I miss 45’s. During my early teens I would have just enough allowance to get one 45, an issue of Creem, Circus, or Hit Parader, and then either go roller skating or to the movies every couple of weeks. How many times would I repeat the 45’s A side before flipping it over? I can’t recall exactly, but it was a lot. Digital music has killed the 45 relegating them to museum pieces. But digital music could not kill the single since you can only listen to one song at a time. It’s stating the obvious, but it’s obvious to me that the record companies did not have much foresight.
CD singles are offered up, but the prices for them are ridiculous. Adjusting back to 1980 using the Consumer Price Index for a CD single priced $6.99 gives you a cost in 1980 dollars of $3.10 and I usually paid at most about a buck and a half, probably less, at the local record store. Sure, a CD single usually gives the consumer bonus tracks, but I’ve found that most of these extras should have stayed unreleased. If you didn’t get the CD single and you really wanted to hear the song, you either bought the complete album or perhaps copied the video until the fairly recent downloading revolution came along to shake the industry up. Now that the companies have wised up, we see singles being offered digitally for as little as a dollar a song.
I don’t listen to the radio and since I drive a car that cost me $650 (I need MTV to pimp my ride) satellite radio is out too. So the only way I hear what’s popular is through flipping the television dials between MTV, M2, VH1, GAC, and CMT. Most of the time, it doesn’t stay on any of these channels for long. “Hey Ya”s and “Stacie’s Mom’s are rare in the pablum pop world of mainstream music, but a handful of songs every year make it through my BS detector and I find myself singing along and trying to catch the video the next time it airs. So here’s the three singles I consider the best of the year.
Kanye West – Jesus Walks: I’m not quite as sure as most that it took a lot of courage to release this track, but I am surprised at how big a hit it was and how much I liked a hip hop song. I’m sure this makes me a rockist, but most hip hop either bores me (where are the breaks?) or it just annoys me with the constant misogynist and violence laden lyrics (how many times can the movie Scarface be referenced?). Jesus Walks was novel and not a novelty for the genre that needed it just like “the way Kathie Lee needed Regis that’s the way ya’ll need Jesus.”
Gretchen Wilson – When I Think About Cheatin’: The third single release by Gretchen shows she’s not just a redneck aberration. This song gives us many of country’s eternal themes; love, betrayal, leavin’, and drinkin’, and wraps them in a traditional ballad form which Gretchen sings simply and sincerely. The way her voice quavers the first time she sings the word “you” during the chorus knocks me out. Classic country is not dead.
My Chemical Romance – I’m Not Okay (I Promise): The video got me before the tune did. The video is a miniature movie about typical teen angst, sharp and snappy. The song is emo styled, but it packs a big wallop even though it smells contrived. Screaming, croquet mallets, a fuzzy headed guitar player, a drummer that remains to be seen, and cheerleaders with something in their eye: it all helps make up the whole of a great three minutes.
So there’s 3 good singles. The fourth entry in my best of 2004 for best album will be posted soon and I’m sure it’ll leave you grinning.