2004 Top Ten Pop Countdown Podcast
Atlanta and Crunk ‘n B rule the year every #1 song is by a Black artist, Usher Confesses and scores big, and everyone’s shaking it like a Polaroid picture.
Welcome! This is the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show and I’m your host, Christopher Verdesi. Every week on Chartcrush, we do a deep dive into a different year in Pop music history, and count down the top ten according to our recap of the weekly charts published at the time in the music industry’s leading trade publication, Billboard magazine. This week on Chartcrush, we’re counting down 2004, a year in which there were 12 #1 songs on the Hot100, and virtually every one of them was by a Black artist. But that’s not all. From the end of July 2003 to the beginning of April 2005, six or more of the top ten hits on the Hot100, a majority of the top ten every week in that period, by Black artists.
Now, the race, age, education and income demographics of internet access had a lot to do with what genres of music were legally purchased in the ’00s, as opposed to tracks and entire albums downloaded from legally-dubious mp3 file-sharing sites, which flew completely below Billboard’s radar. So what was happening on the charts in 2004 may have more to do with how widespread music piracy had become by the mid ’00s, than what was most popular. For perspective, a study in 2006 estimated four billion (with a “b”) mp3s downloaded from peer-to-peer networks in the U.S. that year, translating to 800 million lost paid downloads. For comparison, the #1 song in our 2004 countdown was certified Gold in the Fall of ’04 for sales, including paid downloads, of 500 thousand.
But there’ve been blind spots like that on the charts throughout Pop history. The Hot100 completely missed Album Rock in the early ’70s for example, and songs not out as physical singles in the late ’90s like The Rembrandt’s theme from Friends, “I’ll Be There for You” or No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and many others, couldn’t chart.
And in Black music itself, mixtapes, a term that encompasses everything from simple home-recorded compilations to elaborately sampled, sequenced, beatmatched, and/or even voice-over’d DJ/MC performances. Of course, they became mix-CDs once blanks and burners replaced cassettes and dubbing decks, but were still called “mixtapes” in Hip-Hop because they’d been that integral to the development of the genre, especially after lawsuits in the ’90s all but outlawed sampling. Hip-Hop without sampling: almost as unimaginable as Rock without electric guitars! You could still do it, but only if you had permission from the copyright holder of the original record you were sampling. Or, you could just put it on a mixtape and sell it out of small shops, tables on the street or right out of the trunk of your car. But like online filesharing, mixtapes: totally under the chart’s radar.
Anyway, just a couple of grains of salt to keep in mind as we count down the top ten for ’04. No sooner had Billboard fixed the flaw with excluding album-only songs from the Hot100 for its 1999 chart year, here came Napster and an explosion of Hip-Hop mixtapes on the streets to muck things up again!
Now you might expect in a year when every #1 song was by a Black artist, that our top ten for 2004 would be all Hip-Hop and R&B, and those genres definitely do dominate, but another way songs can make cumulative rankings like this is longevity. If a song stays on the chart long enough, it can rack up enough points to beat out even songs that got to #1 without ever topping the chart itself. And that’s the case with four of the hits in our countdown, which all spent 40 or more weeks on the Hot100. The average for songs that made the top 10 in ’04, about 27 weeks.
#10 Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved
Our first two at #s 10 and 9 spent 41 and 43 weeks, respectively, and neither got higher than #5 in any of those weeks. Both are by the same group, back-to-back in our ranking, and both are from their album Songs About Jane that came out in 2002. Over two years later, this song made the charts and they were on their way to their Grammy win for Best New Artist. Huh? How can that be when their album is over two years old? Anyway, at #10, it’s Maroon 5 “She Will Be Loved.”
“She Will Be Loved” was L.A. Pop group Maroon 5’s second top ten hit and third charting hit. “Harder to Breathe,” the lead single from Songs About Jane scraped the top 20 in ’03, just one year after the album came out, peaking at #18 on the strength of radio airplay and constant touring.
#9 Maroon 5 – This Love
But their big breakthrough in ’04 was our next song at #9 in our Maroon 5 two-fer here on our 2004 edition of Chartcrush. It first entered the chart in February after the ultra-steamy video which one British writer described as “a porno-pop” debuted on MTV’s Total Request Live and the band played it on Saturday Night Live. Once the song made the top ten at the beginning of April, the Maroon 5 train had left the station and it stayed all the way to July: 14 weeks, and didn’t leave the chart ’til December. Part of its success was a remix version by famed New York House DJ Junior Vasquez that went to #1 on Billboard Dance Club Play chart, but at #9, here’s the album and radio version of “This Love.”
Maroon 5’s breakthrough hit “This Love” at #9 here on the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. Their album Songs About Jane really was a collection of songs about front man Adam Levine’s ex-crush/girlfriend, Jane, and the band’s original name, Kara’s Flowers, was an homage to another girl, name of (you guessed it!) Kara, that everyone in the band had a crush on.
“This Love” was also Billboard’s top paid digital download for 2004, the last year before downloads (legit, paid ones anyway) were added to the calculus for the Hot100.
The steamy video helped propel it up the charts, but also made front man singer Adam Levine a superstar sex symbol and the lead single from their sophomore album in ’07, five years after Songs About Jane, bolted to #1 in just a few weeks.
By the way, one of the nominated acts that Maroon 5 beat out for their Best New Artist Grammy? Kanye West, whose debut album The College Dropout album yielded three top 20 hits, plus the #1 hit “Slow Jamz” if you count the track that Kanye wrote and produced but gave Chicago speed-rapper Twista top billing so Twista’s label would pay for the video! At least Billboard recognized Kanye West as the year’s top Rapper and top R&B/Hip-Hop Producer.
#8 3 Doors Down – Here Without You
Now both of those Maroon 5 songs are in our countdown despite neither making it higher than #5 on the charts, thanks to chart longevity. But the award for the longest chart run of the year goes to our #8 hit: 51 weeks, August ’03 to August ’04, also peaking at #5. It’s a Rock song: the second single from the band’s hotly-anticipated 2002 sophomore album Away from the Sun, after the lead single, “When I’m Gone” had racked up 45 weeks on the Hot100 to become the #10 song of 2003. By the start of ’04, their debut album from 2000, The Better Life, was at 6X platinum and Away from the Sun was about to hit 3X. One of the top charting Rock bands on the early ’00s, here’s 3 Doors Down at #8: “Here Without You.”
Rockers ranking high on year-end Hot100 tallies thanks to chart longevity rather than peak chart positions: a pattern in the early ’00s. 3 Doors Down’s “Here Without You” only peaked at #5 but it’s our #8 song because it had the longest chart run of the year (51 weeks). Of all the Rock songs in our Chartcrush top tens ’01 to ’04, only Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” in ’02 got to #1 on the weekly chart. Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment,” Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” StainD’s “It’s Been Awhile,” The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go,” and Matchbox 20’s “If You’re Gone” and “Unwell:” none of those were #1’s, but they averaged 49 weeks on the chart.
3 Doors Down continued charting Hot100 hits into the ’10 s and their next two albums in ’05 and ’08 both topped the Billboard album chart. In 2017, they were one of the few name acts to play President Trump’s Inaugural, which prompted almost as much partisan snark and backlash as Kanye West donning a MAGA hat.
#7 Usher & Alicia Keys – My Boo
OK, from here on out, all of the songs in our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2004 are by Black artists. And all but one were #1 hits. At #7, the first of three by the same artist: a rare feat. Billboard writer Fred Bronson opined that the artist’s name was the only word you needed to sum up the year in Pop, and with the three in our countdown, plus one other single hitting #1 during the year for a combined 27 weeks, a new record, it’s hard to argue with that. He was #1 for 22 of the 23 weeks from the end of February to the end of July. And then this one topped the chart for six weeks in late Fall. It’s Billboard’s #1 Artist of 2004 teaming with Billboard’s #2 Artist of 2004. Usher and Alicia Keys, “My Boo.”
Usher and Alicia Keys’ “My Boo,” #7 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2004: six weeks at #1 from Halloween to the beginning of December, and then eight more weeks in the top ten after that. The song not on the initial track list of Usher’s ’04 album Confessions, but it was added to an Expanded Edition released with great fanfare in October, after “My Boo” had entered the top ten.
#6 Alicia Keys – If I Ain’t Got You
And speaking of Alicia Keys (again, named Billboard’s #2 artist of 2004), she’s at #6: a song inspired by two sudden, tragic events in the Summer of 2001: the death of R&B singer Aaliyah in a plane crash, and then just two and a half weeks later, 9/11. Keys said that one-two punch “just made everything crystal clear…what matters, and what doesn’t.” Usher sang on a U.K. remix of it later in the year, but at #6 the original that was in the top ten for 20 weeks, April to September: “If I Ain’t Got You.”
Alicia Keys, “If I Ain’t Got You” at #6 as we count down the top ten hits of 2004 here on this week’s edition of Chartcrush: yet another song that makes our countdown due to its longevity on the charts: 40 weeks with 20 in the top ten, peaking at #4 for a week. The Kanye West-produced lead single from Keys’ ’04 album The Diary of Alicia Keys, “You Don’t Know My Name,” actually peaked higher, but was only on the chart half as long.
Keys, already a star since her debut single “Fallin'” was #1 for six weeks in ’01. Her music and persona updated a classy, sophisticated R&B and Soul tradition for the 21st century and Billboard named her the top R&B artist of the 2000s decade.
#5 Outkast featuring Sleepy Brown – The Way You Move
At #5 we have the first of two hits in our countdown by a veteran Atlanta Hip-Hop duo, and the lead singles, plural, both came out on the same day. They debuted on the charts within three weeks of each other, and then they held down the #1 and #2 spots for eight straight weeks.
Now, why wouldn’t they stagger the releases? Well, because the duo’s double album in ’04 was actually two solo records bundled together. It even had a split-frame album cover. Speakerboxxx was Big Boi; The Love Below was André 3000. Releasing it as hyphenated double album leveraged the name ID of their duo moniker Outkast. At #5, from Speakerboxxx, here’s the one that made the charts first: Big Boi rapping with featured singer Sleepy Brown on the chorus: “The Way You Move.”
Outkast’s hyphenated double solo album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was the bestselling Hip-Hop album of all-time out of Atlanta and Billboard’s #2 album of the year. That was Big Boi’s “The Way You Move” from Speakerboxxx, which was #2 behind Andre 3000’s lead single for eight weeks, finally getting one week on top after Andre’s song slipped to #3 in February.
Sleepy Brown with that Earth, Wind and Fire-worthy falsetto chorus on “The Way You Move.” Brown went way back with Outkast: part of the Atlanta production team Organized Noize that discovered them and helped get them their record deal. Outkast was ten years into their chart career by ’04, having scored their first Hot100 hits in 1994 and their first #1, “Ms. Jackson,” with its Beatle-esque oooh’s off their fourth album Stankonia in 2000.
#4 Ciara featuring Petey Pablo – Goodies
Well we’re getting down to the small numbers here on our 2004 edition of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. At #4, an answer song to bad boy Rapper Petey Pablo’s misogynistic “Freek-a-Leek.” And when it hit the airwaves, “Freek-a-Leek” was still in the top ten! Now such a rapid response would be amazing but for the fact that it was all an inside job. Petey Pablo even guests on the record, rebutting every verse sung by the innocent, breathy-voiced singer named after a Revlon perfume.
But the biggest common thread between “Freek-a-Leek” and our #4 song was Lil Jon, the Rapper/Producer who pioneered the Hip-Hop subgenre Crunk, which is either an invented past participle form of the verb “to crank” or a portmanteau of “crazy and drunk,” depending on which source for word origins you consult. But either way, Lil Jon pioneered and popularized it DJing in the ’90s at Atlanta’s Club 559, and then on records.
As it turned out, as a Hip-Hop style, Crunk was about to jump the shark, but not before Jon merged it with R&B to create the sub-sub-genre “Crunk ‘n B,” on our #4 song. Also from Atlanta, it’s Ciara, featuring raps by Petey Pablo, “Goodies.”
Ciara’s “Goodies,” #4 on our Chartcrush countdown on 2004’s top ten hits, seven weeks at #1, the longest for a debut single by a female artist since the late ’70s. That oscillating whistle gimmick, lifted from Missy Elliott’s 2002 hit “Work It,” and Ciara repaid the favor featuring on Elliott’s “Lose Control” in ’05, one of the six more top tens Ciara scored in ’05 and ’06.
After Janet Jackson’s “nipplegate” halftime fiasco at the ’04 Superbowl, plus Beyonce’s lackluster Destiny’s Child reunion and being eclipsed by Jennifer Hudson on the big screen in Dreamgirls, for a minute it seemed like Ciara was R&B’s new “it” girl, but Crunk ‘n B’s moment passed, along came Rihanna, and then Beyonce was back big with her long-delayed second album B’Day, so it wasn’t to be.
#3 Usher – Burn
Now besides L.A. in 1967, no one city has dominated the top ten on a year like Atlanta dominated 2004: six of the 10 songs in our countdown by Atlanta artists, and the guy who first put The Big Peach on the map? Producer Jermaine Dupri, who, at 19 in the early ’90s, son of a Columbia Records exec, plucked two kids out of Atlanta’s Greenbriar Mall and just months later unleashed Kris Kross on the world.
Well Kris Kross was long gone by ’04, but Dupri’s crowning achievement since, was producing (and co-writing) practically all of our #3 act’s hits. His first #1 (for two weeks in ’98) was the sensuous ballad “Nice & Slow,” a hit Dupri was so happy with that on each of the artist’s two subsequent albums, he set out to re-create it: “U Got It Bad” on 2001’s 8701 was #1 for six weeks, and then this one on ’04’s Confessions was #1 for eight. We heard his duet with Alicia Keys at #7, “My Boo.” Here again at #3, it’s Usher, “Burn.”
MySpace, Friendster and LinkedIn launched in ’03 and Facebook in ’04, quenching (along with Reality TV) the Millennial generation’s profound thirst for deeper, realer, more frequent connections, to other people, to brands, to celebrities, and, yes, to Pop stars. Usher and his collaborators weren’t the first or only music figures to pick up on that, but Confessions going platinum in its first week and its first two singles locking down the #1 spot on the Hot100 for a record 19 straight weeks definitely helped announce its arrival.
The label wanted a club banger out first and got their wish, but “Burn” was the album’s mission statement and intended lead single. Usher was ready to “Confess” his own personal struggles and experiences. He’d just gotten dumped by his girlfriend, TLC’s Rozanda “Chili” Thomas for cheating. When a relationship flames out, he said, you just gotta let it “Burn.”
By the way, “Burn’s” run would’ve been nine weeks but for Fantasia’s single “I Believe” debuting at #1 the week she won season 3 of American Idol.
#2 Outkast – Hey Ya!
Well we’re down to #2 here on our 2004 edition of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. For the first two months of ’04 until Usher’s spectacular 19-week run at #1, there was every reason to believe that ’04 was going to be the year of Outkast, whose two lead singles from their double solo album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below held down the #1 and #2 spots on the Hot100 from just before Christmas ’03 to the middle of February. At #5 we heard the one that was #2 all those weeks, Big Boi’s “The Way You Move;” here’s Andre 3000’s that was #1: a hit in every radio format except maybe Jazz and Classical it seemed. Even Alt Rock stations played it. It’s Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”
OutKast’s Andre 3000, the sole songwriter and producer of the mid-’00’s cross-genre smash “Hey Ya!,” #2 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2004. Billboard had it at #8 on the year, behind Big Boi’s “The Way You Move” at #5, which stayed on the chart four weeks longer and outranked “Hey Ya” as both songs moved down the chart in the Spring. But with all those weeks at #1, “Hey Ya!” comes out ahead on our ranking.
Polaroid, the company whose instant pictures everyone thinks develop faster if you shake ’em: not doing well in the ’00s as digital photography took over, until sales rebounded thanks to Andre’s line “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.”
In ’06, Andre and Big Boi starred in the Depression-era period musical Idlewild, which critics panned as “more idle than wild,” and their soundtrack album they did for the film also bombed, so they put Outkast on ice and went their separate ways ’til 2014, when they reunited for a festival tour, which included headlining two nights at California’s prestigious Coachella Festival.
#1 Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris – Yeah!
OK, you ready for #1? Well I hope you’ve been enjoying the show so far and your answer is… the title of the song.
Now I mentioned that our #3 hit, “Burn,” was the intended lead single from Usher’s Confessions album. But gearing up for release, the label wanted to lead with an upbeat club banger, so they brought in Crunk King Lil Jon, who you’ll recall produced our #4 song, Ciara’s “Goodies.” And a club banger they most certainly got. But with the album release set for March, over the Holidays, Jon leaked the track to street DJs. Now whole albums were being shelved or canceled due to leaks in those days, but once this song hit the air, it had the highest Hot100 debut the week of January 10, and was already four weeks into its 12 week run at #1 when Confessions dropped, so crisis averted! One of the enduring anthems of the decade, it’s Usher featuring lots of shouting from Lil Jon and a Rap verse from (also outta Atlanta) Ludacris, the #1 song of 2004 is “Yeah!”
One of the things that may’ve hastened and/or caused Crunk’s fall from the its mid-’00’s heights: Dave Chapelle’s “Moment in the Life of Lil Jon” sketches on his Comedy Central show, where Chapelle answers every question with one of Jon’s shouted words: “yeah,” “okay,” “let’s go,” “watch out” and so on. But Usher’s “Yeah!,” which Jon produced and shouts a lot on, far and away the #1 song of 2004 by any measure. And #1 on Billboard’s ’04 ranking too.
But there are differences between Billboard’s top ten and our Chartcrush Top Ten we counted down this hour. I mentioned that they ranked OutKast’s “The Way You Move” higher than “Hey Ya!” And of the other songs we heard this hour, our #10 hit, Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” misses Billboard’s top ten all the way down at #35. The entire tail end of its chart run, kicked into their 2005 chart year, all 22 weeks of it. Similarly, the first 14 weeks of 3 Doors Down’s “Here Without You,” our #8 song: in Billboard’s 2003 chart year and not counted toward their ’04 ranking. Usher and Alicia Keys’ “My Boo:” that one was #1 the last week of Billboard’s ’04 chart year, November 29, so it’s both #24 for ’04 and #54 for ’05 in Billboard. Counting its full chart run in the year it saw most of its chart action makes it #7 for ’04. So three songs in to our top ten means three songs out from Billboard’s. Let’s take a quick look at those, shall we?
At #10, Billboard had the one #1 song in calendar ’04 not, strictly speaking, by a Black artist.
Terror Squad, headed by Puerto Rican Rapper Fat Joe, paired with Black female rapper Remy Ma, the only Dance craze record in Pop history that’s about not dancing! The Rockaway: just “lean back,” look over your shoulder and rock your head slightly to the beat. Usher does it at the end of the “Yeah!” video. “Lean Back” notches in at #12 on our Chartcrush ranking.
At #7 on the year, Billboard had this song that got stuck at #2 for eight weeks during Usher’s 12-week run on top with “Yeah” and “Burn.”
Mario Winans featuring Irish New Age Singer Enya and Rapper P. Diddy, “I Don’t Wanna Know.” That was #15 on our Chartcrush ranking.
And finally, at #6 Billboard had another Rock song that spent an eternity on the Hot100.
If you did a poll of Rock fans in the mid 00’s and asked “what’s the most original thing about that band?” a lot of them might’ve said, their name. Like Crunk, Post-Grunge’s story arc was nearly complete by ’04, but Hoobastank’s “The Reason” racked up 38 weeks on the Hot100 with 14 in the top ten, just missing our top ten at #11. Apparently, “Hoobastank” was how one of the group members mispronounced a German street name.
And we’re gonna have to leave it there, folks, because that the hour! I hope you enjoyed our 2004 edition of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. I’ve been your host, Christopher Verdesi. Check out our website, chartcrush.com, for written transcripts and streaming links for this and other Chartcrush shows, plus chart run line graphs and other “schway” extras. And check our Chartcrush Minute vids on TikTok, @Chartcrush. Every week on this show we count down a different year from the beginning of the charts in the ’40s all the way up to the present, so tune in again next week, same station and time, for another edition of Chartcrush.