Friday, December 17, 2004

Tom's Top 50 Singles of 2004 - Part 5

Oh snap, top ten!

10. Big & Rich: Holy Water. Maybe it was a little cowardly of Kenny and John to make the subject of the song "she" instead of "I", but there's always room for huge, goopy, sentimental get-me-out-of-here-save-me power ballads. And when a song like that is delivered in pitch-perfect rising-storm huge-production Southern rock epic format, it's hard to imagine anything better. And when it's sung with earnest, resigned, gravelly desperation with gasping underwater guitars and a stately string coda like "November Rain" or something, it's just about the best thing ever. "Holy Water" is the second-best Coldplay song of the year.

9. Snow Patrol: Run. The first-best Coldplay song of the year, obviously. Sad, resigned, shrugging voice and guitars work through the muddle of the verses and then explode on the glorious chorus, an eruption of wistful joyous melancholy melodrama, like if Seth Cohen got dumped by Summer and then drove out to the desert to tearfully look up at the night sky because he knows he's on a TV show and that's what people on TV shows do (but, you know, still feeling it - there's a reason people do this stuff on TV shows; it makes you feel it). When I talked about this song on this blog and in my Pitchfork review, I said how this song sounds to me like staring out the window of a plane going somewhere you don't know if you want to go as it takes off. I hate to beat a dead horse with that image, but I'm fucking proud of it and I can't think of anything better; can you?

8. T.I.: Rubber Band Man. If you're going to rap about how hard you are, maybe you should do it over a candy-pop ascending playground organ riff that blows out into a glorious kids' choir on the chorus, with chunky off-kilter boof-boof bubblecrunk drums underneath. And maybe you should let the total, unbridled joy of this irresistible beast creep into your voice so it sounds like you're trying to hold back an elated giggle when you're rapping about your money and your groupies and your cases. (And, you know, it'll help if you rap about this stuff really, really well.) And then maybe you should step aside at the end and let the kids and the drums handle the end of the song. Then maybe you'll have something.

7. Beyonce: Naughty Girl. Words cannot express how happy I was when Beyonce put this one out as a single. "Crazy in Love" was hot, but slinky elastic playful sex-disco is what Bee was born to sing. When she cooed "Love to Love You" over lush bubbling bass at the beginning of the track, it was all over. The harpsichord chimes and Middle Eastern tootling and ridiculously sexy gangster moll video were all just the icing on the cake.

6. Ghostface feat. Jadakiss: Run. Absolutely thrilling. Desperate men wild-eyed, their entire lives depending on how quickly they can get away from these devils right now, the most important moment of their lives. Have you ever seen someone running from the cops? I saw it once a few months ago, all bleary-eyed walking to work from the bus stop at 8 on a Tuesday morning when across the street this kinda fat dude breaks out from the crowd, just motoring, big white policewoman a couple of steps behind him. He made it about a block before she caught up and tripped him, landed hard on him, had him in cuffs in a couple more seconds. I don't know what he did, why he was arrested, but sometimes I wonder what he's doing, where he is now, what was going through his mind at that exact second. A song this powerful is the sort of thing that makes you contemplate your place in the world, how dumb-lucky you are (I am) to never have to deal with feelings like this. But not while the song is on. While the song is on, I can't think about a single thing except how awesome it is.

5. Crime Mob: Knuck If You Buck. Oh man. Evil glistening Dario Argento piano and snap-snap-punch drums and vocals so thick, mixed so low that you're lucky to pick out every third word. This just sounded like another creepy-crunk track, like "No Problem" or something, the first time I heard it. Now, months later, it comes on in the radio and a couple of minutes later I feel like the breath has been sucked out of me, like there's something chasing me. Diamond and Princess, the two girls on the track, both come with awesome hard-ass Gangsta Boo sassy amped toughness - did you know these girls are 16 and 17? Can you imagine how cool they're going to turn out?

4. Streets: Dry Your Eyes. The sound of the world imploding on you, the thoughts going around your head while you wander around the city, not sure where you're going, just staring at your feet on the sidewalk, consumed. Devistated resigned acceptance, violent self-disgust, dots in front of your eyes. It feels so ridiculous and inappropriate to talk about the acoustic guitar or the strings or Skinner's cadence or whatever, and it doesn't even feel right to judge it on a list with other songs. When Skinner mumbles "I've got nothing - absolutely nothing", it feels like nothing else exists. "Dry Your Eyes" isn't number one because the three songs ahead of it evoke dizzy joy in me, and generally I'd rather feel dizzy joy than flattening despair.

3. Armand Van Helden feat. Spalding Rockwell: Hear My Name. From a hearbroken murmur to an ecstatic whoop. I first heard "Hear My Name" in the car, coming home from Indian dinner listening to one of those Heavy Sumosonic CDs where you need to slog through a whole lot of imitation-Eels indie-rock and lameass backpack rap to get to the one or two amazing gems buried in the disc's second half. When this one came on, I lit up right away and just started laughing, just laughing, intensely delighted, hitting back on the CD player and playing it over and over. I can't think of a single other song that has smashed its way into my pleasure centers so immediately, like I was mainlining Pixie Stix or something. "Hear My Name" makes me love everything.

2. Nina Sky feat. Jabba: Move Ya Body. Eerily cool disco blast of beautiful voices and beautiful synthesizer and flawless percolating drums and pointless dancehall dude, self-assured and sexy and utterly happy, you know that stuff. But "Move Ya Body" still sounds like ice cream on a hot summer day even in the middle of the damn winter. It's a ray of sunshine, a puppy chasing a tennis ball, a toddler dancing. As far as I'm concerned, it's impossible to not love it.

1. Big & Rich: Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy). Oof, the intro: that crunch-smash riff, those little pings, the fiddles kicking in. The deliriously stupid gang-shout chorus and butt-rock guitar solo and ridonkulously corny, absurdly gleeful spoken-word bit. Kenny and John have those great big searing harmony voices, but on this track they've got awe in those voices, like they're still vaguely in disbelief that they've managed to make something quite this awesome. I just want to fucking hug them, dude. This is such a monster jam I can't even talk English anymore.