The best music of 2012: Pop


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The Independent Culture

At the fag-end of 2012, it seems pertinent to reflect not only on the musical year, but also on all the other end-of-year-lists – and two albums whose widespread omission has turned me into one of those end-of-year-list bores.

Santigold's Masters of My Make Believe boasted a humid sensuality and fantastic tunes; naturally, it barely grazed the charts. Meanwhile, Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel ... slipped out in June with a non-existent marketing campaign, yet may be the best thing she's ever done.

Indeed, those who shined brightest definitely didn't shout loudest. Piano balladeer Perfume Genius's second album, Put Your Back N 2 It, was a work of hushed wonder, while bedroom-popster How to Dress Well cast an equally powerful spell with Total Loss. In fact, haunted R&B was justifiably all the rage this year, from Frank Ocean to The Weekend, whose debut's acknowledged brilliance makes his categorisation as a new artist on the BBC Sound of 2013 list a bit baffling.

Other unassailable truths? Plan B was robbed at the Mercurys for the zeitgeist-garrotting Ill Manors. Hot Chip's Joe Goddard made the most purely pleasurable album of the year, Be Strong, as part of retro-house duo The 2 Bears and with her debut album, From the Roots Up, Delilah should have been bigger than Emeli Sandé.