I'm a nerdy list-maker by nature. I won't bother to deny that. It's probably a big reason why I'm so easily drawn to things like predicting the Oscars, and why the NCAA basketball tournament is my favorite sports post-season. Give me something cataloged and listed and seeded one-through-sixteen and I am dorkily enthralled. Top 10 best breakfast cereals of 2006? Yes, please. It explains why I've taken to creating iTunes playlists cataloged by the year the song was released. So far, I've got lists for 2005 back through 2002. iTunes does half the work for you, but it's still fun to browse through the library and remember that the month you graduated college, "Dirrty" was the hot jam. Then, you can boil said lists down even further, so that they fit on one time capsule of a CD.
Thus, in the spirit of time-specific now-stalgia and anal-retentive list-making (and also in the spirit of the hyphen, because would you take a look at that sentence?), I present to you the latest CD I've burned: 2005: Retrospecticus. Not necessarily my very favorite songs from the past 12 months, but the tunes that I think of when I think "2005."
** As always, the eternal disclaimer: I have terrible taste in music. I know this. I'm happy with this. Keep your snooty comments to a minimum.
01 The Killers -- "Mr. Brightside": This was probably my favorite song of the year. And it's caught its second wind with me, too -- that point where you love a song, then it gets kind of played, but now enough time has passed where you love it again. That's where I'm at with this song. Plus, it sure is one purty music video.
02 Kelly Clarkson -- "Since You Been Gone": "Brightside" may be my favorite song of '05, but this was the song that I heard almost every day of this year. God help me, but I do love Kelly Clarkson. I couldn't tell you the mechanics of what goes into making a perfect pop song, but I strongly believe this is one.
03 Ciara f/ Missy Elliot -- "One, Two Step": Weird thing about "One, Two Step": when it was brand new, you could not get away from this jam at the clubs. One night it played four times. Y'all, we were not drunk enough to not notice. So I really, really hated this song, up until two months ago when I gave it another listen. Turns out, it is a fucking stellar dance tune. Plus, Ciara gets bonus points for "My Goodies."
04 All-American Rejects -- "Dirty Little Secret": Not my favorite All-American Rejects song ("The Last Song," I still love you best), but it's still the cream of the pop-punk crop. By which I mean it doesn't make me want to go down to Hot Topic and start punching fifteen year olds.
05 Fall Out Boy -- "Sugar We're Going Down": Completing the pop-punk twin bill. This song had to grow on me, but once it did it tended to define the summer.
06 Gorillaz -- "Feel Good Inc.": Aww, man. This was my jam this year. Fucking incredible in every way. Catchy and weird as hell, which is a fine combination for me.
07 Gwen Stefani f/ Eve -- "Rich Girl": Had to include some Gwen, because she was all over the place this year. But I'm at the point with "Hollaback Girl" where I kind of want to stab my eardrums out. Which is too bad, because I used to love it. "Rich Girl" has the following advantages: 1) Eve, with her "COME together all over the world" hook, which is catchy like bird flu; 2) The phrase "my fancy house in London town"; and 3) The mental image of Gwen in Jewish peasant garb doing "Fiddler on the Roof."
08 Jennifer Lopez -- "Get Right": Club jam second only to "One, Two Step" in terms of dancey goodness. Jenny and I have a turbulent relationship, but '05 was an "on again" year for us.
09 Green Day -- "Holiday": By far, my favorite of the American Idiot songs. Billie Joe does go all Godwin's Law on us by comparing Bush to Hitler, but that last "this is our lives on holidaaaaaaay" makes up for it. Bonus Joe trivia: Green Day were my first concert ever, at the tender age of fifteen. My parents were not waiting for us in the parking lot, but my friend's parents were.
10 Howie Day -- "Collide": If you know me, you know that any playlist will have one puss-rock song in it. I liked Howie Day from way back when he used to open for Tori Amos. This song was stuck in my head for almost a month, and it only got dislodged when it was used as background filler for that awful Jason/Jessica "swear on our relationship?" convo on Laguna Beach. That did the trick. Because: shut up, Jason. But also, even more: shut up, Jessica!
11 My Chemical Romance -- "Helena": I know. Believe me, I know. First of all, I want to rename them The Baby Fat Toy Goth Band. Second of all, the song is about his grandmother. But, honestly, I really, really liked the song. And there was choreographed dancing in the video, which has been catnip for me ever since the days of Janet Jackson's "If." Still, I can't seem to shake the fact that underneath the goth makeup, these guys are secretly the West Memphis Three.
12 Coldplay -- "Speed of Sound": Yeah, it's a letdown from the enduring excellence of "Clocks," but this was a tune that grew on me. Chris Martin has that rare falsetto that doesn't weird me out. He's very comfortable way up there. Almost good enough to make me forget he named his daughter after produce.
13 Kanye West -- "Gold Digger": Jamie Foxx annoyances notwithstanding, this song is so very, very cool. I especially enjoy Kanye's spasm-like dance move when he's all "get down, girl, go 'head, get down." Clever lyrics on this, even if I do feel a little bit guilty for so cheerfully singing along with the "leave yo' ass for a white girl" line. Sorry, Mathan.
14 Song title omitted due to the extreme embarrassment of having this song on my CD. I will never, ever tell.
15 Lifehouse -- "You and Me": Continuing the tradition of me burning a disc for myself with one song that I don't actually like on it. I never seem to realize this until it's too late. But it does remind me of 2005, if only because it's been used on more TV shows than any song this side of Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah."
16 Garbage -- "Bad Boyfriend": This one is a bit of a cheat, since it wasn't a hit song or anything. But it was released in 2005, and it rocks hard, and it's my girl Shirley Manson. I can't not include it. Shirley does scary/sexy so very well.
17 Carrie Underwood -- "Independence Day": I had to somehow commemorate the first season of American Idol that I watched straight through. I'd have included something by Anthony Fedorov, but that would have been a bit too queer, I think. And by the end, I really did like Carrie a good deal. But there was no way I was going to put her "Jesus, Take the Wheel" song on here. I wish I was kidding on that song title. I am not.
18 Kelly Clarkson -- "Behind These Hazel Eyes": That's right. I like her so much, she's on my CD twice. What of it? If I had really wanted to push it, I'd have included the song where she cries real tears in the video and then yells at her own mom for getting beat up. But that's more a visual phenomenon -- hence the absence of any R. Kelly goodness here.
Speaking of R. Kelly … just stay tuned to Low Res in the coming weeks, is all I'm saying.