Best Songs of the Year (So Far): #15-11

Rufus Wainwright in the "Out of the Game" video

Rufus Wainwright is intense about this countdown

Fun fact! Superstars almost always release new music in the last quarter of the year, when everyone’s itching to buy holiday gifts. Before the onslaught, I’m counting down the best 25 songs of the year so far. If it’s on this list, it either came out in 2012 or rose to prominence this year.

#15. “Whistle” by Flo Rida

Why is this song so damn good, y’all? I just love it. I love how Flo Rida says he’s going to “pull a damn hamstring” trying to impress a woman. I love the whistling in the chorus. I love the laid-back vibe. Some of my friends don’t like this song at all, but we’ll just agree to disagree. To me, this right here is pop-rap gold. (Even better, it’s just one of several hot songs that Flo Rida has dropped this year.)

#14. “A New Word to Say” by Bright Light Bright Light

Adorable gay man singing to me? Check. Stylish video? Check. Bubbly track that makes me instantly happy? Check. Chorus that lodges itself in my brain for hours at a time? Double check. If this is your first experience with Bright Light Bright Light, I encourage you to dig deeper. He’s the best thing to happen to thoughtful dance music since Robyn.

#13. “Boom Boom” by Rye Rye

I’ve written about this song several times and also about why Rye Rye is one of my favorite new rappers. Months later, and this song is still making me happy.

#12. “Some Nights” by fun.

I am so glad that fun. has scored a second hit! Obviously, “We Are Young” is outstanding (we’ll get to that later in the countdown), but “Some Nights” is great, too. It’s got the same epic sweep, but it’s got a more interesting structure, and it shows more of Nate Ruess’ vocal range. This song recently hit the top ten on the Hot 100, and I feel like that says good things about America’s current taste. If we can embrace an exciting alternative band that channels Queen, then we’re doing alright. (Here’s my review of the “Some Nights” video.)

#11. “Montauk” by Rufus Wainwright

This is one of the best songs that Rufus Wainwright has ever recorded. It’s a highlight of his fantastic new album Out of the Game, using a beautiful piano arrangement to support a message to Rufus’ daughter. With emotional, elegant lyrics (and singing to match), he imagines her life as an adult, when she comes back to visit her aging dads. He predicts happiness and arguments and most of all, love. And for me, the messy life depicted in the lyrics makes the emotions feel real. He sounds like a father who’s scared and excited about every aspect of his daughter’s future, which feels about right.

Mark Blankenship tweets as @IAmBlankenship. He’s not a very good whistler, but he tries his best to whistle along with Flo Rida.