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The Best of 2006: Music

4. Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" video features the legend's voice on one of his last recorded songs as a parade of famous folks -- from Chris Rock to Brian Wilson, Sheryl Crow to Patti Smith, Justin Timberlake to Iggy Pop, and many more -- rolls by in moody black-and-white as both tribute to Cash and reminder to all that even they'll be cut down.

5. Timbaland. His quirky percussive touch and stuttering beats were all over the radio, usually on songs that had you turning up the volume -- Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous," Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback" and "My Love," and Pussycat Dolls' "Wait a Minute" being prime examples.

6. Dangerous Orange, "Hurts Like Teen Spirit." This mash-up combines Johnny Cash's "Hurt" with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and leavens it with a dash of Blue Oyster Cult and a pinch of New Order. What on paper seems like a train wreck is nothing short of addictive in your ear.

7. Dixie Chicks. The trio had several quality moments, including its defiant "Not Ready to Make Nice" single and the intriguing "Shut Up & Sing" documentary. But best of all was the way the Dixie Chicks appeared onstage at some of their live shows to the strains of "Hail to the Chief."

8. Lupe Fiasco's "Food & Liquor." If you're the sort who still listens to De La Soul's classic 1989 release "3 Feet High and Rising," you'll be listening to Lupe Fiasco's smartly crafted rhymes 10 years from now.

9. The Coup, "Pick a Bigger Weapon." This Oakland, Calif.-based act mixes revolutionary politics, humor and sweet beats. Smart and catchy, a rare double. Plus, it has the song title of the year, "Babyletshaveababybeforebushdosomethingcrazy."

10. OK Go, "Here It Goes Again" video on YouTube. Silly but great for wasting time at the office. And the live performance on MTV's Video Music Awards had us watching with oddly nervous concern.


1. OOIOO, "Taiga." Fewer Japanese art-noise bands played in Washington this year than in '05, but this all-female quartet -- led by Boredoms veteran Yoshimi P-We -- compensated with its best collection yet of avant-primitive beats, pulses and chants.

2. Arctic Monkeys, "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" and at the 9:30 club March 27. A rare U.K. buzz band that justified the hype, this quartet is as notable for its run-on lyrics as for its laconic guitars.

3. Art Brut, "Bang Bang Rock & Roll" and at the Black Cat on April 9. This band of Brit wits released an album that could have been condensed into a perfect EP, but the group triumphed at the Black Cat by disregarding its raison d'etre: the cheeky lyrics.

4. The Evens, "Get Evens" and around town. This folk-punk duo's (Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina) rougher-edged second album serves eviction notices to certain unnamed "liars," vowing that "Washington is our city!"

5. Salif Keita, "M'Bemba." The great Malian singer continues his retreat from Western timbres, matching his rich voice to traditional instruments, but this time the result is livelier and more rhythmically complex than in past efforts.

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