Wed., December 26, 2012 6:30am (EST)

The Top 10 Top 40 Of 2012
By Ann Powers
Updated: 1 year ago

One Direction, from the cover of its single, "What Makes You Beautiful."
One Direction, from the cover of its single, "What Makes You Beautiful."
If you're into the hits, most any year is a good one. Top 40 music is defined by mass appeal, which means that though some of it is bland, much more is at least catchy and often unpretentiously wonderful. 2012 stood out, though, because of three songs that went beyond momentary ubiquity to become companions to the changing seasons. "Somebody That I Used To Know," "We Are Young" and "Call Me Maybe" seemed like pleasant trifles at first, but they proved durable, and therefore meaningful, and we'll be singing them for years.

Beyond these basics defining the year, the Top 40 offered many pleasures. Some refreshed tried and true themes, like teen romance and women's liberation. Others were more personal, or more experimental, or (in the case of "Climax") both. One thing these songs share: the ability to make millions feel good. In a year full of difficult realities, that's worth a lot.


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