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December 16, 2014

The best 12s of the year.

Now, I realize the absurdity of trying to put together any kind of these “Best of the Year” lists, so please take this all with a grain of salt. Nobody can make a list of “objectively the best 12s of the year,” these are just the 12s that I happened to like the most in 2014.

So, without further au jus:

10. 16

This 12 initially caught my eye because it’s not actually a 12; it’s a 16. And I know what you’re saying: a 16 can’t be a 12. Well that’s what they said about The Beatles too. At first look, yes, you might say, that’s a 16. But after revisiting it a few times, one finds him- or herself wondering, “hey, is that a 16? Or is it a 12?” That makes you take a closer look. And once you approach it on this deeper level, you realize, yes, it’s a 16.

9. 9

I know, I know, I know: this came out in December of 2013. But I’m including it on this list anyways because, hey, why not? I needed a 10th 12 or else there’d only be 9, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing, because 9 is pretty good. I mean, if you’re into that kind of thing (which, frankly, I’m not).

8. 69

This was the funniest 12 of 2014 to be sure. Not overly clever, but 69 doesn’t claim to be clever. Rather, it looks like two people, well, 69ing. It gives you what you want, ironically, without asking for much in return. After a long day’s work, sit down with a drink, think about 69, and laugh for hours. Or don’t. Do whatever you want. Sixty-nine is a great 12. The only reason it’s not higher on this list is because, let’s be realistic, it’s 5.75 times too big.

7. 8

Eight - or, as it was originally titled, huit - really made waves on the festival circuit this year. While it’s not without its flaws (too roundy, not wide enough), it undeniably left audiences with the feeling that they’d seen something special. What makes 8 such a great 12 is it doesn’t ask too much. It’s small, but not as small as, for example, 7. Or - and I know it’s not popular to say this - 6. But, on the other hand, it’s not as big as, say, 9. Ask anyone - even 8’s critics will admit, probably about 4 more and it’ll be the next 12.

6. 1

This is probably the most controversial 12 on this list. I sympathize with those people who subscribe to the hard line definition of 12 as strictly 12 1s. But think about it. Twelve 1s. One is right in there. Just as the finest sushi chefs spend decades perfecting techniques for cooking their rice, it’s important for fans of 12 to appreciate and honor its ingredients. One: the classic. Where it all came from.

5. 25

Twenty-five has been a big part of all of our lives for a while now and, while it’s no longer “hip” to admit it, it’s still going strong. Admittedly bloated and overlong, 25 is an important 12 in that it reminds us all of our own mortality. Because when you think about it, what is a 12? Well it’s just a 25, but not. However, you take 2 12s, then add a little more stuff in there, and what do you have? My number 5 12 of 2014: 25.

4. Birdman

3. 17

Now I may be a little biased, I’ll admit, but 17 is just undeniably a solid 12. I’ve been aware of 17 since I was about 17, so I’ve grown to understand and enjoy it on a number of levels, and that number is 12. Sure, it’s a guilty pleasure at this point - but what is a “guilty pleasure” in the first place? Just a pleasure you feel guilty about. But why? Because it’s not that good. And that’s why I put 17 at 3, and not 2.

2. 6.2 (digitally remastered)

While originally released in 1978, 6.2 technically qualifies as a 12 in 2014 under rule 426, clause 3. And when you consider them side-by-side, you can definitely tell the difference: the warmness and immediacy of the original now seems almost stale and out-of-touch, but thanks to the expert work of engineers Ron Kuplic and Chad “Brad” Appletree, and archivists at the University of Texas - Austin, this 12 will be 6.2ing for decades to come.

1. 12

No surprises here. This is one of the rare 12s that everyone can agree on. A popular hit and the darling of the indie community, 12 is just an undeniable entry into the genre. Critics are calling 12 the best 12 in years. Maybe since the golden era of the early 70s. And who am I to argue? When you’re right, you’re right. Twelve just has everything you want from a 12. Three 4s. Four 3s. Two 6s. I could go on. Twelve just really knocks it out of the park. Of course, history will be the ultimate judge, but I have a feeling people will be writing about 12 for years to come.