Before Lady Gaga, Iggy Azalea, Adele, One Direction and Susan Boyle, there was a decade where musicians worked hard to break out of the 90s clutter. Artists pushed the boundaries of musical creativity. It was about discovery and the beginnings of authenticity. They ushered in a new generation of music, and much of what we listen to today, is owed to the trials of artists a decade before.
In 2004, songs weren’t freely available for downloads. We had to wait for them to come on the radio, so that we could turn up the volume and sing along at the top of our lungs. MTV still played music videos and we would watch Total Request Live and mimic dance moves.
Top ten count downs were cool (they still are). Hence, this list about the ten best songs from ten years ago:
10. The Reason- Hoobastank
This was undoubtedly one of the greatest love songs of our generation. (Hyperbole much?) This gem was Hoobastank’s most commercially successful single. It was listed high up on a number of charts and received a “Song of the year” Grammy nomination. Who could forget the music video where the band members stage a car accident as a diversion to steal a gem, the Chiara Star Ruby. Genius. And then they disappeared and we never heard from them again… I blame the name, a band simply can’t survive the music industry without suffering a few blows with a suicidal name like that.
9. In the Shadows- The Rasmus
This Finnish alternative rock band gave us eyeliner, crows and hard rock, only softer. I remember going to a school dance, we all jumped up and down in unison when the mediocre DJ (really just a school teacher manning the sound system) tuned to the track. It was great! We were on the brink of teenage-hood and dark things seemed teenage-ry. The song was so popular they made three versions of the music video, one for Finland, one for the USA and one for Europe (and everyone else).
8. Take me out- Franz Ferdinand
The indie rock band from Glasgow exploded onto the music scene with this hit. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in November 2004. The 1930s inspired music video included two dimensional shapes and various images put together as a montage. The single was followed by the equally bass-fueled, This Fire. The band’s music videos and art pieces draw inspiration from Russian avant-garde. Also, they made Scotland seem cool and made you dance like a Catholic school girl who got high for the first time. (Just saying).
7. Milkshake- Kelis
Everybody now, “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard”… This was the lead single from Kelis’ album Tasty. There isn’t anything artistically creative about the song, and the music video wasn’t special either, but it was a social phenomenon. The song was featured in the movies Mean Girls, Norbit, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and series like Two Broke Girls and Orange Is The New Black. Besides that, people are always referencing it and there are tons of 9gag.com images inspired by it, 10 years on!
6. Toxic- Britney spears
You can’t draw up a list like this without Britney. Type Britney in Google and there are bound to be a number of results generated for Toxic. The success of the song was timeless. Well, Her Royal Sexiness did strut her stuff in a racy music video that lasted three and a half minutes. It topped a number of charts and earned old Britters a Grammy.
5. Yeah- Usher
“Peace up, A town.” Okay homies, Usher roped in Ludacris to push this one to the top. It was the longest running number one single in 2004. Those signature dance moves, slick style and blue strobe lights and sick beat, packed a punch. Usher bagged a Grammy, and we were hooked on what would soon become a classic. The song was cross-cultural and for the first time ever, white guys picked up a few manageable dance moves (or not).
4. Just lose it- Eminem
As for the Rap god, this was the first of Eminem’s singles which did not contain the F-word! The Michael Jackson parody was cruel, but we laughed. It was not as successful as The Real Slim Shady and the song was panned by some critics. But faithful fans had this on repeat.
3. Drop it like it’s hot- Snoop Dogg
Thank goodness Snoop was around to redeem rap and hip hop, you know, forgetting the drug offences and all. Drop It Like It’s Hot was Snoop’s first single to top the US Billboard Hot 100. In December 2009, Billboard named it the most popular Rap Song of the decade. Ah, doesn’t it make you miss the days when Snoop wasn’t a Lion and when Pharrell never wore hats?
2. Lose my breath- Destiny’s Child
This is only on the list because we needed to acknowledge Beyonce’s humble beginnings. Also the single comes off the last Destiny’s Child album, Destiny Fulfilled. The track was a commercial success, topping charts in Europe and USA. The girls got a Grammy nomination and Michelle was side-lined once again, for the sake of third-wheel memes, 10 years later. Lose My Breath served as a comeback single after the group’s three year hiatus. The music video featured a classic Destiny’s Child dance-off, against themselves. Let’s here it for the independent women (Applause).
1. This Love- Maroon 5
Two words: Adam Levine. Remember when Adam Levine didn’t have blonde hair, and when he wasn’t married to a Victoria’s Secret model? Yes, that was back in 2004. Songs About Jane… the album that educated us about the beautiful birds and the bees. This Love was the third most played song of 2004. It is one of Maroon 5’s most successful songs and earned them a Grammy. It was listed as a top ten track in 12 countries and launched the band into a spiral of success. Word is, Adam wrote This Love after a break-up with a girlfriend… essentially, he was the original Taylor Swift.
Other songs that didn’t make the list, but deserve a mention include:
Natasha Bedingfield’s These Words, with it’s infectious (I love you, I love you), it topped a few charts and pop critics were impressed with it. Gwen Stefani’s solo debut- What You Waiting For (Epic Alice in Wonderland music video by the way), and she sported some accessories, I mean Harajuku girls. One of P!nk’s anthem’s about living life to the fullest, God Is A DJ (Which was also featured on the Mean Girls soundtrack). Green Day’s American Idiot, it received positive reviews even though it criticized the state of the USA at the time. Mr Brightside, the debut single of The Killers, it was named the song of the decade by UK based radio stations in 2010. And finally, just to ruin the rapport we’ve established, an English boy band with an unimaginative name, Curtain Falls by Blue, it was released as a single for the band’s first Greatest Hits album (I know, how is it possible for a boy band to reach that milestone?).