This is probably the rare year where I had more exposure to new music than new movies. Here are some of my favorite singles released this calendar year:
1. "Holiday" by Green Day. Because it's the cutest protest song ever. Possibly the best track on their landmark 2004 album. I'm not a big fan of the more acclaimed "Wake Me Up When September Ends," but then, I didn't care for "Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)" either. The representative from Michigan has the floor:
Everybody spread the word
We're gonna have a celebration
All across the world
In every nation
Oh, sorry... wrong "Holiday." I meant:
Zieg Heil to the president gasman
Bombs away is your punishment
Pulverize the Eiffel towers
Who criticize your government
Bang, bang goes the broken glass and
Kill all the fags that don't agree
Trials by fire, setting fire
Is not a way that's meant for me
Just cause, just cause, because we're outlaws yeah!
The Cheney administration is so shaking in its boots. But more power to the rebellion, anyway. Can I get another Amen?
2. "Gold Digger" by Kanye West. Hysterically funny rap song on the best album I've heard this year. Great quasi-sample effect of having Jamie Foxx fill in for Ray Charles. (The same ploy of using Maroon 5's Adam Levine to supply Stevie Wonder-esque vocals on "Heard 'Em Say" is also effective, but slightly less catchy.)
3. "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" by Trace Adkins. Already discussed here. Still enjoying it.
4. "All These Things that I've Done" by The Killers. Off their 2004 album. A far more ambitious rock song than their past hits, and more reminiscent of Billy Squier than Duran Duran.
5. "Maybe" by Emma Bunton. The erstwhile Baby Spice released a solo album that didn't really make an impact stateside, but this tune is terrific. It's like Olivia Newton-John collaborating with Burt Bacharach. The Austin Powers-ish video is a plus.
6. "Only" by Nine Inch Nails. I was a little concerned when "The Hand that Feeds" came out and broke no new ground. But this track, in which Trent Reznor comments more than sings, is far more bracing. I just made you up to hurt myself. Wow, hasn't everybody felt that way at one point? Really, just me? Okay.
7. "Precious" by Depeche Mode. A very nice return to form. Haven't heard the new album yet, but I'm hoping there's more where this came from.
8. "Cool" by Gwen Stefani. Not quite the cultural zeitgeist that was Hollaback Girl, but a better crafted song. Bonus: the cheesy Eurotrash video, where a flashback brunette Gwen makes me reconsider my tepid opinion of her.
9. "Speed of Sound" by Coldplay. Kind of "Clocks" redux, but I like what it represents: a band embracing its universal popularity and regard despite the fact that they've only released 3 albums and haven't really earned that U2-level of fame. Still, arrogance goes over well in the music world.
10. "Little Sister" by Queens of the Stone Age. At last! Just the right amount of cowbell.
Honorable mentions: The instrumentals of System of a Down's "Hypnotize"; the mash-up of "Where Da Hood At" and "Karma Chameleon" in that Sprint/Nextel commercial. Good luck getting that outta your head.
Dishonorable mention: "Tender Crisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch," by Darius Rucker (aka Hootie).