erasing clouds

My Twenty Favorite Songs of 2001

by Matthew Webber

1) Missy Elliot - "Get Ur Freak On"
What's the dilly-o? What's the drilly-o? Why do I become such a silly ho every time I hear this joint on the radio? I recommend you chilly-o, kick back and enjoy the video, and if you wanna battle me, then, people, let me know. Holla!

2) Tori Amos - "'97 Bonnie & Clyde"
Had Tori recycled a pop song from the '80s instead of from four years ago, she might have achieved the chart success that has always eluded her, the success reserved for cheeky, upstart alt-rock bands like Alien Ant Farm. She might not have gotten dropped by herrecord label, Atlantic. But then she wouldn't have recorded the scariest song of her career and the feminist musical statement of the year. While Christina Aguilera responds to Eminem's rants by dueting with Fred Durst, Tori responds by reclaiming his song for any woman who's ever been abused. Would other real artists please stand up? Please?

3) Tenacious D - "Tribute"
This song was hilarious, even if you didn't get the joke. It was more side-splitting if you've ever listened to Rush or Styx. When the song's shiny demon asks these two acoustic guitar-wielding troubadours if they are angels, they should have responded, "No, but we are the priests of the Temples of Syrinx," which would have made the devil unleash O-Town upon us all. May God have mercy on our souls.

4) Ben Folds - "Rocking the Suburbs"
In the second funniest song of the year, the band-less Ben Folds sang what all of us male, middle-class, white and well-adjusted males have been thinking: Y'all rap-rockers don't know what it's like to really suffer, so kindly please shut up. My favorite moment of the song comes when Folds, as pissed off as he can be at his uptight parents, can only express the strife he feels inside by cussing on the mic tonight. Folds earns bonus props for rhyming "just like Quiet Riot did" with "they were talented."

5) Jay-Z - "Girls Girls Girls"
Misogyny has never sounded so smooth.

6) System of a Down - "Chop Suey"
I have no idea what this song means, but I'm sure it's supposed to be important. I mean, holy God: self-righteous suicide, angels who deserve to die, grabbing a brush and putting on a little makeup - that's enough to make a lead singer cuss on the mic! (Maybe the band ate some nasty Asian food? Hmmm.) With lead-singer Serj Tankanian's screaming like the Tasmanian devil rendering most of his lyrics unintelligible, the only conclusion I can reach is that the verse-chorus dynamics of this song are supposed to rock you. Hard. So they do.

7) Destiny's Child - "Bootylicious"
Beyonce, Michelle and Kelly: I think I speak for the rest of America when I say we were in no way ready for your jelly. In fact, the three of you just might have been the only people who were able to handle it. Next time give us some kind of warning, like McDonalds puts on its coffee cups or the surgeon general puts on cigarette packs.

8) Daft Punk - "One More Time"
The vocoder was invented to be used on this song. It wasn't invented for any other. Ever. So Cher, Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker, Faith Hill, anybody else who is contemplating recording an album: Never. Use. Vocoders. Again. And don't sing "tonight-tah" because it's already been done.

9) Dido - "Thank You"
I'm still not sick of it, and that's really saying something.

10) Linkin Park - "In the End"
Linkin Park's third single did what the first two couldn't: make me admit to anybody that I actually like this band. I would try to convince you, but I might as well argue with my socks. Either you're laughing at me now, or you, too, are guilty. Help is available, but you have to seek it out.

11) The Strokes - "Last Night"
Like every other music critic, I found this song to be a genius potpourri of rock 'n' roll swagger, pop sensibility and a DIY attitude. Unlike my peers, I found everything else on The Strokes' debut album to be lacking in melody, production values and originality. And I really wish they'd end that tinny affect on the lead singer's voice. But they sure do look fashionable!

12) P-Diddy - "Bad Boy for Life"
When Sean "Puffy" Combs changed his moniker to P-Diddy, I have to admit I doubted his badness. After seeing this video, I LOL-ed at his claim. However, this in no way means I can resist shouting this hook or emulating Beavis and Butthead by chanting the messy riff. P-Diddy's career ain't goin' nowhere, and he certainly can be stopped, but he's a BAD BOY FOR LIFE!!! Fo shizzle.

13) Gorillaz - "Clint Eastwood"
I suppose the concept of a cartoon rock band voiced by some of the hippest musical artists in the world could be viewed as ironic, which of course lends itself itself to being viewed as ingenious - which I don't mind labeling this unexpected hit. The featured rapper, Del, earns his Funky Homosapien alias, while Blur's Damon Albarn mumbles a hook for which Nate Dogg would pop a cap. Fan mags, lunchboxes and trading cards available soon.

14) Marilyn Manson - "Tainted Love"
This cover of Soft Cell's one hit was rumored to have been released as a single this year. Unfortunately for Marilyn Manson, the post-September 11th American public worries about him less than the pre-September 11th populace did, as if that were even possible. If you somehow managed to hear this song, you too might have appreciated such a cultural critic as Manson (if you think about it, that's really what he is) exposing the blackness of a song that previously had been relegated to a punchline in a humorous television commercial. But you probably didn't think about Marilyn Manson until you saw his name on this list.

15) Britney Spears - "I'm a Slave 4 U", 'N Sync - "Pop"
I realize I'm cheating by choosing two songs, but both songs affected me in exactly the same way. I tried my hardest to hate them, but I couldn't. I tried my hardest to avoid them, which was easier since MTV and radio didn't support these artists' (insert your own ironic quotation marks around that word) attempts to grow up. Those dope beats were wasted on artists and audiences alike, as neither set could comprehend what mature music is supposed to sound or look like. If Britney and 'N Sync continue to grow up, their music might get funkier, their record sales might slump, Britney might pose for Playboy, the formerly ubiquitous hitmaker Max Martin might have to write and produce commercial jingles to put caviar on the table - and everyone will know that this is the moment when the pop life faded out.

16) Weezer - "Hash Pipe"
The return of Weezer delighted nerds, introverts and lovers of smart rock 'n' roll everywhere. You gotta love that falsetto.

17) Radiohead - "The Pyramid Song"
Radiohead proved it still knows how to write a pop song. That fans debate Kid A versus Amnesiac, both albums versus OK Computer and any alt-rock record of the '90s versus The Bends proves that not all music listeners enjoy Ja Rule/Jennifer Lopez duets, angry rock bands whose names are past-tense and all-star benefit singalongs.

18) Coldplay - "Yellow"
That radio spun this song as often as it did proves that some music listeners are hungry for the type of pop songs Radiohead used to write. I'm still not sick of this song either.

19) Bubba Sparxxx - "Ugly"
In 2001, hip-hop went mainstream. If a southern farmboy as crackerfied as Bubba Sparxxx (his name is Bubba for Christ's sake!) can respectably rock a rhyme, nobody can ever again claim that hip-hop is a fad. While Bubba has an original flow, clever metaphors and memorable lines, it didn't hurt his popularity or credibility that he chose to hook up with producer of the year Timbaland. Hell, if Timmy gave me a beat as mind-blowing as this or "Get Ur Freak On," even I could be worthy of Nas' or Jay-Z's beef. I need to start cutting my demo.

20) U2 - "Walk On"
An anthem for peace, forgiveness and unity after September 11th, "Walk On" was an unforgettable pop song beforehand. Lyrics like these and the Edge's unmistakable guitar sound are the reason U2 continues to sell out arenas. They may or may not be the biggest band in the world right now, but who else, honestly, deserves such hyperbole?

Issue 8 1/2, February 2002 | next article

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