At this point the list is as close to exactly how I want it as it's going to get. Spotify's library has a lot of pretty huge gaps. There aren't a lot of mixtapes on it, so I couldn't include anything from either of Action Bronson's extremely rewarding album-length releases of the year, or Charli XCX's "Forgiveness", and I had to put Jeremih's "773 Love" on there instead of the superior "Fuck U All the Time" because that's the only song from his amazing Late Nights with Jeremih mixtape that Spotify has. And, increasingly, the best hip-hop and dance music is being released straight to the Internet track by track without coming anywhere near an actual record label, so the mind-blowing amount of good music that came out via SoundCloud this year is almost entirely absent. But all in all I think it's a fair representation of my listening this year.
My methodology in selecting songs was intentionally broad and ill-defined, but I did try and follow a few self-imposed rules. I largely avoided putting more than one song from an album on it, since otherwise there would be a big chunk in the middle that's just Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City and Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, which I listened to all the way through more than any other albums of the year. On the other hand the amount of crossovers via guest spots on other artists' songs made it impossible to assemble a playlist where rappers like 2 Chainz and Rick Ross didn't appear at least a couple of times. (2 Chainz shows up on five tracks, Ross on four. There are two tracks featuring Andre 3000 and would have been three if Spotify had the one he did with Gorillaz and James Murphy.)
The selection process was also weighted heavily towards pleasure and away from my intellectual appraisal of the songs. I could easily write 1,000 words at the drop of a hat about all of the reasons one could (and maybe even should) dislike the band fun., but as much as I didn't want to enjoy the massive hook on "We Are Young," I couldn't help it. (I'm also aware that "We Are Young" and Ellie Goulding's "Lights" came out before this year, but they broke in 2012, so they qualify.) Similarly, I have a lot of issues with Chief Keef, but imagining a 2012 without "I Don't Like" doesn't seem possible.
I did a lot of listening this year, and the final playlist is 87 tracks and five hours long. I'm presenting it alphabetically by artist, because ranking the songs or trying to arrange them in an optimally listenable order would probably take up several more weeks of my life and/or make me totally insane. I suggest playing it on random, and starting with either ZZ Top's "I Gotsta Get Paid" or E-40's "I'm Laced," which are both incredible songs that didn't get listened to nearly enough this year.