The Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2012
January 27, 2013
Todd plays Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" on his piano
THE TOP TEN BEST HIT SONGS OF 2012
A year-end review
Todd: Ladies and gentlemen, the year 2012 is gone. I miss it already. It was one of those [logo from the movie 2012] iconic sounding years, like [poster for stage production of...] 1984, [single cover of Prince's...] 1999. Now we're in... [2013 calendar] ...2013. It's like, who cares about 2013? It just sounds lame. Pffft!
But anyway, last year, 2012, how'd we do?
Todd (VO): Well, the world didn't blow up, but not for lack of trying. This year, pop music tried to set the world on fire, and what felt like weird little accidents in the pop charts in the years before are now full-on trends. [Clip of The Lumineers - "Ho Hey"] Welcome to the new normal, everyone. I'm not sure I would say this was a good year for music, but it certainly was an interesting year, and a diverse one at that. It...it certainly feels a lot less...
Todd: ...ephemeral, let's say. [Jump cut] Like, a lot of the top hits of 2010, they're already gone.
- Clip of the Black Eyed Peas - "Imma Be"
Whereas this crop from 2012, even the ones I didn't like, I expect them to stick around a lot longer.
Todd: But that doesn't mean I didn't find a lot of stupid crap to humiliate myself with either, and...really, this ritual self-depantsing of mine is what I look forward to doing more than anything else every year. [Gets up, takes off his belt, and sits back down] I'm ready. We're counting down...
- Video for DJ Drybones - "Carry Me Home Maybe," which serves as the interlude throughout the countdown
Todd (VO): The Top 10 Best Hit Songs of 2012.
Todd (VO): #10.
Todd: It's that T-O-double-dizzle, in the shizzle fo' rizzle, givin' up for that Snoop D-O-double-gizzle, my nizzle. Am I allowed to say nizzle?
#10. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa ft. Bruno Mars - "Young, Wild & Free"
- Bruno Mars & Wiz Khalifa: So what we get drunk?
- So what we smoke weed?
Todd (VO): I actually do have some vague memories as a kid of this criminally evil, super-controversial gangsta rapper named Snoop Doggy Dogg who endorsed killing cops and [news footage of...] was on trial for murder. Somehow that man turned into the [clip of Hot Pockets commercial] universally beloved icon and role model for all ages that we know today.
- Snoop Dogg: Hungry kids in the crib, ma
- Pocket like it's hot
- Pocket like it's hot
Todd (VO): And if there were any song that defined Snoop Dogg's late-period appeal in the 2010s, it would have to be "Young, Wild & Free," the long-unawaited team-up of Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, and Bruno Mars.
- Bruno: So what we go out?
- That's how it's supposed to be
- Living young and wild and free
Todd: Yes, they get drunk, they smoke weed, they don't care what you think about it.
Todd (VO): The great thing about Snoop Dogg is that he doesn't have to flex 'cause he knows he's the coolest, chillest mofo in the game, and he doesn't have a damn thing to prove to you young'uns and whippersnappers out there.
Todd: He's a gangsta. But...y'all knew that.
- Wiz Khalifa: So what I keep 'em rolled up?
Todd (VO): And how appropriate that Snoop Dogg's ode to underachieving should bring two of pop music's biggest underachievers—Wiz Khalifa and Bruno Mars—and actually get them to produce quality work at that.
Todd: Like, what the hell is this crap, Wiz?
- Clip of "Work Hard, Play Hard"
- Wiz: The only thing we know is
- Work hard, play hard
- Work hard, play hard
Todd: "Work hard, play hard"? No, dammit, you're doing it wrong!
Todd (VO): I'm sick of rappers telling me how hard they work. Just relax, take a hit, chill. And [shot of...] Bruno? This is everything "The Lazy Song" should have been. Take a lesson: more of this...
Todd: ...much less of this.
- Clip of "The Lazy Song"
- Bruno: I'll be lounging on the couch
- Just chillin' in my Snuggie
- Click to MTV, so they can teach me how to dougie
Todd (VO): Even more extraordinary than getting quality work out of Wiz and Bruno, "Young, Wild & Free" appears to be a theme song to a movie which...which quite honestly, I'm not sure even exists. I...I sure didn't see it ever playing at my local theater.
- Wiz: Had a science project, me and Mac killed it
Todd: Doesn't really sound like a great movie, to be honest.
Todd (VO): But this song makes such a good case for it, I kinda wanna see it anyway.
- Snoop: You know what?
- It's like I'm 17 again
- Peach fuzz on my face
Todd (VO): You know, Snoop Dogg really is not that young. I...I guess Wiz Khalifa would be young, [news article about Bruno's arrest for cocaine possession] Bruno Mars would be wild, [footage of Snoop's acquittal] and Snoop Dogg would be free.
Todd: Or possibly, I got that wrong. Eh. Whatever. Works for me.
- Wiz: Living young and wild and free
Todd (VO): #9.
Todd: I... You know what? It's my Top 10, I told myself I would always be honest, no matter how embarrassing it got, but I, uh...I really, really, really cannot justify this.
#9. Flo Rida - "I Cry"
- Anastasia Horne: I know
- Caught up in the middle
- Flo Rida and Anastasia: I cry just a little
- When I think of letting go
Rap Critic: Are...you...kidding me?! [Todd hangs his head in shame] You...you can't be serious. Flo Rida. [Picture of Flo Rida captioned...] The least interesting man in the world [and "Stay Boring My Friends"]. The man who hasn't written one lyric worth remembering in his whole life.
Todd: Yeah...that's...that's the one.
Rap Critic: And you expect people to take you seriously. No. You don't get to just brush this one off. I wanna hear this.
Todd: [struggling with it] Well...he's...[deep breath] Okay.
- Flo Rida: I know you wouldn't panic
- Anastasia: I know
- Caught up in the middle
Todd (VO): Well, first of all, Flo Rida's main gift has always been finding great hooks, and this is probably his best yet. I mean, it samples a song that I really, really love.
- Clip of Brenda Russell - "Piano in the Dark"
- Brenda Russell: Just as I walk through the door
Todd (VO): This is from a song called "Piano in the Dark" by Brenda Russell. It's about a woman who can't ever leave her lover because she's too impossibly attracted to him when he plays his piano under the cover of darkness.
- Brenda: When he plays piano in the dark
Todd: I...I...I don't know what it is. I...this song, it just speaks to me. I really like it.
Rap Critic: And how did Flo Rida not ruin the sample with his lame attempts at being emotional?
Todd (VO): Honestly, I guess you could call it the beneficiary of lowered expectations, but I actually appreciated Flo Rida's attempts to be emotional and talk about recent tragedies and personal hardships instead of, you know, the bottles and models and stuff.
Rap Critic: So what? Yeah, he was trying to be deep, but he massively failed at it.
Todd: Look, I just like the song, okay?!
- Flo Rida: Champagne bucket's still got two tears in it
- And I put that on my tattoo of Jimi Hendrix
Todd (VO): I was just caught off-guard by how happy it makes me when it comes on, and I know it's not the smartest take on "da struggle," but unlike Jadakiss's "Why?," it's not trying to be. It's...it's just an acknowledgement that life is hard, and that he's grateful for all the luck he's had. I c...I can't condemn him for that.
Rap Critic: Can you condemn him for sucking?
- Anastasia: I cry just a little
- When I think of letting go
Todd (VO): #8.
Todd: Hey, hey, hey, all. Just a reminder. [Warning for...] If you have photosensitive epilepsy, here's some advice for you during this next segment.
- Clip from Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Indiana Jones: Don't look, Marion! Keep your eyes shut!
Todd: All right. Good. Let's go!
- Kanye: Let's go, let's go
- [Todd gets into it]
- Jay-Z: You escaped what I’ve escaped
- You'd be in Paris getting fucked up too
Todd (VO): Even though it's from two of the biggest stars in music, I still can't believe this got big. It has no chorus. It stops mid-verse for a Will Ferrell sample that's basically just riffing itself.
- Clip from Blades of Glory
- Chazz: It's provocative.
- Jimmy: No, it's not.
- Chazz: It gets the people goin'.
Todd (VO): There is no way this should have been a hit, but Jay-Z and Kanye got it on the charts just through sheer force of personality. This is a song about showing off, more than anything.
Todd: But I've already thoroughly discussed this one, line by line, so instead let me share with you a game I found on the Internet.
- Shot of game of Kanye Zone
Todd (VO): It's called Kanye Zone, and the object of the game is to prevent Kanye from getting in his zone. And just a reminder, you know what happens when you let Kanye in his zone? [Shot of E! article about...] He impregnates Kim Kardashian. Yeah, so...so don't let Kanye in his zone. That is gonna be one seriously screwed-up child.
Todd: Jay-Z's kid's gonna be just fine, by the way.
Todd (VO): #7.
Todd: For years, I've talked about what I call the "fluke indie hit sweepstakes."
- Clip of Foster the People - "Pumped Up Kicks"
Todd (VO): That's where every year, we have one unexpected indie-rockish sounding single bust through and become a mega smash hit, uncomfortably sitting alongside Usher and Lady Gaga.
Todd: Well, this year, the sweepstakes busted wide open for everyone.
- Clip of Neon Trees - "Everybody Talks"
- Tyler Glenn: It started with a whisper
Todd (VO): And suddenly we were awash in all sorts of new, strange acts like fun., and Gotye, the Lumineers, Phillip Phillips, and past winners like Neon Trees and Owl City. These are not flukes anymore. This is officially mainstream.
Todd: And seeing as I've already put Wiz Khalifa and Flo Rida on my list, I'd...I'd feel like kind of a jerk if I didn't include at least one of them in the Top 10.
#7. Imagine Dragons - "It's Time"
- Dan Reynolds: So this is what you meant
- When you said that you were spent
Todd (VO): Of the many post-Gotye alternative hits trying to elbow their way into becoming a crossover hit, this one was probably my favorite, possibly because it was one of the few that didn't sound like it was trying to be either Mumford & Sons or MGMT. Of course, it did cause controversy by sounding like another big indie hit by Matt & Kim from 2008.
- Clip of Matt & Kim - "Daylight"
- Matt & Kim: I miss yellow lines in my roads
- Some color on monochrome
Todd (VO): I...I think I prefer this version, honestly.
- Dan: It's time to begin, isn't it?
Todd (VO): I don't know if this is a particularly great rock song, and "it's time to begin" and "I'm not changing who I am" strike me as, honestly, kind of stale ideas to build a song around, but "It's Time" just kept growing on me, and eventually it won me over because...damn! Like...that guy just sells it.
- Dan: Now don't you understand
- That I'm never changing who I am
Todd: He just has so much deep, passionate feelings about... [sounding confused] ...giving the commodities a rain check.
- Dan: ...and giving the commodities a rain check
- [Todd just shrugs]
- I don't ever wanna let you down
- I don't ever wanna leave this town
Todd (VO): This, for the record, was not the only big, epic indie rock statement about time directing you forward on the path of life, but...
Todd: ...we'll get to that.
- Dan: This road never looked so lonely
Todd (VO): One more thing to note. [Band logo] "Imagine Dragons" is apparently an anagram for the band's original name, but they've never revealed what that was. Many people have guessed at what the original name was, including Greasing Domain, Insomnia Dagger, and my personal favorite, Gonad Migraines, which is what I'm going to call them from now on.
Todd: [saluting] Good luck, Gonad Migraines. Looking for good things from you.
- Imagine Dragons: That I'm never changing who I am
Todd (VO): #6.
Todd: All hail your new music GOD! Not Lady Gaga, not Usher, not Katy Perry or Adele or Justin Bieber or Rihanna! Behold the new KING OF POP!
Todd (VO): This being the #1 song of the year just absolutely makes no sense.
- Gotye: But you didn't have to cut me off
Todd (VO): The fact is I might respect this song more than I like it. I mean, I do still like it a lot. I like how it draws a perfect picture of an ugly breakup and that it has the perceptiveness and intelligence to depict it from both sides. But...
Todd: ...more important than just being a really good song, I appreciate how it completely upended our understanding of pop music in this country.
- Gotye: [with synth percussion added] But you didn't have to cut me off
Todd (VO): All this year, Gotye completely stymied Top 40 programmers in how to deal with it. I heard so many crappy remix versions that tried to add a hip-hop beat behind it, that added an extra chorus early on to make it sound more natural, basically, just trying to make it more of a Katy Perry song. But doing so completely misses the appeal of the song, which is how un-pop it is.
Todd: I mean, you can turn it into a normal sounding song, but why would you want to?
- Gotye: [with electronic accompaniment] But you didn't have to cut me off
- Make out like...
Todd: Yeah, no, no, no.
- Kimbra: ...somebody that you used to know
Todd (VO): Neither Gotye nor Kimbra seem to be able to get another hit, but I sincerely hope their legacy is not just this song. I don't want Gotye to just be successful. I want Gotye to just be successful; I want him to be influential. I mean, I like Adele as much as the next guy, but we don't need more than one of her. We could definitely use a few more Gotyes in the world though.
Todd: I mean, seriously, just one song from the guy? He's so talented. We can h—we can let him have another, right? You didn't have to cut him off!
- Gotye and Kimbra: Somebody
Todd (VO): #5.
Todd: [thinking back...] Hey, wait a minute. Hold on, hold on, let me check this here. [Puts script from floor, flips through it, and throws his arms up upon finding...] There's no Katy Perry! WOO!!! (NO KATY PERRY!!!) [Dances in seat as "Part of Me" plays]
- Clip of "The One That Got Away"
Todd (VO): Yes, for the first time ever since I started doing these videos, there is not a single Katy Perry song in my yearly Top 10. And...and I could have too. She had plenty of hits this year. And yet not a one on this list. Oh...thank...God. Katy Perry, your reign is over! I want you gone!
Okay, with that straightened out, back to the list.
#5. Ke$ha - "Die Young"
- Ke$ha: I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums
- Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone
Todd: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
- Ke$ha: Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young
Todd (VO): You know, I don't think it's a coincidence that Ke$ha waited for the Teenage Dream era to finish before she put out her second album. But you know what? I think deep down, I've been waiting for the opportunity to like Ke$ha. This was especially true of [clip of...] "Tik Tok," her biggest and, objectively, probably her best hit, but every time I actually began to groove with it, I'd have to listen to her speak-sing about brushing her teeth, and I'd just tune out.
Todd (VO): ...I have no problem at all grooving to "Die Young," even though it's still recognizably Ke$ha, the obnoxiously crude party girl.
- Ke$ha: Young hunks, taking shots
- Stripping down to dirty socks
Todd (VO): But it's better Ke$ha. Earlier Ke$ha was like [picture of jar of...] nasty bathtub moonshine, and this is...this is Ke$ha distilled and refined. If you...if you like your Ke$ha undiluted, I imagine you won't have much for this, but...
Todd: ...I prefer stuff that won't rot your gut.
- Ke$ha: It's pretty obvious that you've got a crush (you know)
- That magic in your pants, it's making me blush (for sure)
Todd: Yes, the woman who once demanded that you cut the chitchat and show her where your dick is at...
- Clip of "BlahBlahBlah"
- Ke$ha: Just show me where your dick is at
Todd (VO): ...now blushes bashfully at the very thought of it.
Todd: Mostly though, the reason I put this on my list is, I have a soft spot for morbid party songs.
Todd (VO): And this goes as much for "Dead Man's Party" as it does for simply desperate-sounding tracks like "DJ Got Us Falling in Love."
- Ke$ha: Like we're gonna die young
- We're gonna die young
Todd (VO): As the chorus repeats, the possibility of dying young seems more like a certainty. At the very least, she's going home alone and she honestly sounds kind of sad about it.
- Ke$ha: Oh what a shame that you came here with someone
Todd: See? She does have emotions. You know, besides being about to spew.
- Ke$ha: Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young
Todd (VO): #4.
- Clip of Phillip Phillips - "Home"
- Phillip: Hold on to me as we go
Todd (VO): I've talked some about the new trend towards beardy, acousticy guys, and...I appreciate it, but I wouldn't exactly say I'm a huge fan. I mean, I'm listening to the Mumford & Sons wannabes, and you know...I appreciate realism and I appreciate earnestness, but all I can think is...
Todd: ...whatever happened to indie rock that was just outright, batshit pretentious?
#4. fun. - "Some Nights"
- fun.: Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck
- Some nights I call it a draw
Todd: Yeah, you can keep your Bon Iver and your Avett Brothers. This is what I want indie rock to sound like.
- fun.: ...anymore...
Todd (VO): I said fun. obviously really wanted to be Queen, right? Well, this is their "Bohemian Rhapsody"—self-indulgent, ludicrous, and absolutely wonderful. [Clip of...] The problem with "We Are Young" is that it ultimately felt too thin to back up its statements of setting the world on fire.
Todd: Not here.
- fun.: Well, some nights I wish that this all would end
Todd (VO): When Ke$ha says she feels your heart beat to the beat of the drum, these are the kinds of drums she should be thinking of.
Todd: "Some Nights" is just an elaborately orchestrated statement about...well, honestly, I have no idea what it's about. What is this song about? What is this song about?!
- Nate Ruess: Most nights I don't know
Todd (VO): When I first heard it, I thought it was about literally war.
- Nate: This is it, boys, this is war
Todd (VO): More likely, it's about some twenty-something's quarter-life crisis. But even if that's all it is, I respect the ability to turn just another case of the post-grad blues into this grand, all-encompassing survey of every emotion Nate Ruess has ever had in his life.
- Nate: That's alright; I found a martyr in my bed tonight
Todd (VO): Mostly, what I got out of this song is the ability to find hope and joy, even in the midst of deep existential confusion. And for that, it's the most joy I've gotten out of pop music in a long time.
- fun.: Well, some nights I wish that this all would end
Todd (VO): And I like that they wrote a song like this long before Nate Ruess had had any success at all with any of his bands. I mean, usually bands wait 'til they're big before they go all out like this; fun. didn't wait at all.
Todd: What other band out right now would have the guts to use Auto-Tune basically as a guitar solo?
- Nate vocalizing using Auto-Tune
Todd (VO): fun.—philosophers, poets, martyr-loving adventurers...
Todd: ...completely high on their own narcissism. And so am I. So [singing] come on...
- fun.: Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh
Todd (VO): #3.
- Clip of Bruno Mars - "It Will Rain"
- Bruno: 'Cause there'll be no sunlight
- If I lose you, baby
Todd: I think Bruno Mars needs to be on Zoloft or something.
- Bruno: I'll never be your mother's favorite
Todd (VO): When he's sad, it's always like the worst screaming agony that ever existed. I like to imagine this song as taking place just over like a [picture of...] quiet breakfast or something and they're just sitting there and then...
Todd: ...he suddenly starts screaming!
- Bruno: Don't you say (don't you say) goodbye
Todd (VO): What I'm saying here is he's kind of a drama queen. I mean, I'm definitely preferring this to "The Lazy Song," and I've always thought he was a talented guy, but his tendency towards histrionics has always been a sticking point for me.
Todd: I think where I'm going with this is that I like Bruno Mars only when his music isn't as over the top as he is.
#3. Bruno Mars - "Locked Out of Heaven"
- Bruno: One, two, one, two, three
- Oh, yeah, yeah
- Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Todd: [with a thrust] Ooh!
- Bruno: Never had much faith...
Todd (VO): You know, it's easy to forget that once upon a time, I actually looked forward to hearing Bruno Mars's music, but this brought him back in my good graces in a big way.
Todd: I mean just listen to it. Ooh!
- Bruno: Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Todd (VO): It's worth noting that Bruno Mars is still a complete and total ridiculous crybaby right down to the title. You see, sex is heaven, and not having sex is being locked out of heaven.
- Bruno: You make me feel like
- I've been locked out of heaven
Todd (VO): You are damning him to hell by not boning him. And he sings it like that's exactly what he means.
- Bruno: You bring me to my knees
- You make me testify
Todd (VO): But his overheated hysteria isn't accompanied with any symphonic musical agony like in "Grenade" or "It Will Rain." No, this is tight, crisp, and energetic. And yes, that's probably because it seems inspired by the Police. [Clip of The Police - "Roxanne"] In fact, you could say it's a complete ripoff of the Police. In fact, many people have said that.
Todd: But in response, I say: so what? It's not like we're gonna get any new music from the Police anytime soon. You wanna know what Sting's doing now?
- Clip from Sting Live in Berlin
- Sting: Every little thing she does is magic
- Everything you do just turns me on
Todd (VO): Yeah, that's the last thing he put out—muzaky orchestra covers of his old music. That...that's what you're getting from Sting.
Todd: So if we can get better stuff from Bruno Mars, I say we take it. [One more thrust] Ooh!
- Bruno: Yeah, you make me feel like I've been locked out of heaven
Todd: You know, it's funny that Bruno Mars should rip off the Police, seeing as he hasn't exactly had [the cocaine article again] the best luck with the police. Just saying.
- Bruno: Oh, yeah, yeah
- Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Todd (VO): #2.
Todd: Okay, I wan- I wanna play you a little blast from the past here. This is from 1997.
- Clip of Robyn - "Show Me Love"
- Robyn: Now show me love
- Show me love, show me life
Todd (VO): Now this is "Show Me Love" by Swedish pop singer Robyn, and I remember this being a huge hit. Like...I wasn't even listening to pop music in '97, and it was everywhere, even though it's not really a great song or anything.
Todd: And that's where this woman's career ended, I thought, but turns out...
- Clip of "Dancing on My Own"
Todd (VO): ...she's continued to be a gigantic star in Europe to this day, making a number of critically acclaimed, just absolutely fantastic pop albums. And if you want proof that Euro-electronic dance pop can be just as good and as worthwhile, as emotionally evocative as any other genre, Robyn would be a good place to start.
Todd: Of course, in this country, she remains basically known for that one song. And though I enjoy me some Katy Perry and some Ke$ha, I...I wish we had more stuff like Robyn, and if we did, I think pop music would have a much better reputation. But as genre-blending indie pop like [self-titled album of...] Robyn and [poster of...] Lykke Li and [single cover of "Don't Stop" by...] Annie gets more popular over there, [clip of "With Every Heartbeat"] it can't help but trickle over to us, especially now that we're importing so much music from the UK.
Todd: I guess, um... [intro plays in background] I guess where I'm going with this is that I stand by my statement that British pop at its worst is much worse than American pop, but in a lot of respects, it's also a whole lot better.
#2. Ellie Goulding - "Lights"
- Ellie Goulding: You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
- You shine it when I'm alone
- And so I...
Todd (VO): Ellie Goulding is yet another one of the British indie folk artists that Americans know nothing about, and yet who slowly clawed her way to the top of the charts with this one unlikely sleeper hit, "Lights."
Todd: God, I...I just freaking love this song just so much. I mean, this is a damn masterpiece.
- Ellie: Noises, I play within my head
Todd (VO): You almost never hear a song with as much control over its atmosphere and mood like this song. It's just remarkable.
Todd: But what about the subject matter?
- Ellie: 'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home
Todd (VO): "Lights calling me home"? What...what do the lights represent here? I can only conclude [macro of History's Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, captioned...] aliens!
- Ellie: And I'm not sleeping now
Todd (VO): This is a deeply haunted song about being called home by either ghosts or aliens, or [clip from Close Encounters of the Third Kind] possibly alien ghosts. I get some serious Close Encounters vibes coming off of this.
Todd: Lights have never seemed so portentous.
Todd brings his arms down and the lights go out
- Ellie: You show the lights that stop me [Todd is seen jamming on his piano bench] turn to stone
Todd: [outro to "Lights" plays in background] And now, before the #1, some honorable mentions and guilty pleasures that just missed getting on the list.
Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen - "Good Time"
- Owl City and Carly: Whoa-oh-oh-oh Whoa-oh-oh-oh
Todd (VO): Two of the most perpetually virginal artists to ever score a #1 single team up and pull an unexpected second hit—an ode to partying that's practically the anti-"Young, Wild & Free." It's the most innocent song about fun ever written. And yet...
Todd: ...I can't help but like it, especially Carly Rae, who, it turns out, is actually a pretty good singer.
- Carly Rae: Let's hang out if you're down to get down tonight
Todd (VO): By the way, I love how the Owl City guy says that they don't even have to try, while trying desperately to make his second-grader voice emote.
- Adam Young: We don't even have to try
- It's always a good time
Todd: The reason it didn't make it on the list.
- Adam: Woke up on the right side of the bed
- What's up with this Prince song inside my head?
Todd (VO): Oh dear God, do you not have the right to invoke Prince.
Todd: Which Prince song do you think you're talking about here? This one?
- Concert footage of Prince singing "P. Control"
- Prince: Mayor of your brain, Pussy Control! Ready?
- Oh! Pussy Control!
Todd: Yeah. No.
The Wanted - "Glad You Came"
- The Wanted: The sun goes down
- The stars come out
Todd (VO): I honestly kind of admire this song even though it's amazingly dumb. It's- It's clever about it though. I like how every line of the bridge begins with the last word of the last line.
- The Wanted: Turn the lights out now
- Now I'll take you by the hand
- Hand you another drink
- Drink it if you can
Todd (VO): And also, "Fell on me/spell on me/well on me." Those are all great rhymes and it...it finishes off with a great, stupid, shameless double-entendre.
- The Wanted: I'm glad you came
Todd: Tell you what, at least they don't do the One Direction thing of seduction through vague insincere flattery.
Toby Keith - "Red Solo Cup"
- Toby Keith: Red Solo cup
- I fill you up
- Let's have a party!
Todd (VO): This song is hilarious. And I will hear no word from anyone who disagrees.
- Toby: Kiss my ass. Woo!
Pitbull ft. Chris Brown - "International Love"
- Pitbull: You can't catch me, boy (Can't catch me, boy)
- I'm overseas at about 100 G's for sure
- Don't test me, boy
Todd (VO): Another giant guilty pleasure for me. Like "I Cry," I appreciate that Pitbull isn't bragging exactly so much as he just sounds grateful about all the amazing things there are in the world and how many he's been lucky enough to see.
- Pitbull: I don't play football, but I've touched down everywhere.
- Pitbull: Everywhere.
Todd (VO): But, as always, dragging it down is one useless waste of space, name of Chris Brown.
- Chris: You put it down like New York City
Todd (VO): Again, that's not a personal judgement, it's just based on the music. His chorus is weak, it only mentions American cities, which is downright stupid, and Chris Brown isn't a very good singer. Next.
Big Sean ft. Nicki Minaj - "Dance (A$$)"
- Big Sean: Ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass...
Todd (VO): Oooh, dangerously close to "so bad, it's good" territory for me. I think, ultimately, too much of it was just normal-bad instead of weird-bad for me to give it the full endorsement. And yes, I do realize that this isn't all that dissimilar from my pick for the worst song of the year. Still I'd rather be on the side of defending this, than attacking it. There's just too many utterly bizarre moments in it that just blew my mind.
- Nicki: And bust this pussy open in the islands of Waikikieeeeeeeeeeeee...
Todd leans towards in eager
- Nikki: ...eeeeeeeeeeeeee [Inhales]
Adele - "Skyfall"
- Adele: Let the Skyfall, when it crumbles.
Todd (VO): Oh boy! This is the best James Bond theme in a while, isn't it? Wow, this...this really deserved to be on the list, right? Gosh, wouldn't I have looked much less stupid if I put this on the list, instead of Flo Rida?
Todd: [Puts his head down] Heh.
- PSY: Oppan Gangnam Style.
Todd (VO): Okay, fine. It grew on me. Shut up!
Todd: And with that out of the way, let's get to it.
Todd (VO): [ominously] #1.
Todd: As a pop nerd and amateur historian, there's nothing I enjoy more than being able to connect the trends of today to the music of the past. And my #1 pick for this year has a very direct, if complicated, lineage. And I'm gonna walk you through it here, so first I need to introduce you to three people.
- Clip of Brook Benton singing "It's Just a Matter of Time" on The Ed Sullivan Show
- Brook: Someday...
Todd (VO): This is Brook Benton, an early R&B singer who recorded in the early '50s through the '70s.
- Clip from Black Wax
- Gil Scott-Heron: The question is, "is that jazz?"
Todd (VO): This is Gil Scott-Heron, the late '60s and '70s spoken-word and jazz poet whose work was one of the progenitors of rap music.
- [Clip of Jamie xx at turntable]
And this is Jamie xx, a British beatmaker, producer, and remix artist.
[Clip of Benton] As a songwriter, Brook Benton had one of his compositions become a minor hit in 1960, and then [record of Bobby Bland - "I'll Take Care of You"] it became an accepted blues standard covered numerous times by various artists. [Gil singing at Somerset House] One of them was Gil Scott-Heron, who recorded his own version in 2010, a year before his death. [Album cover of We're New Here and clip of "I'll Take Care of U"] In 2011, Jamie xx completely reworked and remixed the Gil Scott-Heron version into something completely new.
Todd: And that's the backstory, that's "the rest of the story" of this song. [intro plays in background] It's called "I'll Take Care of You"—originally recorded in 1959, covered by Gil Scott-Heron in 2010, remixed by Jamie xx in 2011, and finally sampled and transformed again by Drake and Rihanna in 2012.
#1. Drake ft. Rihanna - "Take Care"
- Rihanna: I know you’ve been hurt by someone else
- I can tell by the way you carry yourself
Todd (VO): As an artist, Drake always struck me as good, without ever being particularly great. But this year, he hit the charts with one of the most breathtakingly amazing pop songs that's ever existed.
- Drake: They don’t get you like I will
- My only wish is I die real
- Cause that truth hurts, and those lies heal
- And you can’t sleep thinking that he lies still
Todd (VO): "Take Care" is astonishingly good, almost too good for the pop charts, and certainly too good for Drake or Rihanna.
Todd: I'd never seen so much love, frustration and anger tied up together so well.
- Drake: You won’t ever have to worry
Todd (VO): Drake promises to rescue her and that he doesn't care about her bad reputation, and yet he's let disappointment and resentment and defensiveness creep into his grand statements of love. It's...it's...
Todd: ...it's really deep, guys.
- Drake: It’s my birthday, I'll get high if I want to
- Can’t deny that I want you, but I'll lie if I have to
Todd (VO): He's clearly been pushing and pushing and he's gotten nowhere, and he just can't take it anymore. And while Drake is great on this, Rihanna is better than she has been in years, sounding tired, resigned, burnt by love, too brought down by reality to believe Drake's promises.
- Rihanna: I’ve loved and I’ve lost
Todd (VO): I...I'm almost embarrassed to talk about this song, I like it so much. This...this song is...is stone-perfect. Everything about this just comes together.
Todd: It is the best pop song of the year. That's my #1, I'm Todd In The Shadows, and I'm out. Take care.
Gets up and leaves
- Video ends
Closing tag song: Katy Perry - "Wide Awake"
This year's remix was "Carry Me Home Maybe" by DJ Dry Bones
I liked it more than DJ Earworm's mix this year
- ↑ #12 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #3 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #68 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #2 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #32 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #73 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #64 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100 for 2013; did not appear on 2012 list
- ↑ #40 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #22 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #91 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #1 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #31 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #41 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #85 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #49 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #14 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #26 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #11 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100 for 2013; did not appear on 2012 list
- ↑ #5 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #38 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #6 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #82 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #48 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #57 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; debuted at #8
- ↑ #47 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #23 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
- ↑ #15 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100