I'm usually not that into spybeat or Britney hits in general, but this is just such pop perfection it just feels right at #1.
2. Jay-Z - "99 Problems"
I had no problem with Jay going after modern rock radio after "Hey Ya" already tapped that market, because unlike the Outkast and Eminem hits that have crossed over to rock radio, "99 Problems" actually sounds like the early Beastie Boys tracks that are staples on those stations. I don't know if anyone went more nuts for it than rap stations, though; I remember driving home from picking up The Black Album on the release date and hearing a DJ play it like 5 times in the space of an hour, howling with joy.
3. Big & Rich - "Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy"
I'm kind of over the whole Muzik Mafia is saving country thing, and I haven't liked any of the Gretchen Wilson singles, but this was just the jam.
4. T.I. - "Rubber Band Man"
The way the beat does a busy hi-hat pattern for 2 bars and then a relaxed ride cymbal pattern for 2 bars is just genius.
5. Terror Squad - "Lean Back"
Remy's verse really did kill it. And the way Joe going "HUH" filled in all sorts of spots within the beat.
6. John Mayer - "Clarity"
I just could not get enough of this song, which is unfortunate, since it didn't perform very well at all for a John Mayer single. But it really is beautiful, especially that intro: the 4-note piano figure, the tapping rhythm, the horn swell, the percussive guitar chords. Last week when my brother was visiting, he let me mess around on his iPod and I found Heavier Things and listened to this 2 or 3 times.
7. Lloyd Banks f/ 50 Cent - "On Fire"
I'm not generally a big fan of monolithic G-Unit singles, but I couldn't resist Kwame's bubbling liquid metal percussion and Lloyd's perfect punchlines. The greatness of this track is only reaffirmed by the fact that it's already being emulated on inferior songs like Joe Budden's "Roll Your Backyard" and 50's own "Disco Inferno".
8. J-Kwon - "Hood Hop"
Top 5 things I love about "Hood Hop":
1. the coughing, barking Trackboyz production
2. the line "and fuck your fuckin' '4 and your roof, clown/I got shit that'll turn your fuckin' coupe 'round", which the first few times I heard it I thought he was saying he was gonna turn your poop brown
3. the way him and Chingy make eating cereal look like some kind of really unsavory activity in the video
4. the fact that Jermaine Dupri's 2 most notable video cameos this year were (a) cuddling with Janet and (b) mouthing the words "fuck a bitch"
5. TIPSY IS SHIT, STOP SLEEPING ON THIS
9. Yellowcard - "Ocean Avenue"
At first when I started hearing on the radio I thought it was another whiny twee pop-punk tune, which I guess it still is, but I didn't get into it until I noticed the ridiculously powerful drumming, and that chorus is pretty huge, especially coming from the bridge.
10. Young Gunz f/ Rell - "No Better Love"
Hands down, best rap/R&B love jam of the year.
11. Juvenile f/ Soulja Slim - "Slow Motion"
As soon as I heard this I knew I'd be hearing it all summer, and that I'd never get sick of it.
12. Wacko, Skip and Juvenile - "Nolia Clap"
I think the best thing about this song is Skip's verse, because he's wearing glasses in the video and he's got a squeaky voice and he says silly things like "dog doo doo", but then he's all talking about how dudes who wear vests deserve to get their face slashed. Also, the "(look) look at my face (look!), this how death look (LOOK!), if ya deaf, look (look), I won't play witcha" part is pretty amazing, just for how many times he doubles up his voice to shoehorn the word "look" in there.
13. Twista - "Overnight Celebrity"
Twista and Kanye were unstoppable and inescapable this year, and this was their finest moment together.
14. Anthony Hamilton - "Charlene"
I don't really buy it when Matt Cibula tries to say that Anthony Hamilton is a country singer (or that T.I. is a singer/songwriter), but I see what he's getting at.
15. Jadakiss f/ Anthony Hamilton - "Why"
I love Jada's voice, and it sounded better than ever this year, and I love the way he says "beer" so it sounds like "bear". I want him to hold a WHY LIE I NEED A BEAR sign.
16. Lostprophets - "Last Train Home"
Dude looks like Zoolander trying to sound like Mike Patton, but this really was one of the best alt-rock hits of the year.
17. Mannie Fresh - "Real Big"
I didn't really feel a lot of Mannie's beats for Wayne or Juve lately, so I wasn't really expected him to come hard for the solo single, but he did it, with essentially a fast, fun Big Tymers jam without Baby around to slow him down.
18. Kelly Clarkson - "Since U Been Gone"
Girl singers who don't play an instrument can rock too, pt. 1: I have a soft spot for a few Pat Benatar jams, so I'm always happy when someone with a real strong voice tries on something that rocks this much, albeit in a pop-rock way.
19. Ashlee Simpson - "La La"
Girl singers who don't play an instrument can rock too, pt. 2: after a couple insufferable 'autobiographical' singles, shorty got down to business with some corporate rock stomp and nonsensical lyrics.
20. Nelly - "Na-Nana-Na"
In the past 6 months, Nelly has released 5 singles/videos, and after he flubbed the club anthem attempt with "Flap Your Wings", the Suit singles took off and it left Sweat eating its dust in sales. So outside the lower half of the 106 & Park countdown, this song, which is easily one of Nelly's best singles ever (and Nelly is nothing if not a singles artist) and my favorite Jazze Pha beat ever, is being pretty much ignored. But it's not too late! Blast this shit! Request it everywhere!
21. Lloyd - "Hey Young Girl"
I already pretty much summed up what I think is great about this song in a Gov't Names post.
22. Paula Campbell - "Take You Home"
OK, I might have actually liked "Tipsy" if there wasn't a local hit rocking Baltimore around the same time that had almost the exact same kind of booming "Grindin'"/"We Will Rock You" drum track, but with much better synth burps and a big R&B hook.
23. Comp - "Harder"
The Baltimore/Def Jam connection is just starting to warm up and will hopefully kick into full gear in '05, but for now, Comp's introspective vocal-sample-snatch jam was one of the best street heaters of '04.
24. Ghostface f/ Jadakiss and Comp - "Run"
Even though my boy Comp got robbed when they didn't put the version with him on the Ghostface album, this song is great, with or without him.
25. Norah Jones - "Sunrise"
Even though her album was once again huge this year, the single was really slept on and not nearly as omnipresent as "Don't Know Why" was. But it's really lovely, wordless "ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh" chorus and beautiful relaxed ambiance.