101. THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS – ‘My Elastic Eye’: ‘It sounds exactly like an elastic eye!’ said Fred S. I scoffed, but you know what? – it does! Though maybe more a clockwork one – but the wobbly fuzz-bass still sounds like it’s looking, even probing the track for something. Every music-box noise here is luxurious and sinister, like the beautiful baroque machines of City Of Lost Children reset for music-making.
100. From the Soundtrack to HAAN MAINE BHI PYAAR KIYA – ‘Mubarak Mubarak’: Entirely tokenist Bollywood tune, representing the style that’s given me the most meaning-free pleasure this year – I picked this filmi track because I could date it to 2002, but not much seems to change. Actually that’s not true – check the Bollywood Nights compilation to find out how dance music infected/inflected Bollywood – so in those terms ‘Mubarak Mubarak’ is old school. It presses my buttons though – rampaging percussion, big-lunged singing, and a heartbreakingly direct gypsy melody care of the inevitable string section.
99. NO DOUBT – ‘Hey Baby’: This feels like it came out well over a year ago – if so substitute Girls Aloud’s excellent ‘Sounds Of The Underground’, which crossbreeds it with ‘Addicted To Bass’ to bubblesome effect. ‘Hey Baby’ is still almost accidentally fab – nonsense lyrics, that super-strident chorus, Bounty Killer wandering through the song like he’d stumbled onto a movie set. A future essential on K-Tel Best-of-the-00s comps.
98. SASHA – ‘Cloud Cuckoo’: Thanks to Siegbran from ILM for putting this on his 2002 Yearmix and forcing a last-minute muscle-in. To dance outsiders like me Sasha is a slightly comical figure – sexy DJ takes you on a ëmusical journey’ through progressive sounds, i.e. who moved his cheese? – and there’s no way I’d have listened to his Airdrawndagger opus unprompted. But this is a gorgeous nostalgia bubblebath – mid-paced gloopy dance music like Orbital or Salt Tank used to make, but sounding about eleven thousand times more expensive with the same sculpted feel as prime Trevor Horn.
97. ABS – ‘What You Got’: Even on paper it looked like disaster or genius – oh no! cheery ex-Five member raps over the ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ backbeat! Oh yes! As it turns out, you can’t keep a good tune down, and this ends up like a Simon Fuller version of The Streets, digitized skanking firmly in place but with the rueful scruffiness replaced by spray-on nonchalance, which Abs is exactly enough of a likeable chump to pull off.
96. JAY GLAZE – ‘Out To Lunch’: All standard criticisms of UK hip-hop entirely apply – the British references are trowelled on; Jay’s got a haphazard flow and the scratching and sampling is horribly corny. But BOG OFF, um, hataz cos it’s really funny, and charming too. On repeat listenings Jay sounds laidback not lazy, and while UK producers tend to operate very much in the shadow of Premier, they do a good job of it, inserting a campy musicality into the head-nodding formulae. ‘Out To Lunch’ has the pleasantly disorientating feel of one lunchtime pint too many.
95. BOUNTY KILLER – ‘Sufferah’: Righteous and repetitive carnival anthem whose pummeling chorus is the very spirit of dancehall – aggression, showiness, hedonism, resistance. Generic in the best possible way.
Gabba.net Faves Of The Year (thanks Nick!)
Squarepusher – Do You Know Squarepusher
Nas – Made You Look
Boom Bip – Trapdoor Hand Reminder Part 1
Ekiti Son – Gemini Disco
Chromeo – Needy Girl
Leandro Fresco – Buenos Gratis
Thomas Fehlmann – Gratis
Charles Manier – Change You
Further – Good Times / Stone Cold
Martini Bros – Boy/Girl
Fennesz – unknown recordings
LCD Soundsystem – Losing My Edge
NORE – Nothin
Dizzy Rascal – I Love You
Pitman – Phone Pitman
Rootsman Vs BUG – Killah
Bootsy – Play with Bootsy
The Streets – an album!
Carl Finlow – Definition
Truth Hurts – Addictive
Missy – She’s A bitch (white label Dub)
Dntel – Evan and Chan (superpitcher remix)
Holger Flinsch – Irrenkeller Part 2
Taylor Savvy – Jealousy
Broker + Dealer – Boots and Pants
Mocky – Fuck all Night
Jurgen Paape – Mit Dir
DJ Dippa – Dippa vs B.I.G.
Justus Kohncke – 2 after 909
Tok Tok – Zok Zok
M.Mayer – Speaker/Sneaker
Imatran Voima – In and Out
Gabriel Ananda – Schaukeldreden
Sugababes – Freak Like U
Reinhard Voigt – Der Andere
Superuser – Delete
Mitte Karaoke – Netzroller
Radio 4 – Struggle
MsJade – Feel the Girl
Soft Pink Truth – Gendser studies
Modselektor – Dustin Der Keen
Sticky + Tubby T – Tales of the Hood
Jay-Z – Somehow, Someway
Nas – Made You Look
Vitalic – Poney EP
Cam’ron – Hey Ma
AE- Gantz Graf Track 3
Sage Francis – Makeshift Patriot
Flo Dan – Big Mic Man
Grungerman – Facken Im Strum
Luomo – Body Speaking
Alan Braxe – Penthouse Serenade and the flip!
Sasha Funke – When Will I be Famous
Miss Kittin – 1-2-3-4
OutKast – Whole World
AE – Jello remix
Jeffrey Lewis – Chelsea Hotel Blow Job
Komeit – 3hrs (T.Raumshmiere remix)
David Caretta – Metal Disco Class
Closer Musik – Maria
Clipse – When the Last time
Andreas Fragel – Untitled
Klettermax – unknown
Eagle E and Doc B – Pure Rumours
Llorando – Mullholland Drive OSTR
Markus Gunter + Martin Haygis – Syndrome
Gene Farris – This is My Religion
Morgan Geist – Super EP
Justin Timberlake – the one where he goes – DRUMS!
94. LAYO AND BUSHWACKA – ‘Love Story’: Bought this on Ronan’s ILM recommendation and the vibe went unfelt until a perry-drenched summer evening at Glastonbury where I think I sang ‘Ticket To Ride’ over the top of it rather a lot. In November I was downloading something quite different – the file was mislabeled and this was what I got. For three minutes I felt the sun on my back again and knew that I’d like this song for the rest of my life without ever quite understanding why.
93. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – ‘Cry Me A River’: A slightly too elaborate return to former glories for Timbaland (the choral sample; the honking synths; the strings; the tongue-click beat – they’re all great but they collide, not collude) but it’s Timberlake’s best, most brooding performance – venomous ballad-singer hauteur and falsetto used like a dagger.
92. )EIB( – ‘Snowcat’: Drill’n'rave bedroom gabber (from gabba.net, aptly enough), 2 minutes 30 of stoopid pogo-pop with a bonus look-back to The Prodigy’s ‘Charly’. The end of your tongue bitten off or your money back – oh? what’s that? you didn’t pay for it??
91. THE STREETS – ‘Too Much Brandy’: RAR RAR RAR it’s all back to the SPANISH BAR. A lot of my time is spent going to the pub so it’s hardly surprising that I like the new poet laureate of pub culture so much. From Amsterdam to Brixton in Skinner’s case; from Normandy to Fitzrovia in mine – the places and faces change but the recreation stays the same.
90. INTERPOL – ‘NYC’: ‘Got to be some moral change in my life’ – cold because it’s got to be, stately and slow because it’s got too cold, sad and empty and tense with the kind of tragic restraint John Cale can do so well – eh, I’ve failed; you can’t describe an Interpol track without reaching for comparisons. But ‘NYC’ was the track the comparisons couldn’t bury completely. Chiming with a beautiful disdain, this will work perfectly on dank February evenings, which is precisely why I won’t be listening to it then.
89. WOLFTOWN COMMITTEE – ‘Big Batty’: Uhhh…yeah, it’s a gently rocking UK rap track about arses by a bunch of blokes from Wolverhampton, and the flow is this really sweaty-palmed whisper like a Carry On version of Slick Rick. I sort of feel I should apologise for it even though I share its aesthetic in every possible way.
88. SHAKEDOWN – ‘At Night’: Another thankyou to ILM’s house contingent whose tireless promotion of this chunky discopop wonder pushed it onto my hard drive and thence remorselessly into my midbrain. A floor-filler at Freaky Trigger’s imaginary office party.
87. WIRE – ’99.9′: Electro menace from the masters of compacted hostility, whose Read And Burn Eps were as sharp, nasty and satisfying as anyone could have hoped for. ’99.9′, the massive closing track, catches the corrosive beat-crunch of their recent live shows perfectly. The song may eventually exhaust itself, but Wire’s niggling grudge against music is thankfully unresolved.
86. HOT HOT HEAT – ‘Touch You Touch You’: Deliberately stiff, cold-sweat drums, runaway pianos, ridiculous howling vocals and – at last – a hook that stuck in my brain even though I hated all the caterwaul that it came with. Repeat listens smoothed out the irritating jerkiness and uncovered a pop center of sorts.
85. TRINA – ‘Hustlin’: Signature incorporates an Easy-E sample into a full-on NWA tribute – the sort of classic party beat Dre excelled at when he was starting out, with a different twist on each verse to keep things interesting. Trina’s Triple-X ho-life primer is fine too, though you’re reminded that her forte is flow, not rhymes. She goes at the beat with such relish it hardly matters.
84. HOLLY VALANCE – ‘Down Boy’: The wobbling, lip-licking ‘down…boy’ intro is the sauciest pop moment of the year and the song lives up to it: teasing, controlled, inventive. There was no particular need, marketing-wise, to make Holly Valance’s singles any better than Martine McCutcheon’s – we must be thankful for the happy accident that they are. If I were a parent I’d be more worried about my kids liking this than liking Eminem (though even more worried if they didn’t like either).
83. XINLISUPREME – ‘Kyoro’: Ear-baiting Japanese bliss-noise group with hidden pop appeal, especially on this first track, which suddenly swaps the standard MBV references for – I swear – Carter USM style keyboard punkiness! Even when ‘Kyoro’ is ëjust’ doing sounds and not hooks they’re seductively abstract, like an ultra-close-up, fuzzy picture of a flower – beauty reduced to texture, but beautiful all the same.
82. TLC – ‘Girl Talk’: Feels like a last, late entry in a fast-fading R&B style – the sexy, staccato platinum sounds that ruled in ’99-’00 – but that’s what TLC knew and did best, and they repeat their old tricks here with enough aplomb to win you over one final time.
81. CLIPSE – ‘Virginia’: Clipse’s Lord Willin’ is the Vice City of hip-hop: gun violence, drug dealing, great cars and a magnificent retro-80s soundtrack. ‘Virginia”s hazy, pared-down acoustica sets the threatening scene and Malice’s one-speed sneer is on eerily good form.