220px-Incubus_-_Morning_ViewIncubus – “Nice To Know You” – (2001)

Morning View was Incubus’s biggest album in terms of sales, and probably, hits. This was the first track, and the second single. It reached the top ten on both the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts.

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220px-Norah_Jones_-_Come_Away_With_MeNorah Jones – “Come Away With Me” – (2002)

Remember after 9/11 when Norah Jones swooped in and swept America off its feet? Though not a pop smash, this song (the title track from her debut album) is one the jazziest songs to receive any kind of mainstream radio airplay in the last quarter century. Songs like this is why this album won Album of the Year at the Grammys.

51CmB1+M35L.jpgB.B. King – “Merry Christmas Baby” – (2001)

Yes, this is the same “Merry Christmas Baby” that Bruce Springsteen made famous. Except that it’s different. Instead of that upbeat E. Street Band thing he had going on, B.B. King made it his own, in that familiar bluesy way.

51uWZhPXr9LBob Rivers – “Shoppin’ Around For a Christmas Tree” – (2002)

We say it every year and we’ll say it again this year: Bob Rivers does amazing parody songs. Christmas is on Monday, and if you don’t have a tree yet, well it’s probably not worth it, but if you do already have one, this song probably hits close to home.

220px-get_rich_or_die_tryin50 Cent feat. Nate Dogg – “21 Questions” – (2003)

This was 50 Cent’s second single and his second #1 hit. Hilariously, this was the only single from the album not to need a Parental Advisory sticker. What makes it good? Nate Dogg, of course, who is always the best part of anything he was ever a part of. He had the best voice in hip-hop. The best lyric of this song: “I love you like a fat kid loves cake.”

220px-the_house_that_dirt_builtThe Heavy – “Sixteen” – (2009)

The Heavy is a British indie rock band that had one smash hit, but this follow up single didn’t get as much love. But it should – it has a very old feel and fit in really well with other songs that came out about this time (see: horns). It’s worth a listen.

500x500Bob Rivers – “I’ll Be Stoned for Christmas” – (2002)

Bob Rivers does some pretty convincing parody songs and this take on Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is among the best. It says that it is supposed to be a drunken Perry Como impression, which might be accurate, but Bingle owned this song originally.

220px-americanivJohnny Cash – “When The Man Comes Around” – (2002)

We’ll stick with the “country songs from 2002” theme for this week, but we’ll ditch the link to terrorism and go with something awesome instead. You don’t have to like country to appreciate Johnny Cash, because he kind of symbolizes the rebel rock and roll attitude better than most rockers. This was one of the final songs Johnny wrote before he died – it’s simple, musically, and really dark, lyrically. It’s really, really good.

220px-drivealanjacksonAlan Jackson – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” – (2002)

Consider this the much subtler cousin to Toby Keith’s patriotic anthem. Country fan or not, it should be noted that Alan Jackson is a much classier singer than Toby Keith. Regardless, we still have the issue of a really long title… but while this might be standard fare as far as country songs go, there’s a big problem lyrically that makes this song seem incredibly dated “I’m just a simple songs, I’m not a real political man… I watch CNN but I’m not sure I could tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran.” Maybe in 2002. But nowadays if you can’t differentiate between Iraq and Iran, there’s a problem. But maybe this is just horrible foreshadowing of what would come a year after this album came out.

220px-keithunleashedToby Keith – “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” – (2002)

This song is a victim of all of that patriotism that exploded after 9/11 and faded away in the years after. There was a weird phenomenon shortly after 9/11 where country singers recorded tacky songs about ‘Murica… and this is the prime example (side note, the song is partly about Keith’s dad’s death, which is fine and I have no problem memorializing him in song). But come on, the title is horrendous… and talking about putting a “boot in any country’s ass” just seems kind of… well, country. Which I guess is the point.

Amy_Winehouse_-_Back_to_Black_(album)Amy Winehouse – “Rehab” – 2006

One of the most sadly ironic songs of all time, Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” was the single that put her on the map. It was her only top 10 hit in the U.S. and won three Grammys, including Record of the Year. This song stands to remind of us Amy’s sheer vocal talent.

51FyVVE-ZtL._QL70_Sean Morey – Dear Santa – 2002

If “The Bob and Tom Show” isn’t aired in your market, they’re a morning radio show that’s really popular in the Midwest. And they have a whole bunch of classic clips. This one is from comedian Sean Morey singing about what kids all around the world ask Santa for and how Americans ask for ridiculous things and everyone else just wants heat and food (or weaponry).

41EA4MJE5NLBob Rivers – Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire – 2000

It’s Christmas time again and we’ll start off our annual Christmas song list with a few spoofs. Some people find them lame but this one is so well done it’s hard not to like. It’s a great, slow, Nat King Cole-style and it takes on David Seville’s classic Christmas song. It’s pretty good.

Staind_Break_the_CycleStaind – Epiphany – 2001

Much like Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory from last week, Staind’s Break The Cycle seemingly had every track released as a single. “Epiphany” actually was a single, the fifth (and final), having been released in August 2002 – nearly a full year and a half after the album came out. It’s more of a ballad than a hard rock song with a fairly slow tempo and general acoustic-ness. Also, I just has an epiphany: that’s a tree on the album cover. I always thought it was a tornado.

220px-Linkin_park_hybrid_theoryLinkin Park – Runaway – 2000

Linkin Park was the hottest thing in rock music in 2000 and 2001. Hybrid Theory officially only had four singles but I swear I heard 90% of this album on the radio. “Runaway” was not an official single but it did chart – peaking at #37 on the Mainstream Rock chart. I still know almost every word of this song somehow…

220px-Once_Soundtrack_CoverGlen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – “Falling Slowly” – (2007)

Folk music has never really been the mainstream genre… it sort of infiltrates and disappears throughout time. Folk rock is sort of popular right now but back in 2007 there was a movie called Once about two musicians – namely Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. It’s fictional, but the two stars wrote and performed all of the music, including this beautiful song that won an Oscar for Best Original Song. It was a top ten hit in Canada but only managed #61 in the U.S. (proving that it came out just a few years too early to really hit it big). 

220px-Continuum_(album)John Mayer – “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” – (2006)

Continuum is one of my favorite albums. It’s full of really good songs from John Mayer right before his sound started to change. I mean, this was a departure from his previous albums as it’s pretty somber and blues-y, but it hadn’t gone folksy just yet. This was the fourth single from the album – but it only just barely made it onto the Hot 100, peaking at #99, which is a shame, because it’s pretty good.

Bob Rivers – “What if Eminem Did Jingle Bells?” – (2002)

We try and feature a few Christmas songs each year, but this year we’re getting a little shtick-y with some comedy songs. Some, like this one, seem awfully dated. I think everyone respects Eminem at least a little bit and that makes this seem a little over the top. But it is pretty well done. The title pretty much says it all, and whoever is singing sounds enough like Eminem to make it realistic.

Wilco – “Impossible Germany” – (2007)

Here’s a random song by Wilco, a band I kind of don’t really “get” (just like KISS or Frank Zappa). I get the appeal of country/folk/rock bands, but Wilco has never stood out. But I do have this song and I think it has to do with Jeff Tweedy just repeating “impossible Germany, unlikely Japan” and the music is kind of nice. But other than that I can’t explain it.

3 Doors Down – “Not Enough” – (2000)

The Better Life was a huge success. It had four huge singles, three of which were #1s on the rock chart and one was a top three single on the Hot 100. This was not a single, but it did receive airplay (at least where I live) on rock radio. It’s really not that bad either, and right in line with the rest of the album. Give it a go if you don’t know it.

John Mayer – “Bigger Than My Body” – (2003)

Look at how young John Mayer looks in this video. This was the first single from his second studio album, Heavier Things. The album title is John being snarky at his critics that said he only wrote light, poppy songs. In a different way, this song has much more electric guitar (a heavier sound) and was his first post-9/11 album (and light, poppy songs sort of disappeared for a bit). Yet this song is still upbeat and happy and very radio friendly (something Mayer seems to be grasping for at this point, but at the same time, I don’t think he cares).

Michael Buble – “Nice ‘n’ Easy” – (2005)

Nice ‘n’ Easy was the title of a 1960 Sinatra album with this as the title track. It’s one of Sinatra’s signature songs (one of his many, anyway) and while I think Buble does a pretty decent cover of it, it takes either a certain arrogance or balls to even cover Sinatra and think you can do it over and over again. Like him or not, he pulls this one off.

The Lonely Island feat. Justin Timberlake – “Dick in a Box” – (2006)

Yeah, yeah. I know I always list the album release year as the date above, but because this was an SNL Digital Short in 2006, I listed it as that (the album came out in 2006). This was one of the biggest Digital Shorts they ever did. The song was recorded in one night and the music video shot in a day. SNL published the uncensored song online the day after it aired and it was a huge internet phenomenon. The song actually won an Emmy and the two characters that Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake created for this song have made re-appearances, releasing two more songs. And yes, I know I’m at the bottom of the duet barrel.

Gwen Stefani feat. Eve – “Rich Girl” – (2004)

Gwen Stefani’s debut solo album, while not No Doubt, really wasn’t too bad. “Interesting” might be one way to classify it, but hits like this propelled it to multi-platinum status with over seven million copies sold. This is actually a Dr. Dre-produced cover of a song from 1993 and features Eve. It was Eve who gave Gwen one of her first solo hits with her song “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.” This peaked at #7 on the Hot 100.

Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton – “Big Yellow Taxi” – (2002)

“Big Yellow Taxi” is a song originally written and obnoxiously recorded by Joni Mitchell. It’s been covered a lot over the years, but most famously by Counting Crows with vocals by Vanessa Carlton. This was the biggest version, becoming an Adult Contemporary top five hit. This song came from an era of music where artists just covered older songs (looking at you Smash Mouth and Uncle Kracker). While I don’t love this song (but do love its message), it is infinitely better than the nerve-grating original.