Wednesday, May 07, 2003

2003 is one-third over, now that it's May. Rather than give my top 10 singles of the year thus far, I thought I'd - it makes sense to me - instead give you one-third of them.

1 "What We Do...," Freeway featuring Jay-Z and Beanie Siegel. No song I've heard this year, nor perhaps this century, barring Daft Punk's "One More Time," sounds so whip-crackingly alive. Freeway raps like there's no tomorrow, and maybe not even a tonight; he's the essence of hungry. Jigga and B-Siegel provide ever-sterling backup, and the track just bangs away like a porno star.

2 "Rock Your Body," Justin Timberlake. Ladies and gentlemen, the new King of Pop has entered the building, and he's got a giant Lite-Brite with your name on it.

3 "Hurt," Johnny Cash. Watching something on CMT recently, I saw an artist - Vince Gill, maybe - note that once Johnny Cash covers a song, it's his. Period. That's proven unquestionably here, Cash taking a song by nine inch nails, and owning it. Amazingly, it's a new highlight of his career, at age 70-plus. Cash cracks open Reznor's lyrics and wrenches out the pathos. Video of the year, too.

3.33 "Mundian To Bach Ke," Panjabi MC. Quite possibly the greatest global crossover moment in music since Eric B. & Rakim were introduced to Ofra Haza by Coldcut. Bhangra, Knight Rider, and hiphop prepared over an open flame.

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