I've actually gotten off my arse and written something! In fact, this took longer, and contains more words than one of my essays. Geesh! In truth there are reviews for 'Ta-Dah!', 'Sam's Town' and 'The Sweet Escape' I wrote, but it's a bit late now.
But hey, everyone's doing them, and no-one's reaidng mine, but here it is anyway...
#40 The Fratellis – Henrietta
This should be so much more higher. And I apologise. The Fratellis are one of the most exciting British bands of 2006. I saw them live back in June and it was one the most insane massacres of skinny indie boys I’ve ever seen. I came out unscathed but a fair few people left with bloody noses and black eyes. Then again, it was in Stoke, so I can understand why people would’ve been riled anyway. I digress, this song makes me dance like the scarecrow from Wizard of Oz on Pro Plus. And at the end of the day, that’s all that fucking matters.
#39 Divine Comedy – To Die A Virgin
In a world where it’s been proven time and time again that pop and politics should never EVER mix with one another, here is a song that references “all the bombs and the bird flu” in a brilliant and unique way. This song can’t be avoided just for the straight face it’s delivered with, with only ever a tiny wirey smile creasing Neil Hannon’s face.
#38 Beyonce – Ring The Alarm
Probably supposed to be the best pop song in the galaxy. The sirens and megaphoned vocals are certainly very menacing. It’s impossible not to take notice of Beyonce, but then, when isn’t it? She’s loud, we’ll give her that. It’s easily her best work –schizo-pop at it’s best- however it tries so hard to be amazing, brilliant and original that it ends up sounding a bit contrived and psychotic.
#37 The Long Blondes – Weekend Without Make Up
Due to an administrative error, this song is unusually low down in the list. It should be a lot nearer the top but given that it’s been hovering around since mid-2005 it probably should bow out and let some younger songs run forward. A superb lyric helps Kate Jackson snarl on behalf of all under-appreciated twenty-something women.
#36 The Killers – Bones
One of the only notable songs on ‘Sam’s Town’ and one of the few times when the new sound really works for me. In typical Killers’ style it’s very cinematic and theatric. And a bit kinky and homoerotic.
#35 Cat Power – The Greatest
I think I heard this song last year but it wasn’t released until this year. Heartbreakingly beautiful in everyway, from the scattered piano to the strings to the echoing backing vocals. Whenever this comes on, whoever the company is, the room goes silent. It demands that you listen. You don’t just want to hear Chan’s heart break, you need to.
#34 Scissor Sisters – I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’
Much like the Killers, I was a little dissappointed by the Scissors’ new album. It just didn’t have the spark that the first album did, their was something lacking. With it’s Beegees-esque, disco vibe that hasn’t been done this well for a good few decades and a chorus more addictive than meths I really want to put this song higher, but just can’t, as, unfortunately, there are 33 songs better than this out there.
#33 Hot Chip – Over & Over
Over & Over or On & On & On & On (& On & On…)? Yes it goes on for what seems like a whole fucking week, but the glockenspiels, thumping synths and random electro-farts make for a cracking pop record. Plus, I’ll bet it’s the only song in this list that you have time to buy a drink at the beginning (when everyone’s left the bar for the dancefloor) and still have ample time left at the end to clap and stomp like a monkey with a miniature cymbal.
#32 Oakenfold – Faster Kill Pussycat
It really was the year that dance music made it again. Having been so contrived for such a long time, the genre had to undergo a fast Darwinian evolution or get left behind. Consider this the missing link between Eric fucking Prydz and the (as-yet non-existent) dance choon that’ll have us all dancing to our graves. Oakenfold pulls together everything that makes dance music brilliant… a beat so simple being used so effectively, a fit blonde girl singing and a non-sensical, repetitive lyric. How could it fail?
#31 Panic! At The Disco – I Write Sins Not Tragedies
The whole world went emo this year, and if this is emo then go on and tar me with that brush. (At this point I’ll also give an honourable mention to Fall Out Boy’s ‘Dance Dance’ which didn’t quite make it onto the list.) A superb, if not slightly absurd, lyric that easy to scream along to, guitars to throw yourself about to and hot boys in make-up.
#30 Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good
Lock up your sons! Etc… It would be very easy to make pot-shots at Amy’s oh-so-appropriate surname, but I won’t. The unashamedly slutty second single from the astounding album ‘Back To Black’ which simultaneously swaggers and staggers around the room is a triumph on all counts, fusing pop and jazz so well that it appears never to have been any different. Oh, and this is the version without Ghostface Killah I’m reffering to, thank you very much.
#29 Gwen Stefani – Wind It Up
This was a bit of a surprise wasn’t it? Except it wasn’t, as it was leaked in very bad quality about 18 months ago. Let’s get one thing clear: this is by no means a bad song. It’s just incredibly unexpected and about three years too late. I think we’ve all moved on from the Neptunes’ sound a bit by now as they’ve become progressively non-descript, as this song shows. No doubt, it’s popping like a mad thing, but don’t all Pharrell songs do that nowadays? I wish the Sound Of Music sample (which is by the by, a master stroke) could save this, but it can’t.
#28 Sugababes – Red Dress
I never cared much for Mutya anyway… This was Amelle’s chance to prove her worth and the girl did well, growling and purring like a panther making even veteran-babe Keisha look like a kitten. But, with or without Amelle, this song provides an interesting and thought-provoking view of life which many young fans can aspire to.
#27 The Kooks – Niave
The Kooks were huge this year, and all thanks to this. Bridging the gap between indie and pop so effortlessly that many became confused where one ended and the other began. I haven’t a clue what the lyric is on about, but to be honest I’m far too busy dancing to care.
#26 Darin – Perfect
Swedish, and not released in the UK, and never will be, but so… umm… perfect that it couldn’t be omitted from the list. Cheesey, unashamed pop at it’s best proving that pop can go indie, pop can go reggae, pop can go jazz, but it’s the pop core that’s essential for brilliance. It always helps if it’s a Swede too.
#25 New Young Pony Club – Ice Cream
I saw these guys supporting Lily Allen at the Astoria in November and was blown away by how well this dance song translated live. Clearly carrying on where ‘Milkshake’ left off. This will be claimed by NME’s new ravers, desperate for some actual music for the scene they’ve started, but once again, this lies clearly within the realms of pop. Fittingly snuggled between the teen bosoms of Darin and Lil Chris…
#24 Lil Chris – Checkin’It Out
Say what you want about Lil Chris. No really, go ahead. I think he’s brillaint, and not even in an ironic way. He’s a popstar out to make a quick buck out of his popularity from a TV show he was in. OK, so what sets him apart from any other I’m A Celeb…, Celebrity Big Brother no marks? First of all, he hasn’t just released any old tat (though it does sound a bit like the intro of Blur’s ‘Song 2’). Secondly, he had a hand in writing it. Thirdly, he really doesn’t want to do it this way, and it shows. He’s aware of his own corniness and his shelf life. The video to current single ‘Gettin’ Enough’ also shows how aware he is of his own image. Truly, there isn’t a rockstar more aware of how much of an arse they are making of themselves than Lil Chris.
#23 Lily Allen – Smile
I’m rather biased at this point, I know. Lily was a breath of fresh air to the whole music scene. Rather than singing dreary songs of love and the oh-so-hard-rockstar life, Lily Allen sings vemonous songs of disgust and mockery, filled to the brim with witticisms. Saying this, I’d’ve preferred her to stay unknown for a little while longer. Yes, she deserved the popualrity, but it overwhelmed her a little bit.
#22 The Strokes – Heart In A Cage
Despite being pop boy, one of my favourite bands in the world is The Strokes. And this song proves why. Guitars that bounce around your head like a rabbit on speed, drums that even when sitting still make you sweat with fear, Jule’s effortless vocals and a schizophrenic love-ravaged lyric from a heart that’s been stamped on one too many times.
#21 A-Studio – SOS
Whereas Oakenfold, the Knife and New Young Pony Club tried to re-invent dance music for the 21st Century, Russians A-Studio adopted an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach, creating a song that is at the same time achingly 2006 and hauntingly 1990. New rave? Pah! Here’s a bit of old rave you pill popping pussies! Now stop fiddling with your customised neon t-shirt and get your fucking hands in the fucking air!
#20 Amy Winehouse – Rehab
The record Billie Holiday never sung. Though, hauntingly it sounds just like she is. Amy channels the greats (late or otherwise) and smolders and pouts in equal proportions hitting us with the biggest surprise of the whole year getting the contemporary jazz world’s sub-prog knickers in a twist. Never before has alcoholism been so sexy.
#19 The Pipettes – Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
The Pipettees are amazing. And I’ve raved about them from the word go. Girls with more balls than Borrell and Pritchard combined. Singing empowering, ball-breaking, neo-feminist anthems over music so dainty that you won’t notice them punch you in the nose and steal your car.
#18 Lily Allen – LDN
I’m now a resident of LDN and now appreciate the genius of Lily’s observations on a whole new level. Undecidedly cynically or optimistic, Lily celebrates the crime, opportunity, corruption, beauty, debauchery and diversity that make LDN the greatest city in the world. Long live Lily’s LDN!
#17 The Killers – When You Were Young
“Tune!” I made a promise I’d never say “Tune!” when a song was played, but I heard this and out it pops. “Tune!” Pounding guitars throwing Brandon and co. around like rag dolls over mildly-inspriational lyrics that are about finding heores and idols in unusual places. Destined to be used in a bajillion montages until the end of time. So Meatloaf and yet so undeniably cool.
#16 The Gossip – Listen Up!
I can’t comment on the quality of the rest of The Gossip’s album as my uncle bought it for me for Christmas way back in October and is refusing to give it to me until the 25th (the scoundrel!) However, no band seems to have made such a huge impact so quickly. Beth Ditto is indie’s current queen of the dance, keeping Karen O on her toes. It’s the sound of 1am Sunday morning when the DJ’s getting alcohol-fuelled-dance-sensations back to the floor.
The song is lyrically nothing more than counting to 5 and some impressive cooing but that seems to say much more than many others.
#15 Justin Timberlake ft. T.I. – My Love
This is what it would sound like if you had sex with Justin Timberlake. First Justin charms your pants off, then he cooes and smolders rhythmically. And it’s all over in just under five minutes. And T.I.’s there. Ok, maybe, it’s not exactly like having sex with Justin Timberlake… every knows he’s finished after three minutes (and that's including foreplay).
#14 Madonna – Sorry
Technically a 2005 track but only released as a single this year, this song is far too large to be ignored. Dare I say one of Madonna’s best? Time, of course, will tell. The stand-out track of ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ which in February I described as, "a glittering, throbbing, roller disco diety which takes the brilliance of 'Hung Up' and the infamous ABBA sample, shakes it around, strangles it with a pair of toned yoga thighs and beats it with a big glittery stick." And that still rings true.
#13 The Knife – We Share Our Mother’s Health
Fuck me I love the Knife. So much. Not only crossing the line between genius and insane but playing hopscotch with it. It sounds so good, words fail me. It just sounds like I imagine drugs to feel. It feels alive, it’s not so much a song but a creature, a life form, a disease that’s clawing at your brain like a great big dirty beast, desperate to escape from your speakers so it can maul you to death. Quite frankly, I’m more than a little scared.
#12 Justice Vs Simian – We Are Your Friends
A song as annoying as it is brilliant. And that makes it very fucking annoying. However, the fact that the song commands the scissor arms, the drunken hug-and-jump and not-anywhere-near-tuneful shouting from everyone who listens to it makes it another gem of 2006, leaving a convent looking as anarchic as a 15 year old with a fake ID.
#11 Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
If 2006 is remembered for one song, it’ll be this one. It’s already covered more times than any other song in the history of songs and has spent a whole year (or thereabouts) at number one. But unlike many ‘modern classics’ this song seemed to strike a chord with everyone who heard it (and believe me – everyone heard it). An absolute corker of a song that defies genre, demographic and convention. Timeless and unique.
#10 The Fratellis – Creeping Up The Back Stairs
The energy generated from this song is apparently enough to light up half of the national grid. The cool half, of course. Fuck the Arctic Monkeys, it was the Fratellis who produced the most original indie album of the year, full of songs like this which are conventional and yet at the same time utterly unique. This song has non-sensical lyrics, bonkers guitars, insane drums, handclaps and a chorus you can sing along to. What more could you ask for?
#9 Nelly Furtado – All Good Things
Chris Martin is such a cunt isn’t he? He goes around naming his children after fruit and being an annoying twat but when he sits down and does his job he does it so well that you just can’t hate him. This is not only the most beautiful, touching ballad of the year, but maybe possibly the decade. Clearly ‘Loose’’s ‘Try’, it beggars belief just how Nelly can top this with album number four. It’s the combination of Martin’s panpipe melody and whistling and Nelly’s signature tortured vocals that make this work so well. A pop ballad on which all should be based.
#8 Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Oooh
2006 was the year we found out that dance is back and pop and this is living proof. Unlike ‘All Good Things’ and ‘Crazy’, this is no revelation in songwriting. But it was never going to be. Also unlike them, this is British. Thank fuck for that. Imperialism at it’s best. Jumping on the new-rave bandwagon, Xenomania and Girls Aloud shake off the ballads, borrow from C&C Music Factory’s ‘Gonna Make You Sweat (Everbody Dance Now)’ and create the biggest dance record of the year.If you want to dispute their punk credentials? Who else brings nine year old girls this close to a head-fuck without the bat of an eyelid? Punk that!
#7 The Gossip – Standing In the Way Of Control
Like all the songs in the top 15, this is in a class of it’s own. In fact, when making the list the top 11 changed so many times I got bored of it and left it like this. There is still a vague order but I think that each song is entirely different to the others. This may be due to the fact that they are entirely different to any other song ever. As a result, it’s kind of a tie: best ballad, best rock song, best dance song, best song to sing in the bath etc… This is the most exciting indie song of the year. By miles. This is none to far from being either sublime or ridiculous. It’s knocks you down then offers to help you up, it takes you to space and then dumps you in a dense urban jungle, it coaxs you into it’s boudoir then beats you across the head with a saucepan and then kisses you better. So very 2006. Yet another truly special record.
#6 Jamelia – Beware Of The Dog
The whole of ‘Walk With Me’ is piss poor, yet snuggled deep within it is an amazing pop song. This is ‘Beware Of The Dog’, a song that many were putting top of their list before they’d even heard it. Hyped such an incredible amount, it could’ve easily dissappointed. But it doesn’t. Every aspect of this song works just the way it should. The Depeche Mode sample goes practically unnoticed underneath the anarchy of the drums and Jamelia’s cautionary viceral vocals. Razor-edged, dangerous pop that attacks speakers like a musical samurai.
#5 Nelly Furtado - Maneater
Perhaps it’s a testament to Nelly that she’s made not one but TWO of the greatest songs of the year. Perhaps she got lucky? Back when she started Nelly was ‘just another’ female solo singer, however, through stonking songs like this one that grab you like a dog with a bone and never fail to get you dancing/crying/thinking/singing along every single time. This is Nelly’s best work to date, but then so was ‘Powerless’, and so was ‘Try’. I can only imagine when Nelly will reach her peak, and how magnificent it will be. Once the underdog, Nelly’s now ruling the pop world, with the power to command help from Timbaland, Chris Martin, Timberlake and anyone else she goddamn wants to work with her. And she’s done it all so easily. And she still can’t dance. An icon on the basis of that alone surely?
#4 Long Blondes – Once And Never Again
It’s a damn shame only two of my top five are British. But hey, if it’s going to be British, it may as well be the Long Blondes, one of 2006’s most exciting, most British bands, able to captivate with simply the flutter of an eyelash or stomp of a heel. ‘Once And Never Again’ is the song of an older sister, of a has-been living a second youth thorugh someone else. Is there a more legendary lyric of the year than “You’re only nineteen for god’s sake, you don’t need a boyfriend”? This is, however, just one lyric from an altogether superb lyric that elevate Kate Jackson and co. to the esteemed position of Best Band In Britain. Dressed in polka dots and berets, looking like indie kids from the 1950’s, the Long Blondes are one of the few bands who are actually as cool as they look. And they look fucking cool.
#3 Muse – Supermassive Blackhole
With this song, words fail me. There’s no one part of the song that stands out more than any other part. It just gels as a magnificent amalgam of everything that’s right about music. Matt Bellamy’s falsetto vocals take on a whole new level, pining and aching over a guitar which stalks his every move. The lyric is total bonkers, and means absolutely nothing, but then, that’s kind of the point of it all isn’t it? I wish I could justify why I love this song so much, but I can’t. It’s just very very very good.
#2 Rihanna - SOS (Rescue Me)
Much like Winehouse, I doubt many were expecting much from Rihanna. Her previous two singles had sounded like a) reggae’s squelchy attempts to follow the electro craze and b) a generic r&b tune lost amongst all the others. ‘SOS’ however, was something special, something different all together. Bursting on the ear drums with a vivacious excitement that knocks you to the floor and then tramples all over you. The lyrics beg for you to swish your head and throw up your arms. Add in the ‘Tainted Love’ sample, a nod to electro’s glory days, which is overshadowed so much it almost becomes irrelevant, and bam! Resistance is futile, you will dance. A masterpiece in pop, easily the best song of any other year, were it not for one man…
#1 Justin Timberlake – Sexy/BackTimbaland’s had his fingers in a lot of pies this year. Namely, creating albums for Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake. In 2003 the world went crazy for Pharrell Williams, but now we see a new duke of hip-pop genius, serving under HRH Justin Timberlake, Prince of Pop Music. The pinnacle of both careers, showing a lot of promise for things to come.
This song re-invents not only Justin but also music itself. ‘Sexy/Back’ doesn’t appear to have any constructs of the normal pop song. It’s just a bassline and a snare drum with Timberlake singing over it, heck, it doesn’t even have any verses. And yet it’s this charged-rawness, this etheral-electricity, the complex-simplicity that make both the charm and logic of this song so interesting. When this first hit the radio, love it or hate it, you listened to ‘Sexy/Back’, you paid attention to ‘Sexy/Back’. For four minutes your world stood still as the future of pop music poured into your brain. It’s OK to be a little scared. It’s even OK if your body went into spasms (or was that dancing?). We’re all in this together. Take it to the bridge…
And that's your lot...