Today’s set of ten as part of this Top 50 list cuts right through the middle, but this is the point where I think we really start to hit the meat and potatoes section. Not that the songs that came before it in #50-41 or #40-31 were bad by any means, but as the numbers get lower I get more excited to write about these songs. I genuinely hope you’re enjoying this list so far, and there’s two more days to go until we finally hit #1! For now, please enjoy my Top 50 Songs of 2012, #30-21.

30. Twin Shadow – Five Seconds
Here’s a song that crept up on me. I was aware of it well before the album Confess came out earlier this year, but it didn’t really strike me as wonderful until I heard it in the context of the record. Then I placed it on a summer mixtape I made for myself, largely to try and force it to earn my approval and admiration. Wouldn’t you know it, that was what finally did the trick. It’s a synth powerhouse track complete with a blistering vocal from George Lewis Jr.
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29. Hospitality – Friends of Friends
Part of me wishes I could have given more credit to Hospitality in 2012. Their self-titled debut album was positively delightful, but also a bit slight and lacking in innovation. In other words, its inability to stand out from the crowd ultimately cost it more attention. But among a bunch of great and catchy songs on this record, “Friends of Friends” is beloved most by me thanks to a super strong hook, some dynamite saxophone work, a cool music video and lyrics about spending time with friends. Mostly it makes me smile every time I hear it.
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28. King Tuff – Bad Thing
King Tuff and Hospitality don’t really sound anything alike, but I have similar feelings about both. Fun and ridiculously catchy music is the specialty, and “Bad Thing” is power garage rock at its finest. The song races along like a speedboat on the ocean, then the chorus explodes in a fit of vocal grit and violence that’s instantly memorable. Listen to this song once and it’ll be stuck in your head for days.
[Spotify] [MP3] [YouTube]

27. Killer Mike – Reagan
Of all the tracks I could have chosen from Killer Mike’s masterpiece record R.A.P. Music, I chose “Reagan” because it sits smack dab in the middle of the album and raises everything surrounding it to a new level. Killer Mike uses the very hip hop controversial topic of Ronald Reagan to turn the former President into an idea rather than a man, and that idea needs to be eliminated at all costs. It’s forceful, preachy, confessional and altogether brilliant.
[Spotify] [Soundcloud] [YouTube]

26. Cat Power – Cherokee
If you want to know why I love this song so much, the short answer is that I have no idea. The track starts off her latest album Sun, and you come to the immediate realization that this is not the same Cat Power from her previous, more folk-based work. This one is all electronic elements and beats, drum machines and sound effects (eagle’s screech, anyone?). In a way it signaled a rebirth for Chan Marshall, and proof she can write a pretty dynamic electro-pop song when she wants to.
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25. Eternal Summers – Millions
The band name says it all – Eternal Summers. Their music evokes feelings of fun in the warm sun that you never want to end. While the second half of their latest record Correct Behavior slows things down a bit, the front half is pure bliss as wave after wave of addictive song washes over you. “Millions” kicks the whole thing off, and it truly captures the spirit of everything that will follow. For a few weeks in July, I simply couldn’t stop listening to it. I’m wary to put it on now, for fear of falling back into that cycle again.
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24. DIIV – Doused
The only way to truly capture the magic of this song is to play it at night. This is dark, swirling, chugging psychedelia reserved for only the darkest recesses of the human spirit. But sometimes we need to indulge those impulses without actually doing something bad or illegal. Let this song be the playground for those evil fantasies, because it clearly welcomes them with open arms.
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23. First Aid Kit – Emmylou
Of all the songs on this list, I think this one slaps me in my emotional core the hardest. It’s a beautiful alt-country song on its own, but factoring in the intensely honest and earnest lyrics and the vulnerable way Klara Söderberg sings them is just plain devastating. She desires a romantic connection so badly, you genuinely want to be her Gram or her Johnny so the both of you can finally be satisfied.
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22. Passion Pit – Carried Away
This is not nearly the best song on Passion Pit’s latest record Gossamer, but it is the one that I outright like the most. Part of me suspects that as time goes on that love will wear thin, but for now and ever since the release of the album, I get this song stuck in my head every single time I hear it. I can’t say that about any of the other songs on the album. Others are more emotionally vulnerable and even better constructed, but “Carried Away” I think best shows off how this band can be super poppy with a layer of emotional tenderness right underneath if you were only to look for it.
[Soundcloud] [YouTube]

21. Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
This was the first song I heard off of Father John Misty’s record Fear Fun, and it got me really excited about what the former Fleet Foxes drummer would be bringing to the table in his other songs. While I understand that the album has become something of a cult classic in the time since its release, with plenty of people that connected with it asking where it is on year-end lists. That’s not really a mystery to me, because besides this song, most of the rest of the record just wasn’t so great. Telling the tale of an intense makeout session with a girl in the cemetery after his grandfather’s funeral, the song is a great reminder that sometimes you just need to live in the moment.
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