Hear the Year in Pop as a Single Song

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 17 2012 3:33 PM

The Year in Pop in 4 Minutes

Since 2007, pop music fans have come to expect DJ Earworm’s annual mashup of the biggest songs of the year, and his “United State of Pop 2012 (Shine Brighter)” does not disappoint. Using Kesha’s “Die Young” as the instrumental foundation for the song, the DJ seamlessly weaves together 25 songs ranging from the newcomers (boy bands The Wanted and One Direction) to the veterans (Rihanna, Katy Perry).

While there are other end-of-the-year remixes, DJ Earworm’s mashups are remarkable for their intricacy and seamlessness. After choosing a phrase or loose theme to latch onto—this year, the chorus builds from the word “tonight,” and there are recurring references to “shining bright”—the musician crafts a whole that is better than many of its parts: a surprisingly coherent song about looking for somebody or something to lift one’s spirits.

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Curiously, two songs that were arguably the most ubiquitous of 2012—“Call Me Maybe” and “Gangnam Style”—are barely represented here. Blink and you’ll miss a “baby” from Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit, and Psy gets one “Gangnam” shout out towards the end. Gotye’s haunting “Somebody That I Used to Know,” on the other hand, is prominent throughout. Perhaps those first two mega-hits just did not quite fit in with Earworm’s thematic and lyrical structure. Or perhaps this is his way of crowning Gotye the pop music king of 2012.

For more on the year in pop, don’t miss Slate’s 2012 Music Club, which just got under way.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.