To Show You How It All Began: Best Songs of 2005

Hey look! It's the Speed of Sound!

It’s 2005, not 2004, so although we’d love to put “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” or “You Can’t Hurry Love” or “Change your Mind” or “Knock Yourself Out” on our list of best of 2005, we can’t here on VFLOAB because they came out in 2004 (even though some were released as singles in ‘05). We’ll stick to just the best songs we heard in 2005… well that came out in 2005.

Of course, this is an subjective list so before anyone gets mad at us (me) remember that. I don’t mind if you disagree, in fact I encourage it, maybe you’ve got something I forgot. And I know that it’s January 11, 2006. But as I said, I stupidly forgot this at work…

Anyway, it’s sort of long; I tried to be as short as possible. Some of it is probably really dry but that’s because linking the actual songs would be a pain in the ass so live with it. But enjoy!

25) Hold Steady: Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
The song itself is fine, it’s good, I like it. But any song that gives a shout out to Nelson Algren gets a place on this list.

24) Art Brut: Good Weekend
Look, it’s a fine song. It’s not great. I’m not sure why it’s on the list… I guess I like it just enough. Get it from a friend or something.

23) Ben Folds: Landed
Look, we sort of felt like we should put a Ben Folds song on this list. And yeah I know pretty much all the songs on this album sound scary similar. And we probably should put “Bastard” or “Late” on… but we like this song. And that’s that. The chorus is cool. Don’t ask why, we just like it. Now go away and stop bothering me… umm, us.

22) The New Pornographers: Star Bodies
Everyone has been all about “Use It” and “Sing Me Spanish Tencho” but to be honest “Star Bodies” is the best song on this album, it shows off Neko Case which is always great. But really I don’t have much to add here.

21) John Legend: Ordinary People
Look it was released on 12/28/2004. You couldn’t get it for Christmas last year! It’s on the list. Anyway, I probably heard this song more than any other song this year for the simple reason of we listened to 106.9 or something at work. And since this made the radio every day, plus me owning it… well I heard it a lot. And it’s good. A man and his piano. And the two get the job done.

20) Amerie: 1 Thing
Oh my! It’s “Crazy in Love” without the horns! Yet it still feels some what original probably because of the thick, 1970s style soul guitar, and that’s why it works and it’s good shite at the same time. If this song had horns would it be the best song of the year? Maybe. But even without horns it’s great.

19) Wolf Parade: This Heart’s On Fire
In a year without much new stuff coming from Wilco or Jeff Tweedy, we’ll take the next best thing… the band that sounds the most like Wilco and Jeff Tweedy. Not that Wolf Parade has ripped off Wilco, but you can’t help but hear the influence the fine Chicago band has had on Wolf Parade. But anyway you cut it, “This Heart’s On Fire” is a fine song. One which builds, gains momentum, and finally becomes a musical cornucopia. Okay, maybe VFLOAB just wanted to use the word cornucopia… but it’s a good song.

18) White Stripes: My Doorbell
One of the few songs on “Get Behind Me Satan” where the Stripes go back to what they do so well, keep it simple. That’s not to say the more ‘exploratory’ songs aren’t good or don’t work, it’s just that the White Stripes do simple so well that it’s hard to dislike. And sure their simplicity is probably a bit over blown (in other words it isn’t as simple as it sounds; besides the drums and guitar, there’s a piano, some of those shaker things, and tambourine in the song for starters), but it sounds simple and that’s what matters. Right?

17) Common: The Corner
Apparently it was a good year to write music about Chicago… and Wilco really didn’t do anything new. Anyway, Common was able to capture pretty much any street corner on the South Side of Chicago along Stony Island or Cottage Grove from Bronzeville though Hyde Park and Kenwood to South Shore. He captures the beat, the way guys walk and talk, and gives a bit of a cultural history at the same time.

16) The Libertines: What Became of the Likely Lads
We know, the song came out in 2004, but it was reissued this year and therefore that’s what we’re going by. As far as what became of the Libertines… well they broke up. But this song, a swan song if you will, was a nice good bye to us listeners. I think the thing I enjoy the most about the Libertines/Babyshambles is it’s sort of like the Clash just took twenty years off or something.

15) The Decemberists: Sixteen Military Wives
I’m actually surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed the Decemberists because it just doesn’t seem like they should work, but they’re just a good band. This song is well crafted, clearly defined and well put together flowing smoothly though out and quality performances from everyone in the band from the drums, to lyrics, to vocals, and let us not forget the horns. I swear, horns = good song.

14) Bright Eyes: Road To Joy
Hey look it’s a some what smart anti-war song! I’m a fan of the use of “Ode to Joy” as something to build the song from and that’s really why the song works. But towards the end when “Rip it up… let’s make some nosie!” is shouted and the song goes nuts… it is pretty cool too.

13) Sufjan Stevens: Casimir Pulaski Day
This song gets points for giving a shout out to Casimir Pulaski… a holiday that most people get off in Chicago in the middle of March. But the song itself is yet another beauty from Stevens. The banjo carries the song, but so do the horns the make welcomed appearances throughout. One of the few songs that captures the long, never ending winters that only those who live in the Midwest know about.

12) Bloc Party: This Modern Love
This song lost momentum as the year went on, but that shouldn’t count against it. We love the guitars and the uses of stereo sound in the song. The song slowly builds gathering momentum, throwing a little more at us little by little until it all comes together into a very good song.

11) Beck: E-Pro
This song would be right on the fence to be honest. It’s fine for what it is, nice guitar riff that gets the head movin’ a bit, enjoy the “nah, nahhh, nah, nah, nah, nah, naaaaa”s. But most importantly, it was A.J. Pierzynski’s music when he stepped to the plate on the South Side this year. And in a year when the White Sox Won the World Series… well this had to be on the list.

10) Hold Steady: Hornets! Hornets!
Just when we all started to think that a good guitar album couldn’t be made, the Hold Steady came along. I love the lyrics, and use of the guitar is greatly appreciated. Love that little part in the middle of the song where they just do that rift and the other guitar comes in and out with some power chords and the piano leading the way into this: “i guess the heavy stuff ain't quite at its heaviest by the time it gets out to suburban minneapolis. we were living up at nicollet and 66th. with 3 skaters and some hoodrat chick.”

9) M.I.A.: Galang
I think it’s safe to say that this was the best dance song of the year.

8) Babyshambles: Kilimanjaro
“Ohhhhh, oh, oh, ohhhhhh, oh-ohoh.” That’s how the song begins, and I didn’t think Pete Doherty said Killamangiro correctly… but then I learned he’s saying “They killed a man for his giro”. I know I can’t believe it myself. No matter, it’s hard not to want to get up and grove when you hear this song. The hooks are killer, and the guitar work is fine. And then there is the almost painful to listen too bridge, or middle of the song, where Doherty seems almost crying out for a love lost… and you feel for him and yourself at the same time.

7) Common: Be (Intro)
The slow bass line that leads off into a Kanye ditty into an orchestra and then finally Common almost shouting “Yessss!” You can hear both Kanye and Common’s genius in the song, you move with the beat, and can’t help but notice Common dropping “Bush pushing lies…” in the middle there. In the year where Chicago seemed to take center stage in mainstream music, this is the song that would lead off a Best of Chicago: 2005.

6) Kanye West: Gold Digger
Look, the third verse of this song puts it over the top. “But you stay right girl/But when you get on he leave yo ass for a white girl.” Kanye’s a genius, we all know that, and we all love him for it. He also spoke up when he said the infamous, but shouldn’t be infamous, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” But back to the song, you love it, we love it, everyone’s heard it. It’s great, but don’t forget what he’s sayin’. That’s all I’m sayin’.

5) Antony & the Johnsons: Hope There’s Someone
Is this the best song of the year? No, sorry Pitchfork, but it’s still got lots of quality. It’s a song that grows on you. It’s a song where you begin to feel the music and the song. And that’s the highest complement you can give a song or band… if they make you feel. Now granted, the song probably wasn’t written for you or me and different songs affect people in different ways. Some songs rip your soul out, others make you happy, others make you feel like drinking, others make you feel like being in love… this song is able to touch VFLOAB in a few different areas, and therefore it’s getting’ high marks.

4) John Legend: Used to Love U
Chill bass, into chill drums, into Legend singing about an ex he can’t afford and then this… “Baby, Baby, Puffy, Jay-Z”. What a great first 30 seconds to a song. But least we forget about the fantastic chorus and the enjoyable back ground vocals though out the song. And the end? Got to love the panio and hand clap beats and the “REEE-MIIIXXX!”. Great song.

3) Franz Ferdinand: Do You Want To
It’s fun. It’s Franz Ferdinand. It’s catchy. It’s just hard not to enjoy. Gave us one of the better I’m at a bar and single lines of the year “When I woke up tonight/I’m gonna make somebody love me…” Plus when they do their soon to be patient slow intro to exploding with sound (into the chorus) it is just complete musical pandemonium. Something that Franz Ferdinand is great at… seriously when they do that little indie start into disco, how can you not want to move your body? And does anyone else feel like most Franz songs are bizarre marching songs? And does anyone else love the fact that there are ties to Austrian-Hungarian history in there name? Moving on…

2) Sufjan Steves: Come on! Feel the Illinoise!
The first three minutes of this song gets you to listen and enjoy the song, the steady piano riff and the urgency of the horns and back ground vocals (and some bells in the background) makes the song interesting. But then, the song pulls a 180… and turns into a beautiful, lonely, waxing piece. The strings play a beautiful part and then the background vocals ask, “Are you writing from the heart?” Stevens’ voice is sad, yet sentimental, and you can’t help but feel the same.

1) Coldplay: Speed of Sound
I know, in a way I feel dirty. But there’s no getting around it… this was the best song of the year. The song gets off to a somewhat rocky start apparently trying to be “Clocks Vol. II” but then just as Martin begins to sing, the drums come out of no where to complete change and take over the song. And from here Coldplay wisely allows the beat to take the song the rest of the way; Martin’s vocals and the piano part take a back seat to the drums and then… the guitar. By the time the first chorus comes around you’re settled into an enjoyable and quality song.

But then another funny thing happens, Coldplay changes things up on us (seriously, this is like music composition 101 apparently but no one does this)… the second chorus adds a guitar part attempting to reach out and touch Heaven, falls slowly into the greatest bridge of all time (and I will not argue this) back into the Heaven reaching guitar chorus part. Just amazing stuff that makes us wonder why the rest of this album pretty much sucked.

I swear, Coldplay drives me nuts. This is a great song; well written and well crafted, and this killer bridge… in many ways it’s like “Shiver”. The talent is there, but for whatever reason they like to hide their talent. The rest of this album is pretty much crap. So what gives?

But back to this bridge… it’s where everything comes together, the drums leading to the thick guitar rift and Martin’s vocals bringing something to the table (even if the lyrics are pretty empty).

But the lyrics aren’t completely empty, VFLOAB loves the chorus. “Birds go flying at the speed of sound/to show you how it all began.” That’s right, “to show you how it all began.”

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