The Freshest Sounds of 2012

As I start thinking about my end-of-year posts, my mind and heart always start with the soundtrack. Every once in a while, I'll hear a song for the first time and just fixate. I can't get enough of it. It stays on repeat in my car for days, then weeks, and sometimes months. Often times, these songs I'm so enamored with become tied to what's happening in my life at the moment. This has definitely been an interesting year full of ups, downs and major life changes. When I pulled together the songs and mixes for this post, it was like opening up a jar full of emotions for each one, transporting me back throughout the year. Feelings of hope. Uncertainty. Happiness. Fear. Love. Anticipation. Persistence in the face of despair. Please allow me to take you back on this ride with me, with some of my favorite mix masters, singers and songwriters guest starring...

Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange' album

Faithful FJ readers know that Frank Ocean is my #1. There is truly something in his voice that envelopes me and takes me away. Channel Orange came out right after I decided to branch out on my own professionally. Watching him release his album (and his "coming out") somehow made my little move to freelance life not as scary. This album reminds me how scared I was until after I took the leap - when I then said, "Why didn't I do this earlier?"

Miguel's 'Kaleidoscope Dream' album

Aside from Channel Orange, this is the only album I bought on CD this year (for the car.) With the prevalence of dance (EDM) and trap music in the mainstream right now, Miguel is like a breath of fresh R&B air. One of my guy friends told me that his voice reminds him of Marvin Gaye. KD accompanied me on my first blog trip sponsored by a major brand, and now on my daily rides to the office of my first retainer client. It represents love and happiness in so many ways.

Mic the Drums' 'Sway in the Morning' mix

After hearing Call Me Cray, I was hooked. I think I've got all of Mic the Drums' mixes memorized at this point.

FourColorZack's 'Red Bull 3Style World Championship' mix

Remember that time a Seattle DJ breezed through everyone to win the Red Bull 3Style U.S. competition, then went on to win the world championship? OH YEAH, that happened this year! We are so fortunate to have such awe-inspiring talent in the Emerald City.

Diplo's 'Set It Off'

No Doubt's 'Push & Shove'

Usher's 'Climax'

Nicki Minaj's 'Beez in da Trap'

It's clear that Major Lazer dominate(d) my time working in coffee shops this year. They produced 3/4 of these songs, and I'm pretty sure that if they ever work with Nicki Minaj, my head will explode with delight. I can never resist a song that is part dance party, part empowering, and part liberating.

Diplo always seems to strike the perfect balance among alladat. Also, it's funny watching a music video featuring strippers in the middle of a Starbucks. It's distracting wondering how Usher and Gwen Stefani has managed to look the same all these years. Or where Nicki Minaj finds clothes that fit her like a glove.

Trinidad James' 'Givin' No Fucks'

This guy came out of nowhere in the last month or so, and his Don't Be S.A.F.E. mixtape promptly cemented its place on repeat in my life. Trinidad James is getting a lot of criticism for being a "gimmick," but whatever. The more success you find, the more they'll have something to say about you. Going freelance has given me a completely new perspective on how I spend my time, what I do and who I spend it with. There's nothing like owning your career to get you to focus on exactly what's important in your life. This song speaks to that part of me.

"The best part about bein' me, is I ain't nothin' like you."

If you want to hear more of my favorites (including an extensive playlist of all classical music), find me on Spotify! JessEstrada206