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10 Best Alternative Songs of 2012 (So Far)

AOL Radio's Top 10 Alternative Songs of 2012 (so far) incorporates a strong mix of rock songs, featuring many young artists along with some favorites. Gotye and Fun. came on strong to the scene with their early year anthems, while other acts like The Black Keys and Linkin Park have excited their fans with awesome new material. Which other young bands made their way onto the countdown? And were they able to beat out the veterans? Check out the list below!
'Don't Stop (Color On The Walls'
Foster The People
Widely known for their pop cross-over hit 'Pumped up Kicks,' Foster the People is quickly becoming one of the most exciting young rock bands to listen to. 'Don't Stop,' is the 4th single off their critically acclaimed debut album, 'Torches.' The song, which became popular partially due to its use in advertisements for the Nissan Versa, was written about what a 4 year old might do if he or she ruled the world. The song, like many Foster the People songs, is upbeat and catchy, and features a powerful chorus. This song reached #5 on the US Alternative charts and was a top 10 rock hit. Foster the People are reportedly hoping to release their sophomore album in 2013.
'Not Your Fault'
AWOLNATION first became commercially recognized after 'Sail' was dropped as their first single from their debut album 'Back from Earth.' The band electrified their fans with their 2nd single 'Not Your Fault, which features a rockin' chorus and great lead vocals from frontman Aaron Bruno. Bruno belts out the strong lyrics, stating: "Baby, when I'm yellin' at you, it's not your fault." The song peaked at #3 on the U.S. Alternative charts and came in on our list as the Number 9 Alternative song thus far this year.
Red Bull Records
'Everybody Talks'
Neon Trees
After a successful first album, Neon Trees released the lead single to their 2nd album 'Picture Show,' called 'Everybody Talks.' Neon Trees broke through commercially with their hit 'Animal,' and this lead single is similarly up-beat and catchy. It has an early 1960s feel, which frontman Tyler Glenn said was inspired by artists like Roy Orbison and music from Motown. 'Everybody Talks' peaked in the top 10 Alternative Songs and crossed-over as a top 40 single. The song is currently featured on its own car commercial, for the 2012 Black Verano.
Island Def Jam
'Gold On the Ceiling'
The Black Keys
It's hard to believe that the sound that comes out of The Black Keys is produced by only two people. The band, who began as an independent act after dropping out of college, features only Dan Auerbach on guitar and vocals, and Patrick Carney on drums. The Black Keys have been a big alternative favorite over the last few years, producing hits like 'Tighten Up' and 'Howlin' for You.' 'Gold on the Ceiling' is the 3rd single off their 7th studio album,'El Camino.' Auerbach said he used three "local girls" to help with the gospel harmonies for the song, which has an up-beat blues rock, feel to it. The song has been featured in several sporting events on television, including the 2012 NCAA Men's Division Tournament. The song made its way to #1 on the Alternative Charts and consistently remains as one of the best rock songs of the year.
Nonesuch Records
'Midnight City'
French electronic band M83 received world-wide commercial success for their new-wave song 'Midnight City,' the lead single off their 6th studio album, 'Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.' Anthony Gonzalez, who records mostly on his own, said he was inspired by downtown Los Angeles at night while writing this song. The song, which is driven by electronic beats, also features a saxophone solo which is played by James King of Fits and the Tantrums. The song has enjoyed time in the Billboard Hot 100 and in the top 5 of the US Alternative Songs. It also enjoys the #5 spot on our list of top 10 alternative songs of 2012, so far.
Naïve Records
'Burn It Down'
Linkin Park
Not far removed from the release of their successful album 'A Thousand Suns,' Linkin Park is back with the single release of 'Burn It Down.' The song, which is the lead single from their upcoming 5th album, 'Living Things,' is a high energy tune with elements of electronic rap and hip-hop. Co-lead vocalist Mike Shinoada said the song was reminiscent of pop culture, building somebody up as the next great thing, and then ultimately destroying them. 'Burn it Down' has been frequently featured on ESPN and was performed live by the band at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. 'Burn It Down' quickly shot up the charts, reaching #1 on the Rock charts and peaking at #3 on the U.S. Alternative charts. 'Living Things' is scheduled to be released on June 26.
Warner Brothers
'Simple Song'
The Shins
'Simple Song,' is a laid-back tune and is the debut single from indie rockers 'The Shins,' 4th studio album 'Port of Morrow.' Frontman James Mercer stated that the song was about his wife, their relationship, and their life ahead. The song was simply written in the living room of Mercer's apartment, shortly after his marriage in 2007. Mercer also admitted that the song was partially about two members leaving the band. The song peaked as a top 10 alternative song and falls at #4 on our countdown, as the #4 best alternative song of 2012 so far.
Aural Apothecary
'It's Time'
Imagine Dragons
Talk about starting off strong. Imagine Dragons only entered the studio for the first time in 2009, but they have released four EPs, and have had a hit single with 'It's Time." With a catchy beat and catchy chorus, the song began receiving air play on major radio stations, and quickly began charting. It has reached #4 on the US Billboard Alternative Charts. The narrator in the song doesn't want to change who he is, realizing that that's more important than becoming someone different. Imagine Dragons are set to tour with AWOLNATION in the fall and will perform at many summer festivals, including SXSW. 'It's Time' will likely be featured on their first studio album, 'Night Visions,' which is scheduled to be released in September.
'Somebody That I Used to Know'
The mid-tempo indie pop ballad 'Somebody That I Used to Know,' is a cross-over hit that dealt with Gotye's past relationships. It features Kimbra and was recorded at Gotye's parent's house. The song samples Luiz Bonfa's song "Seville." The song, which is the 2nd single off his 3rd album, 'Making Mirrors,' enjoyed great commercial success, reaching #1 in many countries, including the United States where it topped the Billboard Hot 100 and the US Alternative Songs. Its cross-over appeal was striking; the song was the first ever single to top all three charts of the Hot 100, Dance/Club Play Songs, and Alternative Songs. The hit has been performed in many notable live performances, including Saturday Night Live. The song replaced Fun's "We Are Young," at #1 on the Hot 100, but it is the #2 song on our countdown of the best alternative songs so far this year.
'We Are Young'
When 'We Are Young,' was replaced by 'Somebody That I used to Know' on the Hot 100, it was the first time since 2000, that two rock-based tracks had been atop the list. Fun's hit, had similar cross-over appeal and was the lead single off their 2nd studio album 'Some Nights." The power ballad, took off after it appeared on an episode of Glee and then during a Chevrolet commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. The song, which has been certified 4x platinum, captures the moments of youth and fun nights out. Lead Signer Nate Ruess said the lyrics were inspired by one specific night, which was his "worst drinking night of all time." The song, which peaked at #1 on the Hot 100 and the US Alternative Songs, was the first rock song since 2001 to premier on the charts at #1. Fun. was the first rock group to top the charts since Coldplay did with 'Viva La Vida' in 2008.
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