As 2012 draws to a close, CJR writers brainstormed the year’s best reads in their beats.

Grizzly Bear Members Are Indie-Rock Royalty, But What Does That Buy Them in 2012? — nymag.com

The Song Machine: The hitmakers behind RihannaThe New Yorker

How not to write about female musicians: a handy guideThe Village Voice

A Sorry State: Pop Marketing and Rihanna’s Apologetic — The Quietus

Jack Outside The Box: Jack White is the coolest, weirdest, savviest rock star of our timeNew York Times Magazine

Investigation: ATP — The Stool Pigeon

Interview: Bobby Womack: ‘I can sing my ass off, better than I could before’The Guardian

Did he feel good? James Brown’s epic life and careerCity Journal

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Hazel Sheffield is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @hazelsheffield.