Frank Ocean Beats Lana Del Rey, Springsteen: 2012 Best CD

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Source: Shorefire Publicity via Bloomberg

Lana Del Rey's EP "Paradise" has been added to her debut album "Born to Die," now renamed "Born to Die: Paradise Edition." The EP includes new songs starting with the single "Ride."

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Source: Shorefire Publicity via Bloomberg

Lana Del Rey's EP "Paradise" has been added to her debut album "Born to Die," now renamed "Born to Die: Paradise Edition." The EP includes new songs starting with the single "Ride." Close

Lana Del Rey's EP "Paradise" has been added to her debut album "Born to Die," now renamed "Born to Die: Paradise... Read More

Source: Def Jam via Bloomberg

"Channel Orange" by Frank Ocean. The U.S. star had been writing songs for other artists such as John Legend and Justin Bieber before signing with rap label Def Jam. Close

"Channel Orange" by Frank Ocean. The U.S. star had been writing songs for other artists such as John Legend and... Read More

Source: Columbia Records via Bloomberg

The cover of "Wrecking Ball," the 17th studio album by Bruce Springsteen. The CD was released on March 6, 2012. The first single, "We Take Care of Our Own," was released in January, 2012. Close

The cover of "Wrecking Ball," the 17th studio album by Bruce Springsteen. The CD was released on March 6, 2012. The... Read More

Source: Columbia Records via Bloomberg

The cover of "Old Ideas" by Leonard Cohen. He has sold more than 20 million records in a career spanning six decades. The new studio album is out on Jan .31. Close

The cover of "Old Ideas" by Leonard Cohen. He has sold more than 20 million records in a career spanning six decades.... Read More

Source: Reprise Records via Bloomberg

The cover of "Sunken Condos," a solo album by Donald Fagen. The Steely Dan star has released just four solo CDs, starting with "The Nightfly" in 1982. Close

The cover of "Sunken Condos," a solo album by Donald Fagen. The Steely Dan star has released just four solo CDs,... Read More

Source: Mercury via Bloomberg

"Privateering," a solo album by U.K. musician Mark Knopfler. The former leader of Dire Straits has recorded 20 news songs and is moving towards blues music. Close

"Privateering," a solo album by U.K. musician Mark Knopfler. The former leader of Dire Straits has recorded 20 news... Read More

Source: Sony/Columbia via Bloomberg

"Tempest" by Bob Dylan. The record starts with its first single, "Duquesne Whistle," and also features a 14-minute title track about the sinking of the Titanic. Close

"Tempest" by Bob Dylan. The record starts with its first single, "Duquesne Whistle," and also features a 14-minute... Read More

Source: XL Recordings via Bloomberg

The cover of "The Bravest Man in the Universe" by Bobby Womack. The CD is the 27th studio album by Womack and was produced by Damon Albarn and Richard Russell. Close

The cover of "The Bravest Man in the Universe" by Bobby Womack. The CD is the 27th studio album by Womack and was... Read More

Source: Nonesuch Records via Bloomberg

"Election Special" by Ry Cooder. The stripped-down album of political protest, released on Aug. 21 2012, includes tracks such as "Kool-Aid" and "Brother is Gone." Close

"Election Special" by Ry Cooder. The stripped-down album of political protest, released on Aug. 21 2012, includes... Read More

Source: Warner via Bloomberg

"Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The double album starts with the 27-minute "Driftin' Back" as Young recalls the 1960s. Close

"Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The double album starts with the 27-minute "Driftin' Back" as Young... Read More

Source: XL Records via Bloomberg

The cover of the CD ``Blunderbuss,'' the first solo album by Jack White. The singer-musician said he had written a set of personal songs that could only be released under his own name. Close

The cover of the CD ``Blunderbuss,'' the first solo album by Jack White. The singer-musician said he had written a... Read More

Source: Virgin via Bloomberg

The cover of "Our Version of Events" by Emeli Sande. The former medical student turned to songwriting and singing, though she said she always had medicine to fall back on if the music didn't work. The CD won the top album prize at the Brits 2013. Close

The cover of "Our Version of Events" by Emeli Sande. The former medical student turned to songwriting and singing,... Read More

Source: Big Machine Records via Bloomberg

"Red" by Taylor Swift. The U.S. singer-songwriter's fourth studio album comes as a standard edition and also as a deluxe version featuring more songs and demo tracks. Close

"Red" by Taylor Swift. The U.S. singer-songwriter's fourth studio album comes as a standard edition and also as a... Read More

Source: Epic via Bloomberg

Fiona Apple's album, known as "The Idler Wheel." Its full title is "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do." Close

Fiona Apple's album, known as "The Idler Wheel." Its full title is "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the... Read More

Source: RCA via Bloomberg

"The Truth About Love" by Pink. The sixth studio album by the U.S. singer and songwriter features guest appearances by Eminem and Lily Rose Cooper. Close

"The Truth About Love" by Pink. The sixth studio album by the U.S. singer and songwriter features guest appearances... Read More

Source: One Little Indian Records via Bloomberg

The cover of the CD ``How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?'' by Sinead O'Connor. The Irish singer's album contains the single "The Wolf Is Getting Married." Close

The cover of the CD ``How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?'' by Sinead O'Connor. The Irish singer's album contains the... Read More

Source: Sire/ Warner Brothers Records via Bloomberg

The cover of "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats," by U.S. singer-songwriter Regina Spektor. Moscow-born, New York-based Spektor studied classical piano before turning to pop. Close

The cover of "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats," by U.S. singer-songwriter Regina Spektor. Moscow-born, New... Read More

Source: Young Turks Records via Bloomberg

"Coexist" is the second album by British rock group the XX. The collection is a refinement of the band's debut, which won the Mercury Prize in 2010. Close

"Coexist" is the second album by British rock group the XX. The collection is a refinement of the band's debut, which... Read More

Source: Shore Fire Media/ Warp Records via Bloomberg.

The cover of "Shields," the fourth studio album by Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn band's album is more collaborative than previous efforts, with vocalist Ed Droste saying that the result is faster and louder than before. Close

The cover of "Shields," the fourth studio album by Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn band's album is more collaborative than... Read More

Source: Sub Pop Records via Bloomberg

The cover of "Bloom," the fourth studio album by U.S. duo Beach House. The record builds on the pop-meets-ambient sound of the group's previous "Teen Dream." Close

The cover of "Bloom," the fourth studio album by U.S. duo Beach House. The record builds on the pop-meets-ambient... Read More

Source: Infectious Music via Bloomberg.

The cover of "An Awesome Wave" by U.K. group Alt-J. The album won the 2012 U.K. Mercury Prize. Close

The cover of "An Awesome Wave" by U.K. group Alt-J. The album won the 2012 U.K. Mercury Prize.

Source: Big Hassle Media via Bloomberg

Members of the band Mumford & Sons. The London-based band received six Grammy award nominations. Close

Members of the band Mumford & Sons. The London-based band received six Grammy award nominations.

Source: BMG via Bloomberg

The cover of "One Day I'm Going to Soar," a studio album by U.K. band Dexys, its first in 27 years. The group has shortened its name from the original Dexys Midnight Runners. Close

The cover of "One Day I'm Going to Soar," a studio album by U.K. band Dexys, its first in 27 years. The group has... Read More

Source: Manilla PR via Bloomberg

"Done for Desire" by U.K. band Damn Vandals. The debut disc includes the single "This Amazing." Close

"Done for Desire" by U.K. band Damn Vandals. The debut disc includes the single "This Amazing."

Lana Del Rey closes the year looking more like the future of music than just the advertising face of H&M, Jaguar and Mulberry.

Something like 1,000 review albums have come my way since her “Born to Die,” and it’s still among my favorites of 2012.

She’s just beaten by Frank Ocean. He came to attention with his mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra,” which was the freshest things I’d heard in ages. Now we have his debut proper, “Channel Orange,” crowned with the glossy, 10-minute track “Pyramids.”

Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” has the energy to see off criticism that The Boss is no longer a cutting-edge star.

Leonard Cohen brought out the ever-articulate “Old Ideas,” Donald Fagen the tasteful “Sunken Condos” and Mark Knopfler the virtuoso “Privateering” -- all sticking to character. Bob Dylan’s “Tempest” has its moments, even with the overdone title track about the Titanic. Along with the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, Dylan marked 50 years in music.

Bobby Womack has recovered from health problems to make his best CD, “The Bravest Man in the Universe,” with Damon Albarn.

Ry Cooder’s “Election Special” was confidently dashed off, and so was Neil Young’s “Psychedelic Pill,” which came months after “Americana.” The White Stripes star Jack White has been going it alone, with the retro-tinged “Blunderbuss.”

Emeli Sande made an assured start with “Our Version of Events.” It does Sande a disservice to compare her to Aretha Franklin -- that’s a little over the top, though she eclipsed Jessie Ware, whose “Devotion” also showcases an original voice.

Sharon Van Etten’s “Tramp” is a beautiful breakup album and “Visions” by Grimes is even dreamier, with wispy vocals.

Taylor Swift’s “Red” places Joni Mitchell-style maturity in a pop form. Fiona Apple’s fine CD is called “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do.” If that seems a mouthful, keep in mind that it’s short compared with the 90-word title of one of her others.

Pink’s “The Truth About Love” rises above its brash commercialism, while Regina Spektor’s “What We Saw From the Cheap Seats” is kooky, in a good way. Sinead O’Connor’s “How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?” is an outspoken comeback.

Indie rock is finding its way forward after the demise of its patron saints, R.E.M.

Waiting in the wings to replace them we have the U.K.’s the XX, with “Coexist” taking minimalism to a new level; Django Django, making a self-titled debut; Spiritualized (“Sweet Heart Sweet Light”); Grizzly Bear (“Shields”) and Beach House (the sublime “Bloom”).

Alt-J’s “An Awesome Wave” was a worthy Mercury Prize winner, “Lonerism” by Australia’s Tame Impala gently psychedelic, and “Attack on Memory” by Ohio’s Cloud Nothings a dark slab of vitriol with catchy guitars.

The latest Mumford & Sons release, “Babel,” may appeal to Grammy judges, though it’s not a patch on the finest English folk rock once made by Fairport Convention.

From the Democratic Republic of Congo, it’s worth hearing “Bouger Le Monde,” by a group of street musicians called Staff Benda Bilili. Zimbabwean band Mokoomba fuses African and Tongan rhythms on “Rising Tide.” Blind duo Amadou & Mariam, from Mali, add guests such as Santigold to their joyful “Folila.”

One of the most dramatic returns, after 27 years, was from “Come on Eileen” stars Dexys Midnight Runners, now just trading as Dexys. Singer Kevin Rowland told me that the title “One Day I’m Going to Soar” came to him after a difficult day. It certainly soars.

In writing this column, I soon had many suggestions, but still tweeted around asking for ideas. Those I got back and liked include the latest by Cat Power, Bat for Lashes, Ellie Goulding and Patti Smith; “Boys & Girls” by Alabama Shakes; “Invicta” by the Enid and “Done for Desire” by Damn Vandals.

The music from the London Olympics was a soundtrack of 2012 for many. The two CDs of opening and closing themes are a crash course in Britpop, with the Arctic Monkeys and Underworld among the standouts.

The CDs are priced from $9.99 and download prices vary across services.

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Jason Harper on cars, Lance Esplund on art and Richard Vines on food.

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net or http://twitter.com/home/Mark_Beech.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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