Callum Petch’s Top 31 Songs of 2012

Note: Hi, all!  Callum Petch, here, obviously.  A little context for this piece.  I got this blog/site/monument to my ego back in 2015, but I was still writing and sharing lists and opinions and other stuff long before then.  This includes those that I have on music, specifically my yearly lists of the Top 50 Songs of the Year.  Back in the day, I shared those through a music-focussed social media website called This is My Jam and when it unfortunately shuttered in mid-2015, conveniently soon after I got this place, I switched to doing written articles on here.

In the name of completing my archives from 2013 onwards, I have decided to finally get off my bum and transfer those old lists into the easily-accessible public record of my site.  This is My Jam worked by letting its users pick one track that they loved as their spotlight Jam for up to 7 days and, for my countdowns, I would use this set-up to reveal my Top 31 throughout January, one Jam a day across the month.  The site also wouldn’t allow accompanying text descriptions longer than 140 characters until mid-2013 (and then no more than 500) so my reasonings also won’t be particularly deep – although certain entries will feature additional retrospective commentary (in bold like this) to expand on a few things or maybe express regret about certain picks and placements.  Mostly, this is just for record’s sake and future list reference than any serious retrospective or anything.  Hope you find it somewhat illuminating! – Callum Petch, September 2018


#50 – #32] Nothing

Note: So, I did actually make a Top 50 at the time, but since I only needed 31 entries for the countdown, the other 19 were lost to the winds once I deleted the playlist from my iPod a few months later.  It wouldn’t be until just after my 2013 list that I decided to make a spreadsheet housing all my lists for all-time, like a weird person, and by then I had long forgotten what came before the Top 31.  So, nothing for this piece.


#31] Miike Snow – “Paddling Out” (Happy to You)

‘My Top 31 Tracks of 2012 countdown is now a go with this House-Pop gem! New entry every day at 6PM GMT!’

Note: Like I said, 140 characters doesn’t give much leeway for accompanying comments.  Expect a lot like this.


#30] Santigold – “Disparate Youth” (Master of My Make-Believe)

‘#30 is a melancholy, catchy, cross-genre track that deserves a better rep than “That Bloody Direct Line Song!”


#29] Spector – “Celestine” (Enjoy it While it Lasts)

‘Today’s entry is the best plain Indie Rock song of 2012.  Expect it to be stuck in your head for days!’

Note: Seeing as I have several more Indie Rock songs on this list, and heard many others that should have displaced this in retrospect, let me clarify that “plain Indie Rock” for me refers to a strain of Landfill Indie – extremely simplistic and oft-derivative Indie Rock in the me-too vein of The Strokes and The Libertines – that I grew up with.  Bright side is that I can sniff out the one quality song on an otherwise-samey/garbage LP by next year’s Identity Parade on Never Mind the Buzzcocks at 20 paces.


#28] Cold Specks – “Blank Maps” (I Predict a Graceful Explosion)

‘At #28, we have this hauntingly beautiful acoustic ballad. I’m as shocked as you are that it’s on here.’

Note: Christ, you can tell I was in my insufferable Indie NME Phase in late 2012, can’t you?  This song is gorgeous, go listen to it.


#27] Shaimus – “Only One” (Shaimus)

‘Cult Indie Rock band Shaimus called it quits with their final album this year. #27 is the album’s highlight.’


#26] The Brian Jonestown Massacre – “Viholliseni Maalla” (Aufheben)

‘Today’s entry is this brilliant piece of psychedelia. Thanks to [user from the site] for introducing me to it!’

Note: One of the reasons I loved TiMJ so much was the fact that its restrictions effectively meant you got this lovely welcoming community of music nerds sharing their personal recommendations, like you hear talk of indie record shops being but online.  We had a great little community going there and I miss that personal touch in finding new songs.


#25] The Rolling Stones – “Doom and Gloom” (GRRR…)

‘Officially 50 years old, yet the Stones still managed to put out the best rock song of 2012. How’d they do it?’

Note: Drag me, please.  I deserve it.


#24] Best Coast – “The Only Place” (The Only Place)

‘The song of my Summer is at #24! I haven’t heard a more joyful song all year.’


#23] El-P – “Request Denied” (Cancer 4 Cure)

‘At #23 it’s this masterclass in song structure. Just listen the whole way through before forming an opinion…’

Note: I am reasonably certain it’s a very Suburban White Kid thing to have to pre-emptively defend Hip Hop or temper their praise towards it whenever they bring it up in conversation.  It was dumb and low-key bigoted of me to do that then, especially since TiMJ wasn’t exactly anti-Hip Hop anyway.


#22] The Temper Trap – “Trembling Hands” (The Temper Trap)

‘Better than Sweet Disposition by a country mile, at 22 we have the best track off Temper Trap’s second album!’

Note: OK, I was just being needlessly contrarian here.  “Trembling Hands” is great, but obviously it’s not better than “Sweet Disposition” by any metric of miles.  I blame this Sixth Form Media Studies project where we had to examine Coca-Cola ads so I heard “Sweet” multiple times a day for several weeks.


#21] The Gaslight Anthem – “45” (Handwritten)

‘You know that it’s been a great year for music when even a Gaslight Anthem lead single isn’t Top 10 material!’

Note: I had a Gaslight Anthem phase.  I later came to my senses.


#20] Passion Pit – “Take a Walk” (Gossamer)

‘Is there a band that can make melancholy and depression sound more joyous than our #20 entry? I think not!’


#19] The Floor is Made of Lava – “Lost in the Woods” (Kids & Drunks – EP)

‘At #19 is a track that I stumbled across inadvertently on TiMJ but one I haven’t stopped listening to since.’


#18] deadmau5 – “Professional Griefers (Feat. Gerard Way)” (>album title goes here<)

‘I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Gerard Way + Great Dance Music = Instant Access to My Heart. #18, folks!’

Note: Despite what you may be expecting, I’m not going to denounce this take at all.  I still love the way it constantly pulses towards an overload that never quite comes, instead smoothly taking off when it hits the chorus rather than exploding awkwardly.  Also, Gerard Way.  I still miss My Chemical Romance.


#17] Bloc Party – “We Are Not Good People” (Four)

‘I never thought that they had it in them. #17 is this barnstormer of a comeback album closer by Bloc Party!’

Note: I should write something about Bloc Party one day.  Revisiting Four and this song, which still rocks but feels really awkward coming from Bloc Party, years later is just kind of sad.


#16] Delphic – “Baiya” (Collections)

‘The comeback single from the band responsible for my Favourite Album of 2010 is at #16 and it’s a belter!’

Note: The album, released in January of the following year, was a cringe-inducing embarrassment and Delphic haven’t released anything since.  The album version of “Baiya” also tacks on a flow-ruining bridge after the second chorus for reasons that escape me.


#15] Gorillaz – “DoYaThing (Feat. James Murphy & André 3000)

‘If this is the last thing we ever hear from Gorillaz, I’ll be satisfied. Enjoy the full 13-minute cut at #15!’


#14] Rudimental – “Feel the Love (Feat. John Newman)” (Home)

‘At #14, it’s the Best Dance Track of 2012! Fun Fact: This was the first individual song I paid money to own in 3 years.’

Note: That was… probably not something I should have admitted to.  What was I even trying to accomplish by saying it?


#13] The Heavy – “What Makes a Good Man?” (The Glorious Dead.)

‘I may find The Glorious Dead a relative disappointment, but this song still rules! Long live The Heavy at #13!’


#12] Jake Bugg – “Taste It” (Jake Bugg)

‘Today’s entry comes from my favourite debut album since xx by Britain’s most promising musician right now!’

Note: Exactly 2 months ago, I threw on Jake Bugg for the first time in years (after he squandered any perceived potential on terrible follow-ups) as part of a prospective culling and, holy shit, this record is actually abysmal!  Just straight-up garbage from start to finish!  This and “Lightning Bolt” are the only half-decent numbers and even they’re, just like everything else on the record, bad Dylan take-offs.  How did I ever fall for this, goddamn?


#11] Azealia Banks – “1991” (1991 – EP)

‘Just missing out on the Top 10, it’s this insanely good rap track from the amazingly talented Azealia Banks!’

Note: …even after all these years and everything that has happened and continues to happen, I am still a mark for Azealia Banks.  She’s my Problematic Fave.  Everybody gets one and she’s mine, sorry not sorry.


#10] Everything Everything – “Cough Cough” (Arc)

‘Into the Top 10 now and we have the track that made me sit up and take notice of Everything Everything!’


#9] Metric – “Youth Without Youth” (Synthetica)

‘I constantly thank the Maker for Metric. Synthetica‘s lead single is at #9!’


#8] Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built” (Celebration Rock)

‘It’s a dead tie between this and “The Nights of Wine & Roses” for #8… Just go buy Celebration Rock, folks!’

Note: I ended way too many of my descriptions with exclamation marks, huh?


#7] Lostprophets – “We Bring an Arsenal” (Weapons)

‘I know this may seem tasteless in the wake of recent events (look ’em up), but I love this song nonetheless.’

Note: Right, here’s the actual reason I chose to put retrospective commentary like this into these posts.  By the time I finalised my list (late December 2012) and then got to this entry (January 25th 2013), the charges against Ian Watkins were a month old.  They were not new info, they were in fact the talk of my Sixth Form because many of us were Lostprophets fans, and we were all very aware of the severity of his (at the time alleged) crimes.  Like a fucking idiot, I chose to hold a ‘wait and see’ approach, pledging to disown Lostprophets should the trial find him officially guilty but until then continuing to listen to them and hope that the charges weren’t true.

Whilst of course we should respect the old adage “innocent until proven guilty,” this was a Bad Take then and it is a Bad Take now especially with how clear-cut and indefensible the charges against Watkins were.  Attempting to push this knowledge out of mind in order to continue enjoying music at the time was a shitty thing to do, a more-insular and (aside from this moment) less-public version of victim-blaming to try and wrongly protect a powerful and monstrous man.  And for those who would respond with “learn to separate the art from the artist,” literally every Lostprophets song went along the lines of “it’s Us against The World and The World’s not going to hold Us down or tell Us what We can or cannot do” which suddenly feels incredibly gross coming from the mouth of Ian fucking Watkins. 

I haven’t listened to a Lostprophets song since March 2013, long before the guilty verdict was handed down, so I don’t even know what putting this on my list was supposed to achieve anyway.  The only reason it’s still on my official repost is because it’s an easily-accessible part of my online record and I wanted to make it clear that this is something I am deeply ashamed of having done.  This shouldn’t have been on my list to begin with, full stop, no jokes.


#6] Sky Ferreira – “Red Lips” (Ghost – EP)

‘At #6 we have the best Pop song of 2012 from my favourite EP of 2012! Keep an eye on this girl!’

Note: “Red Lips” was co-written by Shirley Manson from Garbage, which is the beginning and end of my substantial explanation as to why I love it so.  Shame Ferreira was claimed by the same label fuckery that’s stopped Charli XCX from becoming a phenomenon.


#5] The xx – “Chained” (Coexist)

‘Into my Top 5 and we have this hauntingly beautiful track from The xx. Mind, is there really any other kind?’


#4] The Maccabees – “Feel to Follow” (Given to the Wild)

‘It’s been on a constant loop since January and contains my favourite outro of 2012; #4 is just beautiful!’


#3] Jack White – “Freedom at 21” (Blunderbuss)

‘From the 2012 Album I’m Most Ashamed to Still Not Own, it’s Mr. Jack White III with this barnstormer at #3!’

Note: I let outside forces elevate this far higher than it deserved.  Specifically, this Jools Holland performance that blows the actual released Studio version out of the solar system.  The song is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s this live version that’s the real money.


#2] Foals – “Inhaler” (Holy Fire)

‘Just missing out on the #1 spot is the track that made me a Foals fanatic! Only two weeks until Holy Fire!’

Note: Literally two weeks later and this would have been #1, not exaggerating.  Also, another instance where the live version kicks the Studio version’s arse so hard that it’s honestly kind of upsetting, although I wouldn’t discover that for another few years.


#1] Tame Impala – “Elephant” (Lonerism)

‘And here it is: My Number 1 Song of 2012! Thanks for following the countdown! Normal service resumes tomorrow.’

Note: Once again, 140 characters.  As to why I made it my #1, it’s mainly the breakdown throughout the middle, when the song sheds the verses and just grooves for a full minute in agitated bliss.  I was really getting into DFA at the time, taking tentative steps into Psychedelia, was an NME-reading Indie and Rock guy, and TiMJ was introducing me to bands I wasn’t hearing anywhere else.  “Elephant,” and Tame Impala by extension, fit all of those bills very nicely, with the fact that the song was all over the site also helping ensure I would fall for its charms eventually.  But, mainly, it’s that groove.  You know that Arthur meme where Binkie puts on headphones and is transported elsewhere by the avant-garde music he hears in some kind of religious experience?  It was like that.

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