I have noticed a few year-end lists around the web this year have gone out of their way to talk about what “a great year for music” it was. I do not understand this kind of talk. There is always good music coming out, every year. You can probably go back to the beginning of time (i.e., the web) and find a year-end article for every year since 1998 (or whenever) that called that year a “great year for music.” The bottom line is if there happen to be a lot of things released in a year that the writer of the year-end review personally likes, he or she calls it a “great year for music.” Truly this seems more narcissistic stance than factual report, if you ask me. But hey, no one did, right?

Anyway, here you are, as has become traditional on Fingertips: my top 20 favorite free and legal MP3s of the year. And what a good year for music it was! (Kidding.) As always, this is a list of my personal favorites, not the songs I am declaring “best.”

Also as usual, this is tricky stuff for me. The entire run of Fingertips over the course of the year is a definitive culling—I’m already presenting my favorites of a much larger group week to week. Selecting 20 out of the 130 or so songs I might have featured this year is already leaving out others which are also my favorites. And putting them in order? Yikes. Songs that have spent time in the ongoing Top 10 list present something of a guide to what will be in the year-end list, but not entirely. For whatever reason, songs sometimes get shuffled around, and things that were lower on the Top 10 list show up higher on the year-end Favorites list, and vice versa. It’s a mystery.

So here you are, the top 20, presented in two lists of 10. Those who want to get right to it, go ahead and hit the top 10 list; if you have a bit more time, the 11-20 list is obviously worth a listen also.

You can hear the songs on the spot by clicking on the play buttons—if you start at the top, it will play them all in order, with just the one click. You can read the original reviews by clicking on the date next to each band name, which is the date of the original Fingertips post.



TOP 10 FAVORITE FREE & LEGAL MP3s, 2012

1. “Leave Your Body Behind You” – Richard Hawley   (June 22)
2. “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” – Zeus  (February 16)
3. “Money” – Slowdim  (April 20)
4. “Birds” – Poor Moon  (August 22)
5. “Harps” – The Sea and Cake  (September 21)
6. “Every Other Day” – Jonka  (April 27)
7. “Ruin” – Cat Power  (June 22)
8. “Born To” – Jesca Hoop  (April 27)
9. “When I’m Dead” – The Dead Heads  (November 30)
10. “The Devil Wears a Suit” – Kate Miller-Heidke  (January 6)



10 MORE FAVORITE FREE & LEGAL MP3s, 2012

11. “Rivers” – Black City Lights  (March 29)
12. “Bang” – Elin Ruth  (November 30)
13. “Lord Knows” – Dum Dum Girls  (September 21)
14. “Stop This Now” – The Hermit Crabs  (September 6)
15. “Observations” – The Raveonettes  (June 29)
16. “A Week of Good Health” – Panoramic & True  (September 14)
17. “Broke” – Sea of Bees  (March 16)
18. “Farm Kid” – Elim Bolt  (October 12)
19. “Generals” – The Mynabirds  (March 22)
20. “Living in a Country” – Brave Baby  (December 8)