With the end of June comes the end of the first half of 2012. So soon?!
The commercial pop world has, as ever, been coughing up enough tuneage to keep us occupied, and before the next six months forces the last six out of our memories, let’s take a moment to remember 2012′s finest songs so far… in, naturally, alphabetical order.
Performed by Justin Bieber
Written by Justin Bieber, Mike Posner, Matthew Musto, Mason Levy
Produced by Mike Posner and Mason Levy
Bieber went a bit Timberlake with the first cut from his second proper album Believe, and a right tune it is too. Shunning the big kitchen sink synths and just sticking to a bog-standard R’n'B/pop production style, it is undoubtedly the best release of his career so far, and also one of the best of 2012.
‘Call Me Maybe’
Performed by Carly Rae Jepsen
Written by Carly Rae Jepsen, Josh Ramsay, Tavish Crowe
Produced by Josh Ramsay
Oh God, it’s so simple – why didn’t anyone write it sooner? ‘Call Me Maybe’ is, on paper, absolutely awful. A saccharine voice, lyrics that would fit right in in one of those made-for-TV Disney movies and a daft video to boot, it inexplicably became one of the big hits of the year thanks to support from Justin Bieber and enough radio airplay to ensure it cemented itself in the heads of a nation for weeks on end. Somehow this is one of the most basic-yet-amazing pop records in a very long time.
‘Call My Name’
Performed by Cheryl Cole
Written and produced by Calvin Harris
You hear Calvin produced it, and you immediately compare it to ‘We Found Love’. ‘Call My Name’ does have all the basic ingredients of that Rihanna enormotune, yes, but once you shave away what you think it should sound like, it’s another ace to add to Cheryl Cole’s collection of mega-selling hits. Plus the choreo in the video is, to use a technical phrase, SIIIIIIIIIIICK.
‘Can’t Say No’
Performed by Conor Maynard
Written by Conor Maynard, The Invisible Men, Sophie Stern, Jon Mills, Joe Dyer, Kurtis McKenzie
Produced by The Invisible Men and The Arcade
Now that Bieber has revolutionised his image, the differences between ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘Can’t Say No’ aren’t as vast as Conor would perhaps like to admit. But here arrives a young British popmaker with some real potential. His demographic-crossing hip-pop sound is unlike anything any other British male soloist is offering in the mainstream at the moment, and the debut album should make for an interesting spin.
Performed by Coldplay
Written by Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin, Brian Eno
Produced by Markus Dravs, Daniel Green, Rik Simpson
Enhanced even more by those amazing glowing wristbands, ‘Charlie Brown’ is a prime example of Coldplay-Does-Euphoria. It may not have scored the big chart points that No1 hit ‘Paradise’ did, but this follow-up is just as worthy of the public’s affection. Proving the band have still not lost their mojo, much as they may have altered it a tad since their indie beginnings, ‘CB’ is another brilliant addition to the sizeable Coldplay canon.
Performed by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull
Written by AJ Junior, The Chef, Enrique Iglesias, RedOne, Pitbull
Produced by RedOne
I think it was Popjustice who coined a term for ‘Dance Again’s breed of pop that is pretty spot-on: Lamazing. As in lazily amazing. It’s unlikely that a lot of time or effort went into this tune. It’s not like RedOne reinvented himself after making his name with songs that sound more-or-less identical. And yet ‘Dance Again’ has that same homosexual-baiting magic that ‘On The Floor’ did last year. “REAL MUSIC” bores be damned, it just works.
Performed by Kelly Clarkson
Written by busbee, Alexander Geringas
Produced by Greg Kurstin
Pushing sales of album Stronger past those of predecessor All I Ever Wanted, ‘Dark Side’ is Kelly’s second consecutive single release to be helmed by Greg Kurstin, and her inifinite-th consecutive single release to be incredible. ‘Dark Side’ is a midtempo classic that is both a ballad and anthemic; a song about embracing a lover’s weaknesses as much as their strengths. Oh Kelly, you are fucking good.
‘Do It Our Way (Play)’
Performed by Alesha Dixon
Written by Nigel Butler, Alesha Dixon, Ray Hedges
Produced by Madman
OH GOD THIS ONE’S SO HARD TO DESCRIBE. Imagine if all the annoying bits of Jessie J and all the annoying bits of Natasha Bedingfield’s songs came together… and the result was good. I don’t even know why this is good. Maybe it’s the chorus. Maybe it’s the fact that Alesha representing Weight Watchers is a little odd. Maybe it’s just the fact that Weight Watchers even released an official single. I don’t know. But this song is GOOD.
‘Give Your Heart A Break’
Performed by Demi Lovato
Written and produced by Josh Alexander, Billy Steinberg
Reaching the giddy heights of ‘Did Not Chart’ in the UK, ‘Give Your Heart A Break’ follows ‘Call Me Maybe’ and ‘Boyfriend’ along the line of thinking that pop doesn’t necessarily have to be a Club Banger to be amazing in 2012. Just a simple tune about putting a potential squeeze at ease, it showcases a different side to Demi’s voice and deserved to do a lot better than it did. Still, in the US it’s still climbing so there’s always that. Bring on The X Factor USA #teamdemi.
‘Glitter & Gold’
Performed by Rebecca Ferguson
Written by Rebecca Ferguson, Alex Smith, Paul Barry
Produced by Mark Taylor, Alex Smith
A much more sensible choice for a single than ‘Too Good To Lose’, ‘Glitter & Gold’ has a similar message to Rebecca’s debut ‘Nothing’s Real But Love’, but delivers it in a much more aggressive way. With a stomping beat not dissimilar to Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’, it’s another fine example of Rebecca’s excellent songwriting, and album Heaven’s swift return to the Top 10 as a result of this song was fully warranted.
‘Is This Love’
Performed by Aiden Grimshaw
Written by Aiden Grimshaw, Jarrad Rogers, Joel Pott
Despite a warm critical reaction and a loyal fanbase, Aiden Grimshaw failed to launch his recording career with a bang with ‘Is This Love’, which is a real puzzler. It’s an excellent song – another strain of evidence to prove that any kind of artist can come from The X Factor these days, and another strain of evidence that the 2010 series (which also provided us with Cher Lloyd, One Direction, Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson) was among the most interesting.
Performed by Lana Del Rey
Written by Lana Del Rey, Justin Parker, The Nexus
Produced by Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker
Sneaking in just this week, ‘National Anthem’ is arguably Lana’s finest single to date. Pushing her darkly euphoric sound to its maximum, its chorus is inexplicably rousing and its lyrics are some of the best on her Born To Die LP. Match that song with an epic video in which she plays Jackie Kennedy at the time of JFK’s assassination and you’re on to one of the big success stories of 2012.
‘Next To Me’
Performed by Emeli Sande
Written by Emeli Sande, Hugo Chegwin, Harry Craze
Produced by Craze & Hoax
When Emeli Sande’s second single ‘Daddy’ only just managed to squeeze itself into the Top 20 last autumn, things didn’t look too great for her. But then came a string of one-to-watch prizes and this corker of a single – an infectious slice of piano pop able to appeal itself to fans of many genres.
‘Picking Up The Pieces’
Performed by Paloma Faith
Written by Paloma Faith, Wayne Hector, Tim Powell
Produced by Nellee Hooper
Paloma Faith finally found her first ever Top 10 single with ‘Picking Up The Pieces’, a heart-wrenching ballad about being your other half’s second choice. Seeing in her second album Fall To Grace, which outperformed the peak chart position of its predecessor in its first week, it remains an enduring favourite.
Performed by Marina and the Diamonds
Written by Marina Diamandis, Julie Frost, Lukasz Gottwald, Henry Walter
Produced by Dr Luke
Sending Album Of The Year So Far Electra Heart straight to No1, ‘Primadonna’ may have failed by a hairline to secure Marina Diamandis her first Top 10 hit, but it certainly established her as an artist able to tread a well-worn path in her own unique way. Packed with dark lyrics and underscored by a throbbing bass synth, it’s a carefully calculated masterpiece.
Performed by Rita Ora
Written by Drake, Farhad Samadzada, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Nneka Egbuna, Renee Wisdom, Saul Milton, William Kennard, Tinie Tempah
Produced by Chase & Status, Stargate
With Jay-Z by her side and Drake writing her breakthrough solo hit, Rita Ora is not a newcomer to be taken lightly. Simultaneously attempting to break both the UK and US markets, all the while serving as a guest judge on The X Factor, she’s made a rapid ascent to fame that makes ‘R.I.P.’ the first of what I assume to be many big hits for her.
‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’
Performed by Kelly Clarkson
Written by Jörgen Elofsson, Ali Tamposi, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin
Produced by Greg Kurstin
Despite only peaking at No8, ‘Stronger’ is now Kelly Clarkson’s biggest-selling single in the UK – surpassing ‘Since U Been Gone’, ‘Because Of You’ and even her only No1 ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’. And why? Because it’s a CHOON. Opening with a guitar reminiscent of a The xx offcut before exploding into an all-out Pride-friendly anthem, it’s rightfully one of the big radio hits of the year. 10 years in, Kelly’s still on top of her game.
‘We Are Young’
Performed by fun. featuring Janelle Monae
Written by Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff, Jeffrey Bhasker
Produced by Jeff Bhaskher
Like a showtune, a light-rock song and a pop song all rolled into one, ‘We Are Young’ is, along with Kelly’s ‘Stronger’ and Carly-Rae’s ‘Maybe’, one of the biggest-sellers of the year-to-date on both sides of the Atlantic. And – at least for me, anyway – it still doesn’t sound overplayed, regardless of the ridiculous number of times it gets spun on the radio.
‘When She Was Mine’
Performed by Lawson
Written by Andy Brown, Paddy Dalton, Duck Blackwell, Ki Fitzgerald
Produced by Duck Blackwell, Paddy Dalton, John Shanks
The best bit about ‘When She Was Mine’ is that their second single, released later this month, is even better. ‘When She Was Mine’ is a pop-rock nugget that mixes the sounds of The Script and The Wanted together to create a tune perfect for a relaxed summer’s day. Its rapid exit from the charts implies they still have a way to go to secure themselves some longevity, but hopefully they’ll get there.
Performed by Katy Perry
Written by Katy Perry, Bonnie McKee, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Henry Walter
Produced by Dr Luke
And lo, one of the longest and most successful album campaigns of all time finally draws to a close. Katy’s Teenage Dream era has now spawned EIGHT massive hit singles, and whilst I was never particularly taken with ‘Part Of Me’, ‘Wide Awake’ sees it out on an emotional high. Who knows if she will be able to match the success of the last two years with her next album, but whatever happens we’ll always have ‘Firework’, ‘ET’, ‘Last Friday Night’ et al. It’s been emotional…