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[Popular interest television programs and printed publications love the end of the year. It's when they can go on vacation, scrape off their spray-on tans with a putty knife, and replace them with real sun-nourished brown, or at least some fresh spray.

During this time of the year, instead of creating new editorial content, they simply run software robots that compile quotes, clips, and images from the preceding 11 months, and generate "year's best" lists based on the approval rating of those selected bits of media. In celebration of this practice, Tremble will be going list-crazy through the end of the calendar year.]

This year in music, like last year, was fun but the number of solid, full-length albums came up a bit short. Instead, small chunks of albums really stood outon their own. I'm not sure if it's a shift in the industry, or just in the way I listen to music now (on an iPod, while having sex) but I have received many short bursts of pleasure from music, and very few sustained joys. I don't mind, though, because there were plenty of bursts and I like bursts. Here's a list, starting...NOW:

TOP ELEVEN (i'm quirky!) SINGLES OF 2003
[in no certain order]

  1. "Milkshake" - Kelis
    [ok, maybe this was my favorite single of 2003. and maybe my brain is a smooth and shiny pebble that can barely remember where pee is supposed to come from, but this is one of those great songs you hear young and old people singing while going about their business. pushing grocery carts, pinching their index finger and thumb into half a lemon, etc. they're all mumbling, "they're like, 'it's better than yours!'" in that staggery, rejuvenated cadaver way kelis affects. it's catchy as all get-out, like that crazy 'la da di la di da" crystal waters song written by a homeless woman. i hope that homeless woman is still collecting royalties and lives in a solid gold refrigerator box now, filled with flawless crystal urine jars. (that paragraph had two, totally distinct, references to pee. where is my pulitzer?)]
  2. "Stay Loose" - Belle and Sebastian
    [i do not like everything on the latest B&S album. in fact, it would be safe to say i do not like many things on the new B&S album but i like this song very much. it reminds me of the pet shop boys, which is great, because it means i do not have to own an entire pet shop boys album to enjoy their music. it also means i get to own the latest B&S album, which endears me to many pale women.]
  3. "There's No Home For You Here" - The White Stripes
    [did this album even come out this year? there are a few songs on the album i absolutely love, but i think i love this one the most. they should make it into a movie.]
  4. "No Culture Icons" - The Thermals
    [you can't get the word "thermals" out of your mouth before someone much nerdier than you screams, "THEY MADE THAT ALBUM FOR, LIKE, $4.99!!! ISN'T THAT A CRAZY STATISTIC THAT MAKES YOU ENJOY THE MUSIC MUCH MORE???" after you hold the nerd's tongue down with a pen to keep him from seizing up, you can nod slowly, and tell him, "shhh." when he seems calm and his limbs stop twitching you can say, "that song 'no culture icons' was worth every penny of that $4.99 production expense, and then some. and i'd kick in an extra $20 for 'black to grey' alone." if the nerd suddenly starts trying to form the words, "sondre lerche," you have my persmission to stab him with his own pen.]
  5. "Hey Ya" - Outkast
    [i imagine outkast's latest album, "speakerboxx", will guilt its way on to the top album lists of many music critics who actually dislike hip-hop but fear their dislike of hip-hop is somehow linked to their latent racism. they'd be wrong; they're racist for other reasons, and speakerboxx just doesn't really measure up. ("my favorite things"??? andre 3k, i think your lime-colored suspenders are wrapped too tight.) this single, however, does measure up. since its release i cannot remember a single moment when i was in a room where "hey ya" didn't get people moving around spastically. and even the people who didn't know the song get up on their feet, shaking the paint off the walls, and ask, "who has done this wonderful thing to us?" outkast done done it again.]
  6. "I Luv U" - Dizzee Rascal
    [it's probably pretty fashionable to like dizzee rascal right now, as he's a british hip-hop artist. and this year, critics don't have to feel sort of bad for promoting the streets, last year's hyped UK mc who actually kind of stank. the dizzee rascal album, which i think comes out early next year in the states (brag), has several good singles on it, but this one is the most meltdown robotic. if you can decipher 20% of the lyrics, i'll mail my pulitzer - earned for 'excellence in urine-related nonfiction' - straight to you.]
  7. "Song For The Myla Goldberg" - The Decemberists
    [right now, who is more twee than the decemberists? unless rainbow brite and strawberry shortcake recorded a single together in 2003 and i missed it, then the answer is "NO ONE." and what could be more twee than a song dedicated to that google-spectacled brooklyn author of "spelling bee." that's right, nothing. but be warned - this turducken-esque twee within twee combination is dangerous. please do not listen to this song when you have all your cute 20-something friends over for knitting/scrabble night, or you might create a black hole. OF TWEE!]
  8. "Ignition (remix)" - R. Kelly
    [holy cow, i almost forgot this song was released as a remix this year. thank god for the "shuffle" setting on my iPod. this song is absolutely amazing, if only for the fact that you get to hear r. kelly sing "it's the remix to ignition/hot and fresh out the kitchen," many times. just as missy elliott assures listeners, before each and every track on her last album, "this is a missy elliott exclusive," r. kelly makes sure his bases are covered. see you in the hotel lobby. (please note that i had an excellent opportunity to make another pee joke here, but resisted the trifecta. nothing should come that easily.)]
  9. "A.D.I.D.A.S." - Killer Mike
    [damn you, outkast. you done done it again and again. big boi produced it, and puts down the nicest flow on the song, but damn if killer mike doesn't get all aretha franklin on the track when he sings, "because i don't need this A-I-D-S. a 'D' and an 'A' missing out my adidas." whew. i prayed this would be summer 2003's all-the-time jam, kind of like "hot in herre" was for 2002, but i think something went wrong along the way and radio slept on it a bit. catch up!]
  10. "The End Has No End" - The Strokes
    [first of all, don't hate the player, hate the game. now that that's out of the way, technically this single wasn't released this year. the album's first official single, "12:51", is also excellent, but it doesn't get me jumping quite the way "the end..." does. see you next year, i hope.]
  11. "Hey Mami" - Fannypack
    ["cameltoe" was a little too dr. demento for me, but "hey mami" does it right. it's the catchy music and simple chorus you became infected with in "cameltoe" with none of the embarrassment of having it stand out on a mixtape like a barnes & barnes song.]

As I was making this list, several other songs jumped straight to my attention. "Made You Look" (Nas), "Bokkie" (Elefant), "Remember Me" (British Sea Power), "No Children" (The Mountain Goats), "Testament to Youth in Verse" (The New Pornographers) and "Wires" (from The Moles reissue) come to mind right away. But you know what? Writing takes time and, unlike the producers of "Extra!" (i added the exclamation point on my own) and the writers for "Entertainment Weekly!!!!!!", I am doing this for free.

WE FIRST MET ON 12.17.2003

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