The Best (and Worst) of 2005 

Pretty Songs, Terrible Albums, and Hot Dance Moves


Biggest Full-On Media Assault/Best Bangs
Bright Eyes
Seeing Conor Oberst’s unaffected and slightly creepy-eyed face staring out from under his perfectly cropped bangs on basically every magazine cover and music website in the months of January and February wasn’t really undeserved. He had, after all, just put out 1.5 fantastic albums — the all-around great I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and the ok-but-those-three-or-four-songs-are-fucking-amazing Digital Ash in a Digital Urn — so he had some credit coming. I just wish that in one or two of his hundreds of interviews he’d have let loose some secrets on how to keep those precisely slanted bangs.
Mike Dougherty

Best Song Based On A Cher Movie
Jens Lekman, ‘Jens Lekman’s Farewell Song To Rocky Dennis’
That scene in Mask where Rocky starts breaking dishes in the sink is just terrifying. Not to mention (spoiler alert!) when he dies in the end because he can’t get with Laura Dern. Poor kid. Jens Lekman’s heartfelt tribute to the lion-faced boy came out last year on his Rocky Dennis EP, but his painfully gorgeous new collection Oh You’re So Silent Jens replays the whole thing to remind us that if there were more Rocky Dennises around, the world would be a much better place.

Hottest Backup Singers
Shara Worden and Katrina Kerns of Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoisemakers
As if Sufjan wasn’t a good enough-looking guy, he had to go and surround himself with absolutely beautiful backup singers. Kerns (a Ford model) and Worden have everything a pathetic indie crush should. They’re cute. They sing beautifully. Most of the time, they’re dressed like cheerleaders. And hottest of all, they’re multi-instrumentalists! Fanatic Promotion has hi-res press photos for you to drool over if you’re as sad as me.

Best Song on an Otherwise Shitty Record
Death Cab For Cutie ‘I Will Follow You into the Dark’
Assuming you’re not a high school kid with a really tricked-out MySpace profile or the producer of a television show which targets high school kids with really tricked out MySpace profiles, you probably realize Death Cab’s major label debut, Plans, was a big fat disappointment. But assuming you’re not a heartless prick, you also probably realize how unbelievably good ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark,’was.
Mike Conklin


Best Rockumentary Not About Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen
Lucero – Dreaming In America (Dir. Aaron Goldman)
Imagine if Wilco was still poor at the end of I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. In a strange way the subtle failure is even more endearing. Watch as Lucero drives back and forth across the country, happy to not be delivering pizzas, and content to rest on their drunken laurels while delivering their evolved country-punk to the ever-growing masses. This is further proof that musicians can actually be likeable.
Pete D’Angelo

Best Story About a Tasteless Comeback by a Totally Irrelevant 80s Band:
My mom had a funny way of pronouncing Rock Star: INXS, but she was so proud of herself for TiVo-ing her new favorite show that I didn’t bother correcting her. At first, we shared a bag of chips and giggled at the performers, but then I felt the need to unleash the morbid truth: “Mom, do you know why these people are auditioning for this band? It’s because their lead singer committed suicide.” Mom grew very pale and serious before she whispered, “I had no idea Justin Timberlake was dead.” Kara Zuaro


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