Continuing with the tradition set in place two years ago, the first few editions of the 3 Of The Week column in 2013 are going to take a focus on some of my favorite music from 2012. Looking over my list, I’m struck by how few of these acts might’ve been predicted before the year began. There were a lot of things I anticipated, but it seems that a lot of what struck me most came from where I least expected it. Great new music’s always a good thing, and 2012 was a great year for new music. If you haven’t heard these songs, you’re in for a treat. They made my year that much better, and truly dominated my headspace for quite some time, up to this very day. I hope they do the same for you.
7. “Just Give Me A Reason” – P!nk (Ft. Nate Ruess), from The Truth About Love
Two songs featuring Nate Ruess’s writing and singing talents in a top ten lists might seem a little excessive, but I’d truly be selling this song short if I didn’t put it here. On a first listen, I mildly enjoyed the collaboration. On a second, I moderately enjoyed it. The next thing I knew, I was a dozen plays deep and in love. The structure and lyrics play out as a near-perfect duet, with a catchy, yet melancholy, piano line providing the primary instrumental framework. Even without Ruess’s voice on the track, his fingerprints are all over the place. With restrained, flowing, deliberate verses giving way to a huge chorus, and a bridge finding the two vocalists trading lines, this is a masterfully-constructed piece of sad pop balladry. In other words, it’s everything I want from the radio. This is hands-down the song that’s been stuck in my head most frequently this year. If this song isn’t performed in a battle round on The Voice, the people making choices for that show simply don’t know what they’re doing.
8. “Antarctica” – Hands Like Houses, from Ground Dweller
From the first time I heard this song, I knew that I had a new band to be fall in love with. Eschewing the standard post-hardcore sing/scream combo and sticking solely to Trenton Woodley’s impressive clean vocals, this song’s a bit like if Jonny Craig-fronted Emarosa had more hooks. While I’m certainly the sort of person who gravitates and is drawn into great vocals, I don’t want to let the sheer talent displayed by every member of this band go unnoticed. Driving drums, meandering guitar lines, and tastefully-written keyboard parts are every bit as important as the vocal melodies here. While lyrics like “keep your feet on the ground, kid, only birds were meant to fly” and “there’s nothing left for us but altitude” work their way into your head, others like “stolen by the wind that turns the leaves to razors, holding just a string, our twine and our paper lost to the breeze” show that there’s plenty of attention being put towards more than just a hook. This song shows the band knows how to write, and their acoustic performances prove they’ve got the skills to pull them off. This is hands-down the Rise Records band I’m most excited to hear more from.
9. “Love Actually” – Cady Groves, from “Love Actually” Single
No qualms. If this song wasn’t on my list, I’d be lying. I first listened to this song expecting to hate it, but I was happily wrong. Nearly four minutes of gloriously longing girl pop, this is exactly the sort of thing the term “guilty pleasure” is frequently applied to. But, I have no guilt, only pleasure. And that’s because every single day is like WOAHHHHH. I never listened to Cady Groves before this song, and I haven’t listened to almost any of her other songs, but I’ve listened to “Love Actually” enough to feel like some sort of expert on her emotions. At least, towards this one guy. I know that there’s nothing overly profound about this track, but that’s almost the beauty of it. It describes a certain feeling so perfectly, and with such a massive hook that it’s impossible for me to deny it. Like I said, no qualms.