2004 in Music: A Power Hour Review
Each week for the next 10 weeks, I or someone else on the National Ave staff will be doing a power hour while listening to one minute of the top 60 songs of the each of the last ten years. Don’t ask us why, it just felt like it was really important that we do this. First up: 2004.
Ohhhh this year. Holy shit this year. I honestly can’t even tell if this was music’s brightest or darkest moment. Actually, scratch that. I do know. This year was music’s shining achievement and I won’t let anyone tell me differently.
First off, the top two songs were both by Usher and he had FOUR hits in the top 25 (“Yeah!,” “Burn,” “Confessions Part II and… “MY BOO”). The other 56 top songs could literally be recordings of Lana Del Rey discussing feminism and it’d still be a great year for music. But then, we get two Outkast hits (alright, alright ok now ladiessss) in the top 10 as well. If any of us had any rhythm in seventh grade, this would have been not only a seminal year for music but a truly golden age of school-sponsored dances.
So yeah, 2004 started off on pretty solid footing with me. But what really sets this year apart from the rest of music history? The depth. You know what clocked in at #21 on the charts? “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” — this year rolled so deep, one of the most enduring, iconic rap hits of the decade didn’t even break the top 20. Not to mention that “Milkshake” (like, the one about boys showing up in yards) was #41 for the year. Not even top 40! And “Toxic?” You know, Britney’s last great piece of musical achievement before The Dark Period? 48. F-o-r-t-y-e-i-g-h-t. What the fuck. That’s because this year was so packed with all the dirty, racy, soulful and entrancing hip-hop/R&B combo works of art we could ever ask for, there was barely even room for the classics.
Plus, little did we know at the time, we were about to enter the reign of the Queen. “Naughty Girl” — along with “Me, Myself and I” — didn’t exactly announce Ms. Knowles’ arrival as the dominant force in entertainment, but they did set a strong foundation for her to #enlighten us in the years to come. (Side note: I had completelyyy forgotten about this impeccable but super ‘shopped Beyonce cover art. And about how dark-skinned she used to let herself appear, but that’s a topic for a different thinkpiece.)
And because Bey had not yet cast off her unworthy rivals, Ciara was still permitted to record music. As such, we got the glorious “My Humps” pre-clone that was “Goodies,” one of two Petey Pablo — who?!? — songs in the top 20 (yeah, we got freek-a-leekyyyy in 2004).
But there was a dark side. We were a little… angsty. And by a little I mean a lot. And by angsty I mean insufferable. We let Nickelback in the top 15. Ashlee AND Jessica Simpson charted. Evanescence was a thing (THAT I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR). Linkin Park , but not like good Linkin Park. Avril Lavigne, but not like good Avril Lavigne. No Doubt , but not like good No Dou– actually no, this was pretty good No Doubt.
But the problem here isn’t that we were angsty. That would be understandable. George Bush was president. We’d invaded Iraq. Netflix wasn’t around yet. No, we’d earned the right to complain. The problem is that our angst sucked. Yeah, Three Doors Down is better than I remembered (or maybe that’s the 60 shots of Coors Light talking), and “The First Cut Is The Deepest” has held up surprisingly well, but in general our 2004 Songs of Suffering were less about raw human suffering and more about whining really slowly while some guy who loves Wonderwall picks his guitar .
And while we were really into hip-hop in 2004– with lots of R&B/pop crossover, thnx u very much Usher– we were surprisingly low on rap, at least at the top of the charts. This is pretty weird to me because 2004 was the year of The College Dropout, and yet the only Kayne song to grace the top 40 was actually “Slow Jamz” by Twista FEATURING Kanye and Jamie Foxx. “Jesus Walks?” “All Falls Down?” Relegated to #43 and #47, respectively. But even they beat out Shady’s timeless My Band which somehow only checked in at #59 because apparently not only can we not have nice things, in 2004 we actively sought out ways to try to punish anyone who tried to give us something nice.
So fine, we were angsty and unappreciative. Whatever. This year was still incredible and if you disagree you can go suck JoJo’s dick cause OH YEAH we were blessed with her musical talents in 2004 as well.
And we haven’t even talked about Maroon 5 yet. No, not the current Maroon 5 that seems to exist only to allow Adam Levine to try to have sex with every single listener (FINE, Adam, come over around 10 and we’ll get down to business). We’re talking about the classic, melt-your-heart-not-your-panties Maroon 5. Will she be loved? Yes. Yes, she will be loved. But what has that love done? Well, it’s taken its toll on me. How many time has she said goodbye? Too many times before.
It’s like they’re telling me a story, and the story is about how fucking great these songs are when you’re drunk on a weeknight and haven’t heard them in six years.
But wait! There’s more! Like CHINGY. AND LOS LONELY BOYS! AND HOOBASTANK JUST GETTING MY EMOTIONS. Wow. I mean, I know I started off by saying that this year was the greatest year music’s ever had, but I’ve somehow whipped myself into even more of a frenzy. I don’t even know what to say about this year. I don’t know what we did to deserve the music of 2004. But whatever it was, we need to do it again. Fast.