Monday, January 29, 2007

Hoobastank Concert Review

Hoo: Hoobastank
What: Every Man For Himself Tour

When: 28 January 2007, 8pm

Where: Fort Canning Park

LA outfit Hoobastank descended on Fort Canning Park last night and gave a rockin' good time to the 2000-strong (estimated) crowd. I had won a pair of tickets from my favourite radio station, Power 98FM, after calling in and singing the chorus of The Reason on national radio. Luckily it was good enough to win me the pair of tickets.

After packing dinner from Plaza Singapura, KT and I made our way to the park. We entered the gates at 6:20pm and were given a bottle of mineral water and groundsheet each (sponsored by StarHub of course). There were fewer than 40 people at that time.

The first thing I looked out for was the merchandise booth, which wasn't there. The only merchandise they were selling was the tour poster at $10, which I wasn't interested in. Where were the T-shirts and tour books??

It's quite strange because merch sales is the best way to earn money. You can sell a band T-shirt at $40 and it will still be sold out. I went to Hoobastank's website and had already earmarked which T-shirt design to buy, but unfortunately I didn't get to spend the money.

KT and I occupied a central spot in front of the stage and had our dinner. The only worrying thing was the weather, which threatened to pour any minute. But thankfully it didn't.

When 8pm came, the opening act was introduced and the band was called The Sexys, or The Sexist, I don't know. There was a competition organised by StarHub to be the opening band for the concert, and they beat all the rest to win the spot. Here they are in action:

After ripping through only 3 songs, they left the stage. They were ok, but they lacked a certain charisma and X-factor. They didn't leave us wanting more from them. But it's a good effort.

After they left, we folded up our groundsheets and made our way to the front of the stage. The tech crew came up and did soundcheck for about 15 minutes, before the guys themselves appeared. Vocalist Doug Robb wore a tank top with the words "Ugly", which was quite an irony because he certainly wasn't ugly.

I was expecting them to open the show with a song from their latest album, Every Man For Himself, but instead, guitarist Dan Estrin played the riff to Crawling In The Dark and the crowd went mad.

At this point in time, I must confess that I'm not a super huge Hooba fan and I only own their second album, The Reason, as well as a few mp3s of their hits. As such, I didn't know what songs they were playing half the time.

But regardless of whether you knew the songs or not, the people at the front of the stage all bobbed their heads and punched their fists enthusiastically in the air throughout the entire show. There were people further back who chose to remain seated on the ground, but that didn't damper the spirits of those in front. Hooba's high energy songs such as Out Of Control, Just One and Never There roused the crowd and kept those hands up in the air.

Hooba tore through their set for about an hour before leaving the stage for a while. The fans chanted "We want more!" and the guys duly obliged.

(Look at those socks!)

A high point of the concert came when Hooba launched into their version of Pink Floyd's 1979 classic, Another Brick In The Wall Part II. I didn't know the song, but the rest of the audience lapped it up and sang along to the famous line "We don't need no education." A lesson in rock history indeed.

They followed it up with another classic, this time with bassist Josh Moreau (who replaced Markki Lappalainen after he left in 2005) pumping the bassline to Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer. It was a surprise to hear them covering these classics, but there was more in store.

After Prayer, Robb asked the audience, "Does anyone know this little ditty?" We were expecting part 3 of classic rock quiz, but instead, the instantly recognisable piano intro from The Reason sprung up (the piano part was pre-recorded and played back).

This was the song that launched Hooba into stratosphere and it was the song everyone was waiting to hear. As expected, everyone sang along to it and brought it to a rousing finale.

They closed the show with Same Direction, not before thanking the fans profusely for taking time off to be there. Earlier in the show, Robb said that he didn't care whether we bought their CDs or downloaded their songs. Just frikking get the songs somehow! Which I thought was very cool.

All in all, it was a satisfying show. The sound system was quite good, not as bad as I expected, though I was just a little deaf after that. But there wasn't ringing so it's not so bad.

Frontman Robb was charismatic and your eyes would follow wherever he went. He was also sincerely appreciative of our presence and it showed. New addition to the band Moreau was also super cool on the bass, totally absorbed in his playing and not breaking a sweat at all. The guitars and drums were tight too.

Too bad their third album didn't spin off as many hit singles or I might have given it a shot and bought the album, and I would be more familiar with their songs. But truth be told, if you've never heard any of their songs except for The Reason, the songs would start to sound the same after a while.

But Hoobastank managed to keep the energy level up with their musicianship and stage presence, and it was an evening well spent at the park.

Here's bassist Moreau getting ready to throw his pick to the crowd...
And KT picked it up!

So we did leave the concert with one piece of merchandise. And it's more valuable than what they'll ever sell at the booth!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Singles #11: Michael Jackson - Heal The World (1992)

Heal The World is one of the most memorable songs off the Dangerous album. It was a huge hit in UK, where it peaked at #2, as well as on our sunny shores of Singapore. I remember singing the song during music lessons at school, and everyone else knew the lyrics almost by heart.

The melody is simple easy to sing along to, and the message of the song is clear and straight forward - heal the world and make it a better place for you and me. That's the main reason why the song has had such a big impact on people all over the world.

When MJ was tapped to perform at the Superbowl XXVII half-time show in January 1993, he performed Heal The World alongside a medley of his biggest hits. It ended up being one of the highest rated entertainment programmes ever.

The Heal The World performance was spectacular in its own right. The whole stadium was transformed into a huge placard, as the audience were given cards to hold up as MJ performed the song. The finished mural consisted of people of all races and skin colour holding hands , living in harmony, reflecting the song's message. The aerial shot of the stadium is one of the most, if not the most, memorable images of Superbowl halftime shows ever.

I take that back, Janet's exposed nipple in 2004 would take that honour. :)

Anyway, I have 4 different versions of the single. The first one below here includes She Drives Me Wild (also from Dangerous) and Man In The Mirror (from Bad), which has a similar message of making the world a better place. No idea why She Drives Me Wild is here though.

This second version does not contain Man In The Mirror but instead contains a shorter edit of Heal The World, together with She Drives Me Wild.

The third version is the Japanese version, which is smaller in size than the normal CD. There are only two tracks. Also included are the lyrics to the song.

The fourth version is a 7" vinyl single. it's quite special because it's a poster bag edition, so the cover actually folds out to be a poster.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rarities #14: Bon Jovi Someday I'll Be Saturday Night Tin Box Single (1994)

The rarity for today is a Bon Jovi Someday I'll Be Saturday Night tin box single. This item is super rare and I have never seen it anywhere before. The words are embossed on the cover itself and there is no booklet insert. The disc is protected by 2 pieces of sponge stuck on the inside of the tin box.

Someday I'll Be Saturday Night is one of the two new songs off Bon Jovi's greatest hits compilation, Cross Road. The other new song was of course, Always, which was a big, big hit for them. In fact, Always is my number one favourite Bon Jovi song.

Someday is a great track too, giving further cred that they're not just recording two token new tracks to sweeten the greatest hits release, as we have seen so many other artistes do. As such, it fully deserves being released as a single.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Rarities #13: Oasis Be Here Now Autographed Box Set (1997)

This is an autographed copy of Oasis' Be Here Now album, signed by the guys themselves when they set foot on our sunny shores for the concert last year.

The box is quite big, larger than the size of a Laserdisc (if you even remember how big that is, or what it is). The front and back cover art are the same as the CD version. What's different is the booklet that's enclosed inside. It's a picture book showing the band in action during the recording of the album.

Be Here Now was a highly, highly-anticipated album from Oasis, following the enormous success of their previous album, (What's The Story) Morning Glory?. Be Here Now was released on 21 August 1997, Thursday (which is featured on the cover art), instead of the traditional Monday release.

The album still holds the record for the fastest-selling album in UK history, selling 423,000 units on its first day alone! While it was commercially successful, critics didn't respond to it as well as their previous efforts. Noel himself didn't like the record, and none of the tracks from Be Here Now were included in their 2006 compilation Stop The Clocks.

Nevertheless, the album still spawned two UK #1 singles D'You Know What I Mean? and All Around The World. Stand By Me was another huge hit (a favourite for cover bands) and it hit UK #2. A fourth single, Don't Go Away, was released in Japan only.

Be Here Now might have been a blip in their career but what's important is that they have picked up since then. Oasis is one of the remaining UK bands that have lasted for more than 10 years now. Hope their recent revival is not another short burst of inspiration.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

140 Y.O. (20 Y.O. x 7)

Well, I think I must be the biggest Janet fan in Singapore. I have 7 different copies of her latest album, 20 Y.O., how about that? Can you beat it???

Here's the Japanese version, complete with obi strip and still sealed. As usual, they reserve the best stuff for the Japanese, and there are 2 bonus tracks in this edition: Roll Witchu and Days Go By.

I have heard Roll Witchu and it's not bad, but I haven't heard Days Go By, and I can't bear to open this package, so it shall remain in wraps.

Below is the Special Edition CD/DVD set, which is the most expensive of all. The packaging is quite well done. Love the gold embossed box. The DVD content is rather good too, the best being the Dancer's Auditions and the Making of Call On Me video.

Below is the regular edition, which is actually different from the regular edition in other countries, which is non-shiny and like the Japanese version cover. So we actually have something rather special here.

Below are the 4 fan covers, which is part of the contest where fans can submit their designs, and the best 4 designs chosen by Janet herself will be printed as covers for the first 1 million copies. These versions are from the US only.

This first one is the ugliest of them all. Sorry Janet, but this design is really bad. It is quite simple, which is perfectly fine, but the fonts used and the colour scheme are just bad.

This next one is not much better, the main culprit being the font used again. Using Janet's lips as the "0" is a nice idea, but the font totally spoils it.

I actually like this one because it is simple and elegant. Black and white is classy.

This one below is my favourite of the 4 covers. You can't really see from here because the sticker is obscuring the image, but Janet is actually looking down at her T-shirt, and there's a pic of herself (from the Pleasure Principle video) on the T-shirt.

It's a way of saying she's looking back on her past 20 years in the business, an introspection. Nice idea and good job superimposing the pic on the tee.
And there you have my 7 copies of the album. Yes, I've been dumb enough to buy all 7, but what can I do? I'm a fan!

Singles #10: Michael Jackson Give In To Me (1993)

Give In To Me features Slash on guitars and he gives a blistering performance on this track. Since the Dangerous album, MJ has built up a close friendship with the ex-Guns 'N Roses guitarist, with Slash contributing to the HIStory and Invincible albums as well as performing onstage with MJ on several occasions.

The music video also features Slash, taking place in an indoor concert. It attempts to recreate the performance video, much in the vein of Dirty Diana four years ago, which is one of the greatest performance videos ever.

I have 2 versions of the single, both with the same tracklisting but slightly different CD art. The cover art for both art the same.

The three tracks on this single are the "hard rock" MJ songs, each featuring a famous guest guitarist. Beat It features Eddie Van Halen from Van Halen, Dirty Diana features Steve Stevens, who was Billy Idol's former guitarist, and of course we have Slash from GNR.

The former two songs reached #1 on the Hot 100 but Give In To Me didn't manage to replicate that success. It was never released in the US but instead peaked at #2 in the UK. This is strange because the video for Give In To Me premiered during the Oprah interview, which had an audience of close to 100 million viewers.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Top Of The Pops 2006

I was compiling my favourite songs of 2006 and I realised I was having a hard time coming up with the list. I'm not sure why, but it seemed as if there were very few truly outstanding songs last year. And like some of my friends have commented, there are hardly any good rock songs last year. The death of rock...

Well, after much deliberation, I have managed to come up with 18 of my favourite songs of 2006. granted, some of them were released in late 2005, but they only made an impact on me in 2006. So here they are...

18. Ain't No Other Man by Christina Aguilera

Taken off her Back To Basics double album, Ain't No Other Man is supposed to be a "throwback to the 20s, 30s and 40s-style jazz, blues and feel-good soul music, but with a modern twist." This homage is evident on both her album and single cover, as well as the opening strains of this song, which starts off with the brasses before Christina lets it all out with her amazing vocal prowess.

I didn't like this song initially because I felt that it was the usual Christina over-the-top vocal showcase. But truth is, I didn't get to listen to the song properly because I didn't have the mp3 and I wasn't listening to radio much.

The reason for the turnaround is because I feel that it is a very bold move by Christina to do something like that. She did indeed live up to her statement of giving the old jazz sounds a new twist, as this track sounds like nothing that you don't hear on the radio these days.

Not everyone will be able to pull something like this so spectacularly, and kudos must be given to Miss Christina-ex-Dirrty-Aguilera for not only making this one of the most unique songs of 2006, but also keeping up with the classy, dignified look that accompanies it.

17. Steady, As She Goes by The Raconteurs

Steady, As She Goes is the first single off The Raconteurs' debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers. You might be wondering on earth are The Raconteurs, but once I mention that the frontman is Jack White of The White Stripes, you'll be going "ohhh"...

But yeah, such is the fame and popularity of The White Stripes that you'll be expecting something good out of Jack White's side project. And it is good.

Steady, As She Goes is most memorable for its bass line hook, which according to the Wikipedia entry, is exactly the same as Joe Jackson's Is She Really Going Out With Him. Well, I have listened to them and while it is undeniably similar, there is a difference in one of the notes. Only one note.

The rhythm and feel of the hook is very very similar. Applying to what I've have learned in Media Law, there is therefore substantial similarity between the two songs to constitute copyright infringement.

Legalese aside, Steady As She Goes is an absolute cracker and it is quirky yet mainstream at the same time, unlike say Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, which is quirky but not mainstream.

This track is one of the less conventional rock songs that made it to my list, underscoring the notion that there were was a scarcity of good, balls-out rock songs last year. But it still rocks.

16. Irreplaceable by Beyonce

This song is one of the latest entries to make it to my list, because I wasn't really feeling it at first. But it is a grower and its simple and hummable melody sticks in your head after a while, especially the "To the left, to the left" lyric.

Irreplaceable is the third single off Beyonce's sophomore album. After lead single Deja Vu fizzled and follow-up Ring The Alarm simply tanked, B'Day was desperately in need of a certified hit.

Along came this track, which has dominated the Hot 100 for the past four weeks already, becoming Beyonce's fourth number one solo single and eighth overall including those she scored with Destiny's Child.

Beyonce's delivery here is restrained and controlled, and that's wise cos it would otherwise threaten to marr a simple and beautiful song with a winning melody. I was waiting for Beyonce to churn out a solid hit, given her track record and talent, and I'm glad she didn't disappoint with this one.

15. Ever The Same by Rob Thomas

Rob Thomas was the frontman of popular American rock band Matchbox Twenty. After tasting success with his collabo with Santana on Smooth, he decided to venture out on his own and released his first solo album, ...Something To Be.

First single Lonely No More was ok, but it was just ok. I have never heard the second single, This Is How A Heart Breaks before. But this third single totally blew me away with its simple melody and lyrics. Another case of third time lucky yah.

I really fell in love with the song after Thomas performed it at the 2005/6 American Music Awards, where he did an acoustic version, which I feel is so much better than the album version in terms of the musical arrangement.

But the melody remains as lovely as ever and it's good enough for me to remember it twelve months after its release to include in this list.

14. Every Day Is Exactly The Same by Nine Inch Nails

I've never been a Nine Inch Nails fan until Dave Grohl guest drummed for their With Teeth album. That album is pretty good. Of course, it spawned my number three song of 2005, The Hand That Feeds, as well as second hit single, Only.

Every Day Is Exactly The Same is a totally different animal from the previous two tracks and it is a slow-burning ballad. It's a ballad, but not in the traditional way. It is broody and angsty and talks about how every day is exactly the same (duh!). Pretty much how I felt when I was doing my internship earlier this year.

Frontman Trent Reznor is known for being a meticulous perfectionist and his programming skills are put to the forefront here. I really love the drum and bass programming on this song. The whole soundscape is awe-inspiring and it's the perfect companion on your way to work.

13. Resolve by Foo Fighters

While not one of the Foos' best songs, it is nevertheless a worthy entry to this list. This song is a slow burner but it did grow on me after time. It's not very hard rocking, but it was included on the "rock" side of their double album, In Your Honor, rather than on the "acoustic" side.

The riff is quite simple and there's nothing really special about the beat. But it's the last third of the song that really gets me in, with the layering of the guitar riff and the counter-melody together, creating a nice "conversation" with each other.

12. Dirty Harry by Gorillaz

This was from the Gorillaz's Demon Days album, which had already produced the mega hit Feel Good Inc. and minor hit DARE. As catchy as Feel Good Inc. was, I love Dirty Harry's groove more.

There isn't much of a tune here as most of the song is instrumental-driven, but it is the bassline that moves the song along. Add in a chorus sung by a kids' choir and a funky rap by De La Soul and you have a winner.

11. Breakdown by Jack Johnson

I have never heard of Jack Johnson until 2006 and I must say that it is the biggest discovery of the year for me. I had caught a few of his tunes on radio unwittingly but I didn't know they were sung by him, and it was not until the name Jack Johnson kept popping up a few times here and there that I began to take notice of this guy.

This song is from his third studio album, In Between Dreams. The other songs that I like on the album are Sitting, Waiting, Wishing and Better Together. In fact, I think In Between Dreams might be my favourite album of the year.

But I think the song that really got me hooked on Jack Johnson's music was Breakdown, with its tender Hawaiian guitar intro and Johnson's soothing voice. Listening to it just puts me in a good mood immediately for the rest of the day.

It's a really melodious song and I love songs that have a good melody, which explains why I'm not mad about hip hop and most R&B.

10. The 3 R's by Jack Johnson

Since I can't include all my favourite Jack Johnson songs in this list, I shall restrict myself to just two and place them side by side.

This song is taken off the soundtrack for 2-D animated film Curious George, and it was not released as a single. The reason why it's in my list is because I heard it in HMV in Hong Kong earlier this year and I was immediately captivated by it. The lyrics are witty and cute, talking about of all things, the 3 R's, namely: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

How often do you have songs promoting environmental-friendly practices so blatantly yet you still lap it up? This is one rare case and it's testament of Jack Johnson's charm and wit. It doesn't always make sense but you love it somehow.

Here's the first verse of the song:

Three it's a magic number
Yes it is, it's a magic number
Because two times three is six
And three times six is eighteen
And the eighteenth letter in the alphabet is R

This then links to the 3R's mentioned earlier. But why start off with 2 x 3 and then follow with 3 x 6? If 3 is the magic number, shouldn't it be 3 x 3, then 3 x 6?

Haha, I'm not complaining but rather, pointing out the beauty of the song. It's exactly because you don't have to take it too seriously and just allow yourself to be a kid and be charmed by the simplicity of the song that you can enjoy it. It's a sing-a-long and lullaby for a kid's cartoon after all!

9. Tell Me Baby by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Taken off their hugely successful Stadium Arcadium double album, Tell Me Baby is the only "traditional" rock song in my list. You can always expect great things from the Peppers, and while first sngle Dani California was quite a big hit, it didn't really hook me as much as Tell Me Baby did.

Maybe it's the repetitive guitar riff; maybe it's Flea's bass playing; maybe it's the trademark harmony vocals from John Frusciante Whatever it is, this song is damn catchy and features a blistering but all-too-brief guitar solo. Let's hope they tour Singapore again and rock the house down again!

8. Jump by Madonna

I never thought that this song would make it to my list because it is relatively obscure and hasn't been receiving much airplay or mentions in the press. But I love the beat and melody of the song, and I think it's very well-produced. In fact, Madonna's albums are always very well produced.

Jump doesn't top Hung Up but it stands tall in its own right. It's a good single to wrap up the Confessions On A Dance Floor project and it ensures that Madonna is on the right track after the disastrous album that was American Life.

7. Ugly by Sugababes

I've been a fan of the babes ever since their first single, Overload, in 2000. The fact that their lineup keeps changing doesn't bother me. Since their formation in 2000, they have released four studio albums and one singles collection, and undergone two lineup changes with only Keisha Buchanan from the original trio.

The fact is that they have managed to sound consistent and so have their hits. Ugly is one fine track written and produced by Dallas Austin, who also produced TLC's Unpretty, which dealt with similar themes.

The lyrics are good and the tune is catchy. One of my fave Sugababes songs ever.

6. Because Of You by Kelly Clarkson

After giving me my number one song of 2005, Kelly Clarkson returns with a sad but poignant ballad, Because Of You. This is one of the few remaining songs on radio that can truly be classified as a singable song. What's a singable song then?

Well, these days, many of the pop songs on radio are composed mainly of beats and synthesised beats, and singers don't have to do that much "singing" anymore (think Hollaback Girl, Fergilicious, SexyBack etc etc). Most of them are just rapping or spouting lyrics along and if you were to take an instrumental version of the song, you'll realise that you won't be able to sing the song without sounding bad.

So Because Of You is one of the very few remaining songs in the tradition of classical singers like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, where you can actually sing to an instrumental track of the song. And that's why I like the song.

It's well-delivered, as expected of an American Idol winner, and it really moves you. And when Kelly Clarkson performed this song at last year's Grammys, she proved to everyone that she has graduated from being just an American Idol to a bonafide superstar.

5. Hips Don't Lie by Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean

Shakira was huge last year, and this hit was inescapable. Look beyond her gyrating and honest hips and you have a song that is really catchy and unique. From the blaring horn intro to Wyclef Jean's rap outro, the song never lets up in excitement and hooks you all the way through.

It fuses Shakira's Latin roots with Wyclef's Top 40 pop sensibilities and it creates a sound that is unique to Shakira, Shakira. Definitely the catchiest song of 2006.

4. My Love by Justin Timberlake featuring T.I.

This is Justin's second number one hit in a row, and it's featured on many music magazines' year end lists as well. The song is such a big hit not mainly because of Timberlake but Timbaland. Timbaland, for the uninitiated, is the maestro manning the boards for FutureSex/LoveSounds.

Timbaland said in an interview that there were "whispers of the T-word flying around" just before the album's release. The T-word of course refers to Thriller, Michael Jackson's masterpiece, which remains the biggest-selling album of all time with more than 46 million copies sold worldwide.

Times have changed since 25 years ago and albums simply don't sell as much as they used to. What Timberlake and Timbaland are trying to achieve with FutureSex/LoveSounds is not to match Thriller in terms of sales, but in terms of critical acclaim and world domination.

So far, it seems to be working. The album has spawned two number hits (just like Thriller's Billie Jean and Beat It), topped the charts all over the world, Justin opened the MTV VMAs with a scorching performance, and the album has been very well-reviewed.

However, in terms of Grammy adulation, it has fallen short, garnering only 4 nominations (whereas Thriller won 7 Grammy Awards in 1984). And I would argue that MJ is technically a much better singer than Justin.

My main grouse with My Love is that there are certain verses where Justin is a little flat, and his voice is rather thin when singing the verses. He needs to overlay his vocals to make them sound whole and strong, whereas with MJ, you can really hear the quality of his voice without any overdubs. Just listen to Billie Jean or Beat It for evidence.

So why am I going on and on with this Justin vs MJ debacle here? The reason is that I admire both of them, and to me, Justin is the modern day MJ, but Justin will never supplant MJ in my books in terms of his talent or achievements.

Justin is the new king of pop, without a doubt, and the fact that he can align himself with talented producers like Timbaland (who's arguably the modern day Quincy Jones) and come up with a hit like My Love, shows his influence and position in the musical landscape today.

My Love is, essentially, a song crafted by Timbaland's beats, and it's in this list because of that and not because of Justin's vocal delivery. But it is the case of perfect marriage between singer and producer that has delivered this hit.

When Justin opened last year's VMAs with My Love, I was blown away completely. He was fluid and unbelievable and I wish I could do those moves too. Then there was that insane music video which featured those killer dance moves as well as impossible camera angles. Based on those two events, a place in my Top 5 was assured.

3. Promiscuous by Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland

Promiscuous is one song that I liked immediately the first time I heard it. There are very few songs that would make me feel this way, as most songs take a few spins before I would even consider liking them.

In its essence, Promiscuous is a duet between Nelly Furtado and Timbaland. In the song, the two of them trade verses and choruses equally, unlike other collaborations between say, Justin and T.I. on My Love, where T.I. appears only on the rap portion of the song. That's what I would call Justin featuring T.I. In this case, Timbaland should share equal credit with Nelly Furtado.

Technicalities aside, Promiscuous is one hell of a catchy and sexy song. It's a brand new Nelly Furtado and Timbaland has indeed rejuvenated her, bringing out a side of her that we never expected.

Once again, Timbaland deserves credit for making this song as big as it is, and it is a beat-driven song. The beats are out of this world, and no one can resist dancing to this. Well, at least I can't.

2. SexyBack by Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland

"I'm bringing sexy back", claims Justin. But what if sexy never left? Whatever he says, everyone believes him, and he does bring a certain sense of style and sexiness to the music scene.

The first time I listened to it, I didn't know what to make of it. It was a radical departure from the material of his Justified album. It was tuneless and I wasn't even sure if those were Justin's vocals because of the effects applied to his voice.

Once again (I'm already tired of saying this), Timbaland does a marvellous job of producing the synth sounds and beats. It's really ground-breaking and refreshing, something different from the stale hip-hop beats that we've become numb to.

His vocal trade-offs with Justin are as important and he has more lines than Justin in the chorus! Another case of the "duet" vs "feature" label. But to his credit, Justin does give Timbaland props, roping him to appear in both the SexyBack and My Love music videos, as well as sharing the stage for the VMAs. Justin knows that he wouldn't be half as successful without Timbaland.

I did have a hard time deciding between SexyBack and Promiscuous being number 2 and 3, as both of them were equally addictive and danceable and groundbreaking, but SexyBack edged out Promiscuous probably because it features one line that I really love..."You ready?"

1. Enjoy by Janet Jackson

Call me biased if you want, but Enjoy is my number one song of 2006. Even though it was never formally released as a single, it was released as a promo in Japan where it has received substantial airplay.

Enjoy was one of the songs that was leaked before the album's release, and I'll never forget the feeling I got the first time I heard it. Not to be melodramatic, but I felt so happy and uplifetd that I could cry. Really.

The bassline groove is killer, and the chorus is beautiful. The lyrics are very meaningful as well. And the ending features a bunch of cute kids chanting the chorus and going "Enjoy, la-la-la-la-la, enjoy, la-la-la-la-la". Very very nice.

It was one song that I loved the first time I heard it, even more than Promiscuous. I remember feeling that this was a song that needs to be released, that the world needs to hear. I really hope Janet will release this song as a single and shoot a really happy and classic music video to go with it. Enjoy NEEDS to be heard.

And with that, you have my top 18 songs of 2006. It has been a good year for pop but not for rock. I forsee the trend to continue into 2007 as well. But as long as there are still good pop records, I'm not complaining too much. 12 more months till the next list then!