Singles of the year: The critics’ top three

From Japandroids, Carly Rae Jepsen, Frank Ocean

“The House That Heaven Built” Japandroids

The standout track on the best rock album of the year is “an absolute barn burner,” said the A.V. Club. Give us “some big guitars, a fast tempo (anchored by propulsive percussion), and make it all super-catchy,” and we’d be happy even if the lyrics didn’t essentially say, “Don’t let anything stand in your way.” But they do. And the sing-along “whoa oh ohs” don’t hurt: We “still feel a charge” every time we hear them.

“Call Me Maybe”

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Carly Rae Jepsen

One of 2012’s “definitive” songs “harked back to the unabashedly girlish singer-songwriter pop” of the early 2000s, said AllMusic.com. Canada’s Carly Rae Jepsen shot straight from unknown to stardom with this year’s song of the summer. Its “disco-tinged-beat” and “sugar-rush immediacy” offered a welcome contrast to the Euro-style dance pop now dominating radio. But it’s so irresistible, it would have been “a huge hit at any time.”

“Pyramids”

Frank Ocean

The “tour de force” cut on the year’s most acclaimed album plays like a “10-minute history of R&B, arcing from club-thumping beats to a sultry drawn-out jam,” said Time. The song’s narrator begins by singing of Cleopatra and ancient Egypt before time traveling to the present to praise the stripper he loves. Delivering all this in a voice “veering from a velvety croon to an endearingly creaky falsetto,” Ocean “easily holds your attention.”

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