Best of 2012 Pop Music: Singles

Here are the Top 10 singles of 2012, as selected by Times pop music staff writer Mikael Wood

1. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe.” What else? With nearly 400 million views on YouTube – and nine straight weeks atop Billboard's Hot 100 -- Jepsen’s inescapable summer smash dominated mainstream pop in 2012. But “Call Me Maybe” is more than its statistics. It’s also a pitch-perfect expression of young love’s irrational promise.

2. Sky Ferreira, “Everything Is Embarrassing.” A singer in search of a sound finds it at last in her mesmerizing post-disco confession.

3. Usher, “Climax.” In a year packed with heavy-breathing R&B; jams, Usher’s slo-mo come-on produced the most heat.

4. Miguel, “Adorn.” This “Sexual Healing”-esque ditty by L.A.’s Miguel – a left-field nominee for the song-of-the-year Grammy – ranked right behind “Climax” as a temperature-raiser.

5. Frank Ocean, “Thinkin Bout You.” L.A.’s other avant-soul rookie played it a bit cooler, in both senses of the word.

6. Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” The country superstar finally completed her long-deferred transition to pop this year, wisely turning to Swedish hitmaker Max Martin for this talky, appealingly bratty kiss-off.

7. Kathleen Edwards, “Change the Sheets.” An unexpectedly soulful gem from this Canadian alt-country singer, burnished to a soft-pop glow by producer Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.

8. Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz, “Mercy.” 2 Chainz nails the vibe of this woozy posse cut in his show-closing verse: “I’m drunk and high at the same time / Drinking Champagne on the airplane.”

9. Little Big Town, “Pontoon.” Equal parts sweet and sleazy, the co-ed country act’s waterborne hit offered all kinds of fun in the sun.

10. The Rolling Stones, “Doom and Gloom.” It’s harder to imagine someone less qualified than Mick Jagger to opine on the troubles of the 99 percent. Yet coupled with Keith Richards’ grimy guitar – and over a killer groove by Charlie Watts – the Rolling Stone sells his street-fighting dissatisfaction.


Best of 2012 Pop Music: Reissues

2012 in review: Pop music's most memorable moments

Madonna tops Billboard's 2012 highest-grossing tour list


PHOTOS: Iconic rock guitars and their owners

The Envelope: Awards Insider

PHOTOS: Grammy top nominees

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World