I feel freed. 2004 was such a long year to write about and the songs weren’t that interesting to write about. Like they were good but not interesting. And that’s not the case here. I looked at the songs of 2005 and felt excited because at the very least I had something to say about all of them.
The weird theme for the year for me is a lot of make goods. There are a lot of artists on this list that made classics that didn’t make the project until now and I really should have gotten to them. But they just missed the cut. I make up for a lot of lost time here. Though there was a lot of new blood this year. The emo scene stormed the charts. My Chemical Romance isn’t on the list but they deserve a nod. A major group to come does make the list. Rihanna debuted and I wish I had room for Pon De Replay because it’s a solid debut.
2005 was for me personally a joyful year. I started dating. I had a solid college career. Movies were good. Friends were good. Life was in balance. Here was the soundtrack.
Sean Paul- We Be Burnin’. Missed the list because of the radio edit. An unforgivable insult to a smart, angry song about a serious matter.
Interpol- Evil. Not as good as PDA but still great. Love their sound.
Coldplay- Speed of Sound. I honestly figured this would make the list proper. It sounds great. But honestly after the strength of their previous work, this is kinda when I got the criticism they were a bit soft. It’s ok. Not great.
The White Stripes- My Doorbell. I can’t believe Seven Nation Army didn’t make even the honorable mentions. It’s great. But honestly? I love this happy tune more. It’s just a jaunty song. Those rule.
Seether- Remedy. Seether is basically forgotten and that’s unfair. This is a killer track. Good, loud, angry.
There is a huge issue with 2003. Transatlanticism by Death Cab For Cutie should be on there. Maybe not top spot but at least top 5. It is a stone masterpiece of grief and loss. One of the saddest songs ever. So of course it was used in my wedding. It’s a pretty song. The thing is nostalgia held it off. I don’t think of it as of 2003. Well I do think of this song as a 2005 song.
10 Death Cab For Cutie- Soul Meets Body. If this song were any more 2000s hipster it would be written by someone briefly married to Zooey Deschanel. Which of course it was. This is so twee. Yet that’s exactly why I love it. This is fully content to be this weird indie thing but what it is is so genius I’m not mad at it. It’s deceptively well built too. There’s some a-grade guitar work here.
Let me explain something you could infer from my previous posts. I don’t hate the boy bands. They never made the list but I actually liked them a lot. It’s just that they never left a dent in me deeper than this is nice. Sure Quit Playing Games and I Want I That Way are gold while Bye Bye Bye is undeniable, but they were fluff. But time it right and I’m down for fluff.
9 Backstreet Boys- Incomplete. OK so I put one of their darker songs on here. Still gotta be me. But ballads were big from the boy bands so yeah this is fitting. And it’s a great one. The piano had a really good year in 2005 and Kevin Richardson’s work here drives this song more than anything else. (Yes in fact they DO play instruments! He’s really good on it too.) This is a dark track about the pain of a breakup and how much it hurts to lose something you need. It’s exquisitely produced and the band sounds better than ever. Maturity worked on them. This is just a phenomenal soundscape.
Now to get another group I overlooked out. Hey let’s make it two in one. I’m not a big fan of Soundgarden, whose work I found the most uninteresting of the entire scene despite Chris Cornell having a great voice, or Rage Against The Machine, which had a great guitarist in Tom Morello and a lot to say but was just not that engaging. Combine them though? That I dug. Like a Stone and Be Yourself were near misses for the list. This easily made it.
8 Audioslave- Your Time Has Come. In a way, this is the capstone to the 90s. A lot of people in the music scene didn’t survive and several more wouldn’t see the present day including sadly Cornell himself. This is a perfect anthem of that deep frustration with how many young people didn’t make it out of their youth combined with a reminder that dying from stupidity seems extra sad given how many died in war and how ultimately war is itself a horrible thing. It’s sarcastic and angry, probably the most Rage song the band ever put out. And it rocks. That it ultimately reflects on the man who sang it gives it extra pain.
2005 was the year of Photograph by Nickelback. I feel like you can tell a lot about the culture by that fact. Now it only did okay on the charts placing at 43 for the year. But it feels like it lasted for a long time. It’s definitely become a meme but more than anything else, it symbolizes why they’re so unpopular. It’s a silly shallow song. It’s also one I love.
7 Nickelback- Photograph. Yes, seriously, this is here. You know why? It’s the realest song the bad will ever make. I didn’t know before I did research for this article that the song was deeply autobiographical but I also knew it had to be. It’s a very specific, honest song about nostalgia and I think it nails the realization that you can’t go back. The place I was at when this came out has changed to a point where I can’t either. I relate to this song. I also think it’s by far the loosest Chad Kroeger has ever sounded. He’s relaxed and happy thinking back. Just a lovely encapsulation of a feeling.
I really figured I’d have more no hit wonders on this project. But yeah after about 2001, I’ve discovered I clung to the mainstream more than I expected. Even then I didn’t have room for songs like Rescue Me by Bell, Book and Candle and Real by Plumb. I’m sorry that I’ve turned out a bit more normal. But hey, always room for one more.
6 Dredg- Bug Eyes. This so should have been bigger. It did ok on the charts but I really think it was only held back by 2005 being a monster year for rock. Because this is a great one. Probably the most interesting song of the year sonically with a spacey, haunted vibe. This song feels like a late night meditation. The guitar work is unnerving in a way that few are. It’s definitely a reflective song, a trait that loomed hard over the year. It felt like we were hungover in 2005 from the vitriol of 2004. This nailed that mood. This is my one to seek out.
I feel like 2005 brought a weird sea change to music. We had songs before about the loser but they were always from a perspective that they were actually the better person. And in 2005 it felt like the whiny emo of Simple Plan and Good Charlotte, which I was and am ambivalent on, turned inward. You left the music thinking that person is a loser and they’re also kind of a misogynist and not very nice. We went from the nice guy’s fantasy to reality. And it was great. So let’s put a very important band up.
5 Fall Out Boy- Sugar, We’re Going Down. The song that made the band is sort of the perfect encapsulation of what they did right. It’s a whiny angry song that’s also highly sarcastic. And I think we needed that sarcasm. The aforementioned pop punk groups also had a sarcastic vibe but it felt like a dodge. No, here it plays as self deprecation and it’s important. We needed to turn the tide on the nice guy and this helped. But more than that, the song rocks. It’s a driven, loud song in a way that Simple Plan dreamed of. This actually feels like it’s by an adult rock band and I’m not shocked they kept it up and eventually became hipster jocks.
Hot take: I’m only so-so on Beck. The New Pollution is great but Devil’s Haircut is the same song while Loser and Where It’s At are awful. It’s not lack of effort or talent either. Those are ambitious weird songs. So I’m happy to say he had it good in 2005. Girl was an oddity for him, a song directly about something even if it was the thoughts of a murderer set to a playful beat. It’s great. But my pick for this year is just a perfect simple rock song.
4 Beck- E-Pro. This is all about that hook. One of the most blindingly catchy earworms of the year. It’s a perfect riff and it makes this song a beam of light in a year that might have been a great year for rock but wasn’t a very happy one. This is another song that the meaning is lost on me and apparently everyone else. My guess? It’s just about what sounds cool. It’s all attitude and swagger and it works. This is a common formula for him but it’s never sounded this good. It takes a lot of work to pull off this casual a feel. And the imagery of this song is great. A lot of weird images but so vivid. A truly great moment for him.
So I’m breaking with formula because my next two songs are so closely related I can’t imagine two separate intros or entries for them. Same band. Same subject. And both just awesome songs. I will say that it’s not lost on me how much breakup songs were a thing in 2005. There were plenty of love songs, sure, but the mood was bitter and angry by and large. And the Foo Fighters nailed it. Twice.
3 Foo Fighters- Best of You/ 2 Foo Fighters- DOA. It’s funny that some of the most bitter music the band has recorded came from what sounds like a fantastic, fun experience writing and recording it. Because both of these songs are about going scorched earth after a breakup. The former is seemingly from the perspective of the person dumped while the latter is from the person ending it. And both feel cathartic. Not shockingly the former is angry while the latter is gleeful. But both are united in that they feel made by an act at their peak. Both are hard, shredding, intense songs with a one of a kind front man firing hard. Both are incredible songs. I’m narrowly giving DOA the edge for how it builds but both are classics.
My number one song is still a breakup song. But a very different one and it makes sense it comes from an artist who thrived taking different paths. Ben Folds is the kind of artist who plays on his own Weird Al parody. Comedy has long run deep through his work with songs like Army and Rockin’ The Suburbs. But he’s also very serious. His biggest hit was about an abortion after all. In 2005, he released what I consider his very best song.
1 Ben Folds- Landed. There aren’t very many breakup songs about the impact that a toxic relationship has on others and for that alone this song stands out. Folds depicts honestly what it feels like to address others after an abusive era has ended. I’ve been there. In fact I was there in 2006. And I was especially there after I left the newspaper. There’s a lot of owning up to being a person you didn’t like being. Folds limits the metaphors on this song, being direct and blunt about what happened. He’s not talked about much as a vocalist but his work here is really fantastic, emotional and vulnerable. He is known for his piano work and I don’t think it’s ever been better than it is here. Limited until it builds to a powerful crescendo. The song of the year, easily.
Next: Prime time in 2006