BEST SONGS OF 2005 (#1-5)

5. Legendary K.O.: George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People
From (2005)

Credit Houston’s K-Otix (aka the Legendary K.O.) with not only being one of the first to respond to the Katrina/New Orleans debacle with a topical song, but doing one that manages to be humorous, poignant and enjoyable, all at once (if you’ve heard some of the other songs, you’ll know that it’s not easy to be even one of the three). Sure, it helps that they simply jacked the beat for “Gold Digger” but that’s precisely part of its charm: the song was meant to be something cut dirty and quick but its legacy has become, well, legendary.

4. Three 6 Mafia feat. MJG, 8-Ball and Young Buck: Stay Fly
The Most Known Unknown (Sony, 2005)

Just when you thought everything out of the South was crunk or snap music, Memphis’ Three 6 turn to ‘70s era soul legend Willie Hutch and his song “”Tell Me Why Our Love Turned Cold.” A Southern posse cut for the ages, the song throws on Young Buck and MJG for a cut that seamlessly weaves together ‘70s blaxploitation, ‘80s electro and the fast chatter rapping that’s all the rage throughout the South now. Hands down, this is the best club cut of the year: if you can’t move to this, you just can’t move.

3. Young Jeezy feat. Jay-Z: Go Crazy Remix
12″ (Def Jam, 2005)

This nails the definition of “anthem.” Start with the Curtis Mayfield horns – the song announces itself with such authority from jump that you’re hooked instantly. The album version was tight (though I’m not sure we needed four verses from Jeezy) but the remix dumps the weak Fat Joe verse, gets Jeezy down to two and then gives Jay-Z an extended burst of lines: “I’m an 80s baby/master of Reagonomics/school of hard knocks, everyday college.” I keep jabbing rewind on this.

2. Kanye West: Heard ‘Em Say
Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella, 2005)

Ok, even if Kanye is using this song to shill for Pepsi (we don’t want to knock the hustle but couldn’t he have picked something else? I dunno, “Crack Music” maybe? After all, cola used to contain cocaine…), we still think it’s one of the best on the album and just a remarkable song, period. Jon Brion’s influence is subtle but that’s precisely what makes it outstanding: he gives the track an added depth and nuance which only enhances the striking piano-lead beat. And while it’s not a superbly deep song lyrically, the mix of both optimism and realism is poignant; you should see the Michel Gondry-directed video to really appreciate it. Besides, Kanye was, hands-down, the hip-hop artist of the year. He’s not perfect but right now, he’s good enough.

1. Amerie: I Thing (Siik Remix)
From (2005)

I initially wrote about this as a sublime example of what a summer song should be like but even in the dead of winter (well, dead of a California winter), its charms haven’t faded at all. Here’s why: this is technically a mash-up since it’s Amerie’s acapella floated over the song “Arurian Dance” by the Nujabes from the Samurai Champloo soundtrack…however, while some mash-ups work because they take two, relatively incongruent pieces of music and manages to find a synergy between them, this remix by Siik sounds as if Amerie was MEANT to record her song with that music. If you want proof of intelligent design, forget studying flagellum: just play them this.