The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: Staff Picks (2024)

Table of Contents
Nelly, "Heart of a Champion" (Sweat) The Streets, "Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way" (A Grand Don't Come for Free) Marc Broussard, "Gavin's Song" (Carencro) Ludacris feat. DJ Quik & Kimmi J, "Spur of the Moment" (The Red Light District) Taking Back Sunday, "Set Phasers to Stun" (Where You Wanna Be, 2024) Annie, "Me Plus One" (Anniemal) N.E.R.D. feat. Joel & Benji Madden, "Jump" (Fly or Die) Eminem feat. 50 Cent & Nate Dogg, "Never Enough" (Encore) Rilo Kiley, "More Adventurous" (More Adventurous) T.I. feat. Mannie Fresh, "The Greatest" (Urban Legend) A.C. Newman, "Miracle Drug" (The Slow Wonder) Daddy Yankee, "Dale Caliente" (Barrio Fino) Ashlee Simpson, "Autobiography" (Autobiography) TV on the Radio, "Ambulance" (Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes) Lloyd Banks, "Warrior" (The Hunger for More) Xiu Xiu, "I Luv the Valley OH!" (Fabulous Muscles) Lil Wayne feat. Mannie Fresh, "This Is the Carter" (Tha Carter) Arcade Fire, "Haiti" (Funeral) Brandy, "Focus" (Afrodisiac) Wilco, "Handshake Drugs" (A Ghost Is Born) Drive-By Truckers, "The Day John Henry Died" (The Dirty South) Juanes, "Dámelo" (Mi Sangre) Junior Boys, "Teach Me How to Fight" (Last Exit) Gretchen Wilson, "What Happened" (Here for the Party) My Chemical Romance, "Give 'Em Hell, Kid" (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge) Joanna Newsom, "Sadie" (The Milk-Eyed Mender) Ratatat, "Cherry" (Ratatat) Cam'Ron, "Dip-Set Forever" (Purple Haze) Destiny's Child, "If" (Destiny Fulfilled) Modest Mouse, "Bury Me With It" (Good News for People Who Love Bad News) John Legend, "Let's Get Lifted" (Get Lifted) Ghostface, "Beat the Clock" (The Pretty Toney Album) Kelly Clarkson, "Gone" (Breakaway) Franz Ferdinand, "Jacqueline" (Franz Ferdinand) Madvillain, "Accordion" (Madvillainy) Green Day, "Give Me Novacaine" (American Idiot) Gwen Stefani, "Serious" (Love. Angel. Music. Baby.) Ye, "We Don't Care" (The College Dropout) The Killers, "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" (Hot Fuss) Usher, "Bad Girl" (Confessions) FAQs References

This week,Billboardis publishing a series of lists and articles celebrating the music of 20 years ago. Our2004 Weekcontinues here with our list of the year’s best deep cuts — our staff’s favorite ’04 album tracks that were never released as official U.S. singles.

For a long time, it seemed like 2004 was going to be the final year to have an RIAA diamond-certified album. Usher’s Confessions, released that February, sold 1.1 million copies in its first week, spawned four Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles (which collectively spent more than half the year atop the chart), and ultimately shipped well over 10 million copies — the last album released to do so until Adele’s titanic 2011 LP 21. It was in many ways the final true blockbuster of the CD era, the last time an album that existed primarily in physical form would dominate the culture to that level. It was also dope as hell, even beyond its many hit singles, with several of its album cuts becoming bigger and more enduring cultural staples than most of 2004’s proper radio hits.

And even though it was by far the biggest album of the year, Confessions was far from the only release to have that kind of whole-LP impact in 2004. On the rock side, veteran punks Green Day dropped a Who-worthy full-length narrative with world-building deep cuts, while new bands Franz Ferdinand and The Killers arrived fully formed with first albums that played like greatest hits sets. On the pop side, Kelly Clarkson and a newly solo Gwen Stefani proved their superstar bonafides with albums that spawned five major hits each — and still had plenty more potential smashes leftover that never got tabbed for single release. And in hip-hop, Ye announced his presence to the world with an album that would forever change the course of the genre — while deeper underground, rapper MF Doom and producer Madlib would team up for an equally stunning (and in its own culty way, just as celebrated) debut.

You’ll find tracks from all these albums in our list below, along with plenty more gems that were never officially released as singles, from artists ranging from Ghostface to Gretchen Wilson. Read on, and find out all about the riches that 2004 had to offer beyond the big hits.

  • Nelly, "Heart of a Champion" (Sweat)

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    On the first part of his 2004 double-release Sweat/Suit, Nelly provided a motivational anthem filling gym-goers’ playlists across the country. Sports fans recognized the triumphant production behind “Heart of a Champion,” which samples John Teck’s “Roundball Rock” – more popularly known as the fan-favorite NBA on NBC theme song. The Sweat opener is an incredible snapshot of the 2000s sports landscape, with professional athletes name-dropped by Nelly like Michael Redd, Julius Peppers and Ray Lewis. Looking back, it aligns with Nelly at the time, who was then filming for his role as the Mean Machine’s star inmate running back, playing Earl Megget in the following year’s The Longest Yard remake.— MICHAEL SAPONARA

  • The Streets, "Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way" (A Grand Don't Come for Free)

    The second album from The Streets, the musical project of U.K. rapper/producer Mike Skinner, tells the story of a guy who lost a stack and tries to get it back without completely disrupting his life. The concept album is at turns hilarious and touching, with songsabout heartbreak, strife and the crushing mundanity of everyday life. “Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” one of A Grand Don’t Come for Free‘s most unsung songs, manages to combine all three: a ditty about how much he should appreciate the woman in his life, the love song features a comically corny reggae chorus sung by British singer/actor Leo the Lion. But, hey, it works with the bright piano riff, stuttering drums, and overall vibe of the song. Grand works best when consumed all together but track five stands strong on its own. — DAMIEN SCOTT

  • Marc Broussard, "Gavin's Song" (Carencro)

    Songs about parenthood are always tear-jerkers, but Marc Broussard’s “Gavin’s Song” is particularly harrowing. Built around little more than forlorn acoustic guitar and a bluesy voice wrapped in a rasp that yanks the heartstrings, “Gavin’s Song” finds Broussard penning a letter to his young song, lamenting over his inability to be around as often as he’d like. “I wish you nights of stars/ That beckon you to sleep/ I wish you heartache/ That leaves you more of a man/ I wish I could be there/ But I can’t,” he muses in the first verse. Anyone else’s eyes a bit wet?— KYLE DENIS

  • Ludacris feat. DJ Quik & Kimmi J, "Spur of the Moment" (The Red Light District)

    Atlanta repLudacristook a spontaneous trip to the West Coast to team up with DJ Quik for this classic Compton-inspired cut fromThe Red Light District. Just like Quik’s most carefree hits from the early ’90s, this song revels in having nowhere to be – so why not throw a party? (Bonus points to our sister PMC publication for this priceless shout-out: “Feel good as we flippin’ through theRobb Report/ My baby momma ain’t trippin’ on child support.”) –KATIE ATKINSON

  • Taking Back Sunday, "Set Phasers to Stun" (Where You Wanna Be, 2024)

    For the second time in two LPs, Taking Back Sunday pulled their new album’s name from a chorus lyric to one of its obvious highlights — and for the second straight album, they still failed to choose that song as one of its official singles. At least the Tell All Your Friends-titling “Cute Without the ‘E'” got a Fight Club-inspired music video; this one’s “Set Phasers to Stun” had to settle for being the album opener, where its tense riffing and cathartic chorus set the perfect tone for the set that would ultimately prove the band’s mainstream breakthrough, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. “It’s where you wanna be,” indeed. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER

  • Annie, "Me Plus One" (Anniemal)

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    Reports have it that the “wannabe señorita” who flies too close to the sun in a private jet in acclaimed pop not-quite-star Annie’s “Me Plus One” is actually Geri Haliwell — to whom producer and co-writer Richard X was supposed to give the song “Some Girls,” before it ended up a huge ’04 U.K. hit for Rachel Stevens. It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes drama that’s thoroughly unnecessary for enjoyment of “Me Plus One,” a slinky nu-disco strutter whose high-life tales of its misguided protagonist are intoxicating enough that you’re right there with her in her delusions, begging to be put on the list with them. — A.U.

  • N.E.R.D. feat. Joel & Benji Madden, "Jump" (Fly or Die)

    N.E.R.D. stretched the limits of rap-rock on their 2001 debut album In Search Of…, and onfollow-up Fly or Die, they leaned even further into rock, enlisting the Madden brothers of Good Charlotte for this giddy, Warped Tour-ready track that (as the title hints) demands that you catch some air. The lyrics are from the perspective of a rebellious runaway getting as far from home as possible, with Pharrell looking to a brighter future somewhere in the cosmos (“Don’t let NASA teach you that we are by ourselves/ ’Cause trust me there’s something else”). –K.A.

  • Eminem feat. 50 Cent & Nate Dogg, "Never Enough" (Encore)

    “Never Enough” serves as one of the rare collaborations on Eminem’s Encore, as Slim Shady enlists a couple of his good friends in 50 Cent and the late Nate Dogg, who shines with a smooth chorus bragging about Aftermath’s wins in recent battles over Murder Inc. and Benzino. Even two decades ago, Em was satisfied with his legacy in hip-hop and voiced his belief that if he passed away, he deserved to be properly buried in rap’s pantheon(“When I hit the heavenly gates I’ll be cool beside Jay-Z.”) — M.S.

  • Rilo Kiley, "More Adventurous" (More Adventurous)

    On the title track to Rilo Kiley’s third album, Jenny Lewisconsiders all of life’s heavy-hitters — heartbreak, marriage, kids, love, death — in her deliciously sad, pristine vocal. “I read with every broken heart/We should become more adventurous,” she sings, sounding wounded but hopeful. The indie rock band often toyed with the contrast of heavy words and upbeat sounds, and here, Blake Sennett’s sprightly acoustic guitarstrumming drives the feelings forward, while sliding pedal steel from producer Mike Mogis keeps things relaxed and easy. Lewis even jumps in with her harmonica, sounding as breezyas her collaborators, which reinforces the idea that despite the thematic weight, there’s optimism running through this song.— C.W.

  • T.I. feat. Mannie Fresh, "The Greatest" (Urban Legend)

    From “ASAP to “Bring ‘Em Out,” T.I.’s follow-up to his pioneering sophom*ore album has no shortage of hits. Urban Legend has hard-edged trap anthems, braggadocios pop cuts and slick sex odes in equal measure, so picking the singles was likely a tough process. But it’s utterly bizarre that “The Greatest” didn’t get a proper push: After all, it was produced by a still-in-his-prime Mannie Fresh, around the same time he was helping Lil Wayne launch the second act of his career with Tha Carter. Over Mannie’s bouncing bass and tinkling keys, Tip runs down all the trappings of his success and everything he’s willing to do to protect it. Mannie and Tip would go on to have a hit single on T.I.’s next album with “Top Back,” butthis should have been their first smash together. — D.S.

  • A.C. Newman, "Miracle Drug" (The Slow Wonder)

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    In the year between two acclaimed New p*rnographers albums (2003’sElectric Versionand 2005’sTwin Cinema),Newman— the power-pop supergroup’s cerebral, melodically-gifted main songwriter and vocalist — released his solo debut,The Slow Wonder. This standouttrack perfectly encapsulatesNewman’s significant talentboth as an arranger (that insistent ’60s drum beat plus jolt of an electric guitar line plus….maybe a beeping alarm clock?) and intriguingly oblique lyricist: the narrative of a man “tied to a bed with a miracle drug in one hand” is as literal asNewmangets, yet within just over three minutes, still triggers a litany of questions around what it’s ultimately about.— REBECCA MILZOFF

  • Daddy Yankee, "Dale Caliente" (Barrio Fino)

    Right from the get-go, Daddy Yankee’s “DaleCaliente” wastes no time setting the scene ablaze with its maximalist electronic-driven dembow and explosive energy. After all, its title, loosely translating to “give it hot,” says it all. With the song’s infectious beat over machine-gun-like drills, coupled with the King of Reggaetón’s unrivaled flow, this deep cut packs a punch that’s impossible to forget — keepingBarrio Fino‘s fire burning bright and earning its place as a fan favorite.— ISABELA RAYGOZA

  • Ashlee Simpson, "Autobiography" (Autobiography)

    It’s hard to classify this one as a deep cut, since it also served as the theme song forThe Ashlee Simpson Show, the MTV reality series that introduced the world to Jessica’s little sis. But it was somehow never a single, even though – much like the show itself – the title track from her debut album pretty perfectly encapsulates Ashlee’s music: It was alittlerock, alittlegrimy (girl, wash your T-shirt), and it fit right into the identity-crisis moment between bubblegum pop and emo’s mainstream moment. This was Ashlee Simpson’s sweet spot. –K.A.

  • TV on the Radio, "Ambulance" (Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes)

    Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio found success synthesizing everything from ‘50s doo wop, ‘60s soul, ‘70s prog rock, and ‘80s indie rock into a comfortable sound that they used to deal with very uncomfortable topics. That was the appeal of their excellent full-length debut Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. On an album full of rich, textured examinations, perhaps none were as devastatingly great as “Ambulance.” The haunting vocal harmonies that take the place of instrumentation create the perfect bed for singer Tunde Adebimpe to pull and push his vocals as he tells his love that he would be their “ambulance if you will be my accident, and I will be your screech and crash if you will be my crutch and cast.” Despite their influences being laid bare, we’d never heard anything quite like this before — orsince, really. — D.S.

  • Lloyd Banks, "Warrior" (The Hunger for More)

    The Hunger for More allowed Lloyd Banks to spread his wings outside of the G-Unit umbrella with the PLK’s debut keeping 50 Cent’s scorching collective’s winning streak alive. “Warrior” was overshadowed on Hunger by hits like “I’m So Fly” and “On Fire,” but this on-point deep cut could’ve easily traded places with either as a big single. One bar gives a funny peek into the early-’00s streetwear fashion staple that had everyone rocking varsity jackets emblazoned with logos from all 29 NBA teams: “If that’s your man, warn him/ ‘Cause there’s enough bullets in here to hit every NBA patch on him,” Banks raps.— M.S.

  • Xiu Xiu, "I Luv the Valley OH!" (Fabulous Muscles)

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    While art-rock groupXiuXiu’s winding career has often been defined by gonzo experimentation, “I Luv the Valley OH!” — though never officially released as a single — will forever stand as their chaotic version of a pop anthem. Jamie Stewart may screech out his accusations and defiance over crushed-in drum squelches, but the guitar line sounds beamed in from alternative radio, and his repeated phrases turn his urgent words into refrains. And the howl Stewart unleashes near the end (“Je t’aime the valley, OHHHH!”) fully awoke the indie world to a bold new voice. — JASON LIPSHUTZ

  • Lil Wayne feat. Mannie Fresh, "This Is the Carter" (Tha Carter)

    It was Mannie Fresh who had the foresight to predict that Tha Carter series would “define” rap and carry Cash Money Records for years to come. While “Go DJ” was the radio hit dominating the Billboard charts, “This Is the Carter” was the more authentic look into the first installment of what became an iconic series. Fresh delivers a slick chorus in addition to his Southern bounce on the production side, which sets Wayne up for a trio of sharp verses filled with typical witty bars from the rap phenom. Two decades later, nobody could’ve predicted the massive commercial heights Weezy’s legendary Tha Carter series would reach, but he was off to a hell of a start already.— M.S.

  • Arcade Fire, "Haiti" (Funeral)

    Régine Chassagne takes the lead on this hummable tune — dusted with bright synthesizers upheld by a comforting, repetitive bass line — that belies a darker meaning. Singing half in French and half in English, Chassagne takes listeners into the Haiti her parents fled in the 1960s, a violent era overseen by then-president François Duvalier. “Mes cousins, jamais nés/ Hantent les nuits de Duvalier,” she sings, calling out her unborn cousins who haunt the dictator’s nights. Though Chassagne’s delivery remains calm and cool, a repeated synth note hammers away for a full minute around the third verse, ratcheting up the tension as she sings of Haitians being hunted by soldiers in the forest. — C.W.

  • Brandy, "Focus" (Afrodisiac)

    Taken from her Gold-certified Afrodisiac LP, “Focus” is a prime example of that record’s soulful, ambient aesthetic. Lyrically, Brandy struggles with the cyclical nature of bad habits (“Don’t wanna lose my focus/ But it’s bound to leave”), while the mixture of skittering synths and electric guitar inject the track with an unexpected, but welcome, contrast to the murky whirlpool she crafts with her endless layers of background harmonies.— K.D.

  • Wilco, "Handshake Drugs" (A Ghost Is Born)

    After the commercial and critical breakthrough of Wilco’s prior album, 2002’sYankee Hotel Foxtrot, the group had found its lane, smashed somewhere between its early country-fied acoustic rock and the experimental weirdness of Television and the later periodBeatles. “HandshakeDrugs” epitomizes that, with its breezy beginning (“I was chewing gum, for somethin’ to do”) and its steady guitar eventually giving way to a fizzed-out breakdown echoing the internalized panic attacks that lace the entirety ofA Ghost Is Born. It’s not weirdness for weirdness’ sake — it’s weirdness for apurpose, and it makes the song all the more compelling. — DAN RYS

  • Drive-By Truckers, "The Day John Henry Died" (The Dirty South)

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    OnThe Dirty South,the band’s second concept album about the mythology of the American South, Jason Isbell (who had not yet launched his solo career) wrote this tough rocking track to re-imagine the tale of folk hero John Henry.In the sound mix, Isbell’s voice fights to be heard above barroom guitars as he tells of the legendary laborer who “knew the perfect way to hold a hammer/ Was the way the railroad baron held the deed.” John Henry competes in vain with the steam-powered machinery that would take away his job — and his life. — THOM DUFFY

  • Juanes, "Dámelo" (Mi Sangre)

    Juanes’ “Dámelo” bursts onto the scene like a ray of Colombian sunshine, infusing his trademark rock-encrusted sound with irresistible energy. Translating to “give it to me,” the title alone sets the flirtatious tone for this gem. “What do I have to do to have/ On my lips those beautiful little lips of yours?,” he playfully yearns. With its funky rhythms, a riveting guitar solo andJuanes’ magnetic delivery, this deep cut is simply electric, showcasing the Medellín musician’s undeniable charm and keeping his breakthrough albumMi Sangreablaze with its fiery spirit. — I.R.

  • Junior Boys, "Teach Me How to Fight" (Last Exit)

    One of the defining hallmarks Junior Boys’ electro-pop masterpiece Last Exit is its relative stillness, the way it infuses R&B melodies and delivery into its synth-heavy soundscapes but very rarely the genre’s sense of emotional urgency. That is, until album climax “Teach Me How to Fight,” where over increasingly yearning keys, the duo asks for the internal strength and passion to take a stand: “Can you teach me how to fight?/ Show me what it’s like to give back pain.” It’s a spellbinding and conspicuously bloody moment, particularly for how purposefully placid the album had been till that point. — A.U.

  • Gretchen Wilson, "What Happened" (Here for the Party)

    From Wilson’s debut albumHere for the Party,which went to No. 1 on Top Country Albums and reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, this bittersweet, understated, love-gone-wrong ballad is beautifully crafted: “If we hadn’t been so happy baby/ it wouldn’t hurt this bad.” With Wilson’s sorrowful vocals, the song resonates — even if you don’t know it was composed by a supergroup of songwriters: Al Anderson, longtime member of NRBQ; Bekka Bramlett, daughter of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett; Bob DiPiero, a BMI Icon honoree; and Tim Nichols, co-writer of Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.” — T.D.

  • My Chemical Romance, "Give 'Em Hell, Kid" (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge)

    “Took a train outta New Orleans/ And they shot me full of ephedrine,” Gerard Way sings to start “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid.” And following the grandiosity of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge opener “Helena,” the track hits like an aural ephedrine shot to the brain – 138 seconds of thrashing guitars, pummeling bass, and Way’s sing-like-his-life-depends-on-it vocals. It’s among the most thrilling moments on an album full of them; no wonder Gerard and his brother Mikey have said it’s their favorite song to play live, with the former likening it to “riding a cruise missile.” — ERIC RENNER BROWN

  • Joanna Newsom, "Sadie" (The Milk-Eyed Mender)

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    In some ways, the subtle centerpiece from JoannaNewsom’s majestic 2004 debut The Milk-Eyed Mender foreshadowed the future of her recording career: its six-minute run time hinted at the gargantuan track lengths of Ys two years later, and the interplay between existentialism and everyday life (Sadie was the name ofNewsom’s childhood dog) would prominently factor into all of her following projects. When taken on its own merits, however, “Sadie” remains a hypnotic listen, asNewsom’s vocal scratch soars upward with each new movement before spiraling back down. — J.L.

  • Ratatat, "Cherry" (Ratatat)

    The trance-inducing “Cherry” closes out Ratatat’s self-titled, predominantly instrumental album, which has its chill moments over 11 tracks but mostly centers aroundthe 3-2-1-blast-off sounds of electric guitarist Mike Stroud and producer Evan Mast. A hat-tip to the duo’s original name, “Cherry” slowly adds layers of synthesizers, ticks and tocks that supply the rhythm and a stretched-out guitar burst that feels like a sunrise or a rainbow or maybe a rainbow at sunrise. It reaches its peak at the halfway point, but it’s so gradual that you don’t notice the build until it all drops away. After a 30-second reprieve, the layers return in full glory, shining brightly before fading away once more, in a perfect album ending. — C.W.

  • Cam'Ron, "Dip-Set Forever" (Purple Haze)

    Thanks largely to Roc-A-Fella Records, soul samples returned to the forefront of hip-hop in the early 2000s. The label’s stable of producers, which included Bink!, Kanye West, and Just Blaze, found ways to flip old records and make them sound luxurious instead of dusty. Few on the label used them to greater effect than Cam’ron, the Harlem provocateur who linked with the Roc for an exceptional, if not hectic, three-album run. One of the standouts came towards the end of his Purple Haze project, where West did his best Heatmakerz impersonation, chopping and speeding up a perfect Chuck Cissel sample, for “Dip-Set Forever.” Cam and Roc-A-Fella’s relationship soured soon after this album, but the Diplomats’ core group stayed together — because, as the song predicted, Dipset is forever. — D.S.

  • Destiny's Child, "If" (Destiny Fulfilled)

    Destiny’s Child’s final album is a career-closer that most acts dream of, and “If” is one of its several crown jewels. This Rockwilder-produced ode to classic R&B features the trio’s characteristically tight harmonies and dizzying vocal acrobatics. Here, they infuse their take on ‘00s R&B with a healthy dose of gospel, particularly in the pitch-perfect pacing of the bridge, which gives way to Kelly Rowland delivering her own heartbreak-conquering testimony. If ever there was track that so beautifully captured the maturation of one of pop’s greatest girl groups, it’s “If.”— K.D.

  • Modest Mouse, "Bury Me With It" (Good News for People Who Love Bad News)

    Modest Mouse purists have long lamented 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News, the band’s major-label debut after its sterling indie run in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and an album where detractors suggest the Washington rockers sanded off their rough edges – and lost some potency. But cuts like “Bury MeWith It” – where bassist Eric Judy delivers another of his slinky bass riffs as Isaac Brock menacingly yelps “I just don’t need none of that Mad Max bulls–t!” – prove that even as they entered their most commercial period, Modest Mouse’s feral intensity was still perfectly intact. — E.R.B.

  • John Legend, "Let's Get Lifted" (Get Lifted)

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    For the first full-length track of his debut studio album, soon-to-be R&B fixture John Legend opts for a swaggering amalgam of neo-soul and hip-hop. Twinkling piano, pounding drums and a throaty hook help the set the scene for the album’s soundscape, making for a groovy energy that’s worlds away from the piano ballads that would grant him greater Hot 100 success down the line. “I know you’re getting tired of the same old thing / But I’m gon’ break the rules, gonna change the game,” he croons in a rhythmic cadence in the song’s first verse. Whether or not Legend changed the game is up for debate, but the quality of “Let’s Get Lifted” surely isn’t.— K.D.

  • Ghostface, "Beat the Clock" (The Pretty Toney Album)

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    GhostfaceKillah spends the entirety of 2004’s The Pretty Toney Album radiating lovable weirdo energy, staging fake press conferences, demanding a banana Nutrament, making a red-hot Missy Elliott say the word “tush” a lot on the song “Tush.” “Beat the Clock” may be the album’s single goofiest idea —Ghostfaceis challenged to speed-rap by another version ofGhostface, and to reach the imaginary finish line at the arbitrary time of two minutes and 37 seconds — but that unhinged setup crystallizes whyGhostfaceis such a beloved rap eccentric. And he really does go berserk on “Beat the Clock,” finishing up his breathless wordplay with an O.J. Simpson reference, a self-comparison to Ibuprofen and a lyric about an “iced-out” condom;congratson beating the clock, and never change, Pretty Toney. — J.L.

  • Kelly Clarkson, "Gone" (Breakaway)

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    This one had the tough distinction of being theothersong with “Gone” in the title from Clarkson’s second album, but even though “Since U BeenGone” was the project’s, well, breakaway hit, fans have a soft spot for the lesser-known rocker. Co-written by Kara DioGuardi (eventualAmerican Idoljudge writing for the originalIdolchamp!) and John Shanks, the song’s talk-sung bridge stands out among the fuzzy guitars (“There is nothing you can say/ Sorry doesn’t cut it, babe/ Take the hit and walk away, ’cause I’mgone”). –K.A.

  • Franz Ferdinand, "Jacqueline" (Franz Ferdinand)

    The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: StaffPicks (10)

    In less than than two minutes, “Jacqueline” establishes everything that made alt-art-rockers Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut thrilling. After the album opener’s delicate, acoustic first section, interlocking, Strokes-like guitar melodies fire up, before singer Alex Kapronos delivers the track’s memorable chorus over a funky riff: “It’s always better on holiday/ That’s why we only work when we need the money.” Two decades later, it’s still one the Scottish band’s most exhilarating tracks. — E.R.B.

  • Madvillain, "Accordion" (Madvillainy)

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    Almost pointless to isolate highlights from the singular 22-track, 46-minute display of mastery that is MF Doom and Madlib’s sole full-length collaboration as Madvillain — it all sounds better in context, and why wouldn’t you just listen to the whole thing anyway? But if you only had two minutes to convince the unconverted, you could do no better than “Accordion,” with its wheezing title-instrument hook and knocking drums providing the perfect backdrop for a dazzling single verse of Doom couplets, including “Chase it with more beer, taste it like truth or dare/ When he have the mic, it’s like the place get like: ‘Aw, yeah!,'” “In living, the true gods/ Giving y’all nothing but the lick like two broads,” and of course the all-time kicker, “Slip like Freudian/ Your first and last step to playing yourself like accordion.” — A.U.

  • Green Day, "Give Me Novacaine" (American Idiot)

    The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: StaffPicks (12)

    The singles were all smashes, but the deep cuts were even better: American Idiot‘s true charms lie in genre and period exercises like the ’80s arena-rocking “Are We the Waiting,” the ’60s British-Invading “Extraordinary Girl” and the gently ’70s glammy “Give Me Novacaine. Following a drum intro reminiscent of David Bowie’s “Soul Love,” Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong delivers his pleas for numbness with disarming sweetness, putting on a barely-convincing smile as he tries to convince the doc to give him the good stuff. By the chorus, his tone stiffens into something more like a rallying cry: “Drain the pressure from the swelling/ THIS SENSATION’S OVERWHELMING!” — A.U.

  • Gwen Stefani, "Serious" (Love. Angel. Music. Baby.)

    The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: StaffPicks (13)

    It’s a wonder that “Serious” wasn’t one of the six singles released fromL.A.M.B., given its glossy, ’80s-indebted production (courtesy in part to her No Doubt bandmate and the song’s co-writer Tony Kanal) and sing-along chorus (“You get meseriously out of my mind”). Honestly, if someone said this was a bonus track from either Madonna’sTrue Bluein 1986 or Lady Gaga’sThe Fame, which came out a full four years later, it would be believable. Stefani, per usual, was at once classic and ahead of her time. –K.A.

  • Ye, "We Don't Care" (The College Dropout)

    The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: StaffPicks (14)

    If you were still unconvinced about the artist formerly known as Kanye West being the game-changer that everyone — no one more than the man himself — was hyping him as in 2004, it probably didn’t take you more than a track into debut LP The College Dropout to come around. “We Don’t Care” was simply a stunner: funny, compassionate and genuinely kinda inspiring; built around a swirling sample from the Jimmy Castor Bunch’s cover of Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop” and punctuated by resounding horn blasts, it was the extremely rare song that actually earns its kids singalong on the chorus. Helps, of course, that the message Ye is instructing them to sing with was so heart-rending and hopeful, in a way that’s sadly impossible to imagine from the man 20 years later: “We wasn’t supposed to make it past 25, joke’s on you, we still alive.” — A.U.

  • The Killers, "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" (Hot Fuss)

    The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: StaffPicks (15)

    The four singles from TheKillers’ debut Hot Fuss – the classics “Mr. Brightside,” “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Somebody Told Me” and “All These Things That I’ve Done” – are sequenced from tracks two to five on the album. The fact that opener “JennyWas a Friend of Mine” holds its own against them (and, depending on who you ask, might even top a couple of those singles) is testament to its greatness. Unsettling synths and helicopter sound effects play before bassist Mark Stoermer’s indelible bassline enters and provides a backdrop for singer Brandon Flowers’ uneasy murder mystery lyrics. — E.R.B.

  • Usher, "Bad Girl" (Confessions)

    The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: StaffPicks (16)

    There are countless songs about the chase, but few capture the arousing allure of pursuit as effortlessly and as sharply as Usher’s “Bad Girl.” Housed on an album that already contains some of the most defining hits of the mid-’00s, “Bad Girl” could have just been a passable album track. Instead, an all-star team of collaborators – including Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, The Avila Brothers, Destro Music, Wil Guice and Usher himself – built a smooth and sexy track out of one of the slinkiest guitar licks of the 21st century. Every component of the song is top-notch, but, like most of his records, Usher’s vocal performance is the key ingredient. When he sings, “Ooh, work me, baby/ Shaking it the way I like/ I’m ready to be bad I need a bad girl,” he genuinely sounds as if he really does need this bad girl.

    Just short of desperate yet unafraid to show how badly he wants a taste of this bad girl, Usher expertly toes the lines of ladies’ man and lothario. It’s a balancing act that he’s maintained his entire career, adding in different nuances with each new record. Nonetheless, “Bad Girl” is the pinnacle – no other Usher record (and no other 2004 record) so seamlessly blends the reckless thrill of a night on the prowl with a winking nod to how quickly he can flip between his dominant and submissive sides while still remaining in control.— K.D.

The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: Staff Picks (2024)


The 40 Best Deep Cuts of 2004: Staff Picks? ›

a song that is less widely played and less well-known than other songs on the same album or by the same artist: The band performed a fan-favorite deep cut as part of their encore, and the crowd went wild!

What is a deep cut song? ›

a song that is less widely played and less well-known than other songs on the same album or by the same artist: The band performed a fan-favorite deep cut as part of their encore, and the crowd went wild!

What is an artist deep cut? ›

music : a song that is considerably less popular and well-known than other songs on the same album or by the same artist.

What are deep tracks? ›

Deep Tracks is a Sirius XM Radio channel featuring lesser-known classic rock music selections such as album tracks, one-hit wonders, concert recordings, "forgotten 45s" and "B-side" tracks.

What is the origin of the deep cut? ›

Anytime a DJ decided to play an album track that wasn't labeled or promoted as a hit, that piece of music was called “deep cut” to signal the fact that it was a lesser know composition that would have not normally received the privilege to be broadcast on the radio.

What are deep cuts called? ›

It is also called a laceration. A cut may be deep, smooth, or jagged. It may be near the surface of the skin, or deeper. A deep cut can affect tendons, muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, or bone.

What not to do with a deep cut? ›

Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. You may cover the cut with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a non-stick bandage.

Are b sides and deep cuts the same? ›

B-sides were often considered bonus tracks or deep cuts, and musicians were less concerned about their commercial prospects. This did not mean no effort was made; rather, musicians saw these tracks as an opportunity for more artistic freedom.

How many inches is a deep cut? ›

The size of a cut is important to pay attention to because lacerations have the potential to be very deep. But what exactly classifies a cut as “deep?” According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a deep cut is more than a quarter-inch deep.

What is deep EDM? ›

Deep House and Chill House are distinct genres within EDM, with Deep House known for its complexity and emotional depth using soulful melodies and bass lines, while Chill House offers a laid-back vibe with smooth rhythms and melodic synths.

What does deep mean in EDM? ›

Deep House is a subgenre of EDM, originating in the 1980s, characterised by its slightly mellower tempo, soulful vocals, funkier chords, and atmospheric soundscapes. It draws influences from Jazz, Funk, and Soul, creating a more introspective vibe compared to other House music forms.

Why is it called a track music? ›

Term: Track (audio)

A single stream of recorded sound with no location in a sound field. Although the term track has historically been used in the context of fixed media, e.g., "a four-track tape," this glossary's definition focuses on the processed signal and not the storage medium.

What does deep cuts mean on Apple music? ›

• 1y ago. Essentials - I consider them to be songs you have to hear that, according to Apple Music, define the greatness of this artist. Deep Cuts - lesser known, but still worthwhile, songs in that artists catalog.

What does "deep cut" mean in urban dictionary? ›

From: Urban Dictionary: Deep Cut. A song by an artist that only true fans of said artist will enjoy/know . True gems that are found later in an album, a b-side. Rarely if ever played on the radio.


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