It might feel a little premature to publish a list of the best albums of 2012… before summer. But why wait when the first crop of the year’s pop albums alone have made 2012 a year for the record books? We’ve already seen the first #1 Billboard chart-topper by an openly gay artist and “one of the worst outings in SNL history”. Besides, the music itself has been, in its best moments, transcendent — especially when you consider the dearth of pop divas currently on the charts. Aside from a few high-profile and, frankly, disappointing releases (more on that later), the first half of 2012 was dominated by upstarts, indie darlings and out-of-left-fielders, and that’s precisely who you’ll find on our list.
Our #1 pick was the unanimous favorite among our editors here. Gossip, the post-punk threesome that’ve been bubbling just below the surface for more than a decade, may have finally found their mainstream crossover sound, a soulful melange of polished electronic dance tracks and funk-infused feel-good lyrics. New dad Rufus Wainwright ran with the happy thing, too, while Norah Jones quietly turned out the best soundtrack to a breakup since whatshername? — oh yeah, Adele.
Estelle evoked the golden age of Lauryn Hill, and though few else did, we noticed. Santigold, Garbage, Adam Lambert and Scissor Sisters staged epic returns to form, reminding us why we fell in love in the first place. And then we were head over heels all over again when Rye Rye commanded us to bounce, Niki & The Dove enthralled us with cold precision, and Kimbra drew us in with fearless experimentalism. Not that we were putting up a fight.
And finally we’re back to poor Lana Del Rey, much maligned for those lips and that look and the catastrophe that was SNL. But the record sounded rich and it made no airs about being more than what it was, and what is was we connected with: sad little songs about love and longing that just happened to sound like they’d fallen off a Kanye West production.
Anyway, see how we ranked the albums below.
Idolator’s Best Albums Of 2012… So Far
12. Adam Lambert, Trespassing
11. Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe
10. Rufus Wainwright, Out Of The Game
9. Scissor Sisters, Magic Hour
8. Norah Jones, Little Broken Hearts
7. Estelle, All Of Me
6. Rye Rye, Go! Pop! Bang!
5. Garbage, Not Your Kind Of People
4. Niki & The Dove, Instinct
3. Kimbra, Vows
2. Lana Del Rey, Born To Die
1. Gossip, A Joyful Noise