Even though we’re already 17 days into the New Year, it’s not late to do a “Best of” list. 2012 saw some pretty BIG changes for me. A senior thesis, a graduation, a big move, a new job and there were so many new songs to get me through all of it. Here’s my Best of 2012, and how each track kept me moving forward. (listen while you read!)
11. Flume – “Sintra”
Before I even knew who the young Australian producer was, Pete slipped his debut album and EP onto my iPhone. Running along 58th Street, passing 10th Ave, 13th, New Utrecht and back, Flume’s “Sintra” gave me something upbeat and exotic to listen to while I explored new territory. I moved 600 miles from Holland, N.Y., to Brooklyn at the end of the summer. Pete and I landed in a Chinese neighborhood on the edge of Borough Park. I passed the Hasids tending to their perfectly preened front lawns and jumped over the plastic-bag tumbleweeds on the sidewalk. I saw old Italian couples hobbling arm-in-arm, mothers barreling at me with giant carriages and toddlers weaving in and out of foot traffic. I’d never seen so much activity in my neighborhood, and somehow, the song’s mousy loops, unsynchronized beats and synths (like an eerie owl hooting a counter-melody) fit the mood.
10. How to Dress Well – “Ocean Floor for Everything”
It’s easy for music critics to choose “& It Was U” when picking their favorite song off How to Dress Well’s Total Loss. It’s the fastest! But the real art comes through in Tom Krell’s slow jams and reflective tunes. “Ocean Floor for Everything” not only reminds me of transcending my internship at The Buffalo News, but naturally, it reminds me of Krell’s last song at Public Assembly in June. Standing in complete silence, we crowded in to hear his soul spill out. It was the one moment of pure concentration I had before my Monday morning job interview at MTV, smoothing out the rest of the weekend and delivering me to Times Square with calmness and confidence.
9. Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
This song reminds me of being sad. After all, not all of 2012 was happy. To be honest, my long-distance relationship was making me depressed and despite having awesome roommates and friends, I sometimes felt alone. Strangely enough, I came to the song via Alexi Wasser and not its ties to Fleet Foxes. I watched Aubrey Plaza eat flowers, smash boomboxes and choke Alexi over and over again in this video, thinking about reckless mourning and I-don’t-give-a-fuck mentality. Because some things hurt. And sometimes, sitting alone in your room listening to songs about graveyards helps you wallow in your misery until it passes.
8. Animal Collective – “Today’s Supernatural”
You have to understand, I listened to Merriweather Post Pavilion almost every weekend during my first internship in NYC. Exploring SoHo? “In the Flowers.” Walking to the NYU dining hall for a veggie wrap? “My Girls.” Lying in the grass at Washington Square Park? “Also Frightened.” I know, it was 2011, and the album came out in 2009. I was a little behind. Nevertheless, when I heard Animal Collective was coming out with new stuff just as I was making a permanent transition to New York in 2012, I couldn’t wait for what they’d come up with. Well over three years later, the group came up with Centipede Hz, which didn’t exactly get great reviews, but I loved this single. Its hectic raucousness echoed the city’s energy, so I played it on repeat, sitting at my desk at work, amping me up for what my new job had in store.
7. Ellie Goulding – “Anything Could Happen”
OMG. I had gotten my first assignment from MTV News – a concert recap! I was seeing Ellie Goulding at much smaller venue than Terminal 5, where I saw her last year, and it made all the difference. Tien and I got to see Ellie up close and watch her work out on a giant drum and sing songs off her new album. There was space to move, drinks were cheaper and it seemed like only the true fans were there. It was a perfect concert for an artist I had kind of forgotten about for a few months. Prepping for the concert and subsequent article, I jammed to Halcyon again and again, lounging on my bed hours before the concert. I couldn’t believe I was jumping out of my copy-editing hole into writing… and for MTV News! Anything could happen!
6. Cat Power – “Ruin”
“Bitchin’, complain’ when people ain’t got shit to eat.” Editing the world news in Buffalo gave me a scope of what was going on around the globe. And a lot of it wasn’t pretty — sunken cruise ships, Syrian war, bombs, crashes, civil unrest — all the stuff we are sometimes sheltered to. There was the local news too — DUI deaths, fatal shootings, stabbings, political turmoil. Luckily, I was removed from all those situations, but others weren’t so lucky. News hit home when my mom’s job was threatened after our school district fell under financial trouble and closed a school. Another member of my graduating class died; he was stabbed in his sleep. But yet, here I was in the newsroom, writing headlines for these stories, summing up the content with my words. I was really lucky to be mostly untouched by the nasty stuff going on, and I developed a positive attitude to deal with all the sad stories I had to edit. But other employees were cynical, which is really easy to be in the news business. We had just switched to a new content management system and most of the racket around the newsroom as crotchety complaining coming from the old vets. “How do you save?” “This don’t make any fucking sense.” “This is lunacy!” It was rather dramatic compared to all the other shit in the world.
So when I had down time in between stories, I listened to Cat Power’s new direction with “Ruin” from her awesome Sun album. It kept me level-headed. Stuff is a lot worse outside the Buffalo newsroom and outside my life. And I had to be thankful for the life that I have.
See you later for my top five! Until now, take a listen to my 11 – 6 Spotify playlist. I’ll add five more tracks to it soon!