Best Music of 2012... So Far

Cover of Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel...,
the best reviewed album of 2012... So Far
When talking about Justin Bieber's latest album Believe, Mikael Wood of The Los Angeles Times says, "It might be the year's most beautifully sung recording." And, according to, Bieber's 2012 record is also the year's biggest debut. It sold 374,000 copies in its first week, topping Madonna's release of MDNA, which debuted at 359,000 copies sold.

Coming off her multiple Grammy wins this year, Adele sold 730,000 copies in one week back in February. It's doubtful that any of the current pop acts can top that. Yet, speaking of British music acts that are making success, One Direction made a name for itself on Simon Cowell's The X-Factor. Their debut album Up All Night sold 176,000 copies during its first week in the United States this year, making One Direction the first U.K. group to have its first album be # 1 on the Billboard charts on its first week. The album has since been certified gold.

But, if you can't recall any of their songs, don't worry. Neither can I. Some want to hail One Direction as a boy band to bring back boy bands. While those people may drool over One Direction's catchy pop music, Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone magazine writes, "Whereas Justin Bieber has charm, that telltale scratchy vocal tone and actual charisma, One Direction are simply five pretty guys with a few decent songs and not much personality. Call them One Dimension."

Ironically, there was another album released just a month later also titled Up All Night. It was the debut album of country artist Kip Moore with his hit single "Somethin' About a Truck." The song is cool but not that inventive. Lionel Richie who took his old hit songs like "All Night Long" and "Say You, Say Me" and remade them as country tracks for his album Tuskegee was way more inventive than what a lot of the pop country artists have put out this year, including Kip Moore. The exception was Carrie Underwood whose album this year Blown Away was her third # 1 album making her the third female to have three # 1 country albums.

Adam Lambert released his second album Trespassing. It sold about 78,000 copies back in mid May, putting it at # 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, cementing Lambert as the first openly gay artist to do this.

However, if you're someone who doesn't care about commerce and simply want to know what the best music of 2012 is from a critical standpoint, look no further than Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. Yes, that long line is the actual title of Fiona's latest record and it currently stands as the best reviewed album of the year.

The best review again comes from The Los Angeles Times. Music critic Randall Roberts writes, "While cleaning my apartment, I stopped midtrack and stood there dumbly as Apple sang with perfect rhythmic grace the chorus, 'I’m a hot knife, he’s a pat of butter.' It’s a musical moment that every fan seeks to replicate, when invisible sound waves hit the eardrums and everything changes."

When writing about one of Fiona Apple's songs on The Idler Wheel... album, Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork says it's "nothing short of a vocal masterclass." Jeremy D. Larson for Consequence of Sound, a Chicago-based music blog that supplies articles for Time magazine posted the following, "The Idler Wheel succeeds in creating a singular world more daring than any of Apple’s previous records and one of the most daring pop records in recent history."

If you're interested in which other albums appealed to the music critics, go to Toward the end of the year, that web site starts compiling a list of the best albums according to the data they've collected. Before it does that, I can tell you that after Fiona Apple, Jack White's Blunderbuss is the 2nd best reviewed record of 2012. Out of 44 reviews, 40 were positive with three critics giving it a perfect 100 score and six scoring it in the 90s. After him, Brooklyn rapper Jaime Meline aka El-P has the third best reviewed album called Cancer 4 Cure. His third record got 32 reviews, all of which were positive with three scores of 100 but only two scores in the 90s.

Of all them, I believe that Fiona Apple should be on the short-list of potential Grammy nominees for Album of the Year come next awards season. Also, on that short-list, I would include Damien Jurado, Django Django, Alabama Shakes, Emeli Sande and Gotye, all of whom, in my humble opinion, created five of the most beautiful, amazing and wonderful albums I've ever heard. I dare anyone to listen to Gotye "I Feel Better" and not like it.

By far, the best movie soundtrack of the year is The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond, but something that I thought was truly outstanding though was the release of Occupy This Album. The collection of songs from various artists all in support of the Occupy Wall Street protests actually totaled 99 songs. I just imagine having to print that entire album onto vinyl. While the 99 songs require five CDs, how many circles of vinyl does it need?

Best Music of 2012... So Far

Best Folk / Country

1. MARAQOPA by Damien Jurado
2. WHO'S FEELING YOUNG NOW? by Punch Brothers
3. SLIPSTREAM by Bonnie Raitt
4. BLOWN AWAY by Carrie Underwood
5. A CHURCH THAT FITS OUR NEEDS by Lost in the Trees

Best Rock / Alternative

1. BOYS & GIRLS by Alabama Shakes
3. ARROW by Heartless Bastards
4. MILK FAMOUS by White Rabbits
5. GRAND HOTEL by The Explorers Club
6. STRANGE LAND by Yellow Ostrich

Best Pop / Electronic

1. THE IDLER WHEEL... by Fiona Apple
2. DJANGO DJANGO by Django Django
3. COLOURS by Graffiti6
4. VOWS by Kimbra
5. MDNA by Madonna

Best R&B / Soul

1. THE MF LIFE by Melanie Fiona
2. BLACK RADIO by Robert Glasper
3. ALL OF ME by Estelle
5. WRITE ME BACK by R. Kelly
6. MIRRORWRITING by Jamie Woon
7. SOUL IS HEAVY by Nneka
8. NEW LIFE by Monica

Best Rap / Hip Hop

1. GOD'S FATHER by Lil B
2. AWE NATURALE by THEESatisfation
3. THE OF TAPE, VOL. 2 by Odd Future
4. PURPLE NAKED LADIES by The Internet

Best Singles from Non-listed Albums

1. "Talking Empty Bed Blues" by Jim James with Jay Farrar
2. "It Hurts Every Time" by Good Old War
3. "A New Town" by Field Music
4. "Bashful" by Kwes.
5. "Just a Touch" by AlunaGeorge
6. "Breathing Tigers" by Yukon Blonde
7. "Your Eyes" by Bombay Bicycle Club
8. "Drifters" by Paul Weller
9. "Hood" and "Normal Song" by Perfume Genius
10. "Hard To Be Close" by Here We Go Magic
11. "Climax" by Usher
12. "Toxic" by Gift of Gab
13. "Afternoons with David Hockney" by Miniature Tigers
14. "Tee Pees 1-12" by Father John Misty
15. "Wrenning Day" by Ava Luna
16. "Mean Spirits" by Silversun Pickups
17. "In Your Own Time" by Keane


Popular Posts