Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! And today, we finally have a new top 10 list (shocking, I know)! And considering I haven't really been the most consistent with these this year, I thought I'd go back to an old enemy that I've actually already covered before, in order to give you all some sort of closure: the Top 10 Best Hit Songs of 2006.
Gotta be honest, I have not gone back to 2006 since making my worst list. Back then I think I was a little restrained, trying not to make any grand declarations, but... BOY does 2006 suck! It's one of the weakest years of the 2000s, and considering the last 2000s year I talked about was 2005, which has some of the worst hits of the entire decade, that's definitely saying something. But at least 2005 had some of the best hits of the decade as well, to balance things out, and 2007 is an outright great year. 2006 is caught right in the middle, and I genuinely struggled to come up with more than 10 songs that I really wanted to put on this list. And even when I did, it was anything but consistent: 2 became 6, 8 became an honourable mention, even the number 1 swapped around a bunch of times. Either way, it was definitely a bit of a chore, but hey, we're here now, with 10 songs I do genuinely love (after some soul-searching). So let's put on a brave face and do our best to highlight them.
One of my main takeaways from the Worst Hits video is that 2006 was not a very good year for Ne-Yo. Not only did he write my least favorite hit of the year, but he also had When You're Mad, a song where he tries to woo his screaming girlfriend... by telling her she's so damn sexy when she's angry, which is just a really quick way to get slapped in the face. So ironic that in a year where he really was on a losing streak, he released arguably his best-known song.
So Sick by Ne-Yo
Look, I love this guy, I've made no secret of that. While he has made several of my year-end lists, both the good and the bad, on the whole I just think he's a really talented and often underrated performer. Keep in mind that this was a guy still making hits in 2015! ... Yes, I know that She Knows was one of those songs, but let's just focus on Time Of Our Lives with Pitbull, shall we?!
Now I will admit that this type of song is one that has been done many, many, MANY times before and since. It's a song about listening to the radio in the wake of a break-up and being so sick of all the love songs playing. Yet at the end of the day, he finds himself unable to turn off the radio, because all of those songs do remind him of the good times they spent together. And I like the way that Ne-Yo plays this. For one, he does take the time to highlight all the different ways in which he misses her, little things you'd never think of like taking anniversary dates out of the calendar or changing the message on their answering machine. For another, while he's definitely sad, downtrodden, and honestly pretty understandably bitter about the breakup, he doesn't actually answer his own question as to why he can't turn off the radio, instead of just letting the question hang there, letting the misery speak for itself.
It doesn't portray a guy who's being vindictive or malicious just for the sake of it; he's just someone who's genuinely been hurt, we've all been there. And he flat-out acknowledges that those feelings are irrational, it's ridiculous that he's still thinking about her with his head down months after they've broken up. That's what really gives me respect for this, the time spent analysing himself and his own feelings, the details really make it click!
Also, while there have indeed been many similar songs written over the years - that Anne-Marie & Niall Horan song springs to mind - this is one of the first examples that I ever heard as an angst-ridden teenager, and therefore one of the first ones I really connected to. Yep, I definitely went through my fair share of heartbreak where I would just listen to this song and wallow deliciously, it's a song that I still go back to in those moments to this day. It's not the best of its ilk, there's definitely been better, but Ne-Yo is such a charismatic performer and the song has such nostalgic value for me that I couldn't not highlight it on this list. Nice job man, this is one that I don't see myself getting sick of anytime soon.
One of the final cuts from this list was the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Dani California. It's definitely not their best song, but I wanted to highlight that, while I am definitely a "lyrics guy", sometimes the lyrics don't matter all that much. A song can be about total nonsense and still be great, feel free to quote me on THAT the next time you feel I'm getting too pretentious.
Funny enough though, that song got edged out by another nonsense song. And I sincerely hope that those reading this are mature enough not to get offended when I say that because... come on, we all know it's true.
I Write Sins Not Tragedies by Panic! At The Disco
So when it comes to 2006, one of the nice things about it is that there's not really a major consensus as to what the best hits of the year are. I've seen about 3 or 4 different examples and they all differ wildly. But I eventually realised that this list would feel incomplete without this song, the song that broke Panic! through to the mainstream and would eventually lead to huge, controversial hits like High Hopes and Hey Look Ma I Made It, 2 songs I still like more than most. In addition, I am well aware that there are 2 kinds of Panic! fans: the ones who absolutely fucking love this song, and the ones who find that it's incredibly overrated/oversaturated because it's the one Panic! At The Disco song that everybody knew up until the last couple of years happened!!! Okay fair enough... but I'll be honest, I don't fall into either camp, because I've simply never been a huge Panic! At The Disco fan. ... Well, better this than the BTS stans I suppose...
Having listened to all of their albums, I find that a lot of the time I enjoy the theatricality... but that's about it. The production is rarely consistent, the writing isn't as uniquely odd as Fall Out Boy's most of the time (no, I don't care who did it first), nor are the hooks nearly as potent. And while Brendon Urie is, without a doubt, an amazing singer, possibly one of the best vocalists of our time, there is also no denying that he can occasionally buy into his own myth a little too much, which can lead to major overindulgence. No, I haven't forgotten ME! and neither should you! But back in 2006, he was fresh-faced, he was young, and this was his big break, the moment that really turned them into superstars... which is funny because it's probably the most Fall Out Boy-esque song they've ever made.
Now in fairness, that's to be expected. After all, Brendon Urie was signed to Fueled By Ramen BY Pete Wenz, Fall Out Boy's bassist and owner of the label. And as you'd expect for a first attempt at managing a new act, there are some obvious similarities between their 2 styles. It's full of ridiculous lines, it's incredibly overwrought for what ends up being a really simple concept (kinda), and it's got one of the catchiest choruses of the entire decade! For years, I have tried to decipher the deeper meaning behind the lyrics, until I was forced to take them at face value. Seriously, in terms of the "content", it's about a guy at a wedding who hears a rumor that the bride is a - quote - whore. So he chimes in, demanding to know whether these gossips have ever heard of closing the goddamn door; it's much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality! I'm assuming he's the groom, because he then decides that this means his marriage is saved.... and that's it. The rest of it is just repeated lines. There's no real story or conclusion or moral or logic to it!
The only thing that MIGHT make sense is that he'd rather marry someone unfaithful than call off the wedding. After all, better to find out now than later, right? Better to just put on a smile, act like everything's fine, and carry on! ... I dunno, I'm trying here! And yet, as you can probably tell from the fact that I managed to write out those lines without having to look them up, it's also clear that there's something about it that just fucking works.
Not only are the guitars really prominent and awesome, not only is there a fucking xylophone in the mix to add to the forced whimsy, not only is there a ton of weird modulation all over the bridge, before it just explodes into the final hook, but Brendon Urie is just absolutely killing it! This song would fall apart without him, but he just throws himself into it with reckless abandon and absolutely dominates! And despite the dramatic presentation, he buys into it, which in turn allows the audience to do the same. And of course, you have the obvious elements: his great voice, the fact that every single line of this song is so iconic, it somehow still manages to be one of the best-written hits released in the 2000s, if only for convincing a generation there's something more to it! But in terms of rock music in 2006... there was some stiff competition. But before that:
Remember what I talked about deja vu by Olivia Rodrigo earlier this year? Remember how I said that despite how much I did like it, it was still inferior to other songs of the same title by both Eminem and Initial D? Well... stay tuned for more thoughts on that in a couple of months, but in the meantime, there was one other song that a couple of you asked me about... and I'm happy to finally be talking about it today:
Deja Vu by Beyoncé (Ft. Jay-Z)
To myself and many, this has always been the unofficial sequel to Crazy In Love from 2003. One of Beyoncé's best-known bangers with cinematic horns, a huge anthemic chorus, and the biggest declaration of being crazy in love that most of us are very familiar with. And while that song will get its time to shine, I think this song occasionally gets overshadowed by it a bit too much. So rather than focusing on how similar the 2 songs are, I'd like to talk about what this song does uniquely.
What I love about Deja Vu is that it has a great sense of dynamics. The way it starts out low, with Beyoncé introducing each individual element of the production one by one, hypes you up so much! Then once the actual groove kicks in, it's a fucking sight to behol- ... sound to unveil? ... Anyway, lyrically the song is about being with The One, the person you're destined to be with, and the utter conviction that comes with that. In fact, she's so sure that the 2 of them are meant to be together that it feels like déjà vu, like they were together in a past life and it was always destined to be like this. Metaphysically and transcendentally romantic, that's the kind of love that many of us are looking for, and it's why, in my opinion, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are still together at the end of the day, in spite of some... lemony bumps along the road.
Now ironically, I will say that if this song has one weakness that forces it lower down this list, it's Jay. Not to say that his verse is bad per se, but it just feels a bit off-topic. A lot of it is all about hyping himself up and I feel like he doesn't really hype his wife up enough... no it doesn't matter that they weren't married at the time, stop dodging the point so I can stab you with it! It feels almost too one-sided... but here's why I would argue that actually works in the song's favour: Beyoncé's performance on this isn't just good, it's phe-no-me-nal!
My general opinion is that Beyoncé is a fantastic performer who doesn't always have the best songwriting chops. Of course, she's had a better run in recent years, but let's be fair here, not everything is Lemonade (or the self-titled album if I'm being generous). Here though... the way that she's singing this just blows my mind every single time. Not only is she giving it a TON of energy, to the point where she almost sounds desperate in spots - which kind of works with Jay-Z being so laid-back and disinterested, as if she's pouring her heart out to him and he's just a stone wall, which only makes us sympathise with her more - but the bridge just kicks it up to the next level. Seriously, I don't think I've ever heard her reach that particular tone of voice before, she almost sounds hysterical and yet it's perfectly controlled... and it's kind of epic!
The song would honestly have been higher - in fact, in one of my early drafts of this list, it actually topped it - but the more I listened to it, the more that Jay-Z's part kind of bugged me. But hey, for Beyoncé alone, and for the juxtaposition between the two of them, this earns a spot all the same. What a performance!
Look, at the end of the day, every song that I put on this list is completely subjective. Okay sure, I could talk about why some of these songs are classics or why they're technically "good", but at the end of the day, this list is about what I like, what I enjoy listening to... and that is the only way that I can possibly justify this next entry.
Smack That by Akon (Ft. Eminem)
... Look, nostalgia is a powerful thing! When I was about 10, there was very little modern pop music that I listened to, I only really started actively listening to pop music in 2011. But there were 1 or 2 songs I was very aware of, and this was one of them. And boy, is it iconic! And dumb!
We all know who Akon is nowadays: a pretty good guy from what I've heard, aside from that one incident with the underage girl in 2007, which did seem like a genuine accident though he should have known better... but I digress. Either way, he was one of the most popular artists of the 2000s and I still don't know how or why! His voice sucked, his writing was atrocious, and he made some of the worst hits out at the time. But out of all his songs - apart from his minor feature on Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape - this might just be my favorite song by him.
And it's not for complicated, personal reasons either, it's just incredibly catchy! A song that I gleefully sang along to at 10 years of age before I had any idea what it was about. And even now, I kind of love how blatant it is. So many songs in this territory either get way too tame or way too sexual without being sexy. Play by David Banner, for instance, is just an utter atrocity musically and lyrically, whereas at least Smack That is fun. The chorus is incredibly bouncy, I love the way the lines flow into one another, and I would argue the pre-chorus is one of the best moments in pop music that year! Something about the way he rhymes "Lamborghini Gallardo" with "kick it like TaeBo" just makes me smile every time. And again, how many songs do you know where the hook explicitly says he's "possibly" gonna bend you over so you can look back and watch him smack that - quote - "till you get sore"?
Plus, I actually think that for the era, Em's verse is pretty good. Sure, a lot of people would argue "Oh my God, what are you talking about?! It's Encore Eminem!!!" But to be honest, I find Encore Eminem much easier to stomach than some other people. At least it's less interchangeable than some of the guest verses he's putting out nowadays. I mean, he stays on topic, he actually sounds like he's having fun, and he engages with the main performer instead of doing his own thing. He actually develops the story, portraying a guy at the club who's hooking up to the sound of this song, and asking if she has a friend that his buddy Akon can hook up with too. There's also a part of me that finds it really funny when the girl recognises him and he reacts with exasperation; she knows the drill now, back to his place, yadayada. I love the almost eye-rolling tone, it shows a swagger Eminem rarely adopts successfully nowadays.
Look, this is never a song I'm going to get on my soapbox about and defend. If you hate it, I absolutely get it. But for me, this is a little gem that I really do love. Call it a guilty pleasure if that makes you feel better, but the bottom line is that I enjoy it. Nay, I love it.
So that might have been a bit too saucy for some of you... let's bring it crashing back down to Earth in an emotional heap, shall we?
How To Save A Life by The Fray
The Fray is one of those bands that has a lot of songs that are just okay. They've rarely made a terrible song in my opinion, but most of their stuff just goes in one ear and out the other, it really doesn't stick with me. The only 2 that I would say I enjoy for sure are Never Say Never, THE underrated gem of 2009, and of course, this, which in my humble opinion, is the best thing they've ever done.
Arguably their most famous song that they've never successfully recreated, How To Save A Life is a song that Isaac Slade described as being inspired by his visit to a school as part of an anti-drug campaign. He spoke to a kid there who was telling him all about the terrible decisions he'd made and how it had affected his friendships and those around him. Well, this chat made Slade start to reflect on his own relationships that he'd squandered over the years. That's why on the verses, it just feels like he's preaching to this kid, trying to connect and immediately being met with resistance. And yet as he keeps listening to the story, it makes him realize how much of it could also apply to him. By the time the second verse comes in, he almost feels like he's trying to fool this kid, as he realizes that he's not really in a position to be giving advice of any kind. After all, look at all the ways he's fucked up in his own life.
And then that hook hits, where he's contemplating all the ways that he's failed his own loved ones, and it's one of the catchiest hooks of the entire decade. Seriously, did we just leave hooks behind when we abandoned rock music during the 2010s?! It's a tragic song that flows so effortlessly from the verses to the chorus, where Slade's voice carries you through the downtrodden emotions that he's feeling. It's a song about the importance of just being there to listen, yet admitting that you don't always know what to say in those moments. The magic words to fix everything don't always come naturally... but that shouldn't stop us from trying. Because if you walk away out of fear of not being enough, you'll just be left with regret. Is it any wonder this was used in a bunch of anti-suicide propaganda?
It's one of those songs where every single time I hear it, I know every inflection, every note. And while I wouldn't say that it's quite as powerful as some of the other rock songs of the same year - we'll get to it - I would definitely say it makes up for that with its catchiness. Again, this is one of those songs that has been in TV and movies for years and you can very easily see why. Yet even with all that marketability, it still manages to tug at my heartstrings and mean something. Fantastic song, easily the best thing they've ever done.
The song of the year in 2006 was Daniel Powter's Bad Day, a song I have always and will always despise. It's not as obnoxious as The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars, but it suffers a similar case of coasting on a universal idea that's not even half-baked and in the most boring way possible. Well, what if I told you Daniel Powter still has just as many number 1 hits in the US as this artist? ... Yes, really.
Hips Don't Lie by Shakira (Ft. Wyclef Jean)
I may be personally more partial to Wherever, Whenever as being the better song, and I will defend She Wolf till my last whimper, but if I'm talking about her most iconic song, this one usually springs to mind. I mean the phrase "hips don't lie" has transcended the song at this point, and has been quoted at me in 100 different contexts by various people, whether those contexts make sense or not. Only Shakira, the writer of such lines as "lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don't confuse them with mountains", would find such an iconic phrase to describe her provocative dancing to clearly show that she's really into you.
As expected, Shakira is the master here! She delivers that hook with a ton of easy swagger and personality, her vibrato is absolutely stellar, as she manages to sound both sexy and like she's having a ton of fun, which is even hotter! She's more than a match for Wyclef Jean, who tries to play the role of the stranger in a foreign land who has come looking to conquer its music and its women, and yet for as sexy as she says she finds him, as she feels her resolve weakening, her charisma is just off the charts by comparison. Although he deserves a lot of credit here too, I actually think he sounds pretty fantastic on this.
Former member of the legendary trio The Fugees along with Lauryn Hill & Pras Michel, Wyclef Jean was still very well-respected within the industry in his own right, and considering the song requires a strong counterpart to woo and be wooed by Shakira, he was a great choice for this. Sure, none of it rises to the heights of his best bars, but unlike Jay-Z, he's actually trying here. And thankfully, that's really all you need in this case, some real investment, and he plays the role incredibly well.
Hips Don't Lie is just an anthem, one of those songs that everybody knows and loves. Those mariachi horns are an absolute joy whenever they come in, and they match the conga drumbeat and the groove so well, especially with the chanting that comes in on the bridge. And while it's still galling to me that she's never been able to recapture that top spot in the US before or since, it's still a testament to how talented she is that even after years of ass anthems and seductive flirting in music, this still stands among the cream fo the crop.
2006 was a ROUGH year for hip-hop. We were left with the rotting leftovers of crunk music and ringtone rap was about to take off in a big way, it was a dark time for the genre. So most of what was making the radio were abortive, forgettable flashes of nothing OR abortive, forgettable flashes of nothing ripping off The Whisper Song! But if you know your history, particularly your 2000s US number 1s... there's one exception that you should all have expected.
Ridin' by Chamillionaire (Ft. Krayzie Bone)
I'll be honest, before making this list, I was very unfamiliar with this song. Or more accurately, I was a lot MORE familiar with the Weird Al parody White and Nerdy. Not that I needed to tell you that, I am very much both of those things! And while I was familiar with the original, I hadn't gone back to it in about 5 or more years. But then the past 4 or 5 weeks happened and I really listened to this song properly for the first time in years... and long story short, it's a masterpiece.
Look, you all know the song: it's about driving through the city with the cops coming after you, trying to catch your riding dirty, AKA with the drugs. It's been done before and since, so what exactly makes this the poster boy, the quintessential pick, the exemplar? Well, what I somehow used to miss when listening to this was how hard these 2 are killing it! Seriously, they both adopt double- and even triple-time flows at points, all while not resorting to cheap rhymes and non-sequiturs, and all before the fast-rapping trend was really considered cool! Sure, some would point out the obvious criticisms, like that Chamillionaire has warrants in every city except Houston, or that Krayzie Bone really is high off his ass on his verse, but as they're quick to indicate, they're not denying any of that. They're more pointing to the dirty cops who will pull them over just for the colour of their skin, regardless of how innocent they are. And Chamillionaire in particular takes great pleasure in laughing at their retreating backs after they haven't found any drugs in his possession on the closing verse. And while there isn't as much interplay between the 2 of them, I do appreciate that Krayzie Bone's verse actually expands on the story, he stays on topic. Again, what a nice recurring theme on this list, more guest rappers should consider doing this!
Let's be honest though, the verses could be about pretty much anything and we wouldn't care! Because it is all about that groove and that chorus! I mean the hook on this is absolutely phenomenal, one of those that everybody knows pretty much word for word and has sung along to at some point in their lives. possibly without even realizing the real weight of the content. And it's really complemented by those cinematic snares and those pulsing 808s; they create such a tense atmosphere on the verses and then pay it all off once the chorus comes back around, it's AWESOME! I don't know who these Play-N-Skillz guys are, but between this and Lil Wayne's Got Money, they definitely impressed me during their brief moment of relevance.
What more is there to say? The flows are immaculate, the hook is arguably all the more relevant now, and the scope and size of it remains as majestic as ever. Definitely holds up as one of the best number 1s of the entire decade, and certainly one of the best of 2006.
So yeah, personally I think Hips Don't Lie would have been a much better candidate for the song of 2006 instead of fucking Bad Day... but there was 1 other slightly more popular song from that year whose hat should also be thrown into the ring.
Promiscuous by Nelly Furtado (Ft. Timbaland)
Promiscuous is not a song that I expect everybody to like as much as me. It's one of those songs that a lot of people seem to enjoy, but which I doubt a lot of people would really jump to defend too often. After all, it's just a breezy song between Timbaland and Nelly Furtado, as he tries to pick her up while she's playing very hard to get. Every single time he tries to throw her off by charming her, she always has an answer ready. And what I think makes it unique among duets is that I don't think I've ever heard one where there is this much banter!
Seriously, every single time that I think Timbaland might be making headway, Nelly just shuts him down, either immediately or after leading him on for a line or 2. But not in a way that feels like she's rejecting him, otherwise it might get a bit creepy or pushy for his part. She's just teasing him, wanting to see what he does next. And he fully realizes that and it's clear he enjoys it too. There's a great playfulness about this song which I adore. And I love that despite all the playing around, she's the one who eventually tells him to just get to the point and stop pussyfooting around.
On top of that, it's Timbaland at the height of his powers, not only as a singer, but as a producer. He's always had a great smooth voice which he knows how to make work with his instrumentals, but here he paired it with one of the shiniest and most dynamic grooves of his entire career. The synths that absolutely shine with just the right amount of reverb on them, the warping bass that never keeps still, what I could swear is an oboe driving the main groove on the verses without distracting from the cheeky lyrics, and once that chorus hits, there is just a moment of pure euphoria, as both their voices ring out together beautifully.
Unlike a lot of the other songs on this list, this is a song that I'm practically always in the mood to listen to, it's so well put together! I especially love the moment in the second verse where she says that she's an independent woman, but she might still need his help, wink wink. And as soon as he tries to get in there, she immediately ducks away again. That moment where Timbaland seems to just suck in air through his teeth is absolutely hilarious to me, it's the one moment where the character's genuinely getting frustrated and his bravado slips for a moment. Even the random lyrics only serve to humanise these 2, like the Steve Nash or The Thomas Crown Affair references that should feel out of place. With those oddball moments, the constant quips, and the fact that there's so much back-and-forth, it all feels like 2 people having a conversation, and it even manages to rhyme consistently!
Nelly Furtado never impressed me to this degree again, and Timbaland may have turned out some real turds towards the end of his mainstream relevance, but this song will always be special to me. I love duets between people of opposite sexes as a rule, but this song just goes above and beyond the initial assignment. It's the R&B equivalent of 2 MCs trading bars, and THAT is worth commending!
You know what, I kind of feel sorry for the rock music of 2006. Not that it's bad, I've already had 2 examples on this list so far. But it's just that when you compare it to the best rock music of the year that preceded it, 2005... I mean, it was the year that American Idiot dropped, that's really all I need to say. But that being said, there are a couple of rock songs that I think stand up to the best of 2005 and of course, both of them topped this list. This is the first of them, and while I can't exactly call myself a huge fan of the band's overall output, this song is still SO deserving of praise.
Move Along by The All-American Rejects
The All-American Rejects have always been one of those bands I've been aware of and passively kind of enjoyed, but which I never really got into. When they burst onto the scene with the success of their sophomore album, I wasn't really listening to this style (or even era) of rock music outside of a couple of very specific bands. And while I will say some of their old hits have grown on me over time, there were still a couple of notable misses. I'm not wild about their other big hit from this year Dirty Little Secret, oddly enough because I think is just too clean-cut and not sleazy enough. It reminds me of that Boys Like Girls song Love Drunk from a few years later, they both feel way too polished. But their other hit? I would consider it an absolute classic.
I've said this before, but music about how life sucks is always kind of risky. After all, it's one thing to wallow in your own sadness after a break-up or something, but if you're just moaning and not really making me feel better or telling a story? That doesn't give me much in the way of catharsis, certainly doesn't give your song much replay value. So The All-American Rejects decided to make the smart decision, by making a song about how life sucks... but then you move on. And that's what this is about, and why it ultimately resonates with you. An ode to getting back up and keeping on, even when life gets tough.
It's not particularly subtle, either. The song is literally called "Move Along" but it somehow turns that into one of the catchiest hooks of the decade. Because what else are you gonna do, give up? I specifically like the fact that they framed it as 2 people, you and me. It comes across like a sympathetic friend listening to what you're going through, then encouraging you to "move along like I know you do", showing belief in the listener. Something which would seem very manipulative in a relationship song, but here you genuinely do feel supported. Similarly to How To Save A Life, this has been used in many self-help and mental health campaigns, and in this case that was actually intentional, as Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler wrote this as an anti-suicide song when they were at a very low point creatively, just a few months before they broke through. Plus, it's by far one of the best-produced songs of the year. The instrumental here is absolutely terrific, with real guitars and drums that recall the best moments of the year that preceded it.
I know that The All-American Rejects are probably better known for songs like Gives You Hell, which are full of catty relationship drama, and that certainly has its place. But for me, this was a song that they needed to make, and weirdly manages not to feel like a compromise. If anything, it might be the best song they've ever made. Fantastic tune, definitely one for the ages.
Now before we get to number 1, let's go through a shortlist of honorable mentions, shall we?
Everytime We Touch by Cascada
As I said before, nostalgia is a powerful thing. And Dance Dance Revolution is more powerful still!
Crazy by Gnarls Barkley
A fascinating, groundbreaking song that I really enjoy discussing, but one I ultimately respect more than I like. I would simply rather listen to Fuck You than this.
Give It Up To Me by Sean Paul (Ft. Keyshia Cole)
Iconic! And if I could decipher a single word of it outside of the hook, it would have probably made the list.
Shake That by Eminem (Ft. Nate Dogg)
Genuinely weird that Em had 2 of this sort of song in rotation in 2006, almost like he was having a breakdown or something... But rather than getting too deep into that, let's just focus on how the Akon song made the list rather than the Nate Dogg one, I have the BEST taste!
Stupid Girls by P!nk
A genuinely great song, but the writing just feels a bit too thuddingly obvious to me now. Still enjoyable, but P!nk had far cleverer songs out before and after it. Plus I miss the more rock-heavy instrumentation that would make a return on So What.
Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
Beautiful and easy to lose yourself in, with one of the best crescendos of the year, but the fans have ruined it for me. It's FINE, get over it!!!
Dani California by Red Hot Chilli Peppers
The final cut from this list, and a painful one at that. It may be a song about practically nothing, but boy does it make nothing sound engaging!
Right, enough stalling, let's do it!
I'll be honest, this is probably the most that I've struggled to pick a number 1 in a very long time. First it was Hips Don't lie, then it was I Write Sins Not Tragedies, then Deja Vu, then Promiscuous, GOD NOTHING FELT RIGHT!!!
But then I realised 1 constant, 1 song that was always consistently lodged at number 2. A song that I subconciously refused to put at number 1, simply because it doesn't give me a huge amount to say. After all, we music critics are an overindulgent lot, we like to build to the number 1, make it feel special. And yet as I started to think about it, this is the only song from 2006 I have always loved, possibly the one I've known the longest too. So yes, by contrast, this will definitely stand out as a much "simpler" song... but I think I can still overcomplicate it enough to justify its placement here.
Dance, Dance by Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy is just one of those acts that I will never tire of. Across their entire discography, they manage to fit such weird lyrics and sounds where they shouldn't. Even when they allegedly "sold out" in the 2010s, they still managed to be consistently interesting! Hell, they would follow this up with their best album Folie à Deux, one of the best albums of the decade, even if it wasn't appreciated upon release. In fact, I only hated their worst album MANIA for a distinct LACK of creativity... fine, and Young and Menace (never forget)! And yet Dance, Dance kinda hit a weird sweet spot between mainstream audiences and the diehard fans, thanks to its amazing hook and choice of lyrics... and it is INTENSELY fun!
The way it opens up with that kickdrum, before the throbbing bass and handclaps join in, followed by that subtle tambourine, which still manages to be distinct and awesome. The build-up is just incredible, and when the hook finally does hit, it's like a freight train. This isn't music that's easy to dance to and that's by design, you're just supposed to lose your mind and flail your limbs wildly, just like in the music video! The manic energy really is impossible to deny, which is in keeping with the story... much as I can decipher it.
This is a hormonal mess of a protagonist, a loser who gets asked to dance by a girl, presumably at a high school dance. His brain instantly goes into overdrive, as he just manages to stutter out his assent, while his mind's racing on the inside about what a miserable wreck he is, oh if she knew how misery loved him! But Hell, she doesn't know, and now he just needs to shut up and go with it. Just DANCE, live the life you'd love to lead, and pretend you're one of the cool kids for just long enough to get laid!!! ... Oh yes, that is what this song's about: a terrified teenager wanting to dance and eventually lose their virginity to this girl before she figures out what a mess they are, all while their mind races overdramatically at a million miles an hour.
There are actually a few clues to this outside of the music video: the second verse which states you always give up right before finding out, but tonight is all about drinking up and getting it done. And the bridge seals it for me, begging this girl internally "I only want sympathy in the form of you crawling into bed with me". The virginity thing is admittedly a presumption based on the extreme anxiety on display, but I'd bet good money on it. And yeah, it's not exactly deep or even fully sympathetic... but MAN is it conveyed accurately in my opinion!
And the best part is that, while Fall Out Boy are remarkably on-topic here with rarely a word wasted, you don't need any of the words to convey the sheer emotion of this track. The way the bridge goes into slow-motion freefall is the only moment of candid honesty on the song, with those gradual, chugging guitar riffs careening back and forth along the mix, and it contrasts beautifully with the speed of the pre-chorus as he once again feels himself losing control to his frantic mating dance, because THAT's what this is! The lyrics only add to the melodrama for me, and make me love the song all the more, but even without them, the hook is still the real gold. Every aspect of the chorus has immense crossover appeal and resonance, to the point where it will satisfy most listeners, while the "real" fans can enjoy the classic Fall Out Boy writing that brought us "watching you from the closet, wishing to be the friction in your jeans".
Dance Dance is one of the most simple and straightforward songs Fall Out Boy has ever written, and they still tried far harder in the songwriting than they ever needed to! It's got a similar appeal to me as Marianas Trench's Stutter, the sort of perfect pop song that depicts a nervous wreck trying their best at a party. That is my bread and butter, and if I'm making a reference to my favourite band... well, that should say a lot. Best hit song of the year, at least to me.
So yeah, that was the best of 2006, about time I got to it! I'm sure you all have some thoughts, that's what the comments are for! Also, if you could like and share this post around a bit, that'd be a big help, promoting a blog is not easy. Speaking of which, please make sure you subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter so you don't miss a thing. Stay safe, and until the next time, I'm Fionn and this is The Social Tune signing off.