So, by now, you know that I’ve been counting down my top 100 singles of 2012 for the past week and a half and we’re finally up to what you’ve been waiting for. These are the top two songs on my year-end chart based on my weekly top 40 charts. For yet another year, the top two songs have managed to accumulate over 1,000 points each (both are higher than last year’s top two), and neither one of them was the longest-running #1 song of the year. Still, they’re both classics in my book, both by newcomers with their first top-40 hit that peaked early on during the chart year and just stayed a while. They are the only two songs to spend thirty plus weeks on during this specific Dec. 2011-Nov. 2012 chart year.
There’s a reason I called this The Year Of The G. The letter G, that is. Three acts or performers, all with their first hit(s) and all beginning with the letter G, were in the top spot for sixteen out of the fifty-two weeks in the year. We’ve heard from Grouplove, who were at #10 with “Tongue Tied”, and two other acts who charted lower with their followup singles to the two records left in the countdown.
Let’s get to those two biggies.
Don’t let him be the last to “Know”.
002. GOTYE featuring KIMBRA – “Somebody That I Used To Know”
ALBUM: Making Mirrors // LABEL: Samples ‘n’ Seconds/Universal
PEAK: #1 for seven weeks // WEEKS ON: 33 // POINTS: 1,071
CHART RUN: 36-29-24-22-14-11-06-05-01–01–01–01–01–01–01-02-02-03-04-03-05-04-04-06-09-11-16-19-21-24-27-29-33-off
Belgian-born and Australian-raised Wally de Backer likely never expected a song of his to blow up like this. He showed a liking for music from an early age, playing in a band before beginning a solo career. The singer, who calls himself Gotye, had achieved some minor success on the Albums Chart in Australia and Belgium, as expected, but nothing of his managed to garner any high positions on the charts. That was, until this song came around. Originally intended to be recorded with a “high-profile female artist”, she dropped out at the last-minute and a suitable replacement was found in Kimbra, a New Zealand-based artist who was also a relative unknown in her homeland. It was a highly personal song about a relationship gone wrong, where personalities shifted to the point that each of the counterparts were strangers to one another. Upon impact, it stormed the Singles Chart in Australia, lasting eight weeks in the top spot there in August, September, and October 2011. The video was a huge selling point for the track, where both artists appeared as if they were painted into the wall, before Kimbra‘s paint disappeared, symbolic of the lover’s removal from the picture. Now, not every artist from Australia automatically becomes a superstar in the United States as well; in fact, an indie pop artist, as Gotye may classified as, would probably be the least likely candidate to get a full-fledged backing for a successful U.S. crossover. However, in the midst of Adelemania, we needed a male counterpart to balance out all the slower songs on the radio, and “Somebody” fit the role perfectly. As it began blowing up at Alternative radio, I knew that I had to get on it. On the chart for December 11, 2012, it entered into my Next In Line, and then debuted the following week, December 18, at the #36 position. Its run slowed from there, but it suddenly picked up the pace in January and on the chart of February 12, the song zoomed from 5-1, the second largest leap to the top of the year, and stayed there for seven weeks. After a long top ten stay of nineteen weeks that lasted into the early summer, and thirty-three in the top 40, it managed to fall out of the countdown in mid-August. Followup single “Eyes Wide Open” made it to #7 and was back at #40 on the year-end countdown. Both artists are almost certainly not going to repeat the success of this international smash ever again, but I’m sure they enjoyed the world watching their every move while it lasted.
Now, the most popular song of the year. May I present to you:
Young hearts run “Free”.
001. GRAFFITI6 – “Free”
ALBUM: Colours // LABEL: N.W. Free/Capitol
PEAK: #1 for four weeks // WEEKS ON: 48 // POINTS: 1,290
CHART RUN: 39-35-32-29-21-14-10-06-02-02-01–01–01–01-02-02-04-04-04-05-05-05-06-09-10-10-10-11-15-15-18-18-21-23-21-21-16-14-14-17-17-22-22-22-27-29-29-34-off
This is the story of how one little song trumped the competition with a chart run of four weeks at #1, five months in the top ten, and nearly a year in the top 40. OK, but before I even try to dissect that massive line of numbers, a little background on the band and how I first heard the song that is now my top song of 2012.
Lead singer Jamie Scott was always surrounded by music, whether it was listening to his parents’ collection of classic soul records, or performing in a duo during his college years. In his late teens, Scott sent out several demo tapes to record labels in the hopes that he could compose tracks for other performers, but the general response from these labels was that Scott himself should sing his own music. Sony Records signed him to a solo deal in 2002. His debut album, Soul Searching, was intended for a 2005 release, but was never issued commercially because of a label merger; it got lost in the shuffle. Two singles from the effort, “Just” and “Searching”, became minor top-40 entries in the United Kingdom in September 2004 and January 2005, respectively, and a third solo song, “Made”, can be found on the soundtrack to the movie Step Up. Scott signed to Polydor Records in 2006 and tried again with a band, Jamie Scott & The Town, but their only charting single was “When Will I See Your Face Again?”, which fell just short of the U.K. top 40 at #41 in September 2007. A followup, “Standing In The Rain”, as well as an album, Park Bench Theories, received little promotion and failed to chart.
Tommy Danvers, also known as TommyD, took a different route when it came to music. A multi-instrumentalist, he began on the DJ circuit at age 18, playing at local clubs and then going on to play with high-profile groups like Ministry Of Sound. He also collaborated in the group E-Zee Possee, who scored a U.K. top 20 hit in March 1990 with “Everything Starts With An ‘E'”, banned by BBC Radio 1 for its lyrical content relating to drug use. After a few other minor entries, Danvers went onto work with a new dance band on their debut album, who turned out to be Right Said Fred. Here in the States, they’re one of the biggest one-hit wonders, peaking at #1 on the Hot 100 in 1992 with “I’m Too Sexy”, but they scored several followup hits in the United Kingdom. Over the next decade and a half, Danvers engineered album tracks and remixes for several big artists, like Janet Jackson and Kylie Minogue, though most of his success was achieved in Europe, with no proper U.S. breakthrough.
2008 came along and on the whim of an A&R executive, Scott agreed to meet with Danvers and the two hit it off. Scott intended the sessions to provide some fresh tracks for a solo release, but as he began writing and Danvers began mixing, it was clear that their music together was taking a different direction from what either of the two have done before. The first song they collaborated on turned out to be “Stare Into The Sun”, which was used in an advertisement campaign for The Sun newspaper. It spent three weeks at #1 on my chart this year and ended up at #7 on the year-end countdown. With their nostalgic sound established, the two produced an album in 2010 entitled Colours, which had limited success in a few European countries. Determined to break the States, they signed a deal with Capitol Records in the spring of 2011.
So, fast forward to September of the same year. I’m checking my usual music sites when I notice that a song by an artist that my friend Kurt liked was being sent to Adult Alternative radio in October, so this flawless topic was created by yours truly. Up to that point, I had only seen the video for “Annie You Save Me”, which I thought was alright, but I really enjoyed “Free”. It was a lighter track, but it was arranged really well, and featured a soaring vocal by Scott that I was really impressed with. I suppose it was sentiment of freedom that I really connected with since I was in my senior year of college and the real world was looming. It jumped straight into my Next In Line on the chart dated October 16, 2011 (a radio version of it was released the Tuesday before to iTunes) and debuted at #39 the next week, October 23. In December, it climbed into the top ten and on the chart dated New Year’s Day (January 1, 2012), “Free” became the new #1 on my chart, lasting for four weeks at the top. Colours was released in the U.S. several weeks after the song hit the top.
That should have been the end of the story, but the song just kept sticking around, thanks to the song’s release at Hot AC radio in late February. First, it was an additional eight weeks in the top 5, then thirteen weeks in the top ten, and eighteen in the top 20 before it finally looked like it was descending for good. Nope. With increased airplay at Hot AC radio and a CHR crossover coming, the song launched back into my top 20 for another five weeks, then slowly back down to the point where it fell off, but not until the middle of September, a very long chart run of 48 weeks, 32 of which (2/3 for you fraction fashionistas) were in the top 20. It goes down as the second-longest consecutive chart run in my personal chart’s history. Now, Graffiti6 joins the ranks of acts like Jason Mraz, Duran Duran, Leona Lewis, Lady Antebellum and Adele with a #1 song of the year. Congrats, guys! Best of luck with your new music coming out in 2013. We’ll see if the duo can pull off a year-end repeat. It’s never happened before.
That’s going to do it for this year’s end of the year countdown. Thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoyed.