InsidePulse Music's 2004 Awards

Welcome to the InsidePulse 2004 Music Year-End Awards! The InsidePulse Music staff has painstakingly surveyed the year in music, coming up with nominees that we feel best represent the best of the best. Voting took place over the past month, and was open to the entire InsidePulse staff. Additionally, a Readers Poll was taken, which can be found by following the link below.

Here we go!

Best Album

When I first heard this album – at one of those headphone/listening stations at a local record store – I remember thinking to myself, “wow, finally someone has picked up where Green Day left off ten years ago!” Turns out American Idiot was just what the rock world needed. Forget punk; these guys stopped being punk with “Longview.” Green Day has – surprisingly – evolved into the seminal rock band, with their punk rock opera about – what else – the plight of a Generation Xer in an unsure world. The themes may be familiar, with Billie Joe tackling the media and politics as a thirtysomething trying to find his way, rather than writing about masturbation as a twentysomething trying to get laid. This is Green Day’s best album since Dookie by far, and pure rock’s best album in years. You’d have to be an idiot to not give this a listen, and you’re not American if you don’t enjoy every minute of it. Or at least enjoy a song or two. There’s something on this album for everyone, agree with the band’s political views or not, and it’s well deserving of the Best Album honor. – Matthew Michael

Best Album:
Green Day – American Idiot

Runners Up:
2. U2 – How To Dismantle the Atomic Bomb
3. Velvet Revolver – Contraband
3. Kanye West – The College Dropout
5. Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Best Single

“Take Me Out,” the infectious song that it is, came out last spring, and is one of those repetitiously delicious numbers that stick in your head like some sort of “ear worm” burrowing into the inner recesses of your consciousness. I hear this song in my sleep and wake up smiling. I can close my eyes and see the video in its sepia-toned glory; and that damn shoe on a spring contraption just stomps away to the beat. Granted, the band members all dress as though they robbed the Hives’ 1980s storage locker, but I can deal. This song reminds me of all the kickass times I had this summer, collecting unemployment, and I can’t imagine the past year without it. – Shawn M. Smith

Best Single:
Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”

Runners Up:
2. U2 – “Vertigo”
3. The Killers – “Somebody Told Me”
4. Norah Jones – “Sunrise”
5. Usher – “Yeah!”

Best Artist – Male

Either you love him, you hate him, or you love and hate him depending on what day of the week it is. But one thing is for certain, you’ve heard something with his hands on it this year and chances are, you heard something you liked. Yes, he’s more arrogant than any human being should be allowed to be (peep his tirade against the American Music Award folks after he was snubbed for nominations). But if he weren’t so full of himself, he might have been buried permanently in the underground scene, never to grace the charts with his witty and introspective brand of hip-hop. And even though he gets on all of my nerves sometimes, I shudder to think what further lows mainstream hip-hop would have sunk to if it weren’t for his influence. – Mike Eagle

Best Artist – Male:
Kanye West

Runners Up:
2. Eminem
3. Prince
4. Badly Drawn Boy
4. Usher

Best Artist – Female

Who knew her Diary would end as the best read of the year? The talented singer and songwriter raised her game to another level, by cementing herself as the reigning First Lady of R&B. Even the occasional high-fructose foray into pop (“My Boo” with Usher) couldn’t kill her cred. With talent and charisma in excess of her beauty, she was an obvious call here. In an age where choreography, Time-Life operator headset microphones and a boatload of back-up dancers passes for performance, Keys is all the more deserving. – Aaron Cameron

Best Artist – Female:
Alicia Keys

Runners Up:
2. Gwen Stefani
2. Loretta Lynn
4. Joss Stone
4. Bjork

Best Artist – Group

While it’s usually assured that U2 will put their best foot forward and create something listener, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb went above and beyond the expectations of most, cementing their place easily as the Best Group of 2004. Turning up the marketing to the extreme by hooking up with Apple’s iPod promotion and blatantly spreading their faces in anyplace the world might glance, record sales reflect that people were more than ready and waiting for another U2 masterpiece. – gloomchen

Best Artist – Group:

Runners Up:
2. Green Day
3. Pixies
4. Lamb of God
5. TV on the Radio

Best New Artist

A band named for an assassinated Archduke took the coveted top spot as Best New Artist? Not too bad for a bunch of self-proclaimed “artists.” Their original goal as a band: to make music that chicks would dance to. When it boils down to it, that’s all music is all about, right? Making chicks dance.

Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut was driven by the success of this year’s Best Single, the nauseatingly fun “Take Me Out.” When this album first came out in stores, no one knew exactly where to place it. I saw it in Heavy Metal bins at one major retailer, and in the Pop section at another. One thing is certain, though. Franz Ferdinand will have a difficult time trying to achieve this type of success with a follow-up CD.

At the end of the day, Franz Ferdinand’s style is distinct: it’s rock you can move to. The calendar year may be passed, but 2004 will live on as the year of the pseudo-80’s renaissance, thanks to break-out bands like this one… and the Killers. – S.M.S.

Best New Artist:
Franz Ferdinand

Runners Up:
2. Kanye West
3. Velvet Revolver
4. Scissor Sisters
5. Straylight Run

Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album

Don’t blame me”¦I only had one vote. Despite the absence of Nas’ lyrical dexterity”¦or Jadakiss’ passionate flow”¦Kanye West’s production or Ghostface’s tongue-in-cheek tales tinged with insanity”¦The Beasties pulled this out by one vote. Admittedly, the album itself was some of their best work in years, but no one I know, fans and detractors alike, considers these guys rappers anymore. Their suburban appeal is still strong, though. And, without much knowledge or interest in the rap genre, as a whole, the brand-loyal Beastie fans will fall back on what they already know and love. – A.C.

Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album:
Beastie Boys – To The 5 Boroughs

Runners Up:
2. Kanye West – The College Dropout
3. Mos Def – The New Danger
4. Nas – Streets Disciple
5. Dangermouse – The Grey Album

Best Rock Album

Can you win Best Album and then not win best in your genre? Well, perhaps if the InsidePulse Awards were the GRAMMYs, but I digress. Not surprisingly, four out of the five Best Album nominees can be found on our list for Best Rock Album, with Best New Artist Franz Ferdinand breaking into the top five, just ahead of super-group Velvet Revolver’s debut effort. Alas, 2004 was the year of Green Day, but it’s important not to ignore U2’s first full-length album in four years (home of one of the year’s most kick-ass singles, despite its presence in the recent iPod commercial) or the arrival of indie rockers Modest Mouse into the mainstream. That being said, “American Idiot,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Jesus of Suburbia” and the rest pretty much dictated Green Day’s place in the hearts of the InsidePulse staff. – M.M.

Best Rock Album:
Green Day – American Idiot

Runners Up:
2. U2 – How To Dismantle the Atomic Bomb
3. Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News
4. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
5. Velvet Revolver – Contraband

Best Metal Album

Man, what a difficult piece to write. On one hand, one of my favorite bands of all time are being honored with a year-end award for best metal album. But on the other, I feel there were better metal releases this year.

However, the staff has spoken, and Vol. 3 was their pick. I can’t find a reason to argue. The album as a whole is tight, with the band showing just the right amount of intensity and emotion, tempered with the usual bombastic, metallic musical approach to serve up a fantastic album.

Vol. 3 was neither the heaviest (that would be Iowa), nor the most experimental (that would be Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat) album of the band’s career, but it is the most stylistically impressive. Slipknot finally shed the metal confines of its earlier material, to offer up a smorgasbord of music: portions that seem all the more extreme when juxtaposed against one another — acoustic guitar vs. drawn-out, screaming solos; hard-hitting drums or just a simple backbeat; vocals that range from screams and growls to melodic, heart-felt singing.

Slipknot has grown and matured over the years. The willingness to incorporate nuances like acoustic guitars and string arrangements while still keeping the blistering guitar solos and double-bass drumming make this album an excellent release from 2004. – Tom D’Errico

Best Metal Album:
Slipknot – Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses

Runners Up:
2. Probot – Probot
2. Megadeth – The System has Failed
4. Mastodon – Leviathan
5. Shadows Fall – The War Within

Best Country Album

Would this album be deemed as important had Jack White not laid his freshly ‘Cold Mountain’-grubby paws on it? I have no idea, and chances are neither do you. BUT, it is the first Country album to get this kind of acclaim since Rubin and Cash’s last outing, and it’s an attempt to revitalize Loretta’s career, so the kudos are probably well-deserved. – Toby Bonagura

Best Country Album:
Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose

Runners Up:
2. Ryan Adams – Love is Hell
3. Old 97’s – Drag It Up
3. Tim McGraw – Live Like You Were Dying
3. Toby Keith – Shock ‘n’ Y’all

Best Pop Album

So, let me get this straight”¦a pop album with a foundation built in 1967 is stillappealing to a new and old fanbase nearly 40 years later? Well, whaddaya know? Brian Wilson, by all accounts, achieved a synergy of retro and contemporary that connected with you and your parents and, for that alone, he should win something. In a strong year for harmless and interchangeable radio-friendly recordings, Wilson bucked the trend by giving listeners something new: a sound they actually wanted. – A.C.

Best Pop Album:
Brian Wilson – SMiLE

Runners Up:
2. Usher – Confessions
3. Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters
3. Gwen Stefani – Love, Angel, Music, Baby
5. Joss Stone – Mind, Body and Soul

Best Music DVD

It seems that Radiohead is one of the few bands that was able to get the DVD formula right. It just took a little music from the Hail to the Thief album, mixed with the always popular unreleased tracks and a whole melange of videos added to the mix. Oh, and did we forget to mention the DVD’s brilliant skewering of the TV industry? And, if the satire doesn’t rope you in, then the stance the band takes on President Bush and the war in Iraq will win you over. It’s an odd concept in that it might seem like there’s a little something for everyone on here, but this DVD is most definitely not for everyone. Which was probably the whole point to begin with. – A.C.

Best Music DVD:
Radiohead – The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth Of All Time

Runners Up:
2. Slayer – Still Reigning
3. Britney Spears – My Prerogative
3. Simon & Garfunkel – Old Friends, Live On Stage
3. Live Aid

Most Embarrassing Moment

D’oh! Oh, come on”¦you knew it was coming. Ashlee’s mouthing-the-words mistake, replayed repeatedly over the ensuing days and weeks, was bad enough on its own. Then came the spin doctoring. “It was the band’s fault!”, she proclaimed. No, wait”¦apparently, she was suffering from exhaustion and had lost her voice, so just this once”¦. Just kidding, see, she had planned to sing the right song, but wanted to “double-up” on the vocals and the SNL production folks put in the wrong tape. Whatever she was selling, no one was buying. But, as an aside, this is the most that people have talked about Saturday Night Live since 1975. – A.C.

Most Embarrassing Moment:
Ashlee Simpson caught lip synching on SNL

Runners Up:
2. Janet Jackson / Justin Timberlake
2. Dave Matthews Tour Bus Dumps Shit Off Of Bridge
4. Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) Detained In UK
5. Courtney Love Legal Troubles

Most Overplayed Song

This band could have just as easily won “worst band name,” but I digress. The worst part about “The Reason” isn’t so much that it was heard so often; the problem is that with its cross-genre appeal, it meant you couldn’t turn on a radio station without hearing it. Rock stations, pop stations, top 40 stations, and even classic stations were finding a way to work that bad boy into rotation. The song itself is fluffy fluff, whined nasally enough to lure in Creed fans. It got popular by being perfectly mediocre. Hopefully, it will be ignored in the annals of time as such. – gloomchen

Most Overplayed Song:
Hoobastank – “The Reason”

Runners Up:
2. Maroon 5 – “This Love”
2. Usher – “Yeah!”
2. William Hung – “She Bangs”
5. Ashlee Simpson – “Pieces of Me”

Best Song from a TV Show or Movie

Having your song be in the opening credits of a popular TV series can do wonders for a career. Just ask Phantom Planet. The band was sputtering out after riding the ever-so-small wave of notoriety that came with having a pseudo-famous actor (in this case, Jason Schwartzman on drums) in your band. Suddenly, all the fame was back, as the band’s only hit, “California,” was back on the airwaves in heavy doses.

Sadly, said notoriety does come at a price (just ask Paula Cole, whose song “I Don’t Wanna Wait” became so entwined with Dawson’s Creek that she was never able to shake the connection). Phantom Planet’s next album came and went, but they’ll always be know as the band that did the O.C. song long after the show, and the song, become cringe-worthy.

Personally, I thought my pick, “C’mon C’mon” from Rescue Me did a lot more for The Von Bondies, as it actually wanted to make me go out and pick up the band’s material, as opposed to reminiscence about an older song. One could say that, perhaps, it would have been better to use a Yellowcard track (as the band was heavily tied into the initial start off of the series), but there’s really no way to theorize such an idea at this point as the O.C. and “California” are already intrinsically connected forever. – T.D.

Best Song from a TV Show or Movie:
Phantom Planet – “California” (The O.C.)

Runners Up:
2. Iron & Wine – “Such Great Heights” (Garden State)
3. Damien Rice – “The Blower’s Daughter” (Closer)
3. Von Bondies – “Come On, Come On” (Rescue Me)
5. Liz Phair – “Extraordinary” (The Princess Diaries 2)

Most Missed

The music world lost some of its most beloved and influential personalities last year. While the generation most likely reading this could probably relate more with the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard or Dimebag Darrell, it was the passing of the legendary Ray Charles that hit the hardest for most of us. While he may have been most familiar to younger fans through his ubiquitous Diet Pepsi ads in the early ’90s, he reached many more fans (of all ages) through his incomparable professional music career, which spanned seven decades. His death on June 10, 2004 was indeed cause for mourning. But, we should never stop celebrating his magnificent life. – A.C.

Most Missed:
Ray Charles

Runners Up:
2. Dimebag Darrell
3. Elliott Smith
4. ODB
5. Johnny Ramone

Thanks for joining us! For the results from our Readers Poll, click HERE!

Until next year…

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