What the Top 10 Songs of 2012 Say About Our Love of Pop
5 months ago
Most-streamed songs are light and airy, not soulful ballads
You'd have been hard-pressed to find anyone this year who couldn't recite the meet-cute details of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" chorus, or who couldn't immediately identify a few percussion pings as the opening of Gotye's "Somebody I Used to Know," or who didn't at least thoroughly enjoy that Chevy Sonic commercial solely for its rousing refrain, before knowing it came courtesy of fun.'s "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae).
But those songs didn't become ubiquitous on their own; in fact, according to Spotify, we music lovers and listeners played them over and over by choice -- pure, unashamed (ok, maybe a little shamed) choice.
The popular digital music service recently released its list of the top 10 most-streamed songs of 2012 (based on its users' selections) and on it are the aforementioned omnipresent hits, as well as Nicki Minaj's "Starships" (see below).
What is missing from the list, however, are the emotionally charged croons of Adele's "Someone Like You" and Usher's "Climax," the experimental artistry of Miguel's "Adorn" and Frank Ocean's "Thinkin' About You," and the nod to nostalgic sounds, as heard on Beyonce's "Love on Top" and Robin Thicke's "Love After War" -- songs that, while good, apparently didn't resonate with listeners long enough for them to hit "repeat."
So why are so many people opting for saccharine instead of soul?
Jermaine Hall, editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine, says it all simply boils down to the jingles' 'joie de vivre.'
"People are into having fun with music right now," said Hall. "They want to dance aimlessly. 'Call Me Maybe' feels great in the car, on a boat, by the pool, at a club. You can learn that record in five minutes; the hook resonates. It's a great pop record with production that says, 'Let your hair down, put your worries to rest, and party for this moment.'"
Dr. Ebony Utley, pop culture expert and professor of communication studies at California State University Long Beach, agrees. "We've got the relationship songs and the fantasy-escape songs [on this list]," she said. "We want to stay 'young' and fly away on 'starships.' That's what everybody—the young and not-so-young alike—wants: to 'YOLO' and live it up. That's classic."
Sure enough, the lyrics of the list-worthy songs mention hands touching the sky, setting the world on fire, shutting down the club and, of course, "here and now" being what counts. And all that 'enjoy life' encouragement seems to have worked as it led to both Gotye and Jepsen selling at least 10 million copies of their respective singles worldwide, making theirs some of the best-selling singles ever — a historic achievement doubled by the fact that neither artist had ever charted before. In fact, in June, Billboard reported that its Hot 100 list was enjoying its longest streak of No. 1's by artists making their first list appearances.
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