Popular Hits of 2012

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Gotye – Making Mirrors (Universal Republic)

The success of “Somebody That I Used to Know” overshadows the rest of this album, which continues to meld the best of eighties-era album-pop with modern flourishes. Phil Collins wishes he still had an album like Making Mirrors in him.

Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (Columbia)

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts (Blue Note)

Carrie Underwood – Blown Away (Sony Nashville)

Jason Mraz – Love is a Four Letter Word (Atlantic)

Fun. – Some Nights (Fueled By Ramen)

The band’s sophomore album blends stadium-sized alternative-pop with elements of hip-hop through the band’s collaboration with producer Jeff Bhasker, who worked on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The stylistic mash-up resulted in the year’s biggest pop surprises, including “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” (video below).

Train – California 37 (Columbia)

Tim McGraw – Emotional Traffic (Curb Records)

Carolina Chocolate Drops – Leaving Eden (Nonesuch)

Counting Crows – Underwater Sunshine (Collective Sounds)

Dave Matthews Band – Away from the World (RCA)

The band’s eighth studio album features Matthews’ strongest songwriting since Before These Crowded Streets. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, of AllMusic, writes: “there is no real attempt to broaden their audience, nor is there the self-conscious stretching that marked some of Matthews’ 2000s albums.” Highlights: “Gaucho” and “Drunken Soldier”

Shinedown – Amaryllis (Atlantic)

Pink – The Truth About Love (RCA)

Lionel Ritchie – Tuskeegee (Mercury Nashville)

Flobots – The Circle in the Square (Shanachie)

David Crowder Band – Give Us Rest (Six Step Records)

Waco, Texas’s best-kept secret, David Crowder crafts innovative modern worship consistently album by album. This year’s Give Us Rest showcases his band’s sound across two full-length LPs, merging traditional worship with boundary-pushing forays into electronic-tinged pop. Check out “After All (Holy)” and “Oh Great God, Give Us Rest” to hear Crowder at his best.

Matchbox Twenty – North (Atlantic)

ZZ Top – La Futura (Universal Republic)

The Killers – Battle Born (Island)

The Wallflowers – Glad All Over (Columbia)

Moses Luster – Stands Alone (Dark Heart Recordings)

This independent release creates what I’d call “apocalyptic folk,” a series of twisted takes on runaway fundamentalism melded to ear-catching melodies steeped in both folk and pop traditions. Add a vocalist who owes as much to Tom Waits as Johnny Cash, and it’s hard to miss the mark.

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Among DVD releases this week, David Milch runs out of Luck while the Men in Black continue to fight alien invaders and the Prohibition-era looms large in Lawless. Plus: Whitney Houston’s final film, Sparkle, hits home video after disappearing in theaters.