1. T.I. - "What You Know"
Hip hop had no shortage of Unstoppable Street Anthems this year, but most of them ("Hustlin'," "We Fly High," "One Blood," etc.) weren't actually any good. "What You Know" is also the rare rap hit that's actually better as a radio edit, T.I.'s "OH!" shouts giving the chorus a lot more energy than calmly stated references to loaded fo-fo's had otherwise. I still kinda think "You Don't Know Me" deserves more to be Toomp's signature beat, but it's pretty hard to deny this song.
2. DJ Khaled f/ Paul Wall, Lil Wayne, Fat Joe, Rick Ross and Pitbull - "Holla At Me Baby"
Nowadays when you only see MCs from different crews get together on a track together for the perfunctory all-star remix, it's really refreshing to get a posse cut that actually lives up to its lineup and then some.
3. Ray Cash f/ Scarface - "Bumpin' My Music"
Maybe the reason this wasn't the Bay Area's year like it was supposed to be is Rick Rock gave his best beat to a Midwest cat.
4. All-American Rejects - "Move Along"
Not really the guys I expected to write a transcendant rock anthem, but I'll take it.
5. Justin Timberlake f/ T.I. - "My Love"
T.I. should teach a course for other rappers on how to do a guest spot on an R&B song without embarrassing yourself.
6. Beyonce - "Irreplaceable"
From a production standpoint, this is practically a Natalie Imbruglia song. She really sells it, though.
7. Evanescence - "Call Me When You're Sober"
Evanescence are a perfect example of a band whose singles I generally like but would probably never be able to sit through a whole album by, and this supplated "Going Under" as my favorite single so far.
8. Omarion - "Entourage"
Does his friend really say "you been comin' for an hour" at the beginning of the video?
9. Chamillionaire f/ Krayzie Bone - "Ridin'"
On principle I'm pleased that a song like this became such a huge hit, but really I like it for the sonorous hook and the amazing Krayzie Bone verse, just like probably most people.
10. "Weird Al" Yankovic - "White And Nerdy"
Almost makes up for years of mediocre rap parodies like "Amish Paradise."
11. Chris Brown - "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)"
Chris Brown's voice is so unpleasantly shrill that it makes sense that he gets marketed with the old "but dancing is his real talent" line, even if his dancing is spastically devoid of grace too. But sometimes the kid gets a song that even he can't ruin.
12. Ciara - "Promise"
I really didn't expect Ciara to make such an amazing ballad after "And I" was by far the weakest single from her first album (and I say that as someone who pretty much hated "Oh" and "Goodies"). More shocking, though, is that I kind of like and am rooting for Ciara now. What's next, me liking more than one Chris Brown song?
13. Kelly Clarkson - "Walk Away"
Kelly's outfit in this video in this video is ridiculous but she still looks pretty hot, oh my god when she rolls her hips at the beginning of the 2nd verse.
14. Muse - "Knights of Cydonia"
I appreciate the fact that, even if Muse's singer refuses to try not sounding exactly like Thom Yorke, they've at least gone to the trouble of doing some kind of big silly surf rock epic that Radiohead would never ever attempt. Also the whole sci fi/cowboy theme of the video reminds me of Brisco County Jr.
15. Keyshia Cole - "Love"
For a while I kinda hated on Keyshia and didn't think much of this song, but it really is beautiful.
16. E-40 f/ Keak Da Sneak - "Tell Me When To Go"
Lil Jon's failed attempt to market hyphy as "the new crunk" will go down as one of the big PR disasters of 2006, but the song he tried to do it with was still pretty good.
17. Fergie - "London Bridge"
I'm glad that I broke down and started enjoying "My Humps," but I didn't really expect her to top it.
18. Cassie - "Me & U"
The real revelation of the unreleased original video for this song wasn't really "OMG SEE IT'S ABOUT ORAL SEX" but that the song really loses all its appeal with a more traditional R&B beat. It's all the empty space that really makes the track.
19. Ne-Yo - "So Sick"
I was amazed how many people complained of hearing this song on the radio too much with no apparent irony or self-consciousness about the song's self-reflexive theme of hearing songs on the radio too much.
20. The Fray - "Over My Head (Cable Car)"
I feel bad for the guy from The Fray, who pretty much looks like he's 12 years old as it is, and then when his band has a big hit song, they cast his 12-year-old brother to lip sync in the video.
21. Rich Boy f/ Polow Da Don - "Throw Some D's"
I'm not sure what I expected Rich Boy to look like based on his voice, but it wasn't Canibus.
22. Foo Fighters - "No Way Back"
I was kinda down on that Foo Fighters double album but the rock disc has held up really well. The dynamics in the last 16 seconds of the song alone are fucking awesome. In the process of writing this blurb the song jumped from the 3rd to the 2nd most played song on my iTunes, seriously.
23. Birdman and Lil Wayne - "Stuntin' Like My Daddy"
Even though this song came out at the exact time that Baby and Wayne became the primary targets of the hip hop nation's collective gay panic, it still charted higher than any Lil Wayne single other than "Go DJ" (not counting cameos on R&B songs). That's just how fucking good this song is.
24. Killers - "When You Were Young"
I realized recently that my relationship with almost every Killers single to date has been me being initially repulsed and then letting it grow on me (except for "Somebody Told Me," I still hate that one). The cycle is still in its early stages for me with "Bones" but I gave into this one a while ago.
25. Pussycat Dolls f/ Snoop Dogg - "Buttons"
This is the 4th Polow Da Don production in just the top 25 of this list, if you're keeping count. There'd probably be 5 if the Polow track Field Mob released as a single was "At The Park" instead of "Baby Bend Over."
26. Robin Thicke - "Lost Without You"
"Shooter" and "Wanna Love U Girl" are easily two of my least favorite singles of the past year, and it makes me feel like there's a little justice in the world that this quiet, subtle little bossa nova jam is getting way more radio play than his songs with Lil Wayne and Pharrell. I think "get Norwegian wood with me" might be the worst euphemism I've ever heard, though.
27. B.G. f/ Mannie Fresh - "Move Around"
Doesn't really sound like anything they did together when they were on Cash Money, but still a great reunion track. WAHHHHHHHHHHHH.
28. Fall Out Boy - "A Little Less 16 Candles, A Little More 'Touch Me'"
Watching Fall Out Boy's first 3 videos is like a visual representation of the rapid growth of Pete Wentz's ego. If they shot the "Sugar We're Going Down" video after this, he would have cast himself as the kid with antlers and there would've been 3 pages of dialogues and a full-on makeout scene.
29. Young Dro - "Rubberband Banks"
Best rap video for a song I like of the year (best video for a song I don't like would be Young Jeezy's "I Luv It").
30. Jessica Simpson - "Public Affair"
Usually being a famous pop singer means having a good run of singles, but this might be the first decent single Jessica Simpson has ever released. And after butchering songs by everyone from John Mellencamp to Berlin and Robbie Williams and Nancy Sinatra, a blatant Madonna rip might still be one of her more original moves.
31. Jamie Foxx f/ Ludacris - "Unpredictable"
It's basically impossible for me to dislike any song that samples "Wildflower," especially the New Birth version.
32. Ne-Yo - "When You're Mad"
The best part about this song is watching a girl hear it for the first time, as she listens to the lyrics and slowly begins to blush.
33. Twista f/ Pitbull - "Hit The Floor"
Twista really dropped the ball on trying to follow up his platinum breakthrough, but you can't blame this song.
34. Pink - "Who Knew"
This is up there with Bow Wow f/ Jagged Edge's "My Baby" as one of the few popular songs that unexpectedly gets me seriously wistful and misty-eyed for reasons I can't quite place.
35. Beyonce - "Ring The Alarm"
I wish Beyonce would be herself on record more often and embrace her inner psycho hose beast.
36. Pussycat Dolls f/ will.i.am - "Beep"
will.i.am eased away from being one of the most hated men in rap this year but placing some grimy beats on albums by A-list MCs, but honestly I like him better when he embraces his gift for goofy pop bullshit.
37. Remy Ma - "Conceited"
It's a shame Scott Storch couldn't take this song to #1 like he did the first 2 times he sold this beat.
38. India Arie f/ Akon - "I Am Not My Hair"
If some kind of trivial psychic had told me a year ago that India Arie would release a dippy song about how hair is symbolic of self-identity and racial pride, I would've believed them with no coaxing at all. If they'd told me that I'd love it, though, I'd be pretty skeptical.
39. OK Go - "Here It Goes Again"
I remember seeing these guys open for They Might Be Giants years ago, before they had a deal, maybe before Pitchfork panned their first EP, and they were clearly kind of slick careerist alt-rockers. But I don't really have as much of a problem with that as, say, Brent DiCriscenzo, and I appreciate that they found a goofy gimmick that no other careerist alt-rockers thought of. The video wouldn't have been so popular if the song wasn't actually pretty catchy, though.
40. Cassie - "Long Way 2 Go"
Totally adorable and better than any song where Cassie attempts an ill-advised rap flow has any right to be.
42. Ciara f/ Chamillionaire - "Get Up"
Jazze Pha really doesn't get enough credit for continually biting "Planet Rock" in a context that in no way resembles "Planet Rock," which has become one of my favorite sounds in R&B.
43. Lil Wayne - "Hustler Musik"
This was always my favorite song on Tha Carter II, well before I had any idea it'd be a single, and while it wasn't a real big hit, I was pretty happy to hear it on the radio now and again.
44. New Found Glory - "It's Not Your Fault"
I have no problem with wussy emo bands when they start to resemble late period Superchunk.
45. Diddy f/ Nicole Scherzinger - "Come To Me"
I'm pretty tolerant of Diddy's rapping, but this song would be way better if it was just a straight up PCD track with noone rapping on it.
46. The Disturbed - "Land Of Confusion"
Taking a hit from the 80's and making it sound so crazy, be it by adding rapping or distortion pedals, is a tactic for getting on the radio that's hard to respect, but The Disturbed did a pretty admirable job of finding a song that isn't blindingly obvious to cover and fits their sound really well, while modernizing the video in a clever way.
47. Jagged Edge - "Stunnas"
Despite being a blatant example of Southern artists once again biting Bay Area slang, this is a pretty wonderful song.
48. Heather Headley - "In My Mind"
Really just a gorgeous ballad. I bought the album, but it was the first CD I tried to put in my 5-disc changer after trying and failing to fix the changer tray when it was acting weird. So now the album is stuck somewhere in the recesses of my CD player, still unlistened to, and I play all my CDs on my computer now and just run the audio through the CD player's speakers.
49. DJ Khaled f/ Kanye West, Consequence and John Legend - "Grammy Family"
Kanye more or less taking the year off from the spotlight made the moments that he did pop up a little more enjoyable.
50. Ghostface f/ Ne-Yo - "Back Like That"
I've only ever been a casual Wu Tang fan at most, and I'm pretty sure if I ever started investigating them more deeply there'd be a lot of albums I'd cop before anything by Ghostface, who I've just never been that interested in, but he did a pretty admirable job of toning down his schtick for a girl song for the radio that actually didn't suck.
Labels: hip hop