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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

DJ Sammy and Yanou feat. Do – “Heaven” – (2002)

Yeah, I’m really stretching the definition of “duet” here – slaughtering it really. DJ Sammy (who is from Spain) and Yanou (who is from Germany) are two DJs and they recruited Dutch singer Do to do vocals on this dance cover of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven.” While the Bryan Adams version hit #1, this version – or, the “Candlelight Mix” (which is a less-techno-y version) – ended up at #8 on the Hot 100. I prefer the faster, non-Candlelight version.

Jennifer Lopez feat. LL Cool J – “All I Have” – (2002)

This was the second single from J.Lo’s “Jenny From the Block” album (that’s not actually what the album’s called, but it’s the single it is best known for and how I refer to not only the album but this phase in J.Lo’s career – as if I do this a lot). This is one of those #1 hits that I don’t ever actually remember hearing on the radio. I remember the Christmas-themed video on MTV back in the day, but the song was somewhat foreign for many years. And this is one of the last songs I can recall from LL Cool J before he went all NCIS on us.

Chad Kroeger feat. Josey Scott – “Hero” – (2002)

“Hero” was the theme song for the constantly-being-rebooted Spiderman back in 2002. The song was the result of Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and Saliva’s Josey Scott. Theory of a Deadman frontman Tyler Connolly also co-wrote the song with the other two and performed as part of the group. Mike Kroeger (also of Nickelback) is on bass and the drummer is Matt Cameron (of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden fame). The song was very popular in the aftermath of 9/11 and received a lot of airplay, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 and in the top five of four other American Billboard charts – and it charted all over the world too. I grew tired of it quickly but I wouldn’t say I loathe it.

Adam Sandler feat. Rob Schneider & The Drei-Dells – “The Chanukah Song Part III” – (2002)

Chanukah was early this year, so here – in our first post for December 2013 – is the final (or at least, the most recent) version of Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Songs. Adam Sandler performed it live on the opening of an SNL episode near the end of 2002 with Rob Schneider singing a verse and the children’s choir The Drei-Dells providing background vocals. It’s the normal run-down of Jewish (or part-Jewish) celebrities, the best of them being “Tom Arnold converted to Judaism, but you guys can have him back.”

#3 – Eminem – “Lose Yourself” – (2002)

Everybody remembers how big this song was and what a big deal was made of the “Eminem movie” (8 Mile). I never saw it (as I have been able to avoid just about every “hip-hop drama” ever made) and have no desire to see it. And I got kind of bored with the song because it was on the air constantly – it was a #1 on the Hot 100. It also won an Oscar and a Grammy. Can you believe that Eminem is halfway to EGOTing? Watch out Barbra Streisand. Honestly though, this might be Eminem’s masterpiece. It’s certainly one of the most powerful hip-hop songs ever written. In some ways, it signaled a change in Eminem’s career path. More or less gone were the goofy early days of Slim Shady and the angry (and arguably just as fun) Eminem had emerged. It’s pretty good.

#9 – Coldplay – “Clocks” – (2002)

I think we can all agree that Coldplay is one of the biggest bands (if not the biggest band) of the 2000s (and going). I can’t believe this song is 11 years old. It has some of the catchiest and melodious piano hooks ever. A Rush of Blood to the Head is among the greatest albums of the decade and this is the best song on the album. It’s one of Coldplay’s signature songs – mostly because of that piano hook. It wasn’t a huge hit (never hit #1 anywhere) but it did win a Grammy for Record of the Year.

#17 – Norah Jones – “Don’t Know Why” – (2002)

If you haven’t noticed, we’re into the heavy hitters now. This was Norah Jones’ first successful single and it was a cover. She is incredibly talented and has an amazing voice – this won her three Grammys including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal. She’s obviously popular in jazzier circles, but this song let every Top 40 radio listener in America experience her talent and know that she is a musical force to be reckoned with. I know the original mission of this site was to help you find songs you may have forgotten about (or overlooked) but I find it impossible that anyone could have forgotten this song.

#40 – Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell – “Beautiful” – (2002)

I love this song. “Beautiful” is not only the title, but the best way to describe it. Watch the video – it was filmed in Rio de Janeiro and I always picture it when listening to the song. This is Snoop’s best song, I think, and Pharrell kill it every time he is featured on a song – and that’s no different here. You might not like rap music (this is more hip-hop than straight-up rap) but you can’t deny Pharrell’s calming vocals on this track. That and the gorgeous beat. This was a top 10 hit just about everywhere – and rightfully so. Definitely one of my favorites – of both the decade and the genre.

#42 – Michael Andrews & Gary Jules – “Mad World” – (2001)

This is how to cover a song and make it your own. Originally done by Tears for Fears in 1982, it was transformed from New Wave/Synthpop into hauntingly beautiful by film score composer Michael Andrews and musician Gary Jules for the movie Donnie Darko. The only instruments are a piano and a cello. The vocals are haunting, really – there’s no other word for it. The sadness of the lyrics are evoked perfectly. It was a huge hit in some countries – a #1 in the U.K. and Portugal. It’s infinitely better than the original.

#52 – John Mayer – “Your Body is a Wonderland” – (2001)

John Mayer has changed styles and looks a few times over the years but what hasn’t changed is A: his ability to play the guitar and B: that he’s actually a really good songwriter. This was Mayer’s second single from Room for Squares – his breakout album. The singles were released in 2002 and after his first single took off, this was released and it was even bigger. A big A/C hit, it peaked at #18 on the Hot 100 and remains one of his best songs. People mock his vocals a lot – and this song contributes heavily to that – but it’s a really good song, I don’t care what you say. And it should probably be much higher on this list.

#61 – Nirvana – “You Know You’re Right” – (2002)

Whaaat? A song from Nirvana released in 2002? Yep, and it was a big deal when it happened, too. This song was written in 1993 (and recorded in January of 1994) – one of the last known songs written by Kurt Cobain and the final song the band recorded. It existed for years as a bootlegged live version but it was locked away because Courtney Love kept suing Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic over how it should be released. And she won – the song was released on a single-disc, self-titled greatest hits album in 2002. It topped both American rock charts and hit #45 on the Hot 100. It’s weird to think how things would’ve been different had this come out in 1994 on another Nirvana album. Cobain’s death derailed an entire genre of music, for better or worse. If you think about the grunge/post-grunge songs you know from 1994 and 1995, they don’t sound like this at all. The course of music history could’ve (and very probably would’ve) been very different had Kurt stayed around a while longer. But at least we finally have this track. Who knows what else time will release to us.

#64 – Justin Timberlake – “Rock Your Body” – (2002)

As a Millennial, I witnesses music like this from inside the target demographic. And something weird happened around this time. This wasn’t necessarily the rule, but what I saw was that around 1999/2000 – the boy bands and girl groups and rock bands all had their own audiences. Girls loved NSYNC and boys thought Britney was hot but wouldn’t admit to liking her music – they preferred dumb, hard rock – because it was “music.” Well this was JT’s first solo album and this track was a solid hit (top five in the U.S.). But guys still wouldn’t admit to liking the music – this was just another NSYNC member who would have a brief solo career and disappear like Nick Lachey. Anyone who thought that about Timberlake was dead wrong (obviously) and his music has become more and more impressive as his career progresses. There will always be those who refuse to admit his talent – but he has a lot of it and this was just the start of him being able to showcase it.

#68 – Missy Elliott feat. Ludacris – “Gossip Folks” – (2002)

This is my favorite song by Missy. It hit #8 on the Hot 100 but I know I hated it when it came out, as popular as it was. When I hear the song, the first thing I think of is the music video which takes place in a school and has some elaborate dancing and matching Adidas track suits. Then there’s the “lyrics.” The chorus is roughly this (which I lifted off another website as it is impossible to translate from the song):

Milzee gilzot silzomebilzody plilzays dilzouble gilzood
Hilzzoo?
My gizzirl!
Brillzing her izzin!
Izzo kizzay!
Izzall rizzight…
Izzo kizzay!
Izzall rizzight! Nizzow wizzee wilzzo-izzo-zee!

Right. I think this is Ludacris’ only appearance on this list, too.

#80 – Maroon 5 – “This Love” – (2002)

I really can’t stand Maroon 5 anymore – their songs are on the radio 24/7 and it seems like radio stations are willing to play any single they decide to release – good or not. And dumb radio listeners eat it up even though they all sound the same. Well this was Maroon 5’s second single and the best song from their debut album. It’s still one of their best songs. It was a top five in the U.S. and a top 10 in most of the world. The song was played all the time – not a bad thing in the day. It’s just that every other song of theirs became played all the time. And Adam Levine became kind of annoying with his multiple television appearances etc. But this was a good one.

#94 – Phantom Planet – “California” – (2002)

This rock song but Phantom Planet on the map, albeit briefly. It rocketed to prominence as the theme song to The O.C. – a sort of Beverly Hills 90210 for the 2000s. It was one of those shows (and there were multiple during this period of time) that made Southern California seem like a really great place to live (“ooh it’s so sunny and beach-y” and “everyone has upper-class white people problems”). This song had quite a following among teens who watched the show – and foreigners: it was a top ten hit in the U.K., Austria, Ireland and Italy.

#97 – Red Hot Chili Peppers – “The Zephyr Song” – (2002)

I remember everyone being excited when the Chili Peppers released their first album in the 2000s. There’s an effect that big artists get their newest single on the radio with no effort at all. It doesn’t even have to be good. If a popular artist releases trash, it still gets played (I want to call this the “Fun.” Effect). The title song and lead single off this album was trash. This song, however, I’ve always kind of liked. It was single #2 and it barely cracked the top 50 on the Hot 100. But it’s very mellow and nice. It redeems them for the rest of the album.