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Photograph by Mark Seliger

Blue Cheer: Elvis Costello's 'Monkey to Man' spoke presciently about our political environment.

Singled Out

MP3 blogs and iTunes boosted the singles market. Here's an impartial list of the best from 2004.

By Jimmy Aquino

COMMERCIAL RADIO DJs can't be trusted anymore—ever since they let themselves become the palm-greasing promoter's bitch. So in 2004, the music geek nation turned its lonely eyes to the MP3 bloggers—those self-important desktop DJs who push music snobbery to its geekiest by putting streaming MP3s on their site. As a result, '04 was the year I bought more singles than albums. I love how iTunes gives you the option of buying individual songs rather than the whole kit and caboodle. Good lookin' out, iTunes! The following is a list of my favorite '04 singles, both legal and illegal, many first encountered through audio bloggery.

Rilo Kiley—'It's a Hit.' The anti-Bush "It's a Hit" never mentions Dubya's name, but the identity of the song's feces-flinging chimp is quite clear. The Sopranos music supervisors ought to conclude an episode with "It's a Hit" because the verses about Bush the executioner could also refer to Tony ("You still wear a cross/ And you think you're gonna get in"). I also like front woman Jenny Lewis' little shoutout to Barbara Lewis' "Hello Stranger."

Elvis Costello & the Imposters—'Monkey to Man.' This tongue-in-cheek tune's misanthropic narrator is a monkey who's depressed about the corrupt people in charge of the world outside his cage. Sounds like a blue stater.

RJD2—'1976.' The Latin horn-driven crown jewel of the Since We Last Spoke album.

William Shatner and Joe Jackson—'Common People.' Denny Crane champions the working class and rocks my iPod.

The Streets—'Fit but You Know It.' Some schnook gets spurned by some hot chick with a fake tan. Also known as The Wilmer Valderrama and Lindsay Lohan Story.

DJ Z-Trip—'Motown Breakdown, Part 1.' The first time a white guy shows his love for Motown without making me cringe like I do whenever I see a clip of that kitchen sequence from The Big Chill.

Nostalgia 77 and Alice Russell—'Seven Nation Army.' This funkdafied cover from the U.K. outstrips the White Stripes original. Props to O-Dub (www.o-dub.com/soulsides) for unearthing this track.

DJ Crook Air—'Usher Foley.' I don't like Urrr-sher that much, but whenever I hear this Swiss DJ's mash-up of "Yeah!" and Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F," it makes me want to don a baseball cap and blazer and shoot sex videos.

Franz Ferdinand—'Jacqueline.' It would make a great anthem for bored, sexually repressed Silicon Valley cubicle jockeys. Stop pointing.

Snoop Dogg and Pharrell—'Drop It Like It's Hot.' I once had a dream in which I watched the recording sessions for "Drop It," and Christopher Walken was there to drop some knowledge on Pharrell and Chad. Walken said, "I got a fever! And the only prescription! Is more tongue clicking!"

Other faves: The Von Bondies' "C'mon C'mon"—the perfect opening theme for Denis Leary's Rescue Me; De La Soul's "Much More;" Slum Village, Kanye West and John Legend's "Selfish;" Jon Brion's "Knock Yourself Out" theme from I ♥ Huckabees; Go Home Productions' Kelis/Duran Duran mash-up "Notorious Trick;" the Paul Nice remix of Greyboy's "Got to Be a Love;" the Danger Mouse/MF Doom remix of Zero 7's "Somersault;" the Roots' cover of George Kranz's "Din Daa Daa;" Handsome Boy Modeling School's "The World's Gone Mad;" MF Doom's Sesame Street-sampling "Kookiez;" Patton Oswalt's bit about Robert Evans' strange ESPN radio ads, from the Feelin' Kinda Patton CD. I'm well aware the Oswalt track isn't a song, but it's so damn funny. (I also like Jay-Z's "99 Problems," Twista's "Slow Jamz," Lyrics Born's "Callin' Out" and Dizzee Rascal's "Fix Up, Look Sharp," but they're really from 2003, so they don't count.)

Jimmy Aquino hosts the movie music program 'A Fistful of Soundtracks' on the web station of the same name. Holla at a playa: jim.aquino.com

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From the December 29, 2004-January 4, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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