This has been a phenomenal year for music. Veterans Neil Young and Crazy Horse released not one but two ambitious and ingenious albums. New artists such as Kishi Bashi and Alt-J appeared with exciting and unusual records. Plenty of other surprises popped up along the way: Cat Power returned from a six-year hiatus with the best album she's ever made. Ty Segall, already a prolific artist, released three stellar garage-rock records in 2012 (three!), while the first-ever studio album from Macklemore, a rapper with little name recognition outside his native Seattle, made his debut at No. 1 on iTunes and No. 2 on Billboard. Meanwhile, R&B artists Miguel and Frank Ocean both released records that were unconventional but wildly popular.
That's just some of the wonderful, unpredictable and endlessly fascinating music of 2012.
On this edition of All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton chat with NPR Music critic Ann Powers and editor Stephen Thompson about the music that mattered most to them in 2012, including their:
Lianne La Havas
The Sea And Cake
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Cat Power's Sun
Alt-J's An Awesome Wave
Frank Ocean's Channel Orange
Japandroids' Celebration Rock
Dirty Projectors: "Offspring Are Blank"
Best Coast: "The Only Place"
Ty Segall: "Thank God For Sinners"
Tell us what you think. Vote now for your favorite albums of 2012.