When it comes to music, we'll remember 2012 as the year of the rookie.
Projects from the likes of Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar and Future are what we're going to be remembering when reflecting on 2012's year in music.
That's why, while formulating our top 12 singles of the year list, we weren’t surprised to see that more than half of the artists who made the cut are newcomers who found their sound and audience in 2012.
Before going on, we should warn you: our list is unscientific. We didn't just list the twelve songs that have spent the most time on the Billboard charts, nor did we just pick the 12 songs we like the most.
Instead we combined a number of factors that do include chart position and how much we enjoyed the song, but that also features the shelf life of a song, how well put together the track is and how much play the record got throughout the year.
Again, not very scientific, but you didn't come here for science.
So here are GlobalGrind’s 12 Best Singles of the Year (with one honorable mention).
You think we got it wrong? Make your own damn list!
Honorable Mention: Rihanna - "Where Have You Been"
What makes Rihanna so amazing is that the girl never stops working. Even before the singer put out her Unapologetic album in November, she spent the first quarter of the year pumping up one of her Talk That Talk standouts, "Where Have You Been."
The song is strong because RiRi swims deeper in that electronic music sound that she splashed around in on "We Found Love." The high-energy song also created the perfect contrast to “Diamonds,” which is the slightly darker, more epic sounding single from Unapologetic.
12. PSY - "Gangnam Style"
Because of the repetitive nature and the silliness of it all, we can understand why someone would hate “Gangnam Style." And, for those same reasons, we can understand why someone would love it.
At the end of the day, the track was an important part of the musical scene this year. Plus that thing got close to a billion hits on YouTube, so no way Psy doesn’t belong on this list.
11. Flo Rida - "Wild Ones"
It might be time for people to give Flo Rida his props. The rapper gets labeled as a gimmick or a joke in some circles, but dude has put in his work: In the span of four years, Flo Rida has put out four albums; in three of those years, he’s had a song that ruled the summer.
In 2012, it’s the infectious “Wild Ones” that reigned. People can laugh all they want, but rappers wish they could make a club record this perfect.
10. Chief Keef & Lil Reese – "I Don't Like"
When it comes to hip-hop being done right, it's often the simple things that work the best. Really, Kanye West is the only maximalist rapper that's any good. And yet, most new rap acts overcook their product.
That’s what makes us love Chief Keef’s "I Don't Like" so much. Purists might b*tch about the amateurish quality of the lyrics and the beat, but those are the features that make the song go. It’s gutter, angry, raw and straight to the point. It kinda reminded us of what hip-hop used to be.
9. Juicy J, 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne - "Bandz A Make Her Dance"
Mike WiLL Made it created a lot of monsters in 2012 — he's probably been the hip-hop producer of the year, honestly — but there was nothing that was touching the work he did on "Bandz A Make Her Dance."
While Juicy J, 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne performed at their expected level, which is still stellar, it was producer Mike WiLL Made who really showed his ass. "Bandz A Make Her Dance" is a strip club anthem with a trippy beat that is constantly morphing into something new.
They should play the first 10 seconds of “Bandz A Make Her Dance” as you float up to heaven — or, when you enter a strip club, which is really the same thing.
8. Frank Ocean - "Thinkin Bout You"
"Thinkin Bout You" was out a good couple of months before it was announced as Channel Orange's first single. It was fantastic when we first heard it, yet the song took on a whole other meaning when Frank released his letter, revealing that he was once in love with another man.
Now nouns you never even paid attention to stick out on the song like a sentence written in all-caps. Things like this just add to the aura of “Thinkin Bout You,” a song that already had an atmospheric, eerie sound to it.
It makes you want to figure out the various coded messages Frank has in his music — but then you’ll come to your senses and realize we’ll only know what Frank wants us to know.
7. Miguel - "Adorn"
For a couple of years now, Miguel has worn the label as one of the most underrated R&B singers in the game. That label switched in 2012: he’s now one of the best.
It was a banner year for the singer, and it came all because of the sultry “Adorn.” It’s a song in which the sprit of Marvin Gaye flew its way into Miguel. R&B doesn’t get this sexy anymore.
6. Gotye & Kimbra - "Somebody That I Used to Know"
The strangest hit record of the year came from Australian artist Gotye and singer Kimbra with their duet "Somebody That I Used to Know."
The song was a slow burn; a track that was released in the middle of 2011, but didn’t reach its full peak until the summer of 2012.
However, due to a solid word of mouth and the high quality of the music — which features melodramatic vocals over cartoonish background — the track got the shine it deserves.
5. Taylor Swift - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
Since she came on the scene, Taylor Swift has played two sides of the musical fence: she was just as much of a country star as she was a pop star.
2012 is the year she realized she can't do both anymore. She’s fully embraced pop and "We Are Never Getting Back Together" is the result of that.
The song is straight audio crack — it’s catchy with the perfect amount of sassiness combined with a splash of sweet.
4. 2 Chainz & Drake - "No Lie"
After spending a couple of years in the rap minor leagues — otherwise known as DatPiff hell — 2 Chainz found himself in the major leagues in 2012. And in his first plate appearance he hit a home run (with a little help from Drake.)
"No Lie," the first single from his debut LP Based On A T.R.U. Story, is everything we want from a 2 Chainz song. The track is whip-ready, high-energy and slightly funny, in 2 Chainz’s own demented way. Seriously, there’s not many rappers who have the comedic timing to pull off a line like "take your girl kidnap her, feed her to my mattress."
3. Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz - "Mercy"
It should be illegal to play “Mercy,” the first single from G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer album, in the whip. The track is easily the most dangerous rap song of 2012.
It’s not rocket science trying to figure out why this song is so sick: it’s Kanye West. The rapper/producer had the foresight to combine the ramblings of Jamaican O.G. Fuzzy Jones with the theme music from the iconic '80s movie Scarface.
Then there are the verses: Kanye, Pusha, Big Sean and 2 Chainz all attack the beat with their own unique flair.
2. Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe"
The shelf life of “Call Me Maybe” is absolutely amazing; the song had the preservation of a Twinkie. It literally felt like it was the most-played track throughout the spring, summer, fall and winter of 2012.
The popularity of “Call Me Maybe” stems from how cheery and Disney-ready the song is. We’re in an era where pop music likes to shock, which makes the sweetness and wholesomeness of “Call Me Maybe” stand out so much.
1. fun. & Janelle Monáe - "We Are Young"
There’s not a bar in the United States that didn’t play fun.’s “We Are Young” at least 15 times a night. And why wouldn’t they? If you are going to be drunk on a Saturday night, this is the song you want to hear.
What makes “We Are Young” such a fun a track (terrible pun intended) is the booming, Broadway style chorus it has. It’s a chorus that’s so memorable because you have to wait for it. The music behind the verses is calm until — boom! — the drums hit and that memorable chorus comes.
Considering that there was no other huge hit from fun.’s sophomore album, Some Nights, “We Are Young” has a slight scent of a one and done from the guys. If that is true, and fun. is straight one hit wonder status, they can always cling on to the fact that they had the number one song on GlobalGrind’s 12 Best Singles of the Year list.