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2003's Top 30 Singles

I did not listen to the radio this year. Honestly. I just find myself disgusted with the repetitive garbage they heap on my speakers and so I decided to base these singles on my very own method. And no, not ripping off other lists. I have my finger on some kind of pulse and I know the songs I like, so here you go. Oh, and of course scroll down to see the Worst of Music in 2003, which has taken on a life of its own this year.

30. Billy Talent - Try Honesty
If System of a Down decided to take the emo route in high school, they would sound like this brutal, unforgiving, stop-and-go song from Canada’s youngsters.

29. John Mayer - Bigger than My Body
His new album didn’t reach the heights of his breakthrough Room For Squares, but this song was an excellent first single, with a crisp musical track and a great melody. This kid has major staying power.

28. Obie Trice - Got Some Teeth
Shady Records’ second protege of 2003, and the one who was left in Fiddy’s dust, Trice has neither the personality nor the charisma of that oaf to make this stupidly entertaining track a hit. I mean, how fucked up can you be to not see the girl’s got no teeth?

27. Dido - White Flag
A silky smooth track from Brit chanteuse Dido about a woman standing strong after a failed relationship. Get empowered.

26. Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's Mom
Tacky, cheesy, and overplayed, but the rush it gave you the first time is still worth it. Awesome keyboards in the chorus.

25. Alicia Keys - You Don't Know My Name
This glorious six-minute soul track produced by Kanye West still hasn’t made it’s full impact yet, but it’s already so good as to have us slobbering for another West Keys collaboration.

24. Jay-Z - Excuse Me Again (La La La)
This Blueprint 2 out-take/Bad Boys II track should have been the precursor to how hot Jigga’s flows would be on the Black Album. The Neptunes once again provide a burning beat with temple-handclaps and careening synths for Jigga to walk into history

23. Ludacris - Stand Up
Ludacris is still popular for some strange reason. That reason is this song. You can argue about the humor in his rhymes, but at least he knows how to choose his beats, and this was one of the year’s best. Play that back.

22. Baby Bash ft. Frankie J - Suga Suga
I may have gotten the artists wrong, but this song’s smooth melody and musical backdrop never gets old.

21. The Strokes - 12:51
A glowing video that serves this catchy rock song perfectly. The Cars tribute riff is almost too good to be true.

20. Pharrell ft. Jay-Z - Frontin'
Someday, Pharrell’s exasperating falsetto will be too much to take and we will chase him away with flaming pitchforks. But it will not be this day, with this lush R&B song. The Neptunes’ bridges are still the best in the biz.

19. Junior Senior - Move Your Feet
Our attention spans are so short, Junior Senior don’t even give us any verses. Bril

18. The Darkness - I Believe in a Thing Called Love
An orgasmic hair-metal rocker Def Leppard could have made in 1986, this throwback song somehow sounds better than all other modern rock songs on the radio. Mad props for the wild falsetto. Guitar!!

17. The Rapture - Sister Saviour
An absolutely sleazy disco beat lifted right out of the Seventies, this was one of the main reasons why Echoes was one of the best albums of the year. Their second amazing single after “House of Jealous Lovers”.

16. Wayne Wonder - No Letting Go
One-upping Lumidee’s terribly grating single in the dwali-novelty song department, it is Wonder’s smooth and vulnerable voice that pushes this song into keeper territory.

15. Missy Elliott - Pass That Dutch
Missy and Timbaland are so far ahead of the pack that their bridge in this song consists of a five second pause for us to catch our breath before they assault us again with the bhangra-beat and Musical Youth tribute. Relentless.

14. Blur - Out of Time
Remove the Anglo instruments from this song, and you have an aching, authentic Moroccan song played by an Appalusian orchestra. One of the most moving songs Blur has written.

13. Kelis - Milkshake
This tight minimalist digi-funk gem courtesy of the Neptunes was everything Madonna and Britney hoped their vapid excursions in the genre would be: sultry, sexy, amazing. Damn right.

12. Johnny Cash - Hurt
We lost legendary Cash when this song and its video were putting him back on the map. Turning Trent Reznor’s self-absorbed pity wail into a haunting elegy for a long life lived with death approaching, it suited Cash perfectly and he made it his own. Rest in peace.

11. Electric Six - Danger! High Voltage!
Powered by a Jack White cameo (uncredited, of course), this dancefloor bomber was hailed as single of the year way back in January. It truly is good enough to stick around and kick ass all year.

10. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
Both barrells blazing, this taster of Elephant contained the year’s most talked-about riff, and definitely a future classic. Was it guitar? Was it bass? Did we really care? When the song is this good, you just let it rock you. Bonus points for the trippy video.

9. Dizzee Rascal - I Luv U
Basically unheard of by many, this song was recorded when Dylan Mills was a mere 16 year old, rapping about teen pregnancy. The chorus is a truly sad, accusatory exchange between young lovers while a dead robot repeats the empty title over dizzying drum programming. Brutal.

8. Good Charlotte - Girls & Boys
A guilty pleasure. Good Charlotte stands against everything good in music, but this slice of retro 80s guitars, cheesy handclaps, and brilliant melody is undeniable.

7. Sean Paul - Get Busy
You can hate Sean Paul’s music, but this song will wear you down. Deceptively simple, but it’s so hypnotizing and catchy that you will be singing it by the end of the night and it will stick in your mind for weeks.

6. Justin Timberlake - Cry Me a River
The most convincing argument of Justin’s real genius: his choice in collaborators (in this case, Timbaland) leads to this wonder, the most hypnotically layered ballad in years. Bye to Britney, but it’s more like a bye bye bye to *NSync.

5. Coldplay - Clocks
All this song needs is a techno remix: the crystalline, shimmering piano line sounds lifted right out of a dance anthem, and Chris Martin’s voice is appropriately soothing. Sounds so perfect when juxtaposed to the new Peter Pan movie.

4. Justin Timberlake - Rock Your Body
The white younger relative of MJ’s “Rock With You”, the Neptunes deserve mad props for such a thick and inescapable groove, while Justin becomes your new favorite artist. Beatbox if you want, just watch your girl before JT whisks her away to the dancefloor.

3. 50 Cent - In Da Club
Everywhere like concrete, Dr. Dre’s empirically perfect beat was the perfect coming out party for Fiddy, the biggest (but by no means the best) rap artist of the year. Throw on the Kevlar and dance, it’s your birthday!

2. Beyonce ft. Jay-Z - Crazy In Love
Augmented by a blazing Chi-Lites horn sample, this was Ms. Knowles’ eternal summer smash and the precursor to every sweaty, heaving party. Even after months of overplay, it has never gotten stale.

1. OutKast- Hey Ya!/The Way You Move
This was the year of Outkast. Big Boi’s single was minimalist crunk with a buttery smooth chorus, while Andre’s masterpiece was the best thing the Beatles never made, a four-minute joyride that made you believe in the fun that music can be when done right.

The Worst of 2003

Remember this little blurb I attached to last year's singles list? Well, this year it has taken on a life of its own with disgusting events, songs, and albums in music this year. Please sit back and enjoy: if you find it too venomous, please tell me about it.

Dixies Chicked
"We are ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." A quote for the ages, and it set off a firestorm that saw the Dixie Chicks getting hell for standing behind the First Amendment. In an era when there is a largely pointless war happening for billions of dollars a week, people are surprised that Bush is getting painted as a warmongerer? So the same people who are using the First Amendment to support the war are the ones who bash the Dixie Chicks, who as American citizens have every right to oppose it? Can you spell HYPOCRITES? For Christ's sake, grow up, idiots.

Jewel - 0304
This completely inexplicable pop sellout from the former folk artist isn’t even worth wasting time on. Let’s just say I’m sure she had her reasons for doing this, whatever they were, and leave it at that. SUCK IT!

50 Cent
From massive hype comes massive sales. Yes, his album is on the best of list, but trust me: it’s all hype. An album full of decent beats and horribly mediocre lyrics, Fiddy rode the wave of Eminem’s stranglehold on pop culture and became the biggest seller of the year. His delivery is engaging in its slovenliness, but he is not the savior of rap as many claim: indeed, he is the antithesis of good rap. Then again, with how rap is these days, he is a phenomenon: when any schmuck with no talents with a good hook-up can drop an album and watch it go platinum over and over. Sure, he was big in 2003, but where will he be in 2005? The gutter where he came from, with more money. What a waste.

The sickness has arrived and promptly left. Technically I shouldn’t even bother paying attention to this garbage seeing as how they’re on nobody’s radar anymore anyways, but the disgustingness of this group deserves kudos. First off, the amazing move by the record company to market these B-grade uglies as a teenage boy’s ultimate musical fantasy: teen lesbians with the vocal range only dogs understand. The songs are frightening examples of horrible songwriting, as they consist of a chorus that isn’t even good to begin with, repeated until you’re ready to stab your ears with a Q-tip. Next, the videos are shot on such low budgets with such crappy premises that it makes them utterly laughable. Thespians they ain’t. I guess it’s mean spirited to make fun of these eager Russian bimbos who only half-blind boys would realize as complete rancidos: the corporate machine is really pushing it here by marketing two inncoent, though willing young girls as lesbian pop singers. Surprise, the album (whatever it was called) flopped and nobody cares anymore.

U2 - "The Hands That Built America"
I know, it’s a terrible day when U2 makes my worst-of list, but with a terrible song, anyone can make it. Trust me, this is coming from a big U2 fan, and is only a fan’s deserved expression of something a favorite artist makes that displeases him. This song displeases me. It reeks of formula, and when Bono himself admits it was written solely to win an Oscar, you’re glad Eminem took the award from them. I sure hope there’s nothing like this insincere and shallow song on their new album.

Michael Jackson
The fiasco grows. After a banner year in 2002 (and not for his music), Michael’s problems grew with the “Living with Michael Jackson” documentary, when Martin Bashear admittedly stepped out of line. However, the things Michael said dug his hole deeper. His second terrible year culminated in November (on my birthday, of all days) when he was arrested on charges of child molestation, 10 years after his first charge. I think it’s sad when the media hunts Michael in this way: I can’t deny that he is seriously messed up thanks to a lifetime of being adored then reviled, but he needs more help than ridicule, as I’ve stated last year.

If you've never heard of this idiot, don't feel bad: this guy is the biggest duschbag in the history of rap. The co-owner of the Source magazine, rap’s supposed Holy Grail which has fallen into irrelevance, he maintained a war with Eminem. He has maintained a tape made by a 16-year-old Marshall Mathers, when he was no more than a self-described stupid kid, venting his frustrations about a failed relationship with a black girl with minor racial rhymes, and has used it to attempt to raise his “career”. The only thing worse than his diss (“Pull Up Your Skirt”) to Eminem and his foul album Redemption is Eminem actually taking the bait and slaying Benzino in rhymes which make him believe he has any career at all. Fuck off, please.

Here he is, the lowest common denominator in rap, even more damaging than 50 Cent, only on a smaller scale. The whole regional slang novelty was cool three years ago when Nelly came out of nowhere (or, St.Louis) with his country grammar. This time, it’s unbearable. There are no words at all to explain how so many people could buy into this trash. I wonder why Holiday Inn hasn’t capitalized on his free adversiting for their hotel chain. Oh yeah, because it’s all about using them to have sex in the rooms. Hey, naked women and weed in his booklet and songs! How original. What spawn bred this beast is not of this world. Chingy hits the Jackpot of shitty music everyone should abhor and despise. Ahaha! I’m too good at this.

Liz Phair's sad attempt at commercial success
If it wasn’t so painful and shameful, I’d be laughing my sides open. The once-mighty non-conformist indie rocker Phair has traded in her sharp, witty lyrics for songwriting help from...the fucking Matrix! I’m all for good pop songs, but when it’s Liz Phair singing an absolutely ear-grating, hair-pulling tenth-rate Avril song (what’s it called? How Do I Breathe or something?), it just makes me sick. What’s even funnier is that this album flopped like a bellydiver. Goodbye commercial chances, goodbye crediblity. Nice to know ya.

Nickelback - The Long Road ft. Nu-Rock
Maybe I’ve been too harsh on Nickelback for too long. After all, they are undeniably good musicians, they know what they’re talking about and what they’re doing. What still puzzles me however, is why they waste their obvious talents on writing such sub-par, watered down grunge-lite shit like this. I guess they just cater to popular demand: after, we can never have too many of such similar bands who are completely indistinguishable from each other around to feed the culture’s desire to not be challenged at all. Boring music? Check. Inane lyrics? Check. Unchallenging disposable drivel? Double check. We can also mention recent albums by Staind (14 Shades of Gray for 14 lifeless, completely indistinguishable songs, there has never been a more fitting album title ever), Puddle of Shitt, or Godsmack, but they aren’t worth discussing. Not to mention bands like Three Days Grace, Forty Foot Echo, Default and the like, who aren’t even known outside of here. Probably best. We can corner the disease here and exterminate it.

Madonna's (unintentionally) hilarious year
The first sign of things going wrong was Madonna’s choice to pull her “edgy” video and make an unspeakably terrible and boring one in its wake. Things just went downhill from here. Arguably the first mistep in Madge’s esteemed career, American Life stinks like roadkill. As Peaches said about “Hollywood”: it’s a shitty song. This entire album is shitty. There’s absolutely nothing worthy to salvage from this wreck, and she better stop faux-dyking out if she wants to regain momentum. From then she starred in the abysmal Gap commercials with Missy Elliott (she must have taken some intense Ecstacy to agree to that blunder), and mulched her classic “Into the Groove” by inserting lyrics from “Hollywood” in it. I wonder why those cord jeans or whatever the hell they were selling never took off..... Her final stop, and the cherry (pardon the pun) on the cake, was trying to ruin Britney’s career by coming along for the MTV kiss and “Me Against the Music” ride. Oh wait, those were horrible and career-wrecking on their own? Nevermind. Actually, it might be better if she stuck to writing children’s books. I haven’t read them, but anything is better than the garbage she spewed for us this year.

Britney Spears - "Me Against the Music"
Ridiculous title, disgusting music. As far as career-breakers go, this song is surely the biggest pop music disaster of all time. That it came on the most embarassing pop CD of the year goes without saying: In The Zone is the biggest disaster in pop music, simply because of its massive scale of destruction. I’ve heard it once, and I’ve been scarred ever since. But back to the single. In trying to fit every single sound filler she has done throughout her “illustrious” career into a four minute Titanic (including those idiotic electronic fart vocals and some sickening “chic-a-tas!”), Britney has effectively killed her career in fell swoop. She even brought Madonna along for the ride: or rather, Madonna stupidly thought her faux-lesbian posturing would raise her own floundering year. Sorry ladies, leave it to Tatu. It’s hilarious to see Britney fall on her ass, especially after a year-long media war with Justin: while he makes genius pop music effortlessly, she tries to hard and falls even harder. Next stop? The pages of Playboy, trying to resurrect your dead career.

The Newlyweds + Bennifer
Follow the life of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey as they go through their first year of marriage together. Jessica is the biggest, dumbest blonde I have ever seen. Is it an act? Oh wait, nobody cares? I thought so. If their soap opera wasn't satisfying enough, Bennifer was the most satisfying story of the new decade. Sure, the intense media saturation was unbearable, but seeing the box office receipts for "Gigli" and the fallout from it was absolutely priceless.

Horrible sales
As the wave of dowloading continues, album sales are down. Thankfully, the music stores listened and lowered their prices on albums, which is perfect for music junkies like myself. However, the cycle of crap is all inter-connected: much of the music made this year sucked terribly, and so people aren’t buying. Because people aren’t buying, more and more albums that they ARE buying are being made by indistinguishable-sounding artists. It’s a horrible cycle and it got worse this year. Of course, what can you say about a year when dreck like Hilary Duff was number 1 while an infinitely more talented singer like Joss Stone was wallowing on the edge of obscurity. Just sickening. More points for Eminem? His stranglehold on pop culture is so intense that, even while taking a year off, he told us what to listen to. So almost seven million people bought Fiddy and made him rich. 2002’s best sellers were Eminem and his 8 Mile soundtrack. 2003’s was Eminem’s protege 50 Cent. 2004’s best seller? Eminem's new CD. He is the one artist keeping the industry alive lately.

The cycle of deaths are inevitable, and this year was no exception. We began horribly with the untimely death of Maurice Gibb of the legendary Bee Gees. Through the year we lost one of R&B’s most beloved singers, Barry White, and idiosyncratic rocker Warren Zevon, who winked at death until he passed. Torch singer Nina Simone and new-wave rocker Robert Palmer (of “Addicted to Love” fame) also passed away in 2003. The younger generation suffered a loss with sensitive singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, who killed himself with a knife wound to the chest. Arguably the biggest however, was country hero Johnny Cash, who for five decades has been making incomparable music to last throughout the age. The only consolation is that he is together again with his long-time wife, country singer June Carter Cash, who predeceased him in May. Rest in peace, thank you all for the music.

Linkin Park - Meteora
Not necessarily a bad album, but they haven’t strayed from their formula whatsoever. Slap Hybrid Theory’s cover on it, call it HTII and watch it sell another 8 million copies. An almost exact carbon copy of their best-selling debut, this really shows off how much breadth this band really has: it’s as though they hang out behind high school girls’ locker-rooms and write what they hear, the girls’ complaints into music. Hey, I wonder if that’s where they hang out with Evanscence. I can see them sitting in candlelit rooms, drinking Merlot, reading free-form poetry to one another and feeding off each others’ miseries like parasites. When you had the biggest selling album of the year in 2001 (and fourth-biggest of 2003), I’m sure you can’t whine about not being popular. You have some potential, try something different, dammit!

The Obsession with "Idols"
The glorified karaoke machine called American Idol continued its yearly domination. Didn't I predict it last year? The top two from both year released their albums this year, and all (Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard) save that fudgepacker from the first year, whatsisname, you know...debuted at number 1. Funnier still is, that fudgepacker was dropped from his record label! I forgot his name, but I haven't forgotten his face. Wait, yes I have. The Idolism expanded into Canada where the country was held captive. In the end, that guy won. What's his name? I forgot too. Damn you Simon Fuller, you'll pay in hell for this abomination.

Let the Slaugher begin!! From here to the end, these are the very worst music offered to us in 2003.

The MTV Music Video Awards
They have always been the breeding ground of disgusting images and deliciously bashable moments. This year, it was no different. In fact, there was almost nothing of value to redeem, save for Coldplay’s performance. It began with a horribly contrived attempt at newsmaking (it succeeded, but for all the wrong reasons): the lesbian threesome from hell of Christina, Madonna, and Britney. You can be forgiven for having no idea what the hell they were singing. It culminated with some tongue-on-tongue action between Madonna and her descendents, old enough to be her daughters. As if that abomination wasn’t bad enough, they actually claimed to have invented the process, as if girl-on-girl action never existed before them. After almost two hours of sheer tedium (save Jack Black’s parody of MJ), in came Metallica to end the show on a corporate high: play some of MTV’s biggest hits in your own unique metal way with tin drums! In the process, they desecrated “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Seven Nation Army” and “Beat It” amongst other, before closing the show with their own future classic called “Disgustingly Horrible Song” or something like that. I’m willing to bet they’re still fisting the money they got from that despicable act of selling out. Sometimes, music just pisses me right off.

Black Eyed Peas - "Where Is the Love?"
I may be part of the problem the Black Eyed Peas sing about in this simpering, puppy-eyed piece of shit calling for love and harmony. Nevertheless, whenever this song comes on the radio, I either switch the station right away, or listen to it with mounting rage until I backhand the next fucker I see. “The biggest issue with "Where is the Love" is that, while it obviously tries to "educate," it says absolutely nothing. Its sub-Hallmark insights into war, the media, and naturally, racism are so painfully vague and worthlessly trite you might wonder if they were taken from a 5th grade poetry jam. Seriously: did a time exist when there weren't "people killin'" and "people dyin'"?” Thank you Ryan Schreiber of Pitchforkmedia, for putting it so elegantly! You are a true legend.

Metallica - St. Anger
It must have been a horrible year if this eagerly awaited album, which I have been waiting to slay since early December is actually the third-worst thing in music. So we have some Primo shit coming up. How I have waited for this day...My immediate reaction upon listening to this album? Anger! No wonder they named it "St. Anger", it's a pretentious title for a pretentious album by a hugely pretentious band. Any artist who think they can make their fans wait six years (especially after a mediocre album) before unloading this drivel on them should be stripped of their "artist" rank and sent away to wallow in obscurity. This album reeks like wet garbage on a hot July day: the stench is indescribable and the further you are away from it, the better. Aurally, it is a barbed-wire towel rubbing your eardrums raw and pounding your already furious brain into a bloody pulp. Whatever melody, whatever guitar/vocal skill, whatever meaningful lyrics they have EVER done in the past is officially forfeit with this 75-minute exercise in crudity and treason. With every song in C-drop, no guitar solos, and absolutely no melodies, this album sounds more like a bloated Slipknot with a much worse singer than the ferocious, precise Metallica of "Master of Puppets." Sitting through this album is like drowning in mud and pity for this once-mighty band. After Jason Newstead left, the Napster fiasco, Hetfield's rehab, and considering their last two album were the dreck of "Load"/"Reload" expectations were high that maybe Metallica might make a decent album this time around: surprise! Absolute garbage. How the mighty have fallen!

Limp Bizkit - Result May Vary
I think we are all in "agreeance" that this is a big, steaming, discolored piece of shit. Contrary to the title, the results didn’t vary. This album is all-out, without-a-doubt putrid. I could max out the thesaurus, trying to find an adjective harsh and effective enough to describe the villainy contained on this disc, but it’s impossible. Face it, an album with the original title of Panty Sniffer (which was actually scrapped in its entirety when the record company, thankfully, said it was an unreleasable piece of shit), an unfathomably horrible first single, and an even MORE unfathomably horrifying cover of “Behind Blue Eyes” will never, EVER be good. The Who must have been running low on cash to let their classic be desecrated in such sickening fashion. Perhaps the facts speak better to describe Limp Bizkit and Fred Durst’s wacky year: the Big Day Out fiasco which still dogged them. A long roster of A-list celebrity relationships that existed in his mind. A failed audition for a new guitarist that led to Durst begging Wes Borland to come back. Abysmal reviews and appropriate sales for this filth. It’s high time he stopped wasted my time and left already.

And the very worst in music this year? The band that made me want to stab myself in the heart and slice my throat wide open (or else go on a murderous killing spree)? Drumroll please...

Oh, please kill me. Surely one of the biggest bands of the year would be the worst. This year, that statement was amplified tenfold with this absymal band. Sure, the girl can sing, but the whole thing reeks of sickening corporate manipulation and formula. It’s all so typical, and has been seen so so often. The whole shtick just gets tiring. The sensitive, angry teen diary lyrics; the artsy pained screaming and bellowing; the generic sludgy guitar riffing. What about their videos? Horrible concepts, for sure, but none as much as "My Immortal": cue the black-and-white, the weepy girl suffering from painful memories. Pass the Kleenex please. How many high school yearbooks and diaries are adorned with lyrics from this band’s poison pen? Are we depressed yet? The nightmare is only starting. How about them racking up almost four million in sales throughout the year? How about their backstabbing of the original Christian rock foundation they were built upon? How about the hilariously prissy reaction to the guitarist realizing the band is terrible and leaving the in the midst of their huge tour? Sure, it’s pretty cold-hearted, but no less than the music. There’s no amount of bashing I could lay out on this band for the depressing, formulaic, grating, sickening garbage they heaped on the radio in the past twelve months. Wake me up inside? No no, shoot me in the head. If this is the music that is selling the most copies, we are living in a truly sad, pathetic world. And please, don't resort to calling ME a "sad, pathetic" person for hating Evanescence, you don't realize how generic and predictable that would be.

So there you have it folks: another year, another set of great albums and songs, coupled with horrible things in music. Did you enjoy this list? I sure did. Let me know what you thought about it. Have a great 2004 and let's hope for some goodies this year. See ya in January 2005.