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The Year of Micro-Trends

A playlist of the sounds that broke barriers in 2005.

R. Kelly, “Trapped in the Closet” parts 1-12 (and counting)
Only our leading twisted genius could (a) release a radio serial as a single, (b) have a hit with it, and (c) make the music as melodramatic as the narrative.

Arctic Monkeys, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance floor”
Maybe the Internet really can break artists now. This sharp, witty punk song hit No. 1 in England after demos circulated online.

The Legendary K.O., “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”
Kanye West’s live TV outburst triggered a slew of Internet mash-ups. The best flipped the chorus of “Gold Digger” and added bitter verses.

Beck, “E-Pro”
Na-na-nas, churning guitars: Beck remembered to have fun again on the excellent Guero.

Isolée, “Schrappnell”
Catchiest track from the year’s best electronic album, We Are Monster, cuts up a big surf-guitar riff with twitchy beats.

Antony and the Johnsons, “Hope There’s Someone”
Drag cabaret as high art; androgyny as higher state of being.

Animal Collective and Vashti Bunyan, “It’s You”
Brooklyn experimentalists and exhumed British singer made beautiful freak folk in thrall to Alice Coltrane.

Sufjan Stevens, “Jacksonville”
Illinois was too long and too precious, but still packed with joyful moments.

Lady Sovereign, “Random”
Cartwheel beats and playtime chorus from the grime scene’s cutest offshoot.

Girls Aloud, “Biology”
Best of the year from Xenomania solders Muddy Waters with ecstatic electropop.

Rachel Stevens, “I Said Never Again”
Another British cyber-pop classic. Glittery stomper could be about an on-again-off-again relationship, anal sex, or both.

Daddy Yankee, “Gasolina”
The prototypical reggaeton hit never lets up.

Mike Jones, “Still Tippin’ ”
Houston hip-hop proved that subcultures still exist. The eerie violin on this signature hit led the way.

Gorillaz, “Feel Good, Inc.”
D.J. Danger Mouse beat the Gray Album with Demon Days. Bouncy bass and hazy atmospherics sound like driving a dune buggy on Mars.

Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together (Remix)”
Cuts the syrup on the summer anthem with crashing beats. The chorus is still indestructible.

The White Stripes, “My Doorbell”
Get Behind Me Satan was patchy, but this soul rave-up is as good as anything they’ve done.

Ying Yang Twins, “Wait”
The easily offended should avoid this filthy sex rap, but the whispered-vocals-over-bottomless-bass sound set off a rash of copycats.

Madonna, “I Love New York”
Lyrics so silly they’re wonderful and a grungy neo-disco beat made this the best on Confessions.

The Industry Award

Rob Stevenson, Island Records
In an age when artists don’t wait for major labels, A&R men have to learn new skills. Rob Stevenson’s breakthrough: Sign white-boy rock bands willing to talk smack about each other in the great hip-hop tradition. First, the Killers and the Bravery tussled over the new-wave-revival limelight. Then, in the wake of Fall Out Boy’s success, the Killers’ Brandon Flowers moaned that he was feeling neglected. In response, Fall Out Boy threatened to write a song for its next album called “You Can’t Spell ‘Star’ Without A&R.”


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