It was a great year for music. If 2005 was marked by a resurgence of Coldplay and their signature exquisite agony and remorse, 2006 was marked by my return to the gym, and the house music, thumping bass lines, and shrieking women that came with it. This year's music was a lot faster than last year's. Timbaland was the major force behind most of the songs I loved, and you could find in gym class or on the treadmill to pretty much every one.
10. Ciara, "Get Up" - Your typical Jazze Phe/Ciara classic. Crunky. A great variety of stuff in this song, from the verses to smooth bridge to the chorus to Chamillionaire's great verse. This was the first song of my hip hop class, so maybe it's here for sentimental reasons. "To the city boys she fine and pretty / in the country boys she fine and purdy."
9. Dixie Chicks, "Voice Inside My Head" - I like country songs that tell stories, and this one offers a spare tale of a woman evaluating the choices she has made ("I've got a place, got a husband and a child") and the mistakes that may have followed ("but I'll never forget, what I've given up in you"). It was interesting to hear in the months preceding the wedding, but it's catchy and great, and I love the wurlitzer in the background.
8. TI, "Why You Wanna" - What I love about rap songs with a great beat is, I get to look forward to learning the words. So when TI jacked Crystal Waters' old music for his song, I was pumped. It's smooth, low-key, and it only took a couple weeks for me to rock out the second verse. This was my favorite song at the time of the wedding, and when my alarm went off on the morning of the big day, the radio started playing, with perfect timing, the start of the verse. A sign from above.
7. Cassie, "Me & You" - I heard this for the first time at The Beach club in Vegas with James, and I turned to him and said, this is kind of awesome. Spare, creepy, with classic r&B adlibs and stylings. The harmonies are almost unpleasant, the overall tone kind of sinister, and I haven't stopped listening to it since May.
6. Beyonce, "Deja Vu" - Most people seemed to disagree, but I thought this song was a great followup to "Crazy in Love." The horns were great, Jay-Z's verse was excellent, and she sang it really well. Did you see her on the BET awards in June? I think it was the sickest live performance I have ever seen. I sort of expected her to drop dead, or physically combust, once she reached the peak of the song.
5. Robin Thicke, "Wanna Love You" - this song became an anthem to me. Another white singer doing R&B, with a classic Neptunes beat. Although the song is sometimes a bit somnolent, Pharrell's rap kicks it back up. The lyrics are good too: "she's the kind of girl you wanna marry / science would say that she's a second sunshine / and now my life is sweeter than berries / I guess if we had sex our love would turn to wine." I love wine!
4. Pussycat Dolls, "Beep" - Usually I hate the Black Eyed Peas, but will.i.am hit it out of the park with this track. Great use of strings and heavy instrumentation, smart lyrcis, more bantering back and forth. And the video is hot.
3. Unknown, "Evergreen" - I can't find this song on iTunes or anywhere else. It's not the shitty 1970s ballad by Barbra Streisand (an alarming discovery at first), but it's a treacly ballad nonetheless, converted into a heart-pounding, irresistible house beat that is completely unrelenting. This was the first and best song I learned from the gym - it's great and still makes me work a little harder. The ballad version on iTunes is not indicative of the song's quality at all. L laughed derisively when I played it for her.
2. Nelly Furtado, "Promiscuous" - I hated this song the first few times I heard it (in the car in Vegas), but by the end of the weekend I was growing to love it. It's clever, funny, and sexy. The beat is undeniable. I feel like there's this totally basement-level rhythm of the song that I alwasy get hooked into - this syncopated beat that I have to follow every time. Also, this song turned out to be the main dancing highlight of the wedding (the other one being, when we were having our first dance to "Ribbon in the Sky" and I realized everyone was watching us very intently, so instead of having a shared intimate moment we sort of tried to entertain everyone, dancing-wise).
1. Justin Timberlake, "My Love" - This song was preordained to be my all-time favorite of the year the first time I heard it. The first fifteen seconds or so are unbelievable, and it only gets better: eight interwoven vocal tracks announce "Aint another woman that can take your spot my--", and then: dununu dununu dununu dununu, dununu dununu dununu dununu, dununu dununu dununu dununu DUH DUH DUH - DUH - DUH. The lyrics are smart, plaintive, Timbaland's contribution ("So don't give away my") essential, and TI's rap is awesome and good-spirited and fun. You should see me snarling down the street as I mouth the words on the ipod. I love this track, and I have loved loving this track.
This would be one hell of a mixtape. Also, before we put a close on the year, I would also note my favorite albums of the year: JT's, obviously, John Mayer's "Continuum," and Dixie Chicks' "Taking the Long Way." It's been a great year.