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"Get the Party Started," from Missundaztood (Arista)
Looking to make fledgling R&B star Pink more soulful, an Arista official heard Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and declared, "She should sound more like this." The intern in charge of this task, who must have "missundaztood," came back with Linda Perry, of 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up" fame. Eh, all's well that ends well. Perry sharpened Pink's pop hooks, resulting in irresistible fluff like this club-hopping jam.
18. Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards
"To Have and to Have Not," from Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards (Hellcat)
The voice of Rancid (the intelligible one, anyway) steps out on his own, tweaks a Billy Bragg tune and rides a Springsteen-style riff to working-class redemption.
19. Stone Temple Pilots
"Wonderful," from Shangri-La Dee Da (Atlantic)
"Wonderful" had two major obstacles on its way to becoming one of the year's sweetest, most sublime pop confections: 1) It's an earnest love song; and 2) It's by Stone Temple Pilots. But somehow, Scott Weiland managed to channel George Harrison instead of Eddie Vedder, coming closer than any grunge-affiliated act ever has to creating that certain special "Something."
20. Michael Fracasso
"Back to Oklahoma," from Back to Oklahoma (India)
I'm going back to Oklahoma, promises singer/guitarist Fracasso; Jesus is not ready for me now. But to hear his protagonist's desperation, as communicated in vintage Dylan fashion by urgent harmonica solos and a voice thick with world-weary resignation, is to wonder if he'll ever reach his destination.