Earlier this week, I posted my favorite singles from 2012. And now, it’s time for the albums.
Unlike last year, 2012 was not a very strong year for mainstream pop acts–at all. Most of the releases from pop’s biggest players, including P!nk, Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Christina Aguilera, Ke$ha and Adam Lambert–were largely ‘okay’ at best, playing like rehashes of previous successes and hopping on radio trends du jour. The result was a yearlong onslaught of dubstep breakdowns and guitar-led YOLO dance-pop (“Live While We’re Young,” “Die Young,” “Starships,” et al.) Even the Queen of Reinvention herself–as much as I wouldn’t normally dare to admit this–bowed to some occasionally cringeworthy youth pandering on her 12th studio album, MDNA. (And could she ever really recover from Cher‘s merciless shade?)
But whereas conventional pop faltered, dozens of up-and-coming players from around the world shined bright (like a diamond), resulting in music that actually was–and still is–largely ahead of the curve: A Swedish trance-pop songstress, a Canadian R&B crooner, a British neo-soul darling and of course, a certain American-born throwback chanteuse that set the nation on fire in a red, white and blue blaze of glory.
Here are my Top 20 albums of 2012. As with the singles, there’s a Spotify link at the very end to hear all Top 20 albums in a row. Enjoy, and I’ll see you in 2013!
From the second after fellow Canadian crooner Justin Bieber tweeted her name, Carly Rae Jepsen‘s life changed.
It’s not that Jepsen was necessarily new to the industry, though: Back in Canada, the bubbly chanteuse was already known after placing 3rd overall on the 5th season of Canadian Idol, which led to her studio debut Tug of War in September of 2008, which in turn led to a handful of singles that performed okay-ish on Canada’s Hot 100.
But it wasn’t until she released “Call Me Maybe” last September, the mind-bogglingly, unstoppably, I’ve-heard-this-five-million-times-and-I’m-still-scream-singing-it-in-my-car-whenever-it-comes-on-catchy swoon fest (or, as I described it, “the catchiest song in the history of ever”) that Jepsen’s entire career trajectory shifted.
After topping the Canadian radio charts, the song caught the ear of a few influential parties across the border–cue that tweet from Bieber, his girlfriend Selena Gomez and Katy Perry among others–which quickly resulted in an invitation to Los Angeles from Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun.
Within what seemed like a matter of minutes, the songstress was signed to Schoolboy Records (Braun’s label) and already hard at work crafting her massively anticipated worldwide debut. And by the summer, “Call Me Maybe” was resting comfortably at #1 the Hot 100 for weeks in America, going on to become the second-best selling single of 2012. (For now, anyway–watch your wig, Gotye.)
At a point, “Call Me Maybe” became the biggest song in the world, leading to the inevitable follow-up doubt: With a song so unbelievably massive, would Carly Rae go on to simply become a one-hit wonder?
To answer that, there’s Kiss, a sweet, sugar-coated “absolutely fucking not” served on a platter of heart-shaped cookies, rainbows and smiles.
After effectively swallowing the entire world in a swirling, hellish firestorm of Tumblr memes, endless shirtless bro parodies, and complete and utter radio, Billboard chart and award show domination thanks to the catchiest song of, well, ever (“Call Me Maybe”), Canadian chanteuse Carly Rae Jepsen has finally released the follow-up (that isn’t her collaboration with Owl City, “Good Time”) to her colossal summer smash: “This Kiss.”
Here’s the thing (we started out friends…): Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” may very well be the catchiest song in the world, and it’s about to be literally everywhere.
If you weren’t already familiar with Ms. Jepsen, the Canadian-born 26-year-old chanteuse first rose to fame after placing third on the fifth season of Canadian Idol in the summer of ’07.
Her debut album Tug of War, which came out in 2008, did approximately nothing on the charts more or less, but her second attempt–an EP called Curiosity released in February, fared better due to a certain lead single released in September: “Call Me Maybe.”
The track, which was co-crafted alongside band-member Tavish Crowe and Marianas Trench lead Josh Ramsay, isn’t just catchy–it’s irresponsibly addictive, and all because of the chorus.
Those urgent strings (OH, THOSE STRINGS!), mixed with an equally urgent sugary-sweet plea, leads to one disastrously memorable hook: “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy/But here’s my number…so call me, maybe?” NOOOOO! So earnest, like a less country-fied Taylor Swift! You’ll never get it out of your head, ever! EVER! It’s like Contagion, but more Canadian! Oh God, it’s just so GOOD.
Canadians quickly latched on, which is why “Call Me Maybe” slowly grew to become a radio hit by the holiday season. But Canada simply wasn’t enough. Nay, not if a certain Canadian crooner–one with the power to incite war, endless Twitter death rumors, lay hands and cure all ailments with a single wink–had the power to do anything about it. That’s right: Justin “God” Bieber.
So tweeteth The Bieber while on holiday in December:
“Call me maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen is possibly the catchiest song I’ve ever heard lol.”
And just like that, the Internet literally shat itself.
The unspeakably catchy tune soon started climbing rapidly at radio, eventually clawing its way to the #1 spot on the Canadian charts by early February.
Then, on Valentine’s Day, Bieber announced that Jepsen was going to be signed to his manager Scooter Braun‘s label, School Boy Records.
The kerfuffle only further exploded in the next few days when Bieber’s ladyfriend, Selegenda Godmez, tweeted a silly singalong video featuring herself, Bieber and the Legendary Ashley Tisdale (amongst countless other tweens), leading to over 22 million views to date and counting (which, for the record, far surpasses the original video).
“Call Me Maybe” has since been submitted to mainstream radio on March 6 in the US, and the song’s already climbed from #38 to #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the past two weeks. How long until Beliebers/the general public get this one to #1? Oh, I’d give it about two more weeks, tops.
In the meantime, Jepsen’s already been flown out to LA to meet Braun and Bieber to record, calling the experience “like Entourage, but swankier.”
So start scribbling your phone numbers on napkins now, everyone–you’ll never be the same again.
A big thank you (and also a curse!) to Muuser Ben T., who first brought this earworm to my attention weeks ago.
“Call Me Maybe” was released on February 22. (iTunes)