Who listens to albums anymore?
Yes, this year marks the dominance of the downloaded single — both the legal and the, uh, sorta legal (in Canada anyway).
It's also the year when portable MP3 players became the listening device of choice. From lighter-sized flash players to the trendy iPod, it looks as if music fans now see music as nothing more than data, ready to be transferred from device-to-device.
But in the end, the move towards singles is all about forgoing album filler and heading straight for the killer cuts.
Here's our top 10 picks for the best singles of the year — if you disagree (and we hope you do), just e-mail us your list and we might print it in the second issue of Popjournalism.
10. MICHAEL GRAY, “THE WEEKEND”
The Hook:"I can't wait for the weekend to begin"
Why We Love It: Gray is one-half of the remix and production team Full Intention and he delivers an irresistible can't-wait-for-the-weekend dance anthem. It'll make you wish it were Friday everyday of the week.
9. FAITHLESS, “MASS DESTRUCTION”
The Hook: "Whether long range weapon or suicide bomber/Wicked mind is a weapon of mass destruction"
Why We Love It: Political commentary from dance legends Faithless struck a timely chord in the summer of ’04. Of course, the tune’s massive, too.
8. ALANIS MORISSETTE, “EIGHT EASY STEPS”
The Hook: "I'll teach you all this in eight easy steps/A course of a lifetime you'll never forget
Why We Love It: Why wasn't Alanis big news this year? Her album So-Called Chaos was a welcome return to form, which went mostly ignored by listeners. This breezily hard-rocking single is the best cut from the album that should've been Morissette's comeback.
7. MYLO, “DROP THE PRESSURE”
The Hook: "Motherf–ker's gonna drop the pressure"
Why We Love It: An obscene lyric that's repeated over a minimalist electronic funk groove created by a Scottish lad named Myles MacInnes. It shouldn't work as well as it does, but it's undeniably catchy.
6. USHER feat. LIL' JON & LUDACRIS, “YEAH!”
The Hook: "Yeah, yeah, shorty got down to come and get me/Yeah, yeah, I got so caught up I forgot she told me"
Why We Love It: You couldn't avoid this song. It was on MuchMusic, in the clubs, in the malls, on the radio, on Oprah… That means it must be good, right?
5. BRITNEY SPEARS, “Toxic”
The Hook: "With a taste of your lips/ I’m on a ride/You’re toxic/ I’m slipping under"
Why We Love It: Technically, we really hate Britney, but we couldn't hate this song. It's punchy and vibrant guitar loops and lazy R&B groove equalled pop perfection. Of course, Brit didn't write it, but British songwriter Cathy Dennis did. Oh how we love Cathy Dennis, let us count the ways…
4. THE KILLERS, “SOMEBODY TOLD ME”
The Hook: "Somebody told me/ You had a boyfriend/Who looks like a girlfriend/That I had in February of last year”
Why We Love It: Sure, the chorus is kinda goofy, but who can resist a well-crafted punk-rock kiss-off song? We couldn't.
3. KYLIE MINOGUE, “I BELIEVE IN YOU”
The Hook: "But I, I, I believe in you/'Cause I, I, I believe in you"
Why We Love It: Kylie does grandiose disco-pop like no other dance diva. This track, co-produced by the Scissor Sisters, is her latest pop masterpiece.
2. DESTINY'S CHILD, “LOSE MY BREATH”
The Hook: "Can you keep up?/Baby boy, make me lose my breath/Bring the noise, make me lose my breath"
Why We Love It: This record marked the return of both Destiny's Child (a.k.a. Beyonce and her back-up singers) and R&B producer Rodney Jerkins. This rapid, 120 beats-per-minute track was all these things: breathless, innovative and thrilling.
1. SARAH McLACHLAN, “WORLD ON FIRE”
The Hook: "The world's on fire and/ It's more than I can handle/I'll tap into the water/Try and bring my share"
Why We Love It: We're softies at heart and no one does sentimental pop better than McLachlan. Who didn't want to go out and do something good in the world after hearing the lyrics and viewing it's thoughtful video?
About Robert J. Ballantyne
Robert J.Ballantyne is a senior editor at Popjournalism and Creative Director at Artsculture.ca. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star.