Top Songfacts of 2012

by Ed Pearce

At the end of the year, along with making a few resolutions, we look over the logs and compile the list of the most-viewed Songfacts entries of the year. The list is completely computer-generated, indicating what songs were the most popular on the site.

While the popularity of a song or artist has a lot to do with it, our list reflects the ones that you didn't just want to hear, but explore. Why is a country star singing about a famous rocker? What's a Gotye, and who is that singing with him? How, exactly, do you have a Kiki?

Here they are then. The most-viewed Songfacts of 2012.
10) "What Makes You Beautiful" - One Direction

Unless you've been hidden away in a bunker ready for the Mayan apocalypse, you will know all about One Direction. This bubbly pop tune introduced us to Harry, Zayn, Liam, Niall and Louis, who quickly became the heartthrobs of millions of tween and teenage girls. The song was not only a worldwide hit for the UK mop-topped quintet, but it also gave them their first ever entry on the Songfacts annual Top 10 list. Interestingly, there were more visitors from Malaysia than any other country to this song's entry. Not only that, the Malaysians averaged 6.18 minutes on this song's page - more than anybody else - which raises the question: Could the people of this Southeast Asia country be the most fanatical 1D fans?

9) "Gotta Be You" - One Direction

The boys are back again for their second and last entry on the list with this track from their debut album Up All Night. The reason for its popularity? A lot of Directioners wanted to know where the music video was filmed. We explained that it was shot at Lake Placid in upstate New York, home of the 1980 Winter Olympics. This time it was their American fans who racked up the most views for this song whilst the group's Indian fans spent the most time on the song's page - averaging a leisurely 7.41 minutes. So, sorry citizens of Malaysia, we'll have to file your accolade for the country with the most fanatical 1D fans in our pending tray.

8) "Springsteen" - Eric Church

The Boss had never featured in the annual Songfacts Top 10 list before, but here he does, not as an artist but as a song title. You wanted to know what this song is actually about, and we explained that its concept is how music triggers memories. Church penned the tune about a love affair that takes place between two people at a Bruce Springsteen concert. The male protagonist recalls years later that whenever he hears one of the Boss' songs, it reminds him of that happy time.

7) "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - Taylor Swift

This smart, sarcastic anthem addressed to yet another of Taylor's exes (Beware, Harry!), is the one and only entry for America's country-pop princess on our list. The tune would have come higher in our survey had it been released earlier in the year than August 13th, but fret not Taylor fans, we are sure we will be getting back together again on our 2013 list (see what we did there?). The song was Ms. Swift's 46th Hot 100 entry and first #1 - the most visits by an artist before achieving a chart-topper.

6) "Let's Have a Kiki" - Scissor Sisters

This song is probably the biggest surprise on our list, because as of December 2012, it had yet to grace the Hot 100 or any other country's singles chart. However, the hard kicking track ('hard-kikiing' even - oh please yourself) has featured several times on TV shows, most notably when it was performed on the "Thanksgiving" episode of Glee. So what the heck is a "Kiki"? It is a drag queen term when friends have a good time together gossiping.

5) "Somebody That I Used To Know" - Gotye

Gotye was not somebody many of you used to know at the beginning of the year, but this hit certainly brought him into the spotlight. Not only was this the most streamed song of the year on Spotify, it was also the most searched for track released in 2012 for lyrics. In addition, there were numerous cover versions uploaded onto YouTube - Maybe you, dear reader, have recorded your own version. Many of you wanted to know whom the past lover is that the Belgian-Australian is addressing, and we informed you that Gotye drew from the memory of several relationships but in particular a former girlfriend from five or six years ago.

4) "El Cerrito Place" - Kenny Chesney

Another surprising entry on the list, as this Kenny Chesney ballad had yet to break into the top 50 of the Hot 100 as of mid-December 2012. Those of you who did hear the song wanted to know more, and discovered that it's about a longing for love and companionship and the measures we take to find it. The song's title refers to an actual street in the Hollywood Hills of California.

3) "Some Nights" - fun.

Fun. have been around for several years, but it was only in 2012 that the New York trio hit it big. The band with a full stop after their name may have created havoc with our punctuation checker but it was well worth the hassle. You wanted to know in particular what this skywriting anthem was about, and we explained it, "expresses the anguish of a young man who is a long way from home, as he lies in bed at night thinking of his family members."

2) "The A Team" - Ed Sheeran

Having penned tracks for the 2012 albums of two other artists on our list (One Direction and Taylor Swift), Ed Sheeran now features under his own name. Were we not banned by the Department of Bad Puns, we'd say he made the A Team with this song. The English singer-songwriter's breakthrough single intrigued many of you with its lyrics about a girl called Angel, whom Sheeran met whilst volunteering at a Crisis homeless shelter. Quite a few of you wanted to know about the video, which we told you was made for £20 (that's $30) with the help of a friend of the singer's flatmate, who played Angel.

1) "5-1-5-0" - Dierks Bentley

Coldplay's Viva La Vida was our most popular song in 2008, Lady Gaga came top in 2009 with Poker Face and 2010 with Alejandro, and Foster The People were #1 on our list in 2011 with Pumped Up Kicks. Yet top of the pile in 2012 is Dierks Bentley? A major name in Nashville, maybe, but many of you will be surprised to see him at the pinnacle of our list with this song. However, as we explained at the beginning, the 10 songs here are not necessarily the most popular ones of the year but the ones that contained lyrics or subject matter that intrigued you. And this intriguing song with a numerical title aroused enough curiosity over the last 12 months to make it to the top. So what is the significance of the four numbers? Well, though referencing a Van Halen album title, which was named after California police code for criminally insane, "5-1-5-0" was basically just a line Bentley had stuck in his head. This isn't the first song to pique your interest with random numbers - "Jenny (867-5309)" remains one of our most popular entries, and the guy who wrote it told us that those digits "just kind of came out."
More Song Writing

Comments: 6

  • Steve from ChicagoFrom the Urban Dictionary:
    Orgin: California late 80's

    police officers that patrols certain beaches on bikes wore a vest that said PO in huge blockletters on each of their chest. which means Police Officer. they usually ride around in group of two's.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhIt's interesting to see four out of ten of these songs are from country artists. The most surprising to me is "Springsteen", a song that I just love...why don't radio stations play it more often? The most poetic, artistic, heartbreaking song on this list is "The A Team"...its lyrics and message stay in your heart and mind long after you hear it.
  • Jennifer from Bismarck, NdThose people weren't the first and I doubt they will be the last. It also seems easy to fit in a rhyme.
  • Jim from North Billerica, Ma@Karen

    a 5 year old?
  • Pat from St. Paul, MnKe$ha would, and did, in the song "TiK ToK". Of course many people have already said she is lame beyond lame and not in her right mind.
  • Karen from Manchester, NhWhile overall "5-1-5-0" is a cute song, the line, "Somebody call the po-po" is lame beyond lame. Who in their right - or wrong - mind would refer to police as "po-po"?
see more comments

Editor's Picks

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.

Timothy B. Schmit of the EaglesSongwriter Interviews

Did this Eagle come up with the term "Parrothead"? And what is it like playing "Hotel California" for the gazillionth time?

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian OrchestraSongwriter Interviews

Writing great prog metal isn't easy, especially when it's for 60 musicians.

Phone Booth SongsSong Writing

Phone booths are nearly extinct, but they provided storylines for some of the most profound songs of the pre-cell phone era.

Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear: Teddy Bears and Teddy Boys in SongsSong Writing

Elvis, Little Richard and Cheryl Cole have all sung about Teddy Bears, but there is also a terrifying Teddy song from 1932 and a touching trucker Teddy tune from 1976.