Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Top 112 Songs of 2012 - #10 - 1

Azealia Banks!

#10. Haunted Gold
by Curxes

A murderous fear that I own,
Is a thorn in your voice and your tone. 

After all of these incredible songs we’ve already spoken about, I can’t think of a better way to start our top ten. I first stumbled across Curxes in April this year and it’s a testament to their talent that even though I’ve only experienced two of their songs, without a major record label deal, homemade clips and independent distribution of their songs, they remain probably my favourite find of the year. Roberta Fidora’s voice is one of a kind, so strong and so haunting while Macaulay Hopwood’s synth and production skills are phenomenal; together they create a sound not like anything else in our list of faves. Haunted Gold astounded me when I first heard it, the dramatic build up at the beginning, the almost scary and abrasive chorus, the sudden intensely sexy end; this is electronic music at its best, vintage in a way I love but even more tomorrow than tomorrow. This is the kind of music that makes me literally excited; it’s raw, it’s honest, it’s genuinely original and above all, it’s awesome. This is the history of music and this is the future of music and this is exactly what music should be, fucking amazing. (Jo Michelmore) 

We kick off our top ten songs of the year with one of the most insanely powerful, heartbeat elevating industrial electronic tracks that's ever graced my ears. 'Haunted Gold' begins with an escalating introduction that sends a shiver down your spine. That shiver turns into an explosion that shocks your entire system the second Roberta Fidora and her thunderous voice bellows, "a murderous fear that I own." She doesn't let up throughout and neither does Macaulay Hopwood, hitting you harder and harder with heavy synths and even heavier beats. By the end, you may feel exhausted. Take a second or two, hit replay and experience this dramatic wonder all over again. It gets better every time. (Matt Bond)    

I like this song. I have no idea what’s going on, but I like it. The vocalist sounds a bit quirky. I can also hear weird clunky noises and what I can only assume is a whip. Whip it real good! It’s always a sign of a great song when I feel the need to dance. Although I fear that my dancing in this case would involve a lot of finger snapping and awkwardly bent legs. (Katie Langley) 

#9. 1000 Sundowns
by Emma Louise (AUS)

But on these summer nights when the weather's right,
I miss him by my side.
Oh by my side. 

When I went to see Emma Louise in July this year, I was expecting an enjoyable night, but I wasn’t expecting to hear what would become one of my very favourite songs of the year. I was expecting to hear some amazing song writing, but I wasn’t expecting to be bought to tears. When she explained what the song was about, her own Aunt and Uncle and their relationship following his battle with cancer, I knew it was going to be a live music moment I would adore, but I wasn’t expecting the rush of goose bumps that washed over me and the spine tingle that still occurs mid-way through with each listen. The simplicity of a girl and her guitar, the obvious love and admiration of people she loves, those final lines “oh please let me cry in his arms, just once more, for one thousand sundowns, for one thousand sundowns”; they get me every single time and the rush of tears are welcomed, because for me, this is what music is about. (Jo Michelmore) 

I must admit, I thought Emma Louise was Seal’s favourite contestant on “The Voice”. Clearly I’ve made a mistake with my Emma’s. And yes, I did watch that terrible show. This song is not something I would usually listen to, however, I need to give credit where credit is due. Emma Louise has a beautiful voice. (Katie Langley) 

I remember listening to '1000 Sundowns' live at the Black Bear Lodge earlier in the year and having one of those incredible moments during a gig when you catch a friend's eye and without saying a word acknowledge that what you're experiencing is one of the most amazing music moments in your life. It was the first time I had heard the song, the first of what would become a hundred and will eventually become a thousand. Walking out of Louise's gig, I couldn't believe someone so young could write something so deeply moving; equal parts heartbreaking, heart warming and life affirming. When I got home I played the song for my brother and when it was finished he played it again. And then again. That story can be applied to countless friends I've played it to throughout the year. Emma Louise has written a song that speaks to every single person that has ever felt love... who fears loss. She has written a song that speaks to everyone. You'll want to hear what she has to say, you might learn from it and you're likely to feel something deep inside that will take you on a journey you thought no song possibly could. In its closing moments, as Emma sings, "and please let me cry in his arms just once more... for 1000 Sundowns," it's the pause after 'more' that stops time, that leaves me a little broken and leaves me so grateful for someone who can release a song so perfect. (Matt Bond)    

#8. Promises
by The Presets (AUS)

And wouldn't it be cool, if we... could sail this ship to calmer seas,
  Turn our backs on bush fires.

"Wouldn't it be nice, if we... could leave behind this mess we're in." So begins the dreamiest Presets number to be delivered unto us, a beginning that can melt away anything bad in your day and have you ready for a grand adventure. I don't know how it works. The lyrics might not be the most positive and there's a definitive sense of everything coming to an end, but there's also something so hopeful about 'Promises.' You can't stop that smile from forming as the song works its way into you brain, refusing to budge. Julian Hamilton's vocals have never sounded better and the emotion found within that voice carries the song to those previously mentioned dreamy, dreamy heights. Kim Moyes isn't to be ignored though, as the keys present throughout the verses send you to a place so happy, you'll never want to leave. (Matt Bond) 

I speak about the soundtrack to life a lot, because it fascinates me, we all have them and no two person’s soundtracks are the same. They’re a personal thing and some songs fall into them because they change your life and some songs fall into them because they just happen to be there. Sometimes you can’t avoid a catchy tune and a dance and sometimes the songs that seem throw away tracks become a feature in one of your chapters. When I think of 2012, The Presets are sure to feature heavily in my soundtrack, right at the top of my list. Released in September, at one of my favourite times of year, when the skies are an incredible blue, the sun is beating down and the nights are getting warmer, Promises did exactly that, it held the promise of long summer nights ahead, of fun and music and friends and fabulous days and nights all rolling into one. Pop music doesn’t have to be life changing, sometimes it can just be a whole lot of fun and when fun pop appears in your soundtrack, you know you’ve had a great time. If I keep collecting pop songs like this one, my ever changing soundtrack is going to be awesome. (Jo Michelmore) 

#7. Sweet Nothing
by Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch

And it's not enough, to tell me that you care,
When we both know, the words are empty air,
You give me nothing. 

Here’s an important lesson for you. Sometimes two negatives make a positive. I’m not sure if this is the case in any mathematical or scientific way, but let’s talk in a pop music kind of way. I have not always been a fan of these two things. Calvin Harris is a songwriter, a producer, a guy who pushes a lot of buttons, but he kind of looks a little weird, right? Florence Welch (even though I am a Florence convert now), there was a time when her voice kind of annoyed me, it was always on go. Here is the lesson in negative/positive though, for what I may not have loved a couple of months ago is now a favourite. Sweet Nothing is a perfect combination, a journey of punchy beats and catchy synths, with Florence declaring in a beautiful way; “I put my faith in something unknown, I'm living on such sweet nothing” so I did exactly that, putting my faith in something I wasn't sure of and came up with much more than sweet nothing, I came up with one of my favourite dance pop songs of the year. (Jo Michelmore) 

I'm not going to sugarcoat this... 'Sweet Nothing' succeeds because of the wonder of the world that is Florence Welch. Calvin Harris? Since producing Rihanna's 'We Found Love,' he's had a good run with his standard brand of easily digestible electro-pop. 'Ready for the radio' is the best way to describe his music... until the release of 'Sweet Nothing' that is. Taking a step away from her Machine, Florence slides into the role of dance diva so gracefully that you question if she's been playing in the wrong realm this whole time. Ok, she hasn't... but you can't tell me you wouldn't want to hear an entire album made up of songs in the same vein as 'Sweet Nothing.' Hey, Calvin Harris can even produce it if he wants. Having heard this, you can't think of anyone else being able to pull it off so well. Rihanna? No. This is the best pure electronic dance track of 2012. I will say a polite thanks to Calvin Harris, but I'll bow down to Florence Welch. (Matt Bond) 

#6. Elephant
by Tame Impala (AUS)

Well he feels like an elephant,
Shaking his big grey trunk for the hell of it... 

As soon as I heard the psychedelic introduction I knew I would love this song. It made me want to take out my hair and twirl twirl twirl. I did feel like the vocals played second fiddle to the music, but my neck was so sore from the hair twirling that I didn’t mind too much. The piano break down at 1:14 was awesome. Rock on. This is the perfect song for an acid trip, or a long drive, but certainly not those two things together. (Katie Langley) 

A million times yes! The psychedelic instant-classic that is Tame Impala's 'Elephant' is an anthem that sounds like it's from another time, but captures the brightest moments of an amazing year in just over three-and-a-half minutes. A bluesier alternative to the rest of the J Award winning album, Lonerism, 'Elephant' made me see Perth's most intriguing band in a whole new light. Kevin Parker's trippy vocal performance gets you right in the mood for a righteous singalong, while the bass guitar has you shaking around the tiny space in your living room that you've just decided is a dance floor... like an elephant. It makes sense when you think about it. You know, because they're singing about an elephant. However you choose to dance, the only thing that matters is you will be dancing. There's no point in resisting. 'Elephant' is the second best song of the year for those long drives on the open road too. The best? You'll find out next. (Matt Bond)  

You could probably work out by now how I would feel about a song with such a vintage feel making it into our top ten. Happy face? Let’s see…a step straight out of the 70’s psychedelica? Happy face. A song laden with incredibly heavy guitar riffs? Happy face. A song featuring my favourite driving bass line of the year? Happy face. A song so popular all around the world, written by a little Australian band? Happy face. A song with a vocal that sounds like it was recorded 40 years ago? Happy face. A song that is so confident in itself, it’s not afraid to have a minute guitar solo in the middle? Happy face! A band I think I might love? Happy face. A song I can’t get enough of? Happy face! Definite happy face. (Jo Michelmore) 

#5. Bad Girls
by M.I.A

Live fast, die young,
Bad girls do it well... 

Lessons for girl musicians. Number 1. Instead of saying ‘lets make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young’ (thank you Ke$ha) how about something with a little more meaning, like our friend M.I.A. says; “live fast die young bad girls do it well”. Number 2. Ms Minaj, when you said “get on the floor, floor, like it’s your last chance, if you want more, more”, I know you wish you said something with a little more attitude, something like “my chain hits my chest, when I’m banging on the dashboard”. Number 3. Even though you think you know it all Madonna, perhaps you could start learning from your younger contemporaries. While you (a 54 year old woman) was busily releasing “hey ey ey ey, like a girl gone wild, a girl gone wild”, your (slightly younger and more attractive) counterpart was saying “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well, live fast, die young, bad girls do it well”. With Bad Girls, M.I.A made so many of her fellow artists look like total amateurs, it was incredibly catchy, the clip was incredibly awesome and she made her most experimental and interesting track a piece of rap magic. Her talent is undeniable, her pop sensibilities firmly planted and she makes empowerment sexy; her place as one to keep loving in 2013 is confirmed. After all, number five on our countdown must count for something, right? (Jo Michelmore)

Is there anyone in the world as effortlessly cool as M.I.A? You say there is? I say you haven't heard 'Bad Girls' or seen the jaw-dropping visual delight that is its music video. Taking influences from Middle Eastern 'Arabian Nights' music as well as dancehall and giving both an epic hip-hop overhaul, M.I.A and producer Danja dropped what could be Maya Arulpragasam's greatest piece of work. Ever. 'Bad Girls' is that sexy and dangerous badass babe your mother warned you about growing up. If the song isn't mind-blowing enough by itself, when combined with the video... it's just too much. The image of M.I.A sitting on top of the drifting car, casually filing her nails is one of the most striking images you'll ever see in a music video. It's also INSANE! Kids... do not try that at home. 'Bad Girls' is the start of what should be an unforgettable new journey with M.I.A. Upcoming fourth album Matangi is definitely one of the most wanted in 2013. (Matt Bond)    

I have been an M.I.A fan for a couple of years now. I love her. She’s fun and funky. “Bad Girls” has all the hallmarks of an M.I.A track. This song certainly does keep me moving from start to finish, and it’s a good opportunity to practice my Zumba moves. (Katie Langley) 

#4. Angels
by The xx

You move through the room,
Like breathing was easy,
If someone believed me,
They would be as in love with you as I am. 

It was in the middle of the year, in the cold of my southern hemisphere winter I first heard Angels. It seems strange then, that a song so sparse, so bare, so perfectly minimalist, could make me feel so warm and comfortable and wrapped up in love. Only a band as awesome as The xx could manage to make the space in a song seem intimate and could make a haunting song seem so welcoming and divinely lovely. Romy’s whisper is so strong and yet somehow so delicate, the lyrics depressingly beautiful; “and the end is unknown, but I think I’m ready, as long as you’re with me, being as in love with you as I am”. When the collection of awkwardly perfect drumbeats kicks in about halfway through, they make my own heart skip a beat. Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible for music to be this good. (Jo Michelmore) 

This song was surprising, in the best possible way. The more I listened, the more I liked. By the end of the song I’d decided that I loved it, and need to hear more. The vocals are beautiful, but there’s a sense of despair. It strikes me as one of those songs that, depending on your mood, could make you feel like you were riding a rainbow (a double rainbow even) or leave your sobbing in your Cornflakes. (Katie Langley) 

Has there ever been a song so immediately calming as 'Angels'? It disarms you with the opening guitar lines, before Romy Madley Croft and her siren call beckons you to follow her into a world so full of love, you'd think there was nothing else to feel. I'm left feeling like it's all a little too good to be true. Is she expressing a true, deep love that she just can't find the words to describe? Or is she doing her best to convince herself and you, the listener that what she feels is right. "If someone believed me, they would be as in love with you as I am," leaves so many questions in my mind. The way she repeats 'love' throughout makes me wonder... if she says it enough, does it make it true? It's this back and forth, is it real or isn't it that keeps me coming back for more. I'll jump between both views, my love for The xx and 'Angels' never diminishing. (Matt Bond)  


#3. The Bed Song
by Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra

And I lay there wondering, what is the matter,
Is this a matter of worse or of better? 

There are some things I can’t tell you about this song, and there are some things I can. I can tell you the number of times I have heard The Bed Song. More than five, but less than ten. I can tell you exactly where I was the first time I heard it. In my dimly lit lounge room, mid-evening. I can tell you the last time a song affected me so much. It’s something that’s only happened a couple of times in my life. I can tell you how much I admire and adore Amanda Palmer, but it’s nothing I haven’t already said on this blog. I can tell you what happens when I hear this song, I literally get a feeling of breathlessness, a gasp for air, a feeling in my chest of hurt and desire and an ache that doesn’t easily go away. I can tell you that a song I have only heard a handful of times is one of my favourite songs, ever. I can tell you why I have only heard it a handful of times, because it is so breathtakingly heartbreaking, I never want to get used to it, I never want it to be background music, I never want to lose the feeling of despair and hope, loss and love when I hear it. I can tell you that it doesn’t happen often, but if you’re one of the lucky ones, every now and then you will find a song that will change your life. What I can’t tell you is how much I love this song, or what it means to me, because sometimes, words are just not enough. What I can tell you is that on days when all is too much, when there is nothing else; songs like this are the reason that music means the world to me. (Jo Michelmore) 

I feel like everything I've ever wanted to say about 'The Bed Song' has already been said. From my original review... 'The Bed Song' is... it's everything. Joyously opening with 'exhibit A'; happier times that seem to be the start of something wonderful and ending with the devastating 'exhibit E,' it's a story that chronicles the crippling breakdown of communication, intimacy and love in a relationship. "And I lay there wondering what is the matter, is this a matter of worse or of better, you took the blanket so I took the bed sheet, and I would have held you if you'd only... let me." Performed simply, piano and vocal, it stands out amongst every other track on Theatre Is Evil because of its minimal production. It's a move to be celebrated. Palmer's voice subtly delivers blow after blow, her pain as stifled as her inability to be open and honest with her lover. That pain is momentarily unleashed in the bridge after 'exhibit C,' the first instance of communication between the two characters. In a bid not to spoil 'exhibit E,' I'll just say that the second time the two communicate is just as tear-inducing as the first. In my non-professional opinion, there is no greater songwriter in music today than Amanda Palmer; exhibit A - 'The Bed Song.' When VH1 do their storytellers program, Amanda Palmer is who they should be going after. Not P!nk. 'The Bed Song' is a story. It's beautiful, heartbreaking, breathtaking, an artistic achievement. It's everything... and then some. "You picked a mattress and had it delivered, and I walked upstairs and the sight of it made my heart pound, and I wrapped my arms around me."... Three songs have reduced me to a watery mess in 2012. Only one has done it on more than one occasion. 'The Bed Song' will be with me, for worse or for better, for a long, long time. (Matt Bond)

#2. 212
by Azealia Banks ft. Lazy Jay

Hey, I can be the answer... C-word, c-word, c-word, c-word... etc.

Hype is a powerful thing and if there's one thing Azealia Banks has going for her right this second, it's hype. A delayed album, an acceptable EP, a continuous stream of videos that define 'style over substance' have made up the Azealia Banks story over the past six months. Still, she is the most talked about artist in the world right now. Hype is a powerful thing, but you can see why she's got a ton of it. '212' has taken over this year, filling dance floors throughout the world as the most amazing/offensive/amazing rhymes escape the mouth of this sweet looking girl from Harlem. A 'ruin your c-bomb' here, an 'end of your life is near' there, you're singing along to the most random diss track and you just don't care. Once you've desensitized yourself to the not-so-shocking shock factor, you can sit back and appreciate just how talented Banks is. Everything that Nicki Minaj thought she could be and an amazing singer to boot. Fun, cheeky and the best rap song of the year. Whether or not she lives up to the hype is a question for next year. Until then, we can all agree that she delivered in the most unexpected way in 2012. (Matt Bond)

I really do love this song, and would consider it one of my favourites of the year. However, I have to say that I was fairly surprised when I Googled the lyrics. I’m not normally a fan of dropping the c-bomb, although my usual rules don’t seem to apply with this song. In fact, I propose that from now on, instead of using c-bomb, we use “Azealia Banks”. For example, Kyle Sandilands is such a fu$%ing Azealia Banks! At 1:46 we find out that not only can Azealia rap, but the girl can sing. And when the beat drops at 2:17 it really makes me want to groove. All in all this song makes me feel like the white girl gangsta I think I am. I’m not really sure about 212, but 4017 represent. (Katie Langley)

Sometimes I like to think about what I will think of music as I get older. I mean, you see and hear older people talking about “what it was like in their day, they don’t make music like they used to, I like their old stuff better than their new stuff” all the time. So let’s picture it, me, Matt, Katie, all hanging out in the retirement village, reminiscing about the old days…”you know, there just haven’t been any good female rappers lately. They’re just not like they used to be. What was her name? That girl, Banks, she was number two in our countdown, she had that one hit, “I’ma ruin you c**t”, yes, it’s a beautiful picture of the future, isn’t it? The point is, I don’t know if this is a song I’m going to remember in 12 months’ time, let alone decades, because Azaelia doesn’t seem to have backed this up with much else, but I do know I have loved the hell out of this song this year. I’ve happily fallen for Azaelia’s marketing team plans and have ridden the hype train all the way to the front row at Splendour. I’ve willingly been pulled up onto a podium when this song has come on at a club, I’ve screamed my lungs out in the car to my fellow drivers and I’ve re-quoted these lyrics as often as possible, after all “watcha gon do when I appear” comes up in conversation all the time. Unashamedly, I’ve loved this song so much this year, and yes, one hit wonder or not, I hope I remember this one in the retirement village. I really want to tell my fellow retiree friends “bitch, the end of your lives are near, this shit been mine…” (Jo Michelmore) 

#1. Heart Says Yes (Head Says No)
by Texas Tea (AUS)

Well your head will tell you it's better to withold,
Those feelings, just keep them away.
Woah listen, listen to that heart.
Oh no, don't you listen, listen to that head... baby. 

Three times I've heard 'Heart Says Yes' live. Somewhere around 350 would be the amount of times I've listened to the recorded track. Zero times I've been able to stop my feet from shifting side to side before the infectious chorus forces said feet to explain to my torso and shoulders it's time to dance. Texas Tea have always packed a powerful alternative-country punch, but here on 'Heart Says Yes' they take it to a whole new level. We've said that 2012 has been a big year for retro revival sounds, but Texas Tea have been doing it for so long that they put all others to shame. The sound Benjamin Dougherty makes on his guitar wont be heard anywhere else (in this decade, or the last, or the one before that, or the...), the style seems like it carries so much of the past with it. Kate Jacobsen has a voice so warm and rich, you'll literally feel your heart melting as she serenades you. There have been so many amazing songs released in 2012, but none that have stuck with me day after day like 'Heart Says Yes (Head Says No).' Texas Tea have moved from being one of Brisbane's best live acts to one of the best acts in all of music. A track like this is undeniably brilliant, catchy, engaging, swoon worthy (I'm kinda swooning now) and so much fun you'll wonder how you'd ever be able to live without it. And that's what makes it the best song of the year. Thanks Texas Tea. (Matt Bond)  

This song is all kinds of catchy, and I found myself bopping along the whole way through. It’s official… I’m a tea bag. (Katie Langley)

There are 112 songs in this countdown. That’s a lot of amazing music. I’ve thought a lot about those songs, trying to figure out what to write about them, trying to see if there was a way I could convince someone else (hello readers!) to press play on something they may not have heard this year. I reminisced a lot about the year that was, thinking about all the gigs I’ve been to, all the songs I’ve loved, all the new musicians and new songs I’ve found. It seems appropriate then, for the best piece of advice about music and life and love to be right here in our number one song. Perhaps when writing for this countdown, I should have done it backward, I should have listened to number one first. That twangy guitar of Ben Dougherty and Kate Jacobsen’s sweet vocals, letting me know I gotta prepare, building up to one of the catchiest choruses of the year, this was exactly the song I’ve needed all along. When you love a song, you just love it, sometimes it’s unexplainable and sometimes songs and musicians and bands make their way into your life without your control. Those songs, the ones that get stuck, the ones that make you dance, the ones that make you cry, the ones that make the cut for the soundtrack of your life, they’re the best kind. The ones you don’t make a decision about, the ones that don’t need thought, because they have a feeling, the ones you fall in love with, the ones that make life worth living and your heart keep beating. They’re the very best. This one by Texas Tea? It’s exactly all of those things and I had no choice but to love it. Why? I did exactly what Texas Tea advised me, and arrived at number one. “listen to that heart, no don’t you listen, listen to that head”. Thank you Texas Tea. Best advice, ever. (Jo Michelmore)

1 comment:

  1. Thumbs Up. Like. You guys educate me. Great countdown!


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