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The best singles of 2012

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1 Carly Rae Jepsen
”Call Me Maybe”
Before the countless YouTube lip dubs, the nine weeks at No. 1, and the 1,000th time you heard it at a barbecue, there was just a song: a purple-ink love letter with a tiny voice whispering about wishing wells and ripped jeans like it was a secret she wanted you to keep forever. It might have been the soundtrack of your summer, or you might’ve rolled your eyes at parties but then secretly put it on your workout mix. But every time it played, life sounded just a tiny bit different. Better, maybe. —Adam Markovitz

2. Gotye feat. Kimbra
”Somebody That I Used to Know”
When a funny-named Aussie and his New Zealand sidekick first emerged with a quirky, minimalist breakup ballad, it seemed like the least likely candidate for a Hot 100 No. 1 since ”The Macarena.” Yet ”Somebody” connected with everybody, as covers by artists from Kelly Clarkson to prog-metal band Coheed and Cambria (and you in the bathroom mirror — don’t lie) proved. —Ray Rahman

3. Japandroids
”The House That Heaven Built”
Fueled by a closed-fist intensity and approximately one thousand oh-oh-ohs, this fiery punk manifesto does everything a great guitar-band anthem is supposed to do: rally the troops, disturb the peace, and make some ?#@!ing noise. ”If they try to slow you down/Tell ’em all to go to hell,” frontman Brian King shouts. Consider it the most badass fortune cookie you’ve ever come across. — Ray Rahman

4. fun.
”Some Nights”
While ”We Are Young” spread its show-choir pop gospel to every corner in 2012, ”Some Nights” stealthily found the glee club all grown up. Earnestly asking the hard questions, the fun. boys tapped into that particular cocktail of joy and melancholy that sets in between last call and the snooze button. —Kyle Anderson

5. Taylor Swift
”I Knew Your Were Trouble”
In classic Swift style, she didn’t just jump on the dubstep bandwagon — that thump-a-whumping, suddenly everywhere jalopy that already had Britney and Bieber in the backseat — she grabbed the wheel. Backhanding a no-good ex, Taylor never loses her country-strong edge, even when she’s singing over beats that would shake the rafters off the Opry. —Adam Markovitz

6. Solange
”Losing You”
Over shimmering synths, a crisp handclap beat, and what sounds like a looped sample of a very surprised toucan, Beyoncé’s baby sister pleads: ”Tell me the truth, boy, am I losing you for good?” If this sweetly intoxicating breakup jam can’t win him back, nothing can; it’s like the best of ”Lucky Star”-era Madonna and totally 2012 avant R&B distilled into four perfectly transportive minutes. —Leah Greenblatt

7. Meek Mill feat. Drake
”Amen”
While tax-sheltered MCs paced their gold-plated penthouses, Philadelphia’s Meek Mill took everybody to church. This was no fire-and-brimstone sermon, though — Mill testified not to the hat-wearing ladies in the front pews but to the sinners in the back. That buoyant, Sunday-school piano loop even made a woe-is-me Drake bow at the altar of bad behavior, taking bottle-popping rap out of the club and back to the sweaty, low-ceilinged basement where it belongs. Preach! —Kyle Anderson

8. Alex Care
”Too Close” Who does Alex Clare think he is? That serious beard and newsboy cap say ”semiotics grad student,” the lyrics belong to a soul-searching singer-songwriter, and the block-rocking beats sound like they just got airlifted in from Ibiza. Turns out, Clare contains multitudes — and all in just one song. —Ray Rahman

9. Schoolboy Q feat A$AP Rock
”Hands on the Wheel”
Welcome to the hip-hop house of mirrors, in which a blog-rap breakout lifts a left-field folkie cover of a 2009 Kid Cudi hit for his own woozy ode to ”weed and brews”…and it’s awesome. While indie songstress Lissie raspily coos the chorus of Cudi’s ”Pursuit of Happiness,” Schoolboy and A$AP deliver a rapid-fire chronicle of YOLO hedonism so vivid, it will give you a contact high. —Leah Greenblatt

10. The Lumineers
”Ho Hey”
For a song this roll-the-end-credits epic, the elements are shockingly simple: just a mandolin, a pair of stomping boots, and a whiskey barrel’s worth of post-Mumford majesty. Did you first hear the song in one of a million ads and movie trailers? Probably. But did it inspire just as many suspendered, giddily sincere singalongs in bars and cars and office cubicles? Ho, yes. —Kyle Anderson

Reader’s Picks
1. ”Somebody That I Used to Know” Gotye
2 ”Some Nights” fun.
3 ”Call Me Maybe” Carly Rae Jepsen
4 ”Thinkin’ Bout You” Frank Ocean
5 ”Home” Phillip Phillips
6 ”Ho Hey” The Lumineers
7 ”We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” Taylor Swift
8 ”It’s Time” Imagine Dragons
9 ”Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” Pink
10 ”One More Night” Maroon 5
11 ”I Love It” Icona Pop
12 ”Mercy” Kanye West feat. G.O.O.D. Music
13 ”Cherokee” Cat Power
14 ”Climax” Usher
15 ”Baddest Man Alive” The Black Keys feat. RZA
16 ”Everything Is Embarrass-ing” Sky Ferreira
17 ”Die Young” Ke$ha
18 ”Thrift Shop” Macklemore
19 ”I Don’t Like” Chief Keef
20 ”Yet Again” Grizzly Bear

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