10
Dec
2012
Top Ten Hairbrush Ballads of 2012
Best Hairbrush Ballads of 2012
Sarah
I have three hairbrushes in my apartment and I live alone. This means that I frequently use those brushes as microphones. This is a list of the songs that have been most frequently faux-projected by my not amplified hair styling tools.

Now, some qualifiers. 1) These are not all ballads, I just like alliterations. 2) Some of these songs may have been released in 2011, but they were chart toppers in 2012. So shut up and realize that hair brush singing isn't an exact science. 3) Speaking of hair brush singing, you do not have to use your hair brush or any other hair styling tool as a microphone. I often croon into my fork when eating or a highlighter when studying and I forgo the microphone all together when I belt it out in the car. Hair brush singing is about letting go of your inhibitions and giving it your all.

Now that's out of the way, please enjoy my pick of the year's best songs measured by sing along spirit. I dare you to finish this list without getting one of them stuck in your head.


10."Red" -Taylor Swift

So "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is the obvious choice, but I much prefer "Red". While both songs are about break-ups, "Red" has some nuance that "WANEGBT" is missing. "Red" actually might be the only song of Ms. Swift's that has any layers whatsoever. Unlike most of her songs, which are either about pure love or pure hate, "Red" deals with the mixed emotions of the end of a relationship with pretty apt colors attached to each emotion.

Tricky bit: The part of the chorus that is Re-e-e-ed is fun to sing but hard to not sound like you're having a seizure. Don't worry about it though because Taylor obviously had some digital help that you aren't privy to while singing in your bathroom, unless you have a recording studio in your bathroom. If so, call me. I think we are destined to live a long and happy life together.



9."Payphone" -Maroon 5

This is a great breakup song. When Adam Levine sings it though, it doesn't quite ring true because everyone knows that that spectacular piece of man meat wont have a hard time finding love. To make this song really authentic, sing it in your car during a storm after getting really drunk and calling at least three of your exes. To be clear, I am not advocating drunk driving"¦just sit in your car and sing your sad little heart out.

If you're looking for other, less pathetic, ways to spice up your hair brush sing-alongs, sing the radio lyrics to "Payphone" the first time around, then the explicit ones in the subsequent choruses. The contrast really gives the song a kick.

Tricky bit: The Wiz Khalifa rap near the end doesn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the song. It is still fun, especially the last line. I often find myself muttering under my breath, "so you can go and take that little piece of shit with you." It is hard to resist breaking into the chorus after spitting that line, so proceed with caution.



8."Titanium" -David Guetta ft. Sia

Mr. Guetta is a personal favorite of mine. He was basically the soundtrack to my semester abroad and, for that, I am forever indebted to him. But "Titanium" would have made the list regardless. The song is the perfect mix of up-tempo beat, empowering lyrics and pure angst.

I would recommend singing this one in front of the mirror first so you know what faces you make during the extra emotional parts. You don't want to break this out at a casual, impromptu karaoke session if you look like a dying cow.

Tricky bit: Like I said, this song is intense. The pivotal moment in the chorus contains a 5 step jump. Don't give up hope though, this song can be sung anywhere with a little bit of practice. If you need some inspiration, and kickin' harmony ideas, "Titanium" is featured in the movie Pitch Perfect. Ok, it is more than featured"¦it is a scene stealer because Brittany Snow and Anna Kendrick are naked together in the shower.



7."Ho Hey" -Lumineers

I don't have anything funny to say about this song, but it is beautiful and fun to sing so it gets to be on the list. "Ho Hey" might have my favorite lyrics of 2012. "I don't think your right for him/ Look at what might have been if you'd/ Took a bus to Chinatown/ I'd be standing on Canal/ And Bowery/ She'd be standing next to me."
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I didn't realize how much I loved these lyrics, or personally related to them, until I caught myself unintentionally changing the pronouns to make it as if a heterosexual female (me) were singing. Then I wracked my brain to figure out which person I wanted to take a bus to me when I lived in Chinatown and I couldn't remember. It's possible that I am fickle, let's move on.

Tricky part: Like I said, this song has great lyrics but shout-singing the ho's and the hey's is great too and it is hard to do both. The song is pretty short, so I sometimes listen to it twice and sing the words first then the ho's and hey's the second time around. Since those are more upbeat then the lyrics, I end up feeling great by the end. You should try it.



6."Stronger" -Kelly Clarkson

People are really mean to Kelly Clarkson on the Internet. So even though this song is, by its lyrics, a break up song, I sing it as a kiss off to all of Kelly's haters, and my own. Also, I sometimes sing it on the way home from the grocery store when they don't have my favorite type of sparkling water. After all, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

In all seriousness, "Stronger" is more than just a song, it is an anthem. It isn't petty or angst ridden like so many other end of relationship odes. It is also, for me at least, uniquely hard to get sick of. One day, my father and I heard this song everywhere we went and every car ride in between. Each time it came on, even after the play count started getting ridiculous, neither of us could resist humming along.

Tricky bit: If you sing this song right, you will lose your voice. But you will gain so much more.



5."Take a Little Ride" -Jason Aldean

I spent a lot of time driving through the Midwest in 2012 and all the sunshine and fresh air reawakened my love of country music. Like all good country songs it calls out the heartland, showcases some brand loyalty and takes you back to high school.

This song is sexy, and there ain't no two ways about it. I wouldn't say no to taking a little ride with Jason Aldean, if you know what I mean. And of course you know what I mean, because country music is not subtle and neither am I.

Tricky Big: This song swings low like a sweet chariot, so you have to really sink into it. Don't worry about sounding pretty, country music is all about the emotion anyway.




4."Set Fire to the Rain" -Adele

Either 2012 was a tough year for love or break up songs are just more fun to sing, because this list is chalk full of them. Adele is the queen of the bitter breakup and I'm not actually sure if I mean that as a compliment or an insult. Either way, her unhappiness gave us some truly amazing musical works, so I'm not complaining.

"Set Fire to the Rain" is probably my favorite Adele song. It lacks the edge of some other Adele's other powerhouse hits. With some of the bitterness stripped away, this song is pure pain. No, I am not a masochist, I just think there is something truly beautiful about hurt unadulterated by anger. Singing "Set Fire to the Rain" is the equivalent of a good cry, and you don't have to redo your makeup afterwards.

Tricky bit: Even though I said hair brush singing can be done anywhere and at anytime, this song is best sung standing up and in private. You need to stand because you need all of your lung capacity to get through the powerful phrasing of the song. You need to be in private because no one wants to hear you butchering Adele, that's what The X Factor, The Voice and American Idol are for.



3."What Makes You Beautiful" and "Stand Up" -One Direction

Yes, I know that these are two songs. But I spent a lot of time singing to One Direction in 2012 and I couldn't pick just one. Just as Nsync and Backstreet Boys got me through my tumultuous pre-teen years, I credit One Direction with keeping sane in my first year of law school.

"What Makes You Beautiful" is the obvious choice. It is brilliantly perky and so powerful that it heralded the return of the boy band and the second coming of the British Invasion. This is an amazingly fun song to sing, but more importantly to band's teen audience, you can jump around to it which is all the dancing their little hormone filled bodies can manage.

"Stand Up" is a little less supercharged, but no less entertaining. It is also a great song for hair brush singing novices because the best part of the song is just scream-singing "oh oh oh oh oh oh."

Tricky Bit: If you hair brush sing any of the songs by the boys of One Direction, your love for the charming lads is likely to seep into other parts of your life as well. This might cause your friends to mock you for liking the insipid pop music of a manufactured boy band. The toughest part about these songs is finding new friends that understand that magic that is 1D.



2."Everybody Talks" -Neon Trees

I am really drawn to the mix of love song and tirade against gossip in "Everybody Talks." Over the summer, I told someone that this would be the perfect love song to sing me because it has some really sweet lyrics. However, if someone actually sang it to me it would probably be a musical indictment of my inability to keep a secret. Either way, when I sing it by myself it is really fun.
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Tricky bit: For women, this song is a bit out of range. It is too low to really belt, but not so low that you can just take it up an octave. Never fear, this is hair brush singing"¦no one cares how you sound because you should never EVER hair brush sing in public.



1."Call Me Maybe" -Carly Rae Jepsen

Obviously. Anyone who didn't see this one coming is a moron. "Call Me Maybe" spent 9 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and spawned endless YouTube homages, including my personal favorites .

It starts soft and really picks up, perfect for the hair brush ballad beginner. By the second chorus you will be a total convert to singing by yourself at inappropriate times. I almost busted it out during a few job interviews"¦"Callback Me Maybe," that is pure gold!

Tricky bit: Carly Rae Jepson owes some of her success to the easy singability-oh yeah, that's a word-of this chart topper. There aren't really any impossible to decipher lyrics or difficult jumps, Call Me Maybe just soars out of your mouth. The hard part is to restrain yourself from belting it out loud in the grocery store.



So there you have it. Go forth and make an ass of yourself, you have my blessing.

If you are new to the art form that is solo singing, stop reading now and go practice with "Call Me Maybe." If have already mastered the art of the hair brush sing-a-long, I dare you to attempt this year's honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention 1: "Shake It Out" -Florence and the Machine.

This is a hard song to sing. It requires a strong range, it cant be screamed and it has a lot of words. It also has this magical and unsettling power to bring forth whatever emotion you have been suppressing. Though not an easy task, completing the song it will feel like an amazing hot yoga class and a session with your favorite shrink all in under five minutes. While I encourage attempting this feat, please do not do so while wearing anything that Florence herself has ever worn. Her fashion choices make me want to claw my eyes out, but that is very difficult because I bite my nails.



Honorable Mention 2: "Whistle" -Flo Rida

As anyone who has ever driven a long distance or gone to karaoke with me knows, I cannot rap but I do it anyway. 2012 was no exception. "Whistle" was my favorite song to rap, or sing/rap really, this year. I hate myself for this. But, for some reason, I feel compelled to defend this strange song about blow jobs. A lot of music in Flo Rida's genre, and that exists in the world in general, is misogynistic in some way. "Whistle" isn't even close to the worst song out there. At no point does Flo Rida refer to his conquest as a "bitch" or "ho" or "trick" or imply that she has to blow his whistle. He even "pulled a damn hamstring" trying to put the moves on this girl, so presumably everyone is getting their oral sex on, and I'm all for that.



Honorable Mention 3: Les Misérables soundtrack

Okay, so this isn't a song AND it hasn't been released yet, but it still fun to sing and the movie it is attached to comes out in 2012. I have been watching the trailer and weeping for months now and I cant get the songs out of my head. And asking me to pick my favorite is like asking me to pick my favorite flavor of ice cream or my favorite brand of mascara--decisions in general are difficult for me.
Because the cast actually sung while acting instead of pre-recording the tracks, everything is so raw. This is good and bad as far as singing along goes. It is good because it makes the songs imperfect and therefore easier to sing along to without feeling inferior. It is bad because the songs are so filled with emotion that I, no joke, start to cry every time I hear them and it is very hard to sing while crying.

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