2001's Best Singles
This was the year we got some kickass shit on the radio, no doubt about it. We were able to do anything: we got our freak on, we went fallin, we discovered J-Lo was real, we used dribble the shizzle down the nizzle somewhere and and just plain got down. But what did we get down to? Let me take you on a trip down memory lane...not in a concrete order. Only the top 10 are really solid. Anything else: anything goes. And nothing is over until it's over.
U2 - "Elevation (Tomb Raider Mix)"
A particularily hard-rocking song made even more hardrocking by a remix worthy of its name. U2 aren't known for making such heavy songs, but its satisfying when they do.
OutKast - "The Whole World"
When hip-hop is becoming borderline repetitive, stale and altogether shitty, you can always count on OutKast to throw a ball out of outer space. This time revamping their sound with vaudeville-style beats and a great chorus (not to mention an eye-popping video), they live up to their billing of being so fresh and so clean.
Macy Gray - "Sweet Baby"
In this smoldering, 70's style ballad that Elton John would kill to call his own, the otherworldly Ms. Gray manages to outshine the laviscious Erykah Badu. Talk about a voice...
De La Soul - "Baby Phat"
An exquisitely bouncy, heart-felt declaration of their love for full-bodied women, the finest since Sir Mix-a-Lot announced his appreciation for big asses. Compliment their size indeed!
Enya - "Only Time", "Aniron"
The first was the song we used to heal ourselves after September 11, and the second was beautifully used in the most gorgeous and moving part of the "Lord of the Rings" movie. Splendid tracks.
P.Diddy - "Bad Boy 4 Life"
Pappa Diddy, or P-Dawg or whatever the fuck he's calling himself now made one of the best rap songs of the year. And he did it without sampling an eternal golden oldie! We ain't goin' nowhere, we can't be stopped now, cuz it's bad boy for life! Talk about defiance.
Destiny's Child - "Survivor"
Strange how they keep singing of material things when they're asserting their independence...Nevertheless, they do mention being strong and whatnot in this song, a big change from their materialistic "Independent Women" romp.
Enrique Iglesias - "Hero"
Corny, yes. But it seemed to make sense after September 11, not to mention when you're in love.
White Stripes - "Fell in Love With a Girl"
I dunno if it was a single, but I sure like it. Proto-punk with killer, just-in-tune vocals and snarly attitude from these next music Gods. I never thought I could enjoy raw rock again.
Eve ft. Gwen Stefani - "Let Me Blow Ya Mind"
The Doctor regained his Midas touch this year with three kiler tracks, including this one from Philly's Ruff Ryder chick and newly minted Sidekick of the Year. I would suggest you just let her do it before the beat tramples ya.
Sum 41 - "Fat Lip"
One of the greatest songs to come from Canada ever, this is a skater's dream song: ups and downs, mood shifts and some plain ass kicking dynamics coupled with mad teenage lyrics. What an adrenaline rush!
Bran Van 3000 - "Astounded"
Dashing together classic disco strings and a haunting (considering he's dead) vocal sample from the late, great Curtis Mayfield, these Frenchies made our country look sexy
Craig David - "7 Days"
Say hello to the future of R&B, a MackDaddy 1500 who can go from meeting a girl to shagging her in two days flat. Respect.
Gorillaz - "Clint Eastwood"
The "feelgood" hit of the year (you gotta know the lyrics to appreciate the pun).
Destiny's Child - "Bootylicious"
Holy shit, we were NOT ready for that jelly.
Daft Punk - "Digital Love"
Old-skool disco, body-popping electro, techno-flash poodle-metal and sun-kissed synth-pop squeezed into such a brilliant dance song, you forget how ridiculous you sound trying to duplicate a Vocoder.
Mary J. Blige - "Family Affair" / Busta Rhymes - "Break Yo Neck"
Two fat beats produced by Dr Dre, one invited you to enjoy yourself and get your ass on the dancefloor, while the other told you to break your neck. Touche.
Pink - "Get This Party Started"
A prime example of how to use every "let's-go-party-Mr.DJ-play-it-again" cliche in the book and still make a killer pop song.
Alien Ant Farm - "Smooth Criminal"
Welcome to one-hit-wonder-ville, boys! Admirable and hilarious as your cover of this MJ song is, keep your shoes on; you won't be here too long.
Squarepusher - "My Red Hot Car"
*psssst. He’s really saying “cock”* Is Squarepusher having a seizure near the middle? 10 points to the first person who E-mails me the different genres of dance he squeezed into those 73 seconds.
Andrew WK - "Party Hard"
A glorious return from the original headbangers: an endless barrage of chest-thumping cock rock that seems to exist almost of the word "party." Who'da thought Van Halen still had it in them? Wait a minute....this isn't Van Halen??
The Strokes - "The Modern Age EP"
A fitting intro to this band's unique (well, not REALLY unique) sound: three songs as sharp and cool as the Strokes themselves. The EP that started it all, dripping with a cockiness only seasoned veterans and naive youngsters possess.
Garbage - "Androgyny"
A strange, yet intoxicating song that got better with every listen. Kudos for not changing the dynamic as extremely as is expected in the chorus.
The Ladies of Moulin Rogue - "Lady Marmalade"
If not the crappiest cover of this immortal dance tune, then not the most disturbing video of the year. I never knew Marilyn Manson could sing like Christina...
Radiohead - "Pyramid Song"
Not really a single, but still the most haunting song you were likely to hear on the radio. Wonky time signature, ghostly vocals wrapped around sad lyrics and a close return to their old sound. Not everyday something on the radio could make you cry.
Linkin Park - "In The End"
Yes, the cheap rhyming talk wasn't cool. But in terms of pained lyricism, you couldn't go wrong with this bedroom weepie from L.Park. If you felt like slitting your wrists this year, this song was the one to do it to.
Lenny Kravitz - "Dig In"
...and bless Mr. Lenny for keeping us entertained with his unique blend of generic, big-hook rock that now sounds like his own. In spite of all criticism he’s shamelessly knocking Sly, the Who, Led Zep and Jimi, he’s still a sexy man with a sexy guitar and a sexy ear for sexy hooks.
Usher - "U Remind Me"
A summer anthem if there ever was one. However, I prefer the video version with the dance break. Those “whoops” or whatever they are in the background: blow my mind. Mad love.
Staind - "It's Been Awhile"
I hate you, mommy. I hate you, daddy. I hate myself. But I will carry on.
D12 - "Purple Pills"
We coulda used an Eminem CD this year. We were stuck with this. No problems! Stupid, juvenile and hilarious. Bless that Mr. Eminem. Drugs kill (yeah, right). Bitch I’m for real!
Aaliyah - "We Need a Resolution"
Already stunning before her untimely and unfair passing, this is another example of Timbaland’s massive geniusness. Tablas, snaky violins, no fuckin’ bass! Coupled with her maturing voice, this was one hell of a song. They made a wrecker of a musical pairing, and she’ll be most sorely missed.
Dream - "He Loves U Not"
Something about this song grabbed by imagination. I thought it was a Robyn proto-type: a bitter girl, being invaded by TurboSlut 9000 and this being her defiant, self-penned song to the bitch. Then I found out it was four white girls put together by Puffy. What a gyp. And what a song!
The Smashing Pumpkins - "Untitled"
Released in February over the Net as the final song the Pumpkins ever recorded and included on their greatest hits package, this is the song that makes you realize what we lost when Billy called it a day with the band: a glorious, boombastic, heartwrenching goodbye for all those people who held their music near them in that tumoltuous decade, brought down to rest with a final searing guitar solo. I for one, loved their music. Everything they said seemed to ring so true in the last golden days of both elementary and junior high, the bittersweet letting-go of my youth. I couldn’d trade my battered copy of “Mellon Collie” for anything. Goodbye Pumpkins: you’ll be missed more than your recent album sales will ever let you know.
10. Jay-Z - "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"
Is that MJ I hear in the background? The main competitor to Head-Nodder of the Year with “I’m Real”. He who does not feel him does not exist. How true.
9. Janet - "Someone to Call My Lover"
A bright, gorgeous, breezy nugget of a pop song. So sad that rapist JD had to ruin it with a bulky, overweight remix.
8. Britney Spears - "I'm a Slave 4 U"
Have you ever heard “Britney”, “vaguely interesting” and “single” together in one unified sentence? Me neither! Thank über-producers the Neptunes for that one.
7. U2 - "Walk On"
It was already a heart-warming anthem that took on special new significance in the wake of September 11. U2 have always been about streght and definace, and in the aftermath of that horrible day, we needed this song to lift our spirits and give us the strength to walk on.
6. Craig David - "Fill Me In"
Yeah, I can fill you in. You’re young, hot, rich, talented and acclaimed. You, sir, are the devil.
5. Weezer - "Hash Pipe", "Island in the Sun"
This song was by Weezer? Well, the harmonies, okay. Crunchy guitars, I guess so. But such weird lyrics. Transvestite hooker with a hash pipe? Now I've heard it all. Thankfully, second single was even better; a crisp, breezy pop gem with a sense of lost innocence. Gorgeous stuff.
4. *NSync - "Pop"
How did this pop life start? And what’s the deal with it? First time you heard it, you thought it was unorganized trash; wild, out-of-control and suicidal (at least commercially). You’re tired of singing?? Quit your bellyachin’, JT and get onto it. But now, we’re all hailing the new Kings of Pop. Let the reign begin to fall.
3. J.Lo ft. Ja Rule - "I'm Real (Murder Remix)
Aside from having the best opening 4 seconds of a song this year, this was the ultimate crossover song of the past year, if not the past 5: undeniable (and unforseen) chemistry between the gruff rap of the Rule and J. Lo’s velvet, if not a little weak, voice; and an unforgiving, neck-hurtin’ beat, laid back like a bed. If you didn’t blow your stereo to this song this year, you did not live.
2. Alicia Keys - "Fallin'"
I keep on fallin’ in and out of love with this song. Overplayed, and yet still heartbreaking. Surely the finest and most subtle cross-hybridization of two genres in a while. And she’s only 20...wow.
1. Missy Elliott - "Get UR Freak On"
Either Missy Elliott was really, really high when she did this, or her and Timbaland are fucking geniuses. Traditional Indian percussion, 24th century hip-hop, hotter than the fires of hell. We have a winner for shamless creativity and sultry sexiness. My loins are still aching...