This year's best books about music include thought-provoking reads on how music works, in-depth histories of the underground, and soul-searching autobiographies from legendary (and not-so-legendary) performers.
Jazz today remains the music that stays alive through a remarkable alchemy. On this list, traditions that go back to the jazz roots co-exist with modern pop tunes, and the avant-garde edges of the music blend in fluid ease with tonal beauty.
With the long arm of the internet putting any and all music at our fingertips, it should make for a glut of bands getting their due attention. But what really happens is so many great acts get hidden in plain view.
From forward looking hip-hop and R&B to deep explorations of traditional roots music... from psychedelic pop masterpieces to ruminations on the economy, family, aging and disfunction... from genre-busting electronic music and jazz to rockin' indie... 2012 was a great year for new music.
In 2012, you could be forgiven for being dismissive of the country music genre entirely -- to a point. For as long as country exists as a genre, there will be songwriters who are devoted to embodying their own vision of what “country” means, which sometimes means pushing the genre around.
Dave Heaton, Jedd Beaudoin, Josh Langhoff, Steve Leftridge
Writing about the best indie-pop seems inherently an individualized, personal experience -- but that is fitting for a type of music that on one level seems more person-oriented than mass-movement-oriented.
From extraordinary singer-songwriters to blistering punk, experimental electronica to shimmery pop, this list demonstrates something of the breadth of talent, and the range of possibilities being explored in Canadian music today.
From the triumphant dream pop of Grimes and the boundary-pushing R&B of Frank Ocean to the tough, frantic British hip-hop of Plan B and the chart-topping country pop of Taylor Swift, PopMatters counts down 2012's 75 best songs.
As our wide-ranging coverage of the year in music shows and the music itself proves, what the best and most compelling musical expressions of 2012 have in common is that they are the products of hard work and labors of love.