DAN WEISS, music writer, The Phoenix

1. Pussy Riot "Putin Lights Up The Fires" (self-released)

2. Carly Rae Jepsen "Hurt So Good" (from Kiss)

3. Chairlift "I Belong in Your Arms" (from Something)

4. Japandroids "The House That Heaven Built" (from Celebration Rock)

5. Eve 6 "Curtain" (from Speak in Code)

6. Matisyahu "Live Like a Warrior" (from Spark Seeker)

7. The Mountain Goats "Harlem Roulette" (from Transcendental Youth)

8. Todd Snider "New York Banker" (from Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables)

9. Miguel "Adorn" (from Kaleidoscope Dream)

10. Sinead O'Connor "4th & Vine" (from How About I Be Me and You Be You)

What a year for music, and boy does it mirror the election year. Just as the privileged-white-male portion of the country's only just now beginning to grasp that women, gays, and non-Caucasian ethnicities aren't such a "minority" anymore, the rock establishment and the record-collecting hipsters who subscribe to it are now fully submerged in artistic legitimacy for genres they never previously listened to (more than one) album by a year. Not just rap. Dance music, female-sung pop, R&B&ldots;everything exploded this year, for all the right reasons. Miguel did Prince proud. Chairlift did the same for John Hughes. Eve 6 and Sinead O'Connor proved lightning can strike twice. Matisyahu made a song so irresistible that it almost retroactively justifies him being famous in the first place. Carly Rae Jepsen delighted damn near everyone, and hopefully her other perfect disco tunes will get their day as well. The Mountain Goats provided rock's sanest and most sympathetic view of mental illness in an unfortunate moment that warrants that clarity. And Japandroids proved that white males can rock with the best of them, too. But the year's righteous rage belonged to the 99% who Todd Snider passionately avenged, and Pussy Riot, the bravest punk band to ever walk the earth, which proved that music can still change the world.

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