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December 21-27, 2005

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Lady Sovereign

Make way for the S-O-V: In 2006, Lady Sovereign will sell out the store.

So Last Year

2005: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Todd Inoue

Singles: The Good...

"1 Thing"—Amerie; "Shake It Off"—Mariah Carey; "Wait" (The Whisper Song)—Ying Yang Twins; "Random"—Lady Sovereign; "Hate It or Love It"—The Game; "Ladyflash"—The Go! Team; "Get on My Hype" (Remix)—Messy Marv; "Stay Fly"—Three 6 Mafia; "E-Pro"—Beck; "Play"—David Banner. I'm a sucker for beats and hooks, and 2005 was a strong year for both. My tolerance for ribald rhymes hit its peak as "Wait (The Whisper Song)" and "Play" kept the rewind function busy. Grime isn't going to blow up stateside—it's just too weird and British, but Lady Sovereign has a nice chance in 2006 with her pop take. I love "Random" and her EP Vertically Challenged. She signed with Def Jam after auditioning for Jay-Z, so watch out for big things from the S-O-V.

The Bad

"My Humps"—Black Eyed Peas; "Laffy Taffy"—D4L; "Trapped in the Closet"—R. Kelly; "Hung Up"—Madonna; "Heartbeat"—Annie. Think hard—has there been a song in recent memory as awful and tortuous as "My Humps"? Not even "Laffy Taffy" comes close. It's not the content, which I can handle, or the audio bed; it's the lyrical cadence, the jailbait vocal and the line "What you gon' with all that breast/ All that breast inside that shirt?" It's, as Bill Walton would say, "Horrrrrible!" ... As for that Norwegian pop princess Annie, when Anniemal came out, with support from hipster bible VICE and belly-gazing zine Pitchfork, I thought: Is this an elaborate prank? What the hell is going on here when a passably trill singer gets such elaborate praise? Similarly, I thought Madonna's video for "Hung Up"—with its jacking of ABBA and the video of her rolling around in Jazzercize gear—was an episode of Punk'd.

And the Guilty Pleasure

"Sugar, We're Going Down"—Fall Out Boy; "Run It"—Chris Brown; "Nookie Tonight"—Jamesy P; "Gold Digger"—Kanye West. I'm losing hipster points, but these songs appeal to the 15-year-old Urban Outfitters shopper in me. Empty calories that provide a temporary sugar rush.

Best Show

Best show I saw last year? Madness at Bimbo's. The '80s ska group was supporting an album of cover songs, and they rolled out a hit parade. I don't know whether it was the nostalgic feeling for second wave ska, or all the rudies and mods packing extra pounds under their aviator coats and Fred Perrys, it was just a great night. Beck's razzle-dazzle show at the San Jose Civic was also amazing. I was distracted and looking for any excuse to leave (my very pregnant wife started contractions that afternoon), but the imaginative presentation and solid chops kept me to the very end.

Best Email

From music director Aaron Axelsen of Live 105. After I accused the BFD lineup of being lackluster, I received a two-page, point-by-point breakdown, studded with ALL CAPS, defending the show's roster and the station. We've made nice since, and I can respect his dedication to the music. He wrote: "The station is once again alive, vibrant and bursting at the seams with passion and cutting edge ideas."

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