Top 15 out of 20 Songs of 2005 (Part 1)
Since we are now in October and finished with three-fourths of the year, I figured this might be a good time to start thinking about what songs will end up in my year-end Best Of list. So I decided to pick out 15 of my favorite songs released from January through September this year, which would compose 75% of my Top 20 of 2005.
Of course, there could be more or less than 5 list-worthy songs between now and 12/31, but we'll worry about that then.
So here are the 75% of my favorite 20 singles of 2005 in alphabetical order (well, we're going to do this 25% at a time, so bear with me).
- Annie "Heartbeat"
Such is the western alphabet that a guilty pleasure song ends up leading off a list of what should be an exercise in snobbery. But this is pure, sugary pop with no artificial sweeteners. See, Scandinavians have this American pop music thing down to an artform. Exactly what pop music should be sweet, guilt-free (or guilt-ridden) and absent of spice or bitterness.
- Bloc Party "Helicopter"/"Blue Light (Engineers 'Anti-Gravity' Mix)" (mp3)
It feels so long ago that Silent Alarm came out but it's only been since March. They had been NME's darlings for a while and albums with bigger hype have come out since. Plus, it was always going to be difficult to match the massive expectation that preceded them.
Seven months later it's as enjoyable now as back then, from start to finish, "Helicopter" being the highlight. And the reinterpretation of "Blue Light" off the remix album served as a timely reminder of the original, as well as something to hold us over until the release of their sophomore album.
- Kelly Clarkson "Since U Been Gone"/"Behind These Hazel Eyes"
While Liz Phair struggles to reinvent herself as a radio-friendly pop rocker, Kelly Clarkson hasn't had trouble going the opposite direction. These songs are about as well crafted as anything else you hear on the radio, and I mean that in a good way and a bad way. In a bad way, because they're a little too easy to get into, like Max Martin is reading our minds and manufactures music based on our deepest and darkest desires, like Mel Gibson in What Women Want.
But at the end of the day, who cares if it's "art" or not? What matters is that these songs get me jumping on my bed or singing into my hairbrush. Started out as friends/It was cool but it was all pretend/Yeah yeah... Who can resist that?
- Common "Be" (mp3)
When I heard that Kanye was taking over production duties for all of Common's new album, I must say I was a little concerned. Is it going to be all chipmunk vocal and Ye mugging the mic? How much effort will he put in when he has his own album coming out months later?
Pleasantly surprised, was my reaction. What came out was a 90s throwback and arguably Common's tightest album since his 1994 release Resurrection. The strongest track is the title cut, backed by Kanye's signature layered sound and the boom-bap beats that defined Chicago hip hop back in the day.
- Ani DiFranco "Manhole"
Once I got past my juvenile snickering over a lesbian singer naming a song "Manhole", I wondered how I had missed a release by one of my favorite singer-songwriters, especially one whose work I became intimate with during that phase in college when I was trying to get those girls to play on my team.
Granted, I haven't really gotten into her more recent work and Andrew Bird has been the bigger name on her Righteous Babe Records, Knuckle Down released in January is grossly underappreicated. "Manhole" isn't quite 1990's Ani, but it's pretty damn close to vintage. Her voice alternates between forceful and tender, on and off beat, and her guitar is at once melodic and percussive.
Parts 2 and 3 to follow