Adorn by Miguel-- Admit it, you've probably never heard of him (heard of the song Sure Thing?) , but after you hear this song, you'll want to know that much more. The song was written and produced by the newcomer who said it was inspired by a series of dreams. It also scored him three Grammy nominations: Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Performance. Adorn is a lyricist's dream.
Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen-- If you didn't hear this song all over the radio, then where were you? Canadian born Jepsen had a number one hit with this song which also happened to be her debut single. Despite the fact that the music video is lame, it didn't stop the song from topping many 2012 music lists, including those for itunes and MTV as well as earning two Grammy nods.
Catch My Breath by Kelly Clarkson-- She continues to prove that the show American Idol actually has some clout. She also sounds happy, maybe it's because she truly is, newly engaged, Clarkson continues to be a force in pop music. I love the message of the song, it's about moving forward, and it's so positive and uplifting.
Climax by Usher-- When I first heard Climax, I didn't know it was Usher, and then a friend reminded me that no other male singer on the scene today could sound like that. Usher stressed that "Climax" is not about sex but instead about the complication of relationships. It's about whether or not you're able to commit; Usher, I commit.
Diamonds by Rihanna-- A lot of people dismissed Diamonds as a weak Rihanna ballad, but they couldn't be more wrong. I like this new direction that she's taking; it's deep. Now if only her intelligence in men matched her talent and she distanced herself from a singer with the initials C.B. The song is about love and I just feel good when I listen to it, not necessarily jumping for joy, but at ease. It's beautiful.
The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes and Ryan Tedder-- As I thought about what happened throughout 2012, I almost forgot the London Games. The pure thrill of getting to watch elite athletes compete on an international stage and show their stuff is like nothing else. The Fighter also contains lyrics and a certain "fight" to it which is so inspiring.
Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys-- Welcome back Alicia Keys, and because your music is so good and so conceptual and essential for women's souls everywhere, may you never leave us again. Girl on Fire, Keys says, is about her taking control, and, she says, it was inspired by all the new things in her life. Since her last album Keys got married and became a mom, but one thing hasn't changed and that's her amazing spirit.
Give Your Heart a Break by Demi Lovato-- Many of her fans and critics believe that Skyscraper was her breakthrough song, but I beg to differ because in a year full of dynamic female voices, Give Your Heart a Break was one of the most memorable pop songs of 2012.
Home by Phillip Phillips-- Phil Phillips was an unlikely Idol winner, but nonetheless, here we are, nine months later, and Home became the best selling Idol coronation song. I think it's because he is this unlikely here, so unassuming, so humble, and yet so talented, powerful with that quiet and low rock voice. I can't wait for his debut, The World from the Side of the Moon to give birth to yet another brilliant single.
I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift-- Taylor Swift continues to just surprise me in such a good way. Yes, I am tired of all these dead end relationships that she gets herself in to, and if only she realized that she deserves so much better, she wouldn't get in to half of them. But maybe there's a method to her madness, maybe it inspires these wonderful songs, her own personal works of art. And then, would I want her to stop? I Knew You Were Trouble sounds like nothing she has ever done before, and yet she sings it in such a convincing voice, and it is so Taylor.
I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz-- The sweetness and straightforwardness of I Won't Give Up, the first single off Love is a Four Letter Word transcends boundaries previously placed by Mraz himself. He makes such an emotional connection with the song and the listener that you or in my case, I, cannot help but be taken in. I feel every single word of I Won't Give Up and I am inspired, because as Mraz said, everyone has something in life that they believe is worth fighting for.
Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself) by Neyo-- Neyo is as famous for being a songwriter as he is for being a singer. So when Australian singer, Sia said she wrote a song for Neyo, it must have been really good for him to agree to it, because as Neyo put it, "no one knows me better than me" (on why he writes his own songs). The risk paid off because it isn't done climbing the charts yet.
Let's Go by Calvin Harris featuring Neyo-- Few who know Calvin Harris can question the influence he has had on the music industry these past couple of years. He has really brought a whole new sound to the forefront of the industry and people aren't just listening to it, they're dancing to it.
Lights by Ellie Goulding-- You may not believe me when I tell you this, but I knew who Ellie Goulding was a couple of years ago when few in the U.S. did. She is a talent to be reckoned with, and if you think for one moment that she is a one hit wonder, listen to Anything Can Happen. It should get as much record play as Lights did in my opinion, and this is my plea to radio. If my praise of her isn't enough, just ask William and Katherine what they think of her.
One More Night by Maroon 5-- I bet many of you think that the reason Maroon 5 is popular right now because Adam Levine has been gracing the stage on The Voice. I would be willing to bet anyone who believes that that Maroon 5 would still be making hit after hit. What I really like about One More Night is the easy beat and its honesty. The song is about a relationship going wrong and Levine admits to his part in it. I just love a man who can be honest.
Over You by Miranda Lambert-- What I love about Over You besides Miranda Lambert's sincere and emotional vocal is the story behind the song. It was written by Lambert and her husband Blake Shelton about a personal experience of his. When Blake was a teenager, his older brother was killed in a car accident and this song is about that experience; Blake said he would be honored for his wife Miranda to sing this song for him. It actually won Song of the Year for the couple at the 2012 CMA Awards.
R.I.P. by Rita Ora-- She's a rising star, and what I love about Rita Ora is how bad ass she is. As a woman, she comes across as this fearless stage presence. R.I.P. was actually written by Drake, originally for Rihanna, his unrequited love, but it went to Ora when she heard the song and expressed interest. Ora said she told Drake that she needed this song because it was one of those "women empowering songs". Wow, couldn't agree more, and I cannot wait to see what she does next as an artist.
Some Nights by Fun.-- For a little Indie pop band, Fun. sure came from out of nowhere and it seemed like they went from being unknowns to being one of the most popular artists of 2012 overall. Between "We Are Young" and "Some Nights", Fun. scored six Grammy nominations. Both songs also got "gleeked" (meaning the Glee kids sang the heck out of it). They've even drawn comparisons to Queen, and just imagine, this is only the beginning.
Spectrum by Florence and the Machine-- Florence Welch continues to push the envelope and not only challenge herself, but us with new sounds. She proves herself as a songwriter and a vocalist who has legit chops. I heard her sing notes in Say My Name that I hadn't heard before. Her voice truly soars; this song has a beautiful element of freedom to it.
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson-- She's the only artist this year to appear two times on my list, and boy oh boy, did she ever earn it. This song, like many others on this list promote female empowerment and garnered Clarkson several Grammy nominations as well as number one status on five different U.S. music charts. Stronger became Clarkson's most successful U.S. single. The other part of Stronger that I really enjoy is that when Clarkson sings it, I believe it.
Take Care by Drake featuring Rihanna-- I was waiting for another Find Your Love, and what does that mean to me? It means a song where I feel Drake pours his heart out to the ladies and shows us his oh so sensitive side, and then came Take Care featuring Rihanna. Drake talks about his feelings and this relationship that he wants to be in, and this woman that he can't stop caring about. What more can a girl ask for?
Try by Pink!-- Lyrically and vocally, I love Try; it's one of Pink's most genuine songs. The song is about what we all do every day, we get up and try. The questions that she asks throughout the song are quite deep, like, "why do we all fall in love so easy?" She attempts, not to answer the question in the song, but instead to offer a resolution. It's enough for me.
Wanted by Hunter Hayes-- He wins my award for breakout country act of the year, and he is young (only 21), and he's super talented. Hayes, who wrote Wanted says what he says in the song is something he wanted to say to someone he was in a relationship with but instead he decided to say it in music. The song has a mature and sweet message without being corny. The song definitely puts him on the map in country.
Wide Awake by Katy Perry-- The past two years have been a whirlwind for Katy Perry who seemed to have hit after hit and in the midst of it all, her marriage hit a snag and ended in divorce. Wide Awake was Perry's response to it all, and it gave her her ninth consecutive Billboard number one. She has vowed to take some time off from music; I hope she doesn't stay away too long.