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.

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.

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.

John Mayer – “Vultures” – (2006)

This is my favorite song from my favorite John Mayer album – but it isn’t my favorite John Mayer song. It is the only song on the album that was actually written by the entire John Mayer Trio and the live version is pretty awesome too (not something I can always say about any artist). The guitar hook is super catchy and the lyric delivery just rocks (both are pretty normal for John Mayer). It’s bluesy and pop-esque and very, very good.

#1 – Justin Timberlake – “SexyBack” – (2006)

It was this song (and this album) that told me that Justin Timberlake is going to be the biggest pop star in the world – and one that, so far, I respect. He is extremely talented – much more so than his NSYNC days would lead you to believe, with that curly bleached-blond weirdo hairdo. This song topped about every pop chart in the U.S. and many overseas. A lot of credit has to go to Timbaland – who owned 2006. He produced this album and co-wrote the song (and appears in it as well). I have zero doubt that this is the biggest song of the 2000s. It put J.T. on top of the world and he hasn’t left that position since. Thanks for following along!

#8 – Lily Allen – “Smile” – (2006)

“Smile” was Lily Allen’s first single and biggest hit. It has a catchy, bouncing beat and sassy, cheeky lyrics delivered in a even-toned voice. The chorus “At worst I feel bad for a while, then I just smile” is easy to pick up. It was a #1 in the U.K. – rightfully so as Lily Allen was a huge star around the time this came out and a kind of musical darling of London (perhaps that’s overstating it a little). Anyway, this is one of the best examples of this decade’s sound.

#18 – Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy” – (2006)

This is another one of those songs that many people would’ve put at #1 on this list. I think it’s near-amazing, but not quite and I was never a fan of it when it came out. Cee Lo Green (the vocalist here and half of Gnarls Barkley) has gone on to be much more famous outside this song but this is what put him on most people’s maps (he was in Goodie Mob back in the 90s). It hit #2 in the U.S. and has appeared everywhere and won a Grammy. This is easily one of the biggest songs of the decade by arguably a one-hit wonder.

#19 – Corinne Bailey Rae – “Put Your Records On” – (2006)

English singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae popped onto the scene with this song in 2006. Unfortunately, radio-bound Americans haven’t heard anything from her since. But that doesn’t take away from the stellar-ness of this song. It got her nominated for three Grammys including Best New Artist – which she lost to Carrie Underwood. It didn’t hit #1 anywhere and didn’t make much noise on the U.S. charts but it was a worldwide hit and if you’re lucky you might catch it on the radio here and there.

#25 – Damien Rice – “9 Crimes” – (2006)

Damien Rice can write a haunting effing song. This song definitely hits that mark and so did his previous album. The music is minimalistic, for the most part, and the lyrics start off very soft and remain relatively soft – but they definitely build as the song goes on. The music actually sounds orchestral – which goes a long way to making this a beautiful song.

#47 – Muse – “Supermassive Black Hole” – (2006)

This is one of the best rock songs of the decade (so the inevitable “Best Rock Songs of the 00s” list takes another hit with its posting here). Muse is on-going in the pursuit of being labeled rock gods, but this remains one of their best songs and it was really the track that broke them into the U.S. market even though it was from their 4th album. It is the biggest U.K. hit to date. If I had to describe this song in one word, it would be “distorted.” The distortions are what makes the song – the guitar, the vocals. It just adds up to awesomeness.

#53 – Lupe Fiasco feat. Jill Scott – “Daydreamin’” – (2006)

This song is beautiful. It’s heavy on the sampling, but Jill Scott’s voice is so soothing. Lupe Fiasco, of whom I am not really a fan, is the weakest part… I mean, his rapping is okay – at best – but it’s the music and the chorus that really makes this so good. Okay, I should give him more credit. Listen to it and decide for yourself.

#58 – Gwen Stefani feat. Akon – “The Sweet Escape” – (2006)

Gwen Stefani has come a long way from her ska roots. This track was from her second solo album and you can argue about what styles this song dives into but you have to agree that it’s just straight-up pop. It hit #2 on the Hot 100 but was (and still is) a mainstay in the Adult Contemporary realm. What shines here are not only Gwen’s vocals, but Akon’s “Woohoo, yeehoo”s that punctuate the song. Akon is featured on the song, but that’s all he does (besides co-write it). Everyone knows that part, even if they don’t know the song.

#63 – Peter Bjorn and John feat. Victoria Bergsman – “Young Folks” – (2006)

Swedish indie pop band Peter Bjorn and John (no punctuation) released this, their first single, in August of 2006. YouTube was new and MySpace was still kinda-thriving and this made the rounds there rather successfully. In mid-2007 it was picked up on American indie radio stations and, while it didn’t really chart, it still became rather well known. The whistling is really catchy and it’s how most people recognize the song. I’m gonna be honest though: I haven’t heard about Peter Bjorn and John since. But I don’t listen to indie radio, so I wouldn’t really know anyway.

#66 – Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland – “Promiscuous” – (2006)

Let’s start with the fact that Timbaland ruled 2006. He produced everything that mattered that year. Then there was his complete reinvention of Nelly Furtado – quirky Canadian singer/songwriter turned R&B sex symbol. Whaaat? She’s always been attractive but someone came in and “slutted” her up a bit and it resulted in a #1 hit on the Hot 100. The lyrics consist of an insanely catchy duet with a clear delivery which makes them easy to memorize – which always helps popularity. Timbaland is very good in this as well. It kind of still stands as the highlight of Nelly Furtado’s makeover.

#75 – Christina Aguilera – “Ain’t No Other Man” – (2006)

I’ll be the first to admit that Christina Aguilera peaked with her debut album. No doubt. The album she released previous to this was the album that took Christina from teen idol to, well, slutty sex symbol. Four years later she released this album which showed that she had grown up and emphasized her talent over her looks. This is the best song Christina has released since her debut album. The song uses horns and has a funky soul feel to it (and samples and old soul song). It became a top ten hit in the U.S. and in most of the world. It only hit #1 on one chart: the Hot Dance Club Songs.

#78 – Paolo Nutini – “New Shoes” – (2006)

Paolo Nutini is a Scottish singer and These Streets was his first album. This was single no. 4 in the U.K. and the first single released by him in the U.S. It wasn’t a massive hit – bubbling under on the Hot 100, peaking at #108. But it was in commercials and did get some radio airplay. What’s even more is how catchy the song is and the fact that it didn’t become a hit. I feel like it was more popular than #108, but maybe I’m misremembering.

#82 – Daniel Powter – “Bad Day” – (2006)

The album cover at left probably isn’t big enough, but it really shows how dated this is. Look at what he’s wearing, the text on the cover – the picture itself. Was 2006 that long ago? I feel old. And talk about a one-hit wonder: this guy shows up out of nowhere (Canada) with his little hat, scores his first #1, and promptly vanishes back into obscurity. Fun fact: this was the first song to ever sell 2 million digital copies (iTunes). It was everywhere. And the first time you heard it, you may have thought, “Hey, this song ain’t half bad!” And then you heard it another 4 million times. It’s still significant for the decade though.

#92 – Robert Randolph and the Family Band – “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” – (2006)

Not everybody knows about Robert Randolph and the Family Band. And those of you who don’t – check them out. Seriously. It’s amazing to me that songs as good as this go un-played on American radio. But I’ll stop talking about it before I become one of those annoying YouTube commenters bemoaning the death of good music. This is from their second album. And it’s funky. Robert Randolph is consistently ranked among the top guitarists in the world – and he plays the pedal steel guitar. It’s really cool.

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…

#6 – Chris Cornell – “You Know My Name” – (2006)

Strangely, this, the theme for the brilliant Casino Royale, was not available on the film’s soundtrack. It was available as a single, on Chris Cornell’s 2007 album Carry On, and on a James Bond music compilation album. And why does Chris Cornell look like a weird cross of Gary Oldman and Brad Pitt on his album cover? I don’t know either. What this song has going for it is the movie – first of all, it’s incredible. Second, the tone of the movie is much darker than previous films, so this hard rock theme with emotional lyrics works quite well.

Nicholas Dodd – “Casino Royale (Trailer Remix)” – (2006)

Here’s a song that isn’t even a song. It’s the music that is played in the trailer for the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale. I don’t think you can purchase it anywhere, but it is awesome. It’s more suspenseful than the normal theme and even has a bit of choral arrangement toward the end. It builds and falls nicely and it just might be one, if not my favorite piece of Bond music. And it’s from the best Bond movie of them all.

Nicholas Dodd – “The Name’s Bond… James Bond” – (2006)

When the Bond series was re-booted with Daniel Craig in the title role, everything got a little darker. Even the music. The ever-present Bond Theme doesn’t appear in Casino Royale (the 2006 official Bond Casino Royale) until the very end of the movie, that is, the credits. It was re-recorded by Nicholas Dodd, although it was arranged by David Arnold.

Carlos Libedinsky – Narcotango 2 – (2006)

Electro-tango is an even newer form of tango music. It combines smooth electronica with traditional tango music. Carlos Libedinsky’s “Narcotango” projects are classified as “neo-tango,” which is basically just Nuevo tango with some electronic backing. If you like the sound, this album is great. Some of the best tracks are “Solo por Hoy,” “Tres son Multitud,” and “El Aire en Mis Manos.” “Solo por Hoy,” however, is the best.

Tom Petty – “Saving Grace” – (2006)

Tom Petty’s 2000s offerings aren’t as well known as his earlier work and I had it narrowed down between two songs to feature today. I went with “Saving Grace” because it was from Petty’s third (and most recent) solo album, Highway Companion. So this week we’ve featured a track from every Tom Petty solo album, coincidentally they all fell perfectly within out 80s/90s/Present split. “Saving Grace” starts out with a very George Thorogood-feel to it and then you hear Petty’s voice which definitely sounds as if it has aged a fair amount even since 1994. This song cracked the Hot 100 – hitting #100. It was also an almost Top 25 hit (#26) on the Mainstream Rock chart. It just screams Old School in a very cool way. Sorry, Heartbreakers, perhaps we’ll have a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers week soon.

Lily Allen – “Alfie” – (2006)

This song is apparently about Lily’s brother, Alfie and his being lazy. The song is quite catchy with Lily’s soft voice and children’s song-type beat. I read somewhere that it reminded the reviewer of a fairground song and that’s about as perfect description as I’ve seen. There really isn’t much to say about this song other than it’s fun. I hope that’s not what I said about Monday’s song… but I think it is. I’ll have to come up with something more original for Friday. And yes, I realize that since I’ve started incorporating videos in the post, they can’t be played on this site. That’s what I get for trying to link to the “official” video because I thought it would be more stable than a user-uploaded video. But if you click through you can still listen to it and watch the video. Next week, when I go back to the 80s, it’ll be as it used to be, just the link.