The Bonus Year-End List: The 10 Best Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks of 2012
In 2012, I based one of my Radio Hits One columns on the phenomenon of big budget major label albums these days almost always being released with higher-priced deluxe editions featuring exclusive bonus tracks -- sometimes several different editions for different retailers. The focus of that column was the odd occurrences of bonus tracks actually becoming huge hits, as was the case with Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass," Drake's "The Motto," Ellie Goulding's "Lights," But for the most part, bonus tracks have become the modern B-side -- 'optional' second-tier material for the hardcore fans to consume while everyone else sticks with the basic album. And, just as artists and labels could never be trusted to not occasionally put the best song on the B-side, these deluxe editions often include bonus tracks as good as anything on the album proper. So here are some of my favorites from 2012:
1. Pink - "My Signature Move"
Pink's The Truth About Love had easily the best run of bonus tracks in 2012 -- a total of seven on the 'fan edition,' virtually any and all of which I'd happily swap in in place of any or all of the weaker half of the 13 main tracks. Most of the bonus tracks were written with longtime Pink collaborator Butch Walker, a great solo artist in his own right, and it's a crime that "My Signature Move" didn't make the cut for the album proper.
2. Miguel - "...ALL"
Kaleidoscope Dream was my #1 album of 2012, but earlier in the year I wasn't sure if he'd be able to top the EP series that launched "Adorn" and his whole big recent run Art Dealer Chic. Of course, 3 of the 9 Art Dealer Chic songs ended up on the album, and the Target edition features two more, including my favorite, "...ALL." Honestly, I prefer to think of this as the true last track of the album instead of that inferior re-recording of "Candles In The Sun," especially since it so explicitly sums up Miguel's whole approach to music and his career more than any other song.
3. E-40 f/ C-Ballin - "Blame It On The DJ"
E-40's triple album The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil boasted a staggering 54 songs, and then the crazy motherfucker actually had 6 more for the deluxe versions, which are right up to the standard off the proper albums. Just insane.
4. Usher - "I.F.U."
On Looking 4 Myself, Usher darted in way too many directions looking 4 the version of himself that would be most marketable to the most demographics, and it never quite hung together. So it's not surprising that he didn't know what to do with one of the best songs with the most urban radio potential, and it ended up as a bonus track -- I even heard it on the radio a couple times, and was disappointed when it never became a proper hit. Oak & Pop, the production duo who helmed Elle Varner's album, give this track an off-kilter violin riff almost as sick as "Refill," and a sleazy little vocal loop that sounds better in the clean version's "I'm freakin' youuuuuu" than the one with the real F word.
5. Carly Rae Jepsen - "Sweetie"
I know some people who have claimed that Jepsen's album contains other songs that are better than "Call Me Maybe," and I don't know if I'd agree, but one of the songs that came closest was only on the deluxe edition, and even kind of hits the same sweet spot.
6. The Gaslight Anthem - "Blue Dahlia"
Two of the three bonus tracks on the Gaslight Anthem's major label debut Handwritten are covers of Nirvana and Tom Petty songs that kind of underline the band's hitmaking ambitions. Those are fun to hear, but the original one out of the trio is better.
7. Meek Mill f/ Big Sean - "Burn"
When Meek Mill's Dreamchasers 2 broke records on mixtape sites, "Amen" and "Burn" both immediately stood out as songs with big name features that were also really good. One became the lead single for Dreams & Nightmares and one didn't, but the latter was still popular enough to chart and get an official video.
8. Future - "Paradise"
7 months after Future dropped Pluto, my favorite rap album of the year's sleeper success was vindicated with one of those increasingly rare 'victory lap' after-the-fact deluxe reissues, Pluto 3D, which had some good new tracks tacked on but generally messed with the album's original running order in unsatisfying ways. But the original Pluto that dropped way back in April actually had its own deluxe edition, and one of its bonus tracks, "Paradise," was pretty fantastic, perhaps the most psychedelic song he's released to date as he gears up for Future Hendrix.
9. Ne-Yo - "Alone With You (Maddie's Song)"
"Alone With You (Maddie's Song)" stands out on R.E.D. as the most traditionally soulful song on Ne-Yo's least R&B album to date, a lovely little track produced by Salaam Remi. As it turns out, Maddie is Ne-Yo's two-year-old daughter. I hope someday he apologizes to her for letting this only be a bonus track.
10. Matchbox Twenty - "Straight For This Life"
North was a pretty impressive album that I enjoyed more than I never thought I could enjoy a Matchbox Twenty album, although I kind of wimped out on putting it on my year-end list because that list makes me look lame enough as it is. This bonus track that closes the deluxe edition would definitely be one of the tracks I'd highlight if I was trying to convince someone that no, seriously, this record is good.