Individual tastes certainly vary, but around here we were pretty bummed about the state of music in 2012. There’s so much music released and consumed now, that it’s impossible to go a full year without strong favorites, but in general it seemed like the big hitters were holding out on us. The world didn’t end, as it happens, and the floodgates opened! With only half of the year gone, there has already been enough terrific music this year to field 10, 20 picks more satisfying than what came before.
Thanks to Daft Punk, straight-up disco has gotten it’s biggest moment since the 1980s (even as the hard-hitting electronica that they turned away from continues to deepen). Punk, post-punk, indie rock, and indie-pop soldier on as they always do, but this year has seen an unusual number of committed hits from ambitious young voices. Absent legends like David Bowie and My Bloody Valentine reappeared suddenly to regain their vibrancy alongside newer bands like Vampire Weekend, just now coasting into their career peak. Outsider noise that’s been rising for years made significant progress towards real crossover appeal, as synth-punk, industrial, and even black metal continue to redefine themselves. These dark sounds have even bled into mainstream hip-hop production, most notably on Yeezus, but not only there. There have been exciting developments in almost every direction!
As we come to the end of the first half of 2013, I wanted to pause for a second to take stock of just how good this year’s been so far. Here are 50 songs that sum it up for me so far, but someone with different preferences could easily come up with several dozen substitutes. (I’m not accounting here for big-deal records like Timberlake’s, J. Cole’s, or The National’s that just don’t do anything for me, personally.) That my version might not be yours is a testament to the breadth of the year’s quality.
You can listen to the 43 songs available to stream in a Spotify playlist here. The 7 missing are embedded below.