Song of the Year: 2012
We are not quite at the end of the year yet - but blink and we'll be there. Toward the end of last year I made a call on Song of the Year - I picked Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye. It's gone on to be parodied and covered and there are parodies of the covers and covers of the parodies and I don't ever want to hear that song again. But I liked it last year - catchy hook, subversive meets the mainstream. And I'll remember it as the song of 2011.
Many people told me that actually the song of the year last year was Video Games by Lana Del Ray. I couldn't stand that song - or the creation that is Lana Del Ray (as I said here). But this is how it is with music - we share our opinions. There's always going to be more than one right answer. Right?
Video Games might actually be the Song of the Year for 2012 for a lot of people, given that Lana Del Ray's album was released in early 2012.
And so it is with my pick for 2012 - a song that sneaked in at the tail end of 2011 but bubbled up and over from the underground in 2012...it could mean that something yet to come this year might go on to be the song of 2013.
So I'm calling it now (as opposed to in one month's time) - Song of the Year: 212 by Azealia Banks.
And I'm happy with that. There are other tracks on the EP that are doing their best to try to catch up - but it's 212 out in front and destined to stay there.
But 212 is the song that's made her. It's a pop song, a rap song, a dance song - and it's completely believable to read it as a song by a young talent well versed in all of these styles and so many other vestiges of music or by a young upstart with very little interest in any history or mystery within music; someone here for a good time, not a long time, someone brutally confident. And sure that they can get by on that gusto alone.
Filthy lyrics buoyed by an immaculate beat. It's infectious - a dancefloor filler and a hip, underground tip all at once.
And, as with Gotye's song from last year, it's worth noting that the video has been a selling point.
The buildup has been spectacular too. I hoped, for a long time, that Banks would give us nothing more than her EP titled 1991. I don't know that I want to hear a full-length album from her, even though I have enjoyed the Fantasea mixtape.
Look at Gary Clark Jr, touted as some saviour of blues guitar, a ferocious player, a real talent. And then he releases Blak and Blu, some dud that suggests Lenny Kravitz-goes-vaguely-hip-hop.
As this year has rolled out it's been interesting watching 212 explode. The YouTube views, blog hits and EP downloads; the Facebook and Twitter mentions and links, then the remixes, guest appearances and the mixtape. Now there's the buildup to the official debut album from Azealia Banks...a 21-year-old rapper and singer who seemed to just appear from nowhere - but she has her story, musical theatre and a job at Starbucks, this is no rags-to-riches street story.
In the absence of Missy Elliott (I miss her - she made some of the best pop singles across the late 90s and early 2000s) Banks fills a role for me. In a world where Lady Gagas and Nicki Minajs and Rihannas are raved about and gushed over, Banks is bringing some of that sass and style to 212 but it never feels cloying or calculated.
So 212 is my choice for 2012, my Song of the Year - nothing beats it.
Well, if I was to pick one that might - and this is utterly absurd, because I know its impact won't be felt in anything approaching the same way - it would be the new Scott Walker song from his forthcoming album. I linked to it the other day. And now I've linked to it again. I'm very excited to hear this new album, suitably bonkers it seems.
The Seer by Swans - all 32 minutes of it - is the bronze medallist here.
Now - who's with me on the Azealia Banks call? And if not then what do you reckon is the Song of the Year for 2012? What's your call?