Song of the Day #5,257: ‘It Was Supposed to Be So Easy’ – The Streets

My last 2004 album is one I have heard before, but only once. It made an impression on me not because I found it any good, but because it epitomized the idea of a critical darling that I find unlistenable. A true emperor’s new clothes situation.

A Grand Don’t Come For Free is the sophomore album by English rapper Mike Skinner, who records under the band name The Streets. It’s a concept album that follows a young man’s exploits in losing a thousand pounds and trying to earn it back. Upon release it was hailed as one of the best albums of the year.

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Song of the Day #5,256: ‘Yeah!’ – Usher feat. Lil Jon, Ludacris

My blind spot for R&B music emerges again as I consider Usher’s 2004 album Confessions, a massive hit with which I have almost zero familiarity.

This album, the singer-songwriter’s fourth, was the sixth best-selling album of the entire 2000s in the U.S. and produced four #1 singles. You’d think those songs would instantly ring a bell for somebody who was in his early 20s and an avid music listener at the time.

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Song of the Day #5,255: ‘Cool’ – Gwen Stefani

After releasing five albums with her ska punk band No Doubt, Gwen Stefani started working on solo material. Her initial plan was to focus on collaborations and soundtrack songs, but she soon amassed enough material for a proper studio album.

No Doubt went on hiatus in 2003, freeing Stefani to complete Love. Angel. Music. Baby., a dance pop record that owed a lot more to Madonna than the ska sound of her band. Stefani co-wrote every song and partnered with a laundry list of big-name producers.

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Song of the Day #5,254: ‘Do I Ever Cross Your Mind’ – Ray Charles feat. Bonnie Raitt

I ordered this week’s posts randomly, so imagine my surprise when the first voice I heard when firing up Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company was that of Norah Jones, yesterday’s featured artist.

Jones is one of 12 artists with whom Charles teamed up for this collection of duets, the last album he would record before his death in June of 2004. The album was released posthumously two months later, becoming Charles’ first #1 record in 42 years.

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Song of the Day #5,253: ‘Sunrise’ – Norah Jones

Thank you for bearing with me during my unexpected hiatus from daily blogging. I hope my hastily assembled batch of placeholder songs (none of which I actually heard before posting) proved diverting enough in my absence.

I now return to my look at the albums of 2004, with five left to cover in the latest installment of the Decades series.

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