Friday, December 29, 2006

Top 50 Singles of 2006

I said I'd wait until 2007 before I made another post, but, hell, I'm sitting at home sick and don't really have anything better to do.

Here is my list of my top 50 favorite singles of 2006. So thus, it had to be released as a single this year, and though there are some with questionable eligibility, there is no out-and-out cheating. So, no "Not This Year" et al. Maybe later I'll make a post on the songs of 2006 that would have made the top 50 but for lack of eligibility. This considers all singles in 2006, teenpop or no, so let's just set aside the blog's theme for now. Presented with minimal commentary. If you're really curious what I have to say about a song with no commentary you can noodle around the blog and you'll probably find it. Or else leave a comment or email, of course.

I want to say that this was an excellent year for singles (much better than 2005 and 2004, less strong at the top than 2003 but just as deep). I really had to squeeze to get it down to 50, and I left some great stuff out. So if a song's not listed here that doesn't mean I don't like it. Pretty much every song here is ranked lower than I feel it should be, but that's the way it is in a deep year.


50. Toby Keith - "A Little Too Late"
Most (all?) of Toby's previous great singles have been uptempo rockin' ravers ("How Do You Like Me Now", "As Good As I Once Was"), but this is a catchy ballad! Good work Toby.
49. Kelly Clarkson - "Walk Away"
My least favorite single off Breakway, but still a great song. I would have preferred "Gone" or "Addicted"
48. CSS - "Let's Make Love and Listen Death From Above"
A really great pop song that edges out many other top 50 contenders because of its originality. For a pop song, it's not catchy enough and doesn't have good enough lyrics to merit a higher spot than this. That being said numbers 38 or so to 50 are incredibly tightly bunched.
47. Peter Bjorn & John - "Young Foks"
Sometimes the indie crowd IS right after all. That being said, this song is worse than it could be (Kogan terminology: The band is at war with their talents). I wish a proper pop band would do a cover of it. Could be rated too low by me here, but despite the great chorus + whistling, the verses and production don't seem to go anywhere really. Nevertheless I'm liking this more and more the more I hear it.
46. Aly & AJ - "Chemicals React"
Not the last time A&A will show up on this list. Lyrically below a lot of the rest of their material, but it still has plenty of evocative imagery and good lines, and of course one hell of a catchy tune. The girls can rock! Probably Aly & AJ's worst vocal performance though.
45. Jessica Simpson - "A Public Affair"
"Push Your Tush" shoulda been a single! This is a really fun song.
44. Young Joc - "It's Going Down"
May be kicking myself in a few months for putting this so low, but this is where it feels right at this time.
43. Hannah Montana - "If We Were a Movie"
Hannah in love. How cute.
42. Sara Evans - "Coalmine"
Kinda like a second rate version of "Suds in the Bucket", but "Suds" is one of my top 10 singles of the decade to this point, so...Anyways, I have a huge blindspot for Sara Evans, admittedly, so this placement may need to be taken with a grain of salt. But why was "You'll Always Be My Baby" a single over, say, "New Hometown" or "These Four Walls"? Those would both rank above this, though this is a fun song.
41. Shakira ft. Wyclef - "Hips Don't Lie"
By my estimation, the fourth best number one single of 2006 (in America). It was a good year for number ones. Now bubble with anticipation as to which three will rank above it. I'm not a big fan of Wyclef's or Shakira's voices, but they work for this song. It's all rather ridiculous, but it does work. Great horn sample.
40. Paris Hilton - "Stars are Blind"
So out of place on the album! One of several great songs on the album, there's a few non-singles that would rank ahead of this one (say "Screwed" or "Jealousy"). The pop-reggae stuff is maybe getting a bit played out, but this is pretty, and Paris' personality-less vocals actually work in its favor, I think.
39. Nelly Furtado - "Maneater"
Nelly F. reinvents herself to great results. Well to the results of a few great singles and a bunch of filler. More Nelly F. to come. This song started out much, much higher but has been falling all year. Not a whole lot of replay value. I think this is about its floor.
38. Montgomery Gentry - "Some People Change"
"Hey Country" is better, but not a single. I like the lyrics to this song, plus the chorus is a genuine powerhouse.
37. LeAnn Rimes - "And It Feels Like"
A Europe-only release, for whatever reason. Totally not country, but really good. I do like some of her country releases this year too. "Some People" was a late cut from the top 50.
36. Christina Aguilera - "Hurt"
A pretty ballad. Probably worse than "Beatutiful", but not by much. Possibly my favorite song on the disappointing Back to Basics album ("Candyman" is good too).
35. Ciara - "Promise"
Possibly ranked way too low, but I just heard this song for the first time a couple weeks ago and don't feel comfortable rating it higher at this point. Thems the breaks. Not a top 10 single of the year in any event.
34. Jordan Pruitt - "Outside Looking In"
I did half of a post on this song here.
33. Rihanna - "SOS (Rescue Me)"
I don't mind the blatant sample. They make the sample feel like a natural part of the song, which is hard to do, and plus the song has a lot more going for it than just that sample. Very catchy.
32. Meg and Dia - "Monster"
"Indiana" would be much higher, but this is the second best song on the album. And that's probably one of my top 10 albums of '06 (whoops, spoiler alert!) A great, extremely dramatic and original song. You can have your Grizzly Bear or Hold Steady or Band of Horses, these girls do indie rock better than any of them.
31. Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"
A great song on an album full of consistently great songs. Luv the lyrics and the melody. This would (probably) have been top 20 in 2004 or 2005. When it comes to modern day updates/revivals of old R&B sounds, I'll take Amy Winehouse over the Pipettes any day.
30. The Research - "Lonely Hearts Still Beat the Same"
Stylus fave is also a Greg Fanoe fave. Great lyrics and a pretty melody. The female vocalist is not a great singer, though.
29. Aly & AJ - "Greatest Time of Year"
One of the great Christmas pop songs of recent times. Of all time, really. 9/9 cutoff. All the songs ranked below this on this list are rated 8/10 (I'm a big ol softie of a grader).
28. Brie Larson - "Coming Around"
I fully admit to being an absolute sucker for this type of song: Pretty, acoustic instrumentation, cute and sweet melody, and a good female singer on top of it. Pretty good, though pretty generic, love song lyrics. Better than anything on Brie's first album. Questionable eligibility. For some reason I decided this song was eligible and "Stilts and the Titanic" wasn't. Both would have made it if both were eligible. This is kind of included to represent both, I guess. So even though neither song is individually higher than an 8/10, I cheated and moved this song higher than it really deserves. Not to say I don't love this song, because I do!
27. Hannah Montana - "The Best of Both Worlds"
Still more to come from my favorite singles artist of the year. (Aly & AJ would be very close if not ahead were "Not This Year" a single).
26. Nelly Furtado - "Promiscuous [Girl]"
A consensus seems to have developed that this is the best song on the Nelly F album, but I actually have one other rated above it (among the singles at least).
25. Morningwood - "Nth Degree"
Their best song ever, by far, and I have my doubts they'll ever make anything else so good. But yet this is great.
24. Julie Roberts - "Men & Mascara"
Nashville country song of the year. There are actually 3 country singles rated above it but they are either not country or were on albums released last year. I love Julie's voice, plus it has a really sweet, pretty melody. Like I said I'm a sucker for it.
23. Hannah Montana - "This Is the Life"
Still sad that this flopped on Radio Diz.
22. Teddybears SHTLM ft. Mad Cobra - "Cobrastyle"
Very original and awesome. I prefer it to the Robyn version, personally, though I'm not a huge Robyn fan in general.
21. Charlotte Church - "Moodswings (to Come at Me Like That)"
Charlotte Church's debut pop album had 2 great songs and this was one of them. Seems to me to be a totally underrated single. I didn't realize until the very last minute that this was even eligible this year.
20. Natasha Bedingfield - "The One That Got Away"
Questionable eligibility, but it did have a chart life on the dance charts this year, so I declare it to be eligible. One of my favorite tracks off of one of my top 10 or 20 albums of the decade to this point. Rated based off the original, spare instrumentation and not the dance remix that charted on the dance charts and is included on the album. Cheating, perhaps, but I like the original mix better!
19. Britney Spears - "And Then We Kiss"
Europe only and questionable eligibility, but a great song. Why didn't this get an American release? Whatever, it makes me really look forward to her new album (if ever made). Possibly underrated, but I didn't hear the song until really late in the year, and this is where I feel comfortable ranking it right now.
18. The Veronicas - "4Ever"
Maybe the chorus of the year, but it doesn't seem to have much else going for it. The verses, production, and lyrics don't seem to be adding anything to the song for me.
17. High School Musical - "Breaking Free"
The TCR was, of course, far from immune from the HSM phenomenon this year. This is the best song from the film by far. I love the "Stick to the Status Quo" number in the movie, but it feels oddly lifeless on record. Rated too high because I also love the movie? I dunno. But come on, isn't "We're breaking free/SOA-ring/FLY-ing" one of the great moments in pop this year? I believe it is.
16. Fergie - "Fergalicious"
Like the Morningwood, this is the only song by this artist that I really love. Actually I hated it at first (I have a long history of hating Black Eyed Peas and Fergie, and I hated "London Bridge"). But one day as I was listening to it on the radio, it just clicked for me for whatever reason. Anyways, I still think the general sound/lyrics Fergie is going for is uninteresting, but she's perfected it here. Best music video of the year, as well. Musical acts with only one great song: Morningwood, Fergie, Anna Nalick ("Breathe (2AM)"), Sixpence None the Richer, Delta Goodrem ("Electric Storm").
15. T.I. - "What You Know"
Rap single of the year in what seems to me a pretty weak year for rap music. Like all of the other songs rated 11-16, it really pains me to leave this out of the top 10.
14. JoJo - "Too Little, Too Late"
JoJo has a breakthrough success with an R&B song with teen confessional lyrics. This makes me very happy. The album was a letdown, and "Leave (Get Out)" is still better.
13. Nelly Furtado - "Say It Right"
From the first time I heard Loose, this pretty ballad was my favorite song on it. My opinion has yet to be swayed on this, and I'm thrilled it's caught on with radio like "Maneater" never did. I bumped this out of the top 10 at the very last minute.
12. Camera Obscura - "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken"
This was in my top 10 for most of the year until some better songs pushed it out. "Let's Get Out of This Country" was a late cut from the top 50. This is the indie band of the year. At least, defining "indie" in the way it is commonly used.
11. Texas Lightning - "No, No Never"
My favorite Eurovision entry this year by far, and my favorite in years. I wish their album had more original songs, or at least that the other original songs were this good. Anyways, German country music! This plays as almost a pastiche of country music, but it works to me, because of the pretty melody and good vocals.
10. Hilary Duff - "Play With Fire"
Hilary rips off Rachel Stevens and Greg rejoices. Hilary has now had one of my top 10 singes of the year for at least 3 years in a row ("Wake Up" in the bottom reaches of the top 10 in 2005 and "Come Clean" number 1 or 2 in 2004). I say "at least" because in 2003 "So Yesterday" would be close but that was such a great year for singles I think it would probably be left out of the top 10. But it would get top 10 consideration. The nearly spoken-word bridge is my favorite part of the song.
9. Paris Hilton - "Nothing in this World"
The best song on Paris' album. Dr. Luke proves himself again to be a genius.
8. All-American Rejects - "Move Along"
Rock song of the year. Fun video. I don't know or understand why "Dirty Little Secret" was a bigger hit, because this is a much better song. Good work AAR. This is the 10/10 cutoff, P-Hilt gets a 9 (would be a 10 but I don't like the "da da" part. And realistically it's like a 9.5). This 10/10 cutoff is incosistent with a previous post, but I decided I was rating too harshly there.
7. Carrie Underwood - "Before He Cheats"
The best song on her debut album, by far (though I like the album). So awesome. Proves that American Idols can flat out rock better than any Chris Daughtry song ever could. A genuine surprise, given that she did almost all country ballads on the show. This is one of the very few American Idol contestants I like better off the show than I liked on the show (though I also liked her on the show).
6. Hannah Montana - "I Got Nerve"
Possibly my favorite melody of the year, and Miley's a great singer. But it doesn't have much going for it lyrically and the production is nothing to write home about. But seriously, I could just listen to this melody all day long.
5. Marit Larsen - "Only a Fool"
2-5 are so awesome and so close in quality (at least rated based on how much I like them). I spent way too long sorting them out. It's nearly a coinflip as to the order of the songs. I really hate to rate this number 5, but I don't like it better than any of the above songs and it lost out on tiebreakers. Would have been comfortably number 2 in 2005 (not as good as "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)", but well ahead of anything else released that year). Country song of the year.
4. Beyonce - "Irreplaceable"
Beyonce's best single. In a year full of great R&B ballads, this was the best. Tiebreaker for this over "Only a Fool" is lyrics. Though I like the lyrics to "Only a Fool" too.
3. Aly & AJ - "Rush"
Frank et al have convinced me that it deserves eligibility this year. Whatever year it's counted in, it's amazing. Tiebreaker over "Irreplaceable" is my fasciation with/love of Aly & AJ in general. Plus bonus points for "Not This Year"s non-inclusion. Oh plus I love the first half of the first chorus.
2. Amy Diamond - "Don't Cry Your Heart Out"
When 2-5 are absurdly close, as they are here, a good tiebreaker to move this to the top of the heap is that this is probably the song that I have listened to the greatest number of times in 2006. When I've heard a song that many times and still love it so much, that means something.
1. Lillix - "Sweet Temptation (Hollow)"
I've said numerous times that this is my favorite single of the year, so maybe that takes ome of the surprise out of this selection. A discrete chunk above the 2-5 cluster as the single of the year. My top 3 this year were all teenpop songs, which strikes me as odd, but that's just how it played out.

Explaining some exclusions:
Cassie, Scissor Sisters, Knife, Pipettes - All very meh to me. I still fail to understand the appeal of The Knife. "Your Kisses are Wasted on Me" is the only Pipettes song that received even the barest consideration, and even then it was a pretty early cut.
Justin T, Gnarls, Killers, "LDN" and "Who Said" were all late cuts but I like the songs.
"Not Ready To Make Nice" is not one of my 10 favorite Dixie Chicks songs. It's one of the better songs on their album, but it's probably my least favorite of the Chicks 4 major label studio albums. The love of the song, methinks, depends too strongly on factors external to the song itself. Not that it's inherently bad for the song to exist in an outside context, but the song itself doesn't do anything for me. I don't like the chorus at all and, yeah, the lyrics are good but if the music doesn't grab me, what's the point. And now I'm trying to be told this is the career masterpiece by a band that has "Travelin' Soldier" and "Goodbye Earl" in its catalogue? Puh-leeze.
"Kick, Push" will probably ultimately make my top 50 of the year, but I only just heard it for the first time a day or two ago and didn't feel comfortable including it right now. Not sounding like top 20 material at this point (too repetitive), but I like it.

I just realized that this list only has 10 songs with male vox on it (not counting Morningwood)! And only 9 if you half-count "Breaking Free" and "Hips Don't Lie". But whatever, I'm not going to shove in male vocalized songs that I like worse just to force an artificial balance. Still, it does make me think.

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Blogger Mordy said...

Totally agree with your take on Dixie Chick's -- something about requiring an external narrative turns me off. Though it's still an amazing song -- I just wonder if I'll feel the same way after the events that inspired it are way out in the distance.

And w00t for Hannah getting so much love on the list. It took watching [every? close to every?] episode of the show during the marathon tonight (the Disney countdown featured tons of Hannah Montana) to realize how much I've loved watching/listening to her this year. I read that the Disney exec who hired her said that she combined Hillary Duff's everyday-ness with Shania Twain's stage presence. And then I was explaining to my father why I liked her, and so much of the why is tied into the potential I get from her, moreso than where she is currently. I don't watch Disney that often (once every month or two, when I'm visiting home and my sister is watching), but she's become one of the best things I've seen this year.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Greg said...


In a lot of ways, this was the year of Hannah Montana for me. I said in an earlier post, and stand by, that Aly & AJ are my pick for artist of the year. But Miley is a very strong number 2. That's typical exec PR bs about Miley, but it's actually not THAT far from the truth. Miley has just an absolute ton of on screen charisma, even if she's not the actress that Hilary Duff is. I've yet to see her on stage, but certainly I love her singles. I feel it may be premature to say this, but if the music maintains the quality, the show improves like I think it will, and maybe Miley even gets some outside gigs, she could well end up being my top artist of the decade (or at least the second half of this decade).

3:38 PM  
Blogger Mordy said...

I think what always blows me away about her is that she's only - 12, right? Imagine how her music will develop, with that voice, as she is able to handle more mature songwriting. Or starts writing her own music.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Miley is 14, so your point remains. Presumably as she grows older her voice will gain in strength (which is the main problem with her vocal performance in, say, "Pumping Up the Party" or "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree") and she will gain in technical skill. Not to say that promising young singers never flame out. I'd actually like to hear her try out a genuine country song, though that will for obvious reasons never happen until after she's out of Disney's grasp.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a girl named Sarah Afshar who I heard at an indie open mic concert in Athens, Georgia do a set of Queen songs. She sang 'The Show Must Go On' - 'Who Wants To Live Forever' - 'Bohemian Rhapsody' - 'I Want To Break Free' and her final number was 'Save Me'. This girl got a standing ovation. She was incredible and quite possibly the best singer I've ever heard. She's also really beautiful and I find it odd she isn't famous. The owner of the venue said she goes there often and like five different labels wanna sign this girl.

2:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really interested to see what Miley does when she's not working (exclusively) with Matt Gerrard and does a solo on Hollywood/opens up to other producers. I'd put good money on her going country-country (she could hire Taylor Swift's backing band and let her dad do the backup vocals that whatshisface does on Taylor's album...think it might be her producer on backup but I'm going from AMG credits).

I just realized that 2007 will see Aly and AJ, Miley (maybe), and Skye putting out what will likely be the most crucial albums of their respective careers. Hmmmmmm.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Not only that Dave, but also:

Hilary Duff in maybe her last chance to have a real mainstream breakout success (I have my doubts)

Brie Larson, if this album sells like her last she'll probably be dropped. Her new music on her myspace has been good though.

Kelly Clarkson - releasing the followup to a massive breakthrough. The last actual song she released ("Go") sucked, but her new live cuts are amazing. Will she suffer hangover or go into the strasosphere.

New Avril. Has she really lost her angst?

Jordan Pruitt's debut. Will she be the confessional savior I thought she might be, or is she just going straight for the Cheetahs style kiddie-R&B (as her most recent songs suggest).

It's gonna be a huge year for teenpop, I think, in one direction or the other. (See my most recent post for more details on this crap)

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I've decided to help save confessional myself, though this may not materialize in 2007. Maybe '08.

Hilary is huge, she just doesn't appear huge. Paradoxically, as her audience and media exposure "open up," her sales will probably drop. Strange times.

I've heard tell the new Avril is good and less angsty (but can't say any more than that). Don't have quite as much faith in Jordan Pruitt, but would like to be proven wrong. If any of these Christian pop artists would have a crisis or two, they'd write REALLY GOOD confessional tracks (see: Jessie Daniels "The Noise"). But that probably won't happen.

I like Go OK (yuk), but "Maybe" seems more indicative of where she's headed.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Hilary is in the Jessica Simpson/Paris Hilton nexus where she's apparently popular because she's in the magazines/tabloids constantly. But nobody seems to want to admit they like her or support her work. Avril's new album is right up there at the top of every major publications' list of albums to look forward to in 2007, so I'm looking forward to it I guess. But it still smacks of "maturity" to me, which is death to any teen artist.

9:08 PM  

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