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#TBT: Best Album of 2012?
Our music reviewers battle it out over what they believe was the best album of 2012. Stay tuned for more TBT battles from the last 5 years.
May 9, 2017
Lana Del Ray’s “Born to Die” Dominated 2012
While 2012 had some solid albums in the music industry, most notably Frank Ocean’s instant-classic debut Channel Orange, Kendrick Lamar’s pre-To Pimp A Butterfly era’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, and Imagine Dragon’s impressive popular debut, Night Visions, one album stood above all these. Lana Del Rey’s debut studio album, Born To Die, was released January 27th, 2012 and was a stunning breakout album that introduced the New York femme fatale to the world. Del Rey helped to popularize “sad girl” pop, with her sultry vocals, impressively switching between high and fluttery and low and brooding at a moment’s notice. Her hip-hop and retro alternative style also makes this newcomer stand out from the rest.
An album with the theme of love, money, and greed, Del Rey effortlessly gives harrowing stories through the tracks, all of which she has top writing credits. Standout tracks such as “Born to Die”, “Blue Jeans”, “National Anthem”, and “Summertime Sadness” all are great alternative pop songs in a new sad, trippy hip-hop style Del Rey makes her own. The slow and gorgeous “Video Games” about love and dependency, is probably the most popular song among fans and the media for its simple-yet-beautiful melody, besides the commercial pop hit “Summertime Sadness”. Her messy live Saturday Night Live performance was highly criticized as being one of the worst of all time, yet that didn’t stop the album from going RIAA Platinum in numerous countries and “Summertime Sadness” from dominating the airwaves for years to come.
To conclude, while the album had mixed reviews, it’s the best of the year in the amount of solid tracks it has alone. This was an effortless debut for Del Rey, and the “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”’s success is well deserved. Releasing two other albums and a few EPs in the years to come, be sure to check out what seems to be a huge step from the depressed Born to Die to the happy, space exploration-inspired Lust For Life this year. The sad face on 2012’s album to the wide smile on this year’s will be interesting to see how she’s changed in a positive way.
Kendrick Lamar Reigned Supreme in 2012
2012 was a standout year for the music industry, albums such as Channel Orange, Death Grip’s highly overlooked The Money Store, and much more. However, there is a single album that defines the evolution of hip hop in recent years, and that album is Kendrick Lamar’s second studio album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. Lamar was a bright prospect after his first album Section.80, released a year prior, and fast forward one year and Lamar would transcend rookie status and become one of the biggest names in music.
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City receives the subtitle “A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar”and it is not without reason, as the album is presented as a story that pieces together. The theme of the hit album revolves around Lamar’s family and how they are his motivation to avoid the gang violence before it corrupts his soul into living his life for materialistic values solely. Aside from rich storytelling, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City also contains A-list features from Drake and Dr. Dre that compliment this already stellar album. Tracks such as “Poetic Justice”, “m.A.A.d. City”, and “Compton” all contain very insightful lyrics and some of the most well produced beats hip hop has ever seen. However, the most universally popular track on the album, “Swimming Pools”, is one of the most iconic songs of the 21st century and one of my favorite songs of all time. The album was not just popular with fans, but the music industry as well, as Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City won a BET award for Album of the Year, a Soul Train Music Awards Album of the Year, and was Grammy-nominated for Album of the Year.
To conclude, Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City was the stepping stone for his career and elevated him to being known as one of the best rappers in the industry. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City also appealed to all fans of rap, as it provided in-depth lyrics for old school hip hop fans and catchy beats for the newer generation fans. While 2012 was a very noteworthy era for music, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City stood over the rest of the competition.