The 20 Best Singles of 2006

1. “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley. The seemingly dead dream of an alternative music in which rock, hip-hop, funk, R&B, electronic, et al., speak a fresh Esperanto is given a liberating new pulse. LISTEN: WINDOWS | REAL

2. “When You Were Young,” the Killers. Justifying the album’s cornball fantasia, these tetchy gits put their ’80s synth-pop boudoir on shiny chrome wheels and head out on Highway 9. LISTEN: WINDOWS

3. “Ain’t No Other Man,” Christina Aguilera. Unleashing perhaps the hardest bop track since Charles Mingus’ “Better Get Hit in Yo’ Soul,” DJ Premier builds a blass-blasting stage and Xtina grinds her spiked heel. LISTEN: REAL

4. “Welcome to the Black Parade,” My Chemical Romance. They may not be this generation’s Nirvana, but they sure want to be, and this snarling, we/us pronouncement is enough to make Mom and Dad pee their pj’s. LISTEN: REAL

5. “Wolf Like Me,” TV on the Radio. Timeless, fist-pumping rock about how life is a glorious all-fours schlep into a portal of oblivion. WATCH: Via AOL Music

6. “Hustlin’,” Rick Ross. This dubby, screwy track almost hypnotizes you into believing that the Miami rapper is as big a drug dealer as he claims.

7. “Ridin’,” Chamillionaire feat. Krayzie Bone. Cue the trashed white girls butt-quaking on a banquette. LISTEN: REAL

8. “Steady, as She Goes,” the Raconteurs. Jack White rocks like a guy who’s finally fled a codependent relationship with his ex-wife/fake sister for a guys-only Vegas spree. Double down, Brendan Benson! LISTEN: WINDOWS

9. “Smile,” Lily Allen. A blithe kiss-off by a young London lady with door-knocker earrings — set to a calypso beat. Blimey, homie. LISTEN: WINDOWS | REAL

10. “Rise Up With Fists!!” Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins. On this torchy, cautionary show-stopper, Lewis sings us back home, defiantly searching for humility amid the temptation and lies. WATCH: QUICKTIME

11. “Kick, Push,” Lupe Fiasco. A concerto for skateboard in which a rebellious boy and an independent girl find true romance. Perhaps the biggest hip-hop fantasy of the year. WATCH: WINDOWS

12. “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.” Arctic Monkeys. The punky guitars and drums slug you in the gut, and singer Alex Turner nyah-nyahs like a sexy little pistol. WATCH: WINDOWS

13 “Cheated Hearts,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen O exclaims, “I think I’m bigger than the sound!” She’s not, but her voice sounds fearsome when she says it. LISTEN: REAL

14. “Notorious,” Turbulence. A raw-throated, deceptively melodic chant/croon against wickedness from a Jamaican singjay whose street-corner brimstone rivals DMX’s. DOWNLOAD MP3

15. “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” Scissor Sisters. A disco-rock sashay that’s the bittersweet version of Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom.” Potential WNBA theme? LISTEN: REAL

16. “Vans,” the Pack. Over a sub-EKG bleep, Bay Area teens brag about their $36 “punk-rock shoes” that also come in “coke white.” Too adorable. LISTEN: REAL

17. “The Funeral,” Band of Horses. The thrilling, if fatalistic, chorus crashes in as an angelic choir sucks helium and genuflects before Neil Young. DOWNLOAD MP3

18. “Silent Shout,” the Knife. Was there really a need to make techno even more ashen, frigid, and alienated? Well, here’s the spine-tingling case. LISTEN

19. “Trains to Brazil,” Guillemots. Indie pop with a weary soul and indomitable spirit that practically whistles “All aboard!” as it leaves the cynics behind. WATCH: WINDOWS

20. “Be Gentle with Me,” the Boy Least Likely To. A wonderfully tinkly ditty for everyone who lives in terror of spiders, flying, dying, etc. WATCH: QUICKTIME



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