5. St. Vincent -- Cheerleader
Annie Clark -- known by the stage name St. Vincent -- regularly churns out fascinating music, but she really hit a new high with this track. Its frank declaration of independence is matched only by its lush, languid instrumentation.
4. Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra -- The Killing Type
The force of nature that is Amanda Palmer returned in 2012 with a record financed through a massive Kickstarter campaign. The result was everything fans could have hoped for: it was fierce, fiery, a true breath of fresh air in the pop music world. The first single from it showcased everything that makes Amanda Amanda.
3. Skrillex -- Bangarang
Nobody came into 2012 with more to prove than Skrillex. He had a lot of hype to live up to but he managed it in spades with this explosive track, one that slammed you in the chest with the monstrous beats he's famous for. With this, he proved handily that he's the king of dubstep and maybe of electronic dance in general.
2. Frank Ocean -- Thinking About You
Frank Ocean made headlines in 2012 when he admitted to having had feelings for a man. Is he gay? Is he bi? Is he just experimental? It hardly matters. The bottom line is that as a musician, few are his equal these days. Channel ORANGE was a benchmark in modern soul and hip-hop, and this song was an absolute knockout.
1. Dead Sara -- Weatherman
Dear God, does this song kick your ass all over the room. With the opening guitar crunch and the Joplin-esque howl of Emily Armstrong, Dead Sara ferociously declared themselves to be the new gods of rock. There simply aren't words to describe what a chill-inducing punch to the gut this song was the first time you heard it -- and I guarantee it hasn't relented every time you've heard it since. It was hands-down the best track of the year, single or otherwise.