Hear + now Downloads
Thank you Jackie!
2005 became download culture's year zero, as
MP3 blogs sprung up quicker than an Internet virus, and iTunes
forced your local record store to shut its doors. It's not too late
to jump on board -- here are the tracks that deserve to be on
everyone's portable player.
The Killers -- Mr. Brightside
The other three guys in the band put their shoulders behind Brandon
Flowers' theatrics (what have Robert Smith & Michael Stipe
wrought?), and gave his paranoid wailings a mounting beat that was
impossible to resist.
Amerie -- 1 Thing
Hear the drummer get wicked. Amerie coos and simmers in all the
right places, but this club-banger's secret weapon was an
astonishing percussion break concocted by producer Rich Harrison.
Madonna -- Hung Up
Most of the heavy lifting was done by that ABBA sample, but Madge's
return was an undeniably catchy piece of telephone pop. This year's
The Strokes -- Juicebox
The band most likely to return with a single that negated the notion
of "comeback" -- all Peter Gunn bass throb and guitars set to
explode into a metal frenzy. 2006 could well be theirs.
Missy Elliott -- Lose Control
Missy dove back into the record bins, and pulled out Kraftwerk's
"Home Computer." Leave it to she and her cohorts Ciara and Fatman
Scoop to put plenty of old school oomph into the digital landscape.
The White Stripes -- My Doorbell
Jack White went all Robert Plant on Get Behind Me Satan's swaggering
highlight -- and there wasn't a gee-tar to be heard anywhere.
R. Kelly -- Trapped in the Closet
Like the Harry Potter series, you couldn't wait for the next
installment. Playing all the characters himself in an endless
musical soap opera, the man who put the R. in R & B also wrote the
last word in infidelity noir.
Rihanna -- Pon de Replay
Jay-Z's latest protégée is a sexy teen from Barbados. Thumping in
all right the places, "Replay" ruled the summer -- and seems
destined to become a block party staple.
Stars -- Ageless Beauty
Graying pop fans summoned up the name of alt.rock queens like Belly,
Lush and Throwing Muses, but this propulsive post-shoegazing ditty
marked the Montreal band as ones to watch.
Faith Evans -- Mesmerized
Rootsy albums by Faith, Leela James and Jaguar Wright's made it a
very good year for the rare groove set. Evans' bite of George
Benson's "Footin' It" is no doubt No. 1 in a very funky alternate
Queens of the Stone Age -- In My Head
Working outside of any movement, the Queens are America's most
underrated rock band. This charging riff-fest finds boss Josh Homme
try to shake a lover's memory while guitars pound like a bad
Kanye West -- Crack Music
If you agreed with Kanye's infamous George Bush quote, you're
probably down with this ominous manifesto - it equates African
Americans' lack of career options with sidewalk hustling and
Billboard chart-topping. One of the year's most eloquent screeds.
Pussycat Dolls -- Don't Cha
Guest Busta Rhymes says he makes the ladies sizzle "like a
summertime cook-out." But this L.A. burlesque troupe looked pretty
good by themselves. Over a steamy groove they issued a powerful
query to unsatisfied men everywhere: "Don't cha wish yrrr girlfriend
was hot like me?"
Ol' Dirty Bastard -- Don't Go Breaking My Heart
Big Baby Jesus' last stand was inspired lunacy -- a cover of the old
Elton John/Kiki Dee duet with Macy Gray. Of course, this being ODB,
most of what he actually says was unprintable on a family web site.
Natasha Bedingfield -- These Words (I Love You, I Love You)
The British singer's guileless vocals and synth blasts made this a
classic piece of naïve pop in the mold of "Walking on Sunshine." Put
your cynicism aside and let it land a smile on your face.
nt50 Ce -- Just a Little Bit
Mr. One Track Mind reduces sex and seduction into a "fold flap A
into slot B" kinda lyric at the start of the track; it kinda sounds
like he's reading from a how-to manual. But he does throw in some
saucy inflections. The ersatz Middle Eastern lick that drives the
dirty talk makes a sleek backdrop for unbuttoning pants, pulling
down undies, and having a taste of whatever he finds...just a little
Devendra Banhart -- I Feel Just Like a Child
The mysterious California songwriter got in touch with his inner
boogaloo, putting on a sexy leer and making like an easy rider on
this infectious rave-up from his Cripple Crow album.
Foo Fighters -- DOA
It may or may not be a tribute to the venerable Vancouver punk band,
but with all the guitars blazing and a larynx-shredding vocal, Dave
Grohl's command of pop-rock was undeniable.
Kelly Clarkson -- "Since You've Been Gone (Jason Nevins remix)"
One of the year's biggest radio hit got a face lift with a
thumpadelic remix that made it sound like U2, Kylie Minogue and
Avril Lavigne partying at the same club. Hey, isn't that Cher over
there? Thought she retired...
Arctic Monkeys -- I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor
MySpace shot this rock band straight to No. 1 in the U.K. Too
thuggish to be the next Franz Ferdinand, their earthy appreciation
of the sweaty nightclub rituals thwarted every hipster who got too
The Go! Team -- Huddle Formation
The latest U.K. buzz band sound like they're driving a concrete
mixer through their record collections, and this cut from their
Thunder, Lightning, Strike debut is as thrilling as a cut bungee
Annie -- Chewing Gum
The Norwegian club kid makes dance pop that's smarter than it needs
to be. Her arch put-down of a dumb boyfriend came with a bubbly
"Genius of Love" groove that was anything but disposable.
M.I.A. -- Bucky Done Gun
Hollaback, girl! The Sri Lankan-by-way-of-London art school
ragamuffin made internet waves courtesy of some bizarre marching
band fanfares and a dead-on tech assault.
Akon -- Lonely
The Atlanta warbler took a page from Kanye's book, messing with a
Bobby Vinton sample to power a lilting lullaby the Fugees would have
been proud of.
Rilo Kiley -- Portions for Foxes
"And the talkin' leads to touchin'/ and the touchin' leads to sex
..." Power pop never sounded so good, thanks to Jenny Lewis'
vulnerable vocals and guitars that seemed to explode from the
Gwen Stefani -- Hollaback Girl
We've saw kids jumping rope to it, couples making out to it, and
dudes running red lights to it. Who'd have thought that listening to
Gwen spell b-a-n-a-n-a-s over trombone synths and Queen shout-outs
would generate the chant of the year?