What is this nonsense, you ask, posting yet another 11-20 list? How can I withold the Top Ten Indie Rock songs from you still? Relax, my pretties. You will find these indie pop gems just as satisfying as the coveted forthcoming indie rock songs. This year’s list has more pop and less electro. If that means anything to you, don’t worry, there’s plenty of electro too.
The Best Indie Pop of 2012
Van She – Idea of Happiness
From “Idea of Happiness” July, 2012
Hey, were you a fan of Duran Duran at one point? How about New Order? “Idea of Happiness” is an example of the way new wave has been invented as electro. Much of it isn’t the hard-edged new wave of Blondie or the quirky new wave of the Talking Heads. Some of it was addictive pop rock that sounded a lot like Van She.
Which is not to say that Van She is derivative. This electro album has a tropical theme, and not just because the album has songs called “Jamaica” and “Calypso.” Van She kept it electro, but seems to have found his sounds from the tropical instruments on his midi player.
“Jamaica” is another great song on this album, arguably better even than “Idea of Happiness”. But since I burned up “Jamaica” when it was a single in 2011, “Idea of Happiness” is what makes it on the 2012 list.
Get Idea of Happiness.
Die Antwoord – Baby’s On Fire
From the album Ten$ion, January 2012
This South African rap-rave group is way over the top and that’s part of their charm. They bring big beats and big bling with a wink and a nod. Are they being artful? Ironic? Sincere? Who gives flying ninja? Just dance. If you like this, check out “I Fink U Freeky” on the Top Ten Dance Songs of 2012 playlist.
Sam Sparro – The Shallow End
From the album Return to Paradise out Dec, 2012.
Frankly, most of Sam Sparro’s stuff is too diva house for my taste. It doesn’t bother me that the songs are gayer than a pink petticoat at the Pride parade (Mika, anyone?), it’s just a little too clean and pretty for my tastes. But “The Shallow End” has won me over.
This one is catchy enough to cross over to my Top Dance Songs of 2012 list, but I think when it is competing against a bunch of bangers it doesn’t get a chance to shine as much as it does here.
Have you ever been a part of a scene? A place where, if only there were clothes on the floor, you’d feel for certain you were tearing it up like you do in your room when no one’s watching? This infectious groove is a tribute to beautiful scenesters dressing up and looking pretty at the club. It has horns. It has woo-hoos. Not just team whoops but singular shouts and rising “Aaaahhhhs!” “The Shallow End” is a reminder of why disco is making a come-back.
Get Return to Paradise.
Future Screens – Don’t Stop
Alas, I don’t have this track to give you, but you can stream all four songs off their 2012 self-titled release, and pay any damn price you please. Three cheers for Bandcamp!
Get Future Screens.
AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Drums, Your Love
Single released December, 2012
I like AlunaGeorge, but I love this song. Due to a remix competition there were tons of remixes of this in 2012, but none of them have the odd little pitch-shifted robotic sample, so I’m sticking with the original.
Lyrically, I also like the idea of the song. “You say that I’m going nowhere” she sings, and then “I’ve been trying to reach you for so long,” conflating the idea of moving towards your dreams with the idea of moving closer in a relationship. And so many can relate to the idea that it’s hard to move forward when the people you care about don’t believe in you. It’s a simple, poetic expression of a familiar feeling.
Get the remixes of “Your Drums, Your Drums, Your Love.”
Bago – Forget You
From Sunday’s Best mixtape, August 2012
Fans of Portishead, Hooverphonic, CocoRosie, and Lana Del Rey take note. I got your dark and sexy middle-of-the-night kiss off song right here. It’s good for fucking, and it’s good for “fuck you.”
Bajo doesn’t have a major label release; you can get more of her songs on her Soundcloud.
Noisettes – That Girl
From Contact, September 2012
If you find The Noisettes are only 17th on this list, it’s because I was disappointed that every song on their 2012 album Contact wasn’t an absolute classic, because that’s what I’ve come to expect after the release of Wild Young Hearts. Unfair, I know. Lots of keeper tracks here, but “That Girl” was the instant addiction.
Shindu – Just Go
From the May 2012 EP, Just Go
Shindu doesn’t have an album with a major label, but check out the remixes and mixtapes on her Soundcloud.
Alex Winston – Fire Ant
From King Con, April 2012
Almost as good as “Sister Wife,” Alex Winston’s single about the trials of being a Mormon wife. The single for that came out in 2012, but both are on her 2013 album King Con.
Get King Con.
Purity Ring – Fineshrine
From the July 2012 album, Shrines
Listening to this album reminds me of the crisp futuristic vibe from the first Ladytron album. Not that they sound similar, more that hearing it, I thought, these ladies know what the future sounds like. If you like this song, you will like the whole album. M83 fans, or anyone who likes slow electro with complex layers, will like this.
There’s still the Top Ten Best Indie Pop Songs of 2012 to come, as well as The Top Ten Indie Rock Songs of 2012 and there’s hip-hop coming too. For the harder dance sounds, check out the Top 20 Dance Songs of 2012 Part I and Part II. And the Top 20 Indie Rock list has been kicked off for those who like it a little more crunchy. Plenty of downloads for everyone!