I haven’t posted anything about music in way too long, so here’s an annotated playlist of songs in heavy rotation on my iPod. Most of these are things I would never have heard of, let alone heard and obtained, if it weren’t for the numerous music blogs currently available. It’s not as easy to find out-of-the-way things on today’s P2P networks as it was in the time of Napster and AudioGalaxy… but I am hearing a far wider range of things now than I was able to then.

  1. Kelis, Trick Me (Basement Jaxx remix). This sounds more like Basement Jaxx’s last album Kish Kash than it does like Kelis’ other songs. Irresistibly catchy, and at the same time wonderfully headstrong.
  2. M.I.A, Galang. So far, my favorite song of 2004. Equal parts grime and Timbalandesque beats and late-70s girl-punk. Clang clang clang. Infectious, ridiculous, ferocious all at once. M.I.A. is a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee in London, under 20 I think. The other songs of hers I’ve heard (“Sun Shower” and “Fire Fire”) are also great.
  3. Shystie, One Wish. Grrl grime, not quite as mindblowingly original as M.I.A., but powerful, aggressive, angry, take-no-shit feminist assertiveness rapping.
  4. Mya, Fallen (Zone remix, featuring Chingy). OK, this one ain’t exactly feminist self-assertion, but the swoony romanticism of the original version (with a creepy stalker edge in the video) is transfigured by the remix into a propulsive beat utopia.
  5. United States of Electronica, La Discoteca. Good mindless fun.
  6. Girl Talk, Bodies Hit the Floor. Screaming, glitchy mash-up that’s both violent and playful, and whose samples include what seems to be an Alvin and the Chipmunks version of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River.”
  7. LBR, Monda’s Beat. Another mash-up appropriating Mr. Timberlake, this time for what sounds like a robots’ dance orgy.
  8. Sia, Breathe (Four Tet remix). A gorgeous cry of despair, pain, vulnerability, and living on.
  9. Pixies, Bam Thwok. Their new reunion single is just a throwaway, but I love those slashing, buzzing guitars and Kim Deal embracing the universe.
  10. Kleenex/LiliPUT, Split. The only “oldie” on this list, but it still sounds utterly fresh. Late 70s girl-punk assertiveness, totally ecstatic, with pounding guitars, wailing saxophone, and gleeful call-and-response vocals mostly consisting of screamed-out words beginning with the letter “H” (hopscotch, harakiri, hugger-mugger…). (I’ve been meaning to get the 2CD set of this band’s complete works, reiussed on Kill Rock Stars, but I am pissed off that downloading it on iTunes is more expensive than buying the hardcopy on Amazon).
  11. Electrelane, I’m On Fire. Beautiful, atmospheric, but also pulsing and fast, cover of the Springsteen song by a band (with woman singer) that sounds a bit like Stereolab and a bit like the aforementioned late-70s girl-punk bands
  12. Rekha, Good To Go. Sexy, bouncy dancehall number , but from the woman’s point of view. Rekha, like Missy Elliott, wants to be the one in charge, wants her sugar, and won’t stand for a one-minute man; and she moves fluidly between come-on and mockery as she states her case.
  13. Ce’Cile, Hot Like We. More women’s dancehall, raunchier than Rekha. Ce’cile is so high-energy I can’t imagine her finding a man who could keep up with her.
  14. Nina Sky, Move Ya Body. A big hit on “urban” radio, I am told, though in Seattle I’d have no way of knowing. Fortunately I’m moving to Detroit in a week. Infectious New York (Puerto Rican via Queens) take on dancehall. And you don’t stop…
  15. Jadakiss, Why (featuring Anthony Hamilton). Jadakiss transcends his own thug cliches, and gets both political and metaphysical, which is a great thing. The song still has some of the same old stupid boasting and sexist posturing, but it also addresses racism and rigged elections and the American gulag and existential emptiness and mortality. “Why they let the Terminator win the election? C’mon, pay attention.”
  16. Ghostface, Sun. Love and praise for the glory of the star whose expenditure without return is the source of all life and energy on Earth.
  17. Shing02, Suck On My Dub. Japanese rap. I have no idea what the words mean, but the rap sounds ferocious and it is accompanied by a heavy beat with insane surf guitars (???).

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