The second hit for both its contributing artists, this song is more in the vein of the upbeat jingle-pop associated with Jepsen’s early teenybopper material than the dreamy electronic music of Owl City’s first two albums. Granted, Owl City’s third album in general found him abandoning the dreamlike atmosphere and twee, whimsical lyrics of his early work in favor of a more ‘normal’ Pop sound, but this is still easily the most commercial item on it, and was pretty blatantly written to be the album’s attempt at a crossover hit. On the plus side, this song just as infectious as Jepsen’s last hit, the infamous “Call Me Maybe”, the only difference being that this one didn’t get overplayed into the ground.
This is a song about how hearing a piece of music can transport you back to a moment in the past. It has a similar concept to Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw”, but is far more mature and sophisticated, with a world-weary sadness that really is rather reminiscent of Springsteen’s quality when he wrote about this sort of thing. I can see why so many reviewers considered this one of the best Country songs of 2012.
This song is basically a catchier version of the musical sound and dark subject matter used on Clarkson’s disastrous My December album. While it’s true that the aforementioned album, while frequently stunning, was too harsh and inaccessible for mainstream success, this song manages to take the best of its elements and blend them with the catchy power-pop Clarkson has been singing since to make something more ambitious and substantial than her recent work (which, good as it was, did tend to rely on empty cliches), yet more accessible and listener-friendly than My December. It’s a very satisfying combination.
This song is just as lovely and gloriously sung as the choir’s last hit, but this one is of special interest to me as a Musical Theater aficionado, because it was composed by legendary Andrew Lloyd-Webber himself. Yes, Lloyd-Webber has another pop hit, and while the song isn’t as strong lyrically as “Wherever You Are”, the melody is vintage Webber and shows that despite his recent run of disappointing shows he hasn’t lost his gifts as a composer.
Given that they were strictly fifth runner up (behind Nirvana, Pearl Jam, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Alice In Chains) in the Grunge world, it’s surprising to note that Soundgarden are the only classic-era Grunge Band to still be producing top-quality work. Nirvana died with Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam have been acting like pretentious twits since halfway through their third album, Alice In Chains are currently being dragged down by a terrible replacement lead singer, and Billy Corgan now spends more time slinging very public insults at his own bandmates and every other band in sight than he does actually making music. But Soundgarden, after being broken up for over a decade, reunited in 2012 and sounded about as good as they did in their prime, making them sort of like the Megadeth of Grunge, always a step behind their direct contemporaries in their heyday but utterly outclassing them in staying power. As for this song, while The Avengers was one of the more respectable of the recent crop of superhero movies, its accompanying soundtrack was a disappointing collection that epitomized everything wrong with Hard Rock today, and the only reason for the fanfare it got as an album was because of this particular track, which was easily the best thing on it. Its anthemic, devil-may-care sound captured the feel of a superhero movie far better than the sludgy post-Grunge tracks normally featured on those films’ soundtracks.
Five Finger Death Punch are usually a laughably overblown caricature of a band, but this particular song is in deadly earnest. Its subject of raising awareness of bullying and teen suicides is a laudable one, and most of the attention it received went to the apparently very moving music video, but the actual song itself isn’t nearly as bad as their usual stuff. It’s more in the anguished Korn/Linkin Park vein of Nu-Metal rather than the band’s usual Limp Bizkit influences, and while it still isn’t nearly as good as, say, the material on Korn’s first album, at least it has some sincere emotion to justify its melodramatic bluster.
This was the first American Idol winner’s debut single to be anywhere near this big a hit, and there’s a reason for that. This song was apparently Idol’s attempt to jump on the Indie Rock crossover bandwagon, and it’s got far more character and musical muscle than any of the previous ‘coronation’ singles. In fact, it’s routinely mistaken for a Mumford and Sons song, which is a pretty big compliment for something produced by the Reality TV machine.
Guetta’s previous collaboration with Sia, “Wild Ones”, was above-average work as formulaic club songs go, but it didn’t even approach the heights this song scales. The lyrics are a bit earthbound, rehashing the same self-esteem sentiments left over from last year, but as a piece of pure music, this is one of Guetta’s best. And if the remote, distant feel of the song makes it a bit harder to get into at first, it also gives it a unique atmosphere that sets it apart from the other ambitious dance ballads emerging at the time.