2002 in Singles: A Sampler (David Day)
The Coral - "Skeleton Key" - What might happen if you sent a flaming arrow in the direction of the outhouse hiding Don Vliet's moonshine.
Libertines - "What A Waster" - What the Strokes did for Television the Libertines will do for the Buzzcocks. Add a Joe Strummer drawl and and a Fall-leaning sloppiness and it sounds so new, so fresh. 3 minutes in later, you're pretty sure Rough Trade has done it. Again.
Gonzales - "Take Me To Broadway" - "I've got an extra testicle"
Kylie Minogue - "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" - The K.I.D.S. Incorporated alum taps back into American consciousness with a decade-defining jam. ELO did the same thing (although one word off) 26 years ago by reimagining the chorus as a dictate. Really, tell me you're not thinking of this hook right now.
Tok Tok vs. Soffy O - "Day Of Mine" - Discopunk specialists back up their club smash "Missy Queen's Gonna Die" with more fractured feminist English. The message points to the socialist tendency of Europe's best dance labels: all for one and split the benefits. Add some killer remixes to Soffy's flat melodic delivery and it's practically a revolution.
V/A - "More G.D.M. Vol. 3" - Pairing up a track from Cologne, 1981 and New York, 2002 would only come from the illuminated people at Tigersushi. Completing a stunning series, TS brings us Gina X's flawless "No G.D.M." and "We Also Not" from NYC heroes Metro Area. You can officially give in and buy the "Give Me The Night" 12" single you've been eyeing.
Ms. Dynamite - "Dy Na Mi Tee" - The Mercury-Music winner Dynamite had thousands of ladies swaying their hands in their air with her Jill Scott meets Eve pose and meticulous beats. While there's simply something about songs which reflexively mention "sound", "radio" or "stereo," this cut, with its vibe-laden hip-drop beat, gets everyone to love each other. Lady Day reborn as London-raised club kid.
Madonna - "Die Another Day" - With its acid squelch, vocal treatment and silence-invoking drop edits, we can overlook Madonna's sometime vocal shortcomings. Her patented stance still keeps us attentive, though, and the comfort in hearing her stay current is nice assurance in pop's potential. And you can pick and choose from the flavorful remixes. Even the Bond flava approaches the classy Bond standard. Unlike the film.
The Clipse - "Grindin'" - It's pretty clear now that the best beatmakers save the best beats for their friends. With Timbaland, it's Missy and the late Aaliyah. Sean Combs had Chris Wallace. And Dre will always have Snoop and Eminem. While the Neptunes stash loops for themselves, they still dole it out to Kelis and the Clipse. And their Virginia Beach homies snagged the most knockin sound of summer. "Grindin" was '02s party-starter.
Missy Elliott - "Work It" - On MTV a few weeks back, Method Man and Redman are playing a practical joke on Ludacris. They're all in the studio, and Meth and Redman have concocted a beat so disastrous they think they can trip Ludacris up. But while they're laughing in the production booth, 'Cris manages to work the beat out, and puts a rhyme down that lands cleanly. As Method Man and Redman laugh at him, he rabidly defends his krazy-ass flow. And it was good, too.
Queens Of The Stone Age - "No One Knows" - Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri dropped the rock track of '02 on its much-balyhooed Songs For The Deaf. Its prog heart is clear when the hook ("I come undone") is revealed before the pounding blast of chords and drums. In that progressive method, it builds you up, only to break you down. And yes, without question, Dave Grohl's drumming must fill the space on the Led Zeppelin reunion tour. If you're reading this Mr. Plant, don't think twice, pick up the phone.
The Streets - "Let's Push Things Forward" - The single that struck the States really hits home. "You say that everything sounds the same / Then you go buy them / There's no excuses my friend / Let's push things forward." Mike Skinner reproduces US-bred hip-hop with a decidedly, long-in-coming, English bent while the beat locks down the two-step sound, DJ Premiere style. Of course, video is key when breaking American singles, and its stuttered presentation enhances Skinner's delivery. This is the track.
Eminem - "Lose Yourself" - What we expect from someone raised thru Detroit via Rawkus. Although still strictly about himself, here's a joint Eminem will be remembered for. Finally Eminem's usually dark beats get a little funky. And, aside from Mom's Spaghetti on his anxiety-stained shirt, there's no mention of his mother. With its sticky chorus and before-the-game peptitude, "Lose Yourself" will remain a song playing somewhere in the world for quite a while. A feather in his skull cap; and finally something this scribe can back Mr. Mathers up on.
Thomas Bangalter vs. DJ Falcon - "Together" - At this point, the talent Thomas Bangalter has to fixate a dance floor should make your mouth fall right open. Yet since refusing millions of pounds to make a Stardust album, Mssr. Banglater has dabbled in soundtracking and production, typed up numerous remixes and managed to line up another stunning Daft Punk record. But when "Together" started dropping, it was like the party never ended. Psychedelic to the core, this epic track swirls in a compressed beat and locks you down with whorls of repetitive vocal samples. It's the kind of mix that gets everyone back on the floor. Often imitated, never duplicated. Please, Thomas, keep rockin' it.
Edan Sprain Your Tape Deck - 12" - The so-called emo-rap world needs to learn a lesson from Edan. Hell, they need to go to Edan University. His record collection, stacked somewhere along the wall in a Boston-area apartment, would be the curriculum. "Let's B Friends," also included at the very end of his stellar Primitive Plus CD, is the freestyle of the year. The awesome "Emcees Smoke Crack" opens with the couplet "Geometric poop / Get your shit straight." "Run That Shit," a timeless ode to robbing people, includes a three tales. In the third, E even demands "The ice in the freezer." "Clinical Rhymes" round it out. All bouncing over true old-school east-coast beats. Mike Streets v. Edan would be a battle for all time.
Ghosty - Three Pop Songs - The music director of your old college station, in a town with a proclivity towards unknown pop acts, puts a CDR in your hand. You exchange happy greetings. Upon returning home, said permanently-markered disque sits beneath stereo. Finally, a week later, tired by strife, you throw it into your crippled old bookshelf system and out comes power pop perfection. ELO wilted by Big Star. You think, okay, that's one pop song. Next track, a brilliant drunken hipster waltz of brushed-snare and keyboard flourishes. Damn. Then the third song, a schoolboy love number with huge tempo changes, bopped-up melodies and tambourine madness. You immediately start telling everyone you know about it.
Website of the year: www.d-i-r-t-y.com - A Parisian website with artful mixes from France and beyond. Marshall Jefferson, Minotaur Shock, DJ/rupture, and many more lay down trax. Local legends like DJ Jennifer and D*I*R*T*Y Sound System particularly shine. Plus interviews and videos. If the CD player in your computer ever gets busted, you'll want this page bookmarked.
By David Day