2012 was an exceptional year for music, making it extremely difficult to choose a top 5. But after much deliberation, I’ve settled for these little gems… 5. One Direction – “What Makes You Beautiful” A wonderful love song, telling of a crush whose modesty prevents her from seeing her own beauty. It’s heart-warming and innocent, and served us all a delightfully happy song which we all needed (and deserved). “You don’t know you’re beautiful/That’s what makes you beautiful.” Lyrically perfect and timeless: that’s What Makes It Beautiful. 4. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe” This charming pop track tells of the adrenaline rush of love at first sight, and of the anxiety of waiting for a phone call from a crush: “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy/But here’s my number, so call me maybe?” It’s insanely catchy, romantic, and very sweet. It’s also nostalgic: does anyone seriously make phone calls anymore? It’s hard to listen to this song and not feel happy. “Call Me Maybe” defined the summer of 2012, and rightly so. 3. Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” This catchy pop number tells of Swift’s frustration at an ex-lover wishing to give the relationship another go, whilst alluding to the fact that this time would be more than a second chance. Although self-evidently being a break-up song, it’s difficult to evade the themes of self-empowerment and ‘girl power’: “You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me/ But we are never ever ever ever getting back together.” The acoustic guitar over the catchy drum beat is splendid, and it’s a lyrical joy. A break-up song that manages to be uplifting. Wonderful! 2. Train – “Drive By” 2012 was a good year for Train, a massively underrated band who generally fail to achieve commercial success, a shame considering their huge talent. The protagonist urges a one-night-stand to let them become “more than friends at last”. It sounds clichéd, but there is enough pleading that we become convinced of his innocent intentions of having her as his girlfriend. “Drive By” is soulful, with a beat you want to dance to, and a magnificent drop before the chorus. The accompanying video is uber-American, and it’s impossible to avoid the urge to want to jump into a Mustang, take a long road trip through the US, and feel that everything is right. 1. Adele – “Skyfall” From the first beat of this big ballad number, it is instantly recognisable as a Bond theme. But it doesn’t smack of cliché. Bond elements are necessarily included to assuage fans of its traditionalism – note the conscious decision to blend the song with elements of Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme”. But this is not a song just for fans of the films: a sublime opening makes it instantly recognisable as an Adele song. Her signature smoothness is juxtaposed with a fiery nature, which is truly appreciated in the final third of the song. ‘Skyfall’ is a welcome piece of nostalgia after a recent departure from the Shirley Bassey days of big band brass, and vocalists with believable soul. Despite its evident references to death and violence, it’s hard to escape the romanticism. Beautiful, dreamy lyrics tell of a couple whose love is strong enough to hold up the world: “Let the sky fall, when it crumbles, we will stand tall.” And with subtle in-jokes (“You may have my number, you can take my name/but you’ll never have my heart”) and references to previous films, it’s not without a pinch of dry humour. ‘Skyfall’ is a magnificent addition to the catalogue of Bond themes; not entirely non-conformist, but with enough individuality to stand out.