I feel fortunate to enjoy as much music as I do. You'll see this list is really all over the place. It's hard for me to be focused because there is too much out there that is great. I've never really understood when people'll claim to only be able to listen to one genre, or worse, artist (usually Drake) and judge quality on a scale of being similar to or different from that one genre or artist (again, Drake). A cool thing about music is that you can have a completely acceptable music taste and not listen to anything on this list, or any list!
But! Don't gloss over stuff you haven't heard of on this list! I try my best not to! It might even be good!
Albums are ranked on how much I enjoyed them/played them in my car.
I have video links of what I consider must-hear songs.
30. Lonerism - Tame Impala
29. Red - Taylor Swift
28. Piramida - Efterklang
This is one of the more beautiful songs I heard this year. I really wish it wasn't in an ad to sell iPads, or whatever.
27. 1991 - Azealia Banks
26. Skelethon - Aesop Rock
25. Kindred - Burial
24. Coexist - the xx
Jamie xx, the rhythmic force behind the xx who uses only electronic instruments and loves making excellent remixes, really shines on this effort, so much the band feels like it's keeping up. He takes a lot from the recent movement of UK two-step (Burial, Four Tet, Flying Lotus, Radiohead), and it results in incredibly approachable songs with very complex bases. I feel this album has been under-appreciated (because yeah a lot of the songwriting sucks).
23. Hands of Glory - Andrew Bird
22. Silver & Gold - Sufjan Stevens
Every year for ten years, Sufjan Stevens recorded an EP of Christmas music. It began as an undertaking he released to friends and family, and later to the public. This collection, of the last five years, highlights the chaos and serenity of Christmas. It captures it in a way that is peculiar and completely makes sense and is the only honest Christmas album you will hear ever (sorry, Cee-Lo).
21. Voyageur - Kathleen Edwards
20. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
19. Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts
18. Until the Quiet Comes - Flying Lotus
17. Shrines - Purity Ring
16. good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar
15. Spooky Action at a Distance - Lotus Plaza
14. Life Is Good - Nas
13. Voyageur - Kathleen Edwards
12. Celebration Rock - Japandroids
11. Devotion - Jessie Ware
This might be the biggest smash hit in Britain for 2012, but it's only marginally popular in America, for reasons I don't understand. It is constantly playing on BBC Radio 1 through 40. Also one of my favorite videos of the year.
10. The Palace Garden - Beat Connection
9. Be The Void / Wild Race - Dr. Dog
Insanely consistent bands that are under-appreciated and are constantly compared to the Beatles should be cherished (also see: Spoon, Tame Impala).
8. Bloom - Beach House
7. Silent Hour/Golden Mile - Daniel Rossen
From the lead guitarist of Grizzly Bear (spoiler alert my #1) Almost unbearably sad and beautiful.
6. Break It Yourself - Andrew Bird