Sound Off! // Comment Klatsch #1: Most Memorable Sound of 2012

Sounding Off2klatsch \KLAHCH\ , noun: A casual gathering of people, esp. for refreshments and informal conversation  [German Klatsch, from klatschento gossip, make a sharp noiseof imitative origin.] (

Dear Readers:  It’s a new year, and SO! is kicking off a new feature designed to spark spontaneous conversation!  Sound Off! // Comment Klatsch will be appear on the first Thursday of every month (well, all except for today–the MLA meeting interrupted our best laid plans) and it will feature one question for open discussion curated by our editors and regular writers.  That’s it.  One single solitary question, standing alone, ready to face whatever you throw back at it.  No slate of sub questions. No wall of bullet points for you to think about. And, after today, no guiding introductory statements.  Just a question, and I hope,  lots of generative, interactive and exciting conversation in the comments that will spark new ideas, relationships, and debates in the study of sound.  So mark your calendars–next SO! Comment Klatsch will be February 7th–brew up a cuppa joe, and let Sounding Out! SOCK it to you.  And then SOCK it right back to us! —J. Stoever-Ackerman, Editor-in-Chief

What was the most memorable sound of 2012 and why? 

Comment Klatsch logo courtesy of The Infatuated on Flickr.


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35 responses to “Sound Off! // Comment Klatsch #1: Most Memorable Sound of 2012”

  1. Whitney L. Nichols (@WhitneyLNichols) says :

    I thought the songs of 2012 were my most memorable. Especially “We Are Young” and a few others. They were amazing, and there are some others out there are memorable too.


  2. Kristan Lee Hoffman says :

    I think that the most memorable song from 2012 for me was “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift. That song was stuck in my head all the time when it was popular. There were also a lot of different parody videos on youtube during this time and, I must admit, I watched pretty much all of theme. I think the most memories version of this song was Shane Dawson’s version.


  3. Cindy Knebel says :

    I also used social media to get a better look at the year 2012. As soon as I started to look I couldn’t believe I forgot about the song “wild ones” by FLorida ft. Sia. It was a very popular and overplayed song, but that’s not the only reason it is forever stuck in my head. Every time the song came on, I was making a really special memory. Memories are the most important thing in the world to me. Everything from the annual O’fallon Picnic to a vacation with my family, some of the best parts of those memories was what I was doing while this song was playing.


  4. Devon Jones says :

    After reviewing Facebook considerably to find out what happened of significance to me in 2012, I would have to say that hearing “We Are Young” by Fun? at my 2012 graduation was the most significant sound I heard. I remember the chorus; it made me remember my youth and my ambition. Even though the song appears to be about comradery, I thought about where my life was at and where it was going-and who I was going there with. For me, that sound represents four years of my life that I can never get back, something I can never do over. It gives me this need to carpe diem. I will remember the feeling forever.


  5. Richard Hugunine says :

    For me, the most memorable sound – after the Trayvon Martin recording – was Bill O Reilly bemoaning ‘The White Establishment Is Now The Minority’. Beautiful example of the uninformed intransigence of the “right wing” view.


  6. Aram Sinnreich says :

    When I think back on 2012, the sound that I hope will remain is Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9-2. We bought an electronic piano a few years ago, and that song is the first in the list of pre-programmed tracks. This spring, my 2-year old daughter figured out how to make it play, and she spent the entire year dressed up in Disney princess clothes, doing her best ballet moves to its lilting waltz. She’s starting to move on from princesses to superheroes, so I think this was largely a 2012 phenomenon. I will probably miss it for the rest of my life.


  7. Andrew Ferguson (@epiktistes) says :

    For me, the defining “sound” of 2012 would be a muffled silence, of the sort made by a stealth drone bomber approaching a Yemeni village, or by kindergarteners and teachers as heard through the earplugs worn by Adam Lanza. It’s an absence of sound that distances us from the violence committed by our institutions or by those whom our institutions have failed—and also the sound we often turn to, via the mute button, in order to find a reprieve from the endless, empty chatter of our sycophantic, empire-mad media outlets.


  8. stephceraso says :

    For me some of the most memorable sounds of 2012 were from the footage of the space jump–when Felix Baumgartner broke the speed of sound by free falling 24 miles above earth. The sound of his terrified breathing mixed with the calm voice of the technician in mission control was so startling, and the random silences in that footage were palpable–I kept thinking of all of the people listening and waiting as the breathing dropped in and out during that 10 minute fall. I imagine the actual sonic experience was something that Felix won’t soon forget either…


  9. Paul Schleuse says :

    Some of the most important art-sounds of the last 40 years, heard live in 2012 for the first time in a decade.


  10. Jessica says :

    For me, it was listening and watching the feed from various New York web cams as Sandy approached, while listening to the police/firefighter radio feed during the San Francisco sports (baseball?) riots that were happening at the same time. It was like creating my own horror/disaster movie. I can still hear the way the wind was howling from one of the harbor cams.

    The second was Mitt Romeny’s concession speech followed by Obama’s victory speech. I cried a little, because it sounded like we could stop tearing this country apart, but I knew that the actions would not be able to follow the words.


  11. rnbradley says :

    It’s a damn shame that violence and trauma are a significant chunk of the most memorable sounds from last year.


    • Aaron Trammell says :

      I wonder if that has something to do with the context here? Or maybe I’m just hoping that America 2012 wasn’t as bloody as it seems.


  12. Evan Seehausen says :

    Other people have excellently covered socially significant sounds, so I’ll do one that’s rather trivial: the silence at the end of levels in Hotline Miami. In a game lauded for its soundtrack and fast-paced sensory overload, the silence as you make your way through the carnage you created is chilling.


  13. Darren Mueller says :

    I was a high school sophomore in Boulder, Colorado when the Columbine shootings happened (Boulder is about an hour away from Columbine). Between classes, people gather in front of TVs to watch the coverage, gatherings that continued in the hours after school ended. I had been at Columbine for a music festval two weeks before the shootings, so the TV images were surreal. Two separate events (and their accompanying audio) this year brought these memories back: the movie theater shootings in Aurora, CO and the school shootings in Newtown, CT. The Police and Fire Department audio from those events is chilling.

    From CO:
    From CT:


  14. Robin James (@doctaj) says :

    Here in North Carolina, campaign ads saturated the broadcast media for what seemd like the entire year. There’s a specific style of campaign-ad-voiceover diction/delivery–confident, serious, stern, perhaps accusatory, “accentless” –and this was definitely a common sound this year, at least for me.

    I would also argue that 2012 was the year dubstep went super-mainstream, e.g., with the Microsoft commercial.

    I agree about the Jepson, especially the lilting string hook, and the Psy.

    What about the Romney 47% recording (I almost said “tape”, ha.).


  15. Camille Reyes says :

    I’m still haunted by the shrieking sort of sound used in the trailer for the film Prometheus. The music, more so than the beautiful images, drove me to great anticipation for the movie’s release. When I finally saw it, enveloped in IMAX 3D no less, I found myself missing the trailer music. Weird.

    I found an article about the making of the trailer here:


  16. Nathan says :

    As Amanda already noted, definitely “Gangnam Style” by PSY. It brought k-pop to the US in a big way (almost 1.2 billion views). It also demonstrated that it’s OK to be both playful and sincere (new sincerity – ).

    However, I think knowledge of the Occupy movement (and the people’s mic) really didn’t saturate the US population until the very end of 2011 and into the beginning of 2012. I’d add the call and response and drums of Occupy to the list as well.


  17. Liana Silva says :

    I’m with Amanda, one of the sounds that will stick with me from this year will be “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. On a personal note: another sound from 2012 that will forever stay with me will be hearing “Dr. Liana Silva” at my school’s Commencement ceremony. It was such an emotional moment for me, especially because I knew that it wasn’t just me who heard it but that my parents were able to hear that as well. There’s something powerful about hearing that for the first time over a loud speaker–and for them to hear that broadcast throughout the auditorium.


  18. amanda brennan (@continuants) says :

    While I agree with all of the serious answers (the Trayvon Martin 911 tapes were haunting), the most memorable sound for me is the intro to PSY’s Gangnam Style:

    When we first heard this song in our office, we had no idea how much of an internet phenomenon it would become. It opened up Korean pop music to a new audience, on one hand. On the other, it became the internet’s favorite thing to parody. As of today, there are more than 400 videos featuring “Gangnam Style” in the Know Your Meme gallery and there are additional videos using the song in other meme entries. This song broke so many records online and off and became a really integral part of memetic culture, which is pretty unprecedented for a non-English song (unless you’re counting the Russian Rickroll


    • drjsa says :

      When my four-year-old first heard “Gagnam Style”–courtesy of a looped replay by Continental Airlines–he got this HUGE grin on his face and said with wonder: “Mommy, What IS that? I LIKE IT!” And I like it too.


  19. Frank Bridges says :

    Though I can’t think of one specific sound, I do keep going back to Death Grips for my audio pleasure. There are several artists/bands that I remember hearing for the first time over the years and though they might not have a “sound” that is replicated in all of their music, they do create something that can still be detected in their music. I remember seeing the video for Death Grip’s, “Guilatine,” for the first time (truth be told, it was probably 2011) and being blown away. The band had two releases in 2012 – “The Money Store” and “No Love Deep Web” – with the later creating a storm of craziness because Death Grips released it through their website before the label had a chance to listen to it, much less “press it.” The culmination of the 2012 Sounds of Death Grips came on October 17, 2012, on NPR Music Live during CMJ in NYC. The band’s keyboardist wasn’t able to perform with them, so they performed as a singer and drummer, over a pre-recording of their songs, backed with two large monitors playing duplicate videos. I watched it live via streaming and an old friend and I chatted via Facebook at what we were hearing and seeing. So now that I think about this question more, I guess I could say that Death Grips is the most memorable sound that I have SEEN in 2012.

    Death Grips: NPR MUSIC LIVE –


  20. Aaron Trammell says :

    Great points so far, all! I’m going to have to take a page from Mr.O and recall Sandy for a moment. And even though my apartment was too far removed from the main drag of New Brunswick, NJ for me to hear the ambulances and fire trucks, the storm had a clear and resonant impact on my soundscape at home.

    First, at 9PM that first night everything went silent. The ambient buzz of my refrigerator fan and lights were suddenly no more. Small, but disconcerting things. There was a brief second when all my appliances roared to life again, but it was over as soon as it started, replaced only by silence and the howling wind.

    Then, two days later, as I waited in line for coffee, the radio DJ played “Sandy” by Bruce Springsteen. A song about growing up and leaving the “boardwalk life” of the shore. Now, I hear that song in a new way: mangled and twisted. Now it’s about displaced friends and family and the grim fantasy of anyone ever being able to claim a carefree “boardwalk life” for themselves.



  21. mr. oyola says :

    There are a couple for me:

    1) Most recently the sound of the n-word in the mouths of white actors in Tarantino’s Django Unchained and the way the sounding of that word in those mouths made the overwhelmingly white audience in the theater where I watched it roar with laughter every time regardless of the context (I may write my next Sounding Out post about this). So maybe the most memorable for me is not the word, but the laughter.

    2) A few months ago, during the night of Superstorm Sandy, I could hear, over the scary wind and rain, the sound of firetruck sirens passing through my neighborhood to be called out to Breezy Point. We couldn’t know at the time what was happening or where, but the length and repetitive nature of the sound as trucks made their way to Flatbush Avenue to go over the bridge to the Rockaways let us know that something was very wrong.


    • drjsa says :

      oooh, OOO, do some research now RE: number one. See the film in several cities/neighborhoods as a comparison. I’d love to hear more.


    • rnbradley says :

      Number 1! Number 1!


    • Aaron Trammell says :

      I definitely agree with JSA here. I saw the movie at New Brunswick’s movie theater and the audience was extremely diverse. There were some white people, but they were definitely in the minority. The audience also roared in laugher at those bits here.


      • mr. oyola says :

        They laughed at every white person’s use of the n-word? (they also found Sam Jackson’s Stephen’s use of it hilarious too – though clearly he is supposed to be a comic villain, which was also deeply problematic).


      • Aaron Trammell says :

        No no! I missed the “regardless of the context” bit, there. Wow.

        No, they laughed at the funny parts.


  22. rnbradley says :

    I’ma have to piggyback off of JSA and say the Trayvon Martin 911 tapes, particularly the deemed “ambiguous” scream. It updated a discourse about ‘sounding death’ and racial trauma that I can’t help but connect to the death of Jordan Davis in Jacksonville because of “loud music.” Both young men were unarmed, both young men were in FL, and both young men would be, advertently or inadvertently, connected to rap. Like I said then, I didn’t know listening to 2 Chainz was probable cause to shoot an unarmed teenager. If one were to construct a post-Civil Rights southern soundscape using the events of the past year, it would be looking and sounding more like 1813 instead of 2013. It’s some scary sh!t. Many thoughts rush my mind in regard to constructions of noise, blackness and trauma that is a nice chunk of my current research interest these days (outside of the diss).

    A close second would be the Django Unchained Soundtrack, particularly “100 Black Coffins” by Rick Ross. Whoa. A spaghetti western and southern hip hop mashup? YAS. Right up the kid’s alley.


  23. DrJS_not_A says :

    First two notes of the chorus of “I Will Always Love You.” Somehow, and unfairly, her passing seemed to reduce Whitney to two notes, which was all that played in many news clips. You could even recognize them when watching the tv on mute- blue background, silhouette of youngish Whitney’s head tipped back… And Iiiiiiiii…


    • drjsa says :

      Absolutely true–and let’s not forget the iconic electronic drum smash and anticipatory pregnant pause that opens that song (and all those news clips) . . .BOMP. . .and you know its coming. . .wait for it. . .wait for it. . . .”And Iiiiiiiiiiiii”


  24. drjsa says :

    I can’t stop thinking about the sound of George Zimmerman’s voice in the Trayvon Martin 911 Tapes. While a lot of the focus was on the horrific sound of Trayvon’s death screams, I think we as a culture need to investigate Zimmerman’s tone–its frank coldness, its assurance that he was doing the “people’s work,” its reaching out for the law enforcement as familiar co-workers who would “understand.” His tone and timbre speak volumes about white privilege (and who is valued and protected in our society) and the memory of it keeps me up at night.


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