2005 Top Ten Pop Countdown Podcast
Broadband juices mp3 piracy but Ringtones are making big buck$ as Hip-Hop’s Bling Era endures and Kelly Clarkson confirms American Idol’s star-making prowess.
Welcome to the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show, I’m your host, Christopher Verdesi. Every week on Chartcrush, we do a deep dive into a year in Pop music and count down the top ten songs according to our recap of the weekly Pop charts published at the time in Billboard magazine, the music industry’s top trade publication. This week on Chartcrush, we’re turning the clock back to 2005, the year the youngest Gen-Xers turned 25, and the next generation, Millennials, born 1981 to 1996, were definitely in charge on the Pop charts.
Some would say it was earlier, when 50 Cent’s heavily-censored “In da Club” topped the ’03 year-end Hot100 and Airplay charts and Crunk king Lil Jon scored his first hit, or ’02 when Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” and Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” surfaced Emo and Skater Punk (both of those year-end top 20 hits in 2002). Or even as early as 1999, when teen Millennials sent their boy bands NSYNC and Backstreet Boys to battle it out with their girl idols Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
Whatever, as a generation, like Baby Boomers in the mid-’60s, Millennials exploded onto the pop charts before the oldest were even out of high school, cutting short Gen-X’s brief reign after Xers had spent their teens in the ’80s thinking their gangsta rap, grunge, alt-metal and neo-trad country would never be mainstream. That changed in ’91 with the first Lollapalooza festival tour and then Billboard dumping its ancient survey system and switching to monitored sales and airplay data for the charts, which revealed that Gen-X sounds were already mainstream and probably had been for quite some time. But by decade’s end, here came the Millennials.
Not that Gen-X minded too much, busy forming a wave of entrepreneurs and ladder climbers in the burgeoning tech industry, which had a far more profound impact on music than anything any artist, label or DJ did in the 2000’s. By 2005, digital storage was affordable, and high-speed internet was slashing mp3 download times from minutes to just seconds for millions of music fans. 2005 was the year broadband internet overtook dialup, and the computer company Apple on its way to becoming the largest music retailer, since 2001 selling what quickly became the default gadget for playing mp3s, the iPod, and since 2003 the mp3s themselves for 99 cents apiece on its virtual iTunes store.
But for every music fan paying 99 cents a song, 50? 100? 200? A thousand? were filling up their iPods for nothing with mp3s downloaded off legally ambiguous peer-to-peer platforms like Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, Limewire, just to name a few, that’d cropped up after courts shut down the original mp3 sharing site, Napster, in ’01.
No one really knows the extent of illegal music downloading in the early 2000s, but it was an epic disaster for the music industry and a huge blind spot on the charts, only partially-addressed by Billboard launching its Hot Digital Songs chart in late 2004 tracking paid downloads, then incorporating digital sales into the Hot100 for the 2005 chart year: the first new consumer sales component added to the Hot100, ever. Up until then only physical sales (records, tapes or CDs) counted. And boy did the chart need it! Hot100 and Airplay charts: practically indistinguishable in the first half of the 2000s.
#10 Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
Now another enormously consequential music discovery platform in the 2000s is where our artist at #10 got her break, and with her album that was on the charts in 2005, she decisively proved the doubters wrong and firmly established said platform as a springboard for bona fide Pop stars. Just one year-end top ten hit would’ve done the trick, but she scored two in ’05. And here’s the first of them at #10. It’s American Idol Season One winner Kelly Clarkson, the title song from her six-times platinum sophomore album, “Breakaway.”
Kelly Clarkson, “Breakaway” at #10: the first of two Kelly Clarkson hits we’ll be hearing this hour as we count down the biggest hits of 2005 on this week’s Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. Clarkson, the winner of Fox TV’s surprise 2002 smash American Idol, as determined by 58% of the 15½ million votes phoned-in after the season one finale, in which Clarkson squared off against runner-up Justin Guarini. And then her coronation single, “A Moment like This,” shot to #1 in just three weeks. “Miss Independent” from her first album was also a top ten hit in ’03.
But despite all that, critics had a hard time accepting that a TV talent show winner could be more than just a flash in the pan. Her second album Breakaway settled the question with its five Hot100 hits and cemented American Idol’s status as a legit star-maker. Unfortunately though, Idol’s clout didn’t translate to movies. The 2003 romantic comedy From Justin to Kelly starring Clarkson and Guarini, not only bombed at the box office; it won a special Golden Raspberry Award as the Worst (airquotes) “Musical” of the First 25 Years of the Golden Raspberries.
#9 Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell Williams – Drop It like It’s Hot
At #9, the first of three Hip-Hop songs in our countdown and chronologically the earliest: #1 for three weeks in December 2004, whereupon it had a very gradual descent from the top spot that kept it in the top ten for another eight weeks, in calendar 2005. Because its run on the charts straddled ’04 and ’05, it made Billboard’s Year-End Hot100 in both years, but counting its full chart run, as we do with every song here on Chartcrush, gets it into our top ten for ’05, which is only fitting since it wound up being Billboard’s #1 Rap song of the 2000’s decade.
Besides the vocals, the track has a drum machine, a keyboard riff and, perhaps its most novel and unforgettable feature, tongue clicks. One of the most sparsely-produced hits in Hot100 history: here’s west-coast rapper Snoop Dogg teaming up with Pharrell Williams, who co-produced with his crew The Neptunes. Snoop’s very first #1, despite charting ten songs since his 1993 debut, #9 “Drop It like It’s Hot.”
Snoop Dogg with Pharrell Williams, “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” #9 on our Chartcrush Countdown of the top ten hits of 2005. It was also the #2 song of the year on Billboard’s Ringtone chart, just launched at the end of 2004. Ringtones—snippets of songs for your flip-phone, downloaded, for a price, from Zingy, 9Squared, a dozen other providers that sprung up out of nowhere—that you could customize for different callers. Having any cell phone in 2005 was still brag-worthy. But having one of the fancy ones that played different songs when people called? Well, that was just something you wanted the whole world to hear, literally! And a great conversation starter before phone etiquette evolved and rendered the custom ringtone more of an eye-roll moment than an excuse to get up and dance. Billboard discontinued the Ringtone chart in 2014, but for a music biz fighting for its life in 2005, a previously nonexistent niche worth an estimated $4 billion was a godsend.
#8 Lifehouse – You and Me
Next at #9, the L.A. Post-Grunge group whose debut single “Hanging by a Moment” was the #1 song on Billboard’s year-end Hot100 for 2001, despite never making it to #1 on the weekly chart. Its run spanned almost the whole year and went into ’02, 54 weeks, and when you add up the points for all those weeks, there it is, #1 on the year!
Well they went four years without another top ten hit, until this, which had an even longer chart run than “Hanging by a Moment.” It debuted in February, dropped off for a week but then returned in March and stayed on the chart all the way ’til the end of April 2006. 62 weeks peaking at #5: one of the longest chart runs ever. It’s Lifehouse, “You and Me.”
“You and Me,” the #8 song on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2005, released as the first single off Lifehouse’s eponymously-named third album. But it was only denting the charts until Lifehouse appeared as the prom band in an episode of the WB Network’s Superman prequel series Smallville, and played “You and Me” during a poignant slow dance scene, whereupon it took a sharp upward turn and climbed steadily over the next four months to its peak at #5. It was a must-play at proms and weddings starting in 2005, and topped a special Billboard ranking of Adult Pop Songs from the last 15 years that was published in 2011.
#7 Gwen Stefani – Hollaback Girl
So touring was bigger than ever in the Wild West days of rampant music piracy on the internet, but Baby Boom acts continued to dominate America’s arenas and stadiums: Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Eagles, Elton John. In fact, only one artist in our Chartcrush countdown of 2005’s top ten songs was among Billboard’s top 35 concert grosses of the year, and it’s our artist at #7.
She was everywhere, both as a fashion icon and pop star: Billboard’s #1 New Artist in 2005 even though she’d been on the radio and the charts for years with the band she fronted since the mid ’80s, No Doubt. The song was 2005’s big upbeat summer hit and the first ever to pass the million mark on iTunes, which made it a lock for the top spot on the first year-end Hot Digital Songs chart. Written in response to ’90s Grunge icon Courtney Love dismissing her as a cheerleader, here’s Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl.”
Now why use a swear word only once in a song when you can repeat it dozens of times? The word in question: the one that rhymes with “split,” and in the radio edit of our #7 song, Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” all 38 instances on the uncensored album version are covered up with a coach whistle or omitted altogether, and the video has Stefani playfully doing a “shh” gesture. Cussing aside, Stefani wanted a silly dance-pop song for her first solo album, and “Hollaback Girl” was it.
Co-written and produced by ubiquitous behind-the-scenester Pharrell Williams (again, Snoop Dogg’s collaborator on “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” our #9 song). In 2014, Pharrell’s first headline single in nearly ten years was the #1 song of the year, “Happy.” Not everyone loved “Hollaback Girl.” The men’s magazine Maxim named it the “Most Annoying Song Ever.”
#6 Ciara featuring Missy Elliott – 1, 2 Step
At #6 as we count down the top ten hits of 2005 here on this week’s edition of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show, the only artist from our 2004 top ten, repeating in 2005. Her debut single “Goodies,” featuring Petey Pablo, was our #4 song of ’04.
The hip-hop style “Crunk” was at its peak in the mid 2000’s. Lil Jon & Usher’s “Yeah” (2004’s #1 song) the penultimate Crunk track. Well this artist embodied a Crunk/R&B hybrid that critics dubbed (what else?) Crunk ‘n B, first with “Goodies,” then with this, her follow-up featuring rapper Missy Elliott. At #5 it’s Ciara, “1, 2 Step.”
Chart newcomer Ciara, “1, 2 Step:” the follow-up to 2004’s #4 song, “Goodies,” and the #6 song of 2005 as we count down the top hits of 2005 here on the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. The Rap verse in “1, 2 Step” is by veteran rapper Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, who stunned the music biz back in 1997 when her first album debuted at #3 on the album charts—unheard of for a female rapper at the time. It was only fitting that Elliott would feature on a Ciara hit. That oscillating whistle that runs through both “1, 2 Step” and “Goodies:” a gimmick lifted straight from Missy Elliott’s 2002 hit, “Work It.” Ciara further returned the favor by guesting on a Missy Elliott track that was a #3 hit in ’05, “Lose Control.”
#5 Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone
So if you listen to this show, you know that it’s not unusual for an artist to have two or more songs among the top ten on the year. In fact, going back to the ’40s, on average there are two or more songs by the same artist in the top ten for the year in over half the years.
By our reckoning here at Chartcrush, ’04 was a banner year for artists with multiple year-end top ten hits: Maroon 5 and Outkast each had two, and Usher had three! In ’05 though? Only one artist has more than one song in our top ten, and it’s the singer whose “Breakaway” we heard at #10. Here again, American Idol Season One winner Kelly Clarkson at #4: her biggest hit of the year, “Since U Been Gone.”
Now in its ’05 year-end recap, Billboard took note of the stigma attached to talent contest winners like Kelly Clarkson, winner of American Idol’s first season. Their singles sell well, Billboard noted, but they don’t get much radio support. Kelly Clarkson changed that with her second album Breakaway, in which she crafted a sound, along with some top collaborators and producers lined up by legendary label boss and A&R man Clive Davis, that Billboard credited with roughing out the core up-tempo, Dance-oriented Mainstream Pop sound that carried into the 2010s.
Radio couldn’t get enough Kelly Clarkson in ’05, as she dominated the Pop, Adult-Contemporary and Adult Top 40 radio formats with multiple hits from the Breakaway album.
Incidentally, Season Four of American Idol was in early 2005 and the winner, Carrie Underwood, immediately went on to score the only #1 Hot100 hit of the 2000s decade by a female solo Country singer with “Inside Your Heaven.” That was the #83 song in our ’05 year-end ranking. Underwood grabbed the #4 spot in our 2007 top ten with “Before He Cheats” and Clarkson was back in the yearly top ten in 2012 with “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” before switching in the mid-to-late ’10s to children’s books, The Voice and her own NBC daytime TV talk show.
#4 50 Cent featuring Olivia – Candy Shop
At #4, the return to the year-end top ten of the rapper who, in ’03, did what Nelly couldn’t do in ’02: score the #1 hit of the year with a debauched, profanity-laced Hip-Hop party anthem. Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” the #6 hit of ’02; this artist’s “In da Club,” #1 on the year ’03. Together, the magnitude of those two hits in back-to-back years cemented Rap’s “bling era” and represented an historic coup in Pop history that NPR’s Frannie Kelley in 2009 compared to Hair Metal in the late ’80s. Usher and Lil Jon’s “Yeah” kept it going: the #1 song of ’04. From his second commercial album The Massacre, it’s 50 Cent featuring Olivia Longott, “The First Lady” of 50’s extended recording and mixtape crew, G-Unit,” it’s “Candy Shop.”
50 Cent featuring Olivia, “Candy Shop,” which was played on radio, of course, in a heavily censored edit. But just as with 50’s “In da Club” in ’03, having to mute out what seems like half the song’s lyrics didn’t stop radio stations from playing the _____ out of that track. Heh, see what I did there?
How big was 50 Cent in 2005? Well, he was Billboard’s Artist of the Year. The Massacre was the #1 album: first time an act had the #1 album two different years since Michael Jackson. All told, he headlined four massive hits in ’05, including “Candy Shop,” and featured on two others by West coast newcomer The Game before ’05’s big Hip-Hop feud erupted between them.
50 shifted his focus to movie acting in ’05, first with the semi-autobiographical Get Rich or Die Tryin’, titled after his 2003 debut album, then with other projects. But as for music, as it turned out, ’05 was 50 Cent’s high-watermark on the charts. One of the epic Hip-Hop battles of all time was brewing between 50 and an up-and-comer we’ll hear in a couple minutes.
#3 Mario – Let Me Love You
OK, we’re gonna slow things down a bit with our song at #3, which critics at the time compared to Michael Jackson’s romantic ballads. The singer was signed at just 14 by the aforementioned Clive Davis, who executive produced Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway. And his first single, a thoroughly reimagined cover of Biz Markie’s ’80s Hip-Hop classic “Just a Friend,” was a #4 hit in 2002. On the strength of that, he built a large teen following. But turning 18, he wanted a more mature sound for his follow-up, so he enlisted Crunk king Lil Jon and producer Scott Storch, who also worked with 50 Cent on “Candy Shop.” At #3 on our Chartcrush Top Ten countdown for 2005, here’s Mario, “Let Me Love You.”
“Let Me Love You,” Mario. The #3 song here on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show for 2005. The hits dried up for Mario after “Let Me Love You,” and Chris Brown and Usher dominated the Smooth R&B space for the rest of the 2000’s, but he continued recording and releasing new music into the 2020s, despite no chart activity on the Hot100 or album charts since 2009.
#2 Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx – Gold Digger
At #2, the artist I mentioned after we heard 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop,” who challenged “the bully of Hip-Hop’s” supremacy on the charts, not with insults, diss lines or, God forbid, bullets and posses and unsolved murders, but simply by out-selling and out-charting him, winning fans, and in so doing, blazing a new trail for Hip-Hop in the late 2000s: less blingy, arrogant and ghetto; more common-touch, introspective and, dare I say, middle-class! And that remained the template well into the 2010’s until the ghetto struck back at the top of the charts, with Trap. But in ’05 those battle lines were just being drawn between New Yorker 50 Cent and the self-described (on the title of his first album) “college dropout,” a former ghost producer from Chicago, his sophomore album Late Registration in ’05 continuing the collegiate theme of College Dropout, it’s Kanye West at #2, “Gold Digger.”
Kanye West “Gold Digger,” from his second album Late Registration, the #2 song of 2005, beating 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” at #4 and cuing up a title bout on the charts between the two rappers in ’07 when both of their albums dropped on the same day, and 50 Cent famously said he’d quit music if Kanye outsold him—a bet he spectacularly lost.
The riff on Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman” at the beginning and throughout “Gold Digger” is actor-comedian-singer Jamie Foxx, fresh from playing Ray Charles in the 2004 biopic Ray, for which he swept all the major Best Actor awards.
“Gold Digger” was the #1 record in America in late August when flooding from Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans’ largely African-American Ninth Ward, and in a telethon for the relief effort, Kanye, standing next to Wayne’s World and Austin Powers star, comedian Mike Meyers, went off-script to say that President George W. Bush didn’t care about Black people, which reverberated way beyond the music world. Some say it was the turning point in Bush’s presidency. Time for one, named Kanye one of 2005’s most influential people.
#1 Mariah Carey – We Belong Together
And that brings us to the #1 song in our Chartcrush countdown of the top hits of 2005. It’s the singer’s 16th number one hit on the Hot100—at least one every year for 11 consecutive years starting in 1990—and her eighth career appearance in the year-end top ten according to our Chartcrush rankings. That puts her at #2 on that all-time list in the Hot100 era behind only The Beatles, who had ten. She was Billboard’s Artist of the 1990s Decade, but didn’t score big like her ’90s heyday in the 2000s until her autobiographical album The Emancipation of Mimi and this monster hit that was #1 for 14 weeks. Despite her amazing run in the ’90s, this was her first year-end chart topper; it’s Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together.”
Mariah Carey’s spectacular comeback to the top of the charts in 2005, “We Belong Together,” the #1 song on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2005. And it wound up topping Billboard’s Decade-End Hot100 chart for the 2000’s. Mariah scored a second #1 from her Emancipation of Mimi album in ’05, “Don’t Forget About Us.” And then “Touch My Body” was her 18th and final new song to hit #1 in 2008.
I say “new song” because her 1994 recording of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” has made the charts every holiday season since online streams started factoring into the Hot100 in the early 2010s, even making it to #1 for multiple weeks every year since 2019.
So there you have them, the top ten songs of 2005 according to our Chartcrush recap of Billboard’s published weekly Hot100 charts. Billboard, of course, does its own recaps at the end of every year, and those are considered the “official” year-end rankings. But there are problems with those rankings, and correcting them is one of the main reasons we do this show. For example, at Chartcrush, the chart year is what you’d expect: first week in January to last week of December. Billboard, though, has to set a cutoff week for its chart year in the Fall to leave time to produce the year-end issue, and it’s not the same for every year. Ranking points up to the cutoff get counted in the current year; after the cutoff, kicked into next year or sometimes not counted at all!
Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was on the Hot100 from November ’68 to March ’69 and earned 40% of its ranking points in the last six weeks of 1968. It was the #88 song on Billboard’s 1969 year-end chart, but adding the points from 1968 back in and counting its full chart run (as we do for every song on Chartcrush) makes “Grapevine” the #1 song of 1969.
Now in the digital age, Billboard still has its cutoff week, but its year-end charts now use cumulative data from the original sources of its weekly charts: Soundscan unit sales, Broadcast Data Systems airplay stats, download and streaming data and what have you. Readers don’t have access to that, but in theory, it can produce a more accurate ranking than going purely by weekly chart positions.
So with all that in mind, there are some differences between Billboard’s year-end top ten for 2005 and ours. We had Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” at #10. Billboard didn’t count all of the song’s chart action in 2004 so it was #27. But a different Clarkson hit, “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” was their #10 song. “Hazel Eyes” was our #17 song of 2005. Billboard had The Pussycat Dolls’ first chart hit, “Don’t Cha” at #9. That song just missed our top ten at #12.
Bonus: Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams
And finally, Billboard’s #7 song of 2005, which our Chartcrush ranking puts at #13 on the year. It was the long-overdue breakthrough by—not only a group, who’d been at it for nearly 20 years in 2005, but for an entire genre (Punk) that’d existed since the mid ’70s and hadn’t yet scored a year-end top ten hit.
By 2004 these guys were thinking of throwing in the towel, but decided to work on a concept album instead, and this song became the first-ever Billboard year-end top ten hit by a Punk band. A pretty significant milestone, so we’re gonna use the time we have left to give it a spin. From that concept album American Idiot, it’s Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”
Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” our honorable mention here on the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show for 2005: #7 on Billboard’s Year-End Hot100, #12 on our 2005 ranking. Kept out of the #1 spot all five of the weeks it was at #2 in March of ’05 by the song we heard at #4 song, 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop.”
Well, I hope you enjoyed our 2005 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 countdown shows, plus chart run line graphs and other poppin’ extras. We count down a different year every week from the very 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.