song of the year. I cant quite explain why I love this so much – it’s got a stomping groove, it’s plaintive, and had a weird, but cool video. Full marks.
Waze & Odyssey “Love That (Burns Hot Enough)”. The New York house sound of the 90s ruled the dance floors this year and there were many imitators making tunes that sounded like old Strictly Rhythm tracks, but didn’t improve on the sound or add anything new. Waze & Odyssey captured the sound brilliantly and made it fresh and interesting. Love That…teased that Lisa Stansfield sampe to great effect. I love this tune.
Bright Light Bright Light “Feel It”. From the brilliant album “Let Me Believe in Hope” this song is just pure 90s-style dance pop. Rod Thomas ropes in the vocal chops of Mykal Kilgore, and Del Marquis from Scissor Sisters (that’s him strolling behind Rod in the video). It’s all about that build from 3.00 and the drop at 3.34. “Give me something to dream about”. It should have been huge.
R. Kelly “Feeling Single”. I know. R.Kelly. This is just so MJ. The kind of song MJ should have been making instead of hanging with flippin Akon. The album “Write Me Back” is pure soul, referencing Stevie Wonder, O’Jays, MJ and chock full of great soul music.
Solomun “Cloud Dancer” (Kraak & Smaak remix). This was the tune that rocked the Zurich street party on my 50th birthday. Good Times.
Maceo Plex “Sex Appeal”. 2012 was Maceo’s year. He broke the bass house sounds and continued to pump out killer tune after killer tune. There’s too many to mention but none better than this deep, sexy giant. Hearing this on a Funktion One sound system in an East London warehouse earlier in the year was one of the club moments of 2012. Producer of the year.
Monte “True”. I don’t know much about Monte other than its deep house from Hamburg. This perfectly straddles house and disco.
Pet Shop Boys “The Way Through The Woods”. So, my boys released a new album this year, produced by Andrew Dawson, Kanye West’s producer. It’s a slightly inconsistent album, with a couple of shockers, and some pure PSB gems. But not this song. This a bonus track from the remix CD single for (the abhorrent) Winner. The title and lyrics are from a Rudyard Kipling poem and PSB have added an element of sinister with the rhythmic breathing, dischordant orchestra and finishing with the massive dark dubstep beat and children’s choir. I’m delighted PSB can turn out music like this 25 years into their career.
Finnebassen “If You Only Knew”. This was everywhere for a while. And rightly so.
Disclosure “Latch”. Two ridiculously talented teenagers from South London swept all the bloggers and indie kids away their expertly crafted dance music.
Todd Terje “Inspector Norse”. A freakin’ monster and dance floor destroyer. Nuff said. No remixes.. No pop cross over. Straight-up genius. Tune of the year. Cute, cute video too.