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.

Fantasia – “I Believe” – (2004)

The purpose of this site originally was to highlight songs from the 1990s that you (and time) forgot about. Over time it has evolved into a site about music in general – a song-a-day type of thing. Well here is a song I’m almost certain you don’t remember. By an artist you might not even remember. Fantasia Barrino won the third season of American Idol and then disappeared as far as I know. What sucked about American Idol then (don’t worry, it still sucks now) was that the final song by the winner would always shoot to #1 on the Hot 100 because for some dumb reason Billboard counted all of those teenagers’ text votes as song requests or something. This was a #1 hit. That should infuriate you. I have never heard it on the radio. Not even then. The only good thing here is, unlike all of these crappy shows like The Voice where some over made-up weirdo sings a cover of a song already made famous by a talented individual – this was an original song written for American Idol.

Lenny Kravitz – “Where Are We Runnin’?” – (2004)

This song was Lenny Kravitz’s first hit in five years. It only reached #69 on the Hot 100, but at least it charted. It’s an upbeat rock song and I feel like it had to have appeared on a commercial for something, but maybe I just remember hearing it on the radio – primarily rock radio. It’s classic Kravitz and he really hasn’t had this big of a hit since. But he’s a great musician and you should never count him out.

#33 – Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out” – (2004)

Remember when Franz Ferdinand blasted onto the scene with this single? It was all over the radio and used in a lot of other things (movies, commercials, video games). Listen to that guitar – it’s impossible not to be able to pick it out above all other things (and it’s the part people instantly recognize). This was a top five hit in the U.K. and in the U.S. on the Modern Rock chart. It wasn’t their last hit either, but they certainly haven’t found this level of mainstream success again.

#51 – Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris – “Yeah!” – (2004)

Some people might rank this as the best song of the decade – it’s definitely one of the songs with the most staying power. It still gets regular radio airplay and is a staple of weddings and dances. It’s Usher’s most popular song, easily, and one of his best. And you have to love Lil Jon in the background (this was recorded and released at the height of Lil Jon’s brief bought with fame) just screaming “Yeah.” Ludacris adds a little more to the song (even though both featured artists have their own verse). And this song is why I refer to Usher as “Ursher.” It was a U.S. #1 – and also #1 in: U.K., Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Ireland, Hungary, Germany, France, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Austria and Australia. Which is pretty good. So why is it at #51? I can’t put my finger on it, but I just haven’t always been sold on it. It’s super catchy, but there are better songs out there.

#62 – Modest Mouse – “Float On” – (2004)

This Grammy-nominated tune from Modest Mouse was a Modern Rock #1 and it’s one of my favorite rock (or indie rock) tracks from the decade. The opening lyrics: “I backed my car into a cop car the other day – well he just drove sometimes life’s okay” sets the tone for the song, which is pretty happy. The guitar riff is also really catchy. I dig it.

#70 – Los Lonely Boys – “Heaven” – (2004)

Los Lonely Boys is a trio from Texas that performs their own unique style of music. It’s a blend of Tejano, country, blues and rock. And this song exemplifies that combination. This was their debut single, which is pretty amazing, and they’ve yet to top it. It hit #16 on the Hot 100. It’s got some Spanish lyrics and you can almost feel Texas oozing through the song.

#73 – Jay-Z and Linkin Park – “Numb/Encore” – (2004)

In the era of YouTube, mashups are everywhere. Some creative individual will take a random song and splice and weave it together with another random track and create something new. Well back in 2004, mashups weren’t heard by most people outside of clubs and certainly not on the radio. Well that changed with the release of Collision Course – a collaborative album between Linkin Park and Jay-Z. It only had six songs on it and they were all Jay-Z songs mashed with those from Linkin Park. A couple of them are really good – this one might be the best. Lyrics are drawn from both songs and the music is from Linkin Park’s “Numb.” It was a #1 single on the Eurochart 100 and in Ireland and a top 20 in the U.S. Mixing two popular songs doesn’t get much better than this – because it enhances both songs.

Well I’m wasting no time in starting our next countdown: the Top 100 Songs of the Noughties. The 100 greatest songs released between 2000 and 2009. I chose to call it “the noughties” because that is my favorite name for the decade and the “00s” looks dumb and isn’t as fun to say. Now, in previous countdowns I’ve instituted rules such as “one song per artist.” That’s not the case this time around. And I know the theme of this blog is “re-discover songs from your past” and 2009 wasn’t all that long ago. But the entire decade has ended (were in the 4th year of the next decade, if I may scare you a little). Enough time has passed to sort through the music and find what I thought was the best – and that’s just it. It’s my opinion. You probably won’t agree, but at least you’ll get an insight into my warped mind. But seriously, I will try and make an argument as to why each song is here.

Also, you may notice a slight favoring of songs from the year 2000 and early 2001. This is because I love the 1990s and the 1990s didn’t end until 9/11. Think about it. They didn’t. At least not musically (okay, 2001 was pretty different from 2000, which was just an extension of 1999). There is also a favoring of later in the decade with the middle part getting skimmed over. Because it sucked. Almost all of these songs got regular radio airplay on pop music stations (with very few, and worthy, exceptions). The two songs I feature this week were “leftovers” – songs I don’t remember hearing on the radio that I personally discovered after the decade had ended. Here we go…

Ray LaMontagne – “Trouble” – (2004)

Trouble was Ray LaMontagne’s debut album and the title track from it, this, is the pick of the album. Perhaps you’ve heard this song as it’s featured on a commercial for Travelers Insurance where the little white dog is worried about where to hide his bone. LaMontagne’s raspy, soulful voice gives this folk song a very bluesy feel. His songs all feel like they’re 40 years old – in a very good way. He sounds a little like Van Morrison – but he’s not ripping them off. His stuff is all his own and it’s awesome.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Wizards in Winter” – (2004)

This is a rockin’ Christmas song by the people who know how to rock Christmas better than anyone else. It was released toward the end of 2004, but in 2005 it took on a life of its own. A guy in Ohio put up 16,000 Christmas lights in his yard and synchronized them to this song. Then he broadcast the song on a low-frequency radio from his house so anyone driving by could listen to it and watch the show. It caught on online and was eventually used in a Miller commercial. In fact, the “Official” video for this song (from Atlantic Records) is the video of that guy’s house. TSO really grabbed some new fans because of it.

I know some people that really don’t like the Scissor Sisters or this song. But I fear that has more to do with homophobia than any real distaste for the music. If it was out of a dislike for the music, they’d be crazy because this song is wicked catchy (say that with a Boston accent). They’re a glam rock band, so there’s bound to be some weirdness (think Bowie circa Ziggy Stardust weird) but the music is catchy (as was Bowie’s). It really bugs me when people don’t give the music a chance because they have something against the band. Then again, I’m guilty of the same thing (sorry, Nickelback).

This song is from the band’s 2004 eponymous album. I especially like it when the lyrics hit a really high note. Here’s half of the chorus:

“Gonna take your mama out all night,

Yeah, we’ll show her what it’s all about

We’ll get her jacked up on some cheap champagne,

We’ll let the good times all roll out.”

#1 – Barenaked Ladies feat. Sarah McLachlan – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” – (2004)

Why is this song the number one Christmas song? Listen to Sarah McLachlan’s voice. Listen to the ‘bare’ musical accompaniment. Just listen to the song. The Barenaked Ladies are an amazing band to begin with, but when you throw in the incomparable talent of someone like Sarah McLachlan… watch out. This is the only Christmas song (TSO not included) that I blare my radio whenever it comes on – to the point where the speakers scream in pain. There is just something magical about this song.