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Various
Singles Of The Year - 2003

Singles Of The Year - The Top Ten Singles 2003

10. Radiohead : "There There"
No-one's more surprised than me to see this in here. After a couple of poorly received albums where they verged on being interesting for once, Radiohead's heralded return to the world of guitars sees them bringing drama and excitement to the fore. Five plus minutes of repressed tension are satisfyingly redeemed as the snare finally kicks in and the band, erm, rock out. Even Thom's nauseating whine can't dispel the majesty.

9. Missy "Misdemeanour" Elliot : "Pass That Dutch"
Unlike with Radiohead, it's possible to be almost blasé about how devastating new Missy singles can be. Like "Work It" and "Get Ur Freak On" before, "Pass That Dutch" is so effortlessly good you could nearly miss the hilarious Michael Jackson reference, the tongue-twisting rhymes, and the record's sonic and rhythmic invention. Like Real Madrid, its brilliance is both expected and yet still marvelous.

8. The White Stripes : "7 Nation Army"
The best White Stripes moments are those laced with threat and latent power - ie the quiet bits before Meg crashes ungainly over everything. "7 Nation Army" had these in buckets, hitched to a descending, almost funky blues. A sound as old as the hills, it still carries the shock of the new.

7. Simian : "La Breeze"
Where little-known arty types ditch any pretensions, reference The Monkees in the intro, and make a fantastic pop single in under 3 minutes. Catchy, punchy and impossible to resist, this is one that in an alternative universe was a number 1.

6. The Chemical Brothers feat. The Flaming Lips : "The Golden Path"
Before Wayne Coyne's distinctive, plaintive wail comes in - 'Please forgive me, I didn't mean to hurt you' - and adds new yearning meaning to pretty hackneyed words, this is a weird and wonderful slice of mystic electro-Americana. Like some sort of cross-breed of New Order and Talking Heads, this compelling epic was a reminder that the Chemical Brothers are still a force to be reckoned with.

5. Justin Timberlake : "Rock Your Body"
Like I Love You announced the New White Michael Jackson to the world, and "Cry Me A River" was the critics' favourite, but this was the irresistible floor-filler. Slinky, Neptunes-derived and with a beat-box coda, this was modern funk at its best. Rock Your Body also avoided being part of the whole "Justin: A Soap-Opera In The Making" thing that clouded the other two tunes. He's wanted to do this all his life, you know (drums).

4. Gary Jules : "Mad World"
The sort of record that stops you in your tracks, such a radical reading of a familiar song is it. Featured at the bewildering end of the film Donnie Darko, the track's piano-led intimacy brings out the melancholy of Tears For Fears' original, and twists the bitter-sweet factor off the scale. It comes out at as a single mid-December - go on, make it the Christmas No 1.

3. Johnny Cash : "Hurt"
Or, 'I Showed A Man The Video, Just To Watch Him Cry'. A swelling, crying tale of addiction, guilt and painful redemption, the poignancy of this Nine Inch Nails cover from Johnny's last album is matched only by its attendant promo. Johnny's hands are shaking but he looks determined, his wife June by his side - they're both gone now, of course, and it breaks your heart. This will stand as a testament to the genius of Cash as much as "Folsom Prison Blues" or "I Walk The Line".

2. Outkast : "Hey Ya!"
What chance have we got with Speakerboxx/The Love Below when the impact of this single alone is almost too big to take in. Its scope covers 60s psychedelia, 70s funkadelia, a loose definition of hip-hop as well as 80s soul, and the whole thing in any other year would have reigned supreme. It has that perfect synthesis of sounding warmly familiar and utterly new at the same time, and like all the best pop records it feels like it will force pop music to understand and accommodate its newness or give up the ghost completely and surrender to Pop Academy/Fame Idol alumni forever. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, indeed.

1. Beyonce feat. Jay-Z : "Crazy In Love"
The one record that topped Outkast's genius, and it was everywhere. The rousing horn sample from The Chi-Lites courses through the song like a fanfare, the beat is hard and funky like hip-hop used to make 'em, and its 4 minutes are the best evocation of head-over-heels, loved-up delirium since I don't know what. Effortless, sky-scraping perfection.

Copyright © 2003 James Caig e-mail address

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