For Brian’s top albums of 2012, I thought it would be fun to mix things up a bit. Instead of having him talk about what he listened to this year, Brian has reviewed five of 2012’s biggest Top 40 albums. Below are the results. -RB

Brian’s 2012 Pop Albums Review

Ke$ha - Warrior

If you’re looking for a broad sampling of what people think ‘pop’ is these days, Warrior will not disappoint.  Is there dubstep on this album?  Yes.  Are there vapid songs about getting freaky on the dance floor?  Yes.  Is there an awkward stab at punk (feat. an awkward duet with Iggy Pop)?  Yes (and yes). Are there songs that I resonate with?  Not really. But aside from the Iggy Pop duet, I feel like the songs succeeded in doing what they set out to do.  The production is decent, and there are a couple songs that I thought stood out (although I don’t remember which songs they were, and I don’t really feel like revisiting the album to jog my memory).

Fun - Some Nights

Okay, unlike SOME people in Picture Atlantic, I actually appreciate Fun.  Maybe it’s because they succeed in channeling Freddie Mercury / Queen…Maybe it’s because I connect with the emotive, anthemic feel of the songs…I don’t know. The songs on the album are a bit hit and miss…I forgive them for the misses, though, because the hits are so spectacular. Now I’m not familiar with The Format, so please don’t kill me for not realizing that what they’re doing now is just a sold-out, autotuned, pop-ified, pale ghost of what was once The Format…I like it for what it is.

Justin Bieber - Believe

Welcome to the best production money can buy. I’m not exactly the target audience, so I can’t really say that I connect with anything on here.  Good songwriting, plentiful hooks, spanning a number of different styles.  Honestly, I’m more interested to see what happens once his label decides they’ve milked as much money as they can out of his youth and his appeal to tween/teen girls.  Can he write good songs without the help of his army of co-writers?  Can he survive without autotune?  Can he break out of the pop prison he’s in?

One Direction - Up All Night

More good production and decent songwriting.  There’s not much else I can say for this that I haven’t already said for Justin Bieber, although this feels even more formulaic and monochromatic than Bieber. To the producers/songwriters: please stop depending on formulas and create something new. To Brian: uh, that’s not what we’ve been paid to do.  Sigh.

Maroon 5 - Overexposed

I don’t know what to say here. They set out to make pop, and they succeeded. Adam Levine is soulful, the songs are high energy, danceable, blah blah production blah etc etc. Their version of pop is (understandably) more mature than, say, Bieber or One Direction. I feel a little more originality/soul in their music, but still it’s framed in this glossy pop sheen.  Maybe I’m just a depressed, elitist music snob. Or maybe it’s 3am and I’m tired of writing. But I’m just not feeling it.