DJs, Youth Anthems and Psy: Music Trends From 2012

Miller Mobley

THR's music editor on living in a viral world, the return of boy bands and the explosion of electronic dance.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 10, 2013, issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Youth Sells
From fun.’s Glee-approved “We Are Young” (No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for three weeks) to Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa’s stoner mantra “Young, Wild & Free” (more than 3 million digital units sold) to One Direction’s latest “Live While We’re Young,” youth anthems not only ruled the charts, they garnered Grammy nominations.

Boy Bands Are Back
Has it been a decade since ’N Sync waved “Bye Bye Bye”? Behold, a new generation of prefab fivesomes has swept the nation -- two (The Wanted and One Direction, the latter of which has sold nearly 2.5 million albums this year) from the other side of the pond -- while Jonas Brothers returned stateside.

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It’s a Viral World … We Just Live in It
Witness: Psy’s “Gangnam Style” explosion -- passing 1 billion YouTube views. Says YouTube trends manager Kevin Allocca, “The velocity and the numbers it has is unlike anything we’ve seen before on the platform.” Ditto for the year’s most-viewed video on Vevo, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” with more than 360 million plays, 6.2 million singles sold and countless parodies.

Drunk on Drinks Songs
Rappers used to boast of sipping such top-shelf brands as Cristal and Patron, but in 2012, it was just about the very act of drinking. To wit: Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank),” in which the Compton newcomer delivers the opening line: “Sit down … stand up … pass out … wake up … faded.” Or Sean Kingston’s latest party jam, which brags, “Shades on, drink in my hand/The only thing I need is rum and Ray-Bans.” Designated driver not included.

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Explosion of EDM
Electronic dance music was everywhere in 2012: the pop charts, where superstar DJs such as David Guetta and Calvin Harris helped catapult songs by Usher and Rihanna to instant hit status; stadiums, where hometown heroes like Toronto’s Deadmau5 saw sellouts; the Las Vegas racetrack, where June’s Electric Daisy Carnival injected $207 million into the local economy; and commercials for major brands such as Microsoft, Kia, Coca-Cola and Budweiser, whose next slogan could very well be, “This dub’s for you.”