OK, one might allege that this song sounds like dozens of others that Kelly has already (or will in the future) release, and that the song is very MOR, P!nk/Adam Lambert sounding. Whilst such allegations are true, the fact of the matter is no-one in the game does this type of song quite as well as Kelly Clarkson, and if she has a signature sound that’s working, then why bother fixing it?
Highlight of the song: ‘c-c-c-c-c-c-c-catch my breath…’
Lowlight of the song: Sounds like any other Kelly Clarkson mid-tempo
Best Lyric: ‘It’s all so simple now’
29. Misha B – Do You Think of Me?
I like the way this song builds up. Some songs give you everything including the sink by the first chorus (hello Nicki Minaj), so it’s nice to have some well crafted subtlety to the song that ensures you want to listen to the full 3:48 length. It also shows us the potential versatility of Misha B’s voice; it’s nice to hear it in both a minimal soundscape and also hear hints at how she could lead a dance anthem with her sensational vocals.
Highlight of the song: The moment you realise it’s a woman singing; the beats that join in the song at the first ‘at aaaaaaalllll’ on the chorus
Lowlight of the song: The intro sounds really similar to the intro to ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ by Chris Brown, and at the start Misha herself also sounds like she could be Chris Brown.
Best lyric: ‘I’m living by the telephone’ - Who hasn’t done this after a break up?
28. Pixie Lott – Kiss The Stars
My first ‘crap-pop’ entry in the chart. Not that I need to explain myself, but I justify my pop addiction on the basis of being able to distinguish between crap-pop and decent-pop. Crap-pop refers to the attitude of the people who make it (they hold such a low opinion of the public that they think they can serve any crap out as pop and people will love it; they treat pop as replaceable, consumable crap shoved out onto the pop charts as quickly as possible and produced as hurriedly, and often cheaply, as possible.) However despite all this, crap-pop can also (and very often is) good or decent. Anyway, now that’s out of the way - this song has it all. Dodgy beats, dodgy lyrics, dodgy vocalist. And don’t get me started on the shitshow that was the ‘Kiss The Stars’ video. And I fucking love every second of it. I’ve warmed up to Pixie so much this year (following the release of this, obviously).
Highlight of the song: ’We’re in love to-niiiiiii-iiii-iiiii-iight’; the horrific video; the horrific lyrics (think of innuendo written by a simpelton and you’ll be there -‘put the plug in the socket’ ‘push the switch’ ‘turn it on and I can go for hours’). This is basically Pixie Lott reducing herself to being a prostitute in the public sphere.
Lowlight of the song: The shockingly awful video; the shockingly awful lyrics; Pixie Lott herself.
Best Lyric: ‘Put the plug in the socket’ - literal translation: fuck me senseless now.
27. Eric Saade featuring Dev – Hotter Than Fire
Eric Saade is one of the biggest popstars in Sweden – we don’t really have a British equivalent at the moment, but think Justin Timberlake when he first went solo and you won’t be far wrong. You’ll know Dev from that ‘Like a G6’ song. Their collaboration here is another ‘crap-pop’ entry in the chart. Collaborations such as these freak me out a little; it is obvious “Dev” and Saade have never met as their bits in the video are very obviously filmed separately, with “Dev” being beamed onto TV screens that Saade dances around. They have never performed the song live together; Dev’s bit is always pre-recorded and played back whilst Saade dances around the stage. So despite the fact that “Dev” doesn’t even know who Saade is, I love this song. The production on it is neat. Saade’s (live) dance routine to this song is honestly really worth a Youtube, too.
Highlight of the song: Copious mentions of TNT bringing back memories of Crash Bandicoot; the way Dev sings flammable – to fit the word in the song it must be reduced to two syllables. ‘Flam-ble’ it is all the way, Dev!
Lowlight of the song: The way Dev always has to announce herself and her collaborators on any song she is ever on. GET OVER YOURSELF LOVE. YOU’RE NOT EVEN A BIG POPSTAR YET! “It’s Dev” sings Saade, “and Eric Saade” sings Dev. Do they know they have it the wrong way around?
Best lyric: ‘Red dress H-O-T indeed’ - I love when popstars spell out words with letters in their songs.
26. Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
I like many things about this song but the biggest one is how wordy the title of the song is and subsequently how wordy the chorus is. When has a major popstar in recent history ever made such a brave move as releasing their first single from an album with a 7 (SEVEN!) word title? For this alone, Taylor deserves a spot on the list, but the way the song manages to squeeze in the talky bit without it sounding out of place, or shit, is what really elevates this song above others.
Highlight of the song: ‘Some indie record that’s much cooler than mine’; the ‘ooooh-OOOOoooooh’s’; the spoken bit (obviously)
Lowlight of the song: ‘Wee-EEE’; ‘Trust me’; ‘Like ever’.
Best Lyric: ’You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me’ - Literal translation: stop bitching about me!
25. Conor Maynard featuring Ne-Yo – Turn Around
Obviously not the best song named ‘Turn Around’, since Phats & Small have got that one covered with their classic late-90’s version. I struggle to really understand what the point of Conor Maynard is besides posing alongside Tom Daley one in a while in the tabloids. His music is OK but nothing special, therefore descriptions of him as the British Bieber are lazy as well as plain untrue. There is a gap in the pop music market for a British Eric Saade, but I really don’t think Conor Maynard is the man up to the job.
Highlight of the song: When Ne-Yo comes in and saves the song; the middle 8.
Lowlight of the song: There isn’t one - this is a consistent song.
Best lyric: ‘Together, nothing can stop us now’ - Yeah, the lyrics to this song aren’t very good.
24. Owl City featuring Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time
If ‘Turn Around’ is improved 50% by Ne-Yo’s appearance, which sounds about right, this song is made precisely 639% better by Carly’s appearance. The last crap-pop entry in the chart. (Boo!)
Highlight of the song: Any of Carly’s lines; Carly randomly and inappropriately interjecting ‘mmmmmm’ in Owl’s first verse, and the accompanying freaky, extremely-pleased-with-self smile she does in the video; the presence of Carly Rae Jepsen; ‘hands up if you’re down to get down tonight’
Lowlight of the song: ‘It’s always a good time’ - no, it is not; Owl City; Owl City in the video.
Best Lyric: ‘What’s up with this Prince song inside my head?’ < 200% amazing lyric. But WHICH Prince song is in your head?
23. Alphabeat – Vacation
That’s right, my favourite Danish pop-scoundrels returned this year with a not-too-glorious comeback album. Now fiercely independent, they seem to have decided to sonically return to their debut album for the new material. This song always puts a smile on my face, and it is typical Alphabeat fluff, although the instrumental is probably better by itself – sad but true.
Highlight of the song: ’VACATION! Woah-oh. I wanna go. I wanna GO GO GO’; the intro.
Lowlight of the song: The piss-poor lyrics which could have been (or perhaps were?) written by a 5 year old; the lyrics’ awful predictability and familiarity.
Best lyric: ‘Why do you look so grave? I’ve got just the cure for it’ - Are you a Doctor now, Stein? What if there’s something seriously wrong here?I’m not sure a holiday is enough…
22. Parade – Light Me Up
Some of you will remember Parade; other’s won’t. Launched as a new girlband about the same time as The Wanted, presumably to fill the gap in the market left by Girls Aloud, The Saturdays and The Sugababes all variously breaking up and/or flopping beyond belief, and before Stooshe and Little Mix were on the scene, I didn’t really care for any of their material first time around and, after flopping hard, they were dropped. But they’re back in some way or another and offered Light Me Up as a free download. With it’s dubsteppy influences but remaining decidedly pop, this is definitely the best free song of the year.
Highlights of the song: The heavy(ish) beats underpinning the whole production; the breakdown at 2:19.
Lowlights of the song: None
Best Lyric: ‘deny ya’ to rhyme with ‘higher’ – A+ for effort and hilarity.
21. Marina & The Diamonds – Lies
I definitely think the best tracks from Marina’s ‘Electra Heart’ album weren’t released as singles, although that is no bad thing as they make a lot more sense in the context of the whole album than they would do individually. Diplo has a hand in the moody, dubstep-influenced production underpinning the chorus, and managing to restrain Dr Luke so that it doesn’t sound like a Katy Perry clone.
Highlights of the song: When the dubstep-like beat hits underneath the chorus; Marina’s flawless vocal delivery.
Lowlights of the song: The lyrics to the chorus aren’t great.
Best Lyric: ‘You’re a coward to the end’
20. Nicki Minaj – Va Va Voom
Two things I would like to point out: I do not think the sun shines out of Nicki Mianj’s arse, and I would not consider myself a Minaj fan. However I like to think I am relatively unbiased when I give my opinion on pop music and here we have it: this is a good song.
Highlights of the song: ‘If you got it you got it’ ; ‘I-I-I’.
Lowlights of the song: 1:53 when the song turns into an inferior clone of Rihanna’s ‘You Da One’ for approximately 25 seconds.
Best Lyric: Let’s face it her lyrics aren’t her strong point really are they.
19. Robbie Williams – Candy
This song is probably the closest you get to an ‘earworm’ a la ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ in 2012. Once the song lodges itself in your head it refuses to leave; sometimes for days on end. It’s everything we could hope a pop-Robbie could be in 2012; I hate to mention this, but he isn’t getting any younger and hence needs to stay age-appropriate WITHOUT straying into New Boring, bland Barlow ballad territory. This bridges that gap perfectly. I love that Candy was the first Robbie single in however long to get to #1. I love how popular Robbie still is in Europe. I love the song, but also occasionally hate it too.
Highlight of the song: The year’s best use of a saxophone without doubt; the UK X Factor performance; seeing Robbie back to singing really good pop songs; seeing Robbie piss Barlow off on the X Factor; the whole song!
Lowlight of the song: That fucking saxophone gets on your tits after a while; the fact that fucking Barlow had anything to do with this song :(
Best lyric: ‘And if it don’t feel good, what are you doing it for?’ - good point well made. And ‘liberate your sons and daughters’ – presumably we are liberating them from tosh such as X Factor on TV, or perhaps Barlow-produced snooze-athon ballads?
18. Little Mix – Wings
As Popjustice notes, the motivational theme of this song definitely felt tired by the time it saw release. However, as Popjustice ALSO notes, this is a very good song.
Highlights of the song: The handclaps; the intro; use of the gloomstep wobble; the middle 8; the declaration of intent (we are the best new girl band on the scene, fuck you The Saturdays)
Lowlights of the song: ‘Mama told me’ – you can fuck right off with that; use of ‘detain’ in the song – it doesn’t fit; ‘spread your wings my little butterfly’ - again, fuck right off; ‘don’t let what THEY say’ -who are they?
Best lyric: ‘We don’t need no ready steady go, no’
17. Scissor Sisters – Only The Horses
I’m not quite sure what happened to the Scissor Sisters. They went from being bloody massive, to a mainstay of commercial radio (not a compliment there by the way; I disliked I ‘Don’t Feel Like Dancing’ long before it appeared bloody everywhere all the time), to a niche act, to electro masters. This is where we find them on ‘Only The Horses’, and it is definitely a direction that suits Jake’s vocals. This song is sublime and I think everyone should experience it whilst walking alone in the rain through a big city. Don’t get me wrong though, it should be experienced by everyone a lot of the time, not limited to that particular scenario. It’s just a lush song that needs to be really listened to.
Highlights of the song: Near-enough the whole thing. The lyrics, the music, the vocals; everything is brilliance. Particularly the lyrics though - ‘We can’t escape the basic facts, how cold it can get, there’s nothing to protect ourselves, when the rain gets us wet’ ; ‘It feels so good to just get lost sometimes’ ; ‘We’ve gone too far beyond the borders there’s just you and I’.
Lowlights of the song: It could do with an ‘oh-oh-oh’ on the chorus after ‘tonight’.
Best lyric: All of them are great, but the best is ‘If you don’t know the way to hold me let me show you how’. How romantic.
16. David Guetta featuring Sia – Titanium
I don’t really think this song needs anything written about it, as it has become so ubiquitous over the past year.
Highlights of the song: Sia’s vocal. AMAZING.
Lowlights of the song: David Guetta is still a nob.
Best lyric: ‘I’m talking loud, not saying much’ – I’m sure we are all guilty of that at some point.
15. Marina & The Diamonds – Primadonna
The ‘surefire hit’ from her album (crafted by Dr Luke specifically to crack the top 5 and make her big in America), it under-perfomed, something Marina musn’t be too happy about. But she can cheer herself up by knowing it snuck into my top 15 songs of the year.
Highlights of the song: Everything. Especially Marina’s delivery. Flawless, again.
Lowlights of the song: There are none. This should have been a UK #1. For a month. Consecutively. One of few songs that sounds better on the radio than it does as mp3.
Best lyric: ‘You say that I’m kind of difficult, but it’s always someone else’s fault’
14. Florence + The Machine – Spectrum (Say My Name) (Calvin Harris Remix)
I must make it clear from the outset that I am talking about the Calvin Harris Remix ONLY. The original Spectrum is a crime against music and makes my ears bleed for hours after listening to the smallest snippet.
Highlights of the song: It’s all about Calvin’s beats.
Lowlights of the song: Florence’s wailing. However it doesn’t manage to ruin Calvin’s sick production.
Best lyric: The lyrics aren’t good at all. Boring, faux-pretentious shit.
13. Nicki Minaj – Starships
Every once in a while (about once a year I suppose, give or take) a song so big - so transcendental - comes along that you forget to appreciate that the song is brilliant underneath the absurd airplay, the appearance on TV programmes, at your mum’s birthday party, bloody EVERYWHERE… ‘Starships’ is one such song. It is easy to forget that ‘Starships’ didn’t exist before 2012 (or if it did, we certainly hadn’t heard it yet). It is hard to imagine a world without ‘Starships’. A world without ‘Starships’ wouldn’t really be a world worth living in. This song epitomises all that is good about “Nicki Minaj”, all that is good about RedOne, and all that can be good about pop music. It is awesome.
Highlights of the song: The intro; ‘let’s go to the beach-each’; ‘Twinkle-twinkle little star’; ‘cray-cray-cray’; EVERYTHING!!!
Lowlights of the song: Use of the word ‘motherfucker’ ; the line ‘fuck who you want and fuck who you like’- whilst I agree with the sentiment, it’s not Nicki’s place to be sexualising pre-teens.
Best lyric: ‘Jump in my hooptie hooptie hoop, I own that, and I ain’t paid my rent this month, I owe that’- I approve of Nicki's use of rhyming couplets to give any poet a run for their money.
12. P!nk – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
P!nk, like Kelly Clarkson, is somewhat pigeon-holed in terms of the type of song she is expected to release. And, like Kelly Clarkson, her A&R decide to go with the public’s expectations rather than challenge them. So, whilst many derided this as yet another one of P!nk’s tacky break-up songs, I personally just laid back and enjoyed the song for what it was. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but that’s fine – sometimes pop music doesn’t have to.
Highlights of the song: Everything.
Lowlights of the song: The chanted ‘YEAHS’ in the background on the ‘shit day’ part - they are boring, unnecessary and 110% crap; why does P!nk always swear in her songs? I think it’s her way of being ‘edgy’. It’s so unnecessary.
Best lyric: ‘I think I maybe think too much’, also ‘I think you’re full of shit.’
11. Girls Aloud – Something New
I made an extremely detailed post on this a while ago. Hence, all I have to add is that it is a grower, and I stand completely by my ‘this is what a Girls Aloud single sounds like in 2012’ sentiment. Basically, it’s not as brilliant as vintage Girls Aloud, but it’s still ‘not bad’.
Highlights of song: ‘Take a walk on the WILLD SIDE’ aka Sarah’s screechy bit; it’s relentlessness, it’s ferocity, it’s desire never to give up; it’s video with much Nadine-crazy-eye action (‘We girls gonna run this run this’); any bit sung by Nadine.
Lowlights of song: Too generic; too much Cheryl; not as good as it should have been; shit lyrics.
Best lyric: ‘Ah-ah’ -what Popjustice names as lazy space-filling lyricism, I define as FUCKING AMAZING. Haven’t you ever been so lost for words you can’t say anything but “AH AH”? Post-postmodern wonderfulness in a 1 second nugget of a song. Probably the most meaningful, best lyric of any song on this list.
10. Conor Maynard – Can’t Say No
When I first heard the beat to this song, I literally thought it was lifted from ‘#STUPiDFACEDD’, a song by spoof-rap act Wallpaper. Whilst it isn’t a direct lift (or even, on closer inspection, similar at all very much), it is “sick”. It is such an amazing beat! Let’s face it, this song’s placing is all about the beat and not at all about “Conor Maynard”, his voice, his personality… Poor Conor. Sorry, I just don’t like the idea of you as a popstar very much. I’d rather you worked in Tesco.
Highlights of song: The beat; pathetic attempts to paint Conor Maynard as some sort of sex-God; laughable euphemism for penis (‘they send my rocket to the sky) ; the song as a whole
Lowlights of song: Pathetic lyricism; Conor Maynard fronting this song.
Best Lyric: “I’m like ‘Houston, I think we’ve got a problem’”. Note how for this lyric to make any sense whatsoever the quote marks must be inserted. When Conor says “I’m like” -does he say his thought out loud, or is it just in his head for him and him alone to treasure? Such metaphysical analysis reveals that Conor Maynard is actually a modern-day Plato.
09. Sam and the Womp – Bom Bom
I’m not sure who Sam is, but I like his/her “Womp” very much. This song has it all. Ridiculous trumpets. Ridiculous lyrcis (but in a self-depreciating way, not in a “Conor Maynard sex god” kind of way). Ridiculous vocalist. Ridiculous video. OH IT IS SO AMAZING and so I go BOM BOM. Nice to hear something from a different genre on the radio, and top the charts too! This song’s strength lies in it’s universal silliness and hence appeal.
Highlights of song: The vocals. It’s like a 2012 version of Luciana. AMAZING. Of course, everything else is also a song highlight. It’s all amazing.
Lowlights of the song: “Sam and the Womp” - the band name makes it difficult to like them.
Best lyric: “I want sixteen pints of rum and then I go BOM BOM” - quite. Don’t we all after sixteen pints of rum.
08. Aiden Grimshaw – Nothing At All
I loved Aiden’s debut album, ‘Misty Eye’, despite not liking him very much when he appeared on X Factor, signs on Twitter that he is a “#lad”, and the fact that 4 songs on it were crap. Nevertheless, this was the best non-single from the album. I’ve reconfigured the album in my iTunes to make this the last track of the album as I think it is much better suited to that position than ‘Curtain Call’. I’m not quite sure why I love Aiden so much, but I do. Oh, his amazing songs help.
Highlights of the song: The lady ‘woah’ing throughout the chorus (I wonder if that’s Labrinth’s sister again?); the ending of the song with a weird spoken bit. I’m not sure if it’s a quote from a film but it reminds me of the start/end of ‘MAGIC’ by The Sound of Arrows and that is a good thing.
Lowlights of song: Nothing at all.
Best lyric: “Too long since I held you all wrong…”
07. Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj and MIA – Give Me All Your Luvin’
I hate songs which say things like Luvin’, especially when the artist singing it is in her 50s – but with credit to Madge, at least it’s not titled ‘Gimme All Your Luvin’. That would have been the straw that broke the camels back. Anyway, this song is fucking bonkers in an amazing way. The beat is sick. MIA is sick. Even Minaj is sick. It shouldn’t work, it really really shouldn’t; but it does.
Highlights of the song: ‘L-U-V (MADONNA) Y-O-U (YOU WANNA)’; the video; pom-poms; cheer-leaders; Nicki’s rap; Madonna in her 50s releasing things like this; self-referential with mention of ‘Lucky Star’ and general MADONNA chants.
Lowlights of song: I don’t like MIA’s rap but I do like her LUV and YOU bits so I begrudgingly tolerate it.
Best lyric: ‘L-U-V (MADONNA!) Y-O-U (YOU WANNA)’ – I’ve already explained (see Eric Saade) I love popstars spelling out letters of things, I love the absurdity of a song with chants from ‘lessers’ (MIA and Nicki) to the public that we must love (“LUV”) Madge, with MADONNA shouted in case nobody knew who we were meant to be loving. Fucking nuts.
06. Little Mix – DNA
Despite me having some reservations about the message of the song to impressionable pre-teen Little Mix fans (“he’s a man so he’s a cheating skank cos all men are cheating skanks LOL #girlpower2012”), I am at the end of the day a slave to good pop music. This song has it ALL.
Highlights of the song: The intro with the heart-bleep; the opera breakdown; the video; “D-D-D-DNA”; the ‘Get Sexy’ style rap before the opera breakdown; production of the song; harmonies etc. Girlbands haven’t sounded this good in FAR TOO LONG!!!!
Lowlights of the song: As already stated, I completely object to and disagree with the song’s underlying message; the butchered version Kiss FM were playing. It must be the 3:56 version
Best lyric: ‘It’s simple genetics’ (pronounced very VERY weirdly to rhyme with connects) ; ‘I’m the X to his Y’ – thanks for a Biology lesson, Little Mix.
05. Justin Bieber featuring Nicki Minaj – Beauty and a Beat
OK, I know many people will view this song and these artists as the absolute worst thing to afflict their eardrums in 2012. I am by no means a Bieber or a Minaj fan. Yet I pride myself on knowing a good pop song when I hear it, and I pride myself on not being biased against good music because of who made it. Lecture out of the way, then, and this song is just sublime to my ears. In addition there are two more occurrences which made me a mega-fan of the song. The first being the best moment of my clubbing life. Picture the scene; this song comes on and the dancefloor is empty. Cue me RUNNING onto it and doing some quite-frankly AMAZING dance moves, being able to take advantage of having the whole dancefloor to myself and thus pretending that I was Bieber performing at the VMAs. Number 2, I was trying to recreate said moment in my bedroom, and I split my trousers due to my too-energetic ‘desperate floor air-grab’ move. AMAZING.
Highlight of the song: “Allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll I need, is a beauty and a beat, who can make my life compl-eeeeeeeee-eeeeete. It’s alllllllllllllllllllllllllllll, bout you….’; Nicki’s line referencing Selena.
Lowlight of the song: Nicki Minaj’s strange grunt (that annoying one she always does) after the Selena line.
Best lyric: ‘Show you off, tonight I wanna show you off’ – is it weird I find this strangely romantic?!
04. Aiden Grimshaw – Curtain Call
This song was definitely a grower. I remember when I first heard it. I was distinctly underwhelmed. After about the 5th listen, though, its brilliance started to emerge. I don’t know what else to say apart from how good this song is and how I can’t believe this didn’t see great chart success.
Highlights of the song: The bit sung by Labrinth’s sister; Aiden’s voice; the beats; the production; Aiden’s voice; the video; Aiden’s voice.
Lowlights of the song: I first thought that Aiden sung the high-pitched bits on the chorus (aka the bits sung by Labrinth’s sister).If he had, that would have been bloody incredible.
Best lyric: ‘Take my hand and follow me, lose control with me tonight’
03. JLS – Hottest Girl In The World
A JLS song that sounds like a Justin Timberlake single circa 2003 doesn’t sound like a great idea on paper. All I’m saying is paper can sometimes be wrong (and the chart-buying public are almost always wrong). I can’t explain why this song is so good, just like I can’t explain the meaning of life. It just is.
Highlights of the song: The intro; the beats.
Lowlights of the song: None.
Best lyric: ‘I could be your Mr Right, or I could be your Mr Right now’
02. Marina & The Diamonds – State of Dreaming
Highlights of the song: Everything.
Lowlights of the song: Nothing.
Best lyric: ‘Millions of girls float on their one quote’ – Marina’s ice-queen like delivery turns this line into one of the saddest things I’ve ever known. It affects me so much.
01. Aiden Grimshaw – Is This Love
Not what you’d have expected as a lead-single from any artist to come out from X Factor, let alone from Aiden Grimshaw. The pulsing beats, the soaring melody, the grimy-ness injected by the dubstep; but most importantly, Aiden’s vocals.
Highlights of the song: Everything.
Lowlights of the song: Nothing.
Best Lyric: ‘sometimes we all want out’