Sunday, October 18, 2009


One of my favorite songs of the '00s was never released as a single. In fact, it never appeared on an album, and as far as I know, you can't buy it anywhere. I first heard it last year in a Warner Channel promo for the short-lived Anne Heche series Men In Trees. I knew neither the name of the song nor the singer, so I did a Google search for "Men In Trees Warner Channel promo song." I wasn't alone because there were a number of message boards with people as desperate as I was to track down the song. Finally, I found what I was looking for: "All For Love" by Chip Jenkins. I don't understand why a label or Chip herself never tried to cash in on what was obviously widespread interest in the gorgeous love song. But rather than extolling its myriad virtues, I will let you listen for yourself.

And the countdown continues....

50. Zero 7 "In The Waiting Line" (2001)
The best thing about that horrifying movie Garden State (notwithstanding Jean Smart and Peter Sarsgaard's mother-son) was hearing this delicate beauty on the soundtrack. I saw the movie on a date in 2004, and the song stayed with me far longer than the movie -- or the guy, for that matter. It's so light, so airy, so ethereal that it sounds like it's on the verge of drifting off and floating away.

49. The Hives "Supply And Demand" (2001)
A temper tantrum set to music. During the chorus I could swear I hear Pelle Almqvist's spit hitting the microphone. I was in the audience at the MTV VMAs in 2003 when Sweden's the Hives (kicking out the jam "Main Offender") had a battle of the garage bands with Australia's the Vines (rocking through "Get Free"). My money was on the Hives, all primitive, primal, and pure musical catharsis.

48. Kina "Girl From The Gutter" (2002)
"Karma's gonna visit you, too. You're gonna pay for the things you put me through." More rage set to music. When black chicks rock (that is, black chicks not named Tina Turner), radio programmers get confused, and poor Kina fell victim to their hip-hop expectations. Everyone's loss.

47. Erykah Badu "Danger" (2003)
I've got to be honest: Her stunning beauty aside, I never really got Erykah Badu. The strange head wraps, the crazy hair, the oddly named children, songs that sound like they just took a long deep bong hit. Though she's the most exciting of the so-called neo-soul generation of the late '90s/early '00s (which would also include Jill Scott. India.Aire, Maxwell, Musiq and Bilal), her albums are middle-of-the-road snoozefests, Norah Jones relocated to the ghetto. But give her a beat, a muscular kick-ass groove, and she rides it for all it's worth. She's in love with a bad boy, and we can all relate. "Block on lock the trunk stay locked glock on cock the block stay hot." I don't know what the hell it means, but damn, she sounds fierce singing it.

46. Kasabian "Empire" (2006)
Maybe it's the video, which might possibly be the most shockingly violent one I've ever seen, but to me, this song, the best of Kasabian, has always sounded like a battle cry, a call to arms. (Ironically, though, it's a call to lay them down.) While it doesn't quite persuade me to be willing to die for the cause -- any cause -- it makes me want to jump and shout and dance around the room like a half-crazy person.

45. Lumidee "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)" (2003)
The most memorable moment of my brother's wedding five and a half years ago -- aside from my surprising lack of stage fright while giving my best-man speech -- was when the entire congregation began doing an impressive line dance to this one-hit-wonder hit. Skip the version featuring unnecessary raps from Busta Rhymes and Fabolous as well as the various remixes that lose the stripped-down essence of the song, and go straight to the original, which is practically a capella except for an unstoppable clapping beat. Uh Oooh, poor Lumidee never came close to living up to her debut album title (Almost Famous), but at 25, she's still got time to pull another rabbit out of her hat of musical tricks.

44. Depeche Mode "A Pain That I'm Used To" (Jacques Lu Cont Remix) (2005)
One of the best -- and most relatable -- opening couplets of all time: "I'm not sure what I'm looking for anymore/I just know that I'm harder to conso-o-o-ole." The original is stunning in it's own right, but it's the remix by Stuart Price (posted below), the producer of Madonna's Confessions On A Dancefloor, also known as Thin White Duke, among other assorted pseudonyms, that really puts it over the top. He worked similarly fabled reconstruction magic for the Killers' "Mr. Brightside, Coldplay's "Talk" and Madonna's "Hollywood," but this remains his best achievement in remixing. He took a fantastic song and made it legendary, second only to "Barrel Of A Gun" in DM's impressive canon.

43. Sugababes "Stronger" (2002)
A song I first heard lying in bed, watching MTV at St. Martin's Lane in London, it really kicked off my near decade-long love affair with Sugababes. A hymn about self-reliance, the message -- love yourself, to thine own self be true -- is pretty standard, but it's all about the execution. I love the dichotomy of the ultimately uplifting message and the sad, melancholy music. It's inspiration in a minor key. There's even something vaguely sad about the way the dancing girls move in the video. Next to perhaps Kylie Minogue and Madonna, Sugababes produced more stellar pop singles this decade than anyone -- from "Shape" to "Push The Button" to "Red Dress" to "Girls" -- but this is the one I keep going back to.

42. The Black Eyed Peas "Boom Boom Pow" (2009)
I'm going to go out on a limb here: Never in the history of recorded music has an act followed such a spectacular single (this one) with such utter drivel ("I Gotta Feeling"). It's got to be the second-oddest No. 1 ever, after Prince's "Batdance." Musically, there is so much going on that I don't even know where to begin. Every time I hear it, something new pops out at me. I don't know what I like more, the complex electro production, Fergie's sly intro and outro raps (both identical), that the song has absolutely no chorus to speak of, or that the actual refrain is "Boom boom boom." It all adds up the the Black Eyed Peas's crowning musical achievement. Attempting to top it probably would be an exercise in futility, and after listening to The E.N.D., I don't think they even tried.

41. Colplay "Viva La Vida" (2008)
For a moment last year, I could neither listen to nor talk about anything else. Read all about it here.

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