Monday, September 21, 2009


And the countdown continues...

90. Pete Doherty "Last Of The English Roses" (2009)
The performance is bit of a mess, and that's the beauty of it. As the music twists and turns in the background, snaking in and out of focus, Peter sounds like he's emerging from the bender of the century. I already raved about this one in a previous post, so you can check out the video here. The boy-on-boy kiss at the end is still a thrill.

89. Lisa Marie Presley "Lights Out" (2003)
Either you were skeptical from the get go, or your Lisa Marie expectations were unreasonably high because the daughter of Elvis Presley was supposed to walk on water -- or at least sing on it. No, it's not the second coming, but most new artists would kill to deliver a first single that's so confident and well seasoned. She certainly took look enough to cook it up -- it seemed to be in the works for at least a decade or two. The end result: a little bit Cher, a little bit Sheryl Crow and a little bit Bonnie Raitt. Lisa Marie probably will never perfect that brilliant recipe again.

Watch and listen

88. Ryan Adams/Tim McGraw "When Stars Go Blue" (2001/2006)
Ryan's public persona annoys me a little, and I don't understand how someone could deride Bryan Adams's musical ability and yet marry Mandy Moore, but there's no denying the delicate beauty of this, perhaps his best known composition. Not even Tim McGraw's twangification of the song, which resulted in a 2006 country hit, could screw it up. In fact, it's Tim's best single ever and almost as good as the original.

87. James Blunt "1973" (2007)
Ah, the art of melancholy. James perhaps always will be best known for the massive "You're Beautiful," but I prefer this single, with its mournful vocal and sad lilting dance beat. Musically, it recalls the year of its title while managing to completely avoid sounding anachronistic in the late '00s. How James pulled that one off continues to confound and astound me.

86. LeAnn Rimes "Nothin' 'Bout Love Makes Sense" (2004)
Throughout her wildly uneven and confusing career (a country album here, a collection of inspirational songs there, a pop collection that went nowhere), LeAnn has had a few truly standout moments, most notably her UK No. 1, "Can't Fight The Moonlight." Here, the straightforward tone and her unfussy delivery make this her best country release since "Blue" -- if not ever.

85. Dizzee Rascal "Dream" (2004)
As rap-as-nursery rhymes go, "Dream" is just as inventive as Jay-Z's "Hard Knocks Life." And the British rapper gives it an extra dose of special by accentuating his accent, which he actually does on all of his records. I prefer this to the dance tracks that recently have brought him three straight No. 1s in the UK. What did Oscar Wilde say? "Popularity is the crown of laurel which the world puts on bad art"? Well, sometimes.

84. Lina "Playa No More" (2001)
According to Lina, she presented her hip hop-big band amalgam to producer Dallas Austin, who for some reason or other rejected it but nonetheless ended up doing something similar with Blu Cantrell. Blu's "Hit 'em Up Style (Oops!)" may have ended up being the big mainstream hit, but this was the real creative triumph.


83. Franz Ferdinand "Take Me Out" (2004)
The '00s best retro '80s single this side of The Killers. I almost included their 2005 hit "Do You Want To" instead, but after giving this another listen, I realized that musically, lyrically and vocally this is the superior song -- the ultimate kick-out-the-jams-motherfucker concert opener, or party starter, or whatever. And it stops just short of banging you over the head with an insistent-almost-to-the-point-of-annoying hook.

82. Paul Van Dyk Ft. Saint Etienne "Tell Me Why (The Riddle)" (2000)
You better sit down, kids. Or on second thought, just dance. This, boys and girls, is trance done flawlessly and memorably -- the perfect antidote to the faceless, monotonous boop-boop-booping techno that dominates dance floors all over the world. As an added bonus, DJ Paul brought in the trio that produced some of the greatest singles of the '90s to spice up the proceedings.

81. Goldfrapp "Ooh La La" (2005)
Alison Goldfrapp didn't score any bonus points with me for dismissing Rachel Steven's slightly similar 2004 electropop single "Some Girls" as "very bland" (stay tuned for more on Rachel), but there is no denying that this song is anything but. Its mix of electropop and glam rock sounds like the resurrection of T. Rex fronted by a beautiful blonde. I always thought Alison looked a lot like Madonna in the video and wished that Madonna would have done something like this first.

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