Regular readers of this column may have noticed that I’ve included a song off every single Metallica studio album in the top five, and a song from every non-studio Metallica album in the Honorable Mentions. You may also note that a Metallica album came out in 2003.
There will not be a Metallica song anywhere on this list.
St. Anger is trash. That’s right, I said it. It’s awful. I can’t think of a single redeeming factor; even the documentary about its creation is embarrassing. There are no guitar solos, the vocals are trying to be nu-metal without the ability to sing, and the drumming sounds like someone trying to crush a metal trashcan with a jackhammer. Its mere existence makes me sad, not because I hate Metallica but because Metallica is my favorite band.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s get to the music that isn’t a violation of Article 3(c) of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The White Stripes — “Seven Nation Army”
Any song that becomes a standard in less than 15 years has to make the cut.
These days it’s that song from every football game; not too long ago it was a whole song! And a good one at that, especially considering the majority is done just with bass and drums. Despite not being The White Stripes’ first hit, it’s the song that cemented Jack White’s status as a genius.
It’s understandable that it’s been so overplayed, but it’s also a shame.
Beyoncé — “Crazy in Love”
It was not too long ago that a Destiny’s Child song made the top five, and now we have one from Beyoncé’s first solo effort. But especially during a slump for the music industry, how could I possibly have left a song this good off the list? It’s a catchy instant classic and easily the best thing Jay Z has ever done.
That it gave me an excuse to watch the music video didn’t hurt either.
Black Eyed Peas — “Let’s Get It Started”
As a rule I use the album versions of songs rather than the radio edits, but that’s because we’re all adults here—probably. And if you’re offended by profanity you probably haven’t made it this far. I made an exception for this one because it’s not profanity, but it’s a mean-spirited punching down. And I’m not gonna perpetuate that.
That said, they did fix it for the radio edit. This version of the song is of the same quality as the other one, and it’s just so catchy. There’s a reason it’s used in basically every movie of the ’00s.
Also, the alternative was an Evanescence song and…meh…
Jet — “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”
I wasn’t a huge fan of “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” when it came out, but I discovered the appeal when Rock Band came out in 2007. I have the small motor coordination of Animal from The Muppets, so, naturally, I mostly played drums, and this was the most fun song to play along with on the drums.
It’s also hard to resist a throwback with a ’60s garage band vibe, and this definitely falls into that category. It wouldn’t be out of place on a Kinks or Deep Purple album back in the day and that’s just fantastic. The world needs more rock and roll.
Jonathan Coulton — “First of May”
If you aren’t familiar with Jonathan Coulton, shame. Shame!
A Yale-educated programmer turned singer-songwriter, Coulton is a staple of nerd music and culture. Over the years he’s gotten big enough to have helped launch the careers of a few other musicians, for example, and he has an annual cruise where he fills an entire ship with fans. He’s kinda a big deal. You can read RIFF’s previous coverage to get a better sense of him and his work.
Back in 2003, however, he was just some dude making music in his apartment. And one of those songs was the least safe-for-work upbeat folk song of all time, a song which I’ll never tire of and post to social media every May 1 until the apocalypse. Which admittedly may come before next May 1 at this rate.
Evanescence — “Bring Me to Life”
Godsmack — “I Stand Alone”
Marilyn Manson — “This Is the New Shit”
“Weird Al” Yankovic — “Angry White Boy Polka”
Fountains of Wayne — “Stacy’s Mom”
Dido — “White Flag”
The Offspring — “Spare Me the Details”
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.