In the year that the popularity of the ringtone might have outweighed the popularity of the single, Toronto-I-S-T comes up with the top ten songs that mattered in 2005.
1. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley – “Welcome to Jamrock”
Called “the reggae song of the decade” by the New York Times, “Welcome to Jamrock” is the cross-over hit that shouldn’t be: Unlike his contemporaries, Marley the youngest didn’t have to employ an RnB hook from Beyonce or regress to the “for play in clubs” status. Instead of making concessions to North American tastes, or even North American pet-trends (see: Reggaeton), he kept equal parts innovation and reverance for what was, at least, the reggae song of the year. And song of the year.
2. Kanye West – “Gold Digger”
Like Mr. Jr. Gong, Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” was able to inspire copycats within months of release. (Lil’ Kim famously ripped off Marley, while some Ja Rule crony came up with Ray Charles-using “Georgia.”) And you know what? This single is a perfect he said-she said battle of old, only it all occurs within the mind/voice of one obnoxious producer-turned-rapper. He talks up both sides of the familiar gold digger stereotype, in part from the hard-working, no-respect man and the ‘burned by too many callous players’ woman. In effect, Mr. West explores both angles over what haaaas to be the catchiest hook of the year. Sympathetic to both the male and female player-gold digger archetypes, this song is edgy without much in the way of offense – a difficult feat for any artist. Like guilt-free fudge, in a way.
3. Martha Wainwright – “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole”
It would almost be beneficial to take out the initial shock value of the expletives in her first widely-released single, because this fantastic single deserves a listen from even the most delicate of ears. Then again, the aforementioned expletives are an un-subtractable element to the song. “B.M.F.A.” – as it’s known in the mainstream media – demonstrates the anger (or otherwise vitriolic response) not only in Martha Wainwright, but anyone who’s ever had parental units. And, under all that emotional release, the song thrives on melody: Not from any vocal gymnastics from Ms. Wainwright, but from a woman who sings with her guitar, not over it. That is, she avoids the demagogic, emotionally-wrought whining that has become synonymous with acoustic fare. The introduction to Ms. Martha Wainwright couldn’t have been more appropriate. (Also, we nominate this for the best opening line of the year: “Poetry is no place for a heart that’s a whore.”)
4. Broken Social Scene – “Major Label Debut”
That’s right. A few years ago, this might not have been a controversial pick. This year, the BSS album has caused a bit of a divide amongst its fans: An over-produced, unaffecting mess devoid of any accessible hooks? Or an unrepentant masterpeace; a diamond made under the intense pressure of a break-out album? Obviously, with its inclusion on this list, we think the latter. Translation, means loved it. And is it ‘all fucked up’ or ‘all hooked up’?
5. Common – “The Corner”
This was definitely the single of the summer. With the Kardinal Offishall remix, where he spouts lines about Toronto gun violence and the absence of MuchMusic’s Master T, it was the Toronto song of the summer.
6. Final Fantasy – “The Dream of Win and Regine”
With a title about the Arcade Fire (who by the way should not be on any 2005 lists) that also references Dntell (which became Death Cab), of course crowds will form. And they will not be disappointed. Any other questions or concerns about this pick should be referred to the many die-hard FF fans who hang around the Boat on weekends.
7. Brazilian Girls – “Don’t Stop“
Sexy sexy sexy! The Brazilian Girls manage to make an altogether conventional dance beat into an appealing distraction from self-doubt (“When and how did I become my mother?”) and responsibility (“Let’s drink some tea and smoke some herb”) – which is really what dance music should be.
8. Juelz Santana – “There It Go (The Whistle Song)”
The whistle, which has not been so readily embraced since the days of Gene Autry, is back with Mr. Ju-Ju Santana leading the chorus. All the whistling also drowns out the nonsensically aggressive “EH!” yelps that Mr. Santana is now famous for. As well as a whistling advocate, Mr. Santana speaks highly of crack-cocaine.
9. FemBots – “Count Down Our Days”
The third local single on our list (it should be noted that the Spitfire&Mayflowers “Pirates” and Diableros “Working Out Words” could have made it on the list with a wider release), the FemBots’ “Count Down Our Days” is a powerhouse of song. Not really sure what that means, but the single-note piano hits in the final stretch of the song are powerful.
10. The Deadly Snakes – “Gore Veil”
For our own personal Wes Anderson soundtrack, we turn to the Deadly Snakes. While walking around Gore Vale.
11. Spoon – “I Turn My Camera On”
Up until her concert, this spot was reserved for Lady Sovereign’s “Random.” But her song sounds too much like that abhorent “Lady Lumps” business we’ve all been talking about. And she appears to be more novelty than we had once thought. Spoon is so fantastically reliable, we feel justified in bumping Sov. And besides, this is for spot number 11, which doesn’t even have a place in a top 10.