Top Five of 2012 – Music

5. Nas “Life is Good”
My 10-year high school reunion is coming up and I think it’ll feel a lot like this album.  Someone that you used to love who you haven’t seen in a long time has grown up and matured and has kids and loves them and, in seeing a grown-up them, you too realized that you have grown into a real adult and feel proud and accomplished.

4. Taylor Swift “Red”
And just when I feel all grown up, I discover that I still adore Taylor Swift.  I’m a sucker for a good breakup album and our favorite girl from rural PA delivers.  Turns out that my grief and loss can distill down to catchy pop numbers–and their mandolins and banjos and Kennedys can take my pain away.  Oh would that it were that easy, Taylor.  Still, isn’t it pretty to think so?

3. Frank Ocean “Channel Orange”
This album is a masterpiece of soul and storytelling.  And Ocean tackles relationship problems that Taylor can only dream of–big-boy ones. What’s it like to date across class–sipping bottles of wine you can’t pronounce.  What’s it like to flee your parents who disapprove of the color of your significant other.  What it’s like to for years and years to be in love with someone who can’t love you back.  Frank Ocean gives us grown-up heartbreak that doesn’t get better no matter how many songs you write.

2. Beach House “Bloom”
The best thing to come out of Baltimore since ‘The Wire,’ this psychedelic-pop make me feel like I’m floating through terrible marvelous dreams.  Bloom takes me back to the best nights of college, sitting around, doing nothing but dreaming that everything is possible.

1. Alabama Shakes “Boys & Girls”
But when it comes down to it, I’m still a twenty-something.  And nothing expresses the pathos of shriveling dreams that litter the paths of late adolescant like a soul singer, and Alabama Shake’s Brittany Howard gives Adele a run for her money in their debut album.  Watch as she and her Athens, GA bandmates blows away Conan O’Brien:

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