A Text Edit box filled with lyrics against a blue desktop. 1:09 remaining on Frank Ocean‘s laptop battery, as he posts what bloggers are now calling “Wiseman” (but originally had no name) to his Tumblr. The song reads like a fable, as Ocean tells a story parallel to the historical rework of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
Ocean finds universality in the movie’s lessons, his song going from, “I bet your mother would be proud of you” into “I bet our mother would be proud of you”. Why wasn’t the track used in the film?
Tarantino commented it last month:
Frank Ocean wrote a fantastic ballad that was truly lovely and poetic in every way, there just wasn’t a scene for it. I could have thrown it in quickly just to have it, but that’s not why he wrote it and not his intention. So I didn’t want to cheapen his effort. But, the song is fantastic, and when Frank decides to unleash it on the public, they’ll realize it then.
When we began compiling our Best Songs of 2012 list, there were many differing opinions, and after briefly toying with the idea of pitting all our staff against one another in a Hunger Games fight-to-the-death scenario against the backdrop of Times Square, we conceded that the most diplomatic and least murderous thing to do would be to each submit our own list. You know, in the name of preserving a civil work environment and whatnot (not to mention our longstanding policy of avoiding contact with the human resources department). So while we didn’t battle it out in a conference room or some such nonsense, each one of us faced an internal battle — choosing our favorite songs of the year.
As far as consensus is concerned, there were 21 songs that appeared on multiple ballots, but only eight that appeared on three or more lists: Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” (4 ballots), Frank Ocean‘s “Pyramids” (4 ballots), fun.‘s “We Are Young” (4 ballots), Gotye‘s “Somebody I Used To Know” (3 ballots), P!nk‘s “Just Give Me A Reason” (3 ballots), Usher‘s “Climax” (3 ballots), Azealia Banks‘ “212″ (3 ballots), and Miguel‘s “Adorn” (3 ballots).
(Btw, before we get into this, we’d like to note that we put together the following Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure: VH1 Staffers Pick Their Favorite Songs Of 2012. It’s sequenced in alpha order by artist first name, so we wholeheartedly recommend you hit Shuffle while listening to this 92 track playlist. Now, on with the show…)
The cost of fame often comes with a hefty price tag. Frank Ocean may be the latest celebrity to find out how shady family can become when all they see is signs, all they see is dollar signs (don’t judge us for our quick Rihanna impromptu). In the wee hours of the night Frank used Twitter to vent about his father suing him for a million dollars. “Father wanna sue me for a million. Like I owe him back child support. Weak individual bought me a swiss knife at 6yrs old then dipped on me,” he tweeted, which has since been deleted. Read more…
Frank Ocean thinks it’s “really tight” that you all liked channel ORANGE, and is appreciative of his 6 Grammy nods, but it sounds like he might be gunning for a National Book Award or a spot on Michiko Kakutani’s Top Ten in the next round. In a sit-down with the Guardian, the breakout R&B star and talented lyricist teased that, rather than an album, his next project may be a book: Read more…
Shoulda, coulda, woulda they say, and if we were heading up things at these labels, we might’ve done things a bit differently. But alas, we do not so we do what we do best and make a catchy end of year list that points out songs that deserved their run at the pop charts. Even if they never see the light of Billboard glory, they’re certainly some of the best songs of the year and should get your listen. Who knows! Did you know “Starships” wasn’t even on the original run of Nicki Minaj‘s Pink Friday? That’s right, and mostly why there was a “Pink Friday 2″ aka Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. So there’s always a chance for long-lost songs to see new glory. Here are the ones we think deserve it.
Talk about a missed opportunity, Ciara’s “Livin’ It Up”, a tropical romp across a Kid ‘N Play sample, isn’t even included on the final version of her album One Woman Army. Snatched from a Cosmopolitan Magazine sampler CD, blogs went nuts over the track after it leaked across the web in anticipation for the album. Too bad that when Ciara released her first single, the apty-named, and decidedly down-beat “Sorry”, turned out “Livin’ It Up” was more of what everyone wanted.
channel ORANGE received a whole bunch of attention this year, although it was Frank Ocean’s sexuality that managed to steal the spotlight most of the time. The album ended up being a gorgeous collection of songs that perfect flowed in and out of each other–even the 9+ minute “Pyramids” shined. But if any song had a chance at the pop charts, it would’ve been “Lost” a song that tells the tale of a drug-cooking girlfriend atop a catchy pop melody.
The Best Of‘s continue, today with Spin, Complex, FACT and Gorilla vs. Bear picking their favorite tracks from the year that’s almost past us. Singles lists are always fun because it’s easier to make a good single than a good album, and because there are so many to chose between. So these lists still have a lot of the Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean action that we’ve come to except, as well as love for viral phenomenons like the Carly Rae Jepsen‘s and radio thumpers like G.O.O.D. Music‘s “Mercy.” And because FACT and Gorilla vs. Bear’s tastes tend to run left-of-center, you might even find there’s something new for you to love on one of these lists.
“You ain’t got no Jodeci? What is a Radiohead anyway?” Last Thursday the six-time Grammy-nominatedFrank Ocean proved once and for all that he knows exactly what “A Radiohead” is, slipping an affecting but so-sweet cover of their 1995 classic “Fake Plastic Trees” into a short set he played for a Spotify event in New York. Ocean skipped straight to the song’s final verse — the bit about “I can’t help the feeling / I could blow through the ceiling” seeming resonant right about now — and only got about a minute and a half of the song in before getting back to his own “Voodoo,” but it was enough to get the crowd whoop-ing and us hoping that he might someday do more like this. This is sure to leave you with all sorts of feelings.
The year is running down, and like everyone else, we are bundling up our most memorable musical moments from the year into a slew of Best Of’s. Before we get to the more obvious lists — the best albums, the best songs — we thought we would have a little fun. First up: 9 delightful collaborations, made all the more so for their unexpectedness. We aren’t talking Watch The Throne-style of-course-they-would team-ups, we’re talking collaborations that we couldn’t in our wildest dreams have imagined or that we thought we would never see, like — well, these nine:
Barton Hollow is totally “an indie record much cooler than mine,” but more careful observer might have predicted this unlikely but delightful collaboration, as Swift began yammering about her fellow Nashville transplants The Civil Wars on twitter long before this was even a possibility. We, however, were left breathless upon learning that one of the day’s biggest pop stars had teamed-up with one of our favorite You Oughta Know acts — and for a song for such a pivotal moment in the Hunger Games movie, no less! Joy Williams harmonizing turns Taylor’s girlish coo haunting, and John Paul White‘s patient guitar plucking gets the whole thing swirling. See also:“The Last Time,” Taylor’s distressed duet with Gary Lightbody of Northern Ireland’s mostly absent as of late folk rock set Snow Patrol. Taylor is a slick machine when it comes to her music, and it was a surprise to see her reaching out of bounds for this one.
Hard to believe as it may be given the boom box beats and all the sing-rapping that resulted, Warrior is allegedly a tribute to the genre Ke$ha loves the most: rock and roll. If you really strain your ears, you may hear some of that “old hippie rock” in the breakdown of “Die Young.” You won’t have to try so hard with “Dirty Pop,” which features Iggy Pop, a true and blue rock star and someone Ke$ha has spent a lot of time talking about through the years. The joy she must have felt the first time she heard him call her “Wild Child” on her own song is evident. See also:“2012,” K$’s duet with fellow weirdos The Flaming Lips.
Another day closer to 2013, another load of Best Of lists to parse! And so we’re back, today with Rolling Stone, NPR, Time and Idolator and a whole bunch more tallies for Frank Ocean, Japandroids, Kendrick Lamar and Fiona Apple. A trend emerges…