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Year in Review The Best Music of 2012

2012 was the year of the viral single–from Gotye’s Peter Gabriel-esque “Somebody That I Used To Know” and Canadian import Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” to the world-conquering “Gangnam Style” from Korean singer Psy. These songs, and many of the big hits of this past year, mark just how interconnected we are, as they spread more through Facebook posts and memes than video rotation or radio airplay.

Our list, a tally of votes from staff, contributors, and fans, mixes these hooky earworms with solid work from long-established artists. Here are the top 10 musical artists of 2012, as selected by Drunk Monkeys:

10.) Best Coast

9.) Mumford & Sons

8.) Alabama Shakes

7.) Bruce Springsteen

6.) Frank Ocean

5.) Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan might be the last original Pumpkin standing, but if he continues to be the main creative spark behind small masterpieces like Oceania, then that just might be the best way to go for a band whose creative trajectory hasn’t always been great, but it’s also never been boring. Oceania lays claim to the fact that Corgan and the gang, whoever might happen to be in that gang, are much more than just another 90’s nostalgia act.

-Gabriel Ricard, staff writer

4.) Bruno Mars

If you don’t like what Bruno Mars is putting out there, it’s going to be a long couple decades for you. From writing chart-topping hits for other artists to ruling the radio with his own undeniable pop confections, Bruno brings a catchy swagger and sense of fun sorely missing from the modern music scene. If he’s just a bit douchey, all the better–that’s how James Brown got shit done, too.

-Matthew Guerruckey, Editor-in-Chief

3.) Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen is a Canadian recording artist who ended up in third place on Canadian Idol, which is apparently the Canadian version of American Idol… which is actually the American version of Pop Idol… which was originally aired in the UK… not in Popland, where I would have thought.   Canada is a large country with a small population just north of the United States of America.   Carly Rae Jepsen went on in 2012 to create the most hypnotic pop anthem of the summer, assisted greatly by nude Olympians dancing to her music in London.  Coincidentally, London is where they filmed Pop Idol.  And so we come full-circle.  Note—listening to Carly Rae Jepsen will quickly become addicting, no matter how stern you are.  Listen with care.

-Michael Patrick Duggan, staff writer

2.) Fiona Apple

On her 2012 album The Idler Wheel… Fiona Apple, so erratic in both her personal and professional lives for so long, cherry picks from the production tricks of her last few albums to create her masterwork–a spare, elegant statement of her pain and frustration. She provides equal proof of her artistry and her mania, delivering the greatest performance of her still-young career.

-Matthew Guerruckey, Editor-in-Chief

1.) Jack White

With a firm grip on the roots of Blues, Jack White’s 2012 album Blunderbuss offers listeners fruit that hasn’t been tasted for decades.  Like Clapton with a sense of humor, Jack White’s debut album balances the playfulness of the White Stripes with a vocal purity hoisted from the depths of confessional. The unlikely harmonies of thrashing guitar and bubbly organ, and the myriad of instruments usually reserved for the likes of Beck make this album distinctly modern.  YetBlunderbuss feels timeless as White cultivates nostalgia for something we didn’t know we’d missed: the countless faces of pre-war Blues.

-Aaron D. Wiegert, staff writer


Gabriel Ricard, staff writer

1.) Bruce Springsteen: Wrecking Ball
2.) Bob Dylan: Tempest
3.) The Gaslight Anthem: Handwritten
4.) Marilyn Manson: Born Villain
5.) Garbage: Not Your Kind of People
6.) Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas
7.) Regina Spektor: What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
8.) The Smashing Pumpkins: Oceania
9.) The Vaccines: Come of Age
10.) Rufus Wainwright: Out of the Game

Bud Smith, writer

1.) Black Moth Super Rainbow- Cobra juicy
2.) Crystal Castles- III
3.) Tallest Man on Earth- There’s No Leaving Now
4.) Peaking Lights- Lucifer
5.) Davin Bryne- Love This Giant
6.) Santigold- Master of My Make Believe
7.) Ty Segal- Twins
8.) Tame Impala- Lonerism
9.) Godspeed You Black Emperor- Allelujah
10.) Wild Nothing- Nocturne

Lily Murphy, staff writer

1.) Alabama Shakes
2.) Lumineers
3.) Jake Bugg
4.) Black Keys
5.) Jack White
6.) Mumford And Sons
7.) Vaccines
8.) Of Monsters And Men
9) Ed Sheeren
10.) Haim